LIFE OF THE MESSIAH – 020
DR. ARNOLD G. FRUCHTENBAUM
IX. The Rejection of the King: The Trial and the Death of the Messiah
E. The Crucifixion - Paragraphs 164-166
1. The First Three hours: The Wrath of Men
Paragraph 164 – Mark 15:24-32; Matthew 27:35-44; Luke 23:33-43; John 19:18-27
We come to paragraphs 164-166, the crucifixion. It’s now the 15th of Nisan, April 70, AD 30. And the first three hours on the cross He will suffer the wrath of man. It is now Friday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. And this segment is going to contain stages six through seventeen. And the sixth stage is the actual crucifixion; Mark 15:24, “they crucify Him;” Matthew, Luke and John just as simplified. Mark adds in Mark 15:25, “And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him,” corresponding to our present day 9:00 a.m. So keep in mind it’s now 9:00 o’clock in the morning of the first day of Passover. And visualize two mounts, the temple mount and the Mount of Golgotha; the temple mount, the literal lamb was now being offered up as a Passover sacrifice and now on this other mount the Passover Lamb of God was being offered up.
Now as it was with the scourging, so it was with the crucifixion; no details are given because when the Gospels were written people all knew what a crucifixion entailed but now 2,000 years later many don’t quite understand the fullness of it, and there are also some misconceptions we have because the way the crucifixion has been painted in the preceding centuries. So we have to focus just for a few minutes on this.
The Romans used four different types of crosses. The first type was the telephone pole type though not anywhere near as smooth. The second type was a capital X format and in church tradition Peter was crucified on this kind of a cross upside down. The third type was the capital T format. And the fourth type is the more traditional small t format.
We don’t have enough information within the Gospels to know with 100% certainty what kind was actually used. We can reach a high level of probability but there will always be a measure of doubt as to exactly the kind of cross that was used. Now generally speaking the first two types of crosses were not used outside of Italy. If we could say they were never used outside of Italy then we can just rule them out but there are some exceptions and therefore they cannot be entirely ruled out. If our choice was only between the third and the fourth type of cross then we know what kind it was, because part of the procedure is to nail on the cross a document or piece of wood that will spell out the reason why the person was being crucified. Now in the capital T format they put it below the feet, but in the small t format they put it over the head. We’ll see momentarily that they put it over the head of Jesus and so if the only choice was between the third and the fourth, then the fourth would be the correct choice, not the third. However, they also put it over the head in the telephone pole type and that cannot be entirely ruled out so I’d say it was a 5-10% chance it was the first kind and 90-95% chance it was the last type. The only difference it will make for the rest of my discussion is that the hands were crisscrossed and not stretched out.
The cross was laid on the ground and the person was laid on top of the cross; two nails were used in the first cross, three nails were used in the second cross. And one misconception we get from crucifixion paintings is that the nails were going through the palm of the hand. But the bone structure in the palm would not be strong enough to hold up the weight of a full grown human body. And the actual place where the nails were placed was in the wrist, here and here or through both because the nail structure there would hold up the weight of a full grown human body. The feet were placed one on top of the other, the ankles in such a way the nail went through the feet, through back heel into the wood. And where the feet would touch the cross they would also put in a small ledge; and I’ll explain the reason for the ledge a bit later.
Once all the nails were inserted the cross was picked up and then dropped into dug for it and because the weight of the body was stretched out in the drop the bones would be pulled out of joint fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 22. It’s not merely a matter of waiting, and while they were not given any food while they were on the cross they were given whatever liquid they wanted and so sometimes it would take days before someone died this way.
Now the seventh stage is in Luke’s account, Luke 23:34, we have the first of seven statements from the cross, “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do.” He prays for the forgiveness of those who are crucifying Him but the prayer for forgiveness is limited to those who do it in ignorance. That would not include people like Annas and Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate or Herod Antipas and others who knew what they were doing. It would include the other Jewish leaders that may have done it in ignorance and more specifically the Roman soldiers involved in crucifying Him.
The eighth stages is in John’s account, John 19:23-24, the parting of the garments. Now part of the procedure under the Roman system is that the soldiers involved in the crucifixion would have the rights of the clothes of the victim as spoil. Another misconception we have of the crucifixion in painting we always saw Jesus wearing a loin cloth, actually they were crucified naked. By Jewish context that would add to the shame of it all.
The average Jewish male in the first century Israel wore five pieces of clothing. First of all was the upper garment, also called the outer garment; upper garment or outer garment. The second item was called the inner garment or undergarment or tunic. The third piece was some kind of a head covering. Fourthly was shoes or sandals. And fifth was the outer robe or the outer coat which by itself was a larger single piece of cloth.
Now at each crucifixion site four soldiers would be involved so each one walks away with a piece of clothing. So one had the upper garment, one the under garment, one the head covering, one the shoes. And because the outer robe itself was the largest single piece of cloth they would normally tear it into four parts and every soldier walked away with a piece of cloth. But the kind of coat He wore was the kind of coat normally worn by the wealthy class, and because of its uniqueness they decided not to tear it apart but to gamble for it and cast lots for it and one soldier walked away with the whole robe fulfilling the prophecy, also Psalm 22.
We know earlier Jesus lived on the poverty level so how do we get this kind of a coat. And we do not know for certain but we have one hint that we saw back in Luke 8:1-3, this ministry was financed by several wealthy women, and it could be one of these wealthy women gave Him this coat.
Now the ninth stage is the erection of the superscription, in John’s account, John 19:19-22. And Matthew 27:37 specifies it is placed over His head. That’s how if we know we have to choose between the third and fourth then the fourth is the correct choice. And again, normally they would spell out the accusation or the crime he was guilty of but the way Pilate chooses to word it, it does not read like an accusation, it reads like a simple title, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” He even spelled it out in three different languages; in Hebrew for the Jews, in Latin for the Romans, and in Greek for everybody else. The leaders understand the way it reads, it reads like a title, not an accusation and they asked Pilate to change the wording; he refuses to do it and has a small piece of revenge against those who pressured him to do something he did not want to do.
Now the tenth stage is the co-crucifixion of two other men in Matthew 27:38, “Then are there crucified with Him two robbers,” again this should be rebel robbers or rebels, two men that participated in the rebellion of Barabbas. Barabbas got released from the Passover, these ones were not so fortunate, and they co-crucified with Him one on His right side and one on His left side, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12, He was numbered among the transgressors. I’ve done some research to see if we can determine who the other two men were. I still do not know who one of them is but I believe I’ve finally discovered who the other one was. One of these two men was the father of the apostle Paul because Romans 6 Paul says my old man was crucified with Him. How many of you wrote that down before you realized it was a joke?
The eleventh stage is the fifth mockery; these are four more mockeries when He is on the cross, the fifth mockery in Mark 15:29-30, committed by those who simply happened to be passing by. The site of the crucifixion is right near one of the gates now opened for Passover morning; traffic in and out, they can see who hangs on there, they can read the title or accusation, and they reduce it to mockery.
The twelfth stage is in Mark’s account, Mark 15:31-32 which is the twelfth stage and the sixth mockery. This was committed by the Jewish leaders. He mentions the Scribes who were Pharisees and the chief priests who were Sadducees, and Matthew mentions the elders, also Pharisees, so both Sadducees and Pharisees mock Him while He’s on the cross.
The thirteenth stage is the seventh mockery, in Luke’s account, Luke 23:33-37, committed by the Roman soldiers actively crucifying Him. So both Jews and Gentiles become guilty of mocking Him while He was on the cross.
The fourteenth stage is in Matthew’s account, Matthew 27:44, we have the eighth mockery, and this was committed by both men who were co-crucified with Him. And notice that initially both of them participate in mocking Him.
The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth stages there are four mockeries by four different groups but there are two common elements in all four mockeries. First of all, all four groups mocked specific Messianic claims He had made during His public ministry. He made several different kinds of claims, all Messianic, and now they take one or more of these claims and reduce it to mockery. But secondly, all four groups challenge Him to prove His Messiahship by coming down from the cross; to prove His claims by coming down from the cross. Now if Jesus had taken and accepted their challenge, it would have proved Him to be a false Messiah.
What we have here is Satan’s last attempt to keep Jesus from the cross at this point. So again, while he wants Him dead he doesn’t want Him to die at this time in this way. And with each of these four mockeries, using the pride of life motif, he wants to get Him to come down off the cross; if He used His maximum power to come off the cross it would have proved Him to be the false Messiah. This is the way the Messiah was supposed to die in keeping with Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. His refusal to come off the cross becomes evidence of His Messiahship, not a negation of it.
The fifteenth stage, in Luke’s account, Luke 23:39-42 we have the conversion of the two men co-crucified with Him. Now initially they both participate in mocking Him but as one had time to think and to reflect he came to the same conclusion that Simon, the Cyrene did. And if we look at what he says to Jesus and to his co-rebel he came to four conclusions. First of all, he realized that he was a sinner, an important conclusion because you never recognize your need for a Savior until we see ourselves as God sees us, as sinners. Secondly, he came to the conclusion that Jesus Himself was sinless, in spite of the accusations he’s hearing and the mockeries he’s hearing, he came to realize Jesus Himself was sinless. Thirdly, he came to conclude that Jesus could save him. That’s amazing because he could see that He was dying the same kind of death that he himself was dying, but he came to conclude, in spite of this fact He was dying Jesus could save him. And fourthly, he came to recognize that this one will come again in His Kingdom, again an amazing conclusion; he can see it there, Jesus was dying, but he knew He’d come again with His Kingdom. And so he requested to be remembered when He comes back with His Kingdom.
And that brings on the sixteenth stage in Luke 23:43, which is the second statement from the cross, “I say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise,” and the point is, you won’t have to wait till the Kingdom to be remember, he’ll be remembered this very same day. On this day both will die, and once they’ll die and go into Abraham’s bosom and that will verify the truth of His claims, which the other four groups are mocking.
The seventeenth stage is in John’s account, John 19:25-27; here we have the third statement from the cross. At this point several women come to the foot of the cross, four women in particular. There is Mary Magdalene, who plays a more significant role with the resurrection; we have a second Mary, the mother of James and Joses, and in John 19:25 she is referred to as “the wife of Cleopas,” Cleopas will play a role in the resurrection account. So this Mary was the wife of Cleopas and the mother of James and Joses in Mark 15:40 and Matthew 27:56. She was the mother of two of Jesus’ disciples. There is a tradition that Cleopas was the mother (?) of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus; there’s a tradition, we don’t know the facts of it, that Cleopas was the mother (?) of Joseph, if that’s the case, James and Judas would have been cousins of Jesus; if that tradition is correct.
The third woman is Salome, mentioned in Mark 15:40; Salome is the Hellenized form for the Hebrew Shualmith. And in Matthew 27:56 she’s the mother of the sons of Zebedee, John and James. In John 19:25 she’s the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. So that means she was the aunt of Jesus and her two sons were cousins of Jesus. And the fourth woman that plays a role here is Mary, His mother. In Hebrew these are all Miriam’s which was a very common name in first century Israel.
And in John 19:27 He says to her, “Woman, behold your son!? And then to John he says, “Behold, your mother!” When he tells Mary, “Behold your Son” He’s not referring to Himself, He’s referring to John; just as when He says to John, “Behold your mother,” He’s not referring to John’s mother but to the mother of Jesus. He’s still fulfilling the Mosaic Law perfectly, the firstborn son was to take care of the welfare of a widowed mother; He’s going to be leaving the earth so He won’t be able to continue doing it from a physical perspective. He does have four half-brothers who are now unbelievers and so He does not choose to deliver His mother’s welfare in the hands of an unbeliever but gives over to John. He says to the woman, “Behold your son” meaning John, she must look to John for her physical welfare; when He tells John “Behold your mother,” he gives John that responsibility, which he accepts and verse 27 ends, “And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home.” And that marks the end of the first three hours on the cross in which He has suffered the wrath of man.
2. The Second Three Hours: The Wrath of God
Paragraph 165 – Mark 15:33-37; Matthew 27:45-50; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:28-30
Now paragraph 165 we come to the second three hours on the cross where He will suffer the wrath of God. The second three hours on the cross will cover twelve noon until three in the afternoon. Now Luke’s account, Luke 23:44-45 mentions the fact that darkness envelops the whole land, a thick darkness that lasts for a full three hours, the same three hours which normally are the brightest time of the day in the land of Israel. It also extends to the surrounding territories, apparently.
If this darkness was as extensive as they claim you would think there would be some other records of it; in archeology they’ve discovered three other records of what happens here. Two come from Egypt, south of Israel, and one comes from Turkey, now north of Israel. The first one from Egypt is by a Greek scientist by Dionysius, D-i-o-n-y-s-i-u-s; he reports seeing the darkness in the city of Heliopolis in Egypt. That’s a tone of irony because Heliopolis in Greek means the city of the sun, but the sun has been blacked out in the brightest time of the day.
The second source also comes from a Greek scientist in Egypt; his name is Diogenes, D-i-o-g-e-n-e-s. I’ll quote you what he wrote. Now keep in mind he was a pagan, and yet he has some measure of spiritual insight. (Quote) “There was a solar darkness of such like that either the deity himself suffered at that moment or sympathized with one who did.” I’ll repeat that: “There was a darkness of such like that either the deity suffered at that moment or sympathized with one who did.” He had no way of knowing this but both statements are true: deity suffering at that moment, God the Son suffered at that moment; deity sympathized with one who did, God the Father, God the Spirit sympathized with One who did.
The third writer is a Roman writer named Phlegon, P-h-l-e-g-o-n, he lived in Asia Minor; Asia Minor is now Turkey, and he writes this: There was a great and remarkable eclipse of the sun above any that ever happened before. At the sixth hour the day was turned into the darkness of the night so the stars was in heaven. There was a great earthquake at Bithynia which overthrew many of the houses in Nicea. He mentions not only a darkness, a very thick darkness; he also mentions an earthquake; as we shall see the moment death occurs an earthquake also occurs.
Now more important for us is the theological significance of this darkness, that’s what we covered earlier in the Garden of Gethsemane experience, it marks the point of His spiritual death. There’s a separation from the Father, for three hours He is separated, and for three hours he suffers the wrath of God. By the way, this paragraph contains stages nineteen through twenty-five.
The twentieth stage is in Matthew’s account, Matthew 27:46, where he cries out, “Eli, Eli, lama, sabach-thani,” My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me.” It’s a quotation of Psalm 22:1. In Jewish practice when you quote the first verse of a segment you imply the whole segment. The point is, He applied the whole psalm to Himself. Now taken out of context it might seem like a cry of despair, but in the context of Psalm 22 it’s a cry for help, a cry for help that comes at the end of having suffered three hours of the wrath of God for our sins. It’s the only time He addresses Him as “Eli, Eli,” “My God, My God.” 170 times in the Gospels, 170 times, He calls Him “Father;” and 21 times He calls Him “My Father.” The only time He calls Him, addressing Him as “My God, My God” is right here, because He does not have a paternal relationship, it’s now a judicial relationship. It’s not “Abbi Abbi,” (?) My Father, My Father, but Eli, Eli, My “God, My God.” It’s a cry that is answered; He both dies spiritually and is resurrected spiritually before He even dies physically.
Now the eighteenth stage was the darkness; the nineteenth stage was this cry.
The twentieth stage is in Matthew 27:47-49, the response of those standing by, and they misinterpret what He says because in Hebrew “Eli, Eli” does mean “My God, My God,” but also Eli is a short form for the name Elijah. To the Hebrew ear “Eli” could mean my God, Eli could mean Elijah, and they assume He’s calling for Elijah to come and rescue Him. There are some in the crowd that assume He might be getting delirious and bring some vinegar to Him, but the others call Him back and say let’s wait and see if Elijah will come to rescue Him.
The twenty-first stage is in John’s account, John 19:28, we have the fifth statement from the cross, “I thirst.” In Luke 16:22-24 when He told the story of the rich man and Lazarus, when the rich man suffered the pangs of the wrath of God in hell, his response was I thirst. Now Jesus has suffered the wrath of God, He responds in a very similar way, “I thirst.”
The twenty-second stage is in John 19:29 where He partakes of the vinegar. This was not the mixed drink that He was offered earlier; this would help moisten His lips, His tongue and His mouth, and so the last two statements from the cross can be said clearly and distinctly.
Then came the twenty-third stage and the sixth statement from the cross in John 19:30, “It is finished.” Those three words make up one Greek word, tetelestai, t-e-t-e-l-e-s-t-a-i, it does mean it is finished but in one unique way. A few years ago archeologists were digging and uncovered the office of an ancient CPA; what they found was a stack of invoices, a stack of bills and across each bill was this one word written, tetelestai, tetelestai; it does means it is finished in the sense of being paid in full. All of the blood animal sacrifices was now paid in full. The animal sacrifices were nothing but installment payments. Now the shedding of His own blood makes the final payment for what sin required.
Now the twenty-fourth stage is the seventh statement from the cross, it’s found in Luke’s account, Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice,” the loud voice He cried was tetelestai, He then says, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” That’s your seventh statement from the cross. Notice the voluntary character of His death. Notice how He addresses God again, now as “Father,” the restoration of the paternal relationship. And again, He both dies spiritually and is resurrected spiritually before He dies physically. And the word means to dismiss; He dismisses His spirit from His body. He chooses the moment of His death and then hands over His human spirit for the safe keeping of God the Father.
Now the twenty-fifth stage you have His actual physical death. At the end of Mark 15:37, “He gave up the spirit,” in Matthew 27:50, He “yielded up His spirit; Luke 23:46, “He gave up the spirit,” John 19:30, “He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” Normally when you die, you’re dying, your head falls but He puts His head down, He dismisses His spirit from His body.
When Paul spells out the content of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 he points out there are three things we have to believe for our salvation, and the first thing is that He died for our sins; the death of Christ is what made the atonement. The New Testament develops in great detail the theological implications, the results of His death that we’re going to survey for a couple of minutes because it’s very significant.
First of all, His death is a satisfaction; it means a full legal equivalent of the wrong done. The (?) of the Law has been satisfied what it demanded according to the wrong done. His death answered all the demands of God’s Law and justice against a sinner, Romans 3:3-4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 5:2.
Secondly, His death resulted in a redemption. It means His death paid the price for the penalty of sin. There are seven different Greek words that all come out as redemption in English. What it emphasizes, believers have been purchased out of the slave market of sin and set free; they have been purchased from the slave market of sin and set free. The redemption of the believer occurred in five different areas.
First, we have been redeemed from the penalty of the Law; that applies especially to Jewish believers; Gentiles are not under the Law, Galatians 3:13. We’ve also been redeemed from the Law itself, Jewish believers are now free from having to obey the Mosaic Law; we are now under a new law, the law of the Messiah, Romans 6:14; Romans 7:24 and Galatians 4:4-5. Thirdly, we’ve been redeemed from the power of sin, that includes both Jews and Gentiles. We’re not obligated to obey the sin nature any more, Romans 5:18-19; Romans 6:6 and 6:14. Fourthly, we’ve been redeemed from the power of Satan; a believer is no longer obligated to obey Satan, Galatians 2:15; Hebrews 2:15. And fifthly, believers are guaranteed future final redemption from all evil, which will occur when the resurrection of the body occurs, Luke 21:28; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:14 and 4:30.
The third result, propitiation; it means that God is satisfied with the death that the Messiah accomplished. It’s to appease the wrath of God against sin; to propitiate, to appease the wrath of God against sin. It does not mean that His death merely satisfied a vengeful God; it satisfied a God who is just and righteous and holy. And the wrath of God was poured out against sin.
Number four, it was also a reconciliation. (?) definition means to change a relationship of one person to another person, to change from enmity to friendship. The point is this; the position of the world was changed by His death so that all men are now able to be saved. His death rendered the whole world savable, though salvation will apply only to individuals who will believe. Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:19.
The fifth result, there was a ransom. It means the blood of the Messiah was the price that had to be paid for the penalty of sin. The blood of the Messiah and the death of the Messiah is the ransom paid to a holy law of God, Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6.
Number six, it was the proof of the love of God for sinners; and the evidence is that He died for the world in a sinful state, not in His redeemed state, John 3:16; John 4:9; Romans 5:1, 8. He did not die for us when we were His friends; He died for us when we were still His enemies.
Number seven is the judgment of our sin nature. He rendered inoperative the reigning power of the sin nature’s authority in (?) over the believer, so when we sin today we merely submit to the will of the sin nature but we don’t have to. We all end up doing it, we don’t have to. The sin nature is not removed when one believes, you still have it, but it’s judged and condemned in Romans 6:1-10.
Number eight, it marks the end of the Law of Moses as a rule of life; His death marked the end of the Mosaic Law. Believers are no longer under the Law of Moses but under a new law, the law of Messiah, Romans 7:5-6; Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 7:11-19; Hebrews 8:13; Ephesians 2:11-3:6; Galatians 3:17-19.
Number nine, it’s the basis for the continuing cleansing of our sins. We still sin and we are continuously being cleansed on the basis of Christ’s death. This is a basic rule of all sins following our salvation; it’s a family forgiveness based upon His blood in 1 John 1:7-9.
But number ten, it’s also the basis for the removal of pre-cross sins. He didn’t die only for sins committed after His death, He died for all sins committed before His death. Thus He died for the sins of the Old Testament saints. Animal blood was not sufficient to take away sins; animal blood was able to cover sins but not remove from sin, Hebrews 10:1-4. Only His death could accomplish the removal of the pre-cross sins, Acts 17:30; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:15 and Hebrews 10:4.
Number eleven, the judgment of Satan and his hosts; now based with the judgment of Satan and every fallen angel or demon at the Great White Throne Judgment after the Messianic Kingdom, the basis is the blood of Christ, John 12:31; John 16:11; Colossians 2:14-15. It was the basis for the deferment of righteous divine judgment; God has deferred judgment until the end of time, but it’s based upon the death of the Messiah. And God has a right to judge men immediately, but justice is deferred, delayed, and because of His death, Romans 2:4-5; Romans 9:22; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9 and 15.
Thirteen, His blood also resulted in purification of things in heaven. The blood of Jesus was used to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary which has been defiled by Satan’s fall, Romans 8:21-23; Hebrews 9:11-12, and 21-24.
Fourteen, it’s the ground for peace, peace between God and man, Romans 5:1; and grounds for peace between Jews and Gentiles, Ephesians 2:11-16; Colossians 3:11; it’s a ground for peace in the universe, Colossians 1:20.
Fifteen, it’s also the basis for the national salvation of Israel in the future; someday all Israel will believe on Him, Deuteronomy 30: 3; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 11:25-29.
Number sixteen, it’s the basis of the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom, Revelation 5:8-14 makes the point the Messianic Kingdom could not be established apart from the death of the Messiah.
3. The Accompanying Signs – Paragraph 166
Mark 15:38-41; Matthew 27:51-56; Luke 23:45, 47-49
Let’s go on to paragraph 166, the accompanying signs. The moment He dies several things happen in rather quick succession. First of all, in Matthew 27:51 a tremendous earthquake hits. Secondly, in Matthew 27:52-53 the tombs are opened, tombs meaning cave tombs, not graves below the ground, and many saints, many believers who were dead were now resurrected. And notice the wording, they were resurrected the moment He dies; they do not come out of the tombs until His own resurrection; they stay in the tombs until He is resurrected. But they are resurrected the moment He dies providing the picture by His death He provides life.
Now this is not the resurrection of the Old Testament saints into immortality because that won’t happen until the Second Coming in Daniel 12:2. This was merely a restoration of back to natural life, of things that had not been dead all that long. And they stay in the tombs until His resurrection, then they go into the city, in Matthew 27:53, Jerusalem, “and appeared to many.” We have no other record of their activities after this verse; because no one could be raised into immortality before Jesus’ own resurrection these all died again later.
Now another event that occurs in Mark 15:38 is the renting of the veil, a tear that began at the top and worked it’s way to the bottom. If a man came in to try to do this he would take the bottom and tear from bottom to top but He points out the tear began at the top and worked its way down to the bottom. Now keep in mind what the veil was; it was 60 feet long, 20 feet wide, it’s about four inches thick. And the significance of this is spelled out in the book of Hebrews in particular; it meant now access to God was made available to all. And when the Mosaic Law was in operation only one man could enter into God’s presence, that was the Jewish high priest, even for him only one day in the whole year. Only one man out of one family out of one clan out of one tribe out of one nation out of one race could had access into God’s presence, the Jewish high priest, even for him only one day in the whole year, the Day of Atonement. But now that the veil has been rent, signifying the ending of the Mosaic Law, access is made available to all who believe.
Outside the Gospels in Jewish writings there is no mention of this particular event. There is no other mention of this outside the Gospels. And keep in mind only a few men had the authority to go inside the temple so only a few would ever notice that it was torn and it could be kept really quiet. Now what we do have in Jewish writings shortly after this period is a number of legends and the two common elements of these legends: number one, they all concern the temple in some respect; then secondly they all are dated the same way, this or that happened forty years before the temple was destroyed. And again, the temple was destroyed in the year AD 70, subtract forty years, that’s the year of AD 30, the year of His death.
There are many such legends, I’m going to give you just four as a taste, there are much more than these four I’m giving you. The first one mentioned by Josephus is that in the first room there was a seven branch lampstand, this middle lamp kept going out inexplicably, for some reason it just kept going out as of the year AD 30. The second legend is mentioned by both Josephus and the Talmud, and the heavy temple doors that took several men to swing open swung open of their own accord in the year AD 30. And the Talmud says that the key rabbi of that day, one named (?) said this was a sign the temple was destined to be destroyed, but it happened in the year AD 30. A third legend says the lintel of the doorway of the temple cracked and fell that year.
There are some others, I’ll give you my favorite one called the legend of azazel, a-z-a-z-e-l, azazel is a word that means removal but became the technical name for the scapegoat. Now on the Day of Atonement, on that day two goats were presented before the high priest. One goat was chosen to live and one goat was chosen to die. The goat chosen to die will be killed by the altar, the blood taken into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled upon the mercy seat which was the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. When the priest came out, he laid his hands upon the head of the live goat; as he laid his hands upon the live goat the goat began speaking in tongues. No, scratch that, just checking if you’re awake out there. Laying on of hands was the Old Testament symbol of identification and now the goat was identified with the people of Israel and the high priest confessed the sins of Israel, and the goat was driven out of the camp, out into the wilderness. The picture conveyed is by the shedding of blood of the first goat the second goat can bear the sins outside the camp. That’s as far as the Law of Moses went in Leviticus 16. Because of what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 1:18, “though their sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow,” the Jewish legend says that before the live goat, the scapegoat, the azazel goat was chased out they would tie a red ribbon on his horn or neck. Miraculously year after year (?) by a miracle the red ribbon always turn white, signifying that God had forgiven Israel for their sins for that year. But the Jewish writings go on to state: a day came when the red ribbon no longer turned white, and that was as of the year AD 30. So from AD 30 to AD 70 there were 40 more Day of Atonements, they continued the same ceremony for forty more years, but the red ribbon never turned white again, showing God was no longer forgiving their sins by means of the two goats. What it says for us who are Jewish believers is this: the rabbis who record these legends failed to conclude why the red ribbon stopped turning white, because of tetelestai, “it is finished.” As Hebrews 10:18 teaches, once you have remission of sins there is no more sacrifice for sins. So again Jewish writers do not record the renting of the veil but they do record something’s significant happened in connection with the temple as of the year AD 30.
The two major results of these accompanying signs, the first result in Luke 48 is fear among even the Jewish leaders as they observed these things happening. A second result in Matthew 27:54 is belief on the part of a Gentile Roman centurion.
F. The Burial of the Messiah
Paragraph 167 – Mark 15:42-46; Matthew 27:57-60; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-42
Paragraph 167 we come to the burial of Jesus. Here we have stages 27-30; the twenty-seventh stage is in John’s account, John 19:31-37, we have the breaking of the bones of the other two and the piercing of Jesus. Now John 19:31 says “The Jews, therefore, because it was the Preparation,” notice in your Harmony the word “Preparation” is in capital P because it is a technical Jewish term; a technical Jewish term used of Friday. And now we shall see several evidences that His crucifixion did occur on a Friday. He also points out that particular Sabbath was a high Sabbath. What would render a Sabbath as a high Sabbath is if the Sabbath also fell on a Jewish feast day. Now the Passover on this year went from sundown Thursday to sundown Friday; sundown Friday began the first day of Unleavened Bread. And the first day in the seven days of Unleavened Bread were holy days and because on this day the first day of Unleavened Bread will be also a Sabbath they render the Sabbath a high Sabbath. It went contrary to have Jewish bodies exposed over a normal Sabbath; that was especially true on a high Sabbath. And so they asked Pilate to hasten the death sentence.
Now the way a person normally dies in crucifixion is ultimately by suffocation because the way you’re hanging there you cannot breathe and the reason they put the wooden ledge by the foot is so the victim could lift himself up, take a breath and come down again. And (?) in doing so, going up and down, he could survive for a few days. But keep in mind that the cross was now smooth so after a while going up and down would make your back rather sore, and in the case of Jesus the pain was immediate because of the scourge He suffered. And one way to hasten the death process is simply to break the legs of the victims and they could no longer lift themselves up and they would suffocate shortly thereafter. They proceeded to break the legs of the other two but Jesus had already dismissed His spirit from His body and they do not break His legs, fulfilling the Passover motif of Exodus 12:46, no bones of His were broken.
But to make sure He’s dead a soldier pierces His side; when He pierced His side out came blood and water, to fulfill another prophecy in Zechariah 12:10, they will look unto Him whom they once pierced. There’s been some discussion what this meant medically, as some doctors have written this is the sign of a ruptured heart and they give a nice devotional, He died of a broken heart. Other doctors have written disputing that conclusion. As to what this means medically I have no idea. Our main concern is what does this mean theologically.
And notice in your Harmony only John reports this particular event; he also mentions he was an eyewitness to that event. And then when he writes the book of 1 John in 1 John 5:8-12 he makes reference to the water and the blood and for him it’s the evidence that God did provide eternal life because it did mark Messiah’s death and by death He provided eternal life and thus the significance spiritually of the outpouring of the blood and the water.
The twenty-eighth stage is the request for the body of Jesus. Look at Mark 15:42, “And now when even was come, because it was the Preparation,” again with a capital P, and because he’s writing to Romans they may not know what that term means he explains it, “that is, the day before the Sabbath,” this is typical Jewish terminology for the Friday-Saturday connection. The day of the Preparation was Friday, and Friday sundown the Sabbath begins. At this point two men come forward, one we met earlier, Nicodemus, who now comes out openly to identify with Jesus, and now we meet a new individual we have not heard of before, Joseph of Arimathea.
We learn several things about him from the Gospels. Number one, he was of honorable estate, which also meant he came from a line of well recognized, well known people. Secondly, he was wealthy, that’s how he could afford his own tomb near Jerusalem, though that’s not where he lived, he lived in Arimathea. Thirdly, he was a good man, that will emphasize his external actions. Fourthly, he was righteous, that was his internal state. Fifthly, he was one looking for the Kingdom of God; he was a member of the remnant of that day. Sixthly, he was a councilor, meaning he was a member of the Sanhedrin. Seventh, but he was not yet a vote. And eighth, he was a secret disciple up until now; up until now he was a believer but he kept quiet about it. And now, as John points out in John 19:38, they were quiet because of fear of the Jewish community, but now in contrast to his previous fearfulness, the end of Mark 15:43, “he boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.” He boldly requested for the body.
And in Mark 15:44 Pilate sent somebody out to check to make sure that Jesus was dead, when that is verified he then permits the body to be released.
The twenty-ninth stage is removal of the body from the cross and wrapping the body in linen cloths. Now if you look at John’s account, the end of John 19:40, they bound Him in cloth, notice the word “cloths” means strips of cloths, strips of cloths, not a shroud over His body as a whole but strips of cloth. That’s the way the Jewish people buried bodies in the first century. And this shows that whatever the Shroud of Turin might be it’s not the shroud of Jesus, whatever it might be.
Now the thirtieth stage is His actual burial in John 19:41-42. He’s buried in a new unused tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Luke 23:54 says “And it was the day of the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.” As soon as the sundown occurs and three stars are visible the Sabbath would begin.
Now getting back to our passage in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the first point of the gospel is He died for our sins; the second point of the gospel is, “and He was buried.” (?) I mentioned two theological significances of the burial of Jesus. First of all, it marks the last stage of His humiliation, in two ways. First of all, it meant the death of the God-man. Being sinless he should not have died, yet He died the death like a sinner dies, because He died in our substitution. And secondly, none of those who were close to Him participated in the burial; notice that, none of those who were close to Him in His life and ministry participate in the burial, He’s buried by two men who are both Pharisees, who until now had become secret believers.
Now theologians speak about the humiliation of the Son, in which they go from His incarnation, in the likeness of sinful flesh until His burial. They also speak of the exultation of the Messiah; they begin the exultation normally with the resurrection and they conclude with His enthronement at the right hand of God the Father forty days later. I personally would begin the exultation also with the burial; we see that in two ways.
He’s buried in a new, unused rich man’s tomb, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Furthermore, in place of being buried in a common cemetery He’s buried in a privately owned garden.
Now centuries earlier the first Adam in the Garden of Eden brought judgment and death; and now in this garden, the last Adam will bring blessing and new life to come. And again, the burial is part of the gospel because the evidence of His real death. So the first point is He “died for our sins;” secondly, “and He was buried,” the evidence of His real death. The third point as we’ll see later on, “He rose on the third day according to Scripture.”
G. The Sealing of the Tomb
Paragraph 168 – Mark 15:47; Matthew 27:61-66; Luke 23:55-56
Paragraph 168, the sealing of the tomb. The last two stages are found in this paragraph; stage number thirty-one, the preparation for the embalming. Now the women that came up with Him from the Galilee take careful note as to the exact tomb where they laid Him, and in fact Matthew points out that two of the Mary’s set against the sepulchre for a while. They didn’t just get a look from the distance and could confuse the tombs; two of them actually sat against the sepulchre for a while. And they also began preparing ointments with the intent of finishing the embalming procedure and the burial customs was the Sabbath comes to an end.
And the thirty-second stage is the sealing of the tomb, in Matthew’s account, Matthew 27:62-66. Now notice that the elders of Israel do remember His statement about being raised from the dead. It’s interesting because the apostles never got that point, but the enemies did get that point. What they’re afraid of now is that somebody would come and steal the body and would preach the resurrection and they point out from their perspective, at the end of Matthew 27:64, “the last error will be even worse than the first” error. So Pilate does two things for them. First of all, he puts a Roman guard on the tomb to guard it for three days. Now keep in mind under Roman law if they failed to guard the tomb, if they failed to guard the body they’ll be facing the death penalty; that was Roman law.
But secondly, he has the tomb sealed with the Roman seal. Let’s see how that was done. The caves were dug out of the hill country around Jerusalem and Judah and the hill country was made mostly of limestone. And they would simply carve out a cave, and in front of the cave you would have groove; the purpose of the groove is for the stone to be rolled back and forth; these were family tombs, they could be rolled back and forth as necessary as different family members die.
Now to seal a tomb they would tie ropes and crisscross the ropes on hooks against the wall of the tomb and the ground, in at least two different places, sometimes more, in at least two different places they would put the clay wax seal and with the ropes crisscrossed and also where the stone touched the tomb. It was done in such a way it would be impossible to roll the stone away without breaking the Roman seal and if they break the Roman seal it was punishable by death. So they try to make it very, very secure that the body cannot be removed, stolen or whatever.
I want to say a few more things about the day that He died because people have ignored the Jewish background and the Jewish reckoning of time. They to get Him in the tomb three full 24 hour periods, and some have moved His death to a Thursday, more often to a Wednesday, a few even to a Tuesday depending when they begin the three day countdown.
Now keep in mind if He was in the tomb for three full 24 hour periods and rose only one second later it was already the fourth day, not the third day. Now Jesus actually made three different statements about the timing of His death and resurrection; three different statements. First of all He said He would rise “on” the third day; one example of several is Matthew 16:21. A second way He said it is “after three days,” not on the third day but after three days, implying the fourth day. One example of several, Matthew 26:61. And a third statement He made is three days and three nights, as in Matthew 12:39-40.
Notice I gave you all three versions from the same Gospel because it’s not a variation between the Gospel writers; the same Gospel writer uses all three different methods. Now again, in Jewish reckoning, for example, part of a year counts for the whole year. If a king takes the throne on the 12th month of the year, he’s viewed as having ruled the whole year, the very next month would read the second year of his reign. How could it be the second year when he’s reigned for one month? Because part of a year counts for the whole year. The same applies to a day; part of the day counts for the whole day, all 24 hours of it, both the day and the night of it. So He was in the grave part of Friday which counts for all of Friday. And then Saturday, and then part of Sunday which counts for all of Sunday. He did rise on the third day; Friday was the first day, Saturday was the second, Sunday the third, because part of Sunday counts for all of Sunday; it’s also true He rose after three days.
(?) three days and three nights was a Jewish idiom of speech meaning any period of time that touches three days; part of a day counts for the whole day which includes the night and the day of it. In fact, it’s used that way in several passages in the Old Testament that cannot, in context, mean three full 24 hour days. Let me give you some examples: Genesis 42:17-18; 1 Samuel 30:12-13; 1 Kings 20:29; 2 Chronicles 10:5, 12. A very good one by the way is Esther 4:16 and 5:1. In the chapter 4 passage it says fast for me three days and three nights, and I will then go see the king. So if you just take that by itself they are to fast for three days and three nights; when that’s all over, on the fourth day she will see the king. But chapter 5 verse 1 says “on the third day” she went to see the king. You won’t squeeze three twenty-four hour periods from it. In Jewish reckoning of time it’s not necessary.
One more point of evidence that comes from the Jewish Talmud, which does mention the death of Jesus and actually specifies twice what day of the week He died, and I quote you as it reads: “There is a tradition, on the eve of the Sabbath and on Passover they hung Jesus. The heralds went out crying Jesus goes forth to be executed because He practiced sorcery, and seduced Israel and estranging them from their God. Let anyone who can bring forward a justifying plea for Him come and give information concerning Him. But no justifying plea could be found for Him so they hung Jesus on the eve of the Sabbath and on the Passover.” Twice it says on the eve of the Sabbath, that makes it Friday; and then a Passover day. They have to justify it by saying He was seducing Israel because it went contrary to Jewish laws, as we saw, to do executions on a festival. We’ll see some more evidence when we can move into some of the resurrection scenes shortly.
X. The Resurrection and the Ascension of the King
A. The Dawning of Resurrection Day
Paragraph 169 – Mark 16:1; Matthew 28:1
Now we come to the tenth and final segment of His life, the resurrection and the ascension of the King. We talked about the theological significances of His death and burial; let’s begin with the theological significances of His resurrection. In paragraph 169, the dawning of the resurrection day. We’ll characterizes it in different categories, first of all, He is the Messiah; they proved Him to be the Son of God, Romans 1:4 was the evidence that he was the Son of God. Second, they confirmed the truth of all that He said, Matthew 28:6. It also means He’s the first fruits of the first resurrection.
Keep in mind the Bible describes two different kinds of resurrections, the first kind is a restoration back to natural life; that means you die again later, and those people raised from the Old Testament and the people raised even by Him before His own death and resurrection, but they were restored back to natural life. The second type of resurrection leads to resurrection life where mortality puts on immortality, corruption puts on incorruption, and you’re now immortal and cannot die. He was the first one to be raised in that kind of a body. He’s the first fruit of the first resurrection; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23. It was a declaration of the Father that the Messiah met all the requirements of the Law of Moses, Philippians 2:9.
The second category, specific (?) resurrection to people in general; He makes certain resurrection of all men, both believers and unbelievers will be resurrected, though not for the same destiny, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23. It also guarantees the judgment of all unbelievers and all unbelievers will be judged on the basis of the resurrected Son, Acts 10:40-42; Acts 17:30-31.
Thirdly, resurrection of the Old Testament saints; (?) is a fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of their salvation; it meant the removal of their sins and a guarantee of their future resurrection, Acts 13:32-33.
The significance of believers specifically, it proves our justification; we are justified by His death, His resurrection proves our justification, Romans 4:24-25. Second, it guarantees power for believer’s service; (?) resurrection power to accomplish what we’ve been called to do, Ephesians 1:17-20. Third, it guarantees the believer’s individual resurrection to immortality, Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14. Fourthly, it means the forgiveness of the believer’s sins; we’re forgiven because of His death but again, this is the evidence of it, 1 Corinthians 15:7. (?) the Messiah is the head of the church, Ephesians 1:20-22. It means the Messiah now has the keys of death as far as believers are concerned, so when a believer dies it is Jesus that puts us to death, puts us to sleep. The one exception to the rule is a believer who has been excommunicated from the local assembly; when that happens then Satan can put the believer to death, only in the physical sense, not in the spiritual sense. But normal is that Jesus puts us to death, Hebrews 2:9-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15. Even now there’s a sympathetic high priest in heaven as a result of the resurrection, Hebrews 4:14-16.
A. The Dawning of Resurrection Day
Paragraph 169 – Mark 16:1; Matthew 28:1
Now in paragraph 169 we have the visit of the women to the tomb. Matthew says in Matthew 28:1, “Now late on the Sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” in English we use the word “dawn” to mean the wee hours of the morning, as light begins to appear on the horizon before the sun appears. But in Greek and Hebrew it simply means the beginnings of the new day, without telling us what time of day it was. And keep in mind, in Jewish reckoning, which Matthew would be very conscious of, the first day of the week is not the wee hours of Sunday morning but it begins sundown Saturday and will continue till sundown Sunday. So late on the Sabbath, late afternoon towards early evening they went to see and visit the tomb.
B. The Opening of the Tomb
Paragraph 170 – Matthew 28:2-4
Now paragraph 170, the opening of the tomb. It’s now the 17th of Nisan, April 9, AD 30. And just as an earthquake marked the point of His death, notice the second earthquake marks the point of His resurrection. The second thing that happens, an angel comes down and rolls the stone away, and when the angel rolled the stone away he broke the Roman seal. And because he broke the Roman seal the soldiers should have proceeded to have this angel arrested. You don’t go around arresting angels, especially in verse 3, “His appearance was a lightning, and his raiment as white as snow,” so the thing that happened is they became as dead men. We’d say in English they were scared stiff, they were so afraid they couldn’t move, either forward or backward.
The Visit of the Woman
Paragraph 171 – Mark 16:2-8; Matthew 28:5; Luke 24:1-8
Now paragraph 171, the visit of the women. It’s now in the wee hours of our Sunday morning. The women come to the tomb for the purpose of finishing the burial procedures. Remember, the very fact that they made all those burial procedures shows they’re not anticipating the resurrection to occur.
The first woman is a woman of one, a group of one, Mary Magdalene, in John’s account, John 20:1; what she sees is the stone rolled away and the tomb is empty. She does not see any angels. And she leaves the tomb area working on the assumption that someone had moved the body. After she is gone then the other women come in, and they do see the angels and they do get the message of the resurrection. The (?) message is two points; first of all, Jesus Himself has been risen from the dead so there’s no reason to seek Him among the dead, that’s in Luke 24:5.
But secondly, in Mark’s account, Mark 16:6-7, they are to go back to the disciples and tell them to leave for the Galilee. Remember during the last Passover He told them when He was arrested they had to proceed to Galilee and He’ll meet with them when He rises from the dead in Galilee. Although He taught them at least four times we have recorded, the whole program of death and resurrection, we’re always told they never comprehended what He was saying. So it caught them by surprise and they still have not left for the Galilee as they should have done as of Friday. So now they receive a second command, leave for Galilee, He’ll meet with them up in the Galilee.
At that point three things happen. First of all, remember in Luke 21:8 they remember His prophecy; they finally remember about His prophecy about being raised from the dead. Secondly, In Mark 16:8 they told no one outside the apostolic group. But thirdly, in Matthew 28:8 they did run to tell the apostles.
D. The Report to the Apostles
Paragraph 172 – Luke 24:9-12; John 20:2-10
We’ll take one more before we break, paragraph 172, the report to the apostles. Now Mary, or Miriam, runs to two disciples, two apostles, Peter and John, telling them only about the empty tomb. And the other women tell the other nine apostles the message that they got but Luke points out in Luke 24:11, “these words appeared in their sight as idle talk, and they disbelieved.” The report they got from the other women is disbelieved.
But Peter and John, who get the message a bit differently, only about an empty tomb, decide in John 20:3-10 to run over and find out what the facts are. And John outruns Peter, we’re told he stooped down, he didn’t go inside, he looked inside, he saw two things. First of all, he saw the linen clothes still rolled up, which means the resurrection took place right through the grave clothes, it wasn’t necessary to unwrap Him as it was with the case of Lazarus when Jesus said unwrap him. But these clothes were still wrapped up, which meant He resurrected right through the grave clothes. And secondly, the head piece was over in a different part of the tomb, which again shows that whatever the Shroud of Turin could be, it’s not the shroud of Jesus.
And then Peter, who is a bit more impetuous, walks right into the tomb and both see the same evidence but they leave the tomb with two different conclusions. John leaves the tomb area believing a resurrection has taken place. But Peter, in Luke 24:12 leaves the tomb area in a state of perplexity, not certain what he should do with what he just saw.