The Death in Our Behalf

Key Verse: “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.”
—Matthew 27:54

Selected Scripture:
Matthew 27:32-61

THE CRUEL AND MURDEROUS zeal of Israel’s religious leaders culminated in the arrest, mock trial, and crucifixion of the most noble of humankind—Jesus of Nazareth. To satisfy the Jewish Law, and to expedite matters—since no executions were allowable during Passover week—their conspiracy took place hurriedly the night preceding the Jewish High Sabbath.

The High Priest quickly condemned Jesus, and the Sanhedrin hastily arranged an early morning meeting to confirm the decisions that had been made under cover of darkness. The Sanhedrin, however, only had authority to judge the people on religious matters. It still required the arm of the civil authorities to carry out the death sentence.

Jesus was then rushed along to appear before Pilate, who represented the Roman Empire as its local governor. Pilate quickly saw through the trumped-up charges that were laid against the Master. It was obvious that deceitful methods were being used to condemn their prisoner. Jesus was not guilty of resisting lawful authority, or of disturbing the peace. Certainly he was not a threat to the mighty power of Rome! So Pilate sent our Lord along to King Herod for his decision.

Herod had been anxious to meet Jesus, for he had heard much about him and knew something of his miracles and ministry. He must have been greatly impressed by our Lord’s countenance as he stood there before him. Nevertheless, after permitting Jesus to suffer mocking and insults, Herod sent the innocent man back to Pilate for sentencing. (Matt. 27:2) It was a great disappointment to Pilate when the chief priests and Jesus returned. After again listening to the false accusations regarding Jesus, Pilate proclaimed that he could find no fault with the man. But time was short, and the religious leaders were anxious to finish what they had begun.

Using their persuasion, they aroused the crowd that had gathered to work in their favor. Pilate was unable to reason with the people who cried out, “Let him be crucified.” (Matt. 27:22,23) He appealed to Jewish custom that would have released Jesus, but they insisted that Barabas—a guilty man—should be set free instead. “Behold the man,” Pilate said (John 19:5), as he brought Jesus into view of the crowd. He was forced, however, by circumstances to sign the papers of execution, but not before washing his hands before them, and proclaiming, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person.” (Matt. 27:24) Satan, who was behind these evil deeds, was sure that our Lord was now out of his way. But God so overruled in the matter that Jesus’ death provided the release for the whole human family from their sentence of death. Jesus, in so doing, “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (I Tim. 2:6) The corresponding price for Adam and his progeny had been submitted.

Truly this was the Son of God, and his death was on behalf of us all.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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