Last week we thought about the spiritual, internal agony Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. This week, the physical agony begins.
Most of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and other religious leaders agree that Jesus must be put down. As one said,
“If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him,and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:48
They have lost sight of looking for the Messiah and have succumbed to protecting their own selfish positions. These Jewish leaders have eyes but do not see, as Jesus might say. So they arrest Jesus at night, take him to the previous high priest, and then the present high priest, Caiaphas.
On a trip to Israel, we visited the location of the house of Caiaphas. The only thing that is original are the steps leading up to his house. A building has been erected in this spot with remembrances of what took place there. On a lower level they have devised a prison cell like the one where Jesus might have been held. They surmise that a hallowed out cell was below the floor with a hole above it. A rope would be placed around the prisoner’s waist and he would be lowered into the holding place.
When the members of the Sanhedrin finally gather, they bring Jesus up and begin their “court.” They defy their own Sanhedrin laws by judging him at night with a slew of conflicting witnesses. Jesus refuses to answer their questions, but then the high priest says to him,
“I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of God.” Matt. 26:63
At this point, Jesus is required by law to respond. He says,
“Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matt. 26:64
This is more than the leaders can take. They dramatically tear their clothes, shout “Blasphemy!” and declare him worthy of death. Matthew tells that at this point:
They spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” Matt. 26:67-68
These are his own fellow Jews, the very ones who of all people should have known the prophesies and recognized him. I have written in my Bible, “A very sad verse.”
Jesus is eventually taken to Pilate, then to Herod, and back to Pilate—all in the course of the night and into the wee hours of the morning.
It is believed that Jesus is held in another dungeon-type holding place when he is taken to the Antonia Tower where Pilate will conduct a trial of sorts. We visited the remains of this dungeon as well. It has stairs down to a dark, dank place with drops of water dripping here and there—very eerie and depressing.
After Pilate finally gives in to the Jewish leaders and the crowd pressure, Jesus is flogged. We could stop right there considering the unbearable pain and suffering, but the taunts of the Roman soldiers, the crown of thorns, the whips on the road to the cross all compound the agony Jesus suffers. I remember watching the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” I was absolutely exhausted by this time in the movie and desperately hoping for him to make it to the cross, horrific as that would be, but wanting his suffering to finally be finished.
As he hung on the cross, his accusers continued to taunt him. “Let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him.” He could have done that very thing, but he took our punishment to the very end. Oh, what a Savior!
Next week, the good news!
~ Joyce ~