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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter - What Happened To Jesus When He Died On The Cross?

Matthew 27:24-54 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them and said, "I won't have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!" (25) Everyone answered, "We and our own families will take the blame for his death!" 26) Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.

Note - Jesus died to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. It is by His blood that we are saved. Notice that the crowd actually, and unintentionally, prophesied. In the Modern King James Version - MKJV) it says in Mat 27:25 "Then all the people answered and said, 'Let His blood be on us and on our children.'" It is His Blood that saves us, if we accept it. It is His Blood that convicts us if we refuse His offer of salvation. "Let His Blood be upon us and on our children" was a prophesy that finds it's fulfillment in either our salvation (by accepting His Blood upon us) or judgment (by rejecting His Blood).

(27) The governor's soldiers led Jesus into the fortress and brought together the rest of the troops. (28) They stripped off Jesus' clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. (29) They made a crown out of thorn branches and placed it on his head, and they put a stick in his right hand. The soldiers knelt down and pretended to worship him. They made fun of him and shouted, "Hey, you king of the Jews!" (30) Then they spit on him. They took the stick from him and beat him on the head with it. (31) When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. (32) On the way they met a man from Cyrene named Simon, and they forced him to carry Jesus' cross. (33) They came to a place named Golgotha, which means "Place of a Skull." (34) There they gave Jesus some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain. But when Jesus tasted what it was, he refused to drink it. (35) The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. (36) Then they sat down to guard him. (37) Above his head they put a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." (38) The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left. (39) People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and (40) shouted, "So you're the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days! If you are God's Son, save yourself and come down from the cross!" (41) The chief priests, the leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said, (42) "He saved others, but he can't save himself. If he is the king of Israel, he should come down from the cross! Then we will believe him. (43) He trusted God, so let God save him, if he wants to. He even said he was God's Son." (44) The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus. (45) At noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until three o'clock. (46) Then about that time Jesus shouted, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you deserted me?" (47) Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, "He's calling for Elijah." (48) One of them at once ran and grabbed a sponge. He soaked it in wine, then put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus. (49) Others said, "Wait! Let's see if Elijah will come and save him." (50) Once again Jesus shouted, and then he died. (51) At once the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split apart. (52)  Graves opened, and many of God's people were raised to life. (53) Then after Jesus had risen to life, they came out of their graves and went into the holy city, where they were seen by many people. (54) The officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw everything else that happened. They were frightened and said, "This man really was God's Son!"

Upon Christ's death, "the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom". What is this curtain or veil? The original Tabernacle was a tent that God had made to very exacting standards. He gave Moses the instructions and he oversaw the making of the Tabernacle. It had 3 sections. The outer court, the inner court and the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant with a top called the Mercy Seat. To go between the inner or holy court into the Holy of Holies was forbidden by everyone but the High Priest and he could only go in once a year and he had to be specially prepared. So the Veil was what separated the Holy of Holies. The Tabernacle was built so God could dwell among His People, the Israelites (aka Hebrews or Jews). It was always found in the center of the camp with the Twelve Tribes of Israel camped about it. Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and lived as a man. He was fully God, but also fully human. As He lived among men for 33 yrs He never sinned. His work was to come to earth and live as one of us and point us to the Father. Then He was to be offered up as a pure and holy sacrifice (He never sinned so He was pure) on our behalf. The Bible says He also acts as our High Priest. He was not only the sacrifice, but also the High Priest who offered Himself as a sacrifice before God to pay for our sins. But He not only was the sacrifice and the High Priest, He was also the Tabernacle who came to live among His People. And we go through Him, just as the High Priest went through the veil in the Tabernacle once a year to offer atonement for the sins of the nation. So He lived among us and, once and for all, removed the veil that separated us from God the Father. As Jesus physically paid the price with the killing of His Body, so the veil was torn and was no longer needed. The veil was torn from top to bottom which indicates God tore the veil, not man. God allowed His Son to be killed in order for us to have free access to the Himself. No more separation! We can sit on the Mercy Seat, also a symbol of Christ who provided us access to God's mercy and grace. We can converse directly with Father God. The only intermediary is Jesus Christ. The Ark of the Covenant was about the promises of God and we can sit on the promises of God and know they are for us too. We can trust in His promises. We Can rest on His promises.

Hebrews 9:11-14 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) But Christ has already come to be the high priest. He is the high priest of the good things we now have. But Christ does not serve in a place like the tent that those other priests served in. He serves in a better place. Unlike that tent, this one is perfect. It was not made by anyone here on earth. It does not belong to this world. (12) Christ entered the Most Holy Place only one time—enough for all time. He entered the Most Holy Place by using his own blood, not the blood of goats or young bulls. He entered there and made us free from sin forever. (13) The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow were sprinkled on those who were no longer pure enough to enter the place of worship. The blood and ashes made them pure again—but only their bodies. (14) So surely the blood sacrifice of Christ can do much more. Christ offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make us completely clean from the evil we have done. It will give us clear consciences so that we can worship the living God.

Hebrews 10:19-22 (ERV) And so, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place. We can do this without fear because of the blood sacrifice of Jesus. (20) We enter through a new way that Jesus opened for us. It is a living way that leads through the curtain—Christ's body. (21) And we have a great priest who rules the house of God. (22) Sprinkled with the blood of Christ, our hearts have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. So come near to God with a sincere heart, full of confidence because of our faith in Christ.

Next came an earthquake that split rocks apart. This shows the power of God and power of Christ's death. Our hearts are hard as a rock, impenetrable and unmovable. But Christ's atoning death breaks our hard hearts. All of the walls around our hearts, that we've built up in defense, come crashing down when Christ comes in.

Jeremiah 5: 3b (MKJV) ...they have refused to receive correction; they have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return.

Then something astonishing happened! Some of the graves broke open and dead people came alive again and were seen by their friends and family in the city. You see, Christ died and set dead people free. We were dead in our sins. The wages of sin is death. Death is the horrible result of sin. But we've been set free through Christ. Our spirits are born and will live for eternity. We call it being born again. Jesus rose from the dead and spent time with His Disciples before He ascended into Heaven. When He ascended, those who had come forth from the graves may have joined Him in ascension. We are not told so this is just a supposition.


A panel painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden created circa 1435, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. It depicts Jesus' body being held by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus

Matthew 27:54-66 (ERV) The army officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus saw this earthquake and everything that happened. They were very afraid and said, "He really was the Son of God!" (55) Many women were standing away from the cross, watching. These were the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for him. (56) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were there. (57) That evening a rich man named Joseph came to Jerusalem. He was a follower of Jesus from the town of Arimathea. (58) He went to Pilate and asked to have Jesus' body. Pilate gave orders for the soldiers to give Jesus' body to him. (59) Then Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a new linen cloth. (60) He put Jesus' body in a new tomb that he had dug in a wall of rock. Then he closed the tomb by rolling a very large stone to cover the entrance. After he did this, he went away. (61) Mary Magdalene and the other woman named Mary were sitting near the tomb. (62) That day was the day called Preparation day. The next day, the leading priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. (63) They said, "Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said, 'I will rise from death in three days.' (64) So give the order for the tomb to be guarded well for three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell everyone that he has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about him before." (65) Pilate said, "Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know." (66) So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and putting soldiers there to guard it.

In order to understand who Joseph of Arimathea was, let's look at the other Gospels.

Mark 15:40-47 Some women were standing away from the cross, watching. Among these women were Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James and Joses. (James was her youngest son.) (41) These were the women who had followed Jesus in Galilee and cared for him. Many other women who had come with Jesus to Jerusalem were also there. (42) This day was called Preparation day. (That means the day before the Sabbath day.) It was becoming dark. (43) A man named Joseph from Arimathea was brave enough to go to Pilate and ask for Jesus' body. Joseph was an important member of the high council. He was one of the people who wanted God's kingdom to come. (44) Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. So he called for the army officer in charge and asked him if Jesus was already dead. (45) When Pilate heard it from the officer, he told Joseph he could have the body. (46) Joseph bought some linen cloth. He took the body from the cross, wrapped it in the linen, and put the body in a tomb that was dug in a wall of rock. Then he closed the tomb by rolling a large stone to cover the entrance. (47) Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw the place where Jesus was put.

Luke 23:48-56 Many people had come out of the city to see all this. When they saw it, they felt very sorry and left. (49) The people who were close friends of Jesus were there. Also, there were some women who had followed Jesus from Galilee. They all stood far away from the cross and watched these things. (50) A man named Joseph was there from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a good man, who lived the way God wanted. He was waiting for God's kingdom to come. Joseph was a member of the Jewish council. But he did not agree when the other Jewish leaders decided to kill Jesus. (52) He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (53) He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in cloth. Then he put it in a tomb that was dug in a wall of rock. This tomb had never been used before. (54) It was late on Preparation day. When the sun went down, the Sabbath day would begin. (55) The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus followed Joseph. They saw the tomb. Inside they saw where he put Jesus' body. (56) Then they left to prepare some sweet-smelling spices to put on the body. On the Sabbath day they rested, as commanded in the Law of Moses.

John 19:38-42 Later, a man named Joseph from Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. (Joseph was a follower of Jesus, but he did not tell anyone, because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders.) Pilate said Joseph could take Jesus' body, so he came and took it away. (39) Nicodemus went with Joseph. He was the man who had come to Jesus before and talked to him at night. He brought about 100 pounds of spices—a mixture of myrrh and aloes. (40) These two men took Jesus' body and wrapped it in pieces of linen cloth with the spices. (This is how the Jews bury people.) (41) In the place where Jesus was killed on the cross, there was a garden. In the garden there was a new tomb. No one had ever been buried there before.  (42)  The men put Jesus in that tomb because it was near, and the Jews were preparing to start their Sabbath day.

We know that Joseph was from a town called Arimathea which was in Judea. But it's not sure which town in Judea it was. There are several possibilities. We also know that he was wealthy and already had a tomb for himself. He purchased fine linen particularly to wrap the body of Jesus in. We also know he was a member of the Sanhedrin but was not one who that hated Jesus and participated in the mock trial. He was actually a friend of Jesus and became a believer. There is speculation that Joseph of Arimathea, or Joseph of Glastonbury as he was later called, was the uncle of Mary, mother of Jesus. According to various historical sources, Joseph's actions provoked both the Roman and Jewish elders and he eventually did spend time in prison for his support of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestant churches. Legends have grown up around

"Other historical sources report that Joseph of Arimathea went on a preaching mission to Gaul with the apostle Phillip, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and others sometime between the years A.D. 37 and A.D. 63 (the year is in dispute). At Marseilles, Lazarus and Mary parted company with the main group who continued on further up North. When Joseph's party reached the English Channel, Phillip sent Joseph with 12 disciples to the furthest corner of the Roman Empire, the Island of the Britons. Legend has it that Joseph sailed around Land's End at the southern tip of England with the intent of catching up with old business acquaintances in the lead and tin mines. They ran aground in the Glastonbury marshes. Once again, it is reported that after climbing a nearby hill to survey the countryside, they were exhausted and Joseph thrust into the ground a staff made from the 'Holy Crown of Thorns' worn by Christ. He announced that he and his traveling companions were all weary. It is legendary that the thorn staff immediately took root and the thorn bush can still be seen today on 'Wearyall Hill.' Joseph built a church (Vetusta Ecclesia) of mud and wattle on the site and decreed that 12 monks should always reside in that most sacred place. It is interesting to note that a spirited shrub which grows near the now ruined Abbey is of the same type that grows in the Eastern Mediterranean and flowers only twice a year - Christmas time and Easter. It is also claimed that Joseph collected some of the blood and sweat of Christ after His side was pierced as He hung on the cross. The chalice or cup which Joseph used to collect the fluids is reported to be the same one used during the last supper. Joseph took the cup with him on his voyage to England and is said to have hidden it on the site at Glastonbury, at the bottom of a deep well, called the 'Chalice Well', or the 'Blood Well.' The well is a rather curious place, 25 thousand gallons of red-tinted water pass through the well area each day. The red tint is caused by high iron content in the water." (see link for the full article)

These are unsubstantiated legends but very interesting.

Nicodemus is mentioned earlier in the gospels.

John 3:1-21 (ERV) There was a man named Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees. He was an important Jewish leader. (2) One night he came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No one can do these miraculous signs that you do unless they have God's help." (3) Jesus answered, "I assure you, everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born again cannot be in God's kingdom." (4) Nicodemus said, "How can a man who is already old be born again? Can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?" (5) Jesus answered, "Believe me when I say that everyone must be born from water and the Spirit. Anyone who is not born from water and the Spirit cannot enter God's kingdom. (6) The only life people get from their human parents is physical. But the new life that the Spirit gives a person is spiritual. (7) Don't be surprised that I told you, 'You must be born again.' (8) The wind blows wherever it wants to. You hear it, but you don't know where it is coming from or where it is going. It is the same with everyone who is born from the Spirit." (9) Nicodemus asked, "How is all this possible?" (10) Jesus said, "You are an important teacher of Israel, and you still don't understand these things? (11) The truth is, we talk about what we know. We tell about what we have seen. But you people don't accept what we tell you. (12) I have told you about things here on earth, but you do not believe me. So I'm sure you will not believe me if I tell you about heavenly things! (13) The only one who has ever gone up to heaven is the one who came down from heaven—the Son of Man. (14) "Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. It is the same with the Son of Man. He must be lifted up too. (15) Then everyone who believes in him can have eternal life." (16) Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. (17) God sent his Son into the world. He did not send him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. (18) People who believe in God's Son are not judged guilty. But people who do not believe are already judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son. (19) They are judged by this fact: The light has come into the world. But they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. (20) Everyone who does evil hates the light. They will not come to the light, because the light will show all the bad things they have done. (21) But anyone who follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that whatever they have done was done through God.

John 7:40-45 (ERV) When the people heard the things that Jesus said, some of them said, "This man really is the Prophet." (41) Other people said, "He is the Messiah." And others said, "The Messiah will not come from Galilee. (42) The Scriptures say that the Messiah will come from the family of David. And they say that he will come from Bethlehem, the town where David lived." (43) So the people did not agree with each other about Jesus. (44) Some of the people wanted to arrest him. But no one tried to do it. (45) The Temple police went back to the leading priests and the Pharisees. The priests and the Pharisees asked, "Why didn't you bring Jesus?" (46) The Temple police answered, "We have never heard anyone say such amazing things!" (47)The Pharisees answered, "So he has fooled you too! (48) You don't see any of the leaders or any of us Pharisees believing in him, do you? (49)But those people out there know nothing about the law. They are under God's curse!" 50) But Nicodemus was there in that group. He was the one who had gone to see Jesus before. He said, (51) "Our law will not let us judge anyone without first hearing them and finding out what they have done." (52) The Jewish leaders answered, "You must be from Galilee too! Study the Scriptures. You will find nothing about a prophet coming from Galilee." (53) Then they all left and went home.

From what we read earlier, Joseph of Arimathea provided his own tomb and fine linen for Jesus' burial and Nicodemus provided expensive balm from a mixture of myrrh and aloes so he was probably wealthy as well. In the apocryphal books there is a Gospel of Nicodemus. Nicodemus is venerated as a saint in the various Eastern Churches and in the Roman Catholic Church.


The traditional location of Golgotha (place of the skull) derives from its identification by Helena, the mother of Emperoro Constantine I, in 325 AD. A few yards nearby, Helena also identified the location of the tomb of Jesus and claimed to have discovered the True Cross. Her son, Emperor Constantine, then built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre around the whole site including the Tomb of Christ. But scholars have disputed this as the place of Calvary and the Tomb. See Wikipedia on Calvary and on the Tomb of Jesus and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

See my post on what happened to Jesus between His death and resurrection.

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