“Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death: But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses.” Matthew 26:59 and 60.
Christ was in the presence of Caiaphas, the high-priest, the scribes and the elders. Simon Peter sat with the servants. Note what Christ said to the high-priest: “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64.
Note what followed: “What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ? Who is he that smote Thee?” Matthew 26:66 to 68.
And note what Peter did:
“Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But He denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.”
“Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.” And Peter remembered the words of Jesus, Which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:69, 70, 74 and 75.
Peter went away and wept bitterly and was wonderfully restored to fellowship and power. Judas, in sorrow and disgrace, went away and hanged himself. They were both sorry for their deeds. But what a difference!
CHRIST BEFORE PILATE
“When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him they led Him away, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” Matthew 27:1 and 2.
According to Isaiah 53:7, Christ was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
Note Matthew 27:13 and 14:
“Then said Pilate unto Him, Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee? And he answered him to never a word: insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.”
CHRIST OR BARABBAS
“The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus Which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let Him be crucified.” “Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.” Matthew 27:21, 22 and 26.
Barabbas means “the father’s son.” He was a murderer, a notable criminal, guilty of insurrection. Christ was the Father’s Son, the sinless man, the greatest benefactor of mankind the world has ever known. The Divine Record is, “He went about doing good.” “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8. “For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Hebrews 2:10.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” I Peter 3:18.
What a choice for Israel to make! Is it any wonder that Christ on the cross cried, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
Note the Lord’s message to Israel after they had committed that awful crime, “ . . . Jesus Whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go .” “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of Life, Whom God hath raised from the dead: whereof we are witnesses.” “But now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Acts 3:13 to 15 and 17.
This is explained in Matthew 27:24 and 25:
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just Person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”
Surely His blood has been upon them and their children, and it still is, and is yet to be. Pilate’s question is for each individual Jew or Gentile to answer today, “What shall I do then with Jesus Which is called the Christ?” What is the only sensible thing to do? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31. “But as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
Christ went to Calvary to do His Father’s will and by God’s grace taste death for every man. Hebrews 2:9.
The all-important question for any and every sinner to answer is, “What must I do with God’s all-sufficient remedy for sin?” “God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by That Man Whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31.
In other words, we must either meet Christ as Saviour in this day of grace and hear Him say, “Come unto Me,” or meet. Him hereafter as Judge, and hear Him say, “Depart from Me.”
IN HIS HUMILIATION
Note Philippians 2:8: “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Note what the eunuch was reading when Philip preached Jesus unto him:
“In His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth.” Acts 8:33.
Here we note something of how the Scripture was fulfilled:
“And they stripped Him and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him and led Him away to crucify Him.” “And they crucified Him and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots.” Matthew 27:28 to 31 and 35.
HIMSELF HE CANNOT SAVE
Note Matthew 27:42:
“He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.”
Christ Himself had said the same thing in another sense. If He had saved Himself, He could not have saved others. We read what He said about the corn of wheat and about the twelve legions of angels. Now note what He said in connection with His statement concerning the corn of wheat: “He that loveth His life shall lose it; and he that hateth His life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” John 12:25.
If Christ had saved Himself, there would have been no salvation for us. So we say, with Paul, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift.”
From the scene here described we can better understand:
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
II Corinthians 5:21:
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
THE VEIL AND THE EARTHQUAKE
“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with Him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things which were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” Matthew 27:50 to 54.
Yes, truly, this was the Son of God. That veil for years and centuries had been hanging in the sanctuary between the holyplace and the most holy-place. Note Hebrews 9:7, 11, 12 and 24.
The high-priest parted the veil from bottom to top. God rent it from top to bottom:
“Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.”
Hebrews 10:19 and 20.
JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA THE RICH MAN
Note Isaiah 53:9:
“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.”
“When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone in the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” Matthew 27:57 to 60.
More than twenty times in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we find the record that Christ foretold His death. Generally when He mentioned His death He also foretold His resurrection. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19.
“Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again. No man taketh 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 commandment have I received of My Father.” John 10:17 and 18.
“And they shall scourge Him and put Him to death; and the third day He shall rise again.” Luke 18:33.
“And He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31.
Thus we see that the Lord was not taken by surprise and we see the truth of Acts 4:27 and 28:
“For of a truth against Thy Holy Child Jesus, Whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together. For to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done.”
Concerning the resurrection of Christ, we have heard one of His apostles called “doubting Thomas.” Why?
“And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands, and His side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” “But Thomas, one of the Twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.” John 20:20 and 24.
Note what Thomas said:
“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25.
But how about the other apostles?
Mary Magdalene, another Mary and Joanna went very early on the first day of the week to Joseph’s sepulchre and found it empty. “And they remembered His words. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” Luke 24:8 and 7.
They hastened with the startling news to tell the Eleven:
“And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.” Luke 24:11. Was Thomas any more of a doubter than the other ten? They were all unbelievers as to the fact of Christ’s resurrection. There was certainly no collusion nor conspiracy on the part of the Lord’s disciples to deceive anybody concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
We read in Acts 3:15 concerning the Jews, “They killed the Prince of Life Whom God hath raised from the dead.”
We find this statement in I Corinthians 2:8: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
The Jews, who killed the Prince of Life, who crucified the Lord of Glory, declared that if the report should get out that Christ were risen from the dead, “the last error shall be worse than the first.” They said to Pilate
“Sir, we remember that that deceiver said. while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away and say unto the people. He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.” Matthew 27:63 and 64.
Pilate gave them all the authority they asked for:
“Ye have a watch, go your way, make it as sure as ye can, So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch.” Matthew 27:65 and 66.
Then note what they did after the resurrected Christ appeared to His disciples:
“Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye. His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.” Matthew 28:11 to 15.
THE WOMEN FIRST AT THE SEPULCHRE
In Matthew 27:55 and 56, we learn that the women who had ministered unto Jesus were eye-witnesses of His crucifixion. It would seem that Mary Magdalene was the leader. These women too were the first to reach the sepulchre, even before daylight, on the first day of the week. Note what they saw:
“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: For I know that ye seek Jesus, Which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Matthew 28:2, 5 and 6.
Then Jesus appeared and they held Him by the feet and worshipped Him: “Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me.” Matthew 28:10.
Even after the Eleven saw Christ, “some doubted” (Matthew 28:17).
Note the message of the Eleven to Israel some months later: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Acts 5:30 to 32.
THE GREAT COMMISSION
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19 and 20.
As Mark has been called “an abbreviated Matthew” we quote with Matthew 28:19 and 20, Mark 16:15 to 18:
“And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Let us study this commission with the other commissions and messages of the apostles.
Matthew 10:5 to 8
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not unto the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”
“And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
“Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.”
“And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.”
Romans 11:13 and Romans 11:11
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”
Galatians 2:7 to 9
“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles;) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Ephesians 3:1 to 3
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words;”
Galatians 1:15 to 17
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called-me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
II Timothy 2:2
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
II Timothy 4:1 and 2
“I charge thee therefore before God. and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
There has been much misunderstanding and controversy concerning the so-called “great commission.” The question is, did Christ in heaven give to Paul a commission that supplemented or superseded the great commission? Note that Paul preached in much infirmity of the flesh. Galatians 4:13. In connection with his superabundance of revelations, Paul received a thorn in the flesh. II Corinthians 12:1 to 12. The authority for His apostleship is stated in I Corinthians 9:1 to 10. Then note I Corinthians 3:10 the foundation that was laid by Paul, and Romans 15:14 to 20. We quote II Corinthians 12:12:
“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
Then again, I Corinthians 1:17 must be compared with the great commission “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
If the Twelve, in Matthew 28:19 and 20, were authorized to preach the gospel of grace to Gentiles, why did they agree in Galatians 2:9 to go to Jews? Why was it unlawful seven years after the great commission for the Eleven to go to Gentiles? Acts 10:28. Why did the eleven apostles condemn Peter for preaching to a respectable God-fearing Gentile? Acts 11:1 to 5. If Paul worked under the great commission, why were revelations from heaven necessary to instruct him concerning “the gospel of the uncircumcision” and “the dispensation of the grace of God?” Galatians 2:7 and Ephesians 3:1 to 3.
It was years after the great commission was given before Christ from heaven instructed Paul to preach “His unsearchable riches” to Gentiles.
Carefully study the great commission in the light of the events in the Book of Acts and Paul’s grace message in his Epistles. Whatever commission we are under today.
Let us note and obey the message of:
II Corinthians 5:16 to 21:
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
1. What would you say concerning the witnesses who testified against Jesus Christ?
2. Relate Christ’s warning to Peter; how many times Peter would deny Him and how it was fulfilled. What did Peter do when the cock crew?
3. What Prophecy did Christ fulfill when He was silent in Pilate’s presence?
4. What man, with Christ, was presented to Israel by Pilate for their choice? What was the cry of the Israelites?
5. Relate what is recorded in Acts 3:12 to 15, concerning the release of the murderer. What is Christ called in Acts 3:15?
6. What did Pilate do when he said he was free from the blood of the innocent Christ?
7. What judgment did the Israelites pronounce upon themselves?
8. Note Pilate’s question, “What then shall I do with Jesus called the Christ?” What is said about Christ in John 5:22? Must not every person meet Christ as Saviour or as Judge?
9. How was Christ robed when they mocked Him as King of the Jews? What was the significance of the thorns in His crown?
10. Did the people tell the truth when they said, Christ saved Himself but He could not save others? Quote concerning Christ as the Corn of Wheat.
11. Where did the veil hang in the temple? What happened to it when Christ was crucified? What did the veil symbolize?
12. What Scripture was fulfilled when Joseph put the body of Christ in his own sepulchre?
13. Name several Scriptures in which Christ foretold His death and resurrection. What did He say in John 10:17 and 18?
14. In the death of Jesus Christ, what took place according to Acts 4:27 and 28?
15. Relate the visits of Christ in His resurrection body and why Thomas is called “doubting Thomas.”
16. What did the Jews fear concerning the Body of Christ? What request that they made of Pilate was granted? What happened?
17. What disciple was first at the sepulchre? Tell what took place there; what they saw and heard.
18. Quote the commission of Matthew 28:19 and 20. How did this differ from the commission of Matthew 10:5 to 8? As we look into the first chapters of Acts did not the Twelve continue under Matthew 10:5 to 8?
19. Note carefully the commission of Mark 16:14 to 18. What was to follow faith, baptism and salvation? Should these signs follow today?
20. Where did Paul receive his orders according to Galatians 1:12 to 18? What did he receive according to Ephesians 3:1 to 3 and Ephesians 3:8?