The Crucifixion - The One Year Christian History

The Crucifixion

They crucified their King.

THE PREVIOUS night the chief priests and Pharisees had sent a battalion of Roman soldiers with Judas to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and take him to trial before the high priest and the Sanhedrin.

After the trial ended in the early hours of the morning of April 3, A.D. 33, Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.

“Are you the King of the Jews?” he asked him. . . .

Jesus answered, “I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Pilate replied, “You are a king then?”

“You say that I am a king, and you are right,” Jesus said. . . .

Then [Pilate] went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. But you have a custom of asking me to release someone from prison each year at Passover. So if you want me to, I’ll release the King of the Jews.”

But they shouted back, “No! Not this man but Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a criminal.)

“But if I release Barabbas,” Pilate asked them, “what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

And they all shouted, “Crucify him!”

Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere . . . so he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours!”

And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”

So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, and then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him. (John 18:33-40; Matthew 27:22-26)

The next event was truly remarkable. Though Jesus had been born to be king and had been anointed by the Holy Spirit following his baptism (Acts 10:38), he had never been officially crowned. After the soldiers beat Jesus, they coronated him—using all the major features of the coronation of a caesar.

In the Roman Empire, the soldiers frequently chose the next caesar. Here the soldiers set a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head and put a royal purple robe on him (John 19:2). (At this time becoming caesar was known as “donning the purple.”) They placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter and knelt before him in mockery, yelling, “Hail! King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29).

“Then Pilate went outside again and said to the people, ‘I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand that I find him not guilty.’ Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, ‘Here is the man!’

“When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’ So they took Jesus and led him away” (John 19:4-6, 16).

On Skull Hill (in Hebrew, “Golgotha”) they crucified him between two thieves. Pilate had a sign placed over him that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” At three in the afternoon an earthquake shook Jerusalem as he died, just as the Passover lambs were being slain all over Jerusalem (John 19:19-30; Matthew 27:33-51). The apostle Paul later wrote, “When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of his people so that they might be forgiven on a just basis.


April 3, A.D. 33, was the most important date in human history because on the cross the newly crowned King of kings suffered and died, paying the penalty for all the sins of his people. All who trust him as their Savior and King receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Have you trusted him?

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Matthew 27:54

From the Book:

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The One Year Christian History
By E. Michael Rusten and Sharon O. Rusten

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