By Mike Willis
The word “passion” when used with reference to the “passion of Christ” means “the agony and sufferings of Jesus during the Crucifixion.” This issue of Truth Magazine is a study of the passion of Jesus Christ.
The passion narrative for this issue begins with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Following the generally accepted chronology, this must have occurred late Thursday night (10 p.m. or after). There Jesus agonized in his spirit as he submitted his will to the will of the Father. The intensity of his agony is manifest from his strong crying and tears (Heb. 5:7) and the sweat dropping like blood (Luke 22:44). Having finished his prayers, Jesus returned to the waiting disciples where he was arrested (probably near midnight).
Crossing the Kidron Valley, the mob led Jesus to the house of Annas and then Caiaphas where Jesus was tried before the Jewish authorities. The Sanhedrin assembled late that Thursday night to try Jesus, concluding that he was guilty of blasphemy and should be executed. The verdict probably was reaching the verdict about 3 a.m. Shortly afterward, Peter denied the Lord and the cock crowed (which gives some indication of the time).
Early in the morning at daybreak (Luke 22:66; John 18:28), the Jewish authorities led Jesus to Pilate for trial. In the hours that intervened, Jesus was tried by Pilate, Herod Antipas, and a second time by Pilate. He was on the cross by the “third hour of the day” (Mark 15:25) on that Friday morning. Jesus’ trials in each incidence must have been short and the action moved quickly. His scourging, which in itself nearly killed a person, left him so weak that he stumbled beneath the weight of the cross.
The ritual of crucifixion, so familiar to first century men, to us is a strange manner of administering the death penalty. We have taken the time to relate what usually happened in crucifixion in its gory details so that one can appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins.
After Jesus died at 3 p.m., he was buried in Joseph’s tomb. There he lay through the Sabbath rest until he was raised on Sunday morning.
These hours in Jesus’ life are so significant a portion of the gospel narrative that all of the evangelists give considerable emphasis to them (Matthew gives chapters 26-28; Mark gives chapters 14-16; Luke gives chapters 22-24; John gives chapters 18-20). The fact that they give such a large percentage of their narrative to his crucifixion gives us some idea of how much we should emphasize it. Such a study will certainly point us to the conclusion that we are saved by grace! Paul said, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8). Jesus suffered death, even the death of crucifixion, to make atonement for our sins.
Let us join that majestic chorus who sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). May this special issue evoke such praise of our Savior in each of us.