The Death of the Messiah Foreseen and Explained
Incidentally, I am 53. But it is a coincidence.
Then, I wonder: is it?
Is it really a coincidence? Or is it rather, as my pastor says, a God-incident?
Is it a coincidence that I got to Malta right on time for a conference and that the reading of the Word of God put in my heart to write this book?
God’s will must be taken seriously. It is no joke. Also, I consider a matter of personal safety to know that He is in control. He knows the end from the beginning. He Himself is the Beginning and the End: cause of all things and reason of all things.
If you are not a believer, please don’t put this book down because maybe you just realized it is a Christian book. Give God a chance. Because if you are patient enough and open minded enough, you are about to be led to contemplate the most amazing Bible prophecy: spoken of by a man of God centuries before that the events actually came to pass.
The passage we are about to consider is also emotionally quite relevant. One cannot remain indifferent when considering the sufferings endured by the man Isaiah 53 speaks about. Only a heart of stone will not be touched by the great motives and the results of those sufferings.
Isaiah 53 is the greatest love story ever told. True love. Unconditional love. A love so great that led the Son of God, God himself, to leave his throne in Heaven and walk among us, knowing it would only lead to being rejected and eventually killed.
I chose to use the Jewish Publication Society’ version of Isaiah. Yet, at the end of the book the reader will find the King James Version’s, my favorite Bible in English.
For the quotations throughout the book I used the New King James Version.
May the Holy Spirit use all these blessed means to touch the heart of the reader in a supernatural way as He alone can do.
Gzira, Malta, June, 2022.
|1||Who would have believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed?
|2||For he shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of a dry ground; he had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him.
|3||He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
|4||Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
|5||But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.
|6||All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all.
|7||He was oppressed, though he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth.
|8||By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living,
for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.
|9||And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich his tomb; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
|10||Yet it pleased the LORD to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of the LORD might prosper by his hand:
|11||Of the travail of his soul he shall see to the full,
even My servant, who by his knowledge did justify the Righteous One to the many, and their iniquities he did bear.
|12||Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
|13||New Testament quotations of Isaiah 53
|14||Isaiah 53 King James Version||101|
Who would have believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed?
I have been a Christian since I was thirteen. I discovered the Bible around that age. Having been a Catholic up until then, I was a bit mad that the priest had kept that book hidden from me. When I found out about its existence, I let no-one stand between me and:
The Reading of the Word of God
The Understanding of the Word of God
The Blessings that are in the Bible and that belong to me
I remember I was so excited. My whole family welcomed the Gospel for what it truly is, good news. And when you have something good, first thing you do is… you want to share it. So, I spoke to my friends. I spoke to relatives. I spoke to my teacher in school, who was a priest.
No-one cared. No-one accepted my invite to come over to my church, that small place I loved so much, because of all the blessings I received there. No-one was interested in the Bible like I was. No-one even wanted to talk about it. Welcome to Italy in 1982.
I guess verse one is true. I proved it right in my life, no-one actually believed what I witnessed. Because, if someone really believed that if you die unsaved you go to hell, they would try desperately to be saved more than anything else. And so, when they heard that God had provided a wonderful way out of hell in Jesus, so that we don’t have to die, but heavens’ doors can be wide open for us, they should have welcomed this news like no other.
It was sad to see people’s reaction to me as I spoke to them about the love of God.
You know what is the saddest reply when one tells you, “I love you”? It is, “Thank you.”
“Thank you” is the saddest way a person can reply to you when you tell them that you love them. It happened to me and I know it hurts.
I was telling people that I had discovered God’s love, but people were not even at the “thank you” level of reply. They were totally indifferent, simply uninterested, not even willing to actually consider the matter seriously.
Probably, I wasn’t the best witness. Probably, I wasn’t credible enough. But even more probably, as I had to discover in the years that followed, people simply do not care about God’s love. They give all His blessings for granted: food, air, sun, health, life, etc. They believe it is all due to them.
God’s report is a report of love. God’s love. Because, His love is manifest in His Word, from Genesis to Revelation. It even became a man, Jesus of Nazareth, the tangible evidence of the love of God.
When God will judge this world, He will do it according to men’s reaction to the news of God’s eternal love.
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10)
We cannot give God’s patience for granted. We cannot give His blessings for granted. Those who do are literally insulting Him, they are showing no respect or appreciation for His love.
How do you feel if you love a person and that person will show no care at all for your tender and gentle feelings or, even worse, take advantage of your love?
Okay, you don’t believe what we say. But, have you ever seriously considered that God is, that there actually is a God that loves us?
If there is a building, there must be a construction company. If there is a medicine, there must be a pharmaceutical company somewhere. If I sit on a chair, someone must have crafted it into its shape. Etc.
Today, it has been a long day. I got back from the church at 10:00 pm. I went out to eat a pizza. It was delicious. Then, I took a short walk. I looked at the beautiful sea here in Sliema, Malta. The sky has so many stars. People around me walk and talk. Someone walks or is walked by a dog. I slowly head for my home, thinking how ridiculous is the thought that all this is simply the result of chaos, chance, fortune. A mother giving birth to a baby. The fact that we are aware of reality, understand it and interpret it. It seems as if our creator did not leave us without a witness of His existence.
We cannot look at the sky above and not feel with all of our inner being that there is someone above us, our Creator.
Those who believe, receive the revelation of God in their lives. He – His arm – is present in the life of those who trust in Him in a mighty and intimate way, through His Spirit, who is His almost tangible presence.
Our spirit longs for the communion we lost with God. The feeling of uneasiness that abides in the heart of many, that makes them look for something in their lives, because something is missing, though they do not know what it is exactly… Well, that “something” missing is God.
I believe we all miss the Garden experience. It is as if we miss something that we forgot, yet we miss it anyway. It is like that uncomfortable feeling I get when I wake up from a wonderful dream, which I do not even remember.
Humanity feels like that child abandoned by his parents. Someone even dared say that God is dead. Yet, I believe it is only men’s stubbornness and stony heart that causes separation between them and God.
We are all runaways and it is God who is waiting for us to come back home. The story of the prodigal son was told by Jesus with a purpose.
But why do we have to come back?
Coming back to God means giving up our self and embrace unity with him again, as it was in the Garden, when man and God walked together and lived a relationship of absolute and complete love.
Unfortunately, the world we live in today is not Eden. The peaceful atmosphere of old cannot be re-created here on earth at the moment. Yet, God can restore the communion we enjoyed individually. The world rejects God, His way, His will, His love. People “want it all, want it now and want it their way.” But not God’s way.
So, the Garden experience is individual. It belongs to those really interested in it. It is meant to be for those ready to fight for it. It is accessible to everyone, yet possible only to those who are actually motivated.
That is why Jesus said,
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)
It is not easy. In a world running towards nothing, speeding up towards the absolute void of dissolution and depravation, you must be strong and deeply motivated to enter the kingdom of God.
Once you are in, living the kingdom’s experience is an amazing, daily adventure. To those who are in the kingdom, “the arm of the Lord” has truly been revealed. They understand God’s plan. They know the Creator is also a Redeemer – Jesus. They know that God can dwell inside the believer – the Holy Spirit. They know God cares for them and will watch their every step from above – God the Father.
Those who have been believers for a long time know from experience about God’s supernatural provision.
I know people have a good explanation for all the “miraculous” things that have happened in my life. And I do too: if I want to be rational, I can find a rational explanation for everything. But, I need to be honest with myself in order to have the correct interpretation of events.
A one-time event is a coincidence. Two, yes, may be a coincidence too. Three, depends on how long time elapsed from coincidence number two. And so on. But, forty years of God-incidents in my life are no coincidences, they are the hand of God upon my life, the evidence of His supernatural blessing and protection.
So, we can sit down and talk. You may have your opinion and I can have mine. But I know what has happened in my life for the past forty years and that is no joke, no opinion. Even if I tried to find an explanation for all the miracles I have experienced and seen, I would not be honest if I denied the presence of God, His constant intervention in my life and in the life of the people surrounding me. I should lie to deny the revelation of God’s hand in my life.
Who is the arm of the Lord that has been revealed?
The Lord is present, the Lord saves.
The greatest Revelation and manifestation of God’s provision is in Jesus of Nazareth. The Son of God. The Messiah. The Savior, because “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” but the name of Jesus. No other name, no-one else.
I know what some readers are thinking. Christianity is just another religion. Well, maybe this is bad news for you, but it is not. It is supposed to be The Good News – the Gospel. It turns into bad news only when you don’t believe it.
Every law is good and made to help people live peacefully. It is not the law’s fault if you pay the consequences because you decide not to keep it. If you pass the red lights and are killed in the process, it is not the red light’s fault, it is your fault.
Some people don’t believe in God, but they are ready to put the blame on him for anything they don’t like in this world or for their misfortunes. The principle of the red light applies here, too. It is a warning when we read in the Word:
“he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
Some may complain: you see, your God is evil. No, He is not. He is good. He could have just let each one go our way to perdition, yet he provided a way of escape. The words we read are for those who are not interested in changing their ways and receive God’s way of Salvation.
God makes it clear:
“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)
Without God’s intervention we would be lost. To refuse God’s intervention, his arm, his Son, will simply mean to blindly and stubbornly continue on a road that leads to perdition.
In this perspective, is it really God’s fault like some claim?
We may put the blame on the serpent, but ultimately the choice is ours.
For he shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of a dry ground; he had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him.
The Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small village a bit further than six miles south of Jerusalem during the days of king Herod, about 2030 years ago.
Surprisingly, his birth was expected by a group of wise men who came from the east to Jerusalem to see him. They entered the city and began to ask around, probably giving for granted that the thing was known to the people there.
“Where is He who is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2)
Of course king Herod, was not so excited by the fact that there was another king in town and decided to try to understand what was going on. So, he asked the chief priests and the scribes concerning the place where the Messiah was supposed to be born.
This situation was all crazy. Everything was upside down, literally.
The Jews should have been the one eagerly waiting for the Messiah to bring the reign of peace and prosperity promised to David’s descendants. Yet, only some strangers from the east knew he had already been born and were ready to welcome him as king.
In fact, not only Herod was upset, but the whole town of Jerusalem was troubled, (Matthew 2:3).
Having learned from the Jewish religious leaders where the Messiah should have been born, Herod called the wise men and “inquired of them exactly what time the star appeared.” (Matthew 2:7) “And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child. And when you have found him, bring me word again so that I may come and worship him also.” (Matthew 2:8)
We all know the story, what a terrible action followed by that evil king and how Jesus and his family had to hide in Egypt till the death of Herod.
But, who were these wise men?
Tradition says they were three. The Bible does not say that. Three were their gifts. But the number of wise men is unknown.
Though the average person today would suppose the event of the star leading to the Messiah must be connected to astrology, it has nothing to do with it. It is pure astronomical studies that led the wise men, scientific observations of the stars which were normally carried out by the Babylonians.
Today, you can easily go online and do some research on this fascinating discovery: hundreds of years of astronomical observations were recorded on tablets and kept in the archives of the ancient middle-east. Many are now in the British Museum. I am sure the people must have been thinking of those scientists of old as “magicians”, men gifted with supernatural powers, since they were able to predict eclipses and other astronomical phenomena.
I am not saying anything new when I say that Daniel, the Old Testament prophet, a captive in Babylon but at the same time a man who gained a high position, was probably one of them, or was not unknown to the circle of the “wise” men in the ancient east. His career began in Babylon, but he was also in charge when the Persians took over. Read the book of Daniel to find out.
Daniel received a specific prophecy, known as the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy, where the years until the coming of the Messiah were revealed. It would be no wonder if the other wise men at the court knew about it and believed it. Then, they must have calculated what astronomical phenomena could be connected to it, since in ancient times important events were naturally believed to be accompanied by planetary signs. They must have calculated that a star, or a comet would appear in that time frame and so they handed down this belief for centuries till the time had come.
The ancient eastern “wise” men were scientists. They had a level of knowledge and understanding of physical phenomena the uninformed man of the XXI century would never dream of. They had discovered all the planets we know. Except one, the last, Pluto. Yet, probably they were right in not counting it, since scientific doubts are growing concerning the fact that Pluto is actually a planet.
If you have doubts about what I have just written, please see a professional astronomer and a professional historian – I have consulted both before coming to my conclusions. Which lately I found out are not mine alone, since others have independently come up to the same explanation concerning the astronomical related event and the birth of our Savior.
It all aligns perfectly. History, astronomy, science, the Bible. Quite disturbing. I understand. It may mean that probably, when some consider the Bible wrong, perhaps they are simply not well enough informed to judge its contents. Or, let us be honest, they may be just a bit afraid to consider the possibility that its spiritual authority too should be taken into serious consideration.
Whether we believe it or not, a Savior was born over two thousand years ago. He had been promised in the Scriptures. In many passages. Too many. No-one can claim in history to have fulfilled all the Old Testament messianic prophecies.
Let us continue to talk science.
“The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. A professor at Westmont College, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students. The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students. However the professor then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair.
Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented.”
Examining only eight of the hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah, the odds that one man fulfilled them all are 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
To the Christian reader this would give him joy and reassurance – if necessary – that our faith is not irrational, but hyper rational, supernaturally rational, since it abides with the standards of the most incredible intellect in the universe, God’s!
To the casual reader, who for various reasons is not interested in acknowledging Jesus as the promised Christ, I ask: Are you sure? Do you feel so safe to lean on your own personal judgment?
The problem is not philosophical, it is not a mere religious behavior we are considering here. But the love relationship that God wants to restore with his creatures. A love so strong that led him to send his Son. If we receive his love, then we can restore that communion lost because of sin, the stubborn attitude of man to carry on his own agenda.
Millions have found freedom and life in two Bible passages which I am about to quote. I invite the reader to seriously consider God’s way, choose it rather than the world’s way. It will bring a change, a real change for the better in all the areas of his life, bring him peace like nothing else in the world can. It will literally open the doors of Heaven and eternal life.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:11-12).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
I remember John Lennon sang: “Give peace a chance.” I wish the world leaders had paid heed to his invite. Anyway, here I say: “Give God a chance.” And I believe it would be very, very wise to consider this possibility. I gave God a chance forty years ago. To this day, this is one of the few things in my life I don’t regret.
Why was Jesus born?
Many people believe he was a prophet. A good man. Ultimately, a religious leader, killed by his fellow countrymen or the invaders of his land.
Jesus was none of this.
“he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is? They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-14)
Then Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.””(Matthew 16:15-16)
Jesus left His glory in Heaven and
“made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)
Jesus is God manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), God literally choosing to become one of us, with a specific mission: Redeem the world.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34)
This is what Isaiah 53 talks about. The sufferings of Jesus and the meaning of his death. Hundreds of years before it all took place, the Spirit of God inspired his prophet to write what would happen to the Messiah and why this would happen to him.
Isaiah 53 is one of the most important chapters of the Bible. It speaks of love, endless love, unconditional love, even more than it is a prophecy fulfilled.
He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
No-one would expect such a thing to happen after the glorious ministry of Jesus.
It all began with a joyful preaching of the gospel (the good news) of the Kingdom. It was after his baptism in the river Jordan that Jesus began to preach and to say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
The powerful and revolutionary words of Jesus were followed by all kinds of miracles and healings performed by him.
In Matthew chapters five and six Jesus teaches wonderful spiritual truths to the masses and to his disciples.
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them…” (Matthew 5:1-2)
I like the historical accuracy of Matthew. A Rabbi, a Jewish teacher, would stand as he read the Tanakh, the Hebrew Old Testament, but he would sit down when teaching. Probably Jesus sat on a hill in order to make sure that the large crowd could hear him. Then he utters words that have echoed in the world and have been cherished by Christians for two thousand years.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Judge not, that you be not judged.
Ask, and it will be given to you
Seek, and you will find
Knock, and it will be opened to you.
The conclusion of his teaching is so true. All we have to do to prove it right is consider the lives of those who follow Jesus and compare them with the lives of those who decide to live according to worldly principles.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
Jesus’ teachings were confirmed by miracles.
“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)
The people loved Jesus, but the attitude of the religious leadership of his time was not as equally open. They would question Jesus as they would have probably have done with any other rabbi. But soon they discovered he was not like the other teachers.
“…the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)
The Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Priests, being the religious Jewish leaders they all became interested in Jesus’ ministry, as soon as it became popular. But their approach was different. It is hard to deal with those who think they know it all, those who feel superior to the commoners, who believe they are special, set apart, those who forgot that a religious man must be seek God first, humbly, and serve, instead of supposing arrogantly that they are in a privileged position because of their individual merits or conduct.
After various confrontations, where he openly rebuked the leaders, openly questioning their authority and their interpretation of the Scriptures, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem as a king would do. Then, he goes into the temple and
“overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)
It was no joke. Jesus acted here as the Messiah. The religious were confused, even scared. Scared to lose their privileges, their high position. The Lord had no fear to tell them openly that that was the case with them.
“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.” (Matthew 21:33-46)
It may not sound so evident to us, but it was quite clear for the chief priests and the Pharisees that Jesus was actually speaking about them.
The “landowner” is God, the “vineyard” is Israel. In Isaiah 5:7 we read,
“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.”
The vinedressers were the leaders of Israel. The servants God sent, were the Old Testament prophets. Now, God sends his Son and what do the leaders do? They kill him. The parable might not be understood by the people. May be. But its meaning was far too evident for those it was directly spoken to. Instead of repenting, all the Jews did was try to lay hands on him.
From this moment on, the confrontation would not be theological. They actually wanted to kill Jesus, so that they might continue with their lives undisturbed.
A few days later, soldiers came to seize him. One of the twelve, Judas, betrayed him and brought them where he was with the other disciples.
Late on a Thursday night, Jesus was arrested. In that moment, everyone left him alone. Everybody disappeared. The crowds. The healed. The listeners. Those who had welcomed him as the son of David when entering the town of Jerusalem. Even his disciples.
Jesus stood alone in front of his accusers. His trial was a farce.
Death penalty was quickly executed the Roman way, hanging Jesus on a cross.
Only his mother and John were at the feet of the cross, the rest of the disciples were scattered, probably lost in fear and in doubt. The man whom they thought was their Messiah had been easily executed by the Romans. He had performed many signs, wonders, miracles. He had even walked on the water. Why did he not resist his arrest, manifest his power, overcome the Romans, take his legitimate place as king of Israel?
They must have thought: Maybe, he simply wasn’t who they thought he was and even he claimed he was.
Daniel had foreseen how the people would deal with the Messiah. He wrote five centuries before it happened,
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself
We can also translate this passage,
Messiah shall suffer the death penalty, but not for Himself
The words of Isaiah 53 actually referred to him.
But why did this happen? Why did Jesus have to die?
Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
The same Peter who had realized who Jesus was and confessed it publicly, was later openly rebuked by the Lord because of his total lack of spiritual insight.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
One thing must be understood about the spiritual realm. God’s plan must be seen through the spirit, in the Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that gives us revelation and understanding. If we are not open to let God work in our hearts and minds and we use a worldly, human, carnal perspective we will never understand or accept God’s plan for our redemption.
“…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”(1 Corinthians 2:14)
Let us go back to the very beginning of the story, to a place called Eden, where God created man and woman. There they lived in perfect harmony, the Creator and the creature.
What we read in Genesis is the sad story of an event that changed history. For worse. If you forget the preconceived ideas of today’s society and look into the deep meaning, the actual, deep spiritual meaning of what went on in the garden, you will discover the beginning of man’s disobedience and stubbornness and the wonderful plan of redemption which God prepared for those who wanted to recover that “garden experience.”
We all know what happened, the events. But here we are more interested in understanding the consequences in the spirit realm.
God entrusted man his creation. At a certain moment, man decided not to trust God anymore, stopped believing that His Creator was absolutely and uniquely acting out of love for his creature. They (Man) began to believe that maybe God was hiding something. They questioned His love. So, they decided to do it their own way and chose to deliberately break God’s commandment, which was not seen as a way to prevent damage and pain anymore, but as a useless limitation that perhaps was even motivated by God’s fear of losing his leading position.
Sin entered the world.
The consequences of choosing to do things our own way were not hidden to man. God had said openly what would eventually happen if the law of the garden would have been broken. Yet, Man lost their “faith” in God, they doubted that God was sincere and honest when he spoke, they began to think that God had his own selfish reasons. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
The way to the garden was sealed. The tree of life became unreachable, and death entered the history of man.
It was man’s choice.
Even in that terrible hour, when destiny of mankind was drastically changing, God showed man that he had a plan. He showed us that he had prepared a way: Man could go his own way, and it’s okay, it is his choice. But to those who wanted to restore what was lost, God showed them he already had something in mind to save the day, a plan that would perfectly interact with Man’s freedom and bring life to those who trusted Him like Man did in the garden, unconditionally, before sinning.
“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)
God had to kill an animal because of Man’s sin, in order to clothe them. Were they unable to do it? The point is not this. The spiritual meaning is so evident, God would provide a solution (a way of redemption) for Man’s fallen state. It was evident by the fact that man did only hide from God’s sight but did not try to cover himself. They knew the problem but did not know how to solve it. So, God had to do it.
When Jesus became a man, he came to undo what Man had done in that garden: through his obedience he destroyed the consequences of disobedience. And he was obedient though that led him to death, by the hands of men.
”Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
I remember a while ago, when I was an employee. Sometimes, for certain matters, I had to move to the side and my boss would step in and solve the problem. The same happens here. No-one could provide a way out of Man’s fallen state but God himself.
Are you a rational being and want evidence of this? I will give you good evidence.
Man has only been able to “hide” his condition of sin, learning to live with it and even like it. If he has ever seriously tried to solve humanity’s problems, well, it is under our very eyes, he has failed miserably. Both on an individual and a global scale.
On the contrary, as he promised through the centuries, God himself became a man to redeem mankind. The evidence is the reality of the kingdom of God, the freedom, the joy, peace, love, restored communion with God that live those who learned to trust God and rely on his plan. Of which we don’t have a full understanding in the rational, but fully understand spiritually, submitting to God’s perfect will and omniscient counsel.
At 9 am, one morning, outside of Jerusalem, three men hung from their crosses. Two thieves and Jesus of Nazareth between them. He had this inscription over his head “the king of the Jews.”
But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.
This verse of Isaiah 53 foresees the event and explains the meaning of what happened. It was not an unexpected disaster. It was the love of God made man to provide a solution to Man’s sorrow.
It did not happen by chance!
As Peter said on the day of Pentecost,
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;” (Acts 2:22-23)
The keywords here are: “determined purpose and foreknowledge.”
Jesus said some powerful words concerning this.
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)
Jesus was obedient. He let everything happen to him without using his power or authority. Look what happens to those who went to arrest him when he just utters a glorious I am from his mouth.
“Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6)
He could have freed himself effortlessly.
This is what the book of Hebrews says about the power of the Son of God,
“through whom also He (God) made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:2-3)
Not only He created the world, he also preserves it. We are talking about endless power here, and it belongs to Jesus.
So, it was only out of obedience that he laid down his life. This way the Scriptures could be fulfilled, God’s purpose and way of salvation revealed.
Abraham was a man guided by faith. He believed God with all his heart. For this God blessed him and his descendants. God tested Abraham’s faith at a certain point of his life so that through his obedience God could reveal to the future generations his foreknowledge.
God called Abraham and made a terrible request.
“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)
Some people see here an irrational, cruel request from God to Abraham. They fail to see the historical context and, as a consequence, they do not understand what God had in mind to do, the great lesson that He was about to teach His “friend” Abraham, the amazing prophetical sign that would bless the readers of the Bible for centuries.
Have you ever wondered why Abraham obeyed God’s word without even questioning him? In other instances Abraham had spoken to save the life even of evil and unknown people – see the events before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But not this time. Why?
It was common to offer the firstborn to a god or the gods, in case of a calamity or any other impending misfortune – such as a city siege. So, Abraham was not surprised. Not only his faith was tested in this specific incident, but more important than that, he had to learn a lesson about who God is.
Out of context we see this story as evidence of God’s cruelty and impossible requests to test obedience. In the proper context, we see God teaching Abraham a lesson so that he could know the nature of his God, that he was not like the other gods, that he would never require human sacrifice. In fact, while all the people in ancient times practiced human sacrifice, the people of Abraham never did! This incident reveals the goodness of God and the unnecessary cruelty of the demons behind the pagan gods.
In faith Abraham prophesied,
“God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8)
And almost two thousand years later, the lamb of God, Jesus, was provided by God for the ultimate sacrifice.
Then, because of his obedience, God does an amazing promise to Abraham which is so important for us that are not Jews.
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18)
It clearly speaks of us, the so called Gentiles, children of God because of our faith, just like Abraham, of whom we are the spiritual descendants. Notice also, that all this took place before the Law of Moses was given and this connects us even more with Abraham because we live – spiritually – by the Grace and Truth brought in by Jesus. (John 1:16)
Jesus’ death had been foreseen many centuries before. It is declared in the Scriptures of the Jews who do not believe in its saving power. Had we been the keepers of those holy writs, someone could dare say we fabricated such evidence to prove our doctrine. When we consider it, knowing it was no accident, knowing the Old Testament announces it, we are very wise to seriously consider the meaning of such an action of love and believe that truly “…he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.”
All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all.
There was no way we could have saved ourselves.
Remember the garden? All Man could do was hide. He could not solve the problem. Even today, we cannot solve the problem.
Consider now six thousand years of history, do you see how we have only proved our inability to heal the heart of Man and change our conduct, which is destroying ourselves and the planet we live in?
Sheep are strange animals. A lot of people would say that they are not intelligent. Quite the opposite is true. Their problem is their frailty. If they are caught alone, wondering, they can fall prey of wild animals very easily. They are not fast. They are not big. So, the only wise thing a sheep can do is stay connected to the flock.
Human beings also need to live in society. When we are isolated we are weak, vulnerable.
The image here is so clear,
“All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way.”
How important it is for sheep to have a shepherd. Their very lives depend upon it.
Where I come from, there are still shepherds. When you see how they care for the sheep, then you understand why God used this metaphor in the Bible to describe his care for those who put their trust in him. Today, such an image does not mean much to those raised in the cities. But see some documentary, or read about it. Then you will discover how wonderful is God’s care for us if it can be compared to a shepherd’s care for his flock.
“Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11-12)
Some people may consider the Bible outdated, also because of such language. So, I stopped and considered how I could update this description here, where I could find something so tender and sweet like a shepherd carrying a sheep or taking care of the flock in today’s cities, in the hyper-technological XXI century life. I came to the conclusion that there isn’t anything like this in our fast, careless, selfish society! How sad.
The words of Isaiah 40:11-12 that we just read clearly refer to the Lord Jesus. He openly said,
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
Indeed, he gave his life for us.
“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” (John 10:14)
Now we go back to what we said about the sheep looking like stupid animals. They are not stupid at all. At night they all go into the sheep pen. You would think each flock had their own. But that wasn’t the case. Different flocks were gathered together in one shelter. Then the shepherd would come and call them. His flock and only his flock would recognize his voice and would come out to follow him. Are you still convinced sheep are not intelligent?
How wonderful and deep are the simple words of Jesus,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.” (John 10:1-6)
Sheep follow the shepherd who takes good care of them, and live all together in order to stay safe. Are you sure they are stupid animals? I would say they are very wise.
The stupid sheep is that one who decides they can make it on their own. They expose themselves to danger and often do not survive long away from the others.
This is why God’s care for us individually is described in the words of Jesus in the following way,
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:11-14)
God loves us individually. The reason why so many people are desperate and their lives are empty is because they miss the garden experience, of loving God and being loved by God. When you recover this relationship all has a meaning, there is peace in the heart and hope for this life and the next. I am speaking out of personal experience, so I know what I am talking about.
He was oppressed, though he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth.
As we said, Jesus did not flee from those who came to arrest him. He could have, but didn’t. He was obedient to the Father and the mission he had entrusted him with, our salvation. Like Isaac, he obeyed his father.
Jesus’ trial was ridiculous.
Pontius Pilate found himself in the middle of an annoying religious contention. He did not know what to do. As far as he was concerned the man was innocent. Yet, the Jewish leaders had to be kept in serious consideration because of their strong political influence.
I find the narrative of the gospel of John quite intense. The events are described vividly.
Isaiah stresses the fact that Jesus was silent, he did not defend his cause. The Jews had already decided anyway. All the questions they had asked publicly to the Lord were not meant to understand who he was or his teachings, but to try to demolish his ministry. They felt and acted as if they were the only legitimate recipients of God’s truth. In a sense they were. But they had become spiritually empty promoters of religious practice and rites, and lovers of power and prestige.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 25-28)
Of course, the Jewish leaders hated Jesus!
The attitude towards the truth of the Word of God can be:
- Feel convicted, repent, change and live godly
- Reject God’s truth and develop rage and hatred for the manner in which God exposes sin.
“…the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Even Nicodemus, who had a sympathy for Jesus, was afraid to show it publicly, probably not to lose his privileges and position.
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night …” (John 3:1-2)
In any respect, much had already been said and after the arrest, Jesus did not speak. He did not utter a word to defend himself, though all knew he was innocent. Isaiah was fulfilled.
Pilate had a great responsibility. His position was not easy at all. In his dialogue with Jesus he shows how worried he is, but also how confused by the words of Jesus. His statement has all the doubts raised by philosophy when confronted with the certainties so directly spoken by the Jewish rabbi in front of him – this must have been his thought about Jesus.
“for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37)
The words of Pilate in response to Jesus’ claims have always fascinated me.
“Pilate said to him, ‘What is Truth?’” (John 18:38)
Culturally speaking, the western society has much in common with the Greek world of the first century. Today’s attitude is to question and doubt all that the Judeo-Christian heritage holds dear. Though no serious alternative is proposed. This simply confirms that the enemy is never going to actually build anything. He comes just to “kill and destroy.”
By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.
Jesus “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22). Yet, he was killed. The Jews gave him in the hands of the Romans and they executed the sentence.
He just and blameless died for us, sinners, so that we could make our peace with God.
“we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
Since Jesus had no guilt of any kind, why would he die and accept to die by the hands of evil men?
His death, as we have said, has a very deep meaning. Again, this meaning must be investigated in the Scriptures. The author of Hebrews explains the matter in a wonderful way. He shows the perfect, eternal counsel of God, from the Jewish perspective. Being himself a Jew, he is in a position to even rebuke his people for their ignorance (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Every time I read Hebrews I am in owe of God’s love and the magnificent plan of salvation that he provided.
“though He was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
In the old “testament” there was a temple, where many sacrifices had to be offered. Hebrews explains their true, deep, spiritual meaning, and the whole picture, from Genesis to Revelation, becomes clear.
”But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:11-15)
These words are among the most important ever written in the history of mankind. They explain the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice, the pure, absolute, spiritual, eternal truths that have brought us peace with God and redemption.
The temple in Jerusalem had been made by men, according to God’s specific directions. It all had material, visible elements, that visibly represented invisible spiritual and heavenly realities. When Jesus came the heavenly and eternal took the place of the material and temporary.
“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:24-26)
The old testament sacrifices could only cover sin. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice removed sin.
As John the Baptist said,
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Hebrews must be quoted at length here, since it explains why Jesus had to endure all that Isaiah foresaw about him.
“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1-4)
The Law of Moses has specific requirements for the sacrifices that had to be made daily and yearly. They are a witness to the foreknowledge of God, His intent to redeem mankind, and to do it personally and because of his great love for us. For each one of us, individually.
“Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:8-10)
And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich his tomb; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’
Jesus was crucified between two thieves. He had done nothing worth dying for. He had never sinned. He truly was the spotless lamb of God.
“was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
“committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22)
This last sentence, written by Peter, quotes Isaiah 53:9.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Matthew chapter 4 describes the temptation of Jesus. But in order to fully understand the meaning of this event, we must flip one page back in the same Gospel, in chapter three.
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”” (Matthew 3:16-17)
This is when the public ministry of Jesus begins. God confirms and seals it, publicly stating who Jesus is, the Messiah, the Son of God.
Then Jesus went to a desert place and fasted.
We see here how Jesus reverses the mistakes made in the Garden. He fasts. Yet, he is human. At a certain moment, he is hungry. Probably, just like he did in the garden, the Devil was only waiting for the right moment to appear on the scene.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1-4)
Adam and Eve also had fastened of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for some time, obeying God’s command. We do not know how long. But at a certain time something must have happened, Man grew weak and that is when we fell prey of the Devil’s deceit.
The Devil questions Jesus’ identity by asking: “if you are the Son of God…” Like in the garden the Devil casts doubts on the words of God, since God had just stated at the baptism that Jesus is the Son of God. The answer of Jesus is what man should have replied to the serpent: “if God said so, it must be so, Devil. Beat it.”
The Devil won’t give up easily. Again he casts doubt proposing a strange, plausible reasoning that Jesus demolishes through the power of the Word of God.
”Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” (Matthew 4:5-7)
The Devil tries again. He wants Jesus to show him he is truly the Son of God. Again he opens his way and tries to make his point proposing a misinterpretation of the word of God. The Lord shuts his mouth again, very quickly with the same Word, but correctly interpreted.
It is not over yet.
“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You If0 You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:8-10)
In today’s world many comply to the Devil’s request. But Jesus stood on the solid rock of the Word of God. Glory to God: for his obedience we could be saved and are saved!
The words of the prophet truly were fulfilled in the person of Jesus. He was tempted, like us. But he did not sin. His mission was a mission of love and salvation and he accomplished it.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:13-15)
Though he was innocent, he was tortured and then crucified, between two thieves.
“There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” (Luke 23:32-33)
Scripture was fulfilled.
“Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:50-56)
Matthew adds that Joseph of Arimathea was also a rich man – which was anyway implicit in the description of Luke. See Matthew 27:57.
Again, the prophecy was fulfilled.
Yet it pleased the LORD to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of the LORD might prosper by his hand:
Jesus died. He literally and actually died. Some people try to find explanations about his resurrection. They try to find a way of escape, not to admit that the Lord died and rose again.
Once I read a very interesting book which explained medically how Jesus passed away on the cross and that he actually died.
A sign was the piercing of his side.
“But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” (John 19:34)
I have read about this some time ago in a very interesting book. I don’t know where that book is now, so I went online and easily found confirmation of what I had read many years ago.
“A cardio-thoracic surgeon, Dr. Antony de Bono writes: “Jesus had a haemothorax, which in the stillness of the dead body, had separated out as they do into two layers: the heavier red cells below and the light watery plasma above. The haemothorax was the result of the savage flagellation. The withdrawal of the spear would have been followed first by the red cells (blood), then by the lighter plasma (water). The body of Jesus had been hanging on the cross, dead, for some time. Obviously the fluid must have accumulated during life by a bleeding into the chest cavity, almost certainly due to the savage flagellation. It is well known that blood in these circumstances in a still dead body starts to separate out, to sediment, the heavier red cells sinking to the bottom leaving a much lighter, straw colored fluid, the plasma above. When a hole is made by the spear, the red cells, which John describes as blood, gushes out first, followed by the plasma, which John saw as water. “I can think of no other explanation,” the doctor reports, adding, “technically the process for draining the chest is known as a thoracocentesis.”
I doubt that the author of John had any knowledge of the medical implications of the event. This is further evidence that the gospel narratives are actual honest eye witness’ reports and that the Lord was dead when they removed him from the cross and put him in the tomb.
Jesus actually died. And he actually rose, on the third day.
The Great Isaiah Scroll
Dated about 100 BC
Of the travail of his soul he shall see to the full, even My servant, who by his knowledge did justify the Righteous One to the many, and their iniquities he did bear.
Why the Cross?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross in order for us to be saved?
In my office, in time, under certain circumstances, I learned to execute the orders as given by my boss, and save the doubts and questions for later. Often, I did not understand what he was doing and it seemed wrong to me, simply because I could not see the whole picture. When inexperienced, I slowed down important things and jeopardized some operations because of my doubts and questions.
Imagine how much more worthy of being trusted and obeyed is our loving, Omniscient Heavenly Father.
See what a “crazy” order God gave to Moses,
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:8-9)
Because Moses obeyed God, what he did saved people and became a prophetic sign that witnesses the foreknowledge and eternal counsel of God! He did not question God’s orders, so the people who believed, could live and today, us believers, can marvel at the wonderful, perfect plan of salvation in Jesus.
Jesus pointed out this event when discussing with Nicodemus, a very important religious man in Israel. He was sure Nicodemus would understand the prophetic meaning of the bronze serpent. If not then, he would have understood it later, after the death of Jesus.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)
There is one question that I believe everyone should ask about religion,
The ancient Egyptians were the most advanced people in the world. Yet, their form of religion was ridiculous. The gods of the Greeks were basically capricious men and women with elemental powers. Looking at past history, we realize no-one had ever imagined a sophisticated religious belief like that of the Hebrews. Why? How is this possible? They were simple shepherds, half-nomads. Yet, Jewish monotheism has no parallel in history. Those who faithfully research the past of mankind, must admit it.
Is it perhaps that, since Man cannot find God by himself, God has revealed himself and that that Revelation is in the Bible and in the Gospel we preach?
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)
Any honest seeker of Truth must consider these words very carefully!
I like philosophy. Lately, I have been reading Plato. His sophisticated, rhetorical language is at least fascinating, captivating. But, in itself, philosophy is good only to please the mind, train it; investigate the potential of human reasoning and the ways of expressing it through language. This is why Greek is so sophisticated, it was perfect to serve this purpose. Yet, the most advanced form of thought and language, in the end only came up with more questions than answers.
In fact, as we said, Pilate, who must have been raised surrounded by a culture so influenced by the Greek, asked: “What is Truth?
This question is so sad, sounds so empty of hope. Not even a reply is expected. Indeed, it is a rhetorical question. The meaning behind it is: there is no Truth.
The same emptiness of Pilate is in the hearts of the XXI century man.
This book is a message of hope for you. Gospel means “good news” and the good news is that:
- There is an objective, absolute TRUTH.
- Truth is a person, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Is God unfair?
“what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:19-23)
One thing made the difference in Abraham, our father in the faith.
“he believed in the Lord, and He (God) accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)
The difference between the syncretistic philosophy of the world and the Christian faith is that the ladder requires a change, radical, a “conversion” that will create the desire to leave all the things that displease God to live those that please Him, understanding that this is necessary not because God is sadistic, but because His Will coincides with our good.
So, apart from any philosophical speculation, the powerful truth found in the Bible is that
“this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21)
Stop putting the blame on others and ultimately on God, and
“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:18-25)
Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus is not in the tomb. He rose. Physically, he was dead and came back to life.
This is how the author of Hebrews describes the magnificent work of the Son of God,
“when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3)
Jesus is now there, in Heaven, interceding for us.
As John the apostle said,
“we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Yet, only those who trust him can be saved.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
God provided a perfect way of salvation. He did not spare his only Son to save us. It is up to us to accept his gift of love or reject it.
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:10-13)
God created everything. As we read in Romans, the wonders of creation testify that he exists. Yet, man did not show any true desire to know him. So, God became a man, but still men did not receive him. His own people, Israel, did not receive him. But God’s love and patience show his benevolence towards mankind as He is still ready to welcome anyone who is ready to receive him, the Lord Jesus, as Savior. Those who receive him become children of God, enter into the wonderful relationship of love with the Father that was before sin entered the history of mankind.
It is no coincidence that the Greek word used in connection to becoming children in John 1:12 is “right” which can also be translated with “authority.” It shows that a decree and an unchangeable law has been issued by God Himself. It is a sure thing. No-one must doubt that that thing will happen. If the law in your nation grants a right, you must be a fool not to claim it for yourself. How more important it is for us to claim what can be ours, if this decree has been made in the Kingdom of God, that all the rights connected to being a child of God and a citizen of Heaven are available to those who receive Jesus!
Yet, it is up to us.
God is a God of love. Welcomes you with joy, but will not force you into his kingdom. The Devil seduces with lies, but our God gently convinces us with Truth and Love and by the tender touch of His Holy Spirit.
The work of salvation of Jesus began with his death and was perfected by his resurrection. Verse 12 of Isaiah 53 sees the glory that will follow because of the Son’s obedience.
In fact, Jesus
“was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25)
There are those who do not believe in the actual resurrection of Jesus.
Some deny he actually died – but we said that what happened at the cross gives us medical evidence, scientifically proving that Jesus actually died on the cross.
Others believe the disciples came up with this story that he had risen from the dead because of the disappointment of his death.
I have been working at a book these days and I read something interesting, which somehow can be instructive as we discuss about the reliability of the witness of Jesus’ disciples and the apostles in particular.
Sabbatai Zevi was a Jew who lived between 1626 and 1676 AD. He claimed to be the Messiah and had followers among the Jews everywhere in the world. Until the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed IV put him before the choice between conversion to Islam or death. Of course, he converted to Islam.
Things were different with the apostles. They had not been dreaming, they knew exactly what they saw.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life —the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)
John makes it so clear here! He knew what he had seen. He was there, even at the foot of the cross, when Jesus died and later he saw him alive.
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 16-18)
We all know of the persecutions of the early church. Most of the apostles died as martyrs. Not even one of them denied Jesus to have their lives spared.
Would a man die for a lie, knowing it was a fabricated lie?
Martyrdom is a word which comes from the Greek and literally means “witness.”
The witness of the apostles was sealed in their blood. It is an undeniable seal of authenticity!
I love history. I have been studying it for decades now. But, honestly, I do not know if any other historical event of the past has been told with such accuracy and reliability by those who witnessed it like the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And I am not joking. I invested my whole life in the trustworthiness of the Bible.
God never let me down. His plan of Salvation was for all mankind, but it made the difference when I realized it was for me personally, too. God loves each one of us individually. Invites us individually.
When we accept his invite, we enter into a personal relationship with Him, just like the one Man had in the garden before sin. After that, we do not need anyone to witness to us, but we become witness ourselves having experienced personally God’s presence in our lives.
Pilate’s attitude is so common these days.
Today, we feel we are too advanced in science and progress to believe old myths. We feel superior, on the edge of immortality without the need of any “God.” Some laugh at us because we believe in the Gospels. The same people who showed this attitude when we talked about Christianity and Jesus are lost into superstition, astrology and fascinated by the belief in aliens being spoken of, according to some, even in the Bible.
So, the problem is not believing, but believing the Bible. Why? The Bible tells us why.
“that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
Men are ready to believe anything that can keep them in their comfort zone, that can guarantee their undisturbed search for pleasure and self-gratification. The call of the Word of God to repentance and radical change in the heart is so annoying for them!
Am I speaking too much truth?
All the excuses of people today, are the same of two thousand years ago. From the rich man to the successful politician Pilate, the religious leader Nicodemus, and even the deluded thief on the cross. Everyone has a good reason not to believe in the Gospel. BUT there is only one good reason to believe it: it is the Truth.
Isaiah 53 was written centuries before the birth of Jesus. It is another witness to the authenticity of God’s Word, to God’s marvelous plan of salvation.
God made his move, it all depends on us now,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
New Testament quotations of Isaiah 53
Of course Isaiah 53 was quoted in the New Testament. Seven times. It is quite edifying and instructive to consider the context of these quotations.
The messianic expectations of the Jews did not match the events that took place in the life of Jesus, but they perfectly fulfilled prophecy.
“And He (Jesus) cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
“So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’”
“For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me:
‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’”
Jesus himself quotes Isaiah, though his disciples could not understand the deep meaning of his words yet.
“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
The quotation of Isaiah in John is slightly different than the Hebrew text which we have in the common Old Testament translations, including the JPS version which I decided to adopt in this book. The long reading, which starts with “Lord” is found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, quite in use during the apostolic times. John and the Septuagint are identical.
Details like this confirm that the autographs of the gospels were written in Greek.
Also Romans quotes the Septuagint, just like John,
who has believed our report?
1 Peter 2:21-25
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—
by whose stripes you were healed.
For you were like sheep going astray,
but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
This passage does not only quote Isaiah but interprets it, explaining the context in which it must be understood.
This passage of the Scriptures is wonderful. God does not hide Himself from Man. If we want to really find Him and we want Him to find us, it will happen. Sincere prayers will never be despised by God.
“Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”
King James Version
1 Who hath believed our report?
and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment:
and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
If you want to learn to read Isaiah 53 in Hebrew, I suggest you have a look at the following youtube channel
 If you are too lazy to go research the matter, this is a very good, quick to read article.
 I have written a book on the prophet Daniel and his prophecies. There I go into details. It is available on Amazon everywhere in the world.
 https://empower.global/the-mathematical-probability-that-jesus-is-the-christ/ seen May, 23, 2022.
 In the original Greek this expression is: “Ἐγώ εἰμι”. Literally, “I am”.
 For love of accuracy I must tell the reader that the Greek original of Matthew here has ei for the first two “if’s” of the story and ean for the third. The first two concern doubt, the third consequence. In fact, the latter can be also translated as “when.”
 aleteia.org/2019/06/22/a-doctor-on-why-blood-and-water-gushed-from-jesus-heart/ viewed on June 2, 2022.