Crucify Him!

Matthew 27:16,17 in some versions, and some ancient manuscripts, gives a longer name for Barabbas which heightens the dramatic contrast: “Which one do you want me to release for you? Yeshua who is Bar-Abba, or Yeshua who is called Messiah?” Some biblical scholars, such as Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, suggest that the name Yeshua before Bar Abba was just a scribal error. He noticed that in Matthew 27:17, in the clause, ‘Who do you want me to release to you, Barabbas or Jesus’ the last two letters of ‘to you’ in Greek form the standard abbreviation used for ‘Yeshua’. The name ‘Yeshua’ was one of the words consistently abbreviated by writing only the first and last letter(s). Samuel reasoned that a scribe, in anticipation of the name Jesus, could have accidently read the final letters of υμιν (‘to you’) twice. Hence the name ‘Jesus Barabbas‘ in only some, rather than all, ancient manuscripts.

Others think it more likely that the name Yeshua was removed from before Barabbas in some manuscripts out of concern that it would cause confusion.
The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is Yeshuˈa, which is derived from the Hebrew verb, yasha, that means “to deliver, save, or rescue,” and is short for Yehōshuˈa (Joshua). It was a popular name during the time of Messiah, so it is possible that both men had the same name and were thus differentiated by their designation as Bar-Abba (son of father), and HaMashiach (the anointed). If that was the case, then the crowd was choosing between the Yeshua who raised the dead and a Yeshua who murdered people and stole from them. They chose the latter.

 The chief priests and officers of the Sanhedrin were determined that Yeshua be punished in accordance with the shame filled, torturous Roman manner of punishment for slaves and rebels – crucifixion. Why? Because they wanted Him to be discredited in the eyes of the people in general, and even in the eyes of His followers. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 states: “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God.” For the Jewish religious leaders, to have Yeshua crucified was to demonstrate that He was not a man of God but One who was cursed of God, He hangs on the tree – this horrible instrument of torture. They failed to realise that He was taking our curse upon Himself in order to gift us His blessedness.

Scourged” was a Roman judicial penalty, consisting of a severe beating with a multi-lashed whip containing embedded pieces of bone and metal that made a bloody pulp of a man’s body. It was a brutal punishment that was standard practice before a crucifixion. The person to be scourged was stripped of his clothing, tied to a post or pillar, and beaten until his flesh hung in shreds. Unlike Jewish practice, there was no maximum number of strokes: the whipping could go on as long as the soldier administering it wished. Men frequently collapsed and died as the result of a scourging.

These Roman soldiers took out all their frustrations against the Jewish people on this One called their king. The physical torments of scourging were followed by sarcastic mocking and deriding combined with more physical abuse. The garment placed upon Jesus after his brutal scourging was likely one that had been worn and cast off as useless, “a scarlet robe…faded to resemble purple” (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary). The ancients (especially the Romans) used the term purple when speaking of various shades of red (McGarvey, 1875, p. 361; Barnes, 1997). Yeshua‘s tattered flash and blood would have stuck to this robe, and then been torn away when they stripped it off to put His own clothes back on Him. Cruel sinners doing all they could to punish and torment the pure Son of God. It was a bloodied, weakened Man who staggered back out for Pilate to present to the people as they were given one last chance to choose where their faith would lie.

Pilate had no qualms about killing anyone, guilty or innocent. But what he did care about, what affected his political fortunes, power and prestige, was ensuring the peace and stability of the region under his charge. He had bitter experience of how dedicated these Jews could be to their faith and the last thing he wanted was a riot for killing their Messiah, or for failing to kill Him. The intelligence he received would have given him some idea of how large the crowds were that followed this Man, and also of Yeshua’s total lack of attack on Roman authority or institutions in His sermons, which was in line with Pilate’s current experience in questioning the Man. All His rhetorical attacks seemed to be against these religious leaders who had now brought Him to be tried. If Pilate could get them to take responsibility for His death there would be nothing for the Jews to riot against him about.

And then there was his wife’s dream, Romans were generally superstitious polytheists. The objective of Roman worship was to gain the blessing of the gods and thereby gain prosperity for themselves, their families and communities. Anything that angered the gods could threaten such prosperity. Another good reason to goad the Jews into taking full responsibility for getting rid of this Man who threatened Roman order by His very existence and who made religious claims reserved for Caesar (like being the Son of God).

To have the chief priests cry out in loud affirmation: “We have no king but Caesar” was a mighty victory indeed. It discredited any and every suggestion of a Jewish Messiah King and denounced all Jewish longings to be free from Roman rule.

Before Yeshua HaMashiach was handed over to be crucified, Pilate gave the crowds the opportunity to have one prisoner released in celebration of Passover and offered them this “King of the Jews“. Although Rome found it highly offensive for anyone they had not appointed to be called “king“, this Man had not, and would not, partake in any violent uprising against them, so Pilate thought Him the best option to release. Those of Yeshua‘s followers who knew He’d been taken were still in fearful shock and didn’t know what to do, whereas the chief priests had planned this out and gathered their supporters to incite the mob gathered outside Pilate’s Praetorium. They called for the release of Barabbas and crucifixion of Christ.

Barabbas and the two men who were crucified with Christ were likely all involved in the same insurrection (attack, or series of attacks, on Roman interests). The scriptures do not tell us why it was Barabbas that the crowd called for, rather than either of the men who ended up being crucified with Yeshua, but we may have a hint in his name. In Hebrew and Aramaic Barabbas is Bar (son of) abba (father), which figuratively can mean son of the teacher. So, he may have been the son of a rabbi, possibly one of the men on the Sanhedrin who had condemned Yeshua. Matthew described him as ‘a notorious prisoner’ (Matthew 27:16), and Mark as ‘someone who had committed murder in the insurrection’ (Mark 15:7). Whoever he was, the crowd was clamoring for his release, and the crucifixion of the Son of God.

The hurtful betrayal, the condemnation of the only innocent Man, involved so much sin from so many, and yet it fulfilled the perfect will of God. In His sovereignty God uses all things together for good, even the greatest evil imaginable cannot escape the web of God’s goodness. Our sin can never surprise or out-maneuver God, He knows it all from before the beginning. Yet our sin can have devastating consequences for us, as it did for Judas and as it would for the population of Jerusalem. Matthew hints at the tragedy of God’s judgment that is to come through drawing attention to Jeremiah’s prophesy about the potter and at the same time loosely quoting from Zechariah’s reference to the miserly thirty pieces of silver that they had valued Him at and that was thrown at the house of the Lord. He thus assures his readers that God foretold of this travesty, and that His judgments are on their way.

The Romans intended crucifixion to be:
1) unspeakably cruel;
2) mercilessly lingering; and
3) inescapably public (public shaming and warning to others);
Thus, crucifixion was always on a low hill outside the main city gate (because a gate is a bottleneck – any person going into/out of the city must pass that way).

From the palace it was a short walk of about 400 metres to Golgotha.  For any who had been scourged almost to death before their crucifixion it was a long, arduous walk carrying the heavy crossbeam patibulum on the shredded remains of their shoulders. Yeshua‘s battered body may have made it to the city gate before failing under the weight of the patibulum. Simon from Cyrene, an ancient Greek colony near present day Shahhat, Libya in North Africa was heading from the countryside into Jerusalem, likely for Passover, when he was grabbed by the Roman soldiers and compelled to carry Yeshua’s patibulum. It seems that this encounter with Yeshua changed Simon forever, and he led his family to Christ. Mark writes that he was the father of Alexander and Rufus – obviously two men who were well known in the church. In Romans Paul writes: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother” (Rom 16:13 CSB). Paul may be referring to Simon’s son by the same name, lending further credence to the belief that this family became well known and respected members of the church in Rome.

By now the word had spread and many women came out to grieve what was being done to the only holy man they knew. If only their tears could melt the hearts of these cruel Roman soldiers. Despite His agony, Yeshua turned His attention to these women, encouraging them to stop crying for Him because this was the Father’s will, and warning them of what was to come.

Mark tells us that it was the third hour when Yeshua was crucified. The Jews divided the daylight hours into twelve. So, the third hour was three hours after sunrise, so around 9am. The whole trial process before the Sanhedrin and then Pilate had begun at sunrise and taken around 3 hours.

In the Bible, the word gall most often refers to a bitter-tasting substance made of a plant such as wormwood or myrrh. Mark specifies that the bitterness in the wine was due to the presence of myrrh. Myrrh means ‘bitter’ in Arabic. It is a resiny brownish sap that comes out of cuts from the bark of trees that are members of the Commiphora species. This species of tree typically grows in Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. In ancient medicine, myrrh was believed to have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Wine mixed with myrrh created a potion that dulled the sense of pain. The Talmud states: “The women of highest rank in Jerusalem, out of free impulse, and at their own cost, gave the condemned man this draught.” This, too, was a fulfilment of prophesy from Psalm 62, with the second half of that verse to be fulfilled later that day. Yeshua refused this drink designed to lessen His suffering and dull His senses.

The accused were nailed to the patibulum while lying down, so after having refused the analgesic wine, Yeshua was stripped naked and thrown to the ground, reopening His wounds, grinding in dirt, and causing further bleeding. They nailed His “hands” to the patibulum. The Greek meaning of “hands” includes the wrist. It is more likely that the nails went through Yeshua’s wrists, between the two major bones of the forearm. Evidence of nails being used by the Romans for crucifixion is also provided by Josephus, who writes that at the Siege of Jerusalem (70 C.E.), “the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest.” The ‘nails’ were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inch (13 to 18 cm) long, with a square shaft 3/8 inch (1 cm) across. The huge nail damages or severs the major nerve to the hand (the median nerve) upon impact, causing continuous agonizing pain up both of Yeshua’s arms. Then the patibulum with its sign (titulus) declaring His name and crime “YESHUA HA-NATZRATI, THE KING OF THE JEWS” was lifted up onto the upright stauros (σταυρός) and secured there. Next, thick iron spikes were pounded through His feet, attaching them to the stauros. Every part of Yeshua’s body, from head to feet, suffered torturous, agonizing assault as He hung on that cross for our sin.

John is the first to alert us to this whole scene being a fulfilment of Psalm 22 when he writes:
This was so the Scripture would be fulfilled,
“They divided My garments among them,
and for My clothing they cast lots.”
.

Yes, even the finer details of this horror had been foretold by God through David’s Psalm. All things are in His hands.

Yeshua’s powerful first words from the agony of the cross were: Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. When we understand what He was going through for us, and because of us, when He uttered that plea on our behalf there is no excuse left for refusing to forgive anyone for anything. Such radical forgiveness is part of what it means to take up our cross and follow Yeshua.

Do not expect a positive response to your generous forgiveness. Yeshua’s tormentors just increased their verbal abuse directed towards Him.

For Yeshua, the abandonment and rejection from His own people was total.  He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Isaiah 53:3 ESV. Yet, His cry for their forgiveness was not dependent on them repenting or apologizing or proving faithful. It was not “forgive them for they are sorry” but “forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing“, so it was not impacted by the abuse they were now hurling at Him.

According to A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG), λῃστής (translated here as “evildoers” has two meanings. The first is “robber, highwayman, bandit” and the second is “revolutionary, insurrectionist, guerrilla, terrorist.” The Greek work kleptes refers to a common thief; but in Matthew and Mark’s account of the thieves crucified, the Greek word lestes is used, which has the root meaning “to plunder.” Though we don’t have information on the nature of their crimes, the use of this term indicates they were probably a part of a rebel group. While the ESV has chosen to translate it as “robber,” the context clearly suggests a very serious crime is in mind. If Barabbas was a robber, he must have been a violent one – and John does not need to use an adjective to express that. Mark 15:7 backs up that John means insurrectionist by λῃστής, as he describes Barabbas as a rebel who committed murder in an insurrection. Given the fact that Barabbas was in custody for his part in an insurrection, it seems likely that the two λῃστής crucified with Jesus were also insurrectionists. If not, they were at least violent robbers – the meaning of λῃστής does not allow for ordinary thieves. The best conclusion, then, is that Jesus was crucified alongside two rebels (so NIV)/revolutionaries (so NLT). They both had blood on their hands from violently attacking others, whereas Yeshua’s hands had only touched others to bring healing. One of them recognized this.

Here was the first fruits of Yeshua’s forgiveness. A man whose heart was transformed. He had nothing to commend himself and nothing to offer, being under the same death sentence, but he believed and it was sufficient. “Remember me” is an earnest plea for mercy in the royal court when Yeshua assumes His kingly status and power. It was a declaration of saving faith that Yeshua really is the King of God’s kingdom.

Yeshua’s response brings hope and comfort to so many who have nothing to offer and no way of making up for the wrong they have done. His promise is sure and true. “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” This very day, Nissan 14th, before the sun sets, this new believer will be with Him in paradise. No penance was needed for all his sins, Yeshua was paying the full price for that. Go directly from the shame, pain and sorrows of this life into the joys of paradise with Christ. To be with Him forever!

Here we have some intimate details missed by the other Gospel accounts. Mary’s overcoming love for her Son and Yeshua’s care for His mother. The other disciples may have scattered, and stayed away out of fear of being caught and likewise crucified, as the Romans were wont to do to all members of any group they considered to be a threat to the public order of the Empire. But Mary, her sister and Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene would not be kept away by anything. This is the second glimmer of hope we see in the sea of great darkness covering this event. Yeshua was not totally alone, the women were there. One of His male disciples was also there. The one who knew the High Priest, the one this author refers to as “the disciple whom He loved“. Most scholars think the author is referring to himself. John is the Gospel writer who focused on Yeshua‘s time in Judea and temple attendance for the Jewish festivals. It appears that he is the only male disciple at the cross with the women. None of Yeshua’s brothers are there. So, fulfilling His duty as eldest Son, Yeshua hands His mother over to the care of this disciple whom He loves, this one who stayed close despite the dangers, the one who was available, the one who was supporting her now at her point of greatest need.

Yeshua had been suffering on the cross for about three hours. It was now the sixth hour since the sun came up – the middle of the day. It was the brightest, lightest time of the day and suddenly all light was gone – darkness covered the land. It was Passover time, all the Jews had been focusing on the story of their exodus from Egypt. God had sent ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to let the Jews go. The ninth plague was darkness on all the land for three days. Now they were faced with darkness on all the land for three hours. The next plague, the one that set them free, was the death of the firstborn son, a plague the Jews were only saved from by the blood of the spotless, innocent Passover lamb on the wooden lintel and door posts of their houses. Upon that middle cross, on this 14th day of the first month, His blood sprinkled on the crossbeam and upright post. After the plague of darkness, He would die as the substitute sacrifice for all mankind – the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

At the ninth hour (3pm) Yeshua gathered all His strength to cry out the first verse of Psalm 22: Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and the darkness started lifting. For the learned Jews who had memorized the TaNaKh in Hebrew (or Aramaic) this cry would have directed them to the whole of Psalm 22, which they had seen playing out before their eyes. But the bystanders close to the cross at this time were not Hebrew speakers so totally misunderstood and thought Yeshua was crying out for Elijah to rescue Him.

Psalm 69, which spoke of the zeal for God’s house consuming Him that was saw with the cleansing of the Temple, also spoke of the response to Messiah’s thirst on the cross – He was given (in the Greek) oxos.  Thayer’s Lexicon defines oxos as follows: The mixture of sour wine or vinegar and water which the Roman soldiers were accustomed to drink.

Yeshua had something more to say, but His mouth and throat were so parched by the ordeal of crucifixion that He did not have the physical strength to say it; thus this request for moisture for His lips, “I thirst“. It was sufficient, and Yeshua managed to squeeze out His last two declarations.

The Greek word translated as “been accomplished” in John 19:28 is tetelestai, the same word Yeshua cried out after He had received the oxos. He said “I thirst” because He knew that all things had already been accomplished with the three hours of darkness and it was now time to bring His suffering to an end.

We don’t know if Yeshua’s last words on the cross were in His native Hebrew (שָׁלֵם / shalem), or in the more universal language of Greek (τετέλεσται / tetelestai) so that the Roman soldiers could also understand what was being said.

The Hebrew word that τετέλεσται (it is finished) best translates is שָׁלֵם. In the context of John 19:30 שָׁלֵם has the meaning, “It is complete, finished, ended”. In the Torah, שָׁלֵם also has the meanings:
# made whole or good,
# restored the thing lost Joel 2:25, or stolen Exodus 21:37,
# debt paid 2 Kings 4:7Psalm 37:21 Proverbs 22:27 Job 41:3

The Greek τετέλεσται / tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It signifies the successful end to a significant course of action – “I did exactly what I set out to do.” Tetelestai is in the perfect tense in Greek, which speaks of an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present, “this happened and it is still in effect today. The results of the cross are eternal, there never is or will be any other way for us to be reconciled to God.

“It is finished” also refers to completing the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies, symbols, and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah. From Genesis to Malachi, there are over 300 prophecies detailing the coming of the Anointed One, all fulfilled by Yeshua. From the “seed” who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15), to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, to the prediction of the “messenger” of the Lord (John the Baptist) who would “prepare the way” for the Messiah, all prophecies of Yeshua’s life, ministry, and death were fulfilled and finished at the cross.

The Cross is the sole basis for God’s total provision for us. Everything He did, does, and will do for us and in us, He does through the Cross and the shed blood of His only Son. There is no path back to Him that does not go through the Cross. Paul wrote: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 NIV); “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Corinthians 5:21); and “God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus. “(Romans 3:25-26 BSB)

When the veil in the Temple was torn, the emptiness of the Holy of Holies was revealed. There was no ark of the covenant in this temple, it had been

Yeshua’s last words from the cross, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit were once again quoted from the Psalms. This time it was Psalm 31 that the Son of David was drawing attention to. It is a sharp rebuke to His enemies, a comfort to those persecuted for righteousness, and a declaration of absolute trust in His Father.

As the first group of Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple, Yeshua breathed His last and the thick 60feet (20m) long curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. The tearing of the temple veil signified the start of Christ’s ministry as High Priest.  But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11–12 ESV)

The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) was, at the moment of His death, appointed our forever High Priest. Our atoning sacrifice became our High Priest. He was both the pure, unblemished sacrifice and the One who offered this sacrifice to God. The curtain was torn, the barrier between us and the holy presence of God removed, the Holy of Holies is now with us wherever we are in the world, accessed through the blood of Yeshua.

God’s ways and timing are perfect in every way, His will is accomplished no matter what man plans. Concerning the Passover lamb God had declared: It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. (Exodus 12:46) & They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. (Numbers 9:12). He had also prophesied through David: The afflictions of the righteous are many, but the Lord rescues him from them all.  He protects all his bones, not one of them is broken. (Psalm 34:19-20). The Jewish religious leaders didn’t want anyone hanging on a cross during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so asked Pilate that their legs be broken to hasten death so they could be removed. While they were negotiating this, Yeshua committed His spirit into the Father’s hands, bowed His head and gave up His spirit. The soldiers broke the legs of the two others crucified with Messiah but seeing that He was already dead they had no need to break His legs. As God had foretold, not one of His bones was broken.

Another prophetic scripture was to be fulfilled before Yeshua was laid to rest: Then I will pour out on the house of David and on the people of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and prayer, and they will look on Me, the One they have pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son. Zechariah 12:10 BSB. Just to make sure, one soldier thrust his spear into Yeshua’s side, likely under His ribs, piercing Him and causing blood and water to gush out. Crucifixion typically resulted in death through one of two ways. The first way was hypovolemic shock, loss of blood volume through severe dehydration or blood loss from the flogging that preceded the crucifixion. This caused the heart to beat rapidly, desperately trying to pump enough blood around the body, and this causes fluid to gather in the pericardium (a fluid-filled sac that encases the heart and the roots of the great vessels). The second way was asphyxiation as the victim tired of pulling themself up on pierced wrists and feet to breathe. Asphyxiation can also result in the buildup of fluid around the heart. The gush of water and blood confirmed that Yeshua’s pericardial sack had both filled with fluid indicating death and been pierced along with at least one of the great vessels therein, so no blood would be left for His heart to pump. It was a dramatic piercing, as the scriptures had foretold.

They will look at Him...” Herein lies salvation. To look at Him who was pierced for us. To look at Him who died for us. To look at Him who took our sin upon Himself. To look at Him our atoning sacrifice. To look at Him who is able to save us completely. Not look to another, neither priest nor prophet. Not look at ourselves, neither in admiration nor disgust. Look at Yeshua, the author and perfector of our faith, and receive from Him what we are incapable of earning for ourself.

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26. Köstenberger, Andreas. April 3, AD 33: Why We Believe We Can Know the Exact Date Jesus Died. Centre for Biblical Studies. [Online] April 8th, 2020. https://cbs.mbts.edu/2020/04/08/april-3-ad-33-why-we-believe-we-can-know-the-exact-date-jesus-died/.
27. Hunt, Michal E. Jesus’ Last Week in Jerusalem. Agape Bible Study. [Online] [Cited: October 20th, 2023.] https://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/Jesus%20Last%20Week%20in%20Jerusalem.htm.
28. Bond, Helen K. All you ever wanted to know about Jesus’ last week on earth. Brainstorm. [Online] April 9th, 2020. https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2020/0408/950906-all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-jesus-last-week-on-earth/#:~:text=The%20evangelist%20says%20that%20Jesus,disciples%20(Monday%2FTuesday)..
29. Forbes, Peter. The Last Week Of Jesus’ Life. Bible Study Manuals. [Online] May 1999. https://www.biblestudymanuals.net/last_week_of_Jesus_life.htm.
30. Blue Letter Bible Minister. Christ :: The Three Days and the Three Nights. Blue Letter Bible. [Online] [Cited: October 20th, 2023.] https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/crux.cfm.
31. Bible Info staff. Was Jesus in the tomb for three days and three nights? Bible Info. [Online] [Cited: October 20th, 2023.] https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/jesus-in-tomb-for-three-days-nights#.
32. ‘Dating the Death of Jesus’: Memory and the Religious Imagination. Bond, Helen. 04, s.l. : New Testament Studies, 2013, Vol. 59. 461-475doii: 10.1017/S0028688513000131.
33. Bookman, Doug. A time line and chronology of the Easter Passion Week that includes Gregorian dates, First Century Jewish day/night cycles, and Galilean Jew cycles. Christianity. [Online] June 19th, 2023. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/a-time-line-of-the-passion-week.html.
34. Brannan, Rick. The Last Week of Jesus’ Life on Earth: a Closer Look. Logos. [Online] April 3rd, 2012. https://www.logos.com/grow/jesus-final-week-a-closer-look/.
35. Lacey, Troy. How Many Times Was Jesus Anointed? Answers in Genesis. [Online] May 14th, 2019. https://answersingenesis.org/contradictions-in-the-bible/how-many-times-was-jesus-anointed/.
36. Wilson, Larry W. Chronology of the Crucifixion Week. Wake Up Am erica Seminars. [Online] March 14th, 2000. https://wake-up.org/time-periods/passover-week-chronology.html.
37. Smith, Pete. Chronology & Synopsis of the Passion Week. Bible.org. [Online] February 25th, 2013. https://bible.org/article/chronology-synopsis-passion-week.
38. Renan, Ernest. Last Week of Jesus. The Life of Jesus. [Online] [Cited: October 21st, 32023.] https://biblehub.com/library/renan/the_life_of_jesus/chapter_xxiii_last_week_of.htm#1.
39. Farr, Stan. The Passover Lamb. Rabbi Yeshua. [Online] 2016. [Cited: October 21st, 2023.] https://rabbiyeshua.com/articles/passover-lamb.
40. MDiv, Rick Lanser. THE HEBREW CALENDAR OF THE SECOND TEMPLE ERA. The Shiloh Excavations. [Online] March 17th, 2023. https://biblearchaeology.org/abr-projects/the-daniel-9-24-27-project-2/5035-the-hebrew-calendar-of-the-second-temple-era.
41. PBS. Religion. The Roman Empire in the First Century. [Online] [Cited: January 31st, 2024.] https://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/religion.html.
42. Jongkind, Dirk. Was Barabbas called Jesus Barabbas? Tyndale House. [Online] April 14th, 2022. https://tyndalehouse.com/explore/articles/jesus-barabbas-or-jesus-christ/.
43. Bolinger, Hope. Who was Barabbas and Why Did the People Choose Him over Jesus? Bible Study Tools. [Online] April 27th, 2023. https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/why-did-the-people-chose-barabbas-over-jesus.html.
44. Contributors. Was Barabbas’ given name Jesus? Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. [Online] [Cited: February 1st, 2024.] https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2698/was-barabbas-given-name-jesus.
45. —. What crime was committed by the “thieves” crucified with Jesus? Christianity Stack Exchange. [Online] [Cited: February 2nd, 2024.] https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/22725/what-crime-was-committed-by-the-thieves-crucified-with-jesus.
46. —. What does λῃστής [= lēstēs] mean in Mark 11:17? Biblical Hermeneutics. [Online] [Cited: February 2nd, 2024.] https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4602/what-does-%CE%BB%E1%BF%83%CF%83%CF%84%CE%AE%CF%82-l%C4%93st%C4%93s-mean-in-mark-1117.
47. JamesOrr. BARABBAS. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. [Online] [Cited: February 2nd, 2024.] https://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/barabbas.html.
48. Editor. Who was Barabbas in the bible? Bible Info. [Online] [Cited: February 2nd, 2024.] https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/barabbas.
49. Bolt, Peter. How did Judas die? A case study In Gospel discrepancies. Moore Theological College. [Online] October 10th, 2013. https://moore.edu.au/resources/how-did-judas-die-a-case-study-in-gospel-discrepancies/.
50. Fletcher, Elizabeth. Torturing the condemned Jesus. Jesus Story. [Online] [Cited: February 3rd, 2024.] https://www.jesus-story.net/scourging/.
51. Lyons, Eric. Was the Robe Placed on Jesus Scarlet or Purple? Apologetics Press. [Online] [Cited: February 3rd, 2024.] https://apologeticspress.org/was-the-robe-placed-on-jesus-scarlet-or-purple-300/.
52. Windle, Bryan. Behold The Man: Where Did Pilate Sentence Jesus? Bible Archaeology Report. [Online] April 14th, 2022. https://biblearchaeologyreport.com/2022/04/14/behold-the-man-where-did-pilate-sentence-jesus/.
53. McIntosh, Matthew A. Crucifixion as Punishment in Ancient Rome. Brewminate. [Online] January 30th, 2020. https://brewminate.com/crucifixion-as-punishment-in-ancient-rome/.
54. Contributors. The Greek word “Stauros” does it mean Cross or Stake? Biblical Hermeneutics. [Online] [Cited: February 4th, 2024.] https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/36001/the-greek-word-stauros-does-it-mean-cross-or-stake.
55. Gould, S. Baring. Wine Mingled with Myrrh. — the Stupefying Potion. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: February 5th, 2024.] https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/gould/wine_mingled_with_myrrh_the_stupefying_potion.htm.
56. Harris, Murray J. Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise: What Did Jesus Mean? Word by Word. Lexam Press. [Online] November 8th, 2021. https://www.logos.com/grow/today-you-will-be-with-me-in-paradise-what-did-jesus-mean/.
57. Ryan, Joel. Why Does Jesus Give His Mother to John While on the Cross? Bible Study Tools. [Online] April 5th, 2023. https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/why-does-jesus-give-his-mother-to-john-while-on-the-cross.html.
58. S. Michael Houdmann (EDITOR). What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? Got Questions. [Online] [Cited: February 8th, 2024.] https://www.gotquestions.org/it-is-finished.html.
59. Pritchard, Dr Ray. The Meaning of Tetelestai – “It is Finished”. Christianity. [Online] October 11th, 2023. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/what-was-finished.html.
60. Admin. What does the Greek word “tetelestai” mean? Bible.org. [Online] [Cited: February 8th, 2024.] https://bible.org/question/what-does-greek-word-tetelestai-mean.
61. Webb, Perry. Tetelestai – What did Jesus really say in John 19:30 assuming he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew? Biblical Hermeneutics. [Online] May 18th, 2020. https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/47848/tetelestai-what-did-jesus-really-say-in-john-1930-assuming-he-spoke-aramaic-o.
62. Jr, Gary Manning. “Paid in Full”? The Meaning of τετέλεσται (Tetelestai) in Jesus’ Final Words. The Good Book Blog. [Online] April 20th, 2022. https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2022/paid-in-full-the-meaning-of-tetelestai-in-jesus-final-words.

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Jesus warned that many would come in His name and deceive many. How do we avoid doing what the Jews outside Pilate’s place did and choosing the wrong Jesus?
* What was the significance of Jesus dying on a cross (tree)?
* In your culture what obligations do people have to their parents?
* How was north Africa connected to the cross of Christ, and what impact did it have on this man?
* How do we view our sin in light of what Christ suffered for it?
* What did Jesus accomplish through His death / what was finished on the cross?

Trial & Denial – 14th Nissan

This examination before Annas was informal, and extrajudicial, distinct from the formal trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Yeshua was not yet accused of anything; so far, no judge had ascended the judgment-seat, neither were any witnesses called to give evidence against the prisoner. It was held with the view of extorting something from the captive, which might afterwards be used against Him. Brutality and intimidation were employed to try to force a confession. Yeshua‘s response exposed both this illegitimate procedure of trying to force a confession from the accused instead of hearing testimony from witnesses and Annas’ sin of plotting in secret against Yeshua’s life as opposed to Yeshua’s innocence in doing everything in the open: I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them; they know what I said.”

The inquisitor himself was so ashamed, and for the moment so confounded, that a zealous official struck Yeshua with his open hand. The innocent, unabashed face of our persecuted Lord was thus smitten because His simple defense had silenced His cruel opponent. Seeing his tactics were failing and feeling uncomfortably exposed, the senior Kohen Gadol (High Priest), Annas, sent Yeshua on to the official Kohen Gadol at that time, his son-in-law Caiaphas.

As we saw in Who Wrote Each of the Four Gospels 7 – The Witness of the Scriptures on John – Renewal Blog, the author of John’s gospel appears to have been a priest who lived in Jerusalem and served in the temple. So, he was known to the high priest, familiar with his palace and comfortable in its courtyard. He fit in with the other priests gathered to see what the commotion was about. Peter, however, was like a fish out of water. He didn’t know anyone else here, didn’t dress the same or sound the same, with his Galilean accent. Peter would have both looked and sounded conspicuously out of place in that setting. The lowly servant girl who kept watch at the door was the first one to guess at why this stranger was sitting among them, come over to Peter and challenge that he had been with Yeshua.

Fear gripped Peter, he was a stranger in a strange and threatening place. He had lashed out in the garden and slashed off the ear of the High Priest’s servant, and now he was in the courtyard with those who had witnessed his crime, those who were determined to kill his Master. He wanted to be there for Yeshua, but couldn’t do anything to help, every option only made things worse. He was traumatized and confused. How could this be happening? None of it made sense and there was nothing he could do to fix this mess. Before he knew what had happened, Peter had denied his Lord a second time.

The pressure was mounting. Now it wasn’t just a lowly servant-girl who challenged Peter, but another man, someone who with authority, a servant of the High Priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, someone who had personal reason to want to do him harm. This time the questioning was more menacing. Peter felt trapped, like a cornered animal. He began to invoke a curse on himself, to curse and to swear an oath:I do not know the Man!

The rooster crowed. Mark tells us it was for the second time. Yeshua turned and looked at him. Suddenly Peter realized what had been happening. He had done what he was determined he would never do, denied his Lord and best friend three times. He had totally failed. He knew it and Yeshua knew it, Yeshua had known it from the beginning and now Peter saw this weakness his Master had known all along, and he was devastated. He fled that place of utter failure, went out and wept bitterly, grieving the loss of who he thought he was.

John obviously did not have access to these proceedings before the Sanhedrin, and so gives us no record of them, as he only recorded that which he witnessed personally.

Although our Saviour was falsely accused and slandered when He had done no wrong, said no wrong and thought no wrong, it is worth remembering when we are falsely accused that (as Spurgeon preached):
When I have been slandered, I have often said to myself, “Ah! they have spoken a
lie against me; but, if they had known me better, they might have said quite as bad
a thing as that, and yet have only spoken what was true.” There is not one man
living, who is in his right senses, who would like to have all his thoughts written
down, or all his words and acts recorded.
(The Spurgeon Library | Christ Before Annas)

The Mishnah, written around 200 A.D. to record the Oral Torah of second temple times and beyond, presented Jewish ideals of their legal system. Few legal systems live up to their ideals. According to the Mishnah, capital cases had to be decided by a Sanhedrin of 23 judges, a Great Sanhedrin of 71 judges for accusations such a false prophet. It is unclear whether Caiaphas convened the full Great Sanhedrin of 71 judges or just formed a Sanhedrin of 23 judges sympathetic to his cause for this hastily convened court at the crack of dawn for a capital case trial. He did what was needed to ensure the desired verdict.

The Sanhedrin were not to originate charges but only investigate those brought before it by at least two credible witnesses who had warned the perpetrator immediately prior to committing the act that it was a capital offense and whose testimony had to be in total agreement in every detail.  If the conviction in a capital case was unanimous but rendered too quickly the accused was acquitted on the assumption that the judges had not adequately considered the possibility of the defendant’s innocence.   The Mishna concludes that:

The Talmud declares that “forty years before the destruction of the [Second] Temple, capital punishment ceased in Israel. This date is traditionally put at 28 A.D., a time that corresponds with the 18th year of Tiberius’ reign. From this time on, the Sanhedrin required the approval of the Roman governor of Judea (Pilate) before they could punish anyone by death, and only the Roman governor could order execution by the most shameful and cruel means – crucifixion.

These rushed proceedings to get Yeshua convicted and crucified while Pilate was in Jerusalem for Passover contravened Jewish law but those involved justified their unlawful actions on the basis of necessity.

When their witnesses proved to be false the only legal option was to acquit the accused. They were too heavily invested in Yeshua’s guilt to do that. A sense of urgency propelled them to have Him convicted and done away with NOW, before His popularity could grow any stronger or the cries of “hosannah to the son of David” grow any louder and threaten their good standing with Pilate. No one who was not appointed by Rome could have any position of leadership over the people. That’s why groups like the Essenes considered the Temple leadership and practices irredeemably corrupt.

Yeshua‘s reply: “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven” makes direct reference to Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13. It would have left no doubt in the minds of Caiaphas or those on the council: Yeshua of Nazareth was claiming to be the eternal Messiah and Son of God. Instantly, they all condemned Him as deserving death and some of these judges on the Sanhedrin showed their disgust by spitting on Him, mocking Him and striking Him. Solemn court proceedings had degenerated into mob violence, and that carried out by the very judges themselves!

For this sentence to be carried out they had to take Yeshua to Pilate.

John, with his particular focus on all things priestly, notes for us that the contingent from the Sanhedrin did not go into the Praetorium because entering this Gentile area would have made them ceremonially unclean and thereby unable to eat their Passover meal that evening. With Pilate’s history of brutally crushing any dissent or perceived threat to Rome’s absolute rule it is interesting that he shows any reticence to rubber stamping the Sanhedrin‘s verdict and executing this usurper who seemed so little moved by Rome’s power. He was used to men pleading or cursing, but this man did neither, showed neither fear nor disrespect but a quiet confidence that everything was going to some plan that Pilate could not grasp.

Yeshua was sent from one side of the palace to the other, from Pilate to Herod, and a friendship was born. The chief priests and scribes from the Sanhedrin followed His across to continue with their accusations and determination that the death penalty be applied before time ran out and the Passover was upon them. Herod had feared that somehow Yeshua might be a reincarnation of Yohanan the Immerser, whom he had imprisoned and then, at the insistence of his stepdaughter, murdered. Herod had enjoyed many a long and deep theological discussion with Yohanan, but Yeshua would say nothing to him, nothing! Relieved that Yeshua was clearly not Yohanan, Herod quickly tired of this sport, and sent him back to Pilate. With this political maneuver Pilate had gained an important ally in his efforts to govern these strange, stubborn people whose ways were so different to those of other groups in the Roman Empire with their insistence on only one God and vehement rejection of every Roman god, including Emperor worship.

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50. My Jewish Learning. The Death Penalty in Jewish Tradition. My Jewish Learning. [Online] [Cited: January 29th, 2024.] https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-death-penalty-in-jewish-tradition/.
51. Eisenberg, Ronald L. Beit Dins and Sanhedrin – In the Second Temple period, a system of Jewish courts emerged. My Jewish Learning. [Online] [Cited: January 29th, 2024.] https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/beit-din/.
52. Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Christ before Annas. Spurgeon Library. [Online] October 26th, 1882. https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/christ-before-annas/#flipbook/.
53. Kennedy, Titus. The Praetorium of Pilate. Drive thru History. [Online] July 14th, 2020. https://drivethruhistory.com/the-praetorium-of-pilate/.

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Have you ever been falsely accused, and what can we learn from how Jesus responded?
* What problems arose from the High Priests also taking political power?
* What can we learn from Peter’s denials?
* Why do you think many Jews considered the High Priesthood of Jesus’ day to be corrupt?
* What do you think of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin?
* What did Jesus’ hearing before Pilate and before Herod prove?