I remember as a little girl going to our Catholic church and staring intently at all the statues weaving their way around the church. There was patron saint of our church St. Patrick. Then there was Mary, Christ's mother, along with other angels and apostles. But central over the altar area was an extra large crucifix with Jesus on it. He loomed above the altar diminishing all the other pictures and statues.
Jesus I knew was central to the Christian faith but why the cross? We were taught that Jesus died for our sins -- my sins -- yet couldn't he have died in a more civil way? Couldn't his Father, the Lord of the universe, have arranged a different way completely for his sinning children to be reconciled with Him?
I dare say I'm not the only one that have had these questions. Indeed the message of the cross has been a great divide in Christianity. To many in our modern world it is offensive and therefore neglected. Because of this neglect Christians do not understand the enormous significance Christ's shed blood has for them, the church, and all of mankind.
But the crucifixion and the resurrection is where the power is. Without this last act of love by Jesus we would merely be sinning men and women trying and hoping that we were good enough to make it into Heaven after our death. The cross of Jesus has changed everything. Now it's time that we understood why and examine the questions we have surrounding this colossal event. This will take many studies but my prayer is that it will be a life changing pilgrimage as we walk out of the dark and into the resurrection light. No other event in history will have more significance for you personally.
Our study will take us through each of the gospel accounts. They each tell a piece of the history from a different perspective and thus give us a more complete picture. What is referred to as "the passion of Christ" is actually the last twelve hours of the Lord's life and ministry. We will start our study slightly before this time so that we look at some of the significant events leading up to the cross.
We stand on holy ground. May the Holy Spirit open our minds and hearts to see and understand what he has for us.
Day 1- We can't begin the study without seeing that this important event in history was prophesied. When a man or woman of God, through the inspiration of God's Spirit, speaks a message from God -- that is a prophecy. In the Old Testament times prophecy was God's authoritative word to his people.
I have arranged some of these prophecies into a table to make it easier to see them at a glance. You might be tempted to skip looking up these prophetic verses but don't. You'll see that the events of Christ's death were predicted and fulfilled in minute detail. These predictions were not vague. By reading them we'll see the importance of Christ's death centuries before it ever happened.
THE PROPHECIES OF CHRIST'S DEATH AND RESURRECTION
|1||Zechariah 9:9- Jesus's entrance into Jerusalem as King||Matthew 21:1-11 /Mark 11:1-11 / Luke 19:28-40 and John 12:12-19|
|2||Psalm 41:9 - Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend||Luke 22:3-6, 47-48 /Mark 14:10-11, 43-45 / John 13:2|
|3||Zechariah 11:12-13- Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver||Matthew 26:14-15|
|4||Isaiah 50:6 - Jesus would be scourged and spat upon||Matthew 26:67 / Matthew 27:26 & 30 / John 19:1|
|5||Zechariah 11:12-13 - The blood money that paid for Jesus to be betrayed would be used to buy a potter's field. (A field were old pottery was thrown. It was then used as a burial place for strangers.)||Matthew 27:3-10|
|6||Isaiah 53:12- Jesus would be crucified between two thieves and would be "numbered with the transgressors"||Matthew 27:38 / Mark 15: 27-28 /Luke 22:37|
|7||Psalm 69:21- Jesus would be given vinegar (gall or sour wine) to drink while on the cross.||Matthew 27:34,48 /John 19:28-29|
|8||Psalm 22:16 & Zechariah 12:10 - Jesus' hands, feet and side would be pierced||John 19:34,37 / John 20:25-27|
|9||Psalm 22:18- Christ's garments would be divided and gambled for||Luke 23:34 / John 19:23-24|
|10||Psalm 22:7-8- Jesus would be surrounded and ridiculed by his enemies||Matthew 27:39-44 /Mark 15:29-32 /Luke 23:35-39|
|11||Psalm 22:15- Jesus would be thirsty||John 19:28|
|12||Psalm 31:5- Jesus would commit his spirit to his Father||Luke 23:46|
|13||Psalm 34:20- Christ's bones would not be broken||John 19:33-36|
|14||Psalm 22:1- Jesus would be forsaken by God||Matthew 27:46|
|15||Isaiah 53:9- Jesus would be buried in a rich man's grave||Matthew 27:57-60|
|16||Psalm 24:7-10- Jesus would ascend into Heaven||Mark 16:19 / Luke 24:51|
|17||Psalm 110:1- Jesus would be seated at God's right hand||Matthew 22:44 /Hebrews 10:12|
|18||Jesus predicted his own crucifixion and resurrection:|
|1st prediction: Matthew 16:21 / Mark 8:31 / Luke 9:21/ John 13:1, 18-19||Matthew 27-28/ Mark 15-16/ Luke 23-24/ John 19-20|
|2nd prediction: Matthew 20: 17-19, Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18: 31-33||Matthew 27-28/ Mark 15-16, Luke 23-24/ John 19-20|
|3rd prediction: Matthew 26: 2 / Mark 14: 3-8||Matthew 27-28/ Mark 15-16, Luke 23-24/ John 19-20|
Day 2- Who actually killed Jesus? The short answer is that God did. He meant it for good.
Isaiah 53:10 / Romans 3:25 / Romans 8:32
Day 3- God planned Christ's death and by the means of wicked men it was accomplished.
Matthew 26:3-5 / Mark 14:1-2 / Luke 22:1-2 / Acts 4:27
Day 4- We must look beyond the human to see the divine purposes and the fact that all happened according to God's will.
Acts 2:23-24 / Acts 4:28
Day 5- This plan of the Father to give His only Son for men was known completely by Jesus. You read these verses above but reread them and as you read make a list of all that was going to happen to Jesus.
Matthew 26:1-2 / Luke 18:31-33 / John 13:18-19
Day 6- He not only foreknew the plan but He embraced His own death with absolute authority.
John 10:17-18 / John 12:27
His Father ordained it. Jesus accepted and embraced it. This is the important point --- Jesus CHOSE to die. His life wasn't snatched away by Satan or evil men. God used them to accomplish His plan but Jesus CHOSE to die.
Therefore the question as to who killed Jesus is a marginal one. There is no place for finger pointing in blame except to point it back at ourselves as one of the lost sinners whom the Father loved enough to save.
A FEW DAYS LEFT - THE ANOINTING
Day 7- We know from other gospel accounts that Jesus had good friends in Bethany. We find him now a few days before his death (which only he realized) relaxing with these friends as well as his disciples.
Matthew 26: 6-13 ( similar account in Mark 14:3-9) / John 12:1-8
In reading these passages you'll see Matthew and Mark are very similar where John gives further and somewhat differing details. Matthew and Mark are quite vague on some things and John gives more detail. Some commentators say these are different events. But others feel they were the same. It is quite likely that Simon the Leper (a healed leper) lived with his relatives which we know as Lazarus (who had just been raised from the dead), along with his sisters Mary and Martha. While it was a normal thing in the culture to anoint the head (recorded in Matthew and Mark), John in his gospel often fills in other details and tells the part where she continues to anoint the Lord's feet. Whether these are all accounts of one event or separate ones the truths are the same.
Day 8- Now it was custom that a few drops of perfume be poured on a guest when they arrived at a home for a meal. Mary however broke the flask and anointed Jesus with the entire contents!
Doing this was a prophetic act. Mary did not realize it but Jesus saw it. It was also a custom in the East to bathe and anoint the bodies of the dead. When complete, the flask was broken and the chards laid with the dead body in the tomb. Mary's action was as if she had anointed Jesus beforehand for his burial.
Matthew 26:12 / (Similar account in Mark 14:8) / John 12:7
LESSONS TO LEARN
Day 9- If love is true, there will be a certain extravagance in it which doesn't count the cost. Mary gave the Lord she loved a gift that could only be used once and she gave it freely. (The disciples had estimated this gift as a year's wages!) We must remember that shortly before this visit her brother Lazarus had died and been buried. Her grief had been deep. But Jesus had raised him from the dead. Not only did Mary have her beloved brother back but she saw without doubt that Jesus was the Messiah -- the Son of God -- and deserving of all that she had to give. We are to give our best to the Lord and not our leftovers. We are to give without regard for ourselves so that the Lord can have the use of what is actually his own possession. How are we to love God?
Deuteronomy 6:5 / Deuteronomy 10: 12
Day 10- Although the disciples had walked with Jesus almost three years they did not seem to know what Mary knew. Here was the Son of God in their midst but for how long? Wouldn't having the Son of God in your midst be the greatest honor we could have? Yet, what were the disciples more concerned about? Reread....
Matthew 26: 8-9 / (similar account in Mark 14: 4-5)
Mary had her priorities straight. Love for Jesus is first. Work and ministry is second to that and actually flows freely because of our love for Jesus.
Day 11- Love can see that there are little things we can do for someone and that chance may only happen once. If it is missed it's missed forever. To walk in love towards God and others can be shown and expressed in many ways and requires a certain attitude and determination.
Day 12- Common sense would say "Give this money to the poor." The disciples after walking and ministering with the Lord among the needy saw this extravagant waste in the light of common sense. But there are times when this view fails and the rule of love is priority. Love follows the dictates of the heart and requires sacrifice to be truly a gift. Giving to the poor is a good thing but if the giving does not spring from love for God and men then what does it become?
1 Corinthians 13:3
Day 13- Charity can often serve as a cloak for covetousness. God can actually be robbed under the pretense of devoting the withheld money or gift for the poor with no intention of giving it. This was the case with Judas Iscariot who gave voice to his objections.
John 12: 4-6
Day 14- The disciple's judgment (both internal and spoken) of Mary's use of the nard she owned was frankly none of their business! She owned it and was free to use it as she was led in her heart. Who are we to judge what is waste when it comes to wasting it on the Lord? How quickly we can forget that only the Lord knows all the details to any event and He alone knows men's hearts. What are we commanded NEVER to do?
Romans 14:13 / 1 Corinthians 4:5 / James 4:12
Day 15- There are good things we can do which are morally good but might also be stern and hard. What Mary did for Jesus was an act not only good but lovely or beautiful. Our small acts of love are not missed on God. They may seem insignificant to others (maybe even ourselves) but they are not so to God. The beauty and fragrance of this act of kindness has gone down in history to be an example for us today.
Matthew 26:13 / (Similar account in Mark 14:9)
Day 16- Finally, we must notice five words in Mark 14:8. "She did what she could." God requires us to give what we have and not what we don't have. Each of us must give to our Lord freely from all that we have. He will not look at the little we did compared to someone else.
Luke 21:1-4 / Acts 11:29 / 2 Corinthians 8:12
Day 17- Summary: We must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. No amount of good works can replace our relationship with Him. Christianity IS our relationship with Jesus. Nothing in life "wasted" on Jesus is ever wasted. The smallest act is recorded in the annals of Heaven. Today we do not have the Lord present physically as Mary did but we give to Him when we give to others.
Matthew 25: 40,45
Next study: MPGC#2