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Bible Studies

Matthew, Mark and Luke
Lesson 26
The Redeeming Sacrifice - Jesus Dies on the Cross

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Reading assignment for this lesson: Matthew 27:27-66, Mark 15:16-47, Luke 23:26-56

Jesus was crucified at a place outside Jerusalem known by the Hebrew name Golgotha, meaning "place of the skull." In Luke 23:33, the site of Jesus' crucifixion is identified as tón tópon kaloúmenon Kraníon. Most Bibles versions translate that literally as "place called The Skull." But the King James Version renders it as "Calvary," which comes from the Latin calvaria, meaning "skull."

The inscription "King of the Jews" was placed on the cross to mock Jesus. Here was the supposed "king" hanging on the cross like a common criminal. Little did His executioners realize Jesus was really the greatest king of all time! The Latin acronym "INRI", (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum), is sometimes shown as the inscription on crosses. It literally means "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."

Condemned prisoners were normally forced to carry the crossbeams of their own crosses to the place of execution. Jesus must have been too weak from the beatings He received to carry His crossbeam all the way; a bystander, Simon of Cyrene, was pressed into service to carry Jesus' cross. As Jesus hung on the cross, darkness came over the land. At the moment Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Matthew also reports that an earthquake occurred and many of the faithful who had died were raised to life again. The darkness could not have been a natural eclipse of the sun because Passover occurs at the full moon, when the moon and sun are on opposite sides of the earth. These supernatural events are testimony to the divinity of Jesus and the importance of His death.

Jesus died on the cross at about 3:00 PM on a Friday. The Sabbath would begin at sundown that evening, and it would not be proper on the Sabbath to do the work of preparing a body for burial. So, Jesus' body was hastily taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. Some of the women who had been Jesus' disciples intended to return after the Sabbath to complete the burial preparations.

1. a) The "official" reason for Jesus' execution was that He committed treason by claiming to be a king of the Jews. What symbols of royalty did the soldiers use in their cruel mocking of Jesus? (See Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20, John 19:1-3.)
b) The harsh treatment Jesus received from the Roman soldiers was apparently common for condemned prisoners. Are there elements of cruelty, mocking and humiliation in the way prisoners are treated today?

2. Why did Jesus tell the women who were crying for Him, "Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children"? (See Luke 23:27-31, Matthew 24:1-2, 24:15-25.)

3. Some of Jesus' enemies came to see Him crucified, and they taunted Him saying, "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." Why didn't Jesus just call on God to send angels to save Him? (See Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-43, Matthew 20:26-28, Mark 8:31, 10:45, Luke 4:9-12, 9:21-22.)

4. a) How did Jesus react to those who had falsely accused Him, beaten Him, and crucified Him? (See Luke 23:34.)
b) How should we react when we are treated unfairly, accused falsely or persecuted. (See Matthew 5:38-45.)

5. Why did Jesus cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (See Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, Psalms 22:1-31, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13.)

6. The curtain of the temple separated the Most Holy Place, a room reserved for God alone, from the rest of the temple. What is the symbolic meaning of the curtain being torn in two at Jesus' death? (See Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-39, Luke 23:44-47, Exodus 26:31-33, Hebrews 10:19-23.)

7. Which of Jesus' followers stayed with Him until His death? (See Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49-56, John 19:25-27, 19:38-42.)

8. Why did the Roman governor, Pilate, send soldiers to guard Jesus' tomb? (See Matthew 27:62-66.)

9. Why did Jesus have to die? (See Isaiah 53:1-12, Matthew 20:26-28, Mark 10:45, John 1:29, Acts 2:22-23, Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, Galatians 3:13-14.)

10. What does Jesus' death mean to you?

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