As Jesus travelled throughout the greater Palestinian region, opposition to his ministry mounted. Eventually, the Jewish leaders crafted a deceitful plan to see him murdered. Once this was put into motion, it lead to the famous betrayal and arrest of Jesus. They proceeded to put him through a mock trial and then took him directly to the Roman governor for execution. After suffering extreme injustice, severe mockery and brutal torture, Jesus was handed over to suffer the most appalling of all deaths — a Roman crucifixion.
As Jesus hung on the cross, it soon became apparent to many that what they gave witness to was no ordinary death. Even some of the most hardened, who were present at the crucifixion, were lead to confess that Jesus was indeed the one he had claimed to be. The land was covered in an unexplainable darkness, the earth shook violently, and Jesus uttered his final cry. The shout, “It is finished”, rung out at the same time that the cries of slaughtered lambs filled the temple. True atonement had been made. The blood of the Lamb had been shed for the sins of his people. And as terrible as the suffering of crucifixion would have been, it stood as but an external symbol of the spiritual realities taking place at the same time. While every other one of God’s judgements in history (even the flood itself) are of a restrained nature, at this moment in time the full unrestrained wrath of God was vented upon Jesus Christ. On the cross, God’s own Son was enduring the full wrath of hell in the place of his people.
After the crucifixion, Jesus’s body was buried in a tomb that was sealed and guarded with the highest level of Roman security. However, just as Jesus had predicted, this was not the end. In yet another great display of the supernatural, the tomb was powerfully opened. Moreover, it left the Jews, Romans and indeed all of Jerusalem with a great historical conundrum – Jesus no longer lay where they had left him. Instead, as he himself had prophesied, he had risen from the dead.
While all of Jerusalem puzzled over this seemingly impossible event, Jesus met his disciples once again, and allowed them to examine him carefully so as to be sure that he was alive. Indeed, over a period of the next forty days, he appeared to many witnesses–at one stage even to a crowd of five hundred people. During this time, he explained to his disciples the great significance of all that they had witnessed, saying:
…everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
Through Jesus’ own exposition of the Scriptures, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they finally came to understand. This is the very revelation now recorded for us in the books of the New Testament;
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.