Summary: A review of the significance of the crucifixion in light of Jesus’ humanity.
Scripture Ref: Mt. 26:36-46
a. O, what a savior! Not a question, not a statement—AN EXCLAMATION! We take for granted what He did for us and its significance.
b. Set the stage: The first communion or Lord’s Supper has been served while celebrating the Passover. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is with the disciples. The disciples are with Him. He knows what is about to happen, and He is trying to prepare himself.
c. Specifically, Jesus knew:
(1) He would be taken captive.
(2) He knew that before victory would come defeat.
(3) He knew that before the light of Sunday would come the darkness of Friday.
(4) And knowing all of this, He was AFRAID.
2. Jesus struggled to do His father’s will.
a. Read Matthew 26:36-46.
b. He takes Peter, and James and John the sons of Zebedee, His closest friends, off to the side with him in the garden of Gethsemane.
c. Gethsemane means “oil press.”
d. Verse 37—Gk. for “troubled” ademoneo (ademoneo) in this verse literally means to be depressed or dejected, full of anguish or sorrow.
e. Verse 38—Gk. for “death” thanatos (thanatos) in this verse means the violent extinction of life. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him and He knew not only the physical effects, but He also knew the significance of crucifixion to His people and His religion.
f. Excerpt from The New Bible Dictionary:
Live criminals were not crucified in the OT. Execution was by stoning. However, dead bodies were occasionally hung on a tree as a warning. Such a body was regarded as accursed and had to be removed and buried before night came. This practice accounts for the NT reference to Christ’s cross as a ‘tree’, a symbol of humiliation.
Crucifixion was practiced by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians and later used extensively by the Romans. Only slaves, provincials and the lowest types of criminals were crucified, but rarely Roman citizens. Thus tradition, which says that Peter, like Jesus, was crucified, but Paul (a Roman) beheaded, is in line with ancient practice.
After a criminal’s condemnation, it was the custom for a victim to be scourged with the flagellum, a whip with leather thongs, which in our Lord’s case no doubt greatly weakened him and quickened eventual death. He was then made to carry the cross-beam like a slave to the scene of his torture and death, always outside the city, while a herald carried in front of him the ‘title’, the written accusation. It was the cross-piece, not the whole cross, which Jesus was too weak to carry, and which was borne by Simon the Cyrenian. The condemned man was stripped naked, laid on the ground with the cross-beam under his shoulders, and his arms or his hands tied or nailed to it. This cross-bar was then lifted and secured to the upright post, so that the victim’s feet, which were then tied or nailed, were just clear of the ground, not high up as so often depicted. The main weight of the body was usually borne by a projecting peg, on which the victim sat. There the condemned man was left to die of hunger and exhaustion. Death was sometimes hastened by the breaking of the legs, as in the case of the two thieves, but was not done in our Lord’s case, because he was already dead. However, a spear was thrust into his side to make sure of death, so that the body could be removed, as the Jews demanded, before the Sabbath.
g. Shift focus to human side of Jesus—He knew all of this and He was afraid. Luke tells us that he sweat blood (explain phenomenon).
h. Verses 39-43—Three different times, during His prayer, His human side surfaces “Father…may this cup be taken from me” and “My Father if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it…”, but the obedient Son and Savior remained in every case: “Yet not as I will, but as You will” and “may Your will be done.”
(1) He may have had in mind His coming separation from the Father.
(2) He also may have had in mind his coming contact with sin as He became sin for mankind.
(3) The cup probably referred to his imminent death. A cup, figuratively in the OT, refers to wrath.
(4) The significant thing about His prayer, though, was that the Lord submitted His will to the will of the Father.
3. Jesus prayed for all believers.
a. Read John 17:20-26
b. Jesus’ prayer focuses on the disciples and the people they would draw to Him and to God.
c. Throughout all of this, His focus was on us and our well being, and on lifting up God.