INTRODUCTION: Welcome to the Good Friday Service at City Harvest AG Church, Bangalore. Jesus Christ came into this world, lived and died for the redemption of the sins of mankind. He rose again on the third day and is sitting in the right hand side of God the Father. Christ died once and that one complete sacrifice was enough to take the sins of the mankind. Today we are going to see the suffering Jesus went through to take our sins.
The gospels do not give great details of crucifixion because it was very common those days. With the very word crucifixion they could understand the pain and agony of the person who is crucified. But if you put the pieces of crucifixion from the 4 gospels, it gives a terrible picture of Jesus’ suffering.
This morning we are going to see the betrayal, arrest, trial of Jesus. We will have a look at the second part of this message in the evening where I speak about the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
BETRAYAL AND ARREST OF JESUS
Matthew 26:1-4 The Plot Against Jesus
1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.
The Jewish leaders had become very hostile toward Jesus and His supposed authority, so they took counsel to kill Him. They are the spiritual leaders (the chief priests, elders, high priest, Pharisees, and the Sadducees). It was the religious crowd that had Jesus crucified. It wasn’t the terrorist organization or some wicked group of Satanists. It was the religious leaders of that day. You could say it was the pastors and bishops of those days.
There’s a huge difference between religion and relationship. Being religious is very different from being saved. There are a lot of people who practice Christianity as a religion, who does everything that religion requires, and take Jesus to the cross again today. They do not have a relationship. It is just a ritualistic or organized act on every Good Friday and then they do not have any relation with the Lord. Jesus died only once and need not be crucified again. The people who practice organized religion take him to the cross and are in sorrow today.
Organized religion does not take people to heave, but it sends people to hell because it is religion, not relationship with Christ. Such people get confirmed, sprinkled, baptized, take communion, sing songs, teach classes, pray ritualistic prayers, light the candle, do community work and do all sorts of good things…and then go to hell because they never trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. They trusted in religion to save them. Religion cannot save, being a part of a church cannot save people, it is only the Lord Jesus Christ that can save people.
The religious Jews were called hypocrites by Jesus, in that light the religious Christians are also called hypocrites because they do all things in the outside but no relationship with the Lord.
The ones who plotted to kill Jesus, the Pharisees were very religious people. “Pharisee” isn’t a bad word. We think of them in a poor light because of what they did to Jesus. But the word literally means ‘separate.’ Are we not supposed to be separate? They were a group who wanted to keep themselves separate from unclean Jews who didn’t want to live for God and keep the law. They started with good intentions, but they degenerated into a group of self-righteous hypocrites. But there were exceptions like Nicodemus, (John 9) and Joseph of Arimathea (John 19). These were Pharisees who were searching for true spiritual religions. Another unmanned Pharisee can be found in Mark 12. But for the most part they looked good on the outside and were dead on the inside – Lost in religion.
The last person a hypocrite wants to be around is someone who sees right through them like Jesus could. Jesus saw not what was on the outside but what was in the inside. Look what He said on Thursday just before they decided to arrest and try Him...Matthew 23:13-33. In this passage Jesus calls the hypocrites 8 woes.
Matthew 23:13-16 13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides!….
See what Jesus calls them – blind men, blind guides, cups clean in the outside but inside full of greed and self-indulgence, white washed tombs. Then Jesus goes on to call them snakes, brood of vipers. Matthew 2:33 You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
So no wonder they wanted to kill Him…He’s onto them. They can’t feel self righteous anymore! Jesus was trying to teach them a lesson that you cannot reduce Christianity to a list of rules, but they chose to ignore it and kill him. Christianity cannot be lived with a list of rules, it is a relationship. No church can be lead with a list of rules or a list of do’s and don’ts. People have to have a personal walk with Jesus.
Illustration: There was a church in a village in India where they actually had a list of rules on a board at the front of the church. The list read: No TV, no makeup, no V necks, no cigarettes, no wine. Ironically, some youngsters in the church were caught taking drugs, they said it was not in the list.
You see you cannot contain Christianity to a list of rules. Christianity is spirituality inside, not outward. Jesus exposed their darkness, but rather than stepping into the light, they decided to snuff out the Light.
Now as the Jewish religious leader are trying to plot against Jesus, Judas betrays Jesus to them, giving them inside information about where they can find Him in the garden, and when.
Matthew 26:36-38 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Think about Gethsemane with me this morning. Gethsemane means oil press — very fitting since Jesus is about to be crushed and pressed so the oil of salvation can freely flow to each one of us. There are mysteries about that night that defy human understanding. Before Jesus even went to the cross He won the victory over cross and death in the garden. The victory was won when Jesus surrendered to the will of God.
v38 Jesus said: I am exceedingly sorrowful. My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. This is 1 word in the Greek—meaning to be immersed, surrounded, engulfed by sorrow. It is like being in a whirlpool of sorrow. What Jesus suffered in the garden of Gethsemane is deeper than we can imagine.
Think about it. Rejected by His own people, most of the people did not even believe Jesus, hated and malice by the leaders, even his disciples have deserted him now and much more. Emotionally Jesus suffered. Jesus knew what He was facing: injustice, ridicule, public embarrassment and shame. Any of us would be absolutely devastated by any one of the above, but He had it all at once coming to Him. His human side recoiled at these emotional sufferings. Add to this stress the temptations of Satan to not go thru with the Cross.
There was physical suffering.
Crucifixion is the worst of tortures. It is to die a thousand deaths…in Jesus’ case not just a thousand deaths but innumerable deaths for each one of us.
His spiritual suffering was the worst. Take a moment and imagine with me Jesus’ spiritual suffering.
Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” What is the cup? What was inside the cup? In that cup was every sin that every person would commit through the ages. The cup contained the wrath of God.
Psalm 75:8 In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices, he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.
Jeremiah 25:15-16 This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me, “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.”
Jesus had to drink that cup, drinking means He had to become that sin. He was perfect and holy, but He chose to take all that upon Himself. Jesus cried out, “Lord if there is some other way if I can take the sins of people, show me now because emotionally, physically, and spiritually it is going to be a very high price to pay. But I love the people so much, if this is your will, let it be done.” Though a 100% God, he is talking now 100% man. Let this cup pass from me, but if there is no other way, Thy will be done.
He laid aside His own will to do God’s will. Jesus had two choices – The cross or self. He could take up the cross, or he could have his own way i.e., not go to the Cross. You see, there’s a cross and there’s a throne or self for every believer. You either have Jesus on the cross and yourself on the throne, or Jesus on the throne and yourself on the cross. The Bible says we are supposed to die to ourselves, and be crucified with Christ. I die daily and put Christ on the throne. Does your life say, “My will be done, my will be done” or does it say, “Thy will be done”? “I will put you on the throne, you are the King, I am the servant. I will crucify myself. Thy will be done.”
Lucifer fell from heaven saying, “I will, my will.” It was his will. In the Garden of Eden the first Adam exerted his own will and brought about the ruin and damnation of the human race when Adam exerted his will. But in the Garden of Gethsemane, the last Adam, Jesus Christ didn’t exert His own will, but deserted His own will and in so doing brought about the redemption of the human race!
Luke 22:44 And being in anguish/agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Anguish means mental or physical pain. Many feel Jesus was afraid to die. Jesus did not fear physical death. Jesus had to die taking the cup; the cup contained the wrath of God. He had to die a sinner, without God, separated from God, God’s face hidden from him. Jesus was afraid of spiritual death.
What an agony? Agony of body, soul, and Spirit. What a suffering? His sweat became blood. Luke was a medical doctor, and this condition he observed was likely hemathydrosis, a rare phenomenon when a person under extreme distress actually ruptures blood vessels in the brow and it mixes with the sweat glands and flows as sweat mixed with blood on the brow.
In Eden, Adam’s sin led to the curse of living by the sweat of the brow, but in Gethsemane Jesus conquered Adam’s sin, and His blood mingled with the sweat of the curse, and it drips removing it the curse!
Luke 22:43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. Every life has its Gethsemane. Maybe our sufferings do not compare to Jesus but Jesus himself told that we have trouble in this world. He feels for our pain. What is your Gethsemane? Every life has its Gethsemane, and every Gethsemane has its angel! God sends an angel in our anguish to help you.
Whatever is your garden that God wants you to walk through, when you say, “Thy will be done” God sends an angel to strengthen you. Then, when the ultimate Gethsemane comes (death) thank God we can be carried away to heaven by the angles if only we are trusting in Jesus!
What happens next? Judas who betrayed Jesus knew where Jesus would be. He came to Gethsemane with a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. Here is a plot to arrest Jesus.
John 18:4-6 4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” 5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
The moment Jesus said, “1 am” everyone went backward and fell to the ground. A powerful force blows them over. It’s His name, “I Am.” It’s interesting to note that in the Bible when someone falls backward they are an enemy of God, but friends of God bow and fall on their faces.
The night he was arrested Jesus was produced in the place of the high priest. Whole night Jesus suffered, no sleep. Early in the morning he was sent to Pontius Pilate for trial. Pilate finding nothing wrong with Jesus sent him back to King Herod. Herod sent him back to Pilate finding no charge against him sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion because of the persistent shout of the religious leaders.
Jesus’ trial which was a sham. It was a shameful and illegal mockery of justice. Everything about the trial of Jesus was illegal – From start to finish.
He was considered guilty before the trial even began.
Some part of the trial was conducted at night, also illegal.
Jesus was not allowed to call any witnesses. Whom could Jesus have called? He could have called the angels. He could have called formerly blind, deaf, and lame people He healed. Jesus could not call any witnesses.
The Sanhedrin served not only as judges, but also as the prosecutors!
False witnesses were secured, even though the price for perjury (telling false in the court after taking oath to tell the truth) in those days was to receive the punishment of the accused, in Jesus’ case death.
Death penalty sentences were to carry a 3-day waiting period, during which period the religious leaders were to fast and pray and make sure their decision was correct. From His arrest to the Cross there were only a few hours.
Everything about the trial and sentence of Jesus was illegal. Jesus did not get justice.
By the way, even with all this against him, He could have proven His own innocence if He wanted to, even with this unfair treatment. Jesus did not open His mouth and didn’t defend Himself. When given an opportunity to speak Jesus did not open his mouth. Jesus did not defend himself. This was fulfilment of prophecy. Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. But why did Jesus remain silent? It’s almost as if He WANTS to die! Yes Jesus did want to die. Jesus could have got out of death, he is God. None can take life out of him, he is God, he gives life but Jesus did want to die for you and me.
THE MOCKERY OF JESUS
Matthew 26:67-68 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
They are playing games and mocking Him. The height of humiliation is a spit in the face and Jesus was spat upon many time throughout his trial. This is the face that wept at the grave of Lazarus, this is the face that smiled in welcoming little children, and that looked at this world in love. That’s the face they spit upon. And if you know you need to be saved, and you know that Jesus can save you, and you reject that offer, in a very real sense you are spitting in that lovely face as well. You are saying, “I don’t care that you love me, died for me, were humiliated for me, were tortured for me!”
They blindfolded Him and then hit Him, mocked him and asked him who was it that hit him. Even with the blindfold Jesus did know who hit him but Jesus remained silent. They mocked His deity.
Matthew 27:28 They stripped him …… Every human has to be given dignity for his human body. Jesus was stripped half naked and naked many times. They mocked the human nature of God.
Matthew 27:28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in His right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of Jews!” They put a purple robe on Him and a scepter in His hand and the crown of thorns in His head. Purple shows royalty in the Bible. They bowed and made fun of Him. The royalty of Jesus was mocked.
THE PHYSICAL ABUSE OF JESUS
John 19:1-3 1Then 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.
They flogged Jesus. His body was beaten from head to toe.
They put a crown of thorns in his head. Thorn pierced His brow and blood came from his head.
His back was torn. Now He’s beaten with the cat of nine tails, a handle with 9 whips on it, with shards of metal, glass, and bone attached. And the Bible says with His stripes we are healed!
They spat on Jesus.
Jesus’ face was black and blue by the fists of the soldiers.
They put a purple robe on him. Suddenly all the wounds were covered for the robe took the place of a bandage. Jesus would have felt comforted.
Suddenly they took off his robe like peeling off a bandage. It opened all the wounds again. Jesus was bleeding more profusely.
Psalm 22:14-15 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
According to scripture already He isn’t recognizable—what man He is. Isaiah 52:14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness. You do not know who Jesus is now, he is disfigured.
He submits to all of this…giving His life, no man taking it from Him. He could have stopped it at any time, but He didn’t? Why not…for love of you and me! The movie Passion of Christ shows Jesus was a man full of blood and strikes in his body, I just could not seen that very poster. But when you read the scripture, Jesus was actually much worse than Hollywood can even dramatize. Here we see man at his very worst and God at His very best. Oh how wickedly man can treat God, and how supremely, gloriously, and lovingly God can turn around and treat man!
Though sinless, Jesus was struck with the full lightning bolt of God’s wrath. Jesus drank the cup. We cannot understand this spiritual suffering of having all sin laid upon Him and His Father turn His back on Him. Separation from God is hell. What does God’s anger and wrath feel like? Like hell! We don’t know what hell feels like and I hope you never do! Jesus did, so you don’t have to. And He clung to that cross for love. Will you cling to the old rugged cross?