Summary: Who is REALLY responsible for Jesus’ death?
*(To be preached after song “The Hammer”, by Ray Boltz)
We all know how Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. Judas brought a large crowd
with him and they were armed with swords and clubs. Pretty good odds in their favor you would
think, about 100 to 1. Clubs and swords against an unarmed, peaceable man. Of course, they had
probably heard about Jesus’ previous escapes.
Then Jesus is brought before the Great Sanhedrin, the highest religious body of Israel. The
thing this group wanted most was to kill Jesus. They were threatened by Jesus’ message of grace,
mercy and love. They so valued their position, power and control of Jewish religious society that
when Jesus told the truth about who He was, their hatred for Him boiled over, and they plotted to
have him killed.
But really, who were these guys? The supreme court of the nation of Israel was called the Great
Sanhedrin and consisted of seventy members and a president, who was the high priest. This
determination comes from Numbers 11:16-17 when the Lord said to Moses, "Bring me seventy
of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them
come to the Tent of Meeting that you may stand there with them. I will come down and speak
with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them.”
The law said that members of the Sanhedrin were to be men of certain character. Both parents of
these men should be full-blooded Jews. They should be educated in the law and have prior legal
experience. They should be well-versed in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, as well as other languages,
so that they could speak to the accused in their tongue.
Tonight, Good Friday, we also look at what happened through the perspective of the centurion,
the Roman soldier standing guard over the cross. He went through the three hours of terrifying
darkness at midday. He heard our Lord’s cries from the cross. He observed the two things that
happened the moment Christ breathed His last: the tearing of the temple curtain, and the
resurrection of the Old Testament saints.
The Roman centurion and the other guards with him were terrified when they saw the two things
that happened the moment Christ breathed His last – the tearing of the temple curtain, and the
resurrection of the Old Testament saints – and they exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
The events surrounding Christ’s death led the Roman centurion to confess and believe that Jesus
was the Son of God. You see, The Son of God is supposed to be all-powerful; He is supposed to
be able to do miraculous signs and wonders.
At the moment Christ died, at the moment He gave up His spirit, at the moment His soul
separates from His body, at the moment He finished His work as our Savior, at that moment
Christ used His power to show that He is the Son of God: the temple curtain was torn in two, the
earth shook, and Old Testament saints were raised from the dead
In His death Jesus proved Himself to be the Son of God. The Roman centurion realizes this and,
in faith, bows down before Jesus.
You know, the scripture doesn’t tell us much about this man except that he was a centurion, a
Roman soldier in charge of 100 men, who also happens to be in charge of the crucifixion. But
for this man, the power of the cross and to see our Lord die was real enough to convict him of his
sin and to bring about a verbal response: “Surely this man was the son of God.”
The crucifixion of Jesus deeply impacted him and touched his heart so much that he praised and
glorified God for this eye-opening experience. I believe it was confirmed in his statement that
truly Jesus was the son of God who had come for you and for me. To bring salvation and to show
us the way to the father.
JESUS had endured the pains of crucifixion; He had nails driven through his hands and feet. He
was very weak by the agony of the night in Gethsemane, and by the scourgings and cruel
mockings which he had endured all through the morning, from Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, and the
guards. He was probably very depressed of the desertion of His disciples. Yet, He does not say,
"Why do you this? Why pierce the hands that fed you? Why nail the feet that followed after you
in mercy? Why mock the Man who loved to bless you?" Did Jesus ask these questions? No, not
even a word of reproach, no calling to task the ones who put him in this situation.