b) The Trial and Death of Jesus the Messiah
So what happened? The Jewish leaders acted swiftly to get rid of Jesus. They were able to seize Him during the night while He was engaged in prayer with His Heavenly Father. That same night, they held a mock trial and tried to get witnesses to testify against Jesus. When the testimony of the witnesses against Jesus failed to agree, the chief priest asked Jesus: “ ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed one?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.” (Mark 14:61-65)
Jesus openly confessed that He was the Christ (the Messiah, King), the Son of the Blessed. But what did He mean by this confession? Did He mean that He was a king like other kings in this world? Indeed not! Did He mean that God took a wife and that He (Jesus) was Son of God as we are children of our mothers and fathers? God forbid! As Messiah He confessed that He was the King whom God had promised through the prophets to send into this world. As Son He confessed that He was the eternal Word of God who had come out of God and had come into this world as a man to show us how greatly we have sinned against God’s holiness, yet how much God still loved us and wanted to save us from sin and all it evils, and how He yearned that He would be our Heavenly Father and we would be His children! (See Glossary, Messiah, Son of God.)
The Messiah’s confession continued. He claimed to be the Son of Man also, about whom God had spoken through the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13,14). His Kingdom is eternal. The day would come when, with all the angels of heaven, He would come again to judge the world. On that Day of Judgement the Son of Man would judge those who were judging Him now! (See Glossary, Son of Man.)
Now let us understand the matter clearly. The Jewish leaders did not deny that Moses, David and other prophets had spoken about the coming Messiah. They knew and agreed that the Messiah should also be called the Son of Man and the Son of God. To what, then, did they object? The religious leaders objected that this humble and despised man, Jesus of Nazareth, dared to call Himself the Messiah, the Son of God and the Son of Man. They insisted Jesus did not qualify to be their Messiah. According to the religious leaders He spoke blasphemy. Because of this blasphemy, they thought, He should die.
The next day, early Friday morning, the Jewish leaders quickly led Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, who ruled over the Jews at this time on behalf of the Roman emperor. Before Pilate they charged Jesus with calling Himself a king, and that He was, therefore, a threat to the Roman emperor who ruled over the nation. When Pilate questioned Jesus, Jesus agreed that He was a king but stated that His Kingdom was not of this world. Though Pilate realized that Jesus was no danger to Roman rule, he sadly and shamefully handed Jesus over to the Jews, told them to do what they wanted and conveniently washed his hands of the whole affair.
Then they took Jesus, beat Him, spit on Him, bitterly mocked Him and finally put Him on a cross. Even while He was on the cross, they mercilessly ridiculed Him: “ ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the king of Israel come down now from the cross. If we see that, we shall believe.’ ” (Mark 15:31,32)
After several hours on the cross, the Bible reports, Jesus gave a loud cry and died. (Mark 15:37)
So much for Jesus. For His enemies, His prolonged and agonizing suffering provided proof enough that He was not the Messiah.
Indeed, a more tragic event has never occurred throughout history than the death of Jesus the Messiah on the cross. It was as if this world had torn at its seams, as if everything in creation had gone awry: Good had turned into evil, truth into lie, beauty into ugliness, life into death, joy into sadness, hope into despair. Of what use, now, Jesus' wonderful teaching about God and all His great works of healing? They seemed merely to postpone inevitable death, decay and obliteration! They simply lived to die. Full stop!
Jesus’ disciples were understandably devastated. Yet, somehow, a few friends arranged for His burial that Friday evening. Strangely, a rich man, though fearful of the Jewish leaders, gathered courage to offer Jesus a respectable grave. At the request of the Jewish leaders, the Romans stationed a guard at the grave to keep anyone from molesting it. There Jesus was buried and a huge stone set before the tomb.
And so, like any other biography, the story of Jesus’ life, too, should have ended with His death. Yet, not so the life of Jesus!