Last week, I told the first half of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection story. Today is the conclusion!
We left off as Pilate gives the mob a choice between Barabbas and Jesus, probably assuming they would choose Barabbas to be killed and Jesus to be released. He is mistaken, though, as the people still want to kill Jesus. Pilate literally washes his hands of the matter and tells the Jews to do as they want with him.
Jesus has already been beaten, and now endures much worse. The people make a crown of thorns and press it into his head. They mock him, hit him, spit on him, insult him, pull his beard out, and whip him with the cat o’ nine tails (a special whip with metal, animal bones, and leather balls tied to the ends, which rips the skin off more and more with each lashing). After being scourged, Jesus is miraculously still conscious and forced to carry his own cross to the crucifixion site, Golgotha. Jesus can’t do it, though, and so they find another man named Simon to carry it for him. Once they arrive, Jesus is nailed to the cross by his wrists in a fashion designed to be most painful and cause the least blood loss. The Roman soldiers also nail down his feet. At this point, the only way for Jesus to breathe is to push himself up through his nailed-down feet, and when he no longer has the strength for that, he will die by asphyxiation.
Even while on the cross, Jesus loses none of his compassion. He asks God to forgive the people crucifying him. A thief being crucified next to him believes in him, and Jesus tells him that today, they will be together in paradise.
Now, besides all the horrendous physical torment he is enduring, Jesus is also taking on all the sins of everyone in the world, which causes God to turn away from him because God can’t be in the presence sin.
From noon to three that day, an unearthly darkness covers the world. Finally, Jesus cries out, “It is finished.” The blameless Prince of Peace dies for our sins. The curtain in the temple, separating the Holy of Holies from the rest, is torn in two. The Holy of Holies was God’s place on earth. The tearing of the curtain symbolizes that we no longer need to sacrifice animals to atone for each sin we commit, but that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, and he is the only way to become a child of God now.
A kind man named Joseph asks for Jesus’s body, and buries him in the very tomb he had prepared for himself. A large rock and two soldiers are put in front to prevent anyone from taking the body and claiming Jesus rose from the dead.
Two women, both named Mary, who had followed Joseph to the burial site, return a few days later with spices to put on Jesus’s body. When they arrive, they are amazed to find that the stone has been rolled away! Suddenly, an earthquake occurs and an angel descends out of heaven, scaring the poor guards so badly that they faint. He tells the women not to be afraid. The angel knows who they are looking for, but Jesus isn’t here. He is risen! The women run to tell the disciples the news. Jesus is alive. He saved the world, and he’s alive forever!