Jesus - The Final Hours

Adapted from The Story of Jesus

By: Ellen G. White

Editor: Darryl Thompson
Assistant Editor: Cindy Tutsch

Copyright by The Ellen G. White© Estate, Inc. February 2004


In Gethsemane | The Betrayal and Arrest | Before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin | Judas | Before Pilate | Before Herod |

| Condemned by Pilate | Calvary | Death of Christ | In Joseph's Tomb | He Is Risen | Go Tell My Disciples | Witnesses | The Ascension

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  In Gethsemane 

The Savior's life on earth was a life of prayer. He spent many hours alone with God. After eating the Passover supper with His disciples, Jesus went with them to the garden of Gethsemane, where He often went to pray. As He walked, He talked with them, and taught them; but as they neared the garden, He grew strangely silent.

All His life, Jesus had lived in the presence of His Father. The Spirit of God had been His constant guide and support. He always gave God the glory for His works on earth,

 “I can do nothing alone.” John 5:30  ICB

The terrible night of agony for the Savior began as they neared the garden. It seemed that the presence of God, which had been His support, was no longer with Him. He was beginning to feel what it was to be shut out from His Father. Christ must bear the sins of the world. As they were now laid upon Him, they seemed more than He could endure. The guilt of sin was so terrible, He was tempted to fear that God could no longer love Him. As He felt the awful displeasure of the Father against evil, words were forced from Him,

“My heart is full of sorrow and breaking with sadness.”  Mathew 26: 38  ICB

Jesus left all His disciples near the gate of the garden, except Peter, James, and John. He had taken them into the garden for support, as they were His closest companions. But He could not bear that even they should witness the suffering He was to endure. He said to them:

“Stay here with me and watch.” Matthew 26:38  ICB

He went a short distance from them, and fell on the ground. He felt that by sin He was being separated from the Father. Christ was not suffering for his own sins, but for the sins of the world. He was feeling God’s displeasure against sin, just as the sinner will feel it in the great judgment day.  In His agony, Christ clung to the cold ground. From His pale lips came the bitter cry,

“My Father, if it is possible, do not give me this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.” Matthew 26:39  ICB

For an hour Christ bore this terrible suffering alone. Then He came to the disciples, hoping for some word of sympathy. But no comfort awaited Him, because they were asleep. They woke with the sound of His voice, but they hardly recognized Him, His face was so changed by anguish. Addressing Peter, He said:

“Simon, why are you sleeping?  You could not stay awake with me for one hour?”

Mark 14:37  ICB

Just before entering the garden, Christ had said to the disciples,

“You will all lose your faith in Me.” Mark 14: 27  ICB 

They had given Him the strongest assurance that they would go with Him to prison and to death. And poor, self-sufficient Peter had added,

“All the other followers may lose their faith. But I will not.” Mark 14:29  ICB

But the disciples trusted in themselves. They forgot to seek God as their Helper as Christ counseled them to do. So when the Savior was most in need of their sympathy and prayers, they were found asleep. The Redeemer had spent whole nights praying for His disciples, that their faith might not fail in the hour of trial. Yet they could not remain awake with Him even one hour.

The Son of God was seized with superhuman agony. Fainting and exhausted, He staggered to the ground and cried out to his Father:

“If it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me.  But let what you want be done, not what I want.” Matthew 26:39  NIrV

The agony of this prayer forced drops of blood from His pores. Again He sought the disciples for sympathy, and again He found them sleeping. His presence aroused them. They looked upon His face with fear, for it was stained with blood. They could not understand the anguish of mind which His face expressed.

The third time He sought the place of prayer. A horror of great darkness overcame Him. He had lost the presence of His Father. Without this, He feared that in His human nature He could not endure the test. The third time He prays the same prayer as before. Angels long to bring relief, but it may not be. The Son of God must drink this cup, or the world will be lost forever. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes of a doomed world pass in review before Him. He makes the final decision. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He has left the courts of Heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression, and He will not turn from His purpose. His prayer now breathes only submission:

“My Father, is it possible for this cup to be taken away?  But if I must drink it, may what you want be done.”  Matthew 26: 42  NIrV

A mighty angel now comes to the side of Christ. He lifts the head of the divine sufferer upon his chest, and points toward Heaven. He tells Him that He has come off victor over Satan. As the result, millions will be victors in His glorious kingdom. A heavenly peace rests upon the Savior's blood-stained face. He has borne that which no human being can ever bear; for He has tasted the sufferings of death for every man.


  The Betrayal and Arrest  

No traces of His recent suffering were to be seen as the Savior stepped forward to meet Judas His betrayer. Jesus stepped forward in front of His disciples, and asked the mob:

“Who is it you are looking for?”

The men answered,

“Jesus from Nazareth.”

Jesus said,

“I am Jesus.” John 18:5  ICB

As Jesus spoke these words, the angel who had recently ministered to Him moved between Him and the mob. A divine light illuminated the Savior's face. In the presence of this divine glory the murderous throng could not stand for a moment. They staggered back. The priests, elders, and soldiers dropped as dead men to the ground. The angel withdrew, and the light faded away. Jesus could have escaped, but He remained, calm and self-possessed. His disciples were too amazed to utter a word. The Roman soldiers soon stirred and stood up. With the priests and Judas, they again gathered around Christ. They seemed ashamed of their weakness, and fearful that He would escape.

Jesus asked them again,

“Who is it you are looking for?”

They said,

“Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus said,

“I told you that I am He.  So if you are looking for me, then let these other men go.”

John 18: 7, 8  ICB

In this hour of trial, Christ's thoughts were for His beloved disciples. Judas, the betrayer, however, did not forget the part he was to act. He came to Jesus, and kissed Him. Jesus said to him,

“Friend, why have you come?” Matthew 26:50  NKJV

His voice trembled as He added,

“Judas, are you using the kiss to give the Son of Man to his enemies?” Luke 22:48  ICB

These gentle words should have touched the heart of Judas; but all tenderness and honor seemed to have left him. Judas had yielded himself to the control of Satan. The murderous throng became bold as they saw Judas touch the form which had so recently been glorified before their eyes. They now laid hold of the Savior, and bound His hands that had ever been employed in doing good. The disciples did not think that Christ would allow Himself to be taken. They knew that the power which could strike down the mob as dead men could keep them helpless till Christ and His companions should escape. They were disappointed and indignant as they saw the cords brought forward to bind the hands of Him whom they loved. Peter, in his anger, rashly drew his sword, and tried to defend his Master. But he only cut off an ear of the high priest's servant. When Jesus saw what Peter had done, He released His hands, though held firmly by the Roman soldiers.

“Jesus said, ‘Stop!’ Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him” Luke 22:51  ICB

Jesus said to Peter,

“Put your sword back in its place. All who use swords will be killed with swords. Surely you know I could ask my Father, and he would give me more than twelve armies of angels. But this thing must happen this way so that it will be as the Scriptures say.” Matthew 26:52-54  ICB “Shall I not drink of the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11  ICB


  Before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin 

Jesus was followed from the garden of Gethsemane by the yelling mob. He moved painfully, for His hands were tightly bound, and He was closely guarded. He was taken first to the house of Annas, the former high priest, but whose place was now filled by his son-in-law, Caiaphas. The wicked Annas had requested that he might be the first to see Jesus of Nazareth a bound captive. He hoped to draw from Him some evidence by which to secure His condemnation.

Christ could have summoned legions of angels from heaven to His aid. But it was a part of His mission to endure in His humanity all the taunts and insults that men might heap upon Him. From the house of Annas, the Savior was taken to the palace of Caiaphas. He was to be tried before the Sanhedrin, and while its members were being called together, Annas and Caiaphas again questioned Him, but they gathered no evidence. When the members of the Sanhedrin had assembled, Caiaphas took his seat as the president. On each side were the judges; before them stood the Roman soldiers guarding the Savior; back of these was the accusing mob.

Caiaphas then told Jesus to work one of His mighty miracles before them. But the Savior gave no sign that He heard a word. Had He responded by even one soul-searching look, such as He gave the buyers and sellers in the temple, the whole murderous throng would have been compelled to flee from His presence.

To accomplish their wicked purpose of killing Jesus, they must find something that would be regarded as criminal by Pilate, the Roman governor. Many charges were brought against Christ, but either the witnesses disagreed, or the evidence was of such a nature that it would not be accepted by the Romans. They tried to make Him speak in answer to their accusations, but He appeared as if He had not heard them.

The priests began to fear that they would fail to obtain any evidence which they could bring against their prisoner before Pilate. They felt that one last effort must be made. The high priest raised his right hand toward heaven, and addressed Jesus in the form of a solemn oath:

“I command you by the power of the living God to tell us the truth. Tell us, are you the Christ, the Son of God?” Matthew 26:63  ICB

The Savior never denied His mission or His relation to the Father. He could remain silent to personal insult, but He ever spoke plainly and decidedly when His work or Sonship to God was called in question.

Every ear was bent to listen, and every eye was fixed upon Him as He answered:

“Yes, I am.”

A heavenly light seemed to illuminate the pale countenance of the Savior as He added:

“But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, the Powerful One. And you will see him coming in the clouds in the sky.” Matthew 26:64  ICB

He brought before His hearers a view of that day, when, instead of being surrounded and abused by a riotous mob, He will come in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. Then He will be escorted by legions of angels. Then He will pronounce sentence upon His enemies, among whom will be that same accusing throng.

As Jesus spoke the words declaring Himself to be the Son of God, and Judge of the world, the high priest tore his robe, as if to show his horror. He lifted his hands toward Heaven, and said:

“This man has said things that are against God!  We don’t need any more witnesses.  You all heard him say these things against God.  What do you think?”  Matthew 26: 65, 66  ICB

The people answered,

“He is guilty, and he must die.” Matthew 26:66  ICB

One day those degraded men who scorned and spat upon the calm, pale face of Christ will look upon it in its glory, shining brighter than the sun.



The Jewish rulers had been anxious to get Jesus into their power, but for fear of raising a tumult among the people they had not dared to arrest Him openly. So they had sought someone who would secretly betray Him, and had found in Judas, one of the twelve disciples, the man who would do this traitorous act. 

Judas had a strong love for money, but he had not always been wicked and corrupt enough to do such a deed as this. He had fostered the evil spirit of greed until it had become the ruling motive of his life, and he could now sell his Lord for thirty silver coins (about a month’s wages), the price of a slave. (Exodus 21:28-32.) He could now betray the Savior with a kiss in Gethsemane.

But he followed every step of the Son of God, as He went from the garden to the trial before the Jewish rulers. He had no thought that the Savior would allow the Jews to kill Him, as they had threatened to do. At every moment he expected to see Him released and protected by divine power, as had been done in the past. But as the hours went by, and Jesus quietly submitted to all the indignities that were heaped upon Him, a terrible fear came to the traitor that he had indeed betrayed his Master to His death. As the trial drew to a close, Judas could endure the torture of his guilty conscience no longer. All at once there rang through the hall a hoarse voice, which sent a thrill of terror to the hearts of all present:

“I have sinned,”

He said.

“I handed over a man who is not guilty.”   Matthew 27: 4  NIrV

The tall form of Judas was seen pressing through the startled crowd. His face was pale and haggard, and large drops of sweat stood on his forehead. Rushing to the throne of judgment, he threw down before the high priest the pieces of silver that had been the price of his Lord's betrayal. He eagerly grasped the robe of Caiaphas, and begged him to release Jesus, declaring that He had done no wrong. Caiaphas angrily shook him off, and said with scorn:

“What do we care?”

They replied.

“That’s your problem.” Matthew 27:4  NIrV

Judas then threw himself at the Savior's feet. He confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, and begged Him to deliver Himself from His enemies. The Savior knew that Judas did not really repent for what he had done. The false disciple feared that punishment would come upon him for his terrible deed; but he felt no real sorrow for betraying the spotless Son of God. Yet Christ spoke to him no word of condemnation. He looked with pity upon Judas, and said:

“It was for this hour I came to this world.”

A murmur of surprise ran through the assembly. With amazement they beheld the self-restraint of Christ toward His betrayer. Judas saw that his entreaties were in vain, and he rushed from the hall, crying:

“It is too late! It is too late!”

He felt that He could not live to see Jesus crucified, and in despair went out and hanged himself. Later that same day, on the road from Pilate's judgment hall to Calvary, the wicked crowd, leading the Savior to the place of crucifixion suddenly stopped their shouts and jeers as they passed a retired spot. They saw at the foot of a lifeless tree the dead body of Judas. It appeared as though retribution was already visiting those who were guilty of the blood of Jesus.


  Before Pilate 

After Christ had been condemned by the judges of the Sanhedrin, He was taken at once to Pilate, the Roman governor. As Pilate looked at Jesus, he saw a man of noble countenance and dignified bearing. No trace of crime was to be seen in His face. Pilate turned to the priests and asked:

“What charges do you bring against this man?” John 18:29  ICB

His accusers were not prepared for this question. They knew that they could bring no truthful evidence on which the Roman governor would condemn Him. So the priests called the false witnesses to their aid. And they began to accuse Him, saying,

“We caught this man telling things that were confusing our people.  He says that we should not pay taxes to Caesar. He calls himself the Christ, a King.” Luke 23:2  ICB

Pilate was not deceived by the testimony of the false witnesses. He turned to the Savior, and asked:

“Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered,

“Yes, I am.” Matthew 27:11  ICB

When they heard this answer, Caiaphas and those who were with him called Pilate to witness that Jesus had admitted the crime of which they accused Him. With noisy cries they demanded that He be sentenced to death. Christ made no answer to His accusers. Pilate was perplexed. He saw no evidence of crime in Jesus, and he had no confidence in those who were accusing Him. The noble appearance and quiet manner of the Savior were in direct contrast to the excitement and fury of His accusers. Pilate was impressed with this, and was well satisfied of His innocence. Hoping to gain the truth from Him, he took Jesus by Himself, and questioned Him:

“Are you really the King of the Jews?”

Christ did not give a direct answer to this question, but asked:

“Are you saying this yourself? Or did others tell you?” 

The Spirit of God was striving with Pilate. By asking him this question Jesus intended to lead Pilate to examine his own heart more closely. Pilate understood the meaning of the question. His own heart was opened before him, and he saw that his soul was stirred by conviction. But pride arose in his heart and his golden opportunity passed. 

Pilate had a desire to know the truth. His mind was confused. He eagerly grasped the words of the Savior, and his heart was stirred with a great longing to know what the truth really was, and how he could obtain it. He asked Jesus:

“What is truth?”

But he did not wait to receive an answer. The tumult of the crowd outside the hall of justice had increased to a roar. The priests demanded immediate action. Going out to the people, Pilate declared:

“I can find no basis for any charge against Him.” John 18:38  NIrV

As the priests and elders heard this from Pilate, their disappointment and rage knew no bounds. They had long plotted and waited for this opportunity. As they saw the prospect of the release of Jesus, they seemed ready to tear Him in pieces. They loudly denounced Pilate, and threatened him with the frown of the Roman government. They accused Pilate of refusing to condemn Jesus, who, they claim, had set Himself up against Caesar. Then they raised the cry:

“But Jesus is making trouble with the people! He teaches all around Judea.  He began in Galilee, and now he is here!” Luke 23:5   ICB

When Pilate heard that Christ was from Galilee, he decided to send Him to Herod, the ruler of that province, who was then in Jerusalem. By doing this Pilate thought to shift the responsibility of the trial from himself to Herod.


  Before Herod 

Herod had never met Jesus, but he had long desired to see Him and to witness His marvelous power. As the Savior was brought before him, the rabble surged and pressed about, falsely accusing Jesus. Herod commanded silence, for he wished to question the prisoner. He looked with curiosity and pity upon the pale face of Christ. He saw there the marks of deep wisdom and purity. He was satisfied, as Pilate had been that malice and envy alone had caused the Jews to accuse the Savior.

Instead, Herod urged Christ to perform one of His wonderful miracles before him. He promised to release Him if He would do so. By his direction, crippled and deformed persons were brought in, and he commanded Jesus to heal them. But the Savior stood before Herod as one who neither saw nor heard.  The Son of God had taken upon Himself man's nature. He must act as man would do in similar circumstances. Therefore He would not work a miracle to gratify curiosity, or to save Himself from the pain and humiliation that man must endure when placed in a similar position. His accusers were terrified when Herod demanded of Christ a miracle. Of all things, they dreaded most an exhibition of His divine power. Such a display would be a death blow to their plans, and would perhaps cost them their lives. So they set up the cry that Jesus worked miracles through the power given Him by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.

Several years before this, Herod had listened to the teaching of John the Baptist. He had been deeply impressed, but he had not forsaken his life of intemperance and sin. Now he had become still more hardened. He could not bear the silence of Jesus. His face grew dark with passion, and he angrily threatened the Savior, who still remained unmoved and silent. Christ had come into the world to heal the broken-hearted. Could He have spoken any word to heal the bruises of sin-sick souls, He would not have kept silent.

The Savior might have spoken to Herod words that would have pierced the ears of the hardened king. But Christ's silence was the severest rebuke that He could have given. That ear which had ever been open to the cry of human woe, had no place for the command of Herod. That heart, ever touched by the plea of even the worst sinners, was closed to the haughty king who felt no need of a Savior.

In anger, Herod turned to the multitude and denounced Jesus as an imposter. But the accusers of the Savior knew that He was no imposter. They had seen too many of His mighty works to believe this charge. So the king began to shamefully ridicule the Son of God.

“Then Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus.  They dressed him in a kingly robe and then sent him back to Pilate.” Luke 23:11  ICB

As the wicked king saw Jesus accepting all this indignity in silence, he was moved with a sudden fear that this was no common man before him. He was perplexed with the thought that this prisoner might be a heavenly being come down to the earth. Herod dared not ratify the condemnation of Jesus. He wished to relieve himself of the terrible responsibility, and so he sent the Savior back to Pilate.


  Condemned by Pilate 

When the Jews returned from Herod with Jesus again, Pilate was very upset. He said to the Pharisees,

“What do you want me to do? I have already examined Jesus, and found him not guilty of the false charges you brought against him.”

While Pilate was hesitating as to what he should do, a letter was brought to him from his wife, which read:

“Don’t do anything to that man. He is not guilty.  Today I had a dream about him, and it troubled me very much.” Matthew 27:19  ICB

Pilate turned pale at this message; but the mob became more urgent as they saw his indecision. Pilate saw that something had to be done. It was customary at the feast of the Passover to set at liberty one prisoner, chosen by the people. So Pilate turned to the crowd, and said with great earnestness:

“Which man do you want me to free: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Christ?”

Matthew 27:17  ICB

All the people shouted,

“Kill him! Let Barabbas go free!” Luke 23:18  ICB

Pilate wanted to let Jesus go. So he made an appeal to the crowd again.

“Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Matthew 27:22  NIrV

But they kept shouting,

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Pilate spoke to them for the third time.


He asked. 

“What wrong has this man done?  I have no reason to have Him put to death.  So I just have  Him whipped and let him go.”  Luke 23:21, 22  NIrV

But they shouted even louder,

“Crucify Him.” Matthew 27:23  NIrV

Pilate made one last effort to touch their sympathies. Jesus was taken, faint with weariness and covered with wounds, and beaten with the Roman lash in the sight of His accusers.

“The soldiers used some thorny branches to make a crown. They put this crown on Jesus’ head and put a purple robe around Him.” John 19:2  ICB

They spat on Him. Someone snatched a rod and struck the crown upon His head, forcing the thorns into His forehead, sending the blood trickling down His face and beard. Jesus, with legions of holy angels under his command, could have immediately overpowered that cruel mob. Or He could have killed His persecutors instantly by the flashing forth of His divine Majesty and power. Instead He submitted with dignified composure to the coarsest insult and abuse.

Pilate was deeply moved by the uncomplaining patience of the Savior. He sent for Barabbas to be brought into the court; then he presented the two prisoners side by side. Pointing to the Savior, he said in a voice of solemn entreaty,

“Look! I am bringing Jesus out to you.  I want you to know that I find nothing I can charge against Him” John 19: 4  ICB

There stood the Son of God, wearing the robe of mockery and the crown of thorns. Stripped to the waist, His back showed the long, cruel stripes from which the blood flowed freely. His face was stained with blood, and bore the marks of exhaustion and pain; but never had it appeared more beautiful. Every feature expressed gentleness and resignation, and tender pity for His cruel foes.

Still the people cried:

“Crucify Him, crucify Him!” 

At last, losing all patience with their unreasonable, vengeful cruelty, Pilate said:

“Take him and nail him to a cross yourselves.  I find nothing I can charge against Him.”

John 19:6  ICB



Jesus was hurried to Calvary amid the shouts and jeers of the crowd. As He passed the gate of Pilate's court, the heavy cross which had been prepared for Barabbas was laid upon His bruised and bleeding shoulders. Crosses were placed also upon two thieves, who were to suffer death along with Jesus.

The load was too heavy for the Savior in His weary, suffering condition. He had gone only a few paces when He fainted under the cross. When He revived, the cross was again placed upon His shoulders. He staggered a few steps, and again fell to the ground. His persecutors now realized that it was impossible for Him to go farther with His burden, and they were puzzled to find someone who would carry the humiliating load. Just then they were met by Simon, a Cyrenian, coming from the opposite direction. They seized him,  forcing him to carry the cross to Calvary.

Arriving at the place of crucifixion, the condemned were bound to the instruments of torture. The two thieves wrestled in the hands of those who stretched them upon the cross; but the Savior made no resistance.

Jesus’ mother had followed Him on that awful journey to Calvary. She longed to help Him as He sank exhausted under His burden, but she was not allowed. Would He who had given life to the dead permit Himself to be crucified? Would the Son of God allow Himself to be cruelly slain? Must she give up her faith in Him as the Messiah? She saw His hands stretched upon the cross--those hands that had ever been reached out to bless the suffering. The hammer and the nails were brought, and as the spikes were driven through the tender flesh, the heart-broken disciples bore from the cruel scene the fainting form of Mary, mother of Jesus.

The Savior made no murmur or complaint; His face remained pale and serene, but great drops of sweat stood on His brow. His disciples had fled already and He was all alone. As the soldiers were doing their work, the mind of Jesus passed from His own sufferings to the terrible retribution that His persecutors must one day meet. He pitied them in their ignorance, and prayed:

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”  Luke 23: 34  ICB

Christ was earning the right to become our advocate in the Father's presence. That prayer for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner who had lived or would live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Whenever we sin, Christ is wounded afresh. For us He lifts His pierced hands before the Father's throne, and says,

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23: 34  ICB

As soon as Christ was nailed to the cross, it was lifted by strong men, and with great violence thrust into the place prepared for it. This caused intense suffering to the Son of God.

“The soldiers threw lots to decide who would get his clothes.  The people stood there watching.  The leaders made fun of Jesus.  They said,

“If he is God’s Chosen One, the Christ, then let him save himself.  He saved other people, didn’t he?”  Luke 23: 34, 35  ICB

As soon as Jesus was lifted up on the cross, a terrible scene took place. Priests, rulers, and scribes joined with the rabble in mocking and jeering the dying Son of God, saying:

“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” Luke 23:37  ICB

“He saved other people, but he can’t save himself!...  If he is the King, then let him come down now from the cross.  Then we will believe in him. He trusts in God.  So let God save him now, if God really wants him. He himself said ‘I am the Son of God.’” Matthew 27:42, 43  ICB

Christ could have come down from the cross. But if He had done this, we could never have been saved. For us He was willing to die.

“But He was wounded for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for the evil things we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to him. We are healed because of His wounds.” Isaiah 53:5  ICB


  Death of Christ 

In yielding up His precious life, Christ’s heart was rent with anguish and oppressed with gloom. But it was not the fear or the pain of death that caused His suffering. It was the crushing weight of the sin of the world, a sense of separation from His Father's love. This was what broke the Savior's heart, and brought His death so soon.

Christ felt the woe that sinners will feel when they awake to realize the burden of their guilt, to know that they have forever separated themselves from the joy and peace of heaven. Angels beheld with amazement the agony of despair borne by the Son of God. His anguish of mind was so intense that the pain of the cross was hardly felt.

Nature itself was in sympathy with the scene. The sun shone clearly until midday, when suddenly it seemed to be blotted out. All about the cross was darkness as deep as the blackest midnight. This supernatural darkness lasted fully three hours.

A nameless terror took possession of the multitude. The cursing and reviling ceased. Men, women, and children fell upon the earth in abject terror. Lightning occasionally flashed forth from the cloud, and revealed the cross and the crucified Redeemer. All thought that their time of punishment had come.

At the ninth hour the darkness lifted from the people, but still wrapped the Savior as with a mantle. The lightning seemed to be hurled at Him as He hung upon the cross. It was then that He sent up the despairing cry:

“My God, My God, why have you left me alone?”  Matthew 27:45  ICB

In the meantime the darkness had settled over Jerusalem and the plains of Judea. As all eyes were turned in the direction of the fated city, they saw the fierce lightning of God's wrath directed toward it.

Suddenly the gloom was lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpet-like tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried:

“It is finished.” John 19:30. “Father, I give you My life.” Luke 23:46  ICB

A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Savior shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast and died.

The multitude about the cross stood paralyzed, and with bated breath gazed upon the Savior. Again darkness settled upon the earth, and a hoarse rumbling like heavy thunder was heard. This was accompanied with a violent earthquake. The people were shaken into heaps by the earthquake. The wildest confusion and terror followed. In the surrounding mountains, rocks were torn asunder, and went crashing down into the plains below. Tombs were broken open, and many of the dead were cast out. Creation seemed to be breaking into atoms. Priests, rulers, soldiers, and people, mute with terror, were lying face down upon the ground.

At the time of the death of Christ, some of the priests were ministering in the temple at Jerusalem. They felt the shock of the earthquake, and at the same moment the veil of the temple, which separated the holy from the most holy place, was torn in two from top to bottom by the same bloodless hand that wrote the words of doom upon the walls of Belshazzar's palace. The most holy place of the earthly sanctuary was no longer sacred. The Lamb of God, in dying, had become the sacrifice for the sins of the world.

When Christ died upon the cross of Calvary, the new and living way was thrown open to Jew and Gentile alike. Satan was defeated, and he knew that his kingdom was lost.


  In Joseph's Tomb 

Treason against the Roman government was the crime for which the Savior was condemned. Persons put to death for this cause were buried in a place set apart for such criminals. John shuddered at the thought of having the body of his beloved Master handled by the unfeeling soldiers and buried in a dishonored grave. But he saw no way to prevent it, as he had no influence with Pilate. At this trying time, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea came to the help of the disciples. Both of these men were members of the Sanhedrin and were acquainted with Pilate. Both were men of wealth and influence. They were determined that the Savior's body should have an honorable burial.

Joseph went boldly to Pilate, and begged from him the body of Jesus. Pilate, after learning that Christ was really dead, granted this request. While Joseph was gone to Pilate for the Savior's body, Nicodemus was making ready for the burial. It was the custom in those times to wrap the bodies of the dead in linen cloths, with precious ointments and sweet spices. This was one method of embalming. So Nicodemus brought a costly gift of about a hundred pounds' weight of myrrh and aloes for the body of Jesus. The most honored in all Jerusalem could not have been shown more respect in death. The humble followers of Jesus were astonished to see these wealthy rulers taking such an interest in the burial of their Master.

The disciples were overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of Christ. They forgot that He had told them it was to take place. They were without hope. Neither Joseph nor Nicodemus had openly accepted the Savior while He was living. But they had listened to His teachings and had closely watched every step of His ministry. Although the disciples had forgotten the Savior's words foretelling His death, Joseph and Nicodemus remembered them well. And the scenes connected with the death of Jesus, which disheartened the disciples and shook their faith, only proved to these rulers that He was the true Messiah and led them to take their stand firmly as believers in Him.

The help of these rich and honored men was greatly needed at this time. They could do for their dead Master what it was impossible for the poor disciples to do. Gently and reverently, with their own hands, they removed the body of Christ from the cross. Their tears of sympathy fell fast, as they looked upon His bruised and torn form. Joseph owned a new tomb cut from a rock. He had built it for his own use, but he now prepared it for Jesus. The body, together with the spices brought by Nicodemus, was wrapped in a linen sheet, and the Redeemer was carried to the tomb.

Although the Jewish rulers had succeeded in putting Christ to death, they could not rest easy. They well knew of His mighty power. Some of them had stood by the grave of Lazarus and had seen the dead brought back to life, and they trembled for fear that Christ would Himself rise from the dead and again appear before them. They had heard Him say to the multitude that He had power to lay down His life and to take it again. They remembered that He had said,

“Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days.” John 2:19  ICB

They  knew that He was speaking of His own body. They now remembered many things he had spoken which foretold His resurrection. They could not forget these things, however much they desired to do so. Like their father, the devil, they believed and trembled.

Everything declared to them that Jesus was the Son of God. They could not sleep, for they were more troubled about Him in death than they had been during His life. Bent on doing all they could to keep Him in the grave, they asked Pilate to have the tomb sealed and guarded until the third day. Pilate placed a band of soldiers at the command of the priests, and said:

“‘Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know.’  So they all went and made if safe from the thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and then putting soldiers there to guard it.” Matthew 27:65, 66   ICB


  He Is Risen 

The greatest care had been taken to guard the Savior's tomb, and the entrance had been closed with a great stone. Upon this stone the Roman seal had been placed in such a way that the stone could not be moved without breaking the seal. Around the tomb was the guard of Roman soldiers. They were to keep strict watch, that the body of Jesus might not be molested. Some of them were constantly pacing to and fro before the tomb, while the others rested on the ground near by.

But there was another guard around that tomb. Mighty angels from heaven were there. Any one of this angel guard, by putting forth his power, could have stricken down the whole Roman army. The night of early Sunday morning wore slowly away. At the darkest hour, just before daybreak, one of the most powerful angels is sent from Heaven. His countenance is like lightning, and his garments white as snow. He parts the darkness, and the whole heavens light with his glory.

The sleeping soldiers awake and start to their feet. With awe and wonder they gaze at the open heavens and the vision of brightness which is nearing them. The earth trembles and heaves as the powerful being from another world approaches. He is coming on a joyful errand, and the speed and power of his flight shake the world like a mighty earthquake. Soldiers, officers, and sentinels fall to the ground as dead men.

There had been still another guard at the Savior's tomb. Evil angels were there. Because the Son of God had fallen in death, His body was even then claimed as the prey of him who has the power of death--the devil. The angels of Satan were present to see that no power should take Jesus from their grasp. But as the mighty being sent from the throne of God approached, they fled in terror from the scene. The angel laid hold of the great stone at the mouth of the tomb, and rolled it away, as if it had been only a pebble. Then with a voice that caused the earth to tremble, he cried:

“Jesus, Son of God, come out, for Your Father calls You!”

Then He who had earned the power over death and the grave came forth from the tomb. Above the open grave He proclaimed,

“I am the resurrection, and the life.”

And the angel host bowed low in adoration before the Redeemer and welcomed Him with songs of praise. Jesus came forth with the tread of a conqueror. At His presence the earth reeled, the lightning flashed, and the thunder rolled. An earthquake marked the hour when Christ laid down His life. An earthquake also witnessed the moment when He took it up in triumph.

Satan was bitterly angry that his angels had fled at the approach of the heavenly messengers. He had dared to hope that Christ would not take up His life again, and that the plan of redemption would fail. But as he saw the Savior come forth from the tomb in triumph, all hope was lost. Satan now knew that his kingdom would have an end, and that he would finally be destroyed.


  Go Tell My Disciples 

The Savior was buried on Friday, the sixth day of the week. The women prepared spices and ointments to embalm their Lord, and laid them aside, until the Sabbath was past. Not even the work of embalming the body of Jesus would be done on the Sabbath day.

“The day after the Sabbath day. . . Very early on that day, the first day of the week, the

women were on their way to the tomb.  It was soon after sunrise.” Mark 16:1, 2  ICB

As they neared the garden, they were surprised to see the heavens beautifully lighted up, and to feel the earth trembling beneath their feet. They hastened to the tomb, and were still more astonished to find that the stone was rolled away, and that the Roman guard was not there. Mary Magdalene had been the first to reach the place. Seeing that the stone was removed, she hurried away to tell the disciples. When the other women came up, they noticed a light shining about the tomb, and looking in, saw that it was empty. As they lingered about the place, they suddenly saw a young man in shining garments sitting by the tomb. It was the angel who had rolled away the stone. In fear they turned to flee, but the angel said:

“Don’t be afraid.  I know that you are looking for Jesus, the one who was killed on the cross. But he is not here. He is risen from death as he said he would. Come and see the place where his body was. And go quickly and tell His followers. Say to them: ‘Jesus has risen from death. He is going into Galilee.  He will be there before you.  You will see him there.’” Matthew 28:5-7   ICB

As the women looked again into the tomb, they saw another shining angel, who asked them:

“Why are you looking for a living person here? This is a place for the dead. Jesus is not here. He has risen from death! Do you remember what he said in Galilee?  He said that the Son of Man must be given to evil men, be killed on the cross, and rise from death on the third day.” Luke 24:5-7  ICB

The angels then explained the death and resurrection of Christ. They reminded the women of the words that Christ Himself had spoken, in which He had predicted His crucifixion and His resurrection. The words of Jesus were now plain to them, and with fresh hope and courage they hastened away to tell the glad news.

Mary had been absent during this scene, but now returned with Peter and John. When they went back to Jerusalem, she stayed at the tomb. She could not bear to leave until she should learn what had become of the body of her Lord. As she stood weeping, she heard a voice which asked:

“Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” John 20:15  ICB

Her eyes were so blinded by tears that she did not notice who it was that spoke to her. She thought it might be the gardener and said to him pleadingly:

“Did you take Him away, sir? Tell me where you put Him, and I will get Him.”

John 20:15  ICB

She thought that if this rich man's tomb was considered too honorable a place for her Lord, she herself would provide a place for Him. But now the voice of Christ Himself fell upon her ears. He said:


Her tears were quickly brushed away, and she beheld the Savior. Forgetting, in her joy, that He had been crucified, she stretched forth her hands to Him, saying:


(This means Teacher.)

Jesus said to her,

“Don’t hold me.  I have not yet gone up to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them this: ‘I am going back to My Father, and your Father. I am going back to My God and your God.” John 20:17   ICB

Jesus refused to receive the worship of His people until He should know that His sacrifice had been accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, and through His blood all might gain eternal life. All power in Heaven and on earth was given to the Prince of Life, and He returned to His followers in a world of sin, that He might give to them His power and glory.



     Late in the afternoon of the day of the resurrection, two of the disciples were on their way to Emmaus, discussing the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. As they journeyed, a stranger came up and went with them; but they were so busy with their conversation that they hardly noticed His presence. Disguised as a stranger (as they were not allowed to recognize Jesus), He began to talk with them.

“What are these things you are talking about while you walk?”

The one named Cleopas answered,

“You must be the only one in Jerusalem who does not know what just happened there.”

Jesus said to them,

“What are you talking about?

The followers said,

“It is about Jesus of Nazareth, He was a prophet from God to all the people. He said and did many powerful things” Luke 24:16-19  ICB

They then told Him what had taken place, and repeated the report brought by the women who had been at the tomb early that same morning. Then He said:

“You are foolish and slow to realize what is true. You should believe everything the prophets said… Christ must suffer these things before he enters his glory... He started with Moses, and then he talked about what all the prophets had said about him.” Luke 24:25-27  ICB

The disciples were silent from amazement and delight. They did not venture to ask the stranger who He was. They listened eagerly as He explained to them Christ's mission. As the sun was setting, the disciples reached their home. Jesus “made as though He would have gone further.” But the disciples could not bear to part from the One who had brought them such joy and hope. So they begged Him,

“Stay with us. It is late; it is almost night.

So He went in to stay with them.” Luke 24:29  ICB

The simple evening meal was soon ready, and Christ took His place at the head of the table, as His custom was. As He blessed the food, the eyes of the disciples were opened. The sound of the now familiar voice, the prints of the nails in His hands, all proclaimed Him their beloved Master. For a moment they sat spellbound; then they arose to fall at His feet and worship Him; but He suddenly disappeared.

In their joy they forgot their hunger and weariness. They left the meal uneaten, and hurried back to Jerusalem with the precious message of a risen Savior. As they were relating these things to the disciples, Christ Himself stood among them, and with hands uplifted in blessing, said:

“Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36  ICB

At first they were frightened; but when He had shown them the prints of the nails in His hands and feet, and had eaten before them, they believed and were comforted. Faith and joy now took the place of unbelief, and with feelings which no words could express, they acknowledged their risen Savior. In the upper chamber, Christ again explained the Scriptures concerning Himself. Then He told His disciples that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Before His ascension to Heaven, He said to them,

“You will receive power. You will be my witnesses–in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world… You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of the world.” Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:20   ICB


  The Ascension 

The Savior's work on earth was finished. The time had now come for Him to return to His Heavenly home. He had overcome, and was again to take His place by the side of His Father upon His throne of light and glory.

Jesus chose the Mount of Olives as the place of His ascension. Accompanied by the eleven, He made His way to the mountain. But the disciples did not know that this was to be their last interview with their Master. As they walked, the Savior gave them His parting instruction. Just before leaving them, He made that precious promise, so dear to every one of His followers:

“I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of the world.”

Matthew 28:20  ICB

They crossed the summit, to the vicinity of Bethany. Here they paused, and the disciples gathered about their Lord. Beams of light seemed to radiate from His countenance as He looked with love upon them. Words of the deepest tenderness were the last which fell upon their ears from the lips of the Savior.

With hands outstretched in blessing, He slowly ascended from among them. As He passed upward, the awe-stricken disciples looked with straining eyes for the last glimpse of their ascending Lord. A cloud of glory received Him from their sight. At the same time there floated down to them the sweetest and most joyous music from the angel choir.

While the disciples were still gazing upward, voices addressed them which sounded like richest music. They turned, and saw two angels in the form of men, who spoke to them, saying:

“Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus taken away from you into heaven.  He will come back in the same way you saw him go.” Acts 1:11  ICB

These angels belonged to the company that had come to escort the Savior to His heavenly home. In sympathy and love for those left below, they had stayed to assure them that this separation would not be forever.

When the disciples returned to Jerusalem, the people looked upon them with amazement. After the trial and crucifixion of their Master, it had been thought that they would appear downcast and ashamed. Their enemies expected to see upon their faces an expression of sorrow and defeat. Instead of this, there was only gladness and triumph. Their faces were aglow with happiness. They did not mourn over disappointed hopes, but were full of praise and thanksgiving to God. With rejoicing they told the wonderful story of Christ's resurrection and His ascension to heaven, and their testimony was received by many.

The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future. They knew that the Savior was in Heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. He was showing to the Father His wounded hands and feet, as an evidence of the price He had paid for His redeemed. They knew that He would come again, with all the holy angels with Him, and they looked for this event with great joy and longing anticipation. When Jesus passed from the sight of His disciples on the Mount of Olives, He was met by a heavenly host, who, with songs of joy and triumph, escorted Him upward. At the portals of the city of God an innumerable company of angels await His coming.

Then the avenues of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through the gates amid a burst of rapturous music. All the heavenly host are waiting to honor their returned Commander. Joyfully the leaders of the heavenly host adore the Redeemer. The innumerable company of angels bow before Him, and the courts of Heaven echo and re-echo with the glad shout:

“The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and, strength, honor, glory, and praise!” Revelation 5:12  ICB

Christ's followers are “accepted in the Beloved.” Where the Redeemer is, there the redeemed shall be. The Son of God has triumphed over the prince of darkness, and conquered death and sin. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming:

“All praise and honor, and glory, and power forever and ever to the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” Revelation 5:13  ICB

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