January 16, 2011
Seven Trials of Christ
Our Lord suffered through 7 trials with the last 1 being before the Supreme Court of Heaven as He received the imputation of the sins of the entire world by the justice of God the Father and was judged as our Substitute.
6 trials of our Lord endured before His crucifixion: (1) Annas (Jn. 18:15-25) (2) Caiaphas (Mt. 26:57-68) (3) Caiaphas (Lk. 22:66-71) (4) Pilate (Jn. 18:28-38) (5) Herod (Lk. 23:8-12) (6) Pilate (Jn. 18:39-19:12).
Let’s look at the 1st Trial of our Lord in John 18.
John 18:12-13, “So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.”
Annas served as high priest from A.D. 6 to 15 and through astute politics, had succeeded in securing from the Romans the succession of this office to his 5 sons, and now his son-in-law Caiaphas, who was the present occupant of the high priesthood.
Annas owned the famous Bazaars of Annas, which ran a monopoly on the sale of animals for the sacrifices and the stalls of the moneychangers. It was the vested interests of this monopoly that Jesus had assailed in the 1st and 2nd cleansing of the Temple. From the day of the 1st cleansing, our Lord was a hated enemy of Annas and his gang.
John 18:14-24, “Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in. Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself. The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. “Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 1
Next, we have the 2nd Trial of Christ recorded in Matthew 26.
Matthew 26:57-61, “Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’”
Matthew 26:59-61 was also a fulfillment of prophecy.
Ps 35:11, “Malicious witnesses rise up; They ask me of things that I do not know.”
Matthew 26:62-68, “The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!” Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him.”
This event recorded in Matthew 26:62-68 fulfilled Isaiah 50:6.
Isa 50:6, “I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.”
Matthew 26:69-75, “and said, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?” Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 2
Next, we have the 3rd Trial of Christ. Luke gives his account of this 3rd trial.
Luke 22:66-71, “When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. “But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
4th Trial of Christ
John 18:28-40, “Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” to fulfill the word of Jesus, which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. “But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.”
Luke gives his account of this 1st trial before Pilate.
Luke 23:1-7, “Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” This was a lie since our Lord stated in Luke
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 3
20:25, “And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” So Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.” When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time.”
5th Trial of Christ before Herod
Luke 23:8-12, “Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.”
6th Trial of Christ
Paul makes reference to this trial where the Lord Jesus gave Pilate the Gospel.
1 Tim 6:13, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate.”
John 18:33-19:15, “Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. “But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber. Pilate then took Jesus and scourged
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 4
Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
Matthew gives his account of this trial before Pilate.
Matthew 27:11-12, “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer.”
Matthew 27:12 was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7.
Isa 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.”
Matthew 27:13-26, “Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed. Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 5
Barabbas. So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
This fulfilled Isaiah 53:5.
Isa 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
Matthew 27:27-31, “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.”
Our Lord’s face was destroyed from the beating He took at the hands of both the Jews and the Romans.
Isa 52:14, “So His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.”
The fact that our Lord was able to withstand the tremendous physical punishment and torture and not die demonstrates His tremendous physical strength that He possessed as a perfect human being.
Matthew 27:32-34, “As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 6
Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.”
The gall was a drug designed to deaden the pain that He would experience through crucifixion.
Ps 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
Matthew 27:35, “And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.”
It seems that the Persians invented crucifixion first used this mode of execution. The historian Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) writes that the Persian king Astyages ordered Magian interpreters to be “impaled” for giving him poor counsel (The History, Book I 128).
The Persians probably invented it in order not to defile the earth, which was consecrated to Ormuzd, by the body of the person executed. Later the cross is used by Alexander the Great, the Diadochoi princes and especially the Carthaginians.
The Romans acquired crucifixion from the Carthaginians. They seldom executed Roman citizens by this method of punishment. Usually only slaves and the most serious criminals such as traitors, perjurers were crucified.
In Greece this punishment was restricted to slaves and was never considered for free Greeks. In Rome it was already a mode of executing slaves even in the days of the republic. In the imperial period it was regarded as servile supplicium but was also used on aliens who were not Romans citizens. It could not be imposed on citizens (Cicero Verr. II, 5, 62, 162-165) but autocratic governors ignored this.
In the Roman provinces the penalty of crucifixion was one of the strongest means of maintaining order and security. Governors imposed this servile punishment especially on freedom fighters that tried to break away from Roman rule.
Josephus mentions innumerable crucifixions-mass executions of rebels-in Judea. Punishment by crucifixion was seen as a disciplinary measure for the maintenance of existing authority, intended more as a deterrent than as a means of retribution. This explains why the instrument of execution was set up in a public place.
Contemporary writers condemned this form of execution as excessively cruel and disgraceful (Cicero, In Verrum, 64, 165 and often; Tacitus, Historia, 4, 3, 11; Josephus, War, 7, 203). The Jewish Historian Josephus (37-100 A.D.) described crucifixion as a “most miserable death” (Wars Book 7, 203). Tacitus the historian described it as “the most pitiful of all means of death”.
The one to be crucified experienced the ridicule and mockery of his executioners; onlookers participated in this too, as did the judges (Matt. 27:27-31, 39-44; Mark 15:16-20; 29-32; Luke 23:35-39).
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 7
The site of execution, outside the town gate, was itself a place of disgrace (Heb. 13:12-13) and because of this understanding; a crucified Messiah caused many Jews to disbelieve (1 Cor. 1:23).
First, there was a legal conviction and only in extraordinary cases, such as in times of war, did this occur at the place of execution itself. After sentencing, the criminal was stripped and scourged, itself a punishment so painful and horribly debilitating that some died from it. This took place either immediately after the sentence was pronounced or en route to the execution site.
In Jesus’ case the scourging probably took place before He was sentenced, perhaps in the hope that the crowds might have compassion on the exhausted bleeding Man from Galilee ask Pilate to release Him (Luke 23:16; John 19:1). That His punishment was so severe may explain why Jesus did not have to bear the cross the last steps to Golgotha (Matt. 27:32).
If the execution took place at somewhere other than the place of sentencing, the condemned man carried the patibulum to the spot, which was usually outside the town. The expression “to bear the cross (stauros)” which is a typical description of the punishment of slaves has its origin here.
Ordinarily the criminal was forced to carry the crossbeam all the way to the execution site. The upright stake was usually left in place at the crucifixion site. Then on the ground he was bound with outstretched arms to the beam by ropes, or else fixed to it by spikes. Jesus was nailed to the crosspiece (John 20:25). The beam was then raised with the body and fastened to the upright post. About the middle of the post was a wooden block, which supported the suspended body. There was no footrest in ancient accounts. The height of the cross varied. It was either rather more than a man’s height or even higher when the offender was to be held up for public display at a distance.
On the way to the execution a tablet was hung around the offender stating the causa poenae, and this was affixed to the cross after execution so that all could see (Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). The charge was displayed above the criminal on a board or a tablet in black or red letters.
In Jesus’ case the charge was written in 3 languages: (1) The language of Judea: Hebrew (2) The language of the occupying force from Rome: Latin (3) The common language of the day: Greek.
John 19:16-22, “So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 8
was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, “The King of the Jews’; but that He said, “I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
To die upon a cross meant excruciating pain. Death came slowly after extraordinary agony, probably through exhaustion or suffocation. The terrible open wounds from scourging and spikes in the hands and feet, the agonizing thirst and hunger, the hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the head and heart, the scorching heat of the sun by day or the cold of the nights gradually robbed the victim of all strength. He became insane from the pain.
Medical studies show that death itself was caused by asphyxiation. Ordinarily the crucified person lived for some time, frequently lasting more than 24 hours and sometimes as long as 48 hours. Some records exist of crucifixions lasting from 3 to 6 days. At times the legs of the victim were broken to put an end to the suffering of the victim (John 19:32). Thus Pilate was surprised when he was told that Jesus died within 6 hours (Mark 15:44f).
The condemned person was exposed to mockery. Sometimes he was stripped and his clothes were divided among the executioners, thought this was not the common rule. Crucifixion took place publicly on streets or elevated places. Usually the body was left to rot on the cross to provide food for predatory animals and carrion crows.
There is evidence that the body was occasionally given to relatives or acquaintances. The physical and mental sufferings, which this slow death on the cross involved, are unimaginable. Crucifixion as a capital penalty was ended only by Constantine the Great.
In June 1968 an ossuary was discovered on Ammunition Hill, north of Jerusalem, containing the bones of a young man who had plainly been crucified, about the beginning of the 1st century A.D. One nail had been driven through each of his forearms, and a third, which was still in situ, through both his ankles together. His legs were broken like those of the 2 criminals on either side of Jesus (John 19:32).
Luke 23:33-34, “When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”
This is our Lord’s 1st statement on the Cross and it too fulfilled prophecy. This intercessory prayer by our Lord for His enemies fulfilled Isaiah 53:12.
Isa 53:12, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 9
was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Luke 23:35-43, “And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Matthew 27:43 records the 2nd statement made by our Lord on the Cross.
Matthew 27:35-43, “And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Psalm 22 presents to us the tremendous physical suffering He underwent on the Cross.
Ps 22:11-18, “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help. Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 10
John 19:26-27 records the 3rd saying of our Lord on the Cross.
John 19:26-27, “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”
Matthew 27:46 records the 4th of the 7 statements of Christ on the Cross.
Matthew 27:46, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?’ that is, ‘MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?’”
By making this statement, our Lord is also fulfilling a prophesy that was made 1000 years before our Lord made this statement.
Ps 22:1-3, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.”
Matthew 27:46 also records the unique voluntary substitutionary spiritual death of our Lord, which was the payment for our sins. It was voluntary in that our Lord in His impeccable humanity “chose” to be separated from His Father during those last 3 hours of darkness upon the Cross. It was substitutionary in that He died in our place.
Rom 5:6-8, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for all of us.”
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Spiritual death is separation from God.
There are 8 categories of death mentioned in Scripture: (1) Spiritual death is the imputation of Adam’s sin to our genetically formed old sin nature at the moment of physical birth resulting in spiritual death or the total inability to have a relationship with God in time (Gen. 2:17; Prov. 14:12; Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:22; Eph. 2:1, 5). (2) Physical death is the separation of the human soul (and in the case of the believer, the human spirit also) from the body (Matt. 8:22; Rom. 8:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:20-21; 2:27, 30). (3) Second death is the perpetuation of real spiritual death into eternity or eternal separation from God and it is the final judgment of the unbelievers in the human race and fallen angels whereby they are cast in the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:41; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:12-15). (4) Positional death is part of the Baptism of the Spirit, which identifies all believers with Christ
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 11
in His death on the Cross and specifically with His rejection of human good and evil (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12; 3:3). (5) Operational death is failure to produce divine good on the part of the reversionistic believer under the influence of evil (James 2:26; 1 Tim. 5:6; Eph. 5:14; Rev. 3:1). (6) Temporal death is the status of carnality or the believer out of fellowship through personal sin (Rom. 8:6, 13; Eph. 5:14; 1 Tim. 5:6; James 1:15; Luke 15:24). (7) Sexual death is the inability to copulate (Rom. 4:17-21; Heb. 11:11-12). (8) The unique voluntary substitutionary spiritual death of the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union on the cross (Matt. 27:45-46; Mark 15:34; Phlp. 2:8; Hb. 2:9, 14).
Our Lord’s spiritual death was unique in that He suffered separation from God while as a perfect human being and He did it voluntarily in order to accomplish the Father’s plan of salvation for all mankind. His physical death was not the payment for our sins but rather His spiritual death when in His perfect humanity He was separated from His Father during the last 3 hours on the Cross when He was receiving the imputation of the sins of the whole world-past, present and future, and was being judged for them. His physical death was essential in that it was for our justification and that He might receive His resurrection body and be the first fruits in resurrection.
The Lord Jesus Christ died 2 voluntary deaths on the cross: (1) Spiritual (2) Physical.
Our Lord first died spiritually during the last 3 hours on the cross and then He died physically after He had accomplished His Finished Work (John 19:30). The payment for our sins was not the physical death of Christ but the spiritual death. The penalty of sin is spiritual death, which means the inability to experience fellowship with God in time.
Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Spiritual death originated with Adam in the Garden of Eden when he chose to disobey the command of the Lord not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Disobedience to this command resulted in spiritual death and eventually physical death.
Gen 2:16-17, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
When Adam disobeyed the command, he lost his fellowship with God.
Gen 3:6-8, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 12
were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
Notice that Adam and the Woman do “not” die immediately physically but rather they died immediately spiritually when they disobeyed and this is demonstrated by their actions after their disobedience, namely they became aware that they were naked and they hide themselves from the Lord. Since then, every human being past, present and future receives the imputation of Adam’s sin in the garden.
Rom 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – when Adam sinned.”
The reason why God did this is found in 2 passages.
Gal 3:22, ‘But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
Rom 11:32, “For God has shut up all in (Adam’s) disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
Physical death is not the penalty for sin since Adam died 930 years later (Gen. 5:5). Therefore, the physical death of Christ was not the payment for our sins.
Physical death is the result of spiritual death and since the penalty of sin was spiritual death, Christ must pay the penalty with His spiritual death.
His spiritual death was the judgment for our sins and this is illustrated in Isaiah 53.
Isa 53:10-11, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.”
“Anguish of His soul” refers to the intense suffering of our Lord’s human soul as a result of being separated from the Father on the Cross and which suffering no angel or man will ever be able to identify with since no angel or man has kept themselves experientially sinless.
Isaiah 53:12, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Our Lord was still alive when He said “It is finished” (tetalestai, “it (the work of salvation) is finished in the past with results that go on forever”) (John 19:30).
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 13
John 19:30, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
Our Lord in His perfect, sinless humanity died twice on the cross so that we could be born twice (John 3:1-7). He said, “it is finished” while still alive, therefore, it was the loss of fellowship with the Father that was the payment for our sins and not His physical death.
He died spiritually so that we could be born again spiritually.
The greatest suffering the humanity of Christ endured on the cross was “not” the physical and mental torture of the cross but rather when He received the imputation of the sins of the entire world by the justice of God the Father and was separated from the Father during the last 3 hours on the cross.
Our Lord’s loss of fellowship with His Father in His humanity during those last 3 hours in darkness on the Cross was infinitely more painful to our Lord than the physical suffering He had endured and was enduring.
Our Lord’s loss of fellowship with His Father in His humanity during those last 3 hours in darkness on the Cross was valued infinitely more by the Father than the shedding of His literal blood or His physical suffering.
This is not to say that the Father did not value the physical suffering of His Son, or His literal blood, which was sinless, He did, but literal blood though sinless cannot resolve man’s problem of separation from God under real spiritual death.
The separation from God of a perfect human being whose soul was never contaminated by sin was the penalty that had to be paid in order to redeem human souls from the curse of Adam sin of disobedience and real spiritual death.
The anguish of the Son’s soul was valued much more than His blood since blood is inanimate but the human soul is created in the image of God. Our Lord in His perfect humanity learned obedience through His physical suffering and at the same time He became the perfect example for us to follow when we go through undeserved suffering as a result of our identification with Him.
Heb 5:7-9, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things, which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
Our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death on the cross-accomplished the following: (1) Defeated Satan in the angelic conflict by disproving Satan’s claims that God lacks integrity and does not love His creatures.
Heb 2:14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 14
might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
1 John 3:8b, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”
(2) Provided salvation for all mankind as well as angels.
Col 1:19-20, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
(3) Fulfilled righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law.
Rom 8:3-4, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
The Cross of Christ is called the “power of God” and “foolishness” to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). It is the power of God because it has crucified the old Adamic sin nature and therefore, freed the believer from its power.
Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Gal 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Gal 6:14, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
The Cross of Christ dealt with man’s sins, which have all been forgiven and have been “nailed to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14).
Col 2:13-14, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
The impeccable humanity of Christ’s voluntary substitutionary spiritual death purchased the entire human race out from the slave market of sin in which every human being is born physically alive but spiritually dead as a result of the imputation of Adam’s sin (1 Tim. 2:6; Mark 10:45; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 15
1 Tim 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
The impeccable humanity of Christ’s spiritual death propitiated or satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God that are sins be judged (Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10).
1 John 2:2, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
The impeccable humanity of Christ’s spiritual death reconciled the entire human race to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-22; 1 Pet. 3:18).
John 19:28-30 record the 5th and 6th statements made by our Lord as He hung on the Cross.
John 19:28-30, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
Luke 23:46 records the 7th and final statement made by our Lord on the Cross.
Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.”
After this 7th and final statement our Lord dismissed His human spirit. Our Lord died physically of His own volition and not through asphyxiation or exhaustion. Remember what our Lord said in John 10:18.
John 10:18, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
The Lord Jesus Christ did not die from suffocation or exhaustion. The Lord Jesus Christ did not bleed to death, die of a broken heart, or die from exhaustion. If He had bleed to death, He would have fainted. The Lord Jesus Christ was in total control of His faculties and was totally and completely alert throughout all His suffering on the cross.
Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”
“Cried out” is kraxas, which is an aorist active participle from krazo, “to cry out aloud, scream, shriek.” Kraxas is a constative aorist which takes the action of the verb in its entirety and takes us from its beginning to its conclusion. Kraxas describes the actual sound of the Lord Jesus Christ’s dying. The Lord Jesus Christ screamed or shouted with a loud voice.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 16
“Yielded up” is apheken which is an aorist active indicative from aphiemi, “to dismiss, to release, to let go.” Apheken is a culminative aorist, which views an event from its existing results, the Lord Jesus Christ’s physical death. The active voice expresses the fact that the Lord Jesus died of His own volition since the active voice indicates that the subject produces the action of the verb. The Lord is the only human being in history to dismiss His own spirit from His body. Every human being that dies physically as a result of a sovereign decision of God but here the Lord chooses to die physically.
He died physically so that He could be raised for our justification.
Rom 4:25, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
Our Lord’s voluntary physical death was another indication to those observing Him at the Cross that He was indeed the Son of God. He died like no other man in history, namely, of His own choosing.
This is why the centurion made the following remark: Mark 15:39, “When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
A great miracle took place when our Lord died physically of His own sovereign will.
Matthew 27:51, “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”
The Holy Place in the Temple was divided from the Holy of Holies by a great and beautiful veil and was suspended by hooks from four pillars of gold. It measured 60 feet long by 30 feet wide, worked in 72 squares and was reputed to be as thick as the palm of the hand. So heavy was it that the priests claimed it took 300 men to handle it. The veil was a barrier and effectively excluded the Levitical priests from the entering the Holy of Holies. Only once a year was it drawn aside to admit the high priest on the Day of Atonement. He entered the sacred presence-chamber to sprinkle the Mercy Seat with the Lamb’s blood, making atonement for his own sins and those of the nation of Israel. The rending of the veil in the Herodian Temple was symbolic of the new and living way into the presence of God, which has been opened to everyone, both Jew and Gentile.
Heb 10:13-25, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 17
the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.”
There is a barrier, which separates man from God. The Finished Work of Christ on the cross removes this barrier (Eph. 2:14-16).
The Barrier consists of the following: (1) Mankind commits acts of sin (Isa. 64:6b; Rom. 3:23). (2) The penalty of sin is spiritual death (Rom. 5:12; 6:23a). (3) All are born spiritually dead at physical birth (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1). (4) Man’s relative righteousness cannot compare to God’s perfect righteousness (Isa. 64:6a; Rom. 9:30-33). (5) The character of God demands that our personal sins be judged (Isa. 46:9b; 64:6b; Rom. 8:8). (6) Man’s position in Adam as a result of the imputation of his sin (1 Cor. 15:22a).
The Work of Christ on the cross, which removes the Barrier, is as follows: (1) Redemption resolves man’s problem with sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:7; Titus 2:14; 1 Tim. 2:6a). (2) The Unlimited Atonement also resolves man’s sin problem (1 John 2:2). (3) Expiation resolves man’s problem with the penalty of sin, which is spiritual death (Col. 2:14). (4) Regeneration resolves man’s problem with being born spiritually dead (John 3:1-18). (5) Imputation resulting in justification resolves the problem of man’s relative righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:1-5; Gal. 2:16). (6) Propitiation resolves man’s problem with the perfect character of God (Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2). (7) Our position in Christ resolves man’s position in Adam (1 Cor. 5:22b; 2 Cor. 5:17).
John 19:31-36, “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.”
This fulfilled Psalm 34:20. Ps 34:20, “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.”
John 19:37, “And again another Scripture says, “THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.”
This fulfilled Zechariah 12:10.
Zech 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 18
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 19
an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
John 19:38-42, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Our Lord’s burial in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb fulfilled prophecy as well.
Isa 53:9, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.”
The perfect sinless humanity of Christ was born trichotomous: (1) Body (2) Soul (3) Spirit.
Therefore, our Lord’s somatic or physical death was unique because it was a trichotomous separation: (1) His physical body went to the grave (Luke 23:50-53). (2) His human spirit went to heaven (Luke 23:46; John 19:30). (3) His human soul went into Paradise a compartment of Hades (Luke 23:43; Acts 2:27; 2:31; Eph. 4:9).
The Lord was brought back from the dead by 3 Categories of divine omnipotence: (1) Omnipotence of God the Father sent back our Lord’s human spirit to the body in the grave (Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:21). (2) Omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit sent back our Lord’s human soul to the body in the grave (Rom. 1:4; 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18). (3) Omnipotence of God the Son raised His physical body from the grave (John 2:20-23; 6:39-40, 54 10:17-18).