Jesus Christ—the Incarnate God—was born to die…
When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad, for he was desirous to see Him of a long season because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracles done by Him (Luke 23:6-8 KJV).
Herod—who had beheaded John the Baptist, whom he had seemed to hold in some measure of esteem—now will play his part in the persecution of Jesus Christ. He was anticipating seeing Jesus, is seems, but for all the wrong reasons. To Herod Antipas, Jesus was as a juggler is to a sated court—an object of curiosity. Frankly, he was hoping Jesus would put on a show for him—otherwise, he didn’t have much interest.
Then he questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing. And the Chief Priests and Scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. And Herod with his men of war set Him at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they were at enmity between themselves (Luke 23:9-12 KJV).
Herod questioned Jesus on trivial things—with much babbling. He did not think for a moment or desire to understand Who stood before him, nor realize the brevity of the moment. The LORD of Glory, creator of all things was in his midst, and he rambled on hoping for a magic show. Jesus answered him nothing, nor showed him anything.
So, in come the Chief Priests and Scribes to accuse Jesus before Herod. And when Jesus does nothing to impress Herod, he begins to mock Him, though he finds no cause of death in Him. Then Pilate and Herod get together—putting their differences aside—and plot about what to do to persecute Jesus Christ.
And Pilate, when he had called together the Chief Priests and the Rulers and the people, said unto them, You have brought this man unto me, as one who perverts the people; and, behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof you accuse Him. No, nor Herod; for I sent you to Him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto Him (Luke 23:13-15 KJV).
For a second time, Pilate publicly confesses that he finds no fault in Jesus Christ. And he also proclaims that Herod doesn’t see any reason He should be put to death.
I will therefore chastise Him, and release Him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast). And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this Man, and release unto us Barabbas. (Who for a certain sedition made in the city and for murder, was cast into prison (Luke 23:16-19 KJV).
Pilate announces that he will subject a Man Whom he had pronounced innocent to the horrible punishment of scourging just to satisfy the clamor of the Sanhedrists, probably because he was fearful of what they might accuse him of at Rome, where he had enemies. Then he would release Him as the one prisoner chosen to be released every Passover. This custom was probably introduced at Jerusalem by the Roman power, as there is no evidence of such a custom in Levitical Law.
But the crowd would not have it. They cried out in strong opposition to releasing Jesus Christ. They rejected Him as Messiah. They wanted Him dead and gone. And they wanted Barabbas—a robber and murderer—released instead.
Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spoke again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil has He done? I have found no cause of death in Him; I will therefore chastise Him, and let Him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that He might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the Chief Priests prevailed (Luke 23:20-23 KJV).
For a fourth time, Pilate tries to release Jesus, but it is to no avail. The crowd demanded the death of Jesus—and by crucifixion. They wanted crucifixion because the Levitical
Law said that one who was hung upon a tree for gross crimes was cursed by God, and consequently, Him being Crucified would prove to all people—or so they thought—that He was not of God. Were He of God, they reasoned, God would not allow such to happen to Him.
And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him who for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:24-25 KJV).
So, Pilate caved to the crowd and sentenced the One Whom he knew was not guilty to death by crucifixion. And he released the real criminal to them.
Now, skipping ahead to the narrative of Jesus’ Death…
And it was about the sixth hour and there was a darkness over all the Earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the Veil of the Temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit; and have said thus, He gave up the ghost (Luke 23:44-46 KJV).
The “sixth hour” was twelve noon, and the “ninth hour” was three in the afternoon. So, for three hours in the middle of the day while Jesus hung on the Cross, there was “darkness over all the Earth.” The darkness was so deep that it literally blotted out the light of the sun. And at the time of His Death, the “Veil” which separated the Holy Place in the Temple from the Holy of Holies was torn apart. God had accepted the Sacrifice and now the way was open for sinful man to come to God and be cleansed.
The final cry of Jesus before His Death was very telling. First, it was “with a loud voice.” It was no faint whimper of defeat. He did not die from weakness. No one took His Life—He gave it up freely. And not before He commended His Spirit to His Father… He did not go to hell to be further tortured by Satan was some Word of Faith people bizarrely teach… Nor did He become a sinner on the Cross… He was a Sin-Offering, the Spotless Lamb of God… Never once did He become anything less than Deity…
Now when the Centurion saw what was done, he glorified God saying, Certainly this was a Righteous Man. And all the people who came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts and returned. And all His acquaintance, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things (Luke 23:47-49 KJV).
Amazingly, a toughened Roman Centurion was the Son of God while the vast majority of the Jewish people, especially Jewish religious leaders, did not. Tradition says that his name was Longinus and he became an avid follower of Christ and would die a martyr for the Gospel.
The text seems to indicate that there were quite a few people there when Jesus died, standing in the darkness, hearing His last Words and, thereby, experiencing the earthquake, though in the darkness they could not have seen Him die. There was great agony in their hearts, knowing that a great wrong had been done… I always think of the song, “Were You There When They Crucified My LORD?”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was Life; and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:1-5 KJV).