The Crucifixion

Since the beginning of this year. We have looked at the book of Matthew. We began with the genealogy of Jesus and these next two weeks we are looking at the ending of the life that Jesus spent here on earth.
Next Sunday is Easter and we will look at the Resurrection and what Jesus said to us as He was leaving this earth. But before we look at the resurrection, I believe it is important for us to look at the crucifixion.
Today, we are going to cover quite a bit of scripture. We will be in both Matthew 26 and Matthew 27. The crucifixion begins at Gethsemane. The agony of His suffering begins in prayer and it will end in death. So, if you have your bibles go with me to the book of Matthew, chapter 26. I want to begin reading at verse 36.
Matthew 26:36–46 NIV
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
As we look at the crucifixion of Jesus, it is important for us to understand there are 10 different stages of Christ’s Sufferings. The first stage begins here.

Stage 1 - He Began to Be Sorrowful

Look at verse 37 again.
Matthew 26:37 NIV
37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
The physical and spiritual sufferings of Christ begins in Gethsemane as He prayed about what was ahead.
Luke 22:44 NIV
44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Jesus literally sweated drops of blood. When your body is under extremely intense stress, the small capillaries in the sweat glands will break and mix blood with sweat.
Jesus prays to the Father in Heaven, “If it is possible for this cup to pass from me...” I don’t believe that Jesus was asking God to not let Him die. That was why Jesus had come to earth was to die. He was here to die for our sins. If Jesus doesn’t die on the cross, then we can’t be saved.
I believe that He was more likely to pray that He be spared the agony of separation from God the Father. That is what sin does to us. It separates us from God. I truly believe that as Christ prayed, He knew that His physical death would be accepted as full payment for sin, but the spiritual aspect of death, the separation from the Father, was far more troubling. And that is why Jesus prayed on, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” And then He committed Himself to endure both physical death and spiritual separation from His heavenly Father in order to obtain and guarantee our spiritual salvation.

2nd Stage - Spit On, Struck, and Slapped

After Jesus leaves the Garden of Gethsemane, a couple of things happen. He is arrested and He faces a religious trial conducted by Annas and Caiaphas, the high priest. They bring in some false witnesses and declare Him guilty. They then spit in His face and strike Him with their fists. Some of them even slap Him.
It was this stage that fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 50:6
Isaiah 50:6 NIV
6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.
This council then hands Jesus over to Pilate. This is the third stage of Christ’s Suffering.

3rd Stage - Taken to Pilate

So, here Jesus is. He’s already battered and exhausted, and so they take Him across Jerusalem to be questioned by Pilate, the Roman governor of the region. Pilate sees nothing wrong with Jesus. He offers to release Jesus as was customary at the time of the Passover. He could release one prisoner. The other choice was Barabbas. The religious leaders got the people in an uproar and had them insist that Pilate release Barabbas. The people want Jesus crucified and they want Barabbas released. So, Pilate releases Barabbas and sends Jesus to be flogged

4 Stage - Jesus flogged

The Roman flogging was very brutal. They would strip the victim of his garments and they would stretch him out against a pillar or they would bend him over a low post with the hands tied. Then they would bring out an instrument of torture that was a short wooden handle that had several strips of leather attached to it. There would be bits of iron and bones interwoven into the pieces of leather. Two men usually whipped the victim, one lashing the victim from one side, one from the other side. Because of the way that they would do this, it resulted in the flesh being cut so severely that veins, arteries and sometimes even inner organs were exposed. Sometimes victims would die during the flogging.
It was probably because of this severe flogging that Jesus wasn’t able to carry His own cross all the way to Golgotha.
Isaiah 53:5 NIV
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
1 Peter 2:24 NIV
24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
Christ suffered so you wouldn’t have to. He endured the torture for you. It was for your healing that He went through this. It was for your sins that He went through this.

5th Stage - Robe on Shoulders, Stick in Hand, and Crown of Thorns placed on Head.

Then after Jesus is flogged, barely able to stand, they untie His hands and they place Him in the middle of a group of Roman soldiers and they begin to place a robe across his shoulders. They place a stick in His hand and press a circle of branches covered with long thorns on His head. Then these soldiers begin to make fun of Him as they Hit Him across the face and head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp.
This is just the first 5 stages of Christ’s Sufferings. Many could not make it past this stage, but we have 5 more to go. Let me remind you. Jesus endured all of this for you.

6th Stage - Beam placed on Shoulder and Forced to Carry to Golgotha

Matthew 27:31 NIV
31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
They take the cross beam of the cross, they strap it across Jesus’ shoulders and they force Him to carry His own cross up a hill to a place called Golgotha. This would be the hill on which Jesus would be crucified.
Because of the beaten that Jesus has taken, He is unable to carry this portion of the cross any further. And this is where they met a man named Simon. They pull Simon from the crowd and force him to carry the cross the rest of the way.

7th Stage - He is Crucified

The crucifixion takes place on Golgotha. It is a hill called “the skull”. It is a place where many executions were often performed. The cross beam that is carried to the top of the hill is placed on the ground and Jesus is laid on it. His arms are stretched along the beams and a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail is driven through His hand or wrist. And this nail is driven deep into the wood.
Next, they lift Christ up by means of ropes or ladders, and the cross beam is tied or nailed to an upright beam with a support for the body fastened onto it. His feet are then extended and a larger piece of iron is driven through them.
The suffering didn’t stop as His hands and feet are nailed to the cross.

8th Stage - Insults Hurled at Him

Matthew 27:39 NIV
39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads
He suffered personal humiliation, hanging up on a cross, for everyone to see. By now Jesus is a pathetic spectacle, blood-streaked, covered with wounds and exposed for all to view. He experiences hours of pain throughout His body. He has fatigue in His arms. There are great waves of muscle cramps and His skin is torn from His back.
Eventually, there is another aspect of agony that begins. He has a crushing pain deep in His chest as fluid begins to build up. With each breath He takes its a struggle. That fluid is compressing His heart. He feels an intense thirst and is well aware of the abuse and ridicule of those who pass by the cross.
The countdown has begun to that final breath.

9th Stage - Separation from God

Matthew 27:46 NIV
46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
This is probably the worst and the most fearful stage of Christ’s sufferings. It not only involved physical torture, but also the spiritual anguish of an unimaginable sense of separation from God, which is the ultimate consequence of sin. These words mark the climax of Christ’s sufferings for a spiritually lost world.
His cry in Aramaic, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” indicates that Christ experienced the separation from God that was in store for all people as a result of sin. This sense of separation was intensified because Christ, as our substitute, actually took upon himself the full weight of guilt and punishment for every sin that has ever been committed or ever will be.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We cannot even begin to comprehend the sense of abandonment that Jesus felt as He hung on the cross. Here we see God’s Son, the Creator of the universe, not only rejected by His creation, but also isolated from the One who is everywhere. No human ever endured such a strong sense of judgment and isolation from God. Even though He had never sinned, God made Him “to be sin for us”.
1 Timothy 2:6 NIV
6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
He died forsaken so that we would never have to be forsaken. By His suffering, He restored to those who trust Him a right relationship with God.
1 Peter 1:19 NIV
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
And that brings us to the 10th and final stage of Christ’s Sufferings.

10th Stage - It Is Finished

Matthew 27:50 NIV
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
John records those three final words as, “It is finished.” It is completed. It is over. It is done.
These final words mark the end of Jesus’ sufferings and the completion of His mission to pay the ultimate price for our sin and restore our opportunity for a personal relationship with God. Only after he had paid the debt for our sin in full and completely established God’s plan of salvation does Jesus offer a final prayer.
Luke said it this way...
Luke 23:46 NIV
46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
At those last words something amazing happened. Look at Matthew 27:51
Matthew 27:51 NIV
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split
This curtain is the same curtain that Exodus talks about.
Exodus 26:33 NIV
33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.
This curtain separated the Holy Place, the place where the priest prayed and gave thanks on the people’s behalf, from the Most Holy Place, which was God’s dwelling place. The curtain was a symbolic reminder of the separation between a holy God and sinful humans. People could not freely approach God in an unholy condition.
However, when Jesus cried out with a loud voice and took His final breath saying, “It is Finished.” That same curtain ripped from top to bottom. It wasn’t a man that walked in there and did it. It happened supernaturally. And what does that mean?
It means that a way was now open into the presence of God. That curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place represented sinful humanity’s separation from a holy God. Access was restricted to all except the high priest, and then only under strict conditions at the appointed time.
Jesus filled the role of the ultimate high priest with full access to God the Father.
Hebrews 4:14–15 NIV
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
And when Jesus died, He made the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. He tore back the curtain into the Most Holy Place, God’s presence and He opened permanent access to God for all those who surrender their lives to Him.
Hebrews 10:19–22 NIV
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
When Jesus died you were given full access to the throne of God. Now you can boldly go before the Father and make a petition for your needs and God will answer you.
Can we stand this morning together and rejoice over His death? Just lift your voices and worship Him.
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