Reading

  • Mark 15:23, 25, 27-28; Luke 23:32-34a
  • John 19:19-24
  • Matt. 27:39-44; Luke 23:35-43
  • John 19:25-27
  • Matt. 27:45-49; John 19:28-29
  • Luke 23:46; John 19:30
  • Matt. 27:51-56; Mark 15:39-41; Luke 23:47-49
  • John 19:31-37
  • Mark 15:42-45
  • Matt. 27:59-60; John 19:38b-42
  • Luke 23:55-56
  • Matt. 27:62-66

Devotional

Today's reading tells the story of the most important event in all of the Bible and all of human history. Jesus dies on the cross, completing the most significant step of GOD's eternal plan, developed from before the creation of the world. As Jesus was led out to be crucified and Simon the Cyrenian carried Jesus' cross, there were two robbers who had also been sentenced to death by crucifixion who went along with Jesus. One was on Jesus' right side and one on the left. Jesus prayed to GOD to forgive those who crucified Him because they didn't know what they were doing.

They offered Jesus wine mixed with a pain killer but He wouldn't take it. It was about 9:00 on Thursday morning when Jesus was put on the cross. The soldiers would have laid the rough wooden cross upon the ground, and Jesus would lay on top of it. They took long nails like spikes and hammered them through Jesus' wrists and feet so as to fasten Him to the wooden cross. Then the cross would have been raised up and slid into the hole made for it in the ground, where it likely would have landed violently in the hole, tearing flesh and causing excruciating pain for Jesus.

Pilate made a sign which said, "The King of the Jews" and fastened it to the cross. The Jewish religious leaders tried to get Pilate to change the wording of the sign to reflect their disbelief that Jesus was really the Jewish king, but Pilate refused. The four soldiers took Jesus' clothes and divided them up among them and cast lots for Jesus' undergarment, because it was a single piece from top to bottom.

As people passed by Jesus' cross, they insulted Him and made fun of Him, telling Him to come down from the cross if He really was GOD's Son. The chief priests and teachers of the Law and elders mocked Jesus, saying that although He pronounced others to be saved He was now unable to save Himself. When one of the criminals who were crucified with Jesus told Jesus to save Himself and them, the other criminal rebuked him, and then asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came in His kingdom. Jesus lovingly promised that criminal that he would be with Jesus that very day in paradise.

Jesus' mother Mary stood beside the cross along with Jesus' aunt and some other women and the apostle John. Jesus told Mary that from then on, John was to be her son, and that Mary was to be John's mother. From that day forward, John took Mary into his home. (Apparently Jesus' earthly father Joseph must have already died by this point because he is not mentioned during Jesus' ministry.)

From about noon until 3:00 PM there was darkness over the entire land, and at 3:00 Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" After taking a drink of wine with vinegar, Jesus said, "It is finished! Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit." and, bowing His head, Jesus gave up His spirit. At the very moment Jesus said, "It is finished", the veil of the temple, which separated the Holy and Most Holy Place, was split in two from top to bottom. This signified the acceptable payment of Jesus' blood for the sins of man, and the restoration of the relationship between GOD and man. Also, the earth shook and rocks split, and tombs were opened and bodies of many holy people were raised and they appeared to many in Jerusalem. When the centurion guarding Jesus and the other soldiers saw the earthquake and all that happened, they were very afraid, and said, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

Because the next day was a special Sabbath, the Jews didn't want any bodies left upon the crosses, so they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves who were with Jesus, but they thought Jesus was already dead, so they pierced His side to check, and blood and water came out (confirming that He was indeed dead).

At evening, two prominent Jews went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus to bury Him. The first was Joseph of Arimathea, a well-respected member of the Jewish high court (which had sentenced Jesus to death). Jesus was buried in Joseph's tomb, where no other body had lain. The second was Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had previously approached Jesus by night. The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee prepared spices at home, but waited until after the Sabbath in order to keep the commandment.

The chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate the next day to set a guard at Jesus' tomb so that Jesus' disciples couldn't steal His body and deceive people because they remembered Jesus claiming He would rise from the dead after three days. Pilate agreed and placed a guard and put a seal on the stone at Jesus' tomb.

Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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