Sapphire Sky

November 29, 2015

The First Three Hours

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 8:58 pm

file6721254168155

In the first century A.D., The Roman empire stretched across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. This was a time of peace, called the Pax Romana, where the Roman government was able to manage all of the various languages and cultures under its single rule.

However, the thought of revolution terrified the Roman government. Rome needed to control a massive empire with a much smaller force. Any revolts in the Roman provinces could cause a disaster. The Roman governors in various provinces must keep the peace at all costs!

Rome’s most effective way to keep peace in the provinces was through fear and intimidation. Any man who was caught trying to revolt against Rome would be made an example. He would be subjected to one of the most cruel, lingering, and public executions ever devised by mankind: the crucifixion [5].

Crucifixion was invented by the Assyrians and the Persians as a way to execute a condemned criminal away from their “mother earth” [6]. However, the Romans had taken and perfected the crucifixion into a hideous instrument of torture and death.

According to Josephus, more than a thousand people were crucified by Rome on 33 A.D. [9]. By that year, the Romans had also crucified more than 3,000 men in Palestine alone [10].

The crucifixion was intended to be cruel [5]. The shame and the horror that were dealt on the victim were more than we can even imagine. The victim was first scourged, being beaten so severely that his back was cut open, exposing raw flesh (see here). The victim himself would carry the wooden crossbeam through the city to the place of execution. At the place of execution, the soldiers would remove the victim’s clothes, then drive large nails through the victim’s wrists, nailing him to the crossbeam [7]. Soldiers would then lift the crossbeam onto a permanent post (about 6 feet tall). Finally, another large spike would be driven through the victim’s feet and into the post.

The crucifixion was so painful that the word “excruciating” came from this experience. The crucifixion was so shameful that proper folk would not use this word in public [6].

“There is one difference between a guillotine and a cross: the guillotine was designed to be merciful; the cross was designed to be hideously cruel.” – Doug Bookman [5]

The crucifixion was intended to be lingering. A person cannot properly breathe when suspended by his arms, but the Romans placed a wooden seat, or “sedulum” on the cross. This allowed the victim to push himself up to breathe, but it also prolonged the agony for up to a week [6]. The victims would finally die from shock, blood loss, exposure, predators, or suffocation. The soldiers could hasten the victim’s death by breaking his legs, thereby forcing the victim to quickly suffocate to death.

The crucifixion was also public. The Romans would place the crucified victims on a low hill outside the city gates, where people would commonly pass. Everyone who passed by and looked at the dying victims on the crosses would be afraid to go against the power of Rome.

Finally, the crucifixion was a guaranteed death. The attending Roman soldiers needed to personally guarantee that the victim was dead before he was removed from the cross. If there was any life left in the victim after he was removed from the cross, every one of the attending soldiers would be put on crosses.

When Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth, he chose this death, the death by crucifixion, in order to pay for the sin of all mankind!

Philippians 2:5-8
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

“Christ was on the point of making atonement for sin, therefore sin must be revealed in all its enormity.” – A. W. Pink [8]

It was customary for four Roman soldiers to be assigned to a prisoner that was sentenced to crucifixion. We have no reason to believe that it was any different for Jesus’ crucifixion. The four soldiers would tie the prisoner’s arms to the crossbeam and lead him through the city streets to the place of execution. They would carry a sign containing the list of the prisoner’s crimes for all to see.

The sign for Jesus had only one statement, written in three languages, “The King of the Jews”. This so infuriated the Jewish leaders that the immediately petitioned Pontius Pilate to have this sign changed. Pilate refused.

Pilate surely intended for his sign to show that “This is the best of the Jews, and he is no match for Rome!”, or “This is the best of the Jews, and they want to kill him!”. Little did Pilate know that this sign would be the first written notice of who Jesus truly was.

At some point along the way, Jesus was unable to carry the crossbeam at the pace for the Romans. The soldiers pressed a passing traveler, Simon of Cyrene, into carrying the crossbeam for Jesus.

They led Jesus from Herod’s palace to the north of the city, the “place of the skull”, or Golgotha. Once they reached Golgotha, they stripped Him of His clothes and nailed His wrists to the crossbeam. They then placed the crossbeam on the post and completed the crucifixion by nailing his feet to the cross.

It was 9:00 a.m.

The four soldiers divided up Jesus’ personal belongings among themselves. One took His turban, another His outer cloak, another His belt, and the last one took His shoes. Jesus had a seamless inner tunic which could not be divided so they gambled for it. Little did these pagan Roman soldiers know that they helped to fulfil a thousand-year-old prophecy about the Messiah:

Psalm 22:18:
They divide my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

Jesus was silent during this time but now He spoke. Looking at the Roman soldiers dividing up His clothing, he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. He did not just say it once, but repeatedly. For every roll of the “dice”, as they fought over His clothes, Jesus repeated, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Jesus was now the public spectacle. He was soon taunted by all of the people who passed by. The travelers taunted Him, believing that He was going to destroy the temple. The Jewish leaders made a special trip from the temple to counter Pilate’s sign, and now followed the travelers in their own taunts of Jesus on the cross. The Roman soldiers, on duty for the crucifixion, also joined in the same taunts at Him.

But Jesus was not alone. He was crucified between two robbers, who also joined in the chorus of taunts against Him. Even the men condemned to die threw the same abuse at Him!

One of the robbers stopped his taunting and looked at the sign above Jesus. He knew that Jesus was innocent and he read the sign saying that He is the king of the Jews. He looked at the sign and believed.

He then stopped the other robber from his taunting, “Do you not fear God? We deserve our punishment but this man has done nothing wrong!” Then, turning to Jesus, he said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied to the robber with His second statement from the cross, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” The robber who repented would be with Jesus that day!

There was one final scene during the first three hours on the cross. A small group of faithful women were standing near the cross, including Mary, Jesus’ mother. Jesus’ third statement from the cross was to give his mother to the care of the disciple John.

It was three hours since Jesus was nailed to the cross at Golgotha. In the eyes of the world around Him, He was simply a Roman prisoner who was executed that day. He showed no power, nor did He defend Himself against the crowds of people who abused Him.

But in the midst of the agony and the shame, He made three very personal statements:

  • Forgiveness for the ignorant men who caused His pain
  • A way to heaven for the wicked man who believed in Him
  • Care for the faithful ones who stood with Him

May we learn to love and appreciate the sacrifice that our Lord Jesus Christ made on our behalf. He gave Himself so that we may live.

May we thank Him as we identify with the different groups of people around the cross, that we would ask for forgiveness and be faithful to Him.

May we let Him be our example as we endure suffering in our world. He committed Himself to the all-knowing God (1 Peter 2:23-25).

On a gray April morning as a chilling wind blew
A thousand dark promises were about to come true
As Satan stood trembling, knowing now he had lost
As the Lamb took his first step on the way to the cross

They mocked his true calling and laughed at His fate
So glad to see the Gentle One consumed by their hate
Unaware of the wind and the darkening sky
So blind to the fact that it was God limping by

The poor women weeping at what seemed a great loss
Trembling in fear there at the foot of the cross
Tormented by memories that came like a flood
Unaware that their pardon
Must be bought with His blood

This must be the Lamb
The fulfillment of all God had spoken
This must be the Lamb
Not a single bone will be broken
Like a sheep to the slaughter
So silently still
This must be the Lamb

– Michael Card

Previous Post: Before the Governor


John 19:16b-27

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.


Matthew 27:32-44

As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.


Mark 15:21-32

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him.
And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.


Luke 23:26-43

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”


 

John 19:16b-17
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

Matthew 27:32
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.

Mark 15:21
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Luke 23:26
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

Pilate had failed to release Jesus and so He was sentenced by the Romans to be crucified.

Four soldiers were typically assigned to the condemned criminal as he was led through the streets of the city. The prisoner was made to carry his own crossbeam to the place of execution. The procession was led by a soldier with a sign listing the criminal’s charges.

This crucifixion procession was especially significant for Jesus. We do not know the exact route through Jerusalem, but the Romans would typically parade the condemned criminals through the longest route possible [1]. This route, traditionally known as the “Via Dolorosa” [2], led from Herod’s palace to the crucifixion site outside the city.

All that Scripture tells about the crucifixion site is that it is called “The Place of the Skull”, or Golgotha in Aramaic. This site has also been traditionally known as Calvary (from the Latin word for skull or cranium, “calvaria”) [6]. We also know that it was outside the city based on scripture (Hebrews 13:11-13) and typical Roman procedure.

There is a small, skull-shaped hill to the north of the city that many believe to be the location of Golgotha.

John’s account tells that Jesus went out bearing his own cross, and the gospel accounts tell only that they compelled Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross. We are never told why, but Christian tradition tells that Jesus stumbled and fell. Whether or not He really fell on the way to the cross, the most likely explanation is that was so severely weakened by the torture and beatings that He was unable to carry the 100-pound crossbeam. We know that the Jews and the Romans wanted to hurry so it is very likely that they used Simon so that they could quickly get the procession to the crucifixion site.

All that we know about Simon of Cyrene is what is mentioned in this scene. However, Mark’s account specifically mentions that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Mark was writing to a Roman audience so Simon’s sons must have been well known to the Roman church. The Apostle Paul sends his greeting to a Rufus in the Roman church (Romans 16:13), who may have been the son of Simon.

“We do not know why Jesus was relieved of this burden; the Scriptures are silent. … One thing is sure: the bearing of the cross was a mark of guilt, and Jesus was not guilty” – Warren Wiersbe [11]

“All throughout He had borne Himself with a Divine Majesty, which had awakened alike the deeper feelings of Pilate and the infuriated hatred of the Jews.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

Luke 23:27-31
And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus’ words seem almost harsh to the grieving women. On the way to the cross, in the midst of the jeering mob, Jesus is followed by a large group of women who were weeping for Him. We do not know anything else about these women. Did they know Jesus? Were they part of the crowd that had welcomed Him as king on Sunday? Were they simply giving sympathy to a condemned man?

But Jesus’ grief was not for His own pain. He grieved for the city that refused to believe (Luke 19:41-44). He had already seen the future destruction of Jerusalem and knew that their horror was a much greater grief than His own death (see here).

Fire burns slowly and with great difficulty when the wood is green. The fire will burn much faster and hotter when the wood is dry. If the Romans so treated an innocent man, what will they do to the guilty Jews?

The Romans would destroy Jerusalem in AD 70, slaughtering the inhabitants and crucifying thousands!

“Mere sympathy with Christ almost involves guilt, since it implies a view of Him which is essentially the opposite of that which His claims demand.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

“If men and women refuse the salvation that God offers in Jesus Christ, then they must endure His wrath. And so our Lord warned these people of judgment soon to come upon Jerusalem.” – H.A. Ironside [12]

 

Matthew 27:33-34
And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

Mark 15:22-23
And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

A group of wealthy Jewish women had found a way to show compassion to the condemned men who were to be executed (possibly following Proverbs 31:6). They would give them a wine with a narcotic to help deaden the pain and the agony on the cross. But Jesus refused the drink. He was fully lucid until the end.

“He refused the cup of sympathy so that He might better drink the cup of iniquity” – Warren Wiersbe [13]

“He would face death without an anesthetic so that every word could be trusted; so that every final act could be recorded and freighted with divine meaning.” – Stephen Davey [14]

 

John 19:18
There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

Matthew 27:38
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.

Mark 15:27
And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.

Luke 23:32-33
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

The gospel accounts do not go into the details about the crucifixion itself. They say simply, “they crucified him”. Crucifixion was not only terrifying and painful, it was also the most lowly and humiliating way to die. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was executed like one of the lowest of criminals.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. These men were not common thieves, but robbers or plunderers. The word used is for a robber who would steal by force, killing if necessary.

These men were similar to Barabbas, who had been set free in Jesus’ place. They may have part of the same gang of robbers as Barabbas.

This also fulfilled Isaiah 53:12, “He was numbered with transgressors”.

 

John 19:19-22
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Matthew 27:37
And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Mark 15:26
And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”

Luke 23:38
There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

As is mentioned above, the Roman prisoners were led to their crucifixion by a sign, listing the prisoner’s crimes. When Pilate listed Jesus’ crimes, he put only, “The King of the Jews”.

Pilate presented this inscription as an insult to the Jews, who had forced him to crucify this blameless man. This inscription was saying that this was the best of the Jews, and yet he was no match for Rome. This inscription was also saying that this was the best of the Jews, and His own people would rather kill him than acknowledge Him.

This inscription was written in the three common languages of that culture: the common tongue of the people was Aramaic, the trade and international language was Greek, and the language of the Romans was Latin.

This inscription so enraged the chief priests that they immediately sought an audience with Pontius Pilate, requesting that he change it. Pilate refused.

It appears that the chief priests feared the influence of this inscription, since they personally went to the crucifixion site and tried to minimize its effects on the passers by. It was not customary for Jewish priests to attend a crucifixion, especially during the Passover. [3]

Pilate’s sign was the first declaration put into print about who Jesus was [6].

 

John 19:23-24
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things,

Matthew 27:35-36
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.

Mark 15:24
And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

Luke 23:34
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

The soldiers who attended to the crucifixion would keep the prisoner’s belongings as pay. The only thing of earthly value that Jesus possessed was his clothes. There were likely four soldiers attending Jesus and His four outer garments were relatively equal in value: His turban, His sandals, His outer cloak, and His belt (girdle). The soldiers divided Jesus’ outer clothes among themselves by lot.

Jesus had been given a seamless inner tunic which was similar to the high priest’s attire. The soldiers drew lots for this inner tunic since it could not be divided. Little did these pagan Roman soldiers know that they were filling the words which had been prophesied nearly 1,000 years earlier in Psalm 22:18:

They divide my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

The first words from Jesus on the cross were directed on behalf of the Roman soldiers, “Father, forgive them, for they know now what they do”. The language indicates that He said this repeatedly. For every cruel act, Jesus was praying for them: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Note that Jesus’ prayer was for the Roman soldiers, not the Jewish leaders. The Jewish leaders could be forgiven, but the Jews knew what they were doing. [14]

After Pentecost Peter declared that “You acted in ignorance” (Acts 3:17). Paul says of the rulers of this age that, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

“Some say the prayer of our Lord was not answered. Yes, it was answered, in this way: God did not treat them as murderers, but He opened up the way of salvation for them.” – H.A. Ironside [12]

 

Mark 15:25
And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

Jesus was on the cross starting at 9:00 am. He would be there for six hours until 3:00 pm.

 

Matthew 27:39-44
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Mark 15:29-32
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

Luke 23:35-37
And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

As Jesus hung helpless on the cross, He was ridiculed by all of the groups of people around Him:

The people passing by taunted Him with the charge that He was going to destroy the temple (see here for more details about this false charge). They challenged His claims, both false (that He would destroy the temple) and true (that He was the Son of God).

The leaders of the people had come down to watch him (the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders) and followed the lead of the people passing by. They added deeper taunts, that Jesus had saved others yet he cannot save Himself. Furthermore, they challenged Him to come down, claiming that they would then believe in Him.

The other two robbers also threw the same taunts at Jesus. Their plight was hopeless, yet they spent their last energy attacking their fellow prisoner.

Even the Roman soldiers threw their taunts at Him. They did not know Jewish beliefs, but they could read Pilate’s inscription. If He was the King of the Jews, then He should save Himself!

Little did these people know — even the Jewish priests — that they were again fulfilling the words of Psalm 22:

 

Psalm 22:7-8
All who see me mock me;
   they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
   let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

“The words, describing the Sufferer as ‘the King of the Jews,’ might, when taken in connection with what was known of Jesus, have raised most dangerous questions. And this the presence of the Sanhedrists was intended to prevent, by turning the popular mind in a totally different direction.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

“And, if any had been ignorant, the ‘title’ over the Cross and the bitter enmity of the Sanhedrists, which followed Him with jeers and jibes, where even ordinary humanity, and still more Jewish feeling, would have enjoined silence, if not pity, must have shown what had been the motives of ‘the condemnation’ of Jesus.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Something happened to one of the criminals who was being crucified with Jesus. They were both taunting Jesus, but one of them stopped. It may have been Pilate’s inscription that provoked his thought, or he may have drawn on a past memory. But clearly this man realized that Jesus had done nothing wrong.

Not only did this man stop taunting Jesus, but he rebuked the other criminal. “We were punished justly but this man has done nothing wrong.” He read the inscription and believed that Jesus was a king, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

This criminal believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that he would have a future kingdom. At some time, this king would return to set up His kingdom. All this criminal can ask is for Jesus to remember him after his death.

Jesus replied to this man with His second words from the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”. Jesus was not just going to remember the man in the future, he was also going to bring him to Paradise that very day!

The word “Paradise” means a “garden,” typically referring to a walled garden which is protected and beautiful. [9]

“This dying man was not saved at his last opportunity but at his first opportunity” – Stephen Davey [15]

 

John 19:25-27
but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

There were some faithful believers who stayed with Jesus during this time. The apostle John (who called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, see here), and four women: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary’ sister (Salome, Mark 15:40), Mary the wife of Clopas [4], and Mary Magdalene.

Seeing His mother and John, Jesus’ third statement is to resolve family responsibilities, “Woman behold your son. Behold your mother!” None of Jesus’ brothers were believers at the time of Jesus’ death (see also here), nor were they present with Jesus or Mary at the time of His death. It was the responsibility of the oldest son to care for his mother, so he gives her into the care of his disciple John.

Note that this scene also shows that Jesus had limited knowledge when he was on earth. He laid aside the independent use of his divine attributes during His incarnation, including his divine omniscience (see Philippians 2:5-8). Why would Jesus have turned Mary over to John’s care if he knew that his brothers would later on become believers? [5]

 


 

[1] The Romans would take the longest route in the crucifixion procession so that legally it would give the public one last chance to present evidence on behalf of the accused. But more importantly, it was a chance for Rome to assert its power by displaying its victims as they were being taken to the cross. [10]

 

[2] Literally, the Via Dolorosa means, “Way of Suffering” (Latin). Note that the existing roads in Jerusalem have changed since the first century, so we cannot know the actual route.

 

[3] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XV. CRUCIFIED, DEAD, AND BURIED.

 

[4] Tradition has indicated that Clopas, also known as Alphaeus, was the brother of Joseph. Edersheim elaborates further and deduces that three of the apostles were sons of Alphaeus and also cousins of Jesus: Simon the Zealot, James the son of Alphaeus, and Judas the faithful (Thaddaeus) (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19). [3]

 

[5] Doug Bookman, Behold The Lamb, Audio Series, Part 7 http://www.bookmanministries.com/

Doug Bookman, Jesus on the Cross

 

[6] Stephen Davey, Death By Crucifixion, John 19

 

[7] The ancient Jews considered the hands to include the wrists.

 

[8] Exposition of the Gospel of John, by A. W. Pink, CHAPTER 64, Christ Before Pilate (Concluded), John 19:1-11

 

[9] Stephen Davey, The Criminal, Luke 23:33-43

 

[10] John MacArthur, The Wickedness of the Crucifixion, Part 1, Matthew 27:27-37

 

[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 19:17-27, pages 305-306

 

[12] H.A. Ironside, Address 76, “With Me in Paradise”, Luke 23:26-43

 

[13] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Mark 15:21-41, pages 132-134

 

[14] Stephen Davey, The Centurion

 

[15] Stephen Davey, The Lamb’s Last Words, John 19:25-30

 

5 Comments »

  1. […] Previous post: The First Three Hours […]

    Pingback by It is Finished! | Sapphire Sky — December 13, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

  2. […] He cried, “It is finished!”, he permanently removed the barrier that separated us from God (see here and […]

    Pingback by He is Risen! | Sapphire Sky — January 2, 2016 @ 1:01 am

  3. […] to inhuman torture. He saw his teacher hang on Roman cross for six hours until he died alone (see here and […]

    Pingback by The Stranger on the Shore | Sapphire Sky — February 7, 2016 @ 5:46 pm

  4. […] The first three hours: mockery in the daylight (Matthew 27:32-44, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:26-43, John 19:17-27) […]

    Pingback by Events of the Passion Week | Sapphire Sky — March 26, 2016 @ 1:50 am

  5. […] the 483 years, the Messiah would be executed like a criminal (see here and […]

    Pingback by The Coming King | Sapphire Sky — January 28, 2017 @ 9:48 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: