1. Can you think of an actual incident where someone gave their life to save someone else?
2. Do you think most people stop to think “If I do this it will cost me my life.”? (Many times it is simply a reaction to save someone else, without considering the danger to one’s own life.)
3. There are numerous real life stories about people who have given their life for someone else. What is the difference in their actions and Jesus’ actions in giving His life for us?
Today’s study is about Jesus’ paying the ultimate sacrifice when He gave His life to save us for all eternity. When we study and reflect on His actions, we are led to worship Him, thank Him, and commit our life in service to Him!
After the mock trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was taken to Pilate. Pilate learned that Jesus was from Galilee and knew that Herod Antipas was in Jerusalem so he sent Jesus to him. When Jesus would not answer any of Herod’s questions or perform any miracles, he was sent back to Pilate. There was obviously an execution already scheduled for that morning. Pilate, in an effort to let Jesus go offered to release either Jesus or Barabbas, a notorious prisoner. But the people, led by the chief priests and the elders, demanded Barabbas be released and Jesus crucified. Then Pilate had Jesus flogged and handed Him over to the soldiers to be crucified. The soldiers mocked Jesus even more by putting a robe on Him and bowing down to Him and saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” they took thorns and fashioned a crown, mashed it on His head and kept hitting Him with a reed. Finally they stripped Him and led Him away to be crucified. He was placed between two criminals, who also mocked Him.
Read Matthew 27:32-40
Who were the people mocking Jesus in this passage?
From Jesus’ point of view it seemed that everyone was mocking Him. They nailed Jesus to the cross. The sign that was placed above Him on the cross was in the three common languages during that time period; Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin.
Read Matthew 27:41-44
1. Who is mocking Jesus in this passage?
2. If you were describing those mocking Him in terms we use in our church who would they be? (Pastors, staff, teachers and members.)
3. Generally speaking, if the leadership takes a particular stand on an issue how do the people respond? (It is so important that we as leaders know the Scripture and take the right stand from God’s point of view.)
4. How would you describe the way the chief priests, scribes and elders mocked Jesus? Notice in verse 43 they insinuated that even God didn’t want Him!)
5. What is a “Paradox”? (“A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently sound reasoning from true premises, leads to a self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion. A paradox involves contradictory yet interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time.”)
6. In what way was the statements the ridiculers were making about Jesus being able to save others but not being able to save Himself a paradox?
7. Would they have believed if He had come down from the cross? (The answer is “no”. In Luke 16:31 Jesus said they would not believe even if someone was raised from the dead. That was proven when Lazarus was brought back to life. Faith that demands miraculous signs is an inadequate faith see Matt. 16:4.)
8. Of those who mocked Jesus, who surprises you the most? (Perhaps the criminals. Although, one of them later repented, and Jesus promised him a place in heaven.)
All of these events took place from the time Jesus was nailed to the cross—around 9 A.M. (see Mk. 15:25)—and noon.
9. How do you respond when people ridicule Jesus?
10. What do you do when they mock you for your trust in Jesus?
Forsaken! Read Matthew 27:45-49
1. What do we learn from the three hours of darkness about the nature of sin and the magnitude of its consequences? (Nature itself reacted to its Creator being crucified see Rom. 8:22.)
2. Why darkness? What happened to cause this darkness? (Several possibilities have been proposed. Creation itself was in mourning; The Father turned away see Hab. 1:13; Some say a solar eclipse—that can’t be because that can only occur when there is a new moon and Passover takes place during a full moon; We really don’t know but for this one event a supernatural event took place that has never been repeated. Both physical and spiritual darkness covered the land!)
3. What seemed to be the motive of the one who offered Jesus a drink? (He seemed to have compassion and mercy. The One who made the rivers and seas cried out “I thirst”—see John 19:28. In His great thirst He brought water to me.)
4. What were the motives of those who wanted to see Elijah appear? (It had been prophesied that one like Elijah would come and Jesus Himself said John the Baptist fulfilled that prophesy.)
5. Have you ever felt forsaken in the midst of some terrible trial?
6. What renewed your faith that God will never leave you or forsake you? (The words Jesus cried out in torment at three in the afternoon were prophesied in Psalm 22:1. Imagine being in so much agony that you feel God has forsaken you! But because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we have assurance that God will never forsake us see Heb. 13:5.)
There were seven recorded statements that Jesus made from the cross:
· Luke 23:34—“Father, forgive them…”
· John 19:26-27—“Woman, behold your son…”
· Luke 23:43—“…Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
· Matt. 27:46—“My God, My God, …”
· John 19:28—“I thirst.”
· Luke 23:46—“Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.”
· John 19:30—“It is finished!”
7. What do these sayings, taken together, tell you about who Jesus is?
8. How do they instruct you in living today as a follower of Christ?
Sacrificed! Read Matthew 27:50-53
1. What events marked the death of Jesus? (The curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple area was torn from top to bottom. It is said that this curtain was 4” thick, 60’ wide and 30’ tall. There was also a great earthquake and graves of the saints were opened.)
2. How would you interpret the significance of these events? (All people now have access to God. Once again creation is reacting to God’s Son’s suffering and death. Jesus’ death made Him the Giver of our Spiritual life!)
Jesus’ death occurred at three o’clock, the time of the afternoon sacrifices at the temple. The priests would have been there to witness the curtain being ripped apart from top to bottom. This curtain, which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place could only be entered once a year for the High Priest to make atonement for the sins of the people. The days of the High Priest making intercession for God’s people was over.
That curtain that had been a visual symbol of the separation between creature and Creator, between sinful humanity and the holy, righteous God was gone! Jesus is now our Intercessor!
3. In what ways did Jesus’ death on the cross provide access to God for all people?
4. What does it mean to you personally that you have access to ‘God through faith in Jesus?
5. To whom could you tell this good news in the week ahead?
Summarize and Challenge!
Jesus’ death removed the great chasm between God and sinful humanity, making it possible for us to have an eternal relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
1. Take time to reflect on your life when you were separated from God. What image from the crucifixion best illustrates your life at that time?
2. What actions should you take as a result of remembering what it is like to be separated from God?
3. How should we live in light of Jesus’ sacrifice for us?
· If we have never asked forgiveness for our sins and placed our trust in Jesus, we can do that today.
· As believers, we should live each day so that our words, attitudes, and actions reflect that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord of our lives.
· We should live with thankfulness for the sacrifice Jesus made through His death, so we could have an eternal relationship with God.
It wasn’t the nails that held Jesus on the cross! It was His great love for you!
Take time this week to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for you. Remember the sin debt that each of us carries and none of us can pay. It is only accepting what Jesus did on the cross for us that we can be made right with God. Thank God for providing our way to Him!!