Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
In this article we will talk about the story of the crucifixion and death of Jesus: because it happened, who did it, the consequences that the death of Christ had for Israel, the world and other details ✝️.
The crucifixion death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event for Christians and the most anticipated according to the scriptures.
The Gospel of Christ could not be justified without it, it would be incomplete and meaningless:
"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
1 Corinthians 15:14
It marks a before and after in biblical history, leaving repercussions so profound that they remain in force to this day.
1) Definition of Crucifixion
Before talk about the crucifixion and death of Jesus, let's give a clear definition of what crucifixion is, in order to understand the importance of this event.
The word crucifixion comes from the Latin crucificare and denoted holding a person in a wood and nailing him to his limbs 🔨.
It was a procedure used in Rome to put the death row inmates to justice ⚖️.
Contrary to what is thought, this procedure was already known in the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia. It is believed to have originated in Assyria, later adopted by the Persians and later by the Greeks and Romans.
2) Jesus Crucifixion in the Gospel
The crucifixion of Christ has great significance for Christians. Jesus presents himself as the lamb (Colossians 1:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19) unspotted to redeem the world from his sins (John 1:29) and also as God's greatest test of love for man (John 3:16).
"But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation."
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
1 Peter 1:18-19
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
His death was already announced in the scriptures (Isaiah 53:3-9) centuries before this happened.
But there's more... It represents the greatest act of obedience and alignment to the will of the Father (Philippians 2:8) and lays the foundations of salvation for future believers (Galatians 1:4).
"And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!"
"who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,"
3) When Jesus Was Crucified?
The Word quotes the death of Jesus on the eve of the Passover of the Jews 🇮🇱 (Luke 22:7; Matthew 26:1-5).
"Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed"
In Leviticus 23:5, the lambs 🐑 were slaughtered in the first month of the calendar, which comes between the months of March and April of our current calendar.
"The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month."
Now, Pontius Pilate was the solicitor of Judea between the years 26 and 36, so the death of Christ must have happened between these years (Luke 3:1-2).
According to the researchers, there are only two Fridays, between these years, which coincide with the month of Nisan, these are April 07 of the year 30 and April 03 of the year 33.
To fine-tune the data, scientists seek the eclipse that would explain the darkening of the sky during and after Jesus' death 🌑.
"From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land."
With all this data, the likely date of Christ's death is calculated on April 03 of the year 33, in accordance with the Feast of the Jewish Passover 🕎.
"Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed."
1 Corinthians 5:7
A. Sanhedrin trial of Jesus
The high priest in those years was Caiaphas,
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
His sons and father-in-law, Anas, were also priests and council members. They belonged to the Pharisees group, israel's most important priestly branch.
According to the Gospels, the Sanhedrin made one of the most arbitrary and irregular judgments against Christ: only two sessions were made (Matthew 26:57; Luke 22:66) presented false witnesses against him (Matthew 26:59-61; Mark 14:55-59) and gave a hastily sentence of death 💀.
"The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death."
If we look at the judgment thoroughly, we realize that the Pharisees condemned Jesus out of hatred and envy 😈.
Christ criticized them for the inconsistency between what they taught and what they did (Matthew 23:1-36), their inability to interpret the scriptures correctly (Matthew 19:4; Matthew 22:29; Matthew 12:3-7; Matthew 16:1-4).
And the miraculous manifestations he worked, as well as the multitudes that followed him (Matthew 4:25; John 6:2), which the Sanhedrin considered a threat to his power (John 11:47-51).
B. Pontius Pilate
If the Sanhedrin had already condemned Jesus to death, why did they refer him to Pontius Pilate 🤔?
Many historians justify it with the fact that Israel, being a province of the Roman Empire, was subject to the criminal codes of Rome, which stated that only the Roman governor or his delegates could ratify and execute a death sentence.
The Pharisees conspired to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14).
As were the days of Easter and wished to participate in the feast (John 18:28), and to avoid being framed in the plot of murder (Matthew 27:6; Mark 15:10), they decided to excuse themselves, sending Christ with Pilate and accusing him as a criminal of the Roman Empire 🏛️ (Luke 23:1-2; John 18:29-31).
Pilate judges the case of Jesus and quickly realizes that he is innocent (Luke 23:13-16; John 19:4), who had only given him envy (Matthew 27:18).
His hesitant attitude to Jesus contrasts with the historical writings of Flavius Josephus, who describes him as violent and extremely cruel.
Warned by his wife (Matthew 27:19), he tries to release Jesus (Luke 23:20 and John 19:12), but in the end he did not do so under pressure from the Pharisees, who incited the people (Matthew 27:20 and Mark 15:11) and threatened him as a traitor.
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
4) Why Jesus Was Crucified?
✝️ Christ's death had already been announced centuries earlier (Isaiah 53:2-9).
Even Jesus had already predicted his death 4 times (Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 18:31-33; John 12:23-33).
God himself had said that without bloodshed, there is no remission for sin.
"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."
No man could give his life to save the world, for they were all sinners. God had to do something to avoid losing his most beloved creation.
One way or another, Christ had to die to redeem man from sin.
A. Why on a cross?
📜 The law of Moses establishes 4 types of death for all who violate The Law of God:
- Death by sword and bonfire
(Leviticus 20; Numbers 15:32-36). Based on Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and Galatians 3:13, crucifixion is considered to be forbidden in Israel 🇮🇱.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
In Jesus' time, the crucifixion was the punishment for the worst criminals of the Roman Empire.
It was the most shameful and humiliating way of dying, and it inflicted a slow and horrible death on the condemned ☠️.
When he is delivered by the Pharisees and subsequently condemned by Pilate, Christ has to face the crucifixion.
5) Where Jesus Was Crucified?
Once he is condemned, Christ has to carry the cross to the place where he will later be crucified.
According to the Gospels, Christ is taken to Golgotha (Matthew 27:33; Luke 23:33; John 19:17, better known as the place of the skull.
In Jesus' time, Golgotha was a hill located then on the outskirts of Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:12 and John 19:20).
There he was crucified with two robbers (Matthew 27:38 and Luke 23:32).
The Gospels do not say much about the evildoers, but the version differs because while Matthew and Mark mentioned that they both mocked Jesus crucified 🤭 (Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32), Luke emphasizes that only one of them mocked Christ (Luke 23:39), while the other defended Jesus (Luke 23:40-41).
The location of Golgotha is provided by Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, who discovered it in 325 AD.
There he built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which exists to this day 🕍.
This location is not accepted by all, who date other places based on the description offered by the Gospels, the reconstruction of Jerusalem by Hadrian and other historical writings of the time.
B. Way of Sorrow
The Painful Way designates a street of the old city of Jerusalem by which Christ charges with the cross.
The Catholic Church identifies 9 of the 15 stations of the Viacrucis. It begins inside the Lions Gate (or St. Stephen's), near the ancient Antonia Fortress, and goes west to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
According to the Gospels, several things happen: Simon of Cyrene is obliged to bear the cross,
"As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross."
while Jesus addresses the multitude of women who wept for his condemnation (Luke 23:27-31).
The Gospels say nothing about the 3 falls of Christ, let alone Jesus' encounter with his mother or Veronica, but it is assumed that he may have fallen by the weight of the cross and therefore Simon of Cyene was forced to carry the cross, to prevent him from dying before being crucified and maximize suffering.
C. INRI abbreviation on the cross
In the time of the Roman Empire, a sign was placed with the charge or inscription of the condemned in a sign of taunt.
The Evangelists differ in the inscription, but it is known to read,
"Jesus, the king of the Jews" (Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26 and Luke 23:38).
Only John mentions that it was Pilate who commanded to place the sign:
"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews."
and that it was also written in 3 languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin, this so that the crowds could read it, whether they were Hebrew or foreign.
It also reflects the protest of the priests for changing that inscription, to which Pilate opposes the famous phrase: What I have written, written this (John 19:21-22).
Centuries later, when the Vulgate (translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin) was made 📖, the inscription remains as Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, hence the INRI acronym used in Latin Christian art.
6) Jesus’ Death on the Cross
The death of Jesus is the culmination of his Passion: here are the last important events before his Resurrection and several biblical prophecies related to his death are fulfilled 😇.
The Word relates that Christ, when crucified, observes how the soldiers dispute their garments (Matthew 27:35), fulfilling the prophecy in Psalm 22:18.
"They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment."
They also give him to drink wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15:23) and suffer the evils of the people, who waited for him to come down from the cross by some miraculous contraption (Mark 15:29-32).
"Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it."
Darkness occurs on earth (Matthew 27:45) and an earthquake (Matthew 27:51).
In accordance with his redemptive work, the veil of the Jewish Temple splits in two (Luke 23:45), revealing that Christ presents himself as the lamb that redeems the world from his sins, restoring the relationship between God and men 🙏🏻.
"for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two."
A. The Last 7 Words of Jesus
It is not exactly 7 words, but rather, phrases that Jesus expressed while nailed to the cross.
None of the Gospels mention them all, let alone chronologically, but from their study, they can be listed. These are:
- “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
- Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
- “Woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26-27)
- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34)
- "I am thirsty" (John 19:28)
- "It's finished" (John 19:30)
- “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
According to the study, Matthew and Mark mention the fourth, Luke the first, second, and seventh, while John the third, fifth, and sixth.
B. The Holy Lance
Christ dies. In those days, to speed up death in the crucifixion, it was customary to break the legs of the condemned 😰.
Only John mentions this event (John 19:31-32), in which priests do not want the bodies to be hung for the next day (which was Easter and in accordance with the writing in Deuteronomy 21:22-23), so they ask Pilate to hasten the death of the condemned.
When they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so one of them, to secure that, pierces his side with a spear (John 19:34-37).
The author of the event is mentioned in the apocryphal gospels of the fourth century and the spear began to be identified as a relic.
There are several of them in Europe (Vatican, Vienna), although according to studies, their origins are centuries after the crucifixion.
7) Jesus Burial
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Council (Sanhedrin), who secretly followed the ordinances of Christ out of fear of the Jews, dares to ask for the body of Christ (Mark 15:43 and Luke 23:50-52).
We know that the Jews embalmed their dead and did so in two ways: an honorable one for those who had lived in a dignified way and a dishonorable one for the criminals.
In Christ's case, they mention that they wrapped him in a clean sheet, spread oils on him, and placed him in a new tomb dug near Golgotha (Luke 23:53), probably destined for some other crucified criminal.
The urgency to bury the body is due to the beginning of the Passover (Luke 23:54 and John 19:42) and the ordinance in Deuteronomy 21:22-23.
8) Resurrection of Jesus
The Resurrection follows the Passover, and is the greatest miracle in the New Testament ✨.
It is the basis of the Christian faith, as Paul expresses in Romans 10:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:13-17.
While leaders of other religions are dead, Christianity proclaims Christ's victory over death.
"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:54
His resurrection confirms his divine origin as a Son of God;
"and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord."
reaffirms the truthfulness of the scriptures (Isaiah 53:10-11); justifies future believers.
"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."
And at the same time, He brings promise and hope to all who believe in Him (John 11:25-26; 1 Peter 1:3-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:20).
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."
1 Corinthians 15:20
On the apocalyptic plane, he opens the special time of grace, a parenthesis between Weeks 69 and 70 (Daniel 9:24-26), during which the Church is formed ⛪.
9) Good Friday
Many Christians recall with it Christ's passion and death (Luke 24:44-48), as part of the Savior's redemptive work (Mark 16:15-18).
Historically, his death coincided with the Jewish Passover, which recalled the libération ✊🏻 of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt.
An equal likeness makes Christ with sin.
If Christ had not died, we would still be dead, still under the ordinances of the law (which establishes death for sin) and there would be no promise or hope of resurrection for all believers.
The death of Christ mark a before and after in biblical history.
He presents himself as the savior and redeemer who ends the age of sin, fulfills the prophecies that heralded his death and glorious resurrection, and opens up the last opportunity to bring humanity closer to God 🙏🏻.
We know that his judgment was rigged, that he suffered cruelly the taunts and transgressions of both his people and the Romans, and that he also lived and felt the agony of death, carrying the sins of the world and being crucified even though he was innocent.
But all this was part of God's loving plan "that man may not be lost, but have eternal life" (John 3:16-17 and Romans 5:8).
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
If you want to know more about the events that preceded the crucifixion of Jesus, the detailed meaning of the abbreviation INRI engraved on the cross, the 7 Last Words of Jesus or Calvary Hill, click on the image below 👇