Books: The Path to the Cross — Chapter 13

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BIBLICAL CONCEPTS PRESS

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon.com

 

Chapter 13

Not in Vain

Jesus’ resurrection promises meaning

In the lush, misty hills of Vietnam lies the A Shau Valley. In this picture postcard setting rises a hill with a harsh American name — Hamburger Hill. A name well earned.

In 1969, during the Vietnam War, American paratroopers had assaulted the North Vietnamese who were entrenched atop Hamburger Hill. For nine straight days the battle-hardened enemy beat back the American attack. Finally, on the tenth bloody day, the assault forces drove the enemy off the summit. To win that height, 430 American soldiers had given their lives, and many who stood on that summit thought of friends suddenly ripped from this world.

Within hours after the hard-won victory, orders arrived from headquarters, directing that the hill be abandoned because that specific position had become strategically worthless. Someone had decided that it wasn’t needed. The paratroopers greeted those orders with burning rage; for the first time in American military history the troops almost mutinied.

This tragic story demonstrates that each of us wants to live for something; we don’t want to live or die in vain. Whether knowing it or not, every person searches for meaning and purpose for their life.

It may strike you as a mystery that Paul connects meaning and purpose for our lives with the resurrection of Christ, but that’s exactly what he does in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul tells us that, because of Christ’s victory over sin and death at the cross, you and I can live for him in full knowledge that we do not live in vain. As we put our faith in Jesus Christ and then live for him in a way that is pleasing to God, we are making an eternal investment that we will never regret.

Such meaning and purpose in Christ will prove vital at several crucial points in our earthly lives. Research reveals that at about ages thirty, forty, and fifty, men look back over their years and take stock of their lives. An evaluation that looms even larger comes sometime after age sixty, when virtually every man evaluates his life and judges whether it has been worthwhile or wasted.

If his backward glance reveals drifting purpose and faded value, then his later years may be spent in bitterness and regret. But a life of purpose, meaning, and lasting value can give a sense of closure that allows a person to face the last years with a satisfied feeling inside. How true that should be for believers!

Jesus among the Dead

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
(Luke 23:50–54)

In Joseph of Arimathea we find a godly man, “waiting for the kingdom of God.” Surprisingly, we find that he held membership in the Sanhedrin, the ruling Council comprised chiefly of Sadducees and teachers of the law. The Sanhedrin had orchestrated Jesus’ death, so it is doubly surprising that one of its members approached Pilate to ask for his body. The explanation lies in the fact that Joseph had become a secret disciple of Jesus (Matt. 27:57).

I want to concentrate for a moment on the fact that Jesus was truly dead. That may seem strange, but some have tried to deny the resurrection by claiming that Jesus was not really dead at the time.[1] But to say that, one must deny the statements of the biblical record. The Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead; he had caused them no end of trouble.

They spared no pains in accomplishing that goal. They had stood among the crowd around the cross to confirm that their efforts had been crowned with success. You can be sure that no member of the Council went home that day before satisfying himself that Jesus was dead.

Consider the Romans as well. Once Pilate had given the death sentence, Jesus was taken by Roman troops out to the cross to be executed. The Romans had executed thousands of Jews in this manner and knew how to do the job. So the Sanhedrin watched while experts carried out their will.

The Roman centurion declined to break Christ’s legs to hasten his death, after confirming with a spear point that he had already died. When Pilate received Joseph’s request to bury Jesus, he did not grant it until he had personally asked the centurion in charge to confirm that Jesus was dead (Mark 15:44–45). Only then did he give the body to Joseph. We can be sure that the body Joseph took down from the cross had no vestige of life in it.

A Short Tour of the Tomb

Try to use your imagination for a moment to picture the tomb in which Jesus was buried. Being a man of wealth, Joseph placed Jesus in his own freshly made tomb cut from rock (Matt. 27:57–60). The tomb probably had a round opening leading to an antechamber about ten feet square. In this area the mourners made final preparation of the body.

The walls around the room usually contained shelves cut from the rock; these shelves were used to hold each of the bodies placed in the tomb. In this way, whole families could be buried together, much as is our own custom.

The door of the tomb consisted of a large round stone, rolling in a stone groove to control access to the doorway. These closure stones weighed many tons and were often accompanied by a smaller stone, rolled up against one side to prevent the large stone from moving in its track.

Joseph probably put Jesus in his own tomb not only out of personal kindness, but also because he was sorely pressed for time. Jesus died about three o’clock in the afternoon, and very little time remained before the sun would set and the Sabbath would begin.

Because no work could be done after sunset, Joseph had to move quickly to obtain Pilate’s permission to take Christ’s body down from the cross and to place it in his tomb. In all probability, Joseph did not finish the preparations of the body that he had hoped to accomplish. That would explain what happened next.

Vigil of Sorrow

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
(Luke 23:55–56)

These loyal women had been with Jesus for a long time, and they didn’t leave his body until they had seen exactly where Joseph had put it. Some skeptics have claimed that the tomb was later empty because the women found the wrong tomb. But the women knew exactly where to look.

Besides the women, Joseph was assisted in his hasty preparation by Nicodemus (John 19:39). At least two members of the Sanhedrin had trusted in Christ and were honoring him in his death.

Jesus among the Living

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
 (Luke 24:1–3)

The word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word that means seventh. The seventh day was Saturday. Jesus was crucified on Friday, the sixth day of the week, and the women did not return to the tomb until the first day of the following week, which was Sunday in our terminology. As God-fearing people, they did not work or journey on the Sabbath day, Saturday.

Jesus had said that he would rise on “the third day,” and he stayed in the tomb for parts of three different days. His body was placed in the tomb on Friday, the first day, and was unobserved in the tomb on Saturday, the second day. He departed from the tomb alive on Sunday, the third day.

As the women were walking on their way to the tomb, they expected that the stone would present a big problem (Mark 16:3). They didn’t know it, but God had removed an even bigger problem than that from the scene. On Saturday, the religious leaders had obtained Pilate’s permission to post an armed guard at the tomb. They remembered what Jesus had said about rising on the third day, and they wanted to prevent any theft of the body that might be used to spread such a lie (Matt. 27:62–66).

With Pilate’s permission, they posted a guard and then placed a seal, probably on the boundary surface between the large stone covering the door and the small stone beside it. The seal meant that the tomb was not to be opened without Pilate’s permission.

But God opened Christ’s tomb without his permission! While the women were still approaching the tomb, an angel of the Lord had arrived and thrown the stone aside. He also frightened the guards to the point that they first collapsed in fright and later ran away to report to the chief priests (Matt. 28:2–15).

Those guards would only have run away from mortal danger, because a Roman guard could be executed for abandoning his post. The religious leaders not only paid them to spread an erroneous story, but also promised them that they would keep Pilate from punishing them. Luke tells us only that when the women arrived, they found that the stone had been rolled away and the body of Jesus was gone. He does not mention the guards, because they had already fled.

An empty tomb in itself doesn’t mean a whole lot; that could exist for any number of reasons. The town in which you live probably has some empty tombs. The reason this empty tomb is so important is that God has revealed to us why it was empty. God spoke first through angelic messengers and later through his risen Son, appearing alive before his followers. The empty tomb means little, but the living Savior means everything.

A Forwarding Address

4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words.
(Luke 24:4–8)

After his death, fear and despair overwhelmed most of Christ’s disciples. Only a few, like the women and the two Sanhedrin members, dared to move in public. Most of Christ’s disciples hid themselves, trembling at the possibility that the authorities might arrive and haul them off at any moment. They were looking back at those last few years and thinking that it had all been in vain. They thought they had found the Messiah, but he had been taken away from them, and they were left with regret and fear.

In every description of the disciples, both male and female, we find that they were very slow to process what had really happened. Christ’s death so shattered them that they struggled to begin accepting that he had truly risen from the grave. Using the remainder of Luke’s account, let’s consider for a moment how they gradually changed from despair to confusion, to shock at his appearing, and finally to triumphant joy.

An Amazing Transformation

Two of the first disciples Jesus encountered were making a journey to Emmaus. Jesus supernaturally prevented them from grasping who he was as he probed them on the events of the previous days. Then Jesus rebuked them for being “slow to believe” all that had been told to them beforehand (Luke 24:25). The women had fled straight from the tomb to the men to tell them what had happened, but the men had responded with unbelief and scorn.

Later in the day, after Jesus had appeared to Peter and James as well as others, all the disciples had gathered and were still having a hard time believing what they had seen. That’s when Thomas made his memorable statement that he would not believe that Jesus had risen unless he could see the nail marks in his hands and put his finger there (John 20:25).

A week later Jesus appeared in their midst and called on Thomas to “stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Only then did they all accept what had occurred. Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.

Luke ended his account of Christ’s life by describing how the disciples worshiped Jesus and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Luke 24:52). In his sequel (Acts 1–8), Luke described how those who had hidden in fear of death went out with tremendous boldness to witness all over Jerusalem, and elsewhere, too. An incredible reversal took place in their attitudes and behavior because they had been with their risen Lord.

I want to present what I see as the leading reasons that the resurrection of Christ must have happened exactly the way the Scriptures tell it.

First of all, Christ’s opponents could never produce his body to refute the claims of his followers. You can imagine how quickly this popular movement would have dissipated, if they had only brought his dead body before the crowds. You can also be sure that the Sanhedrin that plotted so carefully to put him to death searched far and wide to try to produce his body.

They thought they had solved their problems when they put him to death, but he didn’t stay where they put him. The leaders could not just produce another body, because Jesus had been seen by too many people, and his appearance was quite well-known. Thousand of Jewish worshipers came to Jerusalem from around the Mediterranean world to worship at Passover, and many of them had observed Jesus firsthand.

Second, whenever you see a big effect, you should look back earlier to find a big cause. Only big causes produce big effects. Let me explain. The explosive spread of Christianity within the hostile environment of Judaism and Roman persecution is what I would call a big effect. Christianity first arose in a Jewish setting that found it absolutely abhorrent.

The Romans did not hinder Christianity much in the early days, but they did later when it became apparent that the Christians would not worship the Roman pantheon of deities. That was considered treason in the eyes of many Romans. For most of the Roman world to become Christian within two centuries after Christ’s death constitutes a big effect. Can you really get such a big effect from someone lying dead in a tomb? No, to get such a big effect requires a cause as big as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The resurrection filled Jesus’ disciples with explosive zeal because they knew that even if they lost their lives, they had not lived in vain. They had something to live and die for.

Third, Paul and James, the Lord’s brother, would never have trusted Jesus as their Messiah apart from his appearing to them after the resurrection. Only an encounter with the resurrected Lord could change Paul from a murderous persecutor of Christ’s disciples into an equally zealous proponent of Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 9). The same is true for James (see John 7:5 about the unbelief of Jesus’ brothers).

The apostles and others were willing to die for their faith because they knew that the resurrection was true. Liberal scholars have claimed that the apostles fabricated Christ’s resurrection because the church wanted to believe that it had happened. But such views run into fatal psychological difficulty when we realize that these men had to lay their lives on the line for what they were saying. People simply will not die for a lie.

If the apostles had conspired to fabricate a resurrection lie, they would have produced a more airtight story. They would not have written four Gospels that tend to stress different aspects of the event from different viewpoints. To sell a lie, it would have been far easier to invent one simple story and get everybody to spread the tale.

But the apostles didn’t worry about that. They were telling the truth. They knew their story hung together; they had been there to see it! Further, a fabricated story would never have included women as witnesses, because Jewish society did not accept their testimony about anything. Finally, a fabricated story would have contained no evidence of residual unbelief (Matt. 28:17). But God need not feel insecure just because few people don’t believe. He could afford to tell the truth and not worry about unbelief.

The Domino Effect

Even some believers hesitate to accept the resurrection because it does not fit well in a modern world that feels skepticism toward the supernatural. But the fact of the matter is that the resurrection links up with other things that Christians desperately want to believe. Paul connects the reality of eternal life with the reality of Christ’s physical resurrection (Col. 2:13). If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then there is no such thing as eternal life. That’s a loss few Christians would be willing to accept.

Paul also links the resurrection of Christ to the power God has given us for Christian life (Rom. 8:11). Without the resurrection, sin still reigns over our mortal bodies (Romans 6:12), and we remain dead in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17).

I have given you only a few examples among many of the importance of the resurrection. These things are theologically connected to the resurrection by the writings of the New Testament. Like dominoes in a row, if the resurrection falls, then other things that Christians value dearly fall as well. Believers cannot reasonably choose to defend only those parts of the Scriptures that they find comfortable. The whole thing stands or falls together. God says it stands!

The Resurrection and You

Use the following applicational ideas to drive home the truth of the resurrection in your own life.

1. The resurrection of Christ proves that God has accepted his sacrifice for our sins. The penalty for our sins has been paid in full.

I agree that my entire guilt before God has been taken away.

2. The resurrection of Christ brings every believer a new power to live for God. The dominating power of sin has been broken. In Romans 6 and 8 we are told that believers share the same kind of power that raised Jesus from the dead. Only by our access to this power can we successfully resist the domination of our sinful nature. Peter tells us that God has “given us everything we need for a godly life” (2 Pet. 1:3). Through the presence of his Holy Spirit, God has given us all that we need to live our lives unto him.

I agree that God has granted me power through the Holy Spirit to live for him.

Are you taking advantage of this resource that God has provided, or has your behavior remained unchanged since you trusted Christ?

3. We can respond to Christ’s resurrection with thankfulness that living for God is not a futile gesture. Managing our lives for him will have eternal significance. Perhaps you will find it appropriate to express yourself in prayer thanking God right now.

A Final Word

At the midpoint of the Civil War, a solemn journey brought Abraham Lincoln to the scene of the bloodiest battlefield, Gettysburg. Here, in a hard-fought battle, tens of thousands of Union soldiers were slain in the hills and fields near the town. Lincoln had come to dedicate a national cemetery to honor the Union dead.

He gave the very short speech that we call the Gettysburg Address. He looked back at the awesome loss of life and noted that these men had made the ultimate sacrifice that anyone could make. They had given their own lives for a cause that they believed in. But when they perished, they did not know whether or not they had died in vain.

Lincoln said that only by winning the final victory could the Union make those men’s profound sacrifice worthwhile. He challenged all present with the responsibility to win the war so that their dead companions would not have died for nothing. Two more bloody years of doubt passed before that question was finally answered.

No one who believes in Jesus Christ will ever have to face such doubt. Jesus tells us that the final victory has already been won. He settled that first by dying for our sins and then rising from the dead. As we continue our struggle, our fight in life, we can do so without ever worrying that it will prove a waste.

With Paul, I reach this conclusion: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58).



[1]A classic example of this: Hugh J. Schonfield, The Passover Plot (New York: Bantam, 1971).

Books: The Path to the Cross — Chapter 12

Front Cover

 

 

BIBLICAL CONCEPTS PRESS

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon.com

 

Chapter 12

An X-Ray of Reality

Jesus’ death dictates choices

Nobody likes feeling foolish! But sometimes we get caught by a deficient set of facts. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let me tell you about what happened one August. At that time every year the drinking water in my hometown tastes bad because of algae growing in the warm lake waters. The water company dumps in great quantities of chlorine to kill the offending life-forms. That tastes awful!

I decided to fix the taste problem by installing one of those water filters that you attach to the kitchen water faucet. It took only a few minutes to attach the little metal cylinder that holds the filter, and I felt very pleased when the job was finished.

I decided to convince my family about the benefits of the new device by conducting a taste test of filtered and unfiltered water. My family didn’t know which glass had been filtered and which one had not, but they all picked the water that had passed through the filter as tasting better. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty smug by that point!

In about three months it was time to change the used filter and put in a new one. I carefully unscrewed the filter container and found — nothing! There was no used filter inside. There never had been!

What about the taste test, you ask? There is only one chance in eight that my family members would all pick the supposedly filtered water as tasting better when in reality it was no different at all. But they did. My original wrong assumption about the filter had been confirmed by a statistical fluke.

You see, reality isn’t always what we think it is. Fortunately, it didn’t matter very much that I entrusted the water quality of our home to a nonexistent water filter. But each of us regularly relies on things that have far more import. We trust a life-partner, a career, an airplane or a way of raising children. But if we entrust ourselves to something that will ultimately fail us, then we are in trouble.

Christians, who have access to the inerrant Scriptures, have a tremendous advantage over others in terms of knowing true reality. For example, one such reality is that a person must entrust themselves to Jesus Christ to have eternal life.

In addition, God has also revealed many principles for living that guide us in making the complex choices of modern life. He tells us in general terms what will work out better and what will not. But, in the short run, events may seem to contradict what God has said and may make the faith approach look foolish.

A Shortsighted View of Reality

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.
33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar
37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
(Luke 23:32–39)

All those who watched as Christ was crucified encountered a reality that was very hostile to any kind of faith in him. The hearts of many believers must have sunk to rock bottom as they saw that the One to whom they had entrusted themselves now seemed powerless to resist Roman justice. The unbelievers who were watching had ample evidence to confirm their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Everything they saw seemed to cry out that his messianic claims were false.

But behind such dark external “reality,” the hand of God was moving those events toward final victory. Only by using the expanded reality of revealed truth could those grim events be seen as progress toward that glorious goal. The eyes of faith must always be able to look beyond the circumstances of the moment.

Just the night before, Jesus had warned his disciples about what was to follow by quoting the Isaiah prophecy that he would be “numbered among the transgressors.” Now it was all taking place right before their eyes as he hung on a cross.

Crucifixion inflicted tremendous suffering on its victims. Death came partly through starvation, partly through blood loss, and to some extent by exposure and long-term pain. The Romans found crucifixion so repulsive that Roman law prohibited its citizens from being crucified.

The Roman statesman Cicero once said, “Even the mere word, cross, must remain far not only from the lips of the citizens of Rome, but also from their thoughts, their eyes, their ears.” In spite of their revulsion against this penalty, the Romans had no hesitation in using it against foreigners such as Jesus.

It is significant that Luke did not dwell on the brutality of crucifixion. In fact, none of the Gospel writers stressed that — though preachers sometimes do. Instead, Luke focused on the response of those watching Christ’s crucifixion. He paid careful attention to the varied reactions of the onlookers to the reality in front of them. I feel confident that this was Luke’s intent because of the way he arranged his historical material. He presented four responses of condemnation toward Jesus followed by four responses that vindicate Jesus.

All history is selective, and Luke arranged his account of the crucifixion to contrast the responses of the people who saw it. This can be best seen by looking at Table 7.

Table 7

Responses to Christ’s Crucifixion

Condemnation Vindication
1 The People 5 Second Criminal
2 Rulers 6 God
3 Soldiers 7 Centurion
4 First Criminal 8 The People

                    Condemnation = Rejection | Vindication = Faith

Perhaps by this arrangement Luke was implying that the people in the first column should have listened to the testimony of their counterparts in the second column and responded to Jesus in faith.

The four condemning responses are expressed in Luke 23:35–39. Here Luke described the people, the rulers, the soldiers, and one of the criminals. In his entire account Luke tended to downplay the role of the people, but here he grouped them with those antagonistic to Jesus. The other gospel writers also inform us that the people were mocking Jesus while the crucifixion took place (Matt. 27:39).

The Greek verb tense strongly suggests that the rulers “sneered” at Jesus over a considerable period of time. Jesus hung on the cross beginning not long after noon (John 19:14) and the rulers responded to him in this way even while darkness fell on the land. When the rulers mocked Jesus, they quoted a psalm from the Old Testament, twisting it to suit their interpretation of the events at hand.

We have seen the same tactic used on Jesus before. Satan tried the same thing when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. At the end of his description of these temptations, Luke said that Satan would return at an opportune time (Luke 4:13). This is it.

Satan does not speak with his own voice, but through the mouths of others as they jeer at the dying Messiah. The rulers derisively challenge Jesus to save himself if he were who he had claimed to be.

The Roman soldiers also join in the black humor of the occasion. The Jewish people hated the Roman army of occupation, and the feeling was mutual. These Romans felt little sympathy for this Jew dying on the cross. Over Jesus’ head there hung a notice that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Roman justice demanded that the condemned person’s crime be specified on the notice. What then was the crime? Can you find it? Well, Pilate couldn’t find it either, and in writing those words — “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS” — he again made the point to the Jews that Jesus was innocent.

Roman society had a strong sense of class consciousness. The common soldiers of the execution squad could afford only the very cheapest kind of wine. It bordered on vinegar, a drink that would hardly be offered to a king. So, in extending this swill to Jesus, they mocked him in yet another way. They also took up the refrain of the others: “Save yourself.”

Even one of the criminals — an insurrectionist against Roman rule (Mark 15:27) — hanging next to Jesus joined the taunting crowd and rulers. Perhaps he hoped to ingratiate himself to the crowd, the Romans, and the religious leaders. Perhaps in that way he hoped he might be spared from death. After all, one other criminal, Barabbas, had already been delivered by the voice of the multitude from Roman justice that day.

The criminal’s only source of hope seemed to be the surrounding crowd. By entrusting his hope to them, however, he assured not only his physical death but his spiritual death as well. He relied only on what he could see. Such tragic consequences overtake those who do not take advantage of God’s revelation to guide their trust.

The people, the rulers, the soldiers, and the unfortunate criminal all shared a common view of reality. They did not accept Jesus for who he really was, and they considered his death on the cross as the final proof of their views. So that we do not condemn them too quickly, we should consider how common it is in our own culture to focus on short-term results.

Looking Beyond the Cross

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23:40–43)

Having considered those who condemned Christ, Luke shifts attention to those who spoke to vindicate him. Those groups stand in stark contrast to one another, and the contrast begins with the two criminals. Consider carefully that the second criminal looked out on exactly the same scene as the first one. He saw the jeering mob, and beside him the man from Nazareth, dying just as he was. But he obviously brought far more than just those few surrounding facts to guide his understanding of the whole situation.

The Greek verb tenses suggest that as frequently as the first criminal mocked Jesus, this second one spoke up to defend him! By doing so he made it clear that he did not share the earthbound perspective of the first thief. Instead, his view of reality had been expanded by the truth of God, so he responded to it in an entirely different way.

The rebel who defended Christ repeatedly called on the other criminal to consider his own plight before God. He had only a few short hours to make whatever peace with God that he could. For him to waste his time by condemning an innocent man was the height of foolishness. This whole discussion may have been repeated several times in the course of the hours.

When death for all neared, the second rebel said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). To “remember” someone in the biblical sense of that phrase does not mean to recall certain events in which they took part. That’s how we might use such a phrase, but they used it differently. It means to remember others for good; to remember them in such a way that you act in their behalf.

This man was clearly looking beyond the moment at hand, when Jesus was hanging on the cross dying. He was looking toward a time when Jesus would be in a position to confer such benefits. He asserted that Jesus would have a kingdom and implied that he was the King of the Jews, just as the notice over his head declared.

Jesus quickly rewarded such faith that could look beyond the grim circumstances. Jesus remembered the man for good by bringing him to paradise that very day (Luke 23:43).

By using the word “paradise” the translators don’t do the reader any favors, for that word simply spells out in English the Greek word used by Luke. To the Jewish mind the word represented the conditions of the garden of Eden. The Jews imagined that when the Messiah set up his kingdom, he would refashion the world to resemble the Garden of Eden. There would be immediate communion with God, an absence of the effect of sin, and tremendous bounty on every side.

The contrast between the two criminals reminds me of a verse Luke recorded earlier in his Gospel. Jesus had said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24). The first rebel had tried to save his own life and lost it. The second rebel, who defended Christ, lost his life for Jesus’ sake and saved it.

The two criminals who hung on either side of Jesus illustrated quite clearly the great difference it makes to have faith to guide one’s choices in the face of contrary “reality.”

Further Vindication

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
(Luke 23:44–49)

The second person who spoke in defense of Christ did so without words, but with a message of compelling power. God the Father spoke through supernatural events first in the heavens and then within the temple itself. Starting at noon when the sun reached its zenith, darkness fell over the whole land until three in the afternoon. The darkness likely extended over the entire land of Israel. In this way, the Father spoke eloquently to authenticate the claims of the One who hung on the cross.

Some have suggested that the darkness was caused by a solar eclipse, but they simply misunder­stand astronomy. It was the time of Passover, which occurs during the full moon. When the moon is full, it stands in exactly the opposite side of the sky from the sun. So it would have been physically impossible for the moon to block the light of the sun, as it does in a solar eclipse.

No, this darkness had a totally supernatural origin. The darkness that God sent was probably identical to that which he sent in the time of the Exodus (Exod. 14:19–20), a gloom so deep as never to be forgotten by those who experienced it. Thus, God spoke in cosmic terms to the entire nation.

The second sign God gave occurred before the eyes of a very few. He caused the curtain in the temple to split down the middle! The curtain in the temple was sixty feet wide and thirty feet high and had a thickness equal to the width of a man’s palm. It took over three hundred priests to hoist the curtain into place, and it was replaced every three years so that deterioration of the fabric would not occur.

This curtain stood between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. It was no human hand that ripped this curtain in two. Among its other meanings, the ripping of the curtain probably communicated that the way between man and God had now been opened through the death of God’s own Messiah.

When it first occurred, I’m sure only a few of the priests even knew about the event. But such a thing cannot long be hidden, and perhaps that helps to explain how a number of the priests trusted in Christ during the early days of the church. (Acts 6:7). So it was that in cosmic signs to the people and in supernatural miracles before the priesthood, God the Father spoke to vindicate the Son.

Finally Luke brings forward the final two witnesses to speak for Jesus by their responses to the overall situation. The first is the Roman centurion who led the execution party. After watching Jesus die, he repeatedly praised God and declared the innocence of Christ. What this man had seen transformed his whole opinion. We can only imagine what it must have taken to overcome his dislike for the Jewish people and his revulsion against anyone who was being crucified.

The people, who began by condemning Christ, also changed their attitudes because of the events that took place. Many of them “beat their breasts,” symbolizing their remorse over what had happened. Luke used the very same word (Luke 18:13) when he described the repentant tax collector who was so ashamed of his sins that he could not even look up to heaven.

Those people came to jeer, but having seen everything, their hearts had turned. Perhaps that explains why in a few short weeks so many thousands of people in Jerusalem trusted in Jesus as their Messiah when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost.

A Backward Glance

All of the people involved in this story were looking at the same set of external events. Jesus, in whom so many had placed great hope, seemed powerless to prevent his own death on the cross. Those who did not have a spiritual perspective could see only the external realities, and so they joined in the condemnation of Jesus.

However, another group of people who believed in him responded very differently because they had additional revelation to help them interpret the situation. Through faith they could take a longer view and look beyond the realities of that moment.

Responding to the Reality of the Cross

I find that believers don’t usually understand what biblical faith is. Sometimes that’s because they have been soured on faith through exposure to some distortion of the real thing.

Faith is not some inner experience or intuition totally separate from our ability to reason. That’s mysticism. We have a faith that can be explained, is based on revelation, and which involves the shared experience of other believers. Faith does not involve some secret insight that is magically given to one person.

Faith is not some emotion, mood, or experience. That’s emotionalism. I don’t think the second thief (hanging on a cross) felt very good, but he had a lot of faith!

Faith is not knowledge alone (even biblical knowledge). That’s intellectualism or Pharisaism. Biblical knowledge is not faith, even though it provides a basis for faith.

Now I will define biblical faith. Faith is a certain response to reality, including revealed reality. Faith is a response of surrender or obedience to the reality of revealed truth. In salvation, the emphasis falls on the surrender aspect, as a person surrenders himself to Jesus Christ as his Savior. In Christian living the emphasis lies on obedience to the teachings of the Lord.

To help clarify what faith is, consider the following diagram:

Those who don’t know Jesus Christ can only respond to the reality that they can see, perceived reality. Like those who condemned Jesus, their observable world imprisons them. But believers have access to a far larger perspective of reality, including unseen reality and future reality, both revealed through the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit is one example of an unseen reality of which the Scriptures inform us. Jesus held out a future reality to the second thief when he promised him that he would be with Jesus in paradise that very day. That man could not have known that, apart from Jesus telling him. But it was a fact. It was a reality.

Use the following ideas to sharpen your own understanding of what faith is and how you respond to short-term situations.

1. How would you respond to the following statements:

The world doesn’t live by faith, and I have/have not conformed to such a viewpoint.

I have/have not reacted against faulty forms of faith and denied true forms of faith much room in my life.

With my education as an engineer, I like to consider myself a no-nonsense kind of person. People like me may be more prone than most to let distortions of real faith turn us off. At some point we may have been exposed to mysticism, emotionalism, or intellectualism and reacted by saying within ourselves, “If that’s what living by faith is all about, then you can keep it.” If you have overreacted to some situation like that, I would like to encourage you to reconsider the whole issue and give faith a larger place in your life.

2. Americans are constantly encouraged to look for short-term results or payoff. As a culture we have embraced pragmatism; we determine what is true by looking at short-term, positive, measurable results. But many of the results and rewards of living for Christ lie beyond our view or measure. That puts our faith in tension.

Have you given up on living by faith because you did not see immediate results and rewards?

3. Biblical faith always involves real-life responses to God and his Word. Perhaps you know of a response you personally need to make in faith. Why not commit yourself to do it now?

The area I need to respond in:

The specific thing I need to do:

A Final Word

All of us have to respond to life situations in one way or another. By our behavior, we will entrust our lives to something — a person, a concept, a truth that we hold as reality. But biblical faith always involves more than mental assent to an idea. It always involves committed action in response to what God has revealed.

In the nineteenth century, a young man destined to be the ruler of Germany sat in a chemistry class, learning about the Leidenfrost effect. If you have ever ironed a shirt, then you may know what this effect is. Perhaps you have licked your finger before touching an iron to find out if it was hot.

When you touched the hot iron, your finger didn’t get burned because of the Leidenfrost effect. The moisture flashes to steam and forms a small vapor barrier between the sensitive finger and the hot surface of the iron. Now, consider one other physical fact: lead melts at a temperature of 621 degrees Farenheit.

After teaching the whole class about the Leidenfrost effect, the chemistry teacher approached the young man destined to rule. He asked whether the young man believed in the principles of chemistry. When he said yes, the teacher asked him to go over to a bowl and soak his hands in ammonia.

Then he had the young man cup his hands together. Into his outstretched hands the teacher poured molten lead! Because the ammonia formed a vapor barrier ? the Leidenfrost effect ? his hands were not burned for the brief seconds of contact.

Believing in the Leidenfrost effect was not faith, but trusting his hands to it was!

In a similar way, God wants us to respond with living faith to the realities that he sets before us.

 Coming next . . .

In Chapter 13, we find that the stunning resurrection of Jesus from the dead was not only a historical fact but also provides the basis for Christians to live a new life for God.

Books: The Path to the Cross — Chapter 11

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BIBLICAL CONCEPTS PRESS

 

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon.com

 

 Chapter 11

Stress Test

Jesus’ trial mocks justice

Vera Menchik, the world’s first women’s chess champion, found the whole situation quite amusing. It all started when she became the first woman to play in an international chess tournament with men. Few chess tournaments either before or since have gathered such an array of stars — all men, except Vera.

But some of the men didn’t think Vera belonged at the tournament. In particular, a master named Albert Becker declared before the tournament that if anyone lost a game to her, they ought to be forced to join the Vera Menchik Fan Club.

During the competition, Vera won only one game: she defeated Albert Becker! He became the first member of the Vera Menchik Fan Club.

That story both amuses and pleases us because we have a God-given sense of justice. We feel closure when the punishment so beautifully fits the crime.

But things don’t always turn out like that. Justice is not always done. I’m sure you’ve seen at least one grade-B western in which the leader of a lynch mob glances with cold rage at an unfortunate prisoner and says, “We’re going to give this man a fair trial and then hang him.”

That raises a note of fear within us, because we realize that real justice is being thrown to the winds. Unfortunately, that perverted kind of “justice” prevailed on April 3, A.D. 33, in the trial of Jesus Christ.[1]

Twisted Justice

On the previous night, Thursday, Jesus had observed the Passover with his disciples, a time we refer to as the Last Supper. Before the celebration had run its course, Judas left the group to consummate his betrayal of Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders. After singing a psalm to conclude the Passover meal, Jesus and the others crossed over a ravine into the garden of Gethsemane. As he was arrested there, Jesus said to his captors, “This is your hour — when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53).

Through that long night, Jesus faced the mock justice of a crooked court composed of the leaders who had plotted his death and held in the home of Caiaphas the high priest.

On the way toward their certain verdict, they broke literally dozens of the Sanhedrin’s laws regarding trials. Their own laws accused them of perverting justice, but in Christ’s case they plunged ahead. At about dawn, when they had reached the appointed verdict, they took Jesus to the headquarters of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.

Into the Pressure Cooker

In the early morning stillness, the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to the entrance of Herod’s Palace. In this imposing structure, surrounded by his own Roman troops, Pilate stood tall, ready to meet any disturbance that might arise during the Passover celebration. I find it ironic that, in such a position of power, it was Pilate who would come under enormous pressure and would ultimately crumble.

The Jews had to bring tremendous pressure on Pilate to accomplish their goal of putting Jesus to death. The Romans had wisely reserved to themselves the right to execute criminals so that civil leaders couldn’t start trouble through rash actions. The Sanhedrin also faced the double difficulty that Jesus had done nothing wrong and that they could not show any breach of Roman law.

Little survives from Roman times down to our present day, but the rigorous Roman legal system has profoundly influenced our own forms of justice. To accomplish their goal, the Sanhedrin knew that they would have to put such enormous pressures on Pilate that he would be forced to violate the legal system he had sworn to uphold.

The Jews accused Jesus of three things before Pilate (Luke 23:2–5): (1) opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, (2) stirring up the people by his teaching, and (3) claiming to be Messiah, a king. Pilate totally ignored the first two charges. He knew that Christ’s teaching had not led to any insurrection.

Knowing the Roman sensitivity to possible trouble, we can surmise that Pilate’s agents had heard what Jesus said about rendering to Caesar that which was Caesar’s (Matt. 22:21). Accordingly, Pilate realized that Jesus had not made any attempt to subvert the taxation system.

Only the charge about kingship gave Pilate any concern at all. As Caesar’s agent, Pilate had to ensure that no person set up his own authority in opposition to Roman authority. For anyone to do that would constitute high treason, punishable by the death penalty.

An Open and Shut Case

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
   Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
(John 18:33–38)

Christ’s Roman trial began quietly enough. Pilate seemed unruffled and in complete command of the situation. Jesus, in spite of the fact that his life was at stake, betrayed no hint of fear or concern about the outcome. He cogently observed that if he were the kind of king that Pilate was concerned about, then his followers would be fighting for him at that moment. Pilate hardly needed to concern himself with a kingdom that was “from another place” (John 18:36).

Pilate continued to press Jesus on the central issue of his kingship. By admitting he was a king only when directly questioned by Pilate, Jesus demonstrated that he was not flaunting his right to rule in opposition to Rome. All of the initiative on that subject had originated with Pilate.

At the end of Pilate’s remarks, Jesus skillfully took the offense by saying, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Implicitly he was asking whether Pilate was on the side of truth. But the mighty governor had come to ask questions, not to answer them, so he contemptuously swept the matter aside. The quiet phase of Christ’s Roman trial ended with Pilate’s declaring Jesus innocent of all charges. Before the whole matter ended, Pilate would pronounce Jesus innocent three different times, yet he was executed.

Because Jesus was innocent, we ought to be told that he was set free. But the fact that Pilate, who held supreme power in Palestine, did not release Christ has caused controversy for many years. Research into this period of history has provided a satisfying explanation.[2]

In his early years as governor, Pilate had treated the Jews quite brutally and had done whatever he pleased. How then could he appear as such a weak and vacillating figure, allowing an innocent man to be crucified? The answer lies in Pilate’s relationship to Roman central authority.

During all of the years of Pilate’s governorship, Tiberius ruled as Roman emperor (A.D. 14 – A.D. 37). However, Tiberius bordered on insanity and isolated himself on the island of Capri. He ruled through deputies and seldom took a direct part in the everyday affairs of the Empire. The real power behind the throne during those years was a man named Lucius Sejanus, the head of the Praetorian Guards, who guarded the Roman Emperor. It was he who appointed Pilate as governor in A.D. 26. Sejanus hated the Jews and undoubtedly backed Pilate’s harsh measures against them.

But in A.D. 31, Emperor Tiberius had Sejanus executed and began to take a stronger role in the affairs of the Empire. Late in that year he issued orders that the Jews should not be mistreated. And in A.D. 32 Tiberius reversed certain actions that Pilate had taken toward the Jews.

So by the time Jesus came to trial before Pilate, the prefect was skating on very thin ice with Tiberius. Because of Pilate’s tenuous political situation, the Jewish leaders knew exactly where to apply pressure on him. Table 6 in the Appendix to this chapter summarizes the historical background of the trial.

An Attempt to Wiggle Out

39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
(John 18:39–19:6)

Knowing that the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus to die, Pilate tried to maneuver around them by appealing to the Passover crowds. He first attempted to release the popular teacher, in accordance with a custom that had long been followed at Passover. But by working hard among the crowd, the leaders thwarted this attempt and prompted the crowd to call for the release of Barabbas, a common thief.

The Aramaic name Barabbas means “son of the father.” The guilty son of a human father was released, while the innocent Son of the divine Father was condemned to death. That irony highlights the miscarriage of justice that occurred on this day.

Frustrated in his first attempt to free Jesus, Pilate then tried a second strategy. He would have Jesus reduced to a bleeding, savagely beaten state and bring him back before the crowd in hope they would feel pity for their fellow countryman. To carry out this plan he had Jesus flogged with a Roman whip. How understated the Gospel account is! A Roman whip normally had pieces of glass, bone, and metal tied in the strips of leather so that every blow would tear the victim’s skin open.

In mockery of his claims to be a king, the soldiers gave Jesus a crown of thorns and then greeted him in a way similar to the way a person would greet Caesar. Matthew and Luke tell us that after issuing these greetings, they beat Christ across the head with rods.

What a sight Jesus must have been when Pilate declared him innocent the second time and then had him hauled out before the multitude. But the moment Jesus came into sight, the leaders again incited a shout that Jesus should be crucified. Pilate was becoming more desperate by the moment!

The Final Crunch

7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha).
(John 19:7–13)

In the grip of a moment of emotion, the Jews finally unveiled before Pilate their real reason for wanting Christ’s death: he had claimed to be the Son of God. If Pilate had any remaining doubt about Christ’s innocence, that must have removed it, for he could now see that the charges were strictly religious in nature. He had suspected that from the start.

We know that the Romans were commonly superstitious, and Pilate had several experiences on that day that must have shaken him severely. In the midst of the questioning of Christ, Pilate’s wife had sent a message, warning him not to have anything to do with the innocent man, Jesus, because she had been warned about him in a dream (Matt. 27:19). Further, Pilate may have been rattled by the utter calm that Jesus displayed. To risk Caesar’s displeasure was bad enough, but if he offended the gods — what would become of Pilate then?

Jesus calmly responded to Pilate’s many questions and then declared that the Jewish religious leaders had the greater guilt. By implication, he was saying that Pilate, the judge, had the lesser guilt. How totally uncommon for the prisoner to declare who was guilty and how much. When Pilate began to crumble under the pressure, Jesus continued to demonstrate his calm reliance on the guiding hand of the Father.

At the height of Pilate’s desire to free Jesus, the Jews moved in on Pilate’s political weakness. They shouted, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar” (John 19:12). To be a “friend of Caesar” meant that a man was loyal to the Emperor and was part of the ruling aristocracy. In effect, the Jews were saying that for Pilate to release Jesus would demonstrate disloyalty to Tiberius. The hidden threat was that if Pilate didn’t go along with their desire to crucify Christ, they would make enough trouble to have Pilate removed from office.

John makes it clear that when Pilate “heard” those words his resistance finally broke (John 19:13). In John’s Gospel, the Greek word for “hearing” always means to hear with comprehension; the words sank in and had their intended effect. Pilate knew what the Jewish leaders were threatening.

Pilate Surrenders Jesus to the Mob

14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
(John 19:14–16)

I find it quite significant that Pilate resisted the pressures brought on him throughout the morning and did not break until noon (“the sixth hour”). To understand the significance of that hour, we will need some background.

New Testament scholar Harold Hoehner presents evidence that the Galileans (including Jesus and his followers) observed Passover on Thursday, whereas the Judeans (and the temple officials) conducted Passover on Friday.[3] That explains how Jesus could share the Passover meal with his own disciples on one day and be slain as God’s appointed Passover sacrifice on the next day. There were two different observances of Passover on consecutive days.

The Passover celebration looked back to that time when the death angel had passed over every Jewish home marked with the blood of a lamb (see Exodus chapter 12). Any home in Egypt not marked with lamb’s blood on that night suffered death of a firstborn son. It was customary to begin slaying the Passover lambs at noon (the sixth hour) on Friday according to the custom of the Judeans. So at that very hour God’s Lamb was surrendered to the religious leaders who put him to death.

Pilate made a last weak attempt to sway the crowd, but when he failed he washed his hands before them, symbolically cleansing himself of any responsibility for what was to occur. An uproar was starting, and he had to avoid that at all costs (Matt. 27:24). Pilate had finally buckled under the stress.

Meeting Pressure Head-On

I would like to offer a few suggestions about how you can face pressures that are put upon you.

1. How easy it is for the end to justify the means. To do what is expedient rather than what is right eventually leads to disaster. Here are some critical questions to guide you when you have to make decisions under pressure:

As you consider God’s standards, would this action be right — for you, for your family, for others?

In a week or a year from now, will you feel good about your decision?

Are you simply taking the easy way out?

Are you merely forcing the answer to come out the way you want it, or are you being objective?

2. Many forces in life can put us under extreme pressure. How can we cope with it?

Pray for the Lord to strengthen you to resist pressure.

Get support and wisdom from other mature believers.

Be willing to trust God, even if obeying him leads to unjust suffering (see Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8; 1 Pet. 4:12–19).

A Final Word

Every hour of the day a military aide stays near the President of the United States. The aide carries a briefcase known as “The Football,” which carries the authentication codes that the President would give to unleash nuclear war upon the world. Imagine what it would be like to live with the stress of knowing that you might someday have to make such a decision. No wonder our presidents seem to age during their years in office.

Few Americans will ever have to worry about stress from “The Football,” but each of us will face things at various points in our lives that feel just that intense. Only by relying on the Lord, his power, and his principles for life can we hope to bear up under the strain and do what is pleasing to him. Jesus called upon those same resources during his stress test. That’s a lead we can follow with confidence.

 Appendix to Chapter 11

Table 6

Roman History and Jesus’ Trial

A.D. 26

Pilate appointed governor by Sejanus

October A.D. 31 Sejanus executed
Late A.D. 31 Emperor Tiberius’ order not to mistreat the Jews
A.D. 32 Pilate reversed by Tiberius
April A.D. 33 Jesus tried before Pilate

 

Coming next . . .

In Chapter 12, we realize that the death of Jesus on the cross brought a crisis of faith on everyone who saw it. He has been a test of faith ever since that day!



[1] Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 114.

[2] Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, 111–112.

[3] Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, 86–88.