There were many events in the last few days of Jesus’ earthly life. He entered Jerusalem as a King, cleansed the temple, taught the people, ate the Passover meal, was betrayed by a friend, falsely tried and convicted, crucified, died for the sins of the world and rose in triumph over death.
At that time, He was preaching in Galilee and He could have stayed in Galilee, but He chose to go to Jerusalem to do His Father’s will and die as the sinless sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Luke 9:51: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem."
When they came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemene, He could have resisted the soldiers successfully. But He said, in Matthew 26:53-54: “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54. How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
Shortly after this, He carried His cross up Calvary. Even after He was on the cross, He could have saved Himself, but He had become man in order to take our sins on Himself and die for you and me.
All throughout the Lord's earthly ministry He told the disciples He had come to die for sinners. Mark 10:45. "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
The religious establishment hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him but the common people who followed Jesus loved Him. After all, He had healed the sick; He fed the hungry; He gave sight to the blind; hearing to the deaf; cured the crippled; preached repentance and salvation and He even raised the dead.
Tradition has it that when a king came into a city in peace, he did so on a donkey. On Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Thousands who were there to celebrate the Passover gave Him a resounding welcome.
These events had been predicted by the prophets. Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of an donkey.”
Luke 19:41-42: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
He entered Jerusalem, knowing full well what would happen there. Previously He had shed many tears over the city. He left the city for the night, grieving over it. Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”
He wept because the nation of Israel, God's chosen people, refused the Messiah they had been longing for. They rejected the Redeemer that was promised long before that first sin in the Garden of Eden.
They called Him insane and demon-possessed, and crucified Him as a common criminal. He knew that here, in this life and in this city, hanging on a cross, He would experience complete separation from God His Father.
He knew His rejection as the Messiah would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s people would be brutalized and scattered all over the world. Luke 19:43-44. “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus' words came true. Forty years later the Roman general Titus leveled the city and killed or exiled all the people and burned the Temple and the city. The gold in the Temple melted and the soldiers took the building apart stone by stone to get the gold and didn’t leave one stone standing on another.
During the wilderness temptation, Satan tried to detour Jesus from Calvary by offering Him a crown without a cross. He offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world but Jesus refused. But His mission to redeem fallen man back to God began even before that.
More than 600 years before Jesus' birth, Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 53:11. "By His knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their sins." His mission to redeem mankind started even before then.
About a thousand years before Jesus was born, David foretold this in Psalm 22:16-18; “They pierce my hands and feet, and cast lots for my garments.”
But Jesus' mission began long before that. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God promised a coming Savior by declaring the serpent would bruise the heel of the woman's offspring, and this offspring would crush the serpent's head. But Jesus' mission began even before that.
In the Book of Revelation, John saw a vision of a Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. That Lamb was Jesus Christ. Before one particle of this world or this universe was created-before time even existed-it was in the mind of God to send His Son to die for you and me. Nothing in heaven or earth could or would thwart God's provision to save us from our sins.
We are born sinners. We can't turn over enough new leaves to change that. If we could, Jesus wouldn’t have died for us. The only remedy for our sins is His shed blood.
Jesus was headed for His final destination, Jerusalem and the cross. Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious activity. It’s known as the city of David or the holy city. It’s the most important city in Jewish life and history, even to this day.
We already covered the events of Sunday and His triumphant entry into the city. Jesus left Jerusalem that evening and spent the night in Bethany, returning the next morning.
Monday He threw the crooked money changers out of the temple and taught the people many things. The chief priests and the scribes sought to kill Him, but He continued to teach in the Temple.
Luke 19:45-47: “Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.” And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him.”
Tuesday: Jesus continued teaching in the Temple to the common people, but His authority to do so was challenged by the religious authorities.
Luke 20:1-2. “Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, "Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” His answer both confounded them and rebuked them.
Luke 21:37-38: “And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.”
Wednesday. Luke 22:1-6. “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.”
This day actually began at sunset, two days before the Passover. Satan had a hold on Judas Iscariot and he agreed to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Most of the religious authorities didn’t want to believe Jesus was the Messiah. If He was the Messiah, their place in the religious world would tumble and they didn’t want to lose that, so they wanted to kill Him.
Thursday, the fifth day. Luke 22:7-13. “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat." So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare? And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready." So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.”
Isn’t it amazing how God takes care of details? Jesus sent Peter and John to find a place for the Passover and, by God’s directions, a man carrying a pitcher of water would show them. Carrying water was a woman’s job so that was very unusual for a man, but not for God.
You can’t surprise God. His ways are not our ways. He is always in complete control.
The final Passover was made ready and God would not recognize any future Passover. Christ would be the final Passover Lamb. Hebrews 10:12. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”
Luke 22:14-20. “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Jesus wanted to spend this final hour with those who had trusted in Him. They ate the Passover meal together and then Judas left to betray Him.
In verses 18-20, He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Paul later wrote, in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come.”
After supper, they sang a hymn and walked to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus would pray the most important prayer of all time and there He would be betrayed by a friend.
Luke 22:42-43. “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” This scripture describes our Lord's attitude toward this terrible event and what he was going to experience. His attitude was obedience to His Father's will and his action was to pray and do His Father's will.
Friday brought about several mock trials and the crucifixion. He came only to do His Father’s will. He was willing to shed His blood as the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin. God has always demanded a blood sacrifice for sin. Jesus gave the final and only perfect sacrifice for all the sins of the world.
This next scripture takes place on the cross. Matthew 27:45-46 "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Isaiah prophesied this over 700 years before when he wrote these words in Isaiah 53:6"The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
The three hours our Lord spent in darkness on the cross is the heart of His suffering to redeem us from our sins. That darkness was both physical and spiritual. He hung on the cross in broad daylight for three hours as a spectacle to the world.
Then God ordered the sun to withdraw its light and "There was darkness over all the land."
God cannot look upon sin and it seems He put a shroud of mourning around His Son while He was dying on the cross. No one, not God nor man, was to look on Jesus, the sinless One, when He became sin for all mankind.
The darkness was a warning and also a hope for fallen mankind. The whole universe was in utter darkness while the death of the Son of God was taking place on earth.
It would be a frightening thing for men anywhere, but what were the men around the cross who made fun of the Son of God during the hours when it was light, thinking now?
The darkness lasted until 3 P.M. That was the hour for the evening sacrifice in the Temple.
When the light re-appeared and the priest prepared the sacrificial lamb, what were his thoughts when he saw that the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom?
Under the Law, God promised sudden death to any but the high priest who looked into the Holy of Holies behind the veil. But man was no longer under the law. Jesus had fulfilled the law and man was now under the grace of God.
That darkness was an expression of the wrath of God. Jesus was made “a curse for us,” and now during that darkness on the cross, He was feeling the full wrath of God that should have been ours.
God tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” The Son of God had no sin of His own and, since He had none of His own, He wasn't subject to death, yet He was put to death in our place. And when He took our place there, He endured the wrath of God in its fullest.
In Luke 22:53, Jesus said, “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." The world itself was shrouded in Satan's darkness in an attempt to hide the meaning of the cross and its redemption for mankind.
God had given man an opportunity to express his feelings and now man was showing all his hatred for God by crucifying his Son.
If man really realized the extent of his own wickedness he would hide from God in a state of absolute hopelessness and despair. Our first ancestors must have felt something like this. They tried unsuccessfully to hide from God in the Garden of Eden because of their sin.
Jesus was alone in the darkness. All His disciples except John were gone for fear they might be crucified too. It was near the end of this darkness that Jesus gave this awful cry found in Matthew 27:46: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
We can't begin to understand the meaning of that awful cry. When you think how the Son of God was co-equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, this seems like the eternal fellowship was breaking apart. That's simply deeper than human understanding can go.
I believe that, in God's all powerful way, the Lord Jesus as the Son of Man was still given strength from the Father and the Holy Spirit to endure the cross, but He was left totally without any comfort from Them.
Those words, “My God, My God,” show that even when the Savior was denied and forsaken all comfort from the face of God, He still claimed God as His God and Father. He held no doubt that what He was doing was the righteous thing that would please God.
The thief nailed on the cross who was saved could do nothing but believe. Here are his words: Luke 23:42-43: "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with me in paradise." The thief asked Jesus for forgiveness and was forgiven there while helplessly nailed to a cross.
Christ died in the darkness on the cross for your sins and mine. His only desire was to do the Father's will. God's will was to provide a way for sinful mankind to be declared innocent of their sin by God.
The story continues in Luke 23:50-56. “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in his own tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.”
They returned the first day of the week to embalm the body of Jesus with spices and ointments, but they rested the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
This is significant. Jesus was born under the Law and all six hundred and thirteen commandments of the Law. He died under the Law, and keeping the Sabbath was a part of it required by God. The great significance here is that in the first verse of Luke chapter 24, the Day of God’s Grace to man begins. This ended the time when God judged man by the Law and the commandments and brought about the time when man is judged by faith in His Son.
This is why the resurrection is the greatest event in the history of mankind.
Luke 24:1-6. “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!"
He’s not in the tomb. “He is risen!” Greatest words I ever heard. If He was still in the tomb there would be no proof that God had accepted His Sacrifice for the sins of the world.
All people of all time will meet the risen Christ at some time. Some will meet Him as their Lord and Savior for eternity, some will meet Him as their Judge and will be found guilty and sentenced to eternity in hell. You have a choice. The apostle John wrote, in John 20:31. “But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” It’s your choice. Accept God’s offer to forgive your sins, or refuse or neglect to choose, and spend eternity in hell.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says; “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. He was buried, He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.” And Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved “by grace, through faith.”
I’m looking forward to the resurrection God has promised me.