Bible Through the Year: Episode 46

Week 46 Devotion

This week we read the climax of the gospels, which also happens to be the climax of the entire Bible. This week we will look on as Jesus is betrayed, stands trial, receives the sentence of death, and suffers that sentence to finality. But the story of Jesus didn’t begin with His birth in Bethlehem and His story doesn’t end with His burial in Jerusalem. Three days after dying and being placed in a borrowed tomb, Jesus rose from the dead.

This week we are going to read about Jesus crucifixion, His death and burial, His triumphant resurrection and the mission that He has given to His disciples.

Something to meditate on from Luke 23:26-43…

With the trial over the only thing left to do is to carry out Jesus’ punishment and Luke chooses to leave out some of the details in how that took place. For instance, we see nothing about Jesus being scourged in Luke’s account but there is no doubt that it took place. Matthew, Mark, and John tell us that upon Pilate’s orders Jesus was scourged before being crucified.

The scourge was a particularly brutal form of flogging that consisted of a short wooden handled whip to which several leather straps were attached. These straps were often embedded with pieces of lead, brass or even bone so that when the thongs came into contact with the victim these pieces would pierce and grab the flesh and when pulled would cause terrible lacerations.

Scourging was often administered by two men (soldiers) who would stand on either side of the criminal whose hands were tied together and stretched over his head to expose his entire midsection to the abuse of the whip. The effect on the body was horrific and it was common for people to die from the scourge itself.

When Pilate’s soldiers finished scourging Jesus they took him into the Roman military barracks or Praetorium where they proceeded to mock him in front of an entire battalion of soldiers (600). They put a scarlet robe on his back, placed a crown of thorns on his head, and placed a wooden scepter in His hands and then knelt in front of Jesus mocking Him for claiming to be the King of the Jews.

Now that the soldiers have had their fun with Jesus they begin to lead Him away to Calvary’s Hill just outside the city gates. But Jesus weakened by the scourge is unable to carry His cross any further. The Roman practice was to place the crossbeam on the back of condemned criminals, a sign bearing their name and crime was hung around their neck, and they were made to walk to the place of their crucifixion. This was done to increase their humiliation.

 But Jesus is too weak to finish the journey so the Roman soldiers seize Simon and place the cross on him. The fact that the soldiers make Simon finish the task is not a sign of mercy or pity for Jesus, instead, it shows that the Romans themselves wouldn’t think of carrying a criminal’s cross.

Crucifixion was a means of capital punishment used by Romans but they saw it as despicable as well. The very word crucifixion was hardly spoken of in polite Roman society. No one survived crucifixion. The purpose of the cross was a painful, agonizing and humiliating death, which would serve to deter others from committing similar crimes.

So why did Jesus, the Son of God, suffer and die on the cross? Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus didn’t die for His sin He died for our sins. He died in the place of sinners to pay the penalty that our sin deserved. He took our place and paid our debt. He became our substitute and the Lord has laid on Him the sin of us all (Is 53:6).

In God’s righteous judgment He has determined that the just penalty for sin is death and that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. And we are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. Sin is any transgression of the law of God and we are guilty because we have sinned times without number. And our dilemma is this; there is no way that we can stop sinning and there is no way that we can possibly atone for our sins. Our sin condemns us before a holy and righteous God.

But Christ’s death upon this horrible cross means life for you and me.

2 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.

Christ died, not to pay the penalty for his own sin, but to pay the penalty for our sin.

What an end to the life of Christ. This man who turned the world upside down is dying on a Roman cross between two thieves. This man who wielded supernatural power has now yielded up His life to atone for our sin. This man who once debated and silenced the rulers has now refused to answer their insults. Behold, the silent Lamb of God who willingly gave His life and suffered so that we could be set free

Something to discuss from Luke 22:14-23…

Earlier in the week, Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem, not simply to eat the Passover lamb, but to be the True Passover Lamb. He has come into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover not because He needs to be covered by the blood of a lamb, but because He is the lamb whose blood will save all of God’s people from judgment. But before He gives up His body and blood as a sacrifice He is going to celebrate with His friends one last time.

All the preparations have been made in the days leading up to this meal. The room was secured. The Passover lamb had been selected. The food has been prepared and now Jesus and the 12 have begun to take their seats around the table.

Jesus took the position of host at this table, which means that He is in the one who will lead them through this meal and teach them about the Passover events along the way. The Passover meal was a time when the people of God would look back and remember how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. It was a memorial meal designed to remind Israel of God’s mercy, God’s justice and God’s power.

The meal itself would be broken into 7 parts:

An opening prayer of Thanksgiving was offered by the Head of the house (host) and the first cup of wine was offered to those at table. Jesus does this in verses 17.

Bitter herbs were eaten as a reminder of the bitterness of Israel’s slavery in Egypt.

A child would ask, “Why is this night distinguished from all other nights?” and then the father or host would tell the Passover story.

Psalms 113 and 114 would be sung, the first part of the Hallel, and this would be followed by the washing of hands and the second cup would be passed.

The lamb was served together with unleavened bread and the backdrop of this meal was explained through Exodus 12-13, which describes the night of the Passover. The night when God sent the destroyer, the Jews were set apart because their homes were covered by the blood of the lamb. The unleavened bread was a reminder that they had to be ready to leave in haste the next morning.

The last thing to be eaten was the lamb and then the third cup would be passed.

Finally, they would sing again the last part of the Hallel (Psalm 115-118) and the fourth cup was served.

This is what Jesus and His disciples were set to do on this night. He reclined at table on this night after years of waiting and He led His disciples through the Passover meal, following the tradition of the Jews, but at certain points, he changed the script.

V. 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."  20 And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood…”

Jesus broke script when He picked up a thin slice of unleavened bread and started to break it up and give it to His disciples. He told them that it was His body, a symbol of His body to remind them of His sacrifice. He told them that they were to do this, in the future, and when they do they are to remember Him.

He picked up the cup, the third cup, and he passed it to them telling them that this cup marked the New Covenant sealed by His blood.

 In Matthew 26 we read this, “27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus changes everything. Not only has he changed the Passover script; He has forever changed the way we understand the Passover. The lambs used in Egypt and for thousands of years after the Exodus where all pointing to One Final Lamb whose sacrifice would put an end to all sacrifice.

Heb 10:11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

The Lord ’s Supper is for us a celebration of the completed work of Christ. The Supper is a reminder that a New Covenant has been struck between God and His people and it is secured by blood that cannot fail. The Supper is a memorial of the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus that purchased forgiveness and eternal life for all those who believe. Each time we eat the bread and drink this cup we remember the Lord Jesus Christ and we are reminded again of his sustaining grace.

Something to pray about from Matthew 26:36-46…

Even at the last hour, Jesus is still teaching us and this time He is teaching us how to pray in times of trouble. Here He tells them to pray that they may not enter into temptation. Pray for the enemy to be held at bay. Pray to the Father to keep you strong though temptation is present.

In the immediate context, Jesus is probably warning the disciples, especially Peter, against the coming threat of denying Christ and abandoning Him. If Peter was ever going to be serious about prayer it might be now since Jesus just told him that before the night is over he will deny the Lord three times. But this has little impact on the disciples and before long they fall asleep.

But in the overarching context of the Christian life, there is a need for us to pray to the Father to keep us from temptation. We need help to live by faith and our help comes from the Lord. Yes, there is a need for us to be wise as we face trials. Yes, there is a need for us to have counselors and accountability as we face temptations, but there is an even greater need for us to pray for God to protect us, to help us and to keep us from temptation.

We see an example of this in Jesus’ own prayer.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

The temptation is to find an easier route. The temptation is to give in to fear and to abandon the cross, but at the same time Jesus asks for the strength to submit Himself to the Father’s will. In this prayer Jesus asks for two things: 1. Remove this cup from me, 2. Let Your will be done. Jesus is open and completely honest with God. He made His desires known, but in the end, He is absolutely committed to the Father’s will.

Oh, that we might grow to such godly confidence and selfless love that we will abandon our own comfort for the sake of God’s will and the good of others. Dear Christian don’t, fall asleep when temptation is crouching at the door, but stay awake and pray. Cry out for God’s protection.



Justin Wheeler

Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX.