We’re entering the Easter season, and Christians around the world are remembering Christ’s death, caused by our sin. But we are also celebrating, because Resurrection Day is our God-given promise that we, too, will one day rise.
This year on the blog, we’re featuring a five-week family Easter Bible study written especially for families. We’re posting one study a week every Friday, leading up to Easter. It’s an excellent opportunity for your family to remember the story the Bible tells about Jesus’ death and resurrection—but it also challenges families to consider three important questions at the end of each study: Who is God? Who is Jesus? Who are we?
By Mark Ward
Week 3: Jesus Is Crucified
Read Matthew 27:15–44. In verse 24, why does Pilate wash his hands? What is he claiming? Is there any evidence in verses 15–26 that Pilate was not, in fact, innocent in the death of Jesus?
Pilate knew the Jewish leaders had brought Jesus to him out of envy (v. 18). He was warned by his wife’s dream to have nothing to do with the righteous Jesus (v. 19). He knew Jesus had done no evil (v. 23). Pilate was afraid of a riot and spinelessly sacrificed Jesus to avoid upsetting the crowd (v. 24). The simple fact that he wished to wash his hands of the matter shows that he knew something wicked was occurring; judges don’t wash their hands of matters in which justice is upheld (v. 25).
In the Old Testament, prophets told about the Messiah, the savior God would send to his people.
Read Isaiah 52:13–53:7. This ancient prophecy was given hundreds of years before Jesus was born. What parts of this prophecy came true in the crucifixion of Christ?
Pretty much everything Isaiah said came true, including the physical violence Jesus suffered. His face was bruised to the point that it was hard to recognize him, he was pierced and crushed and afflicted, he was led to the slaughter and yet did not speak in his defense.
The prophecy also includes the non-physical but equally painful and unjust treatment Jesus suffered. He was despised and rejected, he was stricken and smitten by God. The prophecy even talks about the way Jesus suffered for us. He bore our griefs, and God laid all our iniquity (sinfulness) on him. The chastisement (punishment) he suffered brought us peace, and his wounds brought us healing.
Jews, Romans, and even the robbers hanging from crosses on either side of Jesus all mocked and reviled Jesus. What does it mean to be mocked? What did these people do and say to mock Jesus?
Their mockery had a major theme: Jesus’ claim to be king of the Jews. The crown of thorns, the reed, the scarlet robe, and the sign placed on the cross were all meant to undercut Jesus’ royal status. Kings don’t get crucified.
Their mockery had a minor theme, too: Jesus’ claim to be the powerful Son of God. They twisted his words about the destruction of the temple. (But it’s interesting that they didn’t seem to deny Jesus had “saved others.” His miracles were hard to deny.) In their view, the Son of God doesn’t get crucified.
How wrong they were! Jesus was never more King than when he submitted his body to be battered. He was never more Son of God than when he took the punishment for human sin.
Read Luke 23:39–43. Compare this passage with Matthew 26:44.
Apparently, one of the robbers crucified with Jesus had a change of heart. At first, both robbers were mocking (as Matthew describes). Later, one of the robbers expresses his faith in Jesus (as Luke describes). It would have been comical for the dying Jesus to promise to be with the robber in paradise—if it weren’t perfectly true.
What does this lesson tell us about God, Jesus, and ourselves?
Who is God?
He is the careful planner of history, the one who told of the future sufferings of his Son countless years before they occurred.
Who is Jesus?
The faithful Son, who was faithful even when he was killed on the cross.
Who are we?
We are one of the robbers on either side of Jesus. We mock him; then we either die a rebel or have a change of heart and receive his mercy.
Check the blog next Friday for Family Easter Bible Study Week 4—Jesus Dies and Is Buried.
This post has been adapted from the original article by Mark Ward in the March 2020 issue of Bible Study Magazine.