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Sabbath School Lessons on His Wondrous Cross - The Story of Our Redemption
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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
- Torture Under Pilate
- 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?
- 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.)
- Have you ever seen this kind of thing happen to
someone who real power to stop it?
- Those of you who are parents, imagine your children
mocking you and hitting you. How would you handle
- Again, as parents, imagine coming across other
children who are mocking and hitting your child.
Would you allow this?
- 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.)
- Read John 19:7-8. Of what was Pilate afraid?
- Read John 19:12. What did Pilate want to do? (Set Jesus
- Did Pilate have the power and authority to set Jesus
- Why didn't Pilate do what was right? (Political
pressure. Job pressure.)
- What kind of intentions did Pilate have? (The right
- How about you? Do you allow the pressures of work and
the pressures of life to interfere with your
obligations to Jesus?
- Will having the right intentions save you?
- 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.)
- What do you think about what the Jewish leaders said
in John 19:15, the last sentence?
- 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'
- Torture on the Cross
- Read Matthew 27:35. What further indignity is Jesus'
suffering? (He is hanging there naked.)
- Read Matthew 27:39-40. Consider the words, consider their
head shakes. What are they saying to Jesus? (That He is a
- 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)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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?
- Read Isaiah 13:9-11. What does this describe? (God's
- Read Joel 2:1-2. What does this describe? (The day of
God's final judgment.)
- 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
- 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
- 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?
- 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?
- Notice that He does not call God "Father." What does
- Does this break your heart to see what your sins did
to apparently rupture the relationship between Jesus
and His Father?
- Was the relationship actually ruptured?
- Read Psalms 22:1. Were you aware that Jesus was quoting
Scripture in Matthew 27:46?
- 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.)
- Death and Victory
- 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
- Read Matthew 27:52-53. Why is this possible? (Read 1
Corinthians 15:20-26. Jesus' death gave us victory over
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.