of the Christ


            Who really killed Christ?  Who was primarily responsible?  The Jews?

            The Romans?  Pontius Pilate?  All of us?  Is the current blockbuster

            film “The Passion of the Christ” anti-Semitic?  Why are some Jewish

            leaders up in arms and very upset over this movie?  What does the record

            of history really tell us about the death of Jesus Christ?  Here is informa-

            tion you need to know and understand!  Here’s a look at the REAL TRUE

            STORY of the Mission, Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Christ!


William F. Dankenbring


There has been a great furor fueling the flames of controversy revolving around the new movie produced and directed by Mel Gibson, famous Hollywood actor, “The Passion of the Christ.”  It seems almost everyone has voiced an opinion over this unique movie -- from the Pope to Billy Graham, and a number of Jewish leaders.  Why all the uproar?  What’s the controversy really about? 


There have been bitter accusations that the movie raises anti-Semitic feelings.  Although most critics do not accuse Mel Gibson himself of being anti-Semitic, nevertheless, they accuse his movie of containing anti-Semitic material and of having a decidedly prejudiced view of the crucifixion of Christ, placing most of the blame upon the Jews of 2,000 years ago.  Some have even accused the four Gospels of anti-Semitism!

My wife and I saw the movie the day it came out in Pasadena, California, and were deeply and profoundly moved by the movie and its depiction of the last hours of Christ and His incredible ordeal of suffering.  The movie was indeed a tremendously effective portrayal of love, suffering, and compassion, showing the great character and moral strength of Christ, who, despite being persecuted and tortured by His enemies, nevertheless forgave them while hanging on the crucifixion stake. 

Several times the traumatic, emotion-stirring scenes moved me to tears, as I thought of the awesome price Christ paid to cover my own personal sins with His precious blood.  And I thought of the overwhelming love that God the Father has for all of us, demonstrated by His willingness to give up – and allow to be put to death – His very own firstborn Son, to reconcile all of us to God.  My thoughts were moved to the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote, “For when w were still without strength, in due time [at the right time] Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom.8:6-8, NJKV).

How greatly does God love us!  Such incredible suffering was willingly undergone by the Messiah Himself because of His deep love for God the Father and for every one of us!  He is the perfectly obedient son, as Paul wrote to the Hebrews, Jesus Christ, “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Heb.12:2-4).

Personally, I am not at all anti-Semitic and have a deep love for the Jewish people.  But I enjoyed seeing the movie, for after having studied and read the four gospels of the New Testament countless times, in many translations, I know and bear witness that the movie was indeed faithful to the Gospel accounts, with a minimum of “artistic license” added, and that which was added was acceptable as interpretative background material which in no way detracted from the main theme and purpose of the movie. 

I certainly harbor no ill feelings toward Jews, or the outspoken Jewish leaders who have attacked and assailed the movies.  They are entitled to their opinion, but I feel they are very insensitive to the feelings of Christians by their horrendous and false accusations.  Sometimes I feel as if some of these modern Jewish critics have the same attitude of the Sadducees and Pharisees who condemned Christ to death, and then who persecuted all the Jews who followed Christ and embraced Him as the true Messiah, and whipped and scourged the apostles themselves for preaching and teaching this profound truth!   In other words, they show the same bias, and self-righteousness, and bigotry, which they accuse Mel Gibson and others of! 

Ongoing Jewish-Christian Tension

The reaction of some of these Jewish leaders shows that there is still a major, unresolved, continuing, rankling problem in Christian-Jewish relations which have not been solved or erased over the past 2,000 years.  In the early years of the Church, it was the Jewish leaders who persecuted the early Christians (Acts 4:17-21, 5:17-23).  They plotted to kill the apostles, at one point, and were only restrained by the wise counsel of Gamaliel, a high respected teacher of the law (Acts 5:33-40).  The Jewish leaders put many of the early Christians to death, including the young martyr Stephen whom they stoned to death illegally (Acts 6:8-15; 7:51-59.  Many others were imprisoned, whipped, scourged, and put to death as well (Acts 8:1-4).  Perhaps the worst persecutor was a man named Saul (Acts 9:1-2).  But God struck him down on the way to Damascus, and revealed Christ to him, and Paul became one of the most zealous Christians of all time (Acts 9:3-22), so much so that the Jews also sought to put him to death as well (verse 23-24).  The Jews of that time stirred up Herod to put to death James, the apostle, and to arrest Peter, another of the chief apostles (Acts 12:1-5), but God sent an angel to deliver him from prison (verses 7-16).

By their relentless attack on the historically accurate, and moving film of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the modern generation of Jewish leaders shows themselves to be just as culpable and blameworthy as that ancient generation of hatred of the truth, hatred of Christ, and a deep, abiding “Anti-Christianism,” if I may coin a new word!

Who Really Killed Christ

Who really killed Christ?  What part did the Jews have?  And the Romans? 

Who is really responsible for Christ’s death?


            There is a lot of blame to go around, surely.


            In his first sermon, on the day of Pentecost, about 40 days after the resurrection of Christ, the apostle Peter addressed a Jewish crowd at the Temple in Jerusalem, and said to them:  “Men of Israel, hear these words:  Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know – Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, YOU have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:22-24).


            Peter concluded, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that GOD has made this Jesus, whom YOU crucified, both Lord and Christ” (verse 36).


            When many of the Jews of that time heard these words, “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’  Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’” (Acts 2:37-39).


            Notice that Peter clearly said the PRIMARY responsibility for the death and crucifixion of Christ lay at the doorstep of the Jewish people of that time, themselves, and their leaders! 


            The entire New Testament bears the same witness.  All four gospel accounts concur.  For the Jews to try to deflect the responsibility to Pilate, the Roman governor, is a violent wresting of the facts, a twisting of history, and a deliberate DENIAL of the truth, for purposes only they know in their innermost being and heart.


            This fact, however, in no way justifies any “anti-Semitism” on the part of any body, or any Christian, on the earth!  For, as Peter said, the death of Christ was pre-ordained in the Scriptures!  He was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” to be crucified.  Thus, ultimately it is GOD HIMSELF who is responsible for the death of the Messiah! 


The Love of the Father


            Does that sound strange?  It shouldn’t.  The death of the Messiah was a testimony of the GREAT LOVE of God the Father for His people – even willing to give up His own beloved Son to reconcile His sinful, straying people to Himself!


            The most well-known, famous Scripture of all, quoted often by Christians, is found in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”


            And verse 17 – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”


            Paul the apostle wrote, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23)).  “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who seeks after God.  They have ALL turned aside; they have together [Jews and Gentiles] become unprofitable; there is NONE who does good, no, not one” (Rom.3:10-12).


            Isaiah the prophet put it eloquently, when he wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).  Have you ever felt that you have strayed far from the pathway of God, that you were ignorant of God?  Have you ever felt that you have never really known God, but suddenly your eyes are open, and you see Him, in a new light, because of the depth of His love shown toward you because of the death of His Son?  Has your life every felt like a wreck?  A shipwreck, or a smashed up automobile collision – totally junked, messed up, that you’ve done everything wrong, and need to CHANGE, need forgiveness, and mercy, compassion and a NEW LIFE?


            When people finally come to that realization, that they need God, and willingly call upon Him, through the awesomeness of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for all our sins, weaknesses, and shortcomings, then He is ever-present and willing to forgive and forget – to remove our transgressions and mistakes far from us – and to bring us to a NEW LIFE in and through Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah!


            That’s what the crucifixion was all about – to give each one of us a NEW OPPORTUNITY to live, to grow, to understand, and to make something out of our  wrecked, miserable, forlorn, depressed, distraught, disheveled, disappointing lives – to become a NEW CREATION in Christ!  Through Christ we can “put of, concerning your former conduct, the ole man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the NEW MAN which is created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).


Therefore, to redeem mankind, all of whom deserved the penalty of DEATH, Yeshua took upon Himself that death penalty for everyone’s sins.  As Paul wrote, we can now be made right with God, justified and redeemed from sin and death, “by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins which were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).


The Innocent Lamb of God


It is useless, therefore, to point the finger of blame at the Jews, although in their ignorance and unbelief, at that time, they condemned the innocent Lamb of God and demanded that the Roman authorities have Him crucified!


Pilate told the Jewish leaders, and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4).  He sought to extricate himself from the problem.  He sent Yeshua over to Herod after learning that He was a Galilean (Luke 23:7).  But Herod wouldn’t take the responsibility either:  “Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate” (Luke 23:11).


Pilate then told the chief priest and rulers, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people.  And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.  I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” (Luke 23:13-16).


A Frenzied Mob


Pilate himself knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges against Him.  We read in Matthew’s gospel, “For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy” (Matt.27:18).  His own wife sent him a note, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (v.19).  Pilate, in an attempt to save Jesus, brought him forth to the crowd with a noteworthy criminal and murderer named Barabbas, and asked the Jews, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”  But the assembled Jews, led by the high priests, shouted, “Barabbas!”  Pilate then asked, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”


The entire crowd shouted for His blood.  Matthew records, “They ALL said to him, Let Him be crucified!”  Unbelieving their incredible response, Pilate then asked, “Why, what evil has He done?”  The response?  “But they cried out all the more, ‘Let Him be crucified!”


Luke points out, “Then he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has He done?  I have found no reason for death in Him.  I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.’  But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified.  And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed” (Luke 23:22-23).


Matthew goes on:  “When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all” – the mob was totally out of control, and he feared not to give in to their demands – “but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.  You see to it.”


The crowd, like a surly mob, their blood roused to fever pitch, cried out, saying, in their own words, that they accepted the responsibility!  “AND ALL THE PEOPLE ANSWERED AND SAID, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matt.27:19-25).


In his movie, because of unrelenting Jewish criticism, Mel Gibson did not put these words in the translated script at the bottom of the screen, although they were left in the Aramaic spoken by the Jewish leaders.  This small “sop” however has not averted or deterred the Jewish leaders today from attacking the movie and hurling insults at its maker.  The firestorm during the year preceding its release totally surprised Mel himself, and caught him off guard.  The normal channels that distribute Hollywood movies suddenly closed their doors to him.  He had to scurry about and find an independent distributor.


But God is just.  The movie grossed over $125 million during its first five days – breaking the record for movies released on a Wednesday during the winter!   The distributor who took it on did very well, and those who refused have missed out on a bonanza of profitability!   Sometimes taking a risk has a way of paying off handsomely, but the real blessing is not in the financial returns, but in being a part of history-making – a part of something far greater than yourself – a part in bringing the world’s attention back to what happened two thousand years ago at Jerusalem and Golgotha – the pivotal turning point of all the ages – the death and resurrection of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God.


Pilate’s Main Role – a “Tool”


It is clear from the historical, eye-witness records of the apostles themselves that the Jews were primarily guilty of the crucifixion of Christ.  Pilate’s chief connection and guilt was that he was a weak politician who feared for his job, if he did not give in to the demands of the crowd.  The Gospel accounts show conclusively that Pilate sought to release Jesus, but the Jews would have nothing to do with it.  They accused him, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.  Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” (John 19:12).   Pilate finally gave up, and gave in to the pressure. 

Pilate ultimately did condemn the Son of God to death and later became friends with Herod directly after the trial of Jesus.  However, there was much blame for His crucifixion to go around.  There was the high priests, who sought His death; there was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him; there was Caiaphas, Annas, chief priests, members of the Sanhedrin; there was Herod; and then Pilate who succumbed to the pressure of the Jews, and the Roman soldiers, who scourged and mocked and whipped Him, and who carried out the grisly task of crucifixion.

Pilate was constrained, by fear and a desire for self-protection, to agree to the Jewish leader’s demands, or he saw that a riot was about to erupt, with much blood being shed.   This would have likely resulted in his being recalled to Rome, relieved of his post, and suffer Caesar’s displeasure.  The Jewish leaders put him on the spot.  They said Caesar was their king, and if he did not agree to their demands, they would report him to Caesar as failing to punish a man who said he was the “king of the Jews.” 

Pilate’s political self-interest and ambition compelled him to do what he knew was wrong – and in weakness and fear, he gave in to their demands.  He was guilty of sin.  But the sin of the Jewish mob and leaders was the greater sin!  Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – said to Pilate, when he was questioning Him – “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.  Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11).

Unresolved Issues

Yes, as Yeshua said, those who delivered Him to Pilate had the greater sin.  That is plain and simply the truth.  This is not Anti-Semitism – it is historical fact.  Some Jewish leaders today are far too sensitive on this subject, and they, like their ancestors, still reject Christ as the Messiah for reasons of prejudice and blindness.  By attacking Mel Gibson’s movie with seething anger and invective, and mocking insults, and false accusations of “Anti-Semitism,” they show themselves to be men no better than their ancestors who crucified the Messiah Himself!  They may well bring greater judgment down upon themselves.  They claim to fear Anti-Semitism.  And it is making a terrible comeback, today, around the world.  Especially in Europe and the Arab world.  But their unrighteousness, fearful, loathsome and self-serving attack on a historically accurate movie and innocent movie producer will likely bring upon themselves the very thing they  wish to avert!   It is God whom they should fear – not men.  Anti-Semitism could not exist in the world unless God allowed it – and He would only allow it because He is very displeased. 

Indeed, the words of the Jewish elders at the court of Pilate are prophetic.  They invited God’s judgment upon themselves and their children for their dastardly deed, and they received what they requested from heaven above.  In every generation since that time, Jews have been persecuted, mistreated, martyred, beaten, bloodied, exiled, robbed, pillaged, plundered, and killed, because of their primary role in shedding the blood of God’s own Son, the Messiah.  It is simply a fact of history.  How else explain it?  This prophetic curse and been fulfilled down through the ages, and will be fulfilled once again, during this End Time generation -- the curse which the Jewish leaders and crowd brought upon themselves when they cried out:  “His blood be on us and on our children!”

What seems most indicative to me of the real lack of balance and understanding, today, is that many Christian leaders have “apologized” publicly to the Jews for their “Christian” predecessors having persecuted the Jews, even murdering and raping and pillaging in pogroms throughout Europe; but I have seen NO public admission of Jewish guilt in the killing of the Messiah, but rather a strong sense of denial.  So long as they act this way, they will probably bring even more persecution down upon their heads – as Yeshua said, their punishment will continue until they say, and admit, and confess, “Blessed is He [Yeshua] who comes in the name of the Lord.”  

A simply apology on their part might work wonders, rather than this ongoing stiff-necked denial and refusal to accept blame and guilt.  Facts are facts.  Besides, in truth, the Romans and Jewish leaders who killed Christ really were not ultimately responsible. Nor was Satan the devil.  The One ultimately responsible was God the Father, who deliberately SACRIFICED His own Son, to complete the plan of God and bring mortal men to salvation through the sacrifice of Christ.  The lesson of Abraham and the “Akeda” sacrifice of Isaac was meant to be a lesson to all mankind in this regard.  Abraham was to kill his own son as a sacrifice; but God intervened and did not compel him to finish the act.  But God Himself DID show His great love to us by sacrificing HIS OWN BELOVED SON that we might be forgiven our sins, pardoned for our iniquities, and justified, and made right with God (John 3:16; Romans 5 and 8, entire chapters).  How great is the love of God, and Yeshua!  We should not blame the Jews – they were fulfilling prophecy.  And the day is coming soon when “ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED” (Romans 11:25-26). 

Another Viewpoint

A friend of mine wrote me recently, saying:  “Just saw THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST opening night, and I have to say it was very, VERY moving. I got teary-eyed a couple of times, I have to admit (but one guy and his girlfriend behind me both lost it they were bawling. . . but everyone has different emotional triggers, I guess). Totally unfounded the Jewish criticism of it.  The only criticism is that one can see the strong Catholic bias in the movie (from my 10 years of Catholic school and attending many a mass, and learning about their stations of the cross). 


“Check it out, but I seem to remember Jesus only falling 3 times in the Bible (it looked like he fell 5 times. . . correct me if I am wrong when you see it).  And does not the Bible say no bone will be broken in Jesus’ body, from Isaiah? My date and I could almost swear we heard a bone crack in his arm (very audible), during the nailing of his left hand. Oh well no movie is perfect, and like I said there are Catholic biases in it, since Mel of course, is a devout Catholic. Maybe we need to do the same movie from the true Biblical perspective, 40 hours and all. (smile).

“I have to give the movie 5 stars out of 5. Mel’s best movie, I think. It is very violent and graphic and definitely not for kids under 12. I am sure you all will enjoy it and the other brethren who see it.”                                                                               

Yes, the movie “The Passion of the Christ” certainly shows the violence that was perpetrated upon the Messiah, but I believe it was necessary, to portray in an adequate way the great suffering and price that Jesus went through and paid for us, out of His deep love for us.  Even so, I believe the violence was actually understated. 

The Suffering of the Messiah

It was all prophesied.  About 712 years before Christ, in the eighth century before the present era, the prophet Isaiah foretold the sufferings of Christ.  He wrote, of the Messiah:  “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He awakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as the learned.  The Lord GOD has opened my ear;  and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away.  I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.  For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be shamed” (Isaiah 50:4-7)

Isaiah said, prophetically, “But as there were many who were astonished at him – so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals – so he shall startled many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard shall they contemplate” (Isaiah 5214-15, NRSV).

The New Testament does not say how many times He fell during His walk from the Praetorium to the Mount of Olives, where He was crucified.  It may have been only once – or twice, or three times, or five.  Who knows, except an eye-witness?  None of the apostles mentioned this.  Luke says, “And as they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.  And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, who also bewailed and lamented him” (Luke 23:26-28).  Mark and Matthew also mentioned this.  But none say that He fell – that part must be surmised. 

The Romans did not break Christ’s legs, because He was already dead.  John says this fulfilled the Scripture, “A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36).  David said not a bone of the Righteous One would be broken – “He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:20).  The Passover sacrifice was to have no broken bones– “neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (Exo.12:46; Num.9:12). Christ was our Passover lamb (I Cor.5:7). So this was a prophecy of His sacrifice!  However, David also foretold of the Messiah, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint” (Psalm 22:14).  When bones go out of joint, there can be a popping sound – that may be what people “heard” depicted in the movie.                                      


            Isaiah also predicted His death and resurrection from the grave.  He wrote:  “Who has believed our report?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?. . . He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows [pains] and acquainted with grief [sickness].  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely He has borne our griefs [sicknesses] and carried our sorrows[pains]; yet we esteemed [reckoned] Him stricken, smitten [struck down] by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded [margin, pierced through] for our transgressions, He was bruised [crushed] for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed. . .


            “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a LAMB to the slaughter [on Passover Day, even as all the Passover lambs were being slaughtered!], and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. . . For He was CUT OFF from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.  And they made His grave with the wicked [He was crucified with several robbers] – but with the rich at His death [He was buried in a rich man’s grave – that of Joseph of Arimathea]. . . .


            “When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall SEE His seed, He shall PROLONG His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hands.


            “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniqu9ities.  Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the stdrong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12, NKJV).


            Isaiah chapter 53, especially, is a poignant prophecy of the sufferings of the Messiah.  Historical Judaism declared that this prophecy was of the Messiah, but modern Judaism is in denial of this fact.  Modern rabbis claim that this was a prophecy for the Jewish people as a whole, and their sufferings at the hands of the world around them.  This clearly is not so, however.  The whole chapter is written of an individual – a man – a single person.  It says, “He shall grow up” (v.2), “He has no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected by men, A MAN of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But HE was wounded for OUR  transgressions, HE was bruised for OUR iniquities, the chastisement for OUR peace was upon HIM, and by His stripes we are all healed” (Isaa.53:2-5).


            This is not speaking of the persecutions of the Jewish people down through history – at all!  That is a horrendous misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the truth. It is talking about “HIM”! – THE MESSIAH – THE DELIVERER – THE LAMB OF GOD!


            Isaiah goes on, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, and as a SHEEP before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth . . . For He was CUT OFF [killed] from the land of the living; for the transgressions of MY PEOPLE,” God says, “He was stricken, and they made His grave with the wicked” (verses 7-9).


            This passage clearly could not be talking about the Jews – for it says this Person was stricken and cut off “for the transgressions of MY PEOPLE” – that is to say, He died FOR the Jews, and all Israel – God’s people!  He died for them – not that they died for each other!


            Even so, Jesus Christ came, and lived on this earth, and did miracles upon miracles and was finally brought to judgment by His envious, jealous enemies.  The one  known as John the baptizer said of Him, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).


            When He was brought before Pilate, like a lamb, in complete submission to His fate and judgment, Pilate asked Him, “ ‘Where are You from?’  But Jesus gave him no answer.  Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Are You not speaking to me?  Do you not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?’” (John 19:9-10). 


            Likewise, when He was before the high priest and chief priests, and false witnesses testified against Him, He remained silent, causing the high priest to arise and say, “Do You answer nothing?  What is it that these men testify against You?’  But Jesus kept silent” (Matt.26:62-63).  Yes, like a sheep “dumb before its shearers,” He kept silent.   He did not speak up in His own defense.  He submitted to the authorities, even though  they were in violent opposition to the law and were committing the most flagrant miscarriage of justice in all human history!


The Jewish Trial of the Christ


            The entire proceedings of Jesus' trial were a mockery of justice.  The religious leaders were desperate to condemn Jesus.  Therefore they began the proceedings late at night, which was contrary to Jewish law.  Then they deliberately tried to frame Jesus by seeking false witnesses against Him.  In Deuteronomy 17:6 and 7, we read that the testimony of at least two witnesses was needed in order to establish guilt.  These testimonies had to agree in order to be valid.  If the witnesses were found to be lying, they were to endure the sentence of the accused, according to Deuteronomy 19:15-19. 


            In Jesus’ case the rulers were so intent on condemning Jesus that they intentionally sought false witnesses in addition to accepting the testimonies of witnesses who did not agree.


            Another stipulation of Judean law was that once all the witnesses had testified and the council was considering the issue, at least one judge had to speak on behalf of the accused.  Jesus was never afforded an opportunity for His own defense. 


            Another discrepancy was regarding the charge itself.  Jesus had never spoken of himself as the one to destroy the Holy Temple.  Thus, this “trial” was a total contradiction of justice.  There is no doubt that it was meant to be a kangaroo court perpetrated by the highest religious leaders of the land!


            Finally, exasperated, Caiaphas arose and demanded as high priest that Jesus tell them whether He was the Christ or not.  Jesus answered in the affirmative, saying in effect that He was indeed, whereupon the high priest “rent his clothes.” 


            Caiaphas tore his mantle in half, or as the King James Version says, “rent his clothes.”  This was an outer priestly garment or mantle symbolizing his authority.  This custom of rending or tearing the mantle was an outward expression of extreme anger and grief.  The Old Testament law, in Leviticus 10:6 and 21:10, forbad the high priest to do this, the penalty for doing so being DEATH.


            By asking, “What further need have we of witnesses?” the high priest violated Jesus’ right to further testimony by other witnesses, witnesses outside of Himself.  Caiaphas quickly proclaimed the issue as being settled:  Jesus was considered guilty of blasphemy.  Caiaphas immediately called on the priests, elders, scribes, and Sanhedrin to declare their judgment.  But the plain truth was, in actuality, these men had prejudged Jesus already as being guilty of blasphemy and therefore to suffer the penalty of death! 


            After this mockery of a “trial,” a frame-up if there ever was one, in which due process was completely denied, and Jesus was falsely condemned.  All of this was completely contrary to Jewish law. 


            The next morning, Jesus was brought before the entire Sanhedrin (Matt.27:1; Mark 15:1).  He was tried, and condemned on the same day – a one day trial (Matt.27:1-3).  This, too, was contrary to Jewish law.  The Mishna states in very plain language regarding the Sanhedrin:  “Civil cases are tried during the day and may be completed at night; criminal cases are tried during the day and must be completed during daytime.  If the accused is acquitted, the criminal trial may be completed on one and the same day; but if not, it is adjourned to the next following day, on which judgment will then be pronounced” (Sanhedrin IV,1).


                 Judging by the combined gospel accounts, it is obvious that these strict legal procedures were not followed in the trial of Jesus.  After the full Sanhedrin condemned Him, Jesus was led away to appear for the first time before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.  This was probably about 8:00-9:00 AM in the morning.  He was then taken before king Herod – say, about 9:00-10:00 AM, and brought back before Pilate at about 11:00-12:00 – the middle of the day. 


            Says the New Revised Standard Version:  “Now it was the day of the Preparation for the Passover, and it was about noon” (John 19:14).  Says Moffatt, “about noon.”  Says Phillips, “it was now getting on toward midday.”  Says the Complete Jewish Bible, “it was about noon.” 


Beaten and Scourged


            The truth is, Christ Jesus suffered greatly.  He was beaten, many times, in the course of the long night’s interrogation.  After the next morning’s trial, He was delivered to Pilate.  In John’s gospel, we read that it was “about the sixth hour” when Pilate finally condemned Him to execution (John 19:14).  The “sixth hour,” in Jewish reckoning, meant about “twelve o’clock, NOON.”  Then Pilate delivered Jesus up to be whipped and scourged. 


            Matthew’s gospel tells us what happened next:  Then released he Barabbas unto them:  and when he had SCOURGED JESUS, he delivered him up to be crucified.  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and GATHERED UNTO HIM THE WHOLE BAND OF SOLDIERS.  And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.  And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand:  and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!  And they SPIT upon him, and took the reed, and  SMOTE HIM ON THE HEAD.  And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him" (Matt.27:26-31).


            Christ was both beaten with rods, and scourged mercilessly.  The movie by Mel Gibson showed in excruciating detail what this sort of punishment involves.  The beating, with blows raining down upon the hapless victim, and then the whipping, are terrible to behold.  Yet it happened to our beloved Savior.


            The scourges were whips made of cords or thongs of leather fastened to a handle.  Usually there were three of these thongs in each scourge, and they were often reinforced with bits of metal which tore the skin and flesh.  


            Werner Keller in The Bible as History, describes scourging  this way:  “. . . Jesus stood before Pilate while the mob howled outside.  It was on this Pavement too that the scourging took place.  This always preceded crucifixion, as Josephus expressly mentions twice.  For this horrible punishment the body was stripped naked and flogged until the flesh hung down in bloody shreds” (page 347).


            Mark’s gospel account tells us:  “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had SCOURGED him, to be crucified.  And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called PRAETORIUM:  AND THEY CALL TOGETHER THE WHOLE BAND [COHORT, some 600 men!].  And they clothed him with purple, and plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!  And they smote him upon the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him . . . .” (Mark 15:15-19).


            How long did this whipping, scouring, beating, mocking, torturing process take?  The judgment sat at the sixth hour, high noon.  Then Christ was taken by the soldiers -- THE WHOLE BAND, or COHORT, which numbered 600 men filled with blood lust, and a spirit of cruelty, who had their opportunity to mock and beat on Him, to kick Him, punch Him, until He was black and blue and bleeding all over. 


            The torture didn’t only last for an hour or so – Christ was scourged and beaten that afternoon, and then put in the dungeon that night, to be crucified the next morning at 9:00 AM.  Thus He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which stated:  “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?” (Isa.53:8).


            Mark tells us, “Now it was the third hour, and they crucified him” (Mark 15:25).  In Jewish reckoning, the “third hour” meant nine o’clock in the morning.  Obviously, since Christ was condemned by Pilate at the “sixth hour,” or high noon, then the crucifixion had to occur on the very next day – not the same day!


            When we put the whole story together, we see that from the time of His abduction by the chief priests, until His death on the stake, a period of about forty hours transpired.  A careful reconstruction of those events of Christ’s last week shows that He was seized on Tuesday night, charged and condemned by Pilate and the Jews Wednesday, at noon, and then nailed to the stake on Thursday, at nine AM in the morning, and died at 3 PM in the afternoon (Luke 23:44).  That  Friday was a high annual holy day (see John 19:31), so they quickly buried Him before sunset, Thursday evening (verse 42).   For a full explanation of these events, write for our article, “A Profound New Look at Jesus’ Last Week.”


The Crucifixion


            Crucifixion was carried out outside the city.  Says the New Bible Dictionary:  “It seems most likely that the hands were nailed, first the right and then the left, to the antenna with the sharp nails (clavi trabales) while the sufferer lay on the ground, and then the whole was drawn up by ropes and affixed to the upright . . . Authorities differ as to whether each foot was nailed separately or one nail secured both:  there was no foot rest, but a pegma, cornu, or sedile, supported the weight of the body to prevent it from tearing the hands free. . .


            “Death by this method was usually quite protracted, rarely supervening before thirty-six hours, and on occasion taking as long as nine days:  so the centurion and four soldiers were left as a guard to prevent a rescue.  The pain was obviously intense, as the whole body was strained, while the hands and feet, which are a mass of nerves and tendons, would lose little blood.  After a while, the arteries of head and stomach would be surcharged with blood, causing a throbbing headache, and eventually traumatic fever and tetanus would set in.  When for any reason it was proposed to put the sufferer out of his misery before the end, as if to compensate for the abbreviated suffering, the legs were shattered with blows from a club or hammer and the coup de grace was dealt with a sword or lance, usually in the side” (“Crucifixion,” page 282).


            Werner Keller points out, “In the case of a person suspended by his two hands the blood sinks very quickly into the lower half of the body.  After six to twelve minutes blood pressure has dropped by 50% and the pulse rate has doubled.  Too little blood reaches the heart and fainting ensues.  This leads to a speedy orthostatic collapse through insufficient blood circulating to the brain and the heart.  Death by crucifixion is therefore [normally] due to heart failure.


            “It is a well authenticated fact that victims of crucifixion did not usually die for two days or even longer.  On the vertical beam there was often a small support attached called a ‘sedile’ (seat) or a ‘cornu’ (horn).  If the victim hanging there eased his misery from time to time by supporting himself on this, the blood returned to the upper half of his body and the faintness passed.  When the torture of the crucified man was finally to be brought to an end, the ‘crucifragium’ was proceeded with:  his legs were broken below the knee with blows from a club.  That meant that he could no longer ease his weight on the footrests and heart failure quickly followed” (p.348-349).


            Unger’s Bible Dictionary relates, “Among the Jews, as well as among the Romans, crucifixion was considered the most horrible form of death; and to a Jew it would seem the more horrible from the curse, ‘He that is hanged is accursed of God’ (Deut.21:23).  Our Lord was condemned to it by the popular cry of the Jews (Matt.27:23) on the charge of sedition against Caesar (Luke 23:21-23)” (p.229).


            Unger continues:  “Crucifixion was preceded by scourging with thongs, to which were sometimes assed nails, pieces of bone, etc., to heighten the pain, often so intense as to cause death . . . . The place of execution was outside the city (I Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58; Heb.13:12); arrived there, the condemned was stripped of his clothes, which became the perquisite of the soldiers (Matt.27:35); and the cross having been previously erected he was drawn up and made fast to it with cords or nails, although sometimes he was fastened to the cross, which was afterward raised.  The limbs of the victim were generally three or four feet from the earth” (ibid.).


The Cross

            The New Testament uses the words stauros (“stake”) and stauroo (“crucify”) 74 times. However, in five places it uses the word xylon, meaning “tree” (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Gal.3:13, I Pet.2:24).

Says the Companion Bible, by Bullinger, “The word stauros . . . denotes an upright pale or stake, to which the criminals were nailed for execution” (appendix 162, page 186).  “The word xulon . . . denotes a piece of a dead log of wood, or timber, for fuel or for any other purpose.”  “The verb stauroo means to drive stakes.” 

Bullinger goes on, “Our English word ‘cross’ is the translation of the Latin crux; but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word ‘stick’ means a ‘crutch.’  Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a single piece of timber.  And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics.

“It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone.  Hence the usage of the word xulon in connection with the manner of our Lord’s death and rendered ‘tree’ in Acts 5:39; 10:39; 13:29; Gal.3:13; I Pet.2:24.  This is preserved in our old English name rood, or rod. . . There is nothing in the Greek of the N.T. even to imply two pieces of timber. “ 

   Concludes Bullinger, “The evidence is thus complete, that the Lord was put to death upon an UPRIGHT STAKE, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle.”

   Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words provides telling insight into the “cross.”  It declares:  stauros denotes primarily, ‘an upright pale or stake.’  On such malefactors were nailed for execution.  Both the  noun and the verb stauroo, ‘to fasten to a stake or     pale,’ are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed ‘cross.’  The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt.  By        the middle of the third century A.D. had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith.  In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the church apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols.  Hence the Tau, or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the ‘cross’ of Christ” (“cross,” page 138).  

Standard Roman practice was to use a stake for crucifixion.  However, in later Roman times a cross-bar was sometimes added.  Says Unger's Bible Dictionary, on the cross:  “The cross which was used as an instrument of death was either a plain vertical stake to which the victim was fastened, with the hands tied or nailed above the head, or such a stake provided with a crossbar, to which the victim was fastened with the arms outstretched" (“Cross,” p.227).


            In  this respect, it would appear that most Christians have a wrong idea of the nature and form of the “cross” that Jesus was crucified upon.  It was a tall beam of wood, and not in the form of two crossing pieces of timber at all.  This fact seems evident from the Scripture where the Messiah said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14).  When the Israelites were being attacked by fiery serpents, God told Moses to make a fiery serpent from bronze and to “put it on a pole; and it shall be that  everyone who is bitten, shen he looks at it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8).  “So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived’ (v.9).


            This “pole” was a direct type of the stauros or stake upon which the Lord was fastened.  Obviously it was an upright pole, singular, with no cross piece.  Even so, the Lord was crucified in the same manner, although popular tradition has lost sight of this knowledge and insists on claiming that the Messiah was crucified on a pagan cross, which dates back to ancient Egypt and Babylon!


How Many Crucified?


            The whole world has swallowed the traditional account that there were only two thieves who were crucified along with Christ.  Where did this belief originate?  Why did Medieval painters all assume there were three crosses on Golgotha, and always depict the crucifixion scene with Jesus suspended on a cross in the middle, with one thief on each side?


            In the book of Matthew, we read plainly enough:  “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left” (Matt.27:38).  These two thieves, we are further told, mocked Jesus, even as the priests and elders of the people had done. Matthew says, “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same into his teeth” (v.44).  The Greek word for “thieves” here is lestai, and means “robbers.”  The word is #3027 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and means “a brigand, robber, thief.”  It comes from a root word meaning “to plunder.”


            The gospel of Mark corroborates this account:  “And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left” (Mark 15:27).


            But is this the whole story? 


            Luke’s account records, “And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left” (Luke 21:32-33).


            Now notice!  These two men are not called thieves or robbers but “malefactors.”  The Greek word for “malefactor” here is kakourgoi, #2557 in Strong’s, and means “a wrong-doer, criminal, evil-doer.”  This is an entirely different word.


            But notice even more closely.  In Luke’s account, we read, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds:  but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:39-42).


            What a contrast!  In Matthew and Mark's accounts, the two robbers plainly ridicule, mock, and jeer at Christ.  However, one of these two malefactors does not do so at all!  Rather, when one of them begins to mock and ridicule, the other immediately rebukes him, defends Christ, and then asks to be remembered when Christ sets up His Kingdom.  This malefactor had a wonderful, repentant, humble attitude -- not a jeering, hostile, accusative attitude at all!


            If these two men are the same as the two robbers, then we have a problem.  This would appear to constitute a serious contradiction in the Scriptures!  How could Matthew and Mark paint his character one way, and Luke describe him entirely differently?  Both of the robbers reviled Christ (Matt.27:44; Mark 15:32), but only one of the malefactors “railed” at Him (Luke 23:39), while the other “rebuked him” for so doing (v.40).


            Furthermore, Luke says that these two malefactors were “led with him to be put to death” (Luke 23:32).  They trudged up the slopes of the Mount of Olives, along with Him, to be crucified with Him, from the beginning, at it were.  And when they reached the proper spot, they then and there crucified Him with the two malefactors (Luke 23:33). 


            But Matthew has a different story, regarding the two robbers. He relates that Jesus was beaten and scourged, and led away by the guard to be crucified.  “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.  And when they were come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots. . . And sitting down, they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matt.27:32-37).


            Now notice.  At this very point, after Jesus had been nailed to the stake, AFTER the Romans had parted His garments, AFTER they had put a sign over His head, that Matthew goes on to state,  “THEN were there two thieves crucified with him . . .” (v.38).


            Here, then, is another discrepancy, if these two thieves are the same people as the two malefactors!  These two thieves were crucified some time AFTER Christ had been crucified -- NOT together with Him, as the two malefactors were (Luke 23:32-33). 


            The two malefactors had been led to the crucifixion site with Christ, and were crucified along with Him, at the same time.  The robbers were brought to the crucifixion hill at a later time, and they were ADDED to those who were already being crucified.  They were similarly placed, so that one was on each side of the Lord, one on the left and one on the right.  The malefactors, having been crucified first, along with Christ, were on the inside, and therefore they could converse more easily with each other, and with Christ Himself, as Luke tells us (Luke 23:32-33).  Thus the evidence indicates that there were FOUR criminals who were crucified along with Jesus Christ – two were added later!


            Could this be true?  This is exactly what happened!  The gospel of John gives us a key piece of evidence that this is true. John tells us of the place of the crucifixion, but not of the time.  This fact is obscured in most Bible translations.  However, John relates, describing the fact of the crucifixion scene, according to the Englishman’s Greek Interlinear Bible, in John:19:18:


                        “where him they crucified, and with him others TWO ON THIS

                        SIDE AND ON THAT SIDE [one], and in the middle Jesus.”


            Now, the above translates the original Greek word for word.  Unfortunately, the translators added, after the second word “side,” a brackets containing the word “one.” Why did they do this? Because, like so many others, they assumed that there were only two others who were crucified along with Christ.  But that is not what John wrote! 


            What John wrote is very clear in the Greek, if we will just believe his words!  He said plainly, “And with him [were crucified] others, TWO ON THIS SIDE AND ON THAT SIDE.”  In other words, John said there were TWO ON EACH SIDE OF CHRIST, being crucified, or a total of FIVE!  The Interlinear says, literally, duo enteuthen kai enteuthen, meaning “two on either side.”  Thus it says there were “two on either side.”  This same expression is also found in Revelation 22:2, where we read, “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side [enteuthen kai enteuthen] of the river, was there the tree of life.” Therefore, what John is saying is that on either side of Jesus were TWO others being crucified!


            A final piece to this puzzle is provided by John also.  He relates in John 19:32-33:

“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that sabbath day was an high day), besought Pilate that they legs should be broken, and that they might be taken away.


            “Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was

crucified with him.  BUT WHEN THEY CAME TO JESUS, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs . . .” (John 19:31-33). 


            If the three crucified victims were lined up in  row, then how is it the Romans came to two of them before coming to Jesus, since He was in the middle?  If only two others were crucified with Him, then logic tells us that the soldiers would have come to one of them first, then Jesus, and then the remaining one.  Therefore this verse adds further proof that there were two criminals crucified on one side of Jesus, then Jesus, and then the other two malefactors.


            There are two words used in the Greek for “other” and “others” in John 19:32 and Luke 23:32.  In John's gospel we read, “They brake the legs of the first, and of the other.”  The Greek word is allos which is the other (the second) of two when there are more (compare Matt.10:23; 25:16,27,20; 27:61; 28:1; John 18:15,16; 20:2,4,8; Rev.17:10).  Therefore, it should be translated “others,” showing again that there were more than two whose legs were broken. 


The Death of the Messiah


            “From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ . . . Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  The earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:45-51, NRSV). 


            “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’  Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46).


            “But one of the soldier pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.  And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is t elling the teruth, so that you may believe.  For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘not one of His bones shall be broken.’  And again, another Scripture says, ‘They shall look upon Him whom they pierced’ (John 19:34-37).


            And so was fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah 53, “For He was cut off frosm the land of the living” (verse 8).  “He poured out His soul unto death” (verse 12). “Messiah shall be cut off [margin, suffer the death penalty], but not for Himself” (Daniel 9:26).  Then they will look on Me whom they pierced” (Zech.12:10).   “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones.  They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16-18).


            This was – this is – the greatest story ever told!  This is the greatest act of love and self-sacrifice ever made!  This IS the love of God, poured out for us, in the greatest battle of the Universe!  Christ triumphed, and overcame Satan!  The Messiah conquered the greatest enemy of all mankind! 


            And then He rose up from the grave, in newness of life!


The Resurrection of the Christ


            David also prophesied of His resurrection in the Psalms!  David foretold of the Messiah:  “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol [the abode of the dead – the grave], nor will You allow Your Holy One [the Messiah] to see [undergo] corruption” (Psalm 16:10).  


            David also foretold, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me” (Psalm 49:15) – a foreshadowing of the Messiah.


            He declared, “For great is Your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (Psalm 86:13).


            Isaiah foretold, “When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days” (Isaiah 53:9-10).


            Isaiah also declared:  “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. . . And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:11-12).


            Peter pointed out that these references to the resurrection did not apply to David himself – for his tomb is even today still in existence.  He has never been resurrected.  His body indeed saw corruption and experienced disintegration in the grave (Acts 2:29).  But, as Peter declared, David was speaking prophetically of the Christ – the Messiah – that God “would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:30-31).


            The apostle Paul makes it crystal clear.  He wrote, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand. . . For I delivered to you first of all that  which I also received:  that  Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor.15:1-4).


            “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order:  Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (I Cor.15:20-24).


It Was All Prophesied!


            When the resurrected Jesus encountered two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus, the day of the resurrection, and joined with them, He listened as they told Him with astonishment about the recent events which had happened, including the trial and death of Jesus, whom they had thought was a powerful prophet of God and whom they hoped was the Messiah.  He then said to them: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things to enter into His glory!  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-26).


            How did the Old Testament prophets know?  How could they see the future sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Christ so clearly?


            Isaiah could not have described Jesus Christ, and His life, mission and purpose, more accurately, if he had been there himself, at Jesus’ side, as an eye-witness to His life and ministry!  The apostle Peter, who was literally an eye-witness of Christ’s ministry, and sufferings, wrote of Him as well:


            Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  Who his own self BARE OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BODY on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripes ye were healed.  For ye were as sheep going astray; but now are returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:21-25).


            Isn’t it about time we looked to Christ, studied His life, and His death, and came to know, and appreciate the One who did so much for us?  Truly, all mankind has gone astray.  All have turned to their own way.  Isn’t it about time we turn back to God?


            Isn’t it about time we really “get to know” our Savior and Redeemer, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel – Yeshua Ha-Moshiach -- Jesus the Christ?