Yesterday, we learned that prophecies from Scripture, and even from Jesus’ own mouth, foretold the death of Jesus. But people throughout history have misunderstood the mission of Christ. The Jews thought the Messiah would overcome the Roman government oppressing them and would immediately set up God’s kingdom on earth. They didn’t understand that the Messiah came the first time to die for sinners.
What do you think the Messiah came to do? Read the truth in God’s Word.
This festival reminded the Jews of God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As a sacrifice for sin, they killed an innocent, spotless lamb. This celebration looked forward to the time when God would send the perfect Lamb of God, the Messiah. He would die for the sins of believers throughout the world. He would deliver them from slavery to sin so they could have eternal life with God.
Could the Lamb of God be Jesus? When the prophet John the Baptist saw Jesus, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b).
Let’s read about the last day of Jesus, as He celebrated the Passover in a new way:
“Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.
“Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.’
“They said to him, ‘Where will you have us prepare it?’
“He said to them, ‘Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, “The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.’
“And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’
“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
“And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
‘But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!’" (Luke 22:1-21).
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
“And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation’” (Luke 22:39-46).
Betrayal and denial
“While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’
“And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, ‘Lord, shall we strike with the sword?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
“But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him.
“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, ‘Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness’" (Luke 22:47-53).
Trial of the Innocent Lamb
“Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.
“When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, ‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’
“But he said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’
“So they all said, ‘Are you the Son of God, then?’
“And he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’
“Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.’
“Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.’
“And Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’
“And he answered him, ‘You have said so.’
“Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no guilt in this man.’
“But they were urgent, saying, ‘He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.’
“When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
“When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
“Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.’
“But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’ man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.
“Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’
“A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.’
“But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will” (Luke 22:63-23:25).
The Lamb of God sacrificed
“Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’
“And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’
“The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’
“There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’
"But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.
“Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’” (Luke 23:32-47).
The centurion and criminal both testified of Jesus’ innocence. Why would God require the death of His perfect Man, Miracle Worker, Teacher, and Prophet?
As part of God’s plan, His perfect Lamb died as a sacrifice on behalf of believing sinners. How else could Jesus promise paradise to a criminal worthy of death? Find out tomorrow how you can truly know, like the criminal, whether you will be with Jesus in paradise!
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24; see also John 3:16; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 4:10).