JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS
Key Verse: 23:46
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I
commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."
1. What was Jesus' testimony before the council?(22:67-68) With what
did they charge him? (70-71) What charge did they bring against him
to Pilate? (23:2) What did Jesus answer? What does this mean?
(23:3; Mt 2:2; Mic 5:2)
2. How did Pilate try, but fail, to defend Jesus? (23:6,7) Describe
Herod's base character. Why did Pilate compromise? What was the
3. Describe Jesus' suffering on the way to the cross. What warning did
he give? (26-31) Why did he suffer like this? (1Pe 2:24b; Isa
53:6b) Describe the crucifixion. Why was he crucified? (Isa 53:12;
Jn 1:29) What did Jesus pray? (34) How did he help one man on the
4. What happened when Jesus died? (44-46) How did Jesus show his total
dependence on God? (46) What confession did the centurion make?
(47) How did Joseph show his faith? (50-53) What is the meaning of
the burial of Jesus? (44-56; Isa 53:9,10)
JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS
Today's passage tells us of Jesus' trial (22:66-23:25), his
crucifixion (23:26-49) and burial (23:50-56). His death on the cross
has become a marvelous light to all men. May Jesus' death on the cross
give you heavenly sunlight.
First, Jesus was tried by Pilate and Herod (22:63-23:25)
As we studied, during the night Jesus was arrested and taken into
the house of the high priest. The temple guards gloated over him,
blindfolding him and hitting him and deriding him, saying, "Who hit
you?" Jesus became unbearably tired. At daybreak they handed him over
to the Sanhedrin to be tried.
The Sanhedrin members asked, "If you are the Christ, tell us"
(67a). The charge they had attempted to make against Jesus was
blasphemy. At that time, blasphemy deserved the death penalty. But
Jesus did not give in to their conspiracy; instead, he told them who he
really was. Look at verses 67b-69. "If I tell you, you will not believe
me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son
of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." Though he
was on trial like a criminal before the Sanhedrin members, Jesus told
them that he is the mighty God and the judge of all mankind. After
hearing his words, they did not repent. Rather, they all asked, "Are
you then the Son of God?" Jesus replied, "You are right in saying I am"
(70). In this way their conspiracy was forged. However, the Jews had no
power to carry out the death penalty. So the Sanhedrin members led
Jesus off to the Roman governor Pilate (23:1). Jesus stood before
Pilate, the Roman governor, to be tried again. Before Pilate, the
religious leaders began to accuse Jesus, saying, "We have found this
man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and
claims to be Christ, a king" (23:2). They charged Jesus with political
crimes--sedition against Caesar.
Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" What did Jesus
answer? Look at verse 3b. "'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied." His
"yes" might cause him to receive the death sentence. But Jesus answered
"yes," in order to identify himself as the Son of God (Mt 2:2; Mic
5:2). Pilate learned that it was a matter of the Jewish religion and
the religious leaders' jealousy of Jesus. So he announced to them, "I
find no basis for a charge against this man." (4) Pilate also learned
that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction. So he sent him to Herod so
as to escape his responsibility to sentence Jesus to death. When Herod
saw Jesus, he was glad, hoping he would perform some miracle to
entertain him. Herod, together with the religious leaders, plied him
with many questions. But Jesus gave no answer. Herod clothed Jesus in a
king's robe to ridicule him and sent him back to Pilate, for Herod had
no right to sentence him to death.
When Jesus was sent back to him, Pilate felt he was in deep
trouble, for the people pressed him hard with their claim, but he could
not find any basis for a char- ge against Jesus. Pilate was a judge.
But his future could be endangered by dealing favorably with Jesus, the
holy Son of God. Pilate, on the basis of imperial Roman law, declared
that he found no basis for their charges against Jesus (14,15,22). But
he wanted to please the people and said, "I will punish him and then
release him." This political compromise did not work. With one voice
they cried out, "Away with this man!" Again, wanting to release Jesus,
Pilate appealed to them. Still it did not work. This time they shouted,
"Crucify him! Crucify him!" (21) Once this crowd of people had followed
Jesus like sheep following a shepherd. But when the devil pre- vailed
over them, they became as evil as the devil. Pilate helplessly
surrendered Jesus to their hands. Because of this, down through the
generations, he has been branded as the one who condemned Jesus to
death. We are the ones who should be oppressed and tried. But Jesus the
Son of God took up our iniquities and transgres- sions and was tried
again and again. Isaiah 53:6b says, "The Lord has laid on him the
iniquity of us all." Thank you, Jesus, who took up the iniquity of us
Second, Jesus was crucified and died (23:26-49)
Finally Jesus was taken from the judgment hall and led to be
crucified. They laid upon his shoulders a heavy cross and led him to
the place of crucifixion by the longest possible route, while before
him a soldier marched bearing a placard with his crime inscribed on
it: "The king of the Jews." Jesus was exhausted and fell down. Then
the Roman soldiers whipped him. Blood dripped from his forehead and his
back. When Jesus collapsed, they seized Simon from Cyrene and put the
cross on him. Why did Jesus have to carry the cross?
Jesus carried the cross to unburden our burden of sins. Look at
verse 27. "A large number of people followed him, including women who
mourned and wailed for him." They were a group of pious women who had
tasted the love of God in Jesus. They believed that Jesus was indeed
the Son of Man. When they saw this good Jesus falling down under the
heavy cross, they mourned and wailed.
What did he say to them? Look at verse 28. "Jesus turned and said
to them, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for
yourselves and for your children.'" We know that women's weeping is
hard to bear without sympathy. But Jesus was not overcome by their
weeping. Rather, he said to them, "Do not weep for me; weep for
yourselves." When Jesus said this, he meant he was taking the cup of
suffering for the sake of saving the women from their sins. Here, in
verse 28, "Daughters of Jerusalem" alludes, in a broad sense, to all
mankind under the power of sin and death. They must weep for themselves
because of the impending judgment of God.
Why was he carrying the cross in this way? It was to fulfill the
will of God. In his great mercy, God sent his one and only Son as the
Paschal Lamb to shed his blood for the sin of the world. John the
Baptist knew this and said in John 1:29, "Look, the Lamb of God, who
takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus carried the heavy cross so that
he might unburden our burden of sins. Jesus, as the Son of Man, took up
all our infirmities and carried our sorrows (1 Pe 2:24b; Isa 53:6b).
Now Jesus was carrying the rugged cross. We must know that Jesus
is the Judge who, in the future, will judge the living and the dead.
Look at verse 29. "For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed
are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that
never nursed!'" Nursing and pregnant women are symbols of human
happiness. But at the time of God's judgment, human happiness will be
a great burden. The judgment is so severe that those wicked men who
cruci- fied Jesus will ask a favor of the mountains and hills, saying,
to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" so that
they would escape from the judgment. Their state of mind is full of
consuming terror and melting fear. Those wicked men who crucified Jesus
cannot escape the judgment of the Lamb. The Son of Man was on his way
to Calvary to be crucified. But he is God who came to this world in
human form and lived among men. Jesus cared for them and the people
loved Jesus. But when they were bribed, they turned their backs
against Jesus. Most people, in their ignorance, have treated the Son of
Man at random. But they were greatly mis- taken. They are accountable
to the judgment of the Lamb, and after that, eternal punishment.
Jesus died on the cross to take up our shame and guilt. The
executioners deliberately crucified Jesus between two criminals in
order to make Jesus as shameful as robbers. God made man with a sense
of honor. So all men want to be honored; no one wants to be shamed. No
one wants to expose his shame. Many people pretend to have no problem
after committing sin. But it is not so. They suffer endlessly in guilt
and shame under the power of Satan. They are all like Cain, who lived
with a sense of guilt and constant nightmares. A young woman committed
sin once when she was very young. Since then she became a slave of
guilty feelings. She was supposed to marry and her marriage was well
arranged. But instead of marrying, she committed suicide by sleeping in
a room full of coal gas. But Jesus bore all our shame and guilt on the
When they came to the place called the Skull, they laid his cross
flat on the ground, laid him on it, and, stretching out his arms on the
cross, they began to drive nails through his hands and feet. They hung
him on a projected piece of saddlewood which bore his weight. Then they
lifted up the cross and set it upright in its socket. Jesus was
crucified in this way for our sins.
On the cross, Jesus prayed for sinners to be forgiven of their
sins. Look at verse 34. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know
what they are doing." How could Jesus pray for the forgiveness of sins
for those who crucified him? It was because Jesus is the Son of God. No
man could pray like Jesus. In history many kings and heroes died with
their eyes open because of their grudges against others. They did not
know how to forgive others. It is very hard to forgive others' sins.
But Jesus prayed for sinners to be forgiven. When Jesus was on the
cross, he felt that his heart was failing. But he prayed for sinners
who did not know what they were doing. He prayed that their sins might
be forgiven. We are precious children of God who received the grace of
forgiveness through his Son's blood.
Jesus did not save himself. The people stood watching, and the
rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save
himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One" (35). The soldiers
also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said,
"If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." One of the criminals
who hung there hurled insults at him. "Aren't you the Christ? Save
yourself and us!" They didn't know why Jesus was not saving himself.
Jesus did not save himself, in order to save men from their sins.
Jesus carried the cross in order to bring us back to his paradise.
One criminal hurled insults at praying Jesus. Surprisingly, the other
criminal said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
This man saw God in Jesus on the cross. Look at verse 43. "Jesus
answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in
paradise.'" On the cross Jesus accepted this man's faith, and this man
became the first one to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus entered the
kingdom of God with the robber, who was condemned on the cross. Jesus
died on the cross to save men from their sins. Jesus died on the cross
to bring us back to his glorious kingdom.
Look at verse 44. "It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness
came over the whole land until the ninth hour." The sun stopped
shining. So darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The
death of Jesus was so unfair that even nature mourned. Look at verse
45. "...for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was
torn in two." The heaven and the earth mourned over the death of
Jesus. Look at verse 46. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father,
into your hands I commit my spirit." Jesus did not die with a sad face.
Rather, Jesus died committing his soul to God. Jesus died on the cross
confirming his love relationship with God.
The Roman centurion, probably he was an executioner, seeing what
had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man"
(47). To the mind's eye of this foreign soldier, Jesus was not a
criminal, but the righteous Son of God. Jesus' death did not overshadow
the centurion with the darkness of death. Rather, bright sunlight came
into his heart. Historically, many have seen the marvelous light of
life looking at Jesus on the cross.
Third, Jesus was buried (50-56)
Jesus was buried in a new tomb which Joseph, a member of the
Council, had originally prepared for himself (53). The burial of Jesus
has deep meaning. Isaiah 53:9,10 says, "He was assigned a grave with
the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no
violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord's will
to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his
life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand." God buried Jesus in
the earth to punish him for our sins. God buried Jesus in the earth to
give his saving grace and utmost happiness to us and our descendants
Jesus' death on the cross is the only way to save men from their
sins. May God bless you to accept the meaning of Jesus' death for us.