God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox… for appreciating God
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Pilate is surprised by Joseph’s request; he’s never heard of anyone dying six hours after crucifixion. The priests had warned him about deception, so after checking with the centurion, and hearing his account, he gives Joseph permission to have Jesus’ body.
Both Joseph and Nicodemus have lost all fear of priests and fellow rulers. They had not openly showed their belief in Jesus, thinking they could do him more good if they remained in the Sanhedrin. For a time they did, but their attachment became evident, and they were excluded from his trial.
They have been connecting Jesus’ words with scripture and are maybe the only disciples not surprised at Jesus’ death. Now they come forward at just the time when their money and influence are needed.
The grieving and fearful disciples are surprised and grateful that these two wealthy religious leaders are as interested in their Lord as they are.
John helps Joseph and Nicodemus tenderly take Jesus off of the cross themselves, all of their tears falling freely on his body as they clean his wounds and prepare him for burial. They wrap him in the new linen and the spices Nicodemus has brought.
Joseph tells the others about his tomb in a garden close by, and that he has prepared it for Jesus.
The disciples’ feelings of helplessness are relieved, their pain somewhat eased.
They carry Jesus to the new tomb in a new sheet, the women following. Jesus is given a burial as honored as any in Jerusalem.
Matthew 27:55-61,  Mark 15:40-47,  Luke 23:49-56,  John 19:38-42
After the earthquake, unearthly stillness covers the crucifixion site.
Many who had joined the crowd from curiosity, and were caught up in crying for his death, now accused by their consciences, go home, strangely silent.
Five men are forever changed that day: three are the centurion, the thief, and the cross carrier.
But the priests are not changed.  And strangely fearful now, they are not wishing the bodies to hang on their crosses over Passover, so they ask Pilate to break their legs to hasten death and take them down for the Sabbath.
Pilate gives the order; but the soldier fulfilling it, sees Jesus is already dead, and doesn’t break his legs, fulfilling prophecy.*
The priests’ uneasiness grows. They can’t believe Jesus is dead, and feel more afraid of the dead Messiah than the living one. They suggest the soldiers make sure Jesus is dead, so a soldier puts his spear in his side and out comes two streams: blood and water, suggesting that he died from a broken heart.  Another prophecy fulfilled.**
John and several women watch, agonizing over the thought of Jesus going into the graveyard made for criminals. Their faith in him is gone, but they have never loved him more. If only they had money, or at least influence with Pilate!
Now two others, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, come forward. Both have secretly been disciples of Jesus, hoping to protect him, and  both are wealthy and know Pilate. Joseph goes to him and asks for Jesus’ body. Convicted, they become bold.
Matthew 27:55-61,  Mark 15:40-47,  Luke 23:48-52,  John 19:31-38, *Numbers 9:12 **Psalm 69:20
Unfortunately, when Jesus died this long controversy between God and Satan wasn’t over.
Jesus had won the war, but huge questions lingered in the universe–especially about death. Unless answered, evil would survive to rise again.
Security means full transparency. Even the walls of the New Jerusalem are described as transparent.* God had been operating with full disclosure for billions of years.
But then Lucifer challenged the Godhead. I believe he wanted to be a creator. Since he couldn’t be, (he was created) dissatisfaction caused defection. (I think it took eons–with God always trying to reveal the truth about his choices and win him back).**
The problem for the angels was he had so hidden his real character in deception that none of the angels or unfallen beings saw through him. He focused his huge intellect on deceiving through doubt, challenging God’s boundaries, implying, “God is holding out on you.”***
His attack has always centered on God’s way–His law–His character.
In God’s home, he said perfect beings shouldn’t need law. After leaving, he said God’s law was impossible to keep. And after he was successful with humans, he said God couldn’t forgive them, that mercy and justice were incompatible. Forgiving wasn’t just. But humans hadn’t experienced God’s love as he had.
After Jesus died, Satan said Jesus’ death destroyed the law.
But Jesus said his death established law–proved God’s goodness and justice–took our death so we could choose life.****
So for this confusion God gives time. Everyone must be fully convinced in his own mind.*****
*Revelation 20:10-11,  **Isaiah 14:12-14   My book on the beginning of evil–the story behind our creation, Love’s Playbook 1, is available at Amazon and on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IESOQNW
*** Genesis 3:4-5  ****Satan’s twist on Colossians 2 and Romans 7/Jesus on law: Matthew 5:17-19, Romans 7:7-12 ***** Romans 14:4-5
Ever since his success with Adam, Satan has tried to ruin the minds and hearts of humans. God has countered, working for their uplifting, even adding hatred of evil into our broken natures.*
The questioning universe watched.
When Jesus entered our world, Satan was amazed that God would actually become a human, and focused his power and anger on him. In every stage of his life, he was opposed and oppressed, but the more subtle Satan’s temptations, the more fierce his opposition, the more tightly Jesus hung onto his Father’s hand.
The whole universe watched intently as Jesus entered the final conflicts with those who pretended to know and represent God, especially the last 24 hours of his life.
They saw him in Gethsemane, near death, enclosed by legions of dark angels, struggling. They couldn’t bear to watch anymore. And once His choice was made, Gabriel was sent to comfort and encourage him.
They looked on, horrified, as he was betrayed, abused, and denied. They saw Satan and his demons stirring up the mob outside Pilate’s judgment hall. Their eyes were opened.
They couldn’t recognize their former friends, once beautiful angels, in the dark evil powers encircling the cross. With grief and amazement they watched as Jesus was crucified. They saw that Satan was responsible, they saw that separation from God’s love kills, and they saw how much God’s love would cause all Three of Them to suffer.
Satan’s true identity as a liar and a murderer was clear. The deceiver was unmasked, his pretense stripped from him–finally.**
Isaiah 33:1, 32:1-7   *Genesis 3:15,  **Love’s Playbook, episode 1, this story of the beginning of evil, is available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad
Jesus’ cry, “IT IS FINISHED!” rang from world to world through the universe with great celebration. The battle over, earth was won. Jesus, as the second Adam, had succeeded as a man; and ransomed our world from Satan!
But even bigger was the assurance that the universe was eternally secure. The truth about God and Satan and sin was finally plain.
Long before our creation, Lucifer (also known as Satan) was trying to persuade angels and other worlds that he was working for their good by exposing God’s true character. Dissatisfaction that he created among the angels was blamed on God. His artful deception prevented them from understanding cause and effect, and Satan’s changing character.
Because he had been the covering cherub,”…the highest of all created beings,”* he had been right next to God–living in Love! That closeness gave him more power to deceive. The angels loved and believed him. God worked long, lovingly educating to turn Lucifer back.**
After his break with God’s principles, Satan could use any false manipulation.
And especially after Satan caused humanity’s separation from God, it became easier to twist perception and bring fear into serving God.
This is why the Godhead decided that he must be kept alive and given time to show his true character, so his actions would be clearly observed by the whole universe. God’s authority rests on truth, love, and goodness. He never uses compelling force, only compelling evidence.
But as the universe watched Jesus life, especially those final hours, they were amazed and appalled.
* Ezekiel 28:12-18,   Isaiah 14:12-17,  **My imagination of this story–the beginning of evil–is available from Amazon and in Kindle books under the title Love’s Playbook: The Real Story of Cosmic Love and War episode 1 http://www.amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad
 The people around the cross stand as if paralyzed, holding their breath, gazing at Jesus.
Again the darkness settles and a horrific rumbling is heard deep in the earth.  Terror grabs priests, soldiers, friends, enemies, and the curious as a violent earthquake shakes them to the  ground. Thunder and lightening increase the deafening noise and commotion. Huge rocks split, heaving fragments; graves open and once-dead people come out. All creation seems to be protesting and lamenting together at its creator’s death.
The centurion officiating at Jesus death, says with awe, “Truly, he was the Son of God.” Even to a pagan Roman, Jesus’ God-like self-containment, and the disruption in the natural world speak clearly without coincidence. He isn’t accustomed to seeing men die so quickly, or triumphantly.
The centurion isn’t the only one awed.  All of heaven is.  Amazed angels and unfallen worlds watched with intense interest and emotion as Jesus endured horrible treatment from those he had come to rescue, still expressing caring and compassion for others. They watched him die by ungrateful hands, and at times couldn’t watch, it was so horrible. Now they see who was telling the truth.
As hard as it is to believe, they hadn’t really understood the nature of Lucifer’s rebellion, or his character, until they watched Jesus’ death on the cross. In those agonizing hours, when Jesus couldn’t feel God’s presence, they looked away. Jesus hung onto the evidence in his life. He knew the Father’s character, his great love, fairness, and mercy. His faith held him steadfast.
Matthew 27:51-54,  Mark 15:39,  Luke 23:47-48
The intense darkness over the area lifts from the hill after three hours, but it still covers Jesus and Jerusalem. The Father covers his son’s last agony of death and His house.
About three o’clock Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”
God isn’t killing Jesus; he is suffering the wrath of God: They are showing the whole universe what happens when God doesn’t rescue, when He allows evil power, and the consequences of our choices, and withdraws from those who don’t choose His life-giving power.
Satan’s whisperings are so loud Jesus can’t see through his death. He feels no connection. He feels no hope. The separation seems so real, so final, it literally breaks his heart. He doesn’t even feel the physical pain.
Suddenly, the gloom lifts, and in trumpet-like triumph Jesus cries out, “IT IS FINISHED!” The cross is encircled in light and he continues, “Father, my life is in your hands.” At these words, the sense of his Father’s love and presence returns, and his face shines like the sun. Jesus bows his head and dies, by faith the winner in the war between good and evil.
At that moment, the temple priest raises the knife over a lamb for the evening sacrifice, the earth begins to shake, and a loud sound of ripping causes horror, as the curtain veiling the Most Holy Place tears from top to bottom. The knife falls from the priest’s terrified, limp hand. The lamb escapes. There is no need for veil or lamb anymore.
Matthew 27:45-51,  Mark 15:33-38,  Luke 23:44-46,  John 19:28-30
Hearing the words of the condemned man, Jesus’ heart lifts with joy, strengthening him. In the hush of anticipation, His melodious, caring voice responds immediately to the thief, “I promise you today, (even though it looks hopeless) you will be with me in paradise.” A  gleam of sunlight pierces the dark– the affirming token of his success.
Humans can take his clothes, his dignity, even his life, but they can’t take his compassion, or his ability to forgive and redeem.
Spirit’s peace and comfort surround the thief until his death many days later–normal death by crucifixion sometimes takes weeks.
Now Jesus sees his mother’s grief-worn face. John has brought her back. He had to come back, and she wanted to come too, needing to be with her son until the end.
Jesus feels her questions and her suffering. She was so sure I would be crowned king–if she only understood. His heart reaches hers and tenderly he says to her, “Mother, he is your son,” and to John, “She is your mother.” Afterwards, John took her to his home, and cared for her, their shared love comforting them both.
At noon, a midnight-darkness covers the land for three hours. Now and again thunder cracks, with lightening flashes revealing the cross.
The people think God’s anger is directed at Jesus, when in truth, the darkness is to cover and contain the presence of all three Deity at the cross, to keep their energy from destroying the crowd. Father and Spirit are there, suffering with Jesus, but even he can’t see or feel them.
Matthew 27:45-56,  Mark 15:33-41,  Luke 23:43-49,  John 19:25-30
The soldiers thrust the cross into the hole made for it, causing agony to Jesus.
“I’m thirsty,” he says from the cross, hanging between heaven and earth.
A soldier brings a sedating mix for pain, but after tasting it, Jesus refuses it. His mind must be clear. Faith is all he has to keep hold on God, his only strength.
The soldiers divide his clothing and roll dice for his seamless robe.
Mocking and jesting increase, “If you’re the son of God, come down from the cross and we’ll believe you,” sneers one priest.
“Yes, he trusted in God, let Him save him now if He wants him,” adds another.
Jesus could come down. Instead he chooses to win the war and our freedom.
The thieves hanging on either side join the abuse in the beginning, but one is not a hardened criminal. He’d heard Jesus speak, and his heart responded, but he was misguided by the priests. To silence his conviction and conscience he became defiant, until arrested with Barabbas and condemned to die.
Watching and listening, from Pilate’s place to now, Spirit convicts him that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s sacrifice. Now he has nothing to lose.
When his comrade says “If you’re the Christ, save yourself and us!”
He responds, “Don’t you respect God even when you’re dying?  We deserve this, but he doesn’t.”  Then to Jesus he says, “Lord, remember me when you receive your kingdom.”
The people below are stunned; they stop talking to listen, waiting for Jesus’ response.
Matthew 27:33-44,  Mark 15:22-32,  Luke 23:35-42,  John 19:23-24
Arriving at the hill that looks like a skull, the victims are fastened to their crosses. The jealous priests have arranged for Jesus to be in the middle, signifying that he was the worst of them.
The thieves struggle, but Jesus doesn’t.  As the spikes are positioned, John lifts Jesus’ fainting mother away. She revives to hear him say, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
Some of the soldiers are mocking with the priests and rabble. Some are impressed; they’ve never seen anyone behave like this. Some are forever changed. And some by choices to harden their hearts make Jesus’ prayer unanswerable for them.
Either way, God wins, exposing and conquering Satan who has had the power of death; to offer those who respond the power of life.*
Offenses are often written and nailed to crosses. Pilate has a sign put above Jesus, in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, “The King of the Jews,” giving him the last word–look how the Jews treat their king.
The priests are upset with it and go to him, “Make it say ‘He said, I am King of the Jews’.” But Pilate despises them and their jealousy, and himself for giving in to them, and says, “What I have written, I have written.”
Spirit directed the writing of that sign. Thousands are in Jerusalem for Passover from many countries, and, witnessing the awful events of that Passover Friday, are drawn to study the Messianic prophecies.** Many become believers and take their new beliefs home.
Matthew 27:31-43,  Mark 15:20-32,  Luke 23: 24-38,  John 19:16-24    *Hebrews 2:14, 12:2    **Psalm 22:16-18,  Isaiah 53 (over 200 prophecies scattered in various Old Testament Scriptures, especially Psalms, Isaiah, and Zechariah)