Updated: Apr 28
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. …Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”…
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” … “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…Matthew 27: 35-51
As Christians, we have a difficult time experiencing the crucifixion. We have heard the story too often. We are desensitized. I’m asking you to sit in a quiet place as you read all four of the gospel’s accounts of the crucifixion. The disciples Matthew and John were present the entire time; from the traveling into Jerusalem for the holy Passover to the last supper, from the Garden of Gethsemane to the betrayal by Judas and the arrest by the Roman soldiers, from the horrific night of questioning before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, to the crucifixion and Christ Jesus’ brutal death. I am very uncomfortable reading the word of God which is devoted to the trials and death of Jesus.
Shortly before his prophesied crucifixion, as his time grows short, Jesus tells this story within the temple courts:
“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Matthew 21: 33-46
What does this mean? “I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you"…In the following chapters of Matthew, Jesus speaks to the Jewish leaders in frustration and anger as they reject the prophets of their fathers and they forget the mighty covenant between their Patriarchs and their God:
You hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, blind men, you snakes, you brood of vipers, Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”Matthew 23: 13-39
And so, Christ tells the Jewish leaders, and us, that like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings so he longs to gather them, and us, to him.
One of my nieces has intentionally raised her two children outside of any religious system of belief; there has been little mention of God, much less of Christ, or the Holy Spirit in her family. Several years ago, her sister was marrying a young man who was raised in a Catholic home. The ceremony was held in an old Catholic church. When my great nephew, about 10 years old, walked into the church, he was terrified, “Mommy, why is that naked man hanging from the ceiling?”
Try to see and listen with new eyes and ears. Try to see and listen as through the Father’s eyes and ears as his beloved Son is being tortured and rejected. Try to see and hear as through Christ’s ears and eyes, as he in his earthly body experiences the horrific pain in his hands and feet and in his heart. Try to bear the grief and utter sadness as through the Holy Spirit’s perspective, as the Son gasps for his breath, his ruach.
Now try to imagine the delight and glee through the eyes and ears of the perverse and broken mind of Satan. Can you imagine how the proud and legalistic leaders of the jews viewed this horrible event in their history? Can you feel his mother Mary’s anguish as she listens to the cries of her beloved child? Can you try to feel the fear of each disciple? If only we could be as shocked and distraught as my great-nephew was upon seeing that naked man hanging from the cross.
…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. … John 1: 9-11
Have you ever needed to convince someone to change his or her behavior? What was he or she doing wrong? What was the result?
Has anyone ever tried to convict you of something that they believe you are doing wrong? What were the circumstances?
Have you ever had to witness a loved one suffering
Have you watched a loved one die?
Do you ache and hurt when you see and hear of suffering and death in the media? If yes, why? If not, why not?
Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…Genesis 12: 1-4
Once again, I stand on top of the coffee table in the middle of the Church’s youth room. I am surrounded by students on all sides. I instruct them to talk among themselves and to ignore me. All but one of them; one of them is looking up at me as I look down on him, “Abraham!’ I say, “I will make you a great nation…”
God chooses people to carry forth his plan. He chose Noah to repopulate the earth following the flood. He chose and offered godly Job to prove mankind’s resiliency and faith to his foe, Satan. The Lord called to Abraham and Abraham answered. He chose Abraham to begin again the Trinity’s desire and plan to expand their holy family following the betrayal of Adam and Eve in the garden, the murder of Abel by his brother, Cain, the depravity of the world before the flood, and the human hubris of the builders of the Tower of Babel. Satan is a wily enemy. It would seem that he is able to interfere with every desire and move of the Holy Trinity.
But God starts anew, again. Abraham and his wife Sarah are to birth the chosen child, Isaac, whose descendants would grow into the small but chosen nation of Israel. Like a baby who matures into a child and then into a beautiful young woman, in the perfect fullness of time, God’s beloved daughter, Jerusalem, would birth the Son of Man, Jesus into the broken world:
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. …He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
… Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18: 1-13
A promised desired child! But God’s demands on his chosen people are brutal. Noah was instructed to build an ark and watch the world drown. Job was to lose all of his children to the whim of Satan and yet remain faithful to God. Abraham and Sarah were blessed with this prophesied child. But now listen to the heinous test God imposed on Abraham:
Some time later God tested Abraham. …God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
The accounting of Abraham’s reaction to the demand is minimal. All we are told is that Isaac carried the wood while Abraham supplied the fire and the knife:
…“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. … When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! …“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22: 1-14
Throughout their family story, Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac all witness the very presence of the Lord: The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. …The angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! …This is so very supernatural.
No one likes or understands the purpose of this demand, this horrible, cruel test. Can you imagine the anguish that Abraham must feel? Can you imagine his abject fear? Can you imagine how afraid and confused this innocent boy, Isaac, must be? Don't you think that this boy felt that his father had forsaken him as he lay bound by ropes on the wooden altar? Don't you think that his father felt that his Father had forsaken him as he bound his son on the wooden altar?
Here we have the foreshadowing prophecy of God’s sacrifice of his only begotten, beloved son, Christ! In the fullness of time, God will be required to allow the murder of his precious child. And Christ will be required to drink “the cup” and offer his body as a lamb at slaughter. God will provide.
Remember the chosen people clamoring for an earthly king? “We want to be like other nations!” What the Israelites refused to grasp was that they were not to be like other nations. They were blessed to be the salvation of other nations, of the entire creation.
”Isaiah’s name in Hebrew means God is Salvation. Over 700 years before the birth of God’s Son as a baby in a manger, Isaiah was called by God to be a messenger of prophecy to God’s beloved but wayward people of Israel. Witnessing the destruction of his people’s God-given home of Jerusalem as the Assyrian empire pushed into the promised land, Isaiah was given the task of warning his people of their betrayal to the mighty God of Israel. He was to remind God’s people of the solemn covenant that was begun with the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: Israel was to be God’s people and he their God. Isaiah's Song of The Suffering Servant prophesied the need for a messiah who would come not as a mighty king but as a lowly rejected sacrifice. Isaiah’s Song of the Suffering Servant is referenced numerous times in the New Testament:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53: 4-6
Have you ever made a sacrifice? What made it a sacrifice? Why was it necessary? What was it? Was it painful?
Have you ever refused to sacrifice something that someone asked you to or needed you to sacrifice?
What would you sacrifice for your children? Why?
Why do you think the Holy Trinity created families? Parents and children?
Let’s reverse the question, has anyone ever had to sacrifice something for you? Why? What did it cost him or her? What did you gain?
Is the conflict between good and evil, God and Satan, like a chess game? I’ve asked this before.
Define iniquity. What are some of its synonyms?
The 29:11 Story
The mostly black bead of the Last Supper is now the bead of the Crucifixion. It is black for death and will have an element of red in it for blood and sin. It will also contain small glimmers of hope and promise of white for light and purity, and yellow for glory.
On the downward Old Testament side of every 29:11 Story, you can find the beads of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham is a shade of brown reflecting mankind’s flesh and blood. Sarah will be a shade of pink. Immediately after Sarah, you will find a beautiful crystal bead that is the Three Visitors. This bead is obviously an angel bead but it is purple, the color of divinity. This bead symbolizes the Lord Himself and two of his attending angels. The two angels are going into the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with God's destroying fire and wrath.
Where is Isaac? Before you find this announced anticipated child of this little chosen family, you will find the story of Sarah’s maid servant, Hagar, and her child, Ishmael, conceived with her master’s husband, Abraham. Finally, here, next to Ishmael, is Isaac. He will be a beautiful bead. He is the chosen one to establish God’s promise of blessing. His son, Jacob follows him.
When William got cancer, I felt that I had been asked by God to sacrifice my beloved son. I was asked to trust God and have faith in the path and plan that He allowed and required. More importantly, I think that William was asked to trust and be full of faith. What a terrible test. My son was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 12 years old. My church at that time had a new, young youth minister named Vaughn. As soon as we got home from William’s biopsy, I called Vaughn and told him that he needed to quickly form a relationship with my son. He was there within 15 minutes and took William out for a soft drink. What a hard thing for me to request of this young, inexperienced man. Later, on one of our trips to treatment, William told me that Vaughn had asked him why God gave him cancer. William had no reply. Vaughn explained to him that God had not given him cancer but he had allowed it to happen.
William battled cancer for some 5 years. After the first year of treatment, we thought he had beaten it. We had changed churches and I knew that Vaughn had moved on to another church in another state. But the cancer returned when William was 15 and it was relentless. At his funeral, Vaughn came and waited in that extremely long receiving line. He told me that he and his wife had just adopted a baby boy. They named him William.
What surprised you today?
What new connections in the Bible did you make today?
What questions do you want to explore further about today's study?
Who made the first sacrifice? Who shed the first blood of a living creature? For who’s sake was this killing made? Who suffered? Read Genesis 2:-4.
Now read Genesis 9: 1-7. What do you hear from God’s heart? Why is the blood of a living thing so important?
From the mouth of Jesus, read and listen to John 3:16-21.
Read Luke 29: 39-44 and John 19: 31-37.
Please read Isaiah 5: 1-7
Please read John 19. What did the soldiers dress Jesus in? What does a crown signify? What color robe? What does purple signify? What name does Pilate give him? Read Philippians 1: 18.
John 19: 28-30 is difficult to read. Why does Jesus say he is thirsty? What did Jesus tell his disciples about the wine at his last Passover meal? After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Has the kingdom of God come?
What is the last thing Jesus says before he died? It is finished. Tetelestai in greek means "to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish." What has Christ accomplished?
Read again Revelation 12: 10-12.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. What is Matthew referring to here?
What did Moses have to wear over his face when he descended the mountain after meeting with the Lord and witnessing his glory if not his very face? Why did he have to wear this veil?
Read 2 Corinthians 3: 7-18. What does Paul tell us about the veil of Moses?
Read Revelation 11:19. What do you read about the Temple? Do you remember what the temple is like in the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21?
In Revelation 5, what does the lamb look like? What is he worthy to open? Why is he and only he worthy?
Now reread the horrible and mysterious Revelation 13. This is about the two beasts. What do you find about them that echos or counterfeits the lamb?
Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. ...Read Revelation 19: 9-21. What is written on his robe and thigh?