The Cross

Romans 5:6-8 (HCSB)
6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

In this study, we are going to read about what Jesus Christ went through, including His predictions, His sufferings, His crucifixion and His resurrection so that we can understand how much God loves us. Like the above passage says, ‘But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!’ Before we continue, however, I think it is important to adjust our perspectives in order to get the most out of this study.

First, I think it is important for us to realize that Jesus Christ was a real historical figure. What we are going to read about is not a myth made up by humans ‘to explain things we don’t understand’. What we are going to read about really happened. The Apostle Peter said:

2 Peter 1:16 (HCSB)
16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

Further, there are other historical writings from sources outside of those who believed that Jesus is the Son of God that confirm the historical reality of a man named Jesus Christ.

Second, as we go through this study, I recommend that we try to to put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes and try to think of things in our own lives that can help us relate (even if just a little) to how Jesus may have felt in the situations we read about.

Third, I think it is important to not let guilt prevent us from trying to feel the way Jesus felt. This is not about our guilt but about Jesus and about How much He loves us, so I recommend for us to keep our minds and hearts on Jesus and not about how guilty the Scriptures may make us feel. Jesus did not do what He did as a massive guilt trip to manipulate us to change. I recommend that we keep the eyes of our hearts on Jesus and to try our best to see things from Jesus’ perspective.

Lastly, I think the most important thing we all can do to get the most out of this study is to pray to God that He helps us understand the power and love that Jesus Christ displayed on the cross for us.

Jesus’ Prior Knowledge of His Future Sufferings

Matt 16:21-28 (HCSB)
21 From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.

Matt 17:22-23 (HCSB)
22 As they were meeting in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” And they were deeply distressed.

Matt 20:17-19 (HCSB)
17 While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the 12 disciples aside privately and said to them on the way: 18 “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death. 19 Then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and He will be resurrected on the third day.”

Matt 26:1-2 (HCSB)
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this, He told His disciples, 2 “You know that the Passover takes place after two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Matt 26:20-75 (HCSB)
20 When evening came, He was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, He said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.” 22 Deeply distressed, each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 He replied, “The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl—he will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” “You have said it,” He told him. 26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood [that establishes] the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.” 30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. 32 But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33 Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away!” 34 “ I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight—before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!” 35 “Even if I have to die with You,” Peter told Him, “I will never deny You!” And all the disciples said the same thing. 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter. “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. 44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go! See—My betrayer is near.”

Application & Question: Think about a time in your life when you have had prior knowledge of something difficult that was about to happen to you. How did the prior knowledge of what was going to happen to you effect your emotional state?

In the above passages, we learn that Jesus had very specific prior knowledge about what was about to happen to him. He knew that he was going to:

1. suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed
2. be betrayed into the hands of men and be killed
3. be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, be condemned by them to death, be handed over by them to the Gentiles who would mock, flog and crucify Him
4. be betrayed by Judas
5. be abandoned by his closest friends

I think it is important to realize that Jesus wasn’t concerned and deeply distressed about something that might happen to him, as is the case in any of our situations (since we don’t know the future). Instead, Jesus knew with certainty exactly what was going to happen to Him. Yet He chose to go do God’s will even with the specific prior knowledge that He was going to be mocked, flogged, crucified, etc.

So how did Jesus’ prior knowledge about what was going to happen effect His emotional state? He was deeply distressed and swallowed up in sorry to the point of death.

Question: Have you ever been deeply distressed and swallowed up in sorry to the point of death?

Because of Jesus’ prior specific knowledge of how badly he was going to suffer, He experienced an enormous amount of emotional pain (which was so bad that it overflowed into physical pain) yet He chose to do God’s will out of His love for God and out of His love for us.

47 While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!” 49 So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!”—and kissed Him. 50 “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him.

So here we see Judas, a man whom Jesus had chosen to be one of His twelve followers and whom Jesus loved unconditionally for three years, betray Jesus in to the hands of those who were going to harm Him.

Application: Have you ever been severely betrayed by a close friend?

1. How did you feel?
2. How do you think Jesus felt after Judas betrayed Him?

51 At that moment one of those with Jesus [Peter] reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? 54 How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

In verse 53 Jesus makes it very clear that if He had wanted to prevent what was about to happen to Him, He could have called on the Father and the Father would have provided Him at once with more than 12 legions of angels to rescue Jesus from these men. So as we go through more scriptures, it should never leave the forefront of our minds that Jesus could have stopped what was happening at any point and wipe us all out, yet he didn’t choose to call on the Father and the Angels because of His love for God and His love for us.

55 At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture Me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple complex, and you didn’t arrest Me. 56 But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.

So here we see all of Jesus’ disciples run away (even though a couple of hours earlier they had told Jesus that they would die for Him instead of running away).

Question: Have you ever been abandoned, i.e., ‘left out to dry’, by people who were close to you, even after they assured you that they wouldn’t abandon you?

1. How did you feel?
2. How do you think Jesus felt as the people who were the closest to Him quickly abandoned Him?

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Meanwhile, Peter was following Him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the temple police to see the outcome. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so they could put Him to death. 60 But they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can demolish God’s sanctuary and rebuild it in three days.’ ” 62 The high priest then stood up and said to Him, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” 64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!”

I think it is important to realize that Jesus could have easily said things in such a way as to get out of this situation (like He did many times before) but Jesus chose to do God’s will because of His love for God and because of His love for us.

67 Then they spit in His face and beat Him; others slapped Him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who hit You?”

So we need to press the pause button on the player of time and understand the gravity of what happened in verse 67: The Son of God comes down to earth to love and serve others, to be an example for others to follow, to teach, to give freedom to those enslaved, to heal sicknesses, to drive out demons, to wash His disciples feet and to give up His life to save others, and those whom He came down to save:

1. spit in His face
2. beat Him
3. slapped Him and mocked Him saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who hit you?’

I think it is also important to continue to remember that Jesus still could have called on the Father and had the angels come down and slap the life out of those who slapped Him but he chose not to because of His love for God and His love for us.

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant approached him and she said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too.” 70 But he denied it in front of everyone: “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another woman saw him and told those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!” 72 And again he denied it with an oath, “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while those standing there approached and said to Peter, “You certainly are one of them, since even your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

In Luke’s account of this situation, we read:

Luke 22:60-62 (HCSB)
60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

When Jesus heard the Rooster crow and looked over at Peter, I imagine that it if felt like Peter had just taken out His sword again and stabbed Jesus in the heart, the way Peter had earlier cut off the ear of one of the servants who arrested Jesus. So not only was Jesus being spat upon, being beaten, being slapped and being mocked by his enemies, He was always being denied by one of his three closest friends. Yet, Jesus still did chose to do God’s will because of His love for God and His love for us.

Matt 27:1-2 (HCSB)
1 When daybreak came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 After tying Him up, they led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor.

Matt 27:11-66 (HCSB)
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. “Are You the King of the Jews?” the governor asked Him. Jesus answered, “You have said it.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He didn’t answer. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Don’t You hear how much they are testifying against You?” 14 But He didn’t answer him on even one charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. 15 At the festival the governor’s custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Who is it you want me to release for you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Messiah?” 18 For he knew they had handed Him over because of envy. 19 While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of Him!” 20 The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. 21 The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” “Barabbas!” they answered. 22 Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Messiah?” They all answered, “Crucify Him!” 23 Then he said, “Why? What has He done wrong?” But they kept shouting, “Crucify Him!” all the more. 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. See to it yourselves!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Once again, we need to press pause on the player of time to realize what happened in the above verses: Pilate had Jesus flogged and then handed Him over to be crucified!

(Go into details of flogging)

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into headquarters and gathered the whole company around Him. 28 They stripped Him and dressed Him in a scarlet robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and placed a reed in His right hand. And they knelt down before Him and mocked Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spit at Him, took the reed, and kept hitting Him on the head. 31 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32 As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced this man to carry His cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place), 34 they gave Him wine mixed with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it. 35 After crucifying Him they divided His clothes by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and were guarding Him there. 37 Above His head they put up the charge against Him in writing: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS 38 Then two criminals were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “The One who would demolish the sanctuary and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him and said, 42 “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now—if He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am God’s Son.’ ” 44 In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with Him kept taunting Him. 45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 At about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Questions: Why do you think Jesus said, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’? Did Jesus start losing His faith in God while waiting to die on the cross? It doesn’t make any sense to say that Jesus started losing his faith while hanging on the cross while He was waiting to die because it is highly doubtful that Jesus expected God to ‘rescue Him’ from further suffering or from death at this point considering the fact that Jesus knew what the Scriptures said would happen. He knew He had to die.

Did Jesus say, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ because for the first time in Jesus’ life, He was separated from the Father because the Father can not ‘mix with sin’ and because our sin was ‘pumped into Jesus? Although this is certainly a possibility, I don’t believe the Scriptures explicitly say why Jesus said, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ What we do know, however, is that Jesus was quoting a verse from a Psalm of David written approximately 1000 years prior to this event::

Psalms 22:1 (HCSB)
1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?

I believe that at least one reason that Jesus said, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ is because Jesus was once again pointing out the fact that He was fulfilling the Scriptures concerning Him. In other words, it is almost as if Jesus was saying, ‘check out Psalms 22′. So lets check out some other versus from Psalms 22:

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by people.
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads:
8 “He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him;
let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him.”

and

11 Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong ones of Bashan encircle me.
13 They open their mouths against me— lions, mauling and roaring.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax, melting within me.
15 My strength is dried up like baked clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You put me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me.
18 They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.

The fact that there are so many very specific prophecies about Jesus dying on the cross that were written a thousand years before Jesus was killed on the cross is nothing short than miraculous!

Also Psalms 22 gives us a unique view of Jesus’ perspective as He hung there on the cross!

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him!” 50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had gone to their rest were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

Lets look at a couple more scriptures before we close. You don’t have to turn there, but listen to the following verses.

(To Be Revealed)
1 Who has believed what we have heard?
And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to?
2 He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no form or splendor that we should look at Him,
no appearance that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like one people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
8 He was taken away because of oppression and judgment;
and who considered His fate?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
He was struck because of My people’s rebellion.
9 They made His grave with the wicked,
and with a rich man at His death,
although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.
10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him, and He made Him sick.
When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see [His] seed,
He will prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will succeed by His hand.
11 He will see [it] out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.
My righteous servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,
and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.

So this passage gives more details about Jesus, what He went through and summarizes why Jesus had to go through what He went through: He died on the cross for our sins! Since we have all sinned and sin leads to death, we all deserved to die. Jesus died in our stead. He was pierced for our sins.

Question: So how long after Jesus went through what He went through do you think the above passages were written? More than 100 years later?

Answer: Actually, the above passage is Isaiah 53 and was written approximately 1000 years before Jesus went through what He went through! Yet we see the past tense used in many of the verses?

Question: Why do you think that many of the verses from the above passage which were written 1000 years before Jesus went through what He went through are written in the past tense (example, ‘He submitted Himself’, ‘he was counted’, ‘He bore the sin of many’, etc.)?

Answer: This was God’s will from the very beginning. From the very beginning, God decided that He loved us so much that He was going to sacrifice His one and only Son so that we could be saved.

John 3:16-18 (HCSB)
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

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