Questions About the Cross
Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 22, 2010
KJV John 21:25. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should
be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
Many books have been written about all the things done by Jesus. Many of these books examine Jesus’ accomplishments before the cross, while others look at what He accomplished on the cross. But what about the accomplishments of His disciples and those closest to Him before, during and after the crucifixion?
There is no doubt the New Testament provides a number of examples and guidelines on which the early church was founded. What appears to be missing, is the detailed set of rules and regulations similar to those regarding the tabernacle built in the wilderness. Moses was given explicit instructions for the construction of the physical tabernacle and every ceremony conducted within its curtains. But there are no such rules or information about ceremonies given to the early Christian churches.
Instead, God has chosen to use examples and guidelines to organize the church of the New Testament. The fact New Testament authors realized this is significant.
Establishing a new church can be much like starting a new business. But the new testament lacks anything resembling a business plan. We can not over look the fact, Jesus’ disciples argued about who was the greatest, days and hours before His sacrifice. It would have been perfectly natural for any of the disciples to establish his mark by detailing a list of rules for the early church to follow. Many businesses employ managers with plans to introduce rules and regulations. At times these rules and regulations serve no purpose, but to create a separation between management and employees. Even though the gospels tells us this was an interest of some of the disciples, not a single one followed this course. Something happened to change their outlook. Comparing the gospel accounts leading to and following the crucifixion may help us to understand the lessons God taught His disciples during the trial, death and after the resurrection of Jesus. These are examples God has chosen to record in His word.
Hollywood has been able to maintain a comfortable living through the exploitation of emotions, aroused when an innocent life is taken. These emotions are heightened when an innocent person gives their life for another. Writers first establish a personal connection between the audience and the character to ensure an outpouring of the desired emotion when the plot reaches its apex.
Governments have also been known to exploit this emotion in an attempt to sway public opinion. Wars, killing, mass bombings, and sacrifices have been justified by the death of the innocent.
What about Jesus’ death? Where was the emotion? Where was the out cry, the protests, the outward display of public opinion? How many people protested the death of an innocent person at Jesus’ crucifixion? The gospel records only a few people testifying the fact, they had crucified the Son of God.
KJV Matthew 27:54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
KJV Mark 15:39. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
A centurion was one of the last people to stand beside the cross, before Jesus died. The centurion was the image of Roman power. The Jews could not sentence Jesus to death without first obtaining permission from the state of Rome. What spiritual significance this may hold is anyone’s guess, as Rome possesses a number of spiritual meanings.
Not only was the Roman soldier at the cross to guard Jesus, he was there to confirm His death. Rome not only sentenced Jesus to death, they pronounced His death. When announcing the death of Jesus, why did the Roman soldier addressed Him as the Son of God?
Why was a centurion one of the few people to point out, Jesus was the Son of God? You would be surprised to learn who recognized Christ as the Son of God at the cross and who did not. Where were His disciples and followers? Would it had made a difference if they had announced, the Son of God was in front of them, hanging on a cross? Did they lack the faith at the cross to testify, that Jesus would rise on the third day? Why did they miss this once in a life time opportunity? What lessons can we learn from the actions of the individuals recorded in the gospels in the time leading up to and directly following Christ’s sacrifice? How do these lessons relate to us on an individual basis?
For some reason, different characters in the gospels used different titles for Jesus. The Son of God may seem like a common phrase, but a closer look will reveal interesting details about some of the characters, who preferred to use this title.
KJV Matthew 4:3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
When Satan questioned if Jesus was the Son of God, he knew who Jesus was, he was playing his usual games of deception. During his introduction, Satan first attempted to cast doubt. This is one of his most useful devices. Satan used doubt as a weapon before the creation of Eden. Satan used the weapon of doubt to sentence Jesus to death on the cross. Satan was also at the cross, attempting to permanently destroy people with his favorite weapon, which worked on people with differing results.
KJV Matthew 26:3. But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
It’s an eerie consequence to see the parallel between the words Satans used and those chosen by the high priest. These were the same words Satan instructed his closest followers to use when they encountered Jesus.
KJV Matthew 8:28. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
KJV Mark 3:11. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
What was the significance of the words used by the Roman soldier? “Truly this man was the Son of God.” Was the Centurion confessing a new found truth? Was the Centurion touched by the Holy Spirit, or was the Roman soldier following orders from another spirit? Was he able to know the difference?
Why didn’t Jesus’ followers confess their belief at the foot of the cross? What stopped them from making signs and chanting, “Jesus is the Son of God and He will rise in three days?” Days before, many of them were expecting Jesus to lead a physical rebellion against Rome. At the cross, they held their peace.
Christ’s death should have not been a surprise. The book of Matthew records at least three instances in which Christ directly prophesied his death and the details surrounding it.
KJV Matthew 17:22. And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23. And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
KJV Matthew 20:17. And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19. And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
KJV Matthew 26:1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2. Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
If a person you loved came to you on Wednesday, and told you they were going to die on Friday, wouldn’t you remember their words? Wouldn’t you question them in an attempt to learn more details? On their way to Jerusalem, Jesus told them who His murderers would be, and the manner of execution they would use.
At least twice Jesus told His disciples, He would rise on the third day. This appears to be the type of information people would pay attention to. People tend to remember unusual predictions. How could twelve disciples and an unknown number of close followers forget these important details? Or did some of them have one degree of understanding and others a different degree of faith?
KJV Matthew 26:12. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
KJV Luke 7:37. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
KJV John 11:1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
Was Mary one of the few who understood Jesus was to be crucified? Is this why she made the investment to anoint His body with costly oils and perfume? Was she the only follower paying attention? Why didn’t anyone catch on to the fact, this action was meant to prepare Jesus for His burial? For some reason, Mary was one of Jesus’ few followers, who displayed a need to serve Him.
Was this the portion of Mary’s personality that set her apart from the other?. Serving is not a natural reaction for most people. Avoidance is more of a common response. Name twenty people in your life and count, how many possess a natural ability to serve others? Among Jesus’ followers, Mary would have been included in this very small minority.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of possessing such a rare trait? As we study the gospels we will learn the answer to this question.
Mary may have been one of the few people dedicated to serving Jesus. To better understand this, we must look at another event recorded in the gospels, in which Jesus commended her.
KJV Luke 10:41. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Mary was also known for listening to Jesus. This may be one reason she was one of the few who may of understood the prophesies Jesus taught. Jesus may have spoken a prophecy when He said, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Today we have the Bible, the recorded word of God, to learn from. Mary’s actions illustrate the need for a balance of both understanding and service.
Mary was not the only person who understood, Jesus was the Son of God. The Gospels record a number of others who testified to this fact, to one extent or another. Some of the characters may come as a surprise.
KJV Luke 1:35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
KJV Matthew 14:33. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
KJV John 1:48. Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
KJV John 11:23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
KJV Matthew 16:16
16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told by an angel, Jesus was the Son of God. We know Mary believed Jesus was special, based on the evidence given at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, when she asked Jesus to do something about the shortage of wine.
The disciples knew Jesus was not a common man. They witnessed Jesus walking on water and calming a storm. After Jesus saved their lives, the only explanation they could express was, “of a truth, you are the Son of God.” What happened to their faith and the memory of that day as they watched Jesus die on the cross?
Nathanael, Martha, and Simon Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God. Nathanael was simply told by Jesus, He had seen him under a fig tree. Martha displayed the greatest faith when she made her statement before her brother was raised from the dead. Peter had viewed a number of Jesus’ miracles before he boldly stated his answer to Jesus’ question.
Each of these examples illustrate a degree of faith. Martha was bold enough to make her statement before her brother was raised from the dead, because of her strong faith. Nathanael had a choice. He could have tried to explain Jesus’ statement as an unusual coincidence, but He chose to believe there was something special about Jesus.
We have to remember, Peter and the other disciples left the security of their jobs and businesses to follow Jesus. At first they displayed a great deal of faith. As the days with Jesus passed, they witnessed the healing of many, and miracles that should have increased their faith.
Peter was also known as the boastful one. He was often the first to answer a question. Peter was also the one to bring a sword, of sorts, with him on their last trip to the garden of Gethsemane. This resulted in another miracle when Jesus reattached the ear to the servant of the high priest. Afterwards, Peter witnessed the fulfillment of another of Christ’s prophecies, when he denied Him three times.
This is an illustration of how much evidence Jesus is willing to share, and how short lived our faith can be when put to the test. It almost seems as if all of this served as a fulfillment to a parable, which in this case may have been a prophecy.
KJV Mark 4:16. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17. And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
The Bible records other people who had a belief in Jesus, to a degree or another.
KJV Mark 15:12. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
KJV Luke 23:3. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
KJV Mark 15:16. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. 17. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, 18. And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
Pilate and his solders addressed Jesus as the King of the Jews, in a mocking form of recognition. This may seem as an unimportant detail, but this carries a very important spiritual significance when compared with the methods, actions and attitudes of others and the belief they displayed in Jesus’ hour of need.
What class of believers do the Roman’s represent? The Bible records a dream given to Pilate’s wife. “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” KJV Matthew 27:19. Pilate’s wife displayed a degree of faith. How much of this was shared with Pilate, we are not told. Did Pilate and his wife discuss the daily reports of the miracles Jesus performed? Did Pilate believe or doubt these reports? It seems Pilate did not view Jesus as a threat. Or did he? It would be interesting to know the methods the Holy Spirit used to reach Pilate.
We do not know if any of Jesus’ followers had opportunities to witness to Pilate or his wife. The Bible tell us, some of Jesus’ followers were close to Herod. “And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.” KJV Luke 8:3. We are also told, Herod and Pilate were not exactly of the best of terms.
It was Pilate’s responsibility to know everything that happened within his jurisdiction. We know Roman soldiers were often present when Jesus spoke. We can assume, Pilate heard many of Christ’s words second hand, from those responsible for reporting Jesus’ every movement and word. We have no idea how accurate those reports were, or if they were altered because of prejudice. Would it had made a difference if Pilate had heard Jesus himself? Does this help illustrate the difference between a Christian who receives knowledge from the Bible second hand and one who goes directly to Jesus and the word of God in personal study? There is as great a contrast between the faith of Mary and that of Pilate, and a nominal Christian, preferring to sit and listen, and one who studies earnestly on their own or within a group. Listening to the words of Christ second hand can never take the place of a close personal relationship.
Mary knew the connection between service and work. Many Christians never realize, or experience the relationship between the two. They think because they work a full time job and lead busy lives, they are fulfilling their need to serve. Or they rationalize, thinking because I work and pay tithe, I’ve done my part. They attempt to convince themselves, their commitment to serve has been fulfilled by providing a tithe. This usually does not provide a sense of fulfillment, rather it is a journey of guilt. Few people pay a reasonable share of tithe. Skimping on tithe is never a substitute for service.
Peter’s type of service was boastful and self-serving to a point. Unlike Mary, we are shown little evidence Peter understood what Jesus taught. His problem may have been the same problem we see today. Too many people never learn to listen. They treat the words of God like a banquet, thinking they have the right to pick and choose, which words and commandments suit their tastes. Or they take the easy road by trusting others to listen and relay the message to them in a condensed form, barely scratching the surface, often exaggerating points they feel are significant, while omitting other more important details. This can result in a false sense of comfort. Some may think they have achieved the title of master. They no longer rely upon the scriptures to teach, but upon their own memory, imagination, and ability.
A hundred years ago lessons were taught using a balance of scripture and thoughts from the preacher. Today few preachers use any proof texts at all. If they do, they fail to give chapter and verse references, or credit to the author. These preachers have fallen for the same deception the Pharisees were guilty of, believing they already know enough, and there is no reason to return to God’s word for reproof and correction. They looked at consulting the word of God as a sign of weakness. They were more interested in their own glory, than the truth. Like Peter, they are destined to fail when put to the test.
Its surprising to realize Pharisees and Romans, to an extent believed, Jesus was the Son of God. Their beliefs may have been shallow at best. They had the same opportunities to witness the same miracles, hear the same words, see and question the same person. They may have tried to rationalize all of the facts presented. They felt they had the ability to pick and chose which words and directions to follow. This may have given them the impression, they were above the Great Teacher. Their actions indicated they spent little time meditating on what was presented, and too much time thinking of ways to secure the future they wanted for themselves. In their opinion, it was a sign of weakness if they did not provide an instant answer. They feared this weakness was amplified if they ever changed their stand on a subject. Reaching this class of people can be like moving a mountain.
As we examine the details of Christ’s crucifixion, we learn more about the individuals and why they chose to react in the manner recorded. Their time has passed and their actions have been preserved for everyone to see, study, and learn from. Our actions and reactions can still be molded and our faith reinforced by studying the details we are given through the word of God. When we study with an open mind, we may be able to learn something about ourselves from those who plotted against Jesus.
KJV Matthew 26:3. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4. And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
How often does the Bible record direct contact between Jesus and those who plotted against Him? The priests sent spies to meet with Jesus, to question him and to track every move. Did they learn anything through all this contact? This shows how preconceived ideas can block the mind from truth.
KJV Luke 11:53. And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: 54. Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
The statues, greed and envy of the scribes and Pharisees blinded their eyes and closed their ears to hearing what Jesus was teaching. They were not completely oblivious to what Jesus was saying, they were only interested in what they wanted to hear. This was a sign of how the scribes and Pharisees treated the Old Testament scriptures, entrusted to their care. They picked apart the prophecies, teaching only the portions which supported their views. This attitude did not change when they heard Jesus speak. Not even His words and presence could plant a seed in their heart of stone.
KJV Mark 12:13. And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
Lack of insight was a way of life for the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus tried to reach them on numerous occasions. In this instance, the answer Jesus provided also revealed an answer to a prophecy in Revelation 13. On other occasions, Jesus attempted to direct their minds back to the written words of the prophets.
KJV Matthew 12:2. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4. How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
In this instance, Jesus tried to direct the Pharisees back to the scriptures. If they would have looked at this subject in Leviticus, they would have found the answer to their question and more. “There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing. 11. But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.” KJV Leviticus 22:10-11.
Jesus, the high priest, was there to pay a redemption price for them and all humanity. This meant, David, his followers, all his family, and everyone who believes in Christ, is now able to share in the holy bread. We are all paid for by the High Priest. Some of the Pharisees may have investigated this answer, many of them relied on their own judgment and never found the answer. It boils down to the fact, learning more about Jesus requires a personal effort.
Did Jesus’ closest followers display better judgment? Of course they did. Was their faith perfect? It needed some work. Jesus also tried to reach them, to help them progress to the next level. The day before His sacrifice, they celebrated, what is often referred to as the last supper.
KJV Matthew 26:27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
KJV Mark 14:18. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.
KJV Matthew 26:31. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Above is a brief collection of verses providing details of the last supper. These verses show Jesus tried to convey the message, He was about to give His life, “for the remission of sins.” What was going through the minds of the disciples when Jesus was offering them a cup, saying, “this is my blood of the new testament.” When Jesus stated, He would not drink of, “this fruit of the vine, until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom,” why didn’t they question Him? Why didn’t they ask for a clearer explanation? Didn’t they want to face the fact, Jesus was telling them, He was about to leave the earth and return to Heaven? We have already seen, Peter was quick to react and quicker to answer questions. Wasn’t the term, “my Father’s kingdom,” enough of a clue to provoke further investigation?
When Jesus made reference to a traitor, each of disciples questioned if they were the one about to betray Jesus. They were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? KJV Matthew 26:22. Why didn’t they ask for a clearer explanation? How has someone betrayed you? Did each of them feel they had in some way already betrayed Jesus? Is this why they failed to ask for additional details? They may have already possessed a feeling of guilt, knowing each in his own way had already let Jesus down.
Jesus supplied an explanation in the form of a parable in which he described Himself as the shepherd and his followers as sheep. After spending three and a half years with Jesus, the disciples could not understand this simple parable. This fact is difficult to relate to, given the fact, the disciples had been given the key to understand all parables. Or does it require more than a simple understanding to interpret a parable, and uncover the deeper meaning?
Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. KJV Luke 8:10, Matthew 13:14-15.
During the last supper the disciples seemed to have little understanding of what was about to occur. They still failed to put the pieces together when Jesus was arrested. The arrest of Jesus included a number of spiritual lessons. Some of them teach lessons about people and their reactions to serious situations. Others are lessons about life. Some have such a deep meaning, few are able to comprehend the meaning. Why did Mark include details about a young man, who ran away naked?
KJV Mark 14:51. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52. And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. 53. And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
We are not told who this man was, or his connection with Jesus. All we know is, he was there when Jesus was arrested, and he was naked. What does it mean to be spiritually naked in the presence of Jesus, when He is about to die for your sins?
After His arrest, Jesus was taken to the high priest for a mock trial. At that point, Peter still hung on by a thread of faith. We can not be sure what drove Peter on, but he followed Jesus at a distance.
KJV Matthew 26:58. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
Peter followed Jesus to see the outcome. What stopped Peter from remembering the words Jesus had spoken a few hours before? Did he forget, or was he in a state of shock? Peter was special in the eyes of Jesus, because Jesus spoke a prophecy foretelling exactly what Peter was about to do.
KJV Matthew 26:75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
What effect did this have on Peter? Many books have been written on this subject, but has anyone looked into the question, what reaction was Jesus attempting to bring out of Peter? Was Jesus hoping Peter would have come into the trial to testify on his behalf? It seems Peter was the most likely to react in such a bold fashion. What may have been the outcome if Peter burst into Jesus’ trial and testified on His behalf? Peter may have thought he would have found himself joining Jesus in the trial? Would Peter have joined Jesus on the cross?
The priest’s plan was to take one man to Pilate. Peter may have drastically altered the carefully laid plans of the high priest. We also have to consider the fact, the time had come for Jesus to give His life. God’s plans could not have been altered. The death of Jesus was prophesied and fulfilled in the exact time foretold. The most the high priest could have done with Peter, if he testified for Jesus, was to deal with him at a later date or ignore him.
We also have to consider the fact, God had plans for Peter. Jesus made that clear. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. KJV Matthew 16:18.
What may have been Peter’s reward if he did testify on behalf of Jesus? How would this have increased his faith? We can only wonder what the outcome may have been.
Others testified at Jesus’ trial. From the evidence provided within the gospels, we can see this was a preconceived trial, with no regard for the rights of the accused.
KJV Mark 14:56. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
Based on the fact their testimony did not agree, we can assume the witnesses did not personally hear Jesus speak. They must have been coached. In other words, someone told them what to say. They did not hear Jesus’ word first hand. In legal terms, they were providing, “hear say evidence.” We know they did not hear Jesus speak, because they had considerable trouble testifying exactly what He said. Consider this on a spiritual level.
Many people consider themselves faithful Christians, but for one reason or another, they never find time to study God’s word on their own. Some homes contain many Bibles that are never opened. The owners spend more time making excuses rather than reading the word. These people have no idea if they are providing a true or false testimony about Christ. Just like the false witnesses at Jesus’ trial, they have been told what to say and how to say it.
Many Christians consider themselves faultless witnesses for Christ. Although they receive the majority of their information second hand. Too often they witness to others in an atmosphere of disagreement, much like the witnesses at Jesus’ trial, they do agree on the details. Little do they realize, many of the people they are witnessing to, also receive their information second hand. This is a vicious cycle that can only be broken when the followers of Christ learn to study, receive the Holy Spirit, and rely only on the Spirit to provide all truth on a first hand, personal basis.
KJV Mark 14:60. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 61. But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
It may be a popular belief to assume, the high priest asked Jesus if He was the Son of God because he wanted to provide evidence to support his belief, Jesus was an impostor. Jesus was not the conquering hero they were waiting for. Jesus did not fit the type of God they had created from their interpretation of the prophecies.
This is an important lesson. It was the high priest and his most trusted advisors that arranged Jesus’ trial. The most trusted and respected religious leaders put Jesus on trial, based on their interpretation of the scriptures. This has happened in the past and is bound to be repeated. The question is, can you trust anyone to interpret prophecy, without investigating the matter yourself?
Why were the religious leaders of Jesus’ time unable to provide an accurate and concise interpretation of the scriptures? Is this a warning? Has this been repeated throughout the history of the church? Why were there so many interpretations on subjects such as forgiveness of sins, justification, redemption, the commandments, diet, death, the Sabbath, the second coming, and a host of other subjects described in the Bible? Not to mention a wide variety of customs and traditions. How do people know who to believe and what to believe?
As this study has shown, even those close to Jesus had trouble accepting the proper interpretation of all the prophecies foretelling His life and manner of death. We know varied degrees of belief existed among Jesus’ closest followers. These were people who listened to the same stories, the same parables, the same prophecies, and the same interpretations, from the same person. The only logical reason for God to record such differences is for us to conduct a rational comparison. One comparison commonly studied is that of Peter and Judas.
Many books have been written comparing the fall of Peter and Judas, and how each faced the challenges associated with their denial of Christ. But what about comparing the records of their faith, beliefs, and understanding?
Many authors have assumed Judas betrayed Christ as part of an elaborate scheme to force Jesus to reveal His power, defeat the Romans, and free Jerusalem. I wish these authors could provide adequate texts to support this claim, so we could make a fair assumption of Judas’ intentions based on their theories. Since supporting texts for such a claim are lacking, we will examine only the facts provided within the gospels.
KJV Matthew 27:3. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Why was Judas moved to confess his sin to the priests? Did Judas make a mistake by confessing his sins to the priests and not Jesus? This does not seem like a normal reaction to this particular situation. As a Christian, we are taught to confess our sins to the person we wronged. In this case, Judas did not follow these values, otherwise he would have confessed personally to Jesus. Is this another important lesson commonly overlooked?
When examining the situation as a whole, Judas’ actions do not seem to coincide with normal reactions to such a situation. Judas was paid to reveal Jesus’ location. He completed the task and received his pay. Afterwards, Judas realized he had helped to condemn an innocent man. If it was just an ordinary man Judas condemned, do you think he would have hanged himself? Do you think he would have returned the money? Matthew reveals, he did both. Did Judas realize he did not condemn a normal man, but sold the Son of God to the priests? Is this text an illustration of Judas’ faith? It seems Judas did not reach a full conclusion until after his actions revealed the true outcome.
Was Judas’ confession an attempt to reach the priests? His confession lacks a testimony we would expect to see if Judas suddenly realized Jesus was the Son of God. The other disciples may have been afraid to proclaim their belief in Christ, based on a fear of losing their lives. Judas had nothing to loose. Why wasn’t Judas more detailed in witnessing to the priests?
The gospels record only one name, a single person that was influenced to put his beliefs in writing. Pilate did not want to condemn Christ. It may have been a shock to him when the crowd, led by the priests, shouted for the crucifixion of Jesus. It may have been a form of retaliation when Pilate placed a sign on the cross above Jesus. Or it may have been Pilate publicly announcing his beliefs.
KJV Mark 15:26. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
KJV John 19:19. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
KJV John 19:21. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
When Pilate provided a sign at the crucifixion, why didn’t Jesus’ followers provide their own signs, march around the cross and proclaim, “Jesus is the King of the Jews, the Son of God, He will rise again in three days.” Today we see people protesting all types of wrongs by holding signs and chanting so others can hear their message. But there were no such reactions at the cross.
Tradition tells us, the Passover celebration required the Roman army to be on high alert in Jerusalem. There may have been many additional troops on duty to control the crowds. Many people speculate, this is why Jesus’ followers were reluctant to publicize their beliefs. Based on the fact, Pilate set the precedence, we can assume a penalty would not have been imposed on people displaying support for the views of the governor. Fear of Roman retaliation should not have been a factor. Was there another faction they feared more than the Roman empire?
Matthew 27:39. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40. And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42. He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
KJV Mark 15:29. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30. Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
KJV Luke 23: 35. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
Based on the above texts we can see many of the people at the cross heard what Jesus taught. We don’t know how many people actually heard Jesus teach, or heard reports second hand. For the most part they had an opportunity to hear Him. They had opportunities to learn, gather facts, and formulate a decision on their own.
This group at the cross represents a class of Christians who attend church, but have very little faith. They are not sure what they believe. For the most part, they only know what they have heard from others. They can be easily swayed by the crowd. These Christians feel safe by following the majority, and have no interest in finding truth on their own. Like those at the cross they ask for a miracle, chances are, they did not recognize any of the miracles performed for those around them. These people have a hard time accepting the miracles Jesus performed during His ministry.
People see or hear about a miracle and the first reaction is doubt. They ask for evidence beyond their own experiences and the testimony supplied by others. Very few investigate these matters to learn details about the origin or reason for the miracle. They either rationalize a miracle within their own minds, understanding and beliefs, or refuse to accept any spiritual message associated with the miracle.
This example also teaches lessons beyond the physical miracles Jesus performed. Many Christians experience miracles on a spiritual level every time they study the Bible. They find answers to prophecies and far deeper meanings to parables than most experience. When they attempt to relate their experience to others, they meet with much of the same resistance Jesus experienced on the cross. The people they witness to ask, “how can you interpret the scriptures? You do not have an education or degree.” Others may ask for additional evidence by questioning a different subject they are familiar with, while many show little interest at all.
Other Christians are waiting for a sign or miracle in their lives, to remove all doubt. Little do they realize, God provides all the evidence anyone would require, in His written word.
KJV Matthew 7:7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Many people want to ignore the fact, there is a certain amount of effort required to find the answers they are looking for.
KJV John 16:13. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Jesus told us, the Spirit will guide you into all truth, not carry you, not deliver the truth to you, the Spirit will not send someone else to tell you the truth. The Spirit will guide you, much like a guide will lead you to your destination. A guide will save you time and energy, but will not conduct the entire journey for you. The Spirit will lead you to the truth, but this requires an effort on the part of those who seek after truth.
Those who criticized Jesus on the cross may have never taken advantage of the opportunities placed in their lives during Jesus’ ministry. The gospels tell us, they stood in front of the cross and requested a miracle. They did not ask what they must do to find truth. They wanted Jesus to supply all the proof, all the effort, and all the energy. This class of people represent a lazy class of Christian, sitting around waiting for others to do the work for them. They want others to provide the evidence for them, others to do the studies. They do not realize, the act of miracles and faith is a personal experience.
The chief priests may have been on a three year mission to gather information about every word Jesus spoke, but they had little understanding of what Jesus taught. The priests possessed a preconceived idea on every subject Jesus taught. Because of this, their hearts were hardened, their eyes were blinded and their ears were shut.
KJV Matthew 23:13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
The priests at the cross represent a class who think they have all the answers. They think they already know everything. They may study their Bibles. They may appear to know a great amount of facts, but what do they really know? This represents a class of people who enter into a study with preconceived ideas. They study only to support ideas they already have. They have shut the Holy Spirit from their lives. They do not have an open mind, but require a miracle before they would consider any detail that does not fit into their beliefs. These are the type of people who would have you believe, they are ready to die for their beliefs. This was a claim Peter made. The chief priests found it was easier for Jesus to die to protect their beliefs.
KJV John 11:49. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50. Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
Another interesting fact to make note of concerns the two people crucified with Christ. One refused to believe, while the other made the decision to publicly proclaim his belief in Christ.
KJV Luke 23:39. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
They were both under the same condemnation by the Roman government. Most people assume they both came from the same back ground, they may have been convicted of the same crime, and been accomplices. We can’t be certain of what their lives may have been like, but when faced with certain death, only one chose life.
Many studies on this subject insist this person did nothing to gain entrance into the Kingdom of God. A close look at the text will reveal, this person confessed his sin and proclaimed his belief in Christ to others. Did God record this because He expects this from all His followers, no matter what their position?
Where were Jesus’ followers during this life changing event?
KJV Luke 23:49. And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
Luke tells us, they were standing at a distance watching this event unfold. It’s unclear what class of Christian this group represents. They didn’t declare their belief in Christ. They didn’t protest the fact an innocent man was being crucified. According to the gospels, they quietly waited and watched as Jesus died on the cross.
Maybe they were simply following instructions from the Spirit. Maybe God did not want them to make a scene at the cross. After all, they were playing a part in fulfilling a prophecy.
KJV Mark 14:27. And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
A large part of Jesus’ ministry was dedicated to using teaching methods designed to send the priests, Pharisees, lawyers, and scribes back to the scriptures. This was one of the few prophecies Jesus spoke about to His apostles in private. Based on the outcome, all of the disciples chose to pay little attention. When the gospels record events in which Jesus quoted scripture, Christians are faced with the same choice given to the Pharisees. They can choose to either ignore Jesus’ plea, or accept the challenge. One will never know the knowledge contained within the word of God, if they do not exercise the desire to investigate and the talents given them by the Spirit. The text Jesus quoted can be located by searching the key words, shepherd and sheep. An investigation shows the surrounding texts contain information God wanted the apostles to know.
KJV Zechariah 13:6. And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. 7. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. 8. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.
This prophecy clearly identifies its fulfillment at the cross. It also tells us, the crucifixion was a trial. What, or who is the third part to be refined in the trial? Is this a third of Jesus’ followers or a third of the people that witnessed the crucifixion, or does the number go beyond those present at the crucifixion? Could it refer to all of Jesus’ followers until His second coming?
Refining refers to a process which removes impurities. In this instance the prophecy refers to a trial used as a refining process. Are all of Jesus’ followers expected to go through a refining process? It seems each person at the cross faced a trial. Each trial seemed to be tailored to their own personality. Peter was shown where His excited nature would lead. Judas was shown the damage greed can do. Each faced a choice of how to deal with their trial. Jesus’ other followers also had issues to deal with. As we study the texts, we can understand the details. Jesus had a plan to reach each person. Even in His final minutes, Jesus continued His work to reach others.
KJV Matthew 27:50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Many of the people at the cross asked for a sign. How many do you think were convinced by the earthquake sent at the very moment of Jesus died? How many people saw the graves opening up and people from all periods of history coming out and telling their stories about the resurrection. We can only imagine what they may have told the people in Jerusalem. Was their testimony effective? The second chapter of the book of Acts tells us three thousand people were baptized in one day. How many of those baptized may have had a conversation with one of the saints raised from the grave?
This lesson illustrates the point, we should never attempt to give credit for spiritual conversions, or baptisms to any human being. No one but God could have opened the graves and raised the dead. None of us can account for the thousands baptized, or begin to explain who was responsible. Most people give credit to the apostles and their connection with the Holy Spirit, which had a large part in the conversion. But the work may have began forty or more days before. It may have began at the cross, at the resurrection, or at one of Jesus sermons.
KJV Mark 4:26. And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27. And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
Before Jesus was taken to the grave, He continued to make an impression on people’s lives. Even the soldier who pierced his side, not only confessed Jesus was the Son of God, his belief led him to record the event.
KJV John 19:34. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
The miracles and lessons did not stop at Jesus’ death. Some of His followers satisfied the need to play major roles in the events between His death and resurrection. God placed Joseph of Arimathaea in a position to fulfill another prophecy. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. KJV Isaiah 53:9. If the apostles would have understood the complete prophecy in Isaiah 53, they would have understood every detail they were witnessing. Imagine their faith if they had read the entire prophecy?
KJV John 19:38. And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
Administrators should take note of this lesson. They will never be remembered for the day to day activities they conduct behind closed doors. They will only be remembered for the ways they serve Jesus in the open.
The death of Jesus started a chain reaction of events granting people around Him opportunities to serve Him. It began with Joseph and Nicodemus, and spread to other disciples.
KJV Matthew 27:55. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56. Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
As the sun set on the horizon, announcing the beginning of the Sabbath, the disciples returned to their homes. Not a single one of them considered breaking the Sabbath.
In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. KJV Matthew 28:1, Luke 23:54-56.
That Sabbath must have been a time for reflection. This gave the disciples time to meditate on the events of the previous day, and the lessons learned in the events leading up to the trial and crucifixion. It may have been a time of great reflection for some.
There must have been a number of reasons for God’s specific timing. Not only did Jesus provide the sacrifice foretold in the prophecies, He accomplished this with perfect timing. It’s rare for the Sabbath to coincide with the Passover. This is an unusual occurrence which explains a number of spiritual lessons.
During the Passover, thousands would gather in Jerusalem for the annual celebration. For some this meant the opportunity for additional income. Others made accommodations to house and feed visiting friends and relatives. For most it was an exciting and busy occasion.
Did this lead to a lack of concern from the local residents and visitors when Jesus was crucified? This may have created a maximum amount of excuses, reasons not to get involved, or not to give the situation time for the serious consideration it deserved. It would have been too easy for people to say, “I can’t leave my guests. I have plans for the holiday. I’ve put in too much work to change plans now.” To learn the true details of what was happening, people would have been forced to make a choice between the traditional plans for the Passover and the spiritual. Some of Jesus’ followers set aside their plans to follow their heart.
KJV Mark 16:1. And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
The story of Mary Magdalene and the other women, who went to the sepulchre to serve Jesus, tells the most important lesson of all. These people put Jesus before anything else. Instead of sleeping late after the passover celebration, they wasted no time, but went to the sepulcher at the moment the sun rose. This lesson not only shows the rewards for those who chose to serve Jesus, but also provides examples of how His closest followers missed opportunities.
KJV John 20:1. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Mary did not wait for temptation to set in. She did not wait for other people to wake up and put demands upon her time. She must have made up her mind before the Sabbath to return to the sepulcher to serve Jesus in the only way she could think of. Instead of following the crowd, Mary followed her heart. What was the reward for her dedication?
KJV Matthew 28:5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
Matthew tells us, other women came with Mary. An angel greeted them, telling the women, Jesus had risen, just as He had told them. Did these women remember the words Jesus told them? Did they understand the prophecies? Is that why they returned early in the morning?
The reward they received for choosing to serve Jesus was great. They were the first to receive the news, and the first to have the opportunity to witness this event to others. This was such a great honor, the angel took no chance, he ordered the women to quickly tell His disciples that Jesus had risen.
KJV Mark 16:7. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
Why were the women afraid to speak to other men? I would suspect, if they believed and were sure Jesus had risen, as the angel had told them, they would be filled with so much joy, they would tell everyone they met. What did they have to fear?
KJV Mark 16:10. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
KJV Mark 16:12. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
KJV Luke 24:10. It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
They may have been afraid no one would listen, or no one would believe them. If that was their fear, it was soon realized. Why were the women the only people to go to the grave site? Why did the other disciples remain at home? Why didn’t they believe the women? Didn’t the disciples remember the prophecies Jesus shared with them just before His arrest?
KJV Luke 24:6. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8. And they remembered his words, 9. And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
The women remembered Jesus’ words, but the other disciples seem to have forgotten, or failed to pay attention during the lesson. It may have taken a while to set in, but finally Peter, who was known for acting before thinking, finally decided to take action.
KJV Luke 24:12. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
How could the disciples follow Jesus for three years and not remember what He taught? It almost seems as if God took a chance by putting the future of Christianity in the hands of a group of people, who could not remember what Jesus had told them just a few days before. This is a group Jesus hand picked and trusted. Minutes before His arrest Jesus asked a group of them to watch and pray. They fell asleep. Was this an indication of their reaction to Jesus’ death and resurrection? Was this physical sleep a sign of their spiritual status?
KJV John 20:9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
Imagine, the faith of the world in the hands of a group of people, most of whom could not remember what they had been taught over the past three years. This may be why the prophecy in Zechariah 13 told about a trial. This may help to explain why a third were refined in the trial. Some of the disciples believed, others considered reports about Jesus’ resurrection a fable. After further consideration some went to the sepulture to investigate first hand. After seeing an empty tomb, did they believe? Did they join the others announcing, “Jesus has risen?”
KJV John 20:10. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
Knowing the complete story, it is difficult to comprehend, only one person had faith in an empty tomb. Only one person turned back to look again. Only one person passed the test. This is another reason Mary was the first person to see Jesus after He had risen.
Many things separated Mary from the others. She listened when it was time to listen. She understood much more than others who closely followed Him. She served Jesus on a number of occasions, even after His death. After the others turned their backs and returned home, Mary did not give up. Something told Mary, it was true, Jesus did rise.
KJV John 20:14. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Even though Mary’s faith wavered, which may have been effected by those around her, the need to serve was still a part of her. Maybe this was Mary’s test, knowing Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, she assumed someone had taken Him away. Thinking she was speaking to the gardener, she answered wisely. Her answer was not a question to fulfill her curiosity, her answer revealed her desire to serve. This was the dedication Jesus was looking for.
What character illustrates your faith and beliefs? Are you like Mary, or more like Pilate?
The main characteristic that set Mary apart was her desire to serve. She may have learned this trait as a child. She may have decided to change her life when she realized, Jesus had the power to forgive her sins. Mary may have gone through a slow conversion, changing little by little, every time she heard Jesus speak. The gospels testify to the fact, something made her more than special in the eyes of Jesus.
Following is a list of events after the resurrection. These texts also illustrate points, and personality traits of some of the characters associated with Jesus. Each one of these teaches a lesson. Using the same methods of comparing texts, as shown above, list the lessons that seem important to you.
Plot after the resurrection
KJV Matthew 28:11. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13. Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
After the resurrection
KJV Mark 16:16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
KJV Mark 16:17. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. 18. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
KJV John 20:24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Compare the faith of those at the cross and their reactions with those at the announcement of Jesus’ birth.
KJV Luke 2:8. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
KJV Luke 2:16. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
KJV John 1:11. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
KJV John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
KJV John 1:14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.