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That night of the Last Supper, Jesus was sold, went through a sequence of swift trials and was condemned to death on the cross.

Faced with death, Jesus himself said that the time had come for the Son to glorify the Father (John 17:1). The Lord knew what was going to happen and knew what it all meant.

Concerning the death of the Lord:

The disciples said, “You must not die.” (But they did not know what they were saying.)

The high priest and his associates, who represented religion, said, “He must die.” (Because their jealous hearts knew clearly that this Jesus and they were incompatible and cannot coexist.)

Pilate, representing politics, said, “He does not deserve to die, but still he has to die.” (For politics does not care about truth, but only about deals.)

The crowd, representing humanity, cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” (They did not need any apparent reason, they just hated him and wanted him to die, as the sinful human nature would dictate.)

Three tribunals, namely the religious, the political, and the humanity, all together pronounced the death sentence on Jesus.

But in the spiritual reality, it was not what it appeared. It was God’s judgment of religion, politics, and humanity. The judgment was hidden, and still is hidden, to the eyes of the flesh. But One day God will proclaim the truth of this judgment. On the day when religion, politics, and humanity is condemned, we must find the right place to hide.

Facing religion

Jesus was sold, and fell into the hands of the Jewish rulers, and was judged and condemned in the court of religion.

As soon as morning came, the chief priests, the elders, the scribes, and the whole council took counsel. They bound Jesus, and delivered him to Pilate, the Roman governor, to be judged in the court of politics.

They were anxious to get rid of Jesus, and did not delay a moment.

Jesus was bound. Perhaps this would satisfy their sense of power. The hands of the priests were supposed to bind the sacrifices (Psalm 118:27). But they did not know that they were binding the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the true sacrifice in the whole universe, the true substance of all sacrifices made in the Old Testament time.

Pilate happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. He was the governor of the Roman Empire. He was a gentile, not a Jew.

So the Jews bound and handed over their Messiah, their King, to a Gentile king so to speak. What a sad ending of Judaic religious system, whose main point was to prepare and wait for the Messiah.

On the surface, religion judged Jesus, but in spiritual reality, which is invisible to the eyes of the flesh, God judged religion.

Facing politics

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “You said so.”

Pilate was the ruler in power, and he was concerned only with what he understood, power and politics. He was not concerned with truth, but only with the position of human power.

But he did not know this: another government, this true government of the universe, had a kind of authority and power that was not visible to human eyes, but far beyond what he could even imagine.

Before Pilate, Jesus gave only this one definite answer. He answered in this way as a testimony to the truth, for the glory of God demanded it, and the Son of God himself must testify against the opposition of the enemy by telling the truth, as it was a duty he still had to fulfill on earth before he died.

He did not answer anything to the rest of the interrogation. He let them continue in their sinfulness, as they acted according to their sinful nature and motives.

Before Pilate, the chief priests eagerly accused Jesus of many things. They were excessively submissive and presented themselves in a subordinate manner to him. They were so eager that they forgot the least bit of dignity they should have maintained before a Gentile governor as the chief priests of the Jews. In normal conditions, they viewed that as part of their fundamental dignity and pride. But this was not a normal time.

Jesus did not answer the chief priests’ accusations. The Son of God was no longer under any obligation to answer all the words that came out of the Jewish rulers’ mouths.

When Pilate saw that Jesus chose to be silent in the face of so many accusations, he also became curious, and pressed him. But Jesus still did not answer, which made Pilate feel even more strange.

Pilate was a shrewd man, and he knew in his heart that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus out of jealousy. He then gave the Jews a choice between Jesus and Barabbas.

Barabbas was a rebellious bandit who had killed people. The Jews knew this clearly. Pilate then asked the Jews, with a leading question, “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?”

What a sharp question this was. Pilate put Jesus and the robber Barabbas together and asked the Jews to choose.

Never before in their history had the Jews, or the entire mankind for that matter, been confronted with a choice of such sharp contrast. Yet this was necessary, for the most corrupt hearts need to be revealed with the most evil questions and choices.

Do not think that Pilate was advocating justice for Jesus. Although he knew that Jesus was innocent, what Pilate had in mind was a shrewd calculation: he intentionally let the Jews themselves know that they had made a perverse choice in bad conscience, and their request was so patently unjust and evil that they ought to remember this: that he still granted their request was a big favor the Jews would owe him afterward.

In fact, Pilate and King Herod became friends with one another the same day. The essence of politics is trading deals.

The Jews chose Barabbas, a murderer, over Jesus their real King and Messiah.

Pilate heeded the call of the crowd, and was urged by the chief priests to hand Jesus over for crucifixion.

On the surface, politics judged Jesus, but in spiritual reality, which is not visible to the eyes of the flesh, God judged politics.

Facing Humanity

Jesus submitted himself to the insults and mockery by the soldiers. The soldiers combined their characteristic arrogance and insolence with the cruelty of the executioner. What a miserable class of people they are.

The crowd cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

Before the Savior dies for mankind, the nature of the corrupt humanity must be first manifested and judged in principle, or else sinners would not understand what has happened.

Christ, who came to save man, fell under the violence of man. Christ did not use his own power to save himself. He only used his power to save others, and yet he had to become an object of insult and ridicule of the ones who came to save. He suffered the outrageous unjust not in spite of his grace but because of it

It was meant to be like this. The severity of sin requires an equal amount of severity in punishment, but that would mean the end of humanity. God’s grace is to transfer the punishment from the deserving objects (sinners) to the one who is undeserving but worthy (Christ). But doing this necessarily requires ultimate unjust to Christ.

On the surface, man judged Jesus, but in reality, which is not visible to the naked eye, God judged humanity.

But the judgment was moral, not judicial. It was not the final judgment, which God has set for another day (Matthew 11:22-42). Christ did not come to judge but to save (John 3:17; John 12:47). Therefore, being crucified, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

On the way to Calvary, the Holy Spirit does not mention other onlookers, but only Simon of Cyrene, who was the father of Rufus. He was only passing through the place, but was forced to carry the cross of Jesus. We cannot be sure of what happened to Simon later, except that his son Rufus came to faith in Jesus. Paul mentions Rufus in the book of Romans (Romans 16:13).

Blessed are those who share in the sufferings of Christ.


After that, they took him to Calvary and crucified him.

There they offered him a wine mixed with myrrh, which would somewhat relieve the pain, but he refused it. He wanted to use his pain on the cross to fully measure his love for the children of Adam in exchange for a full gift to all men, and he was therefore unwilling to lower the price he was willing to pay by human means.

But what does man know of his real suffering? His physical suffering, although humanly extreme, is insignificant compared to the pain he suffered in his soul through the ultimate unjust mistreatment and humiliation. But this suffering is still insignificant compared with what he suffered on the cross when he was crushed by God the Father who hid His face from seeing the Son!

His ‘crime’ was, “the King of the Jews,” written on a sign that was nailed above his head. The sign was written in three representative languages, Greek representing culture and humanity, Roman representing political power, and Hebrew representing religion.

In other words, his crime was that he is who he is. Not because of what he did, but because of what he was.

For this reason, since he became flesh and came to this earth, he was destined to go to the cross. He could not but go to the cross, for he could not be other than himself.

For this reason also we shall be saved by him, for this also was ordained in Christ.

They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and the other on his left, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the prophets concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:12).

This was the time for the Jews and the priests. Their desires were fulfilled. They found the power they sought.

But they did not know that it was on the cross that the glory and perfection of Jesus was made manifest. This temple of God could not rise again without being first destroyed in this way. The evil they had done with their own hands helped God to testify that the words they used to condemn the Lord Jesus (“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it again”) would become true, and precisely through his condemnation.

And what they mocked was the necessary way in which Christ came to effect salvation: He saved others, but could not save himself (Matthew 27:42; Mark 15:31).

What they did not know was that it was for the sake of saving all men that Christ could not save himself. If Christ had saved himself, others (they and we) would have been hopeless forever, and would never have a chance.

The extreme contrast of sinful human nature in the presence of holy divinity was thus brought to the fore on the cross in an unmistakable and heart-rending way.

From noon to three o’clock in the afternoon, the whole earth was darkened. As a sign from outside, the darkness of the whole earth marked His separation from the outer world at that time, for he is the one who upholds all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).

However, the work he had to accomplish contained much more than those external things. It was the heaviest work in the whole universe, without parallel. But the whole work was between him and God, and was completed according to the perfect will and plan of the Father. Everything passed between him and his Father, and no one else could know it.

Darkness enveloped the earth, testifying to the reaction of creation to the incomparable darkness that its Creator was experiencing, and to the divine compassion of the Father for the sufferings of the Son.

The Pain of Bearing Sin

But a greater darkness enveloped the soul of Jesus, for he had been forsaken by God for the sake of sin.

Yet this moment revealed his absolute perfection more than ever before.

“At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Eloi! Eloi! lama sabachthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:4; Luke 23:46; Psalm 22:1).

Who is able, who is qualified, to measure the depth and dimension behind this cry of Jesus on the cross?

And who can share or alleviate a little of the suffering of the Lord Jesus there on the cross?

There is none. Not only no one could, but in those last moments men would run up and add one last mockery and insult to him.

“And one, running and filling a sponge dipped with vinegar, fixed it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, Wait, let us see if Elijah comes and take him down.” (Mark 15:36)

In the end, man did not forget to add another representative stroke to the “portrait of sinful man” according to his own nature, and to add a heavy weight to the scale measuring his sin.

Yet, God permitted this, in order to make sure that not only the sins of all men, but all the sins of man, were not left out or discounted at all, but were fully added to the suffering Savior, so that the final account could be settled on him alone.

But God wanted to settle this account in full, not for the sake of revenge, but for the sake of the fullness of atonement and salvation.

Jesus cried out with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last (Luke 23:46).

The Work is Done

His work on earth in the flesh as servant, prophet, king, son of man, and son of God was completed. He then breathed his last, and laid aside all his earthly burdens.

We, who were born on earth, our lives are a gift from God, and therefore we have much to gain and enjoy on earth. But he came to earth by giving up his divine glory and honor and humbling himself for one thing only, to save sinners through the suffering on the cross. He humbled himself to come this world only to fulfill the will of God, so what else did he still have to do with his physical life in this world after the Father had dealt with sin on the cross? Nothing. For everything is finished.

He died for a new creation, the beginning of a new world. This new world is the new creation of God, the new life, in eternity, where sin is no more.

For, on the cross, he closed all the doors through which sin could enter the new creation.

He died, showing that his obedience was also perfectly fulfilled. His obedience was until death. His obedience was a response to the rebellious betrayal born in heaven from Satan the devil in the first place. His obedience was finalized in death. A life that was prepared for perfect obedience was completed when no more obedience was needed.

He died. Not because he was unable to continue living, but because everything was already done in the body of the Son of Man. He will continue in another realm, the eternity, in spirit, but not in this world physically.

The veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). The wall of separation between man and God was torn down, and a new and living way to God’s eternal life was opened.

When the Roman centurion, representative of the Gentiles, saw the death of Jesus, he publicly confessed, “Truly this man is the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47). Until that time, the Messiah and Judaism had been exclusively associated together, and had nothing to do with the Gentiles. After his death, Judaism rejected him, but Jesus became the Savior of the whole world. The Roman centurion made a clear confession of this fact on behalf of the Gentiles.

Pilate was also surprised that he had died. He believed that Jesus was dead only after the centurion testified. For him, this was just the end of a deal. As for the faith in the Son of God, Pilate, who placed himself far from grace, from truth, and even from human justice, had no interest in it, nor was he bothered by it.

But the death of Jesus did not tear him away from the hearts of those little ones who loved him. Those people, though they had no credit in the battle that determined the fate of the universe and mankind (for the battle was fought by Jesus Christ alone), were now brought out of their retreat by grace, and raised their heads weakly again to step forward in grief but in the bright light of love at the same time.

These people are represented by the devout women. They had been followers of Jesus in the past, and had often served. At this time they became the lowest, most hopeless, and saddest people on earth, because all they had hoped for and believed seemed to have been defeated and destroyed. But even they did not know it, they were the closest to the living God among all people on the earth. They were connected to God in true love.

But Christ also gained another kind of people, those who have a clean conscience, who act uprightly, and who see the light of truth through his testimony. The noble councilor Joseph was a representative of this group. He had obeyed his conscience in the past, but did not follow Jesus, for his uncertainty about his Lord and his fear of persecution became a double hindrance. However, the tragedy of the Lord Jesus’ going to the cross became an occasion for his conscience to be proved and cleared. This is the test that the true conscience must face. In the eyes of Joseph, the councilor, the crucifixion was precisely a testimony of Jesus’ grace and perfection rather than an indication of failure, as in the eyes of the flesh, and he was thus strengthened because of what he saw not in spite of it. The councilor’s integrity allowed him to see in this situation not a moment of fear, but rather a reason to be motivated to be open about his faith.

The world has gone after what seemed mightier, but a few noble hearts see the real king and follow him by ignoring the world, or even be abandoned by the world.

At this time, the hearts of both the women and the councilor Joseph shared one thing in common: the body of Jesus. They did not know God would take care of the body of Jesus, and they knew they were the closest to him. There was absolutely no second thought, much less competition. Their minds were still limited by the earthly, but their hearts were genuine. This body was the tabernacle of the Son of God. He had now left, but still received the proper service and respect due to him from men. The will of God and His operation in their hearts had also prepared them for this.

The body of Jesus was buried in the tomb, and they all waited for the Sabbath to end in order to fulfill the ministry to the body of Jesus. The women paid special attention to the place where the Lord’s body was buried.

All this they did in sincere love. But there was no hope in their hearts at this time. Jesus had died. The Lord had died, and their hearts were also dead with him. There was no hope at this time, and the only thing that remained was love.

But they were to be completely changed by what they were about to see – the resurrection.

Next: Resurrection