“So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Who is it you want me to release for you– Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Messiah?… Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
“Barabbas!” they answered.
Pilate asked them, “What should I do with Jesus, who is called Messiah?”
“Crucify Him!” they shouted.
Then he said, “Why? What has He done wrong?”
But the crowd kept shouting, “Crucify Him!” even louder than before. “ Matthew 27:17, 20-23.
After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday night, and given a mock trial by the high priest and other temple officials, He was taken before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate was at first unwilling to get involved in the affair surrounding Jesus, so he ordered Christ to be beaten and sent Him away. However, after the crowds kept demanding that Pilate take action against Christ, he was forced to do so. Pilate realized that the crowds wanted blood, but he first attempted to appease them in another way, by releasing a prisoner. He gave the crowds the choice of who he would free–Barabbas, who was a murderer and a terrorist, or Jesus, who was innocent. The crowd demanded Barabbas be released, and Pilate was left in the midst of a very dark dilemma–what to do with the innocent Jesus of Nazareth? So he asks the crowd, and they demand Christ’s blood. Pilate was then forced to sentence Jesus to be executed.
The world will always choose Barabbas over Christ.
Jesus was then paraded through Jerusalem, all the while being jeered, mocked, beaten, having his beard torn out, being cursed, spat upon, and humiliated in every imaginable way. Yet he never raised his voice, or spoke out in any way. He took all the depravity and inhuman treatment that man can give.
He was executed, along with two common criminals, on a hill outside of the city of Jerusalem. The hill, which resembled a human skull, was called “Golgotha,” which means “the place of the skulls.” For three hours He suffered immense pain and agony. Crucifixion was the most torturous method of execution that the Romans used. After a person is nailed to a cross, the weight of their bodies hanging from the cross makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. In fact, the victim ultimately dies from asphyxiation– a lack of oxygen, as if they were being smothered to death.
While on the cross, Jesus offered a few last words:
“Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34.
Even as He was suffering the pain and humiliation of His crucifixion, He was pleading forgiveness for those that had brought it upon Him.
“I assure you: Today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43.
As they were being crucified, one of the criminals with Christ began mocking Him. The other criminal, apparently aware of exactly who Christ was, repented of his wrongdoings and asked Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” Jesus then offered these reassuring words to him, telling the repentant thief that he would be in paradise with Christ.
“Woman, here is your son; Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27.
Out of all the followers Christ had during His three year ministry, John’s gospel tells us that only three of Jesus’ friends were there when He died– His mother, Mary; his disciple, John; and Mary Magdalene. Here, Christ made accommodations for His mother’s care–He commanded John to take care of His mother, and for Mary to regard John as a son.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46.
This is the only time in Scripture that Christ refers to God as God, and not as “My father.” It is at this point that God turned His back on Jesus, on His own son. Christ at this point was taking on all the sins of humanity, and He was experiencing the separation from God that sin causes. The Father and Son were here being spiritually separated for the first time, and Christ was now completely and utterly alone.
“I’m thirsty!” John 19:28.
After enduring all the torture before the crucifixion, and nearly three hours on the cross, Jesus was completely exhausted. He knew the end was nearing. The ordeal that He had endured had made Him thirsty.
“It is finished.” John 19:30.
After fulfilling all the prophesies, and enduring all the torture and humiliation, Christ knows that His mission is complete. Now He must die so that He can ultimately defeat sin and death.
“Father, into Your hands I place My spirit.” Luke 23:46.
Jesus gives up His spirit, relinquishing it to God. After He speaks these words, He takes His last breath and dies.
As soon as Christ died, two bizarre phenomenons occurred in Jerusalem. First, inside the Temple, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies–the most sacred spot in the Temple, the room where God lived–was torn from top to bottom. What does this mean? It means this– God and man were no longer separated. Christ’s death bridged the gap between God and Man; there is no longer anything to keep us apart from God.
After this there was a great earthquake and all the tombs in Jerusalem opened up and all the dead righteous people came back to life and walked throughout the city.
Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross, and since he had no place to be buried, a wealthy man named Joseph donated his own tomb for Christ to use. Pilate, fearing that some of Jesus’ followers would steal His body, ordered that a huge stone be placed in front of the tomb, and that soldiers would guard the tomb day and night.
Christ knew that He must endure all of this, that this was the only way to bring the world salvation. He did it all for us willingly. The Son of God died so that we could live forever.