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"Sir, we wish to see Jesus" John 12:21
Crucifixion   CRUCIFIXION

When the disciples finished their Passover meal Jesus led them out of the city across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane on the lower reaches of the Mount of Olives. It was a place that they had frequented when in Jerusalem and there are several caves there, one on the lower part of the mount and one on the upper, that are reputed to be places he stayed with the disciples and taught both them and others who came to him.

Events moved swiftly that night. Jesus went off by himself to pray to the Father. Judas, a member of the inner-band of disciples who had already agreed to betray him, brought a guard from the High Priest to arrest him. He was escorted back to Mount Zion to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where he was tried for blasphemy for making himself equal to God, convicted, and detained overnight in a cell below the house. In the morning he was take to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, for trial. Though Pilate found little in the charges to convict him of a capital crime, he nevertheless, capitulated to the will of the people and condemned him to death. He was executed in Roman fashion by crucifixion outside the city walls near the principal entrance to the city. Pilate ordered a plaque be affixed to his cross that read, “The King of the Jews,” in several languages.

The words that Jesus spoke from the cross as he was dying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” states best the mindset of all of those involved in his death. They all had varying motives but in the end they were all ignorant of their actions. And they were especially ignorant of God's action. For the view of the Gospels is that crucifixion of Jesus was God's action on behalf of all of humanity through which he was reconciling the world to himself and establishing peace. Jesus spoke of this act of God as an act of love when he declared to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

To give his Son means the Father offered him as a sacrifice to fulfill the sacrifices of the Law that were aimed at establishing peace and reconciliation between God and mankind. Since Jesus was offered at Passover one intent of the Father was that he fulfill the purpose of the Passover lamb. The blood of that lamb delivered the people from the power of evil and death. Thus, those who avail themselves of this sacrifice through believing in him do not perish ultimately but share in eternal life. But sinners have no share in eternal life and only the righteous. Thus, his sacrifice was also was offered to atone for the sins of the people. The sacrifice of atonement was offered in the fall of the year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but the words of Jesus from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” makes plain that his sacrifice fulfilled that one as well. Thus, those who avail themselves of his sacrifice through believing in him are declared righteous through a gift of God's grace.

The Father's intent that Jesus' sacrifice is for all people is revealed by the fact that, humanly speaking, Jesus was offered by both the Jews and the Gentiles (the Romans). Furthermore, the Father's intent to fulfill all sacrifices in this one was revealed by the fact that 40 years after Jesus' crucifixion the Temple was destroyed by the Romans and all its sacrifices ceased.

(Painted by Mantegna)

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