As the week waxed on, the tensions between Jesus and the Jewish establishment hit an all-time high. When we left Jesus, on Thursday evening, He and His disciples were just finishing up their Passover meal while the powers in Jerusalem were encroaching. Join us as we examine Jesus' final day.
Friday, April 8th, 30 AD.
THE UPPER ROOM (8:00 PM)
Once the clock struck 8:00 PM, Jesus entered into His final day.
Once the meal was finished, Jesus stood up from the head of the table, disrobed, and took on the role of a servant. While He was most certainly their Lord and master, He knelt down to wash His disciples' feet (John 13:4-11), a role usually reserved for the lowliest servant in the home. That was the point. Jesus was modeling for His disciples the kind of life that He was called to live and the kind of life they would be called to live. No longer be focused on themselves, or worried about their status, but humbly focused on the needs of others (John 13:12-20).
When Jesus rose from this shocking display of servant leadership and love, He sat back down at the table, took the bread and the wine, and distributed it to His disciples. This is called the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14-24), which is far more than an after-dinner snack, Jesus was demonstrating how He would serve them best by dying on their behalf. Just like He knelt down to clean them with rags, His body would be broken for their purification. Just as He cleansed their dirty feet with water, His blood would be shed to make them whole. Jesus was showing them a foretaste of His Gospel, just moments before He would be called to live it.
The irony is that the disciples do not get it. At all.
In fact, while Jesus was demonstrating radical humility, sacrificial love, and service, an argument broke out among His followers on who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27). They were still jostling to be first in His Kingdom when Jesus had just modeled that the first should be last (Luke 22:24-30).
One can scarcely imagine the heaviness of heart that Jesus must have felt here. His disciples were bickering and missing the point. One of His nearest and dearest followers would soon deny Him three times (John 13:36-38). The rest would abandon Him and scatter (Mark 14:50). And His friend and fellow disciple, Judas, would hand Him over to be killed (John 13:21, 26).
Moments later, Satan entered into Judas and he left to carry out His murderous plot (John 13:27, 30). The disciples still had no clue what was happening (John 13:28-29)
Instead of becoming bitter with what was happening around Him, Jesus took some of His final moments of freedom, His last hour in the upper room, to instruct His followers and to prepare them for His death. You can read the words that Jesus says to His disciples here in the following passages.
As you read these passages, try imagining that you were in the room with Him. He is about to be arrested and killed. And everything He says in these passages are spoken against that bloody backdrop.
Jesus Comforts His Disciples (John 14:1-6)
Jesus Prepares His Disciples (John 14:7-16:33)
Jesus Prays For His Disciples (John 17)
Jesus Sings With His Disciples (Mark 14:26)
Jesus Departs With His Disciples (Mark 14:27)
ARREST (10:00 PM)
After an hour-long discourse with His followers, Jesus and His disciples left the city. They crossed the well known Kidron Valley and headed back towards the Mount of Olives, where they stopped at one of Jesus’ favorite places, a garden (John 18:1). Judas knew it well, since Jesus often met with His disciples there (John 18:2), so it is not surprising that He and the mob find Him easily. Jesus was not hiding.
While He awaited the arrival of the unholy delegation led by Judas, He went off by Himself to pray. (Luke 22:39-41). He left the larger group of disciples to sleep, while appointing Peter, James, and John to pray and keep watch (Mark 14:33-34), while He went a stone throw’s distance ahead of them.
It is likely that these three men were finally beginning to understand the gravity of this moment. Perhaps they heard Jesus’ grief as He cried out in tearful agony (Luke 22:44). Perhaps thinking about who might betray Jesus had them emotionally exhausted. Whatever the reason, the text tells us they collapsed into sleep from their sorrow (Luke 22:45).
After an hour of crying out to God in prayer, Jesus resigned Himself to the will of God. He stood knowing what was about to happen and He gave Himself fully to the task. He went back, one final time to awake His sleeping followers, which was right about the time Judas and his Roman Cohort arrived (John 18:3-4)
Judas greeted Jesus with a friendly kiss, so that the Roman mob would know who to arrest (luke 22:47-48). While Jesus was a well-known figure among the Jews, the Romans did not know, apart from this most intimate betrayal by Judas, who He was.
The moment hung in the air as if time had stood still. On the one side the Romans were likely assessing the size of Jesus' group and mulling over strategy. On the other side, the bewildered disciples must have been wondering what was about to take place. The moment apparently was too much for Peter, sensing His Lord was about to be taken from them. In an instant, he leapt into action, swinging the sword he was carrying at the first person he met, which was Malchus, a slave of the high priest (John 18:10).
If Jesus had not immediately called off Peter (John 18:11) and healed the young man’s ear (Luke 22:52), a blood bath would have ensued. And while Jesus does condemn the marauding party for not arresting Him publicly (Luke 22: 52-53), He does submit to the arrest, was bound, and was carried out of sight from His followers (Luke 22:54).
DELIVERY (11:00 - 11:30 PM)
Jesus was brought first to the retired high priest Annas (John 18:12-14), before being taken to his son-in-law, and current high priest Caiaphas (Luke 22:66-71), who had assembled the council of elders against Him. Peter followed along behind Matthew 26:58).
TRIAL (12:00 AM)
During these proceedings, false and inconsistent charges were being leveled against Him in the chamber (Mark 14:55-59). And since a case in Jewish law could not be substantiated, except on the basis of two witnesses, this sham trial sputtered on without finding a single shred of incriminating evidence (Matthew 26:59-60).
At some point in the proceedings, 2 witnesses stood up with a consistent account (Matthew 26:61). They quoted Jesus’ words concerning the temple; that He would destroy it and it in three days raise it up again (Mark 14:57-58). This accusation angered everyone in the room, who not only completely misunderstood what Jesus was saying, but had grown to love this building more than the God it was dedicated to.
Upon hearing this witness, Caiaphas himself interrogated Jesus, who at first remained silent (Matthew 26:63), but eventually gave the wicked priest the ammunition he needed to pull the trigger on Jesus (Luke 22:66-71). The charge was blasphemy against God and there would be no escape for Jesus (Matthew 26:65)
Outside the chamber, Peter had followed along to investigate what was happening and was inconspicuously warming himself by a fire. But, while trying to keep his identity a secret, two servant girls and a bystander recognized him, culminating in his threefold denial (Matthew 26:69-74). Just as Jesus had prophesied, the rooster crowed (Mark 14:72), Jesus and Peter made eye contact somehow (Luke 22:61), and Peter ran away bitterly weeping (Luke 22:62).
Jesus was now fully alone with His accusers, who mocked and beat Him periodically until morning (Luke 22:63-65) and on one occasion spat in His face (Matthew 26:67).
When morning came, they bound Him and led Him to Pilate for sentencing (Matthew 27:1)
SUICIDE (4:00 - 5:00 AM)
Around the same time that Jesus was being prepared for transport and sentencing before Pilate, Judas was in deep remorse for what he had done. It is likely that he watched the entire trial, and now seeing Jesus condemned, wanted to undo what he had done (Matthew 27:3-4). The Jewish leaders of course refused to take the money or release Jesus, which prompted Judas to fling the money at them and to go outside the city and hang himself in grief.
SENTENCING (5:00 AM)
With no sleep in nearly 24 hours, Jesus prepared to stand trial in front of Pilate, who wanted nothing to do with this Jewish fiasco (John 18:28-31). The city had already swollen to ten times its population and keeping the rebellious Jews under control was Pilate’s primary occupation. Condemning one Jewish insurrectionist to pacify the raucous crowds may have been politically dangerous if things got out of hand.
Although the Jews did Pilate the favor of secretly condemning Jesus, away from the crowds who loved Him, and by bringing Him early in the morning for sentencing before the city awoke. Had they not done this, Pilate may have lost control of the city, which would have cost him his career and maybe even his life. He was walking on eggshells and hoping to quell the crowds.
In fact, on several occasions, the Roman governor attempted to dismiss the charges brought against Jesus by interviewing Him individually (John 18:33-38), interceding for Him before the crowds (John 18:38-40), and offering to release Him instead of Barrabas (Mark 15:9). When that did not work, He pawned Jesus off on the Jewish King Herod to do with Him as he willed (Luke 23:6-10).
In the end, His attempts were futile. The crowd did not calm. Herod would not exonerate Him. And soon Jesus was standing in front of Pilate once more, with the Jews crying “Crucify Him” (Mark 15:14) and chanting “You are no friend of Caesar’s” (John 19:2).
Pilate knew that the Jewish people could end his career if that rumor got out. Caesar accepts no sedition. So Pilate adopted a modified approach. Still attempting to rescue Jesus, but doing enough damage as to even the judicial balances (Luke 23:16). He determined to punish Jesus and then release Him.
SCOURGING (9:00 AM)
By punishment, Pilate ordered a Roman scourging to be executed upon Jesus (John 19:1) This was forty lashes with a diabolical whip, sometimes referred to as the cat of 9 tails, which would rip off the flesh and muscle exposing vital organs, bones, and leaving the victim nearing circulatory shock.
If this were not brutal enough, the Romans guards mocked Jesus, pressing razor like thorns in the shape of a crown into His skull. They robed Him in royal purple, gave Him a mock scepter, and bowed jeeringly to ridicule Him and abuse Him (John 19:2-3). It is likely while Jesus was being beaten, Pilate’s wife managed to send a message to him about her dream the night before. She told him that she was deeply troubled concerning Jesus and warned her husband not to condemn this innocent man (Matthew 27:19). Pilate would likely be hoping the Jewish people would relent without Him stepping in.
Although, it seems as if Pilate underestimated the Jewish hatred for Jesus, since this did nothing to pacify the crowds (John 19:5-7). They yelled all the more “Crucify Him” and began rioting to force his hand (Matthew 27:23-24). In a moment of desperation, Pilate caved, seeing no way the Jews would relent. And with his job and life at stake, Jesus was just not that significant to him.
It was at this point Pilate rose to wash his hands, symbolically assuaging himself of any guilt (Matthew 27:24). At the same time, the Jewish crowds were all too eager to have Jesus' guilt fall on them and their children (Matthew 27:25). A guilt that would be executed in the years ahead.
CRUCIFIXION (11:00 AM)
Fourteen hours earlier, Jesus was in an upper room, singing, praying, reclining, and worshipping with His friends. Fourteen hours later, He was unrecognizable.
Once Pilate turned Him over to be crucified, the heavy cross-beam was laid on His exposed shoulders (John 19:17). Every unsanded splinter from this rough cut board pierced the exposed meat and nerve endings that screamed in agony. He was barely able to stand. So weakened by the scourging a man from the crowd was chosen (Luke 23:26) to carry his crossbeam the rest of the way (John 19:18).
Calvary, also known as the place of the skull ()Matthew 27:33), was a hilltop advertisement to the power of Rome and the futility of insurrection. Once Jesus staggered to the top of the hill, His wrists and feet were pierced with nails the size of railroad spikes, and He was hoisted up and affixed to the main beam of the cross.
According to the ancient prophecies, He was placed between two criminals (Isaiah 53:12), while the soldiers divided up His possessions (Psalm 22:18). Above His head was the mocking propaganda “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews”, written in three languages so that everyone could read it and take notice (John 19:19-20).
In a moment of lucidity, Jesus looked down to see His mother staring up at Him in horror. Jesus loved her. And now, hanging on a cross would love her once more, charging John His beloved disciple to look after her when He was gone (John 19:25-27). Inside His mother’s heart was breaking.
Jesus, knowing everything was now accomplished, asked for a drink, again to fulfill the prophecies (Psalm 22:15). Once he tasted the sour wine, He uttered “It is finished” signifying that forgiveness was now accomplished (John 19:30). It would not be long now.
PLAGUE (12:00 PM)
As Jesus faded in and out of consciousness, darkness fell upon the earth for about three full hours that day (Luke 23:44).
SHOUT (3:00 PM)
During the third hour of plague like darkness, after hanging on the cross for four agonizing hours, Jesus gave up His Spirit and breathed His last breath (Luke 23:46-47). The great teacher and rabbi spoke His final words as a quotation of Psalm 22, reminding everyone watching that they had not only perfectly killed Him, but perfectly fulfilled the prophecies of David concerning Him. And after uttering “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34) He breathed His last.
DEAD (3:00 - 4:00 PM)
When Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross, several cataclysmic events happened. First, an earthquake broke out upon the land (Matthew 27:51) causing the Roman guard below Jesus to admit that He really was the Son of God. The temple veil that guarded the way into the holy place was also ripped from the top to the bottom (Luke 23:45). This signified that God would no longer dwell in a temple made with human hands, but on the basis of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, would now dwell in the hearts of the forgiven and redeemed sinners. Finally, Matthew tells us that even the graves were opened, and many Old Testament saints came out, walked around, and appeared to many in the city (Matthew 27:52).
BURIED (BEFORE SUNSET - 7:00PM)
Jesus' death had triggered the end of the old world and the dawning of a brand new age. This would be especially apparent on Sunday morning when the tomb was empty! Until then, the religious leaders ordered His body taken down as quickly as possible, so as not to defile their Passover celebrations (John 19:31-37) and was placed in a borrowed grave (John 19:38-42).
Friday was over at 8:00PM. It began at the night before, with Jesus and His followers at a table. It ended tonight at 8:00PM in a sealed tomb.
Tomorrow, we will look at the only event reported on Saturday as you and I await His resurrection.
God bless you!