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Lesson 8: Darkness at Noon *

Introduction: Last week we studied the arrest and the unjust trials of Jesus. This week we continue our study on the conclusion to those trials - the torture and death of Jesus on the cross. Part of me wants to close my eyes. Part of me is astonished that God would allow this to happen. At the same time I rejoice that Jesus, in His boundless love, went through this for me. Let's plunge into our study!

  1. Torture Under Pilate

    1. Read John 19:1-3. The Roman soldiers have no stake in the effort of the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus. Why would they act like this?

      1. Have you ever seen this kind of mockery of another person? (Sometimes, to a lesser degree this kind of behavior occurs among teenagers. It happens at a time in life when they lack self-confidence, and mocking someone else makes them feel like they are more important. Of course, it does nothing good for self-esteem of the person being mocked.)

      2. Have you ever seen this kind of thing happen to someone who real power to stop it?

      3. Those of you who are parents, imagine your children mocking you and hitting you. How would you handle that?

      4. Again, as parents, imagine coming across other children who are mocking and hitting your child. Would you allow this?

    2. Read John 19:4-6. Verse 6 tells us that when the Jewish leaders saw Jesus beaten, bloody, and mocked, called for His crucifixion. Why do you think seeing Jesus like this prompted them to call for His death? (They could see that things were going "their way." Pilate was allowing this abuse even while saying Jesus was innocent.)

    3. Read John 19:7-8. Of what was Pilate afraid?

    4. Read John 19:12. What did Pilate want to do? (Set Jesus free.)

      1. Did Pilate have the power and authority to set Jesus free? (Yes.)

        1. Why didn't Pilate do what was right? (Political pressure. Job pressure.)

      2. What kind of intentions did Pilate have? (The right intentions.)

      3. How about you? Do you allow the pressures of work and the pressures of life to interfere with your obligations to Jesus?

        1. Will having the right intentions save you?

    5. Read John 19:14-16. Was Pilate saying what he really thought about Jesus? (Read John 19:19. There is good reason to believe Pilate concluded Jesus was the Messiah. However, it might be that he was just annoyed with what the Jewish leaders had "forced" him to do.)

      1. What do you think about what the Jewish leaders said in John 19:15, the last sentence?

    6. Read Matthew 27:30-32. Would the soldiers have shown any mercy to Jesus? If not, why did they have Simon carry Jesus' cross? (This shows us the extent of the beating Jesus had taken. He was a young, physically fit man. He had been beaten so severely that He was no longer capable of carrying the cross. The movie, The Passion of The Christ, seems to correctly portray the extent of Jesus' beating.)

  2. Torture on the Cross

    1. Read Matthew 27:35. What further indignity is Jesus' suffering? (He is hanging there naked.)

    2. Read Matthew 27:39-40. Consider the words, consider their head shakes. What are they saying to Jesus? (That He is a liar.)

      1. Why would this be a particularly cutting insult for Jesus? (Because it is Satan, not Jesus, who is the "father of lies." John 8:44)

    3. Read Matthew 27:41-43. Is what is said in Matthew 27:42 about saving Himself the truth? (It is precisely the truth. Were Jesus to save Himself, He could not save us.)

      1. Under what circumstances can you imagine the dignified High Priest, teachers and elders engaging in this type of behavior? (The unstated sub-text here is that Satan has inspired men to engage in the basest of activities. Although they had engaged in the most serious sin - rejecting and conspiring to kill the Messiah, I cannot imagine that they were truly animals. This must be the influence of Satan.)

    4. Consider all of the abuse Jesus has taken: physical abuse, mental abuse, and a type of sexual abuse (hanging naked before all). What additional abuse could humans give Him?

    5. Read Matthew 27:45. The "sixth hour" is noon and the "ninth hour" is 3 p.m. Why did the land become dark during the brightest part of the day?

      1. Read Isaiah 13:9-11. What does this describe? (God's judgment.)

      1. Read Joel 2:1-2. What does this describe? (The day of God's final judgment.)

      2. What do both of these descriptions of judgment have in common with what happened between noon and 3 p.m. of the day of Jesus' crucifixion? (They all had darkness.)

      3. Was Jesus' crucifixion "judgment day?" (Yes. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13-14. We must not miss this truth. Jesus suffered all the abuse we just discussed because Satan was doing all in his power to cause Him to sin. But, on top of that Jesus was suffered because He was experiencing judgment for your sins.)

    1. Who is more to blame for Jesus' death? The Jewish leaders who successfully plotted against Him, the Roman's who tortured and killed Him, or you - who created the sins for which Jesus suffered judgment?

    2. Read Matthew 27:46. Get the full picture here. The Jewish leaders are mocking Him. The authorities on earth are torturing and killing Him. Satan is pulling out all the stops to make Him sin. God the Father is pouring out judgment for the sins of the righteous against Him. What is going through the mind of Jesus?

      1. Notice that He does not call God "Father." What does this suggest?

      2. Does this break your heart to see what your sins did to apparently rupture the relationship between Jesus and His Father?

        1. Was the relationship actually ruptured?

    3. Read Psalms 22:1. Were you aware that Jesus was quoting Scripture in Matthew 27:46?

      1. How does Psalms 22 end? (I want you to read the entire text of Psalms 22 because it is an amazingly accurate prophecy of Jesus. If you are uncertain that Jesus is the Messiah, this psalm of David should go a long way towards taking away all of your doubts. However, for our discussion, read at least Psalms 22:22-24, 31. This chapter ends in victory! This shows that the relationship between God the Father and Jesus was not truly ruptured by His load of our sins. I believe that Jesus was holding on to this promise in Psalms.)

  1. Death and Victory

    1. Read Matthew 27:50-51. Why would the veil in the temple between the holy and the most holy place be torn? (It was all over. All of those animal sacrifices, all of the blood ceremony, the entire sacrificial system came to its climax and its fulfillment, in the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God.)

    2. Read Matthew 27:52-53. Why is this possible? (Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. Jesus' death gave us victory over eternal death.)

    3. Read Matthew 27:54. These are probably the fellows who so badly abused Jesus. Is it in their best interest to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God?

    4. Friend, the evidence stands before you. Jesus suffered the most extreme abuse because of your sins. Will you acknowledge Him as the Son of God, confess and repent of your sins, and accept the salvation that He offers which was purchased at such a great price?

  2. Next Week: He is Risen.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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