life of Jesus
Week 26 is scheduled for study June 19-25, 2023. How much of the last couple of days in the life of Jesus do you think he knew about beforehand? Did he do anything to avoid what happened?

Note: This week’s lessons are full of my personal opinion and perspective. Please be tolerant and forgiving of my lack of understanding if your personal understanding is already greater. I have given you my best in these lessons, and I can’t give you more than that. Hopefully, by the next time these lessons roll around again, I’ll have a better understanding and can give you more or better than I have this time. Consider this a lesson in Kelly thinking out loud.

Day 1

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19 – Jesus Christ’s willingness to suffer shows His love for the Father and for all of us.

Between the introduction to this week’s lessons and the text for today’s lesson, I have begun to consider the nature of Christ. It is trite to simply say that Jesus was no ordinary man, and not go into great detail to explain how that is true. Let’s take a glimpse at the nature of the man named Jesus, and the situation in which he placed himself. I don’t believe for a moment that “things” just spiraled out of control and he just happened to find himself in the dire straights that led to his death. Everything about his actions, his statements, and his attitudes appears to have led up to him choosing his time and place to be killed. If there was ever a person to live on earth who had control of what happened in his life, Jesus would come the closest to calling the shots during his time in mortality. At least this is especially true for the last couple weeks of his ministry.

I honestly don’t think that all the statements Jesus made about his time coming to an end, that he was going to “go away” for a time then return, etc., were premonitions. He knew exactly what was going to happen, and what needed to happen. More than any mortal on earth, Jesus knew that his purpose in mortality was to pay the price for the sins of all mankind then die so that he could bring resurrection to all those for whom he had bought with the price of eternal suffering. I am referring to the quality of his suffering, not the duration of it. His price had to be eternal in nature, so that his payment could never be called into question by eternal laws.

The scriptures tell us in the book of Abraham that wherever there are two spirits, one of them will be greater than the other. Jesus is greater than all of God’s other children. Do we honestly believe that Pilate or Herod could out talk him, out think him, or out maneuver Jesus in any way? He was silent when talking with them, because he wasn’t trying to talk his way out of a tight or tough situation. He was letting everyone’s hatred, pride, arrogance, and stupidity play out without any interference on his part. Jesus had timed his miracles, his cleansing of the temple, his everything so that the leaders of the Jews had a clear path to exercise their anger and desire to destroy him during the most sacred week of the year.

Everything the leaders of the Jews did with their trial of Jesus was against Jewish law as given to them by Moses (given to him by Jesus as Jehovah). Even Barabbas’s name is significant. When presented with the two men and asked which they wished to kill, and which to let go free, they cried for Jesus, the literal son of God to die, while Barabbas, which means “son of the father”, a murderer and thief, a stealer of life, versus the giver of life, to be set free. Then they followed their choice with the statement that they were willing to shoulder the sin themselves, and on their own children. Satan had a field day! For thousands of years the Jews have paid the price for the sin they volunteered to take upon themselves and their children that day.

He knew

Jesus knew that his calling as the lamb that was to be slain for the sins of the world required that he willingly suffer all the indignities, humiliation, and injustices his own covenant people could concoct. This is what makes the imagery of the innocent lamb being led to the slaughter and not making any sound such a powerful picture. He was a grown adult, but had never done anything to sully his own innocence and reputation with God. Not one time in his life had he partaken of the worldly pleasures that tarnish the soul and pull us farther from our Father in Heaven. So he remained silent as they mocked him, silent as they scourged him, silent as they accused him falsely. He never needed to question his own innocence before God, for he knew he had lived his life in perfect compliance with all of our Father’s wishes. He freely bore these indignities so he could die for our sins then generously offer us resurrection and eternal glory in return. If that isn’t charity I don’t know what is.

Day 2

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

Matthew 27:27-40, 54; Mark 15:16-32; Luke 23:11, 35-39; John 19:1-5 – Mocking cannot change the truth.

Mockery is one of the most deadly tools ever to be invented. When something is mocked its value or purpose is called into question. When mockery is combined with power figures, the idea or practice being mocked suddenly seems silly or even dangerous. Mockery doesn’t have to make sense, be right (it never is), or be useful (it never is). Mocker is used to call something into question because there is no good reason to argue with the premise to start with.

If you tell me a truth, and I have no rebuttal for that truth that can hold water or sustain itself, I can tear you down by mocking you and what you stand for. By making you look stupid, wrong, intolerant, or whatever else I can come up with to humiliate your position, then I have publicly weakened you. I don’t have to be right, for I have torn a hole in your dignity by making fun of you and what you stand for. I have made people question your integrity.

Mockery is meant to be cruel and unkind. There are no godly virtues to be found in mocking anything, even if what is being mocked is wickedness. The very nature of mocking is evil and unholy. There isn’t a mockery in existence that can bring a soul closer to God. Mockery cannot teach us truth. Why? Because mockery by its very nature is only designed to tear down something, not build it up. Truth and mockery are opposites of each other.

We know that truth and lies are opposites, but isn’t a mockery of truth also a lie? Interesting that we can speak the truth, but by making fun of it, by belittling it, or by making light of its usefulness or truthfulness, we encourage others, through shame, to shun that which could have helped or saved them. The use of mockery in today’s society is rampant, and often takes on such subtle nuances as to robe itself in what appears to be truth, though in its very nature it steers us away from the truth. Mockery doesn’t change the truth, it only tries to shame us for believing or living the truth.

Day 3

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 – Jesus Christ suffered alone so I don’t have to.

I wonder if that moment on the cross when Jesus, for the first time in his life felt the absence of his Father’s presence in his life, and recognized that this is what it feels like to be estranged from God, was his first and only real “Ah-hah!” moment. Up to that moment he had never felt alone. He said so himself when he told his disciples that he had always pleased his Father, so his Father had always been with him. But now, on the cross, even after paying for our sins in Gethsemane, and suffering all the pain and humiliation, willingly and obediently, suddenly he knew what it was like to be truly cut off from the presence of God.

During those moments of discovery on the cross, Jesus learned what life is like without God as part of it. No Holy Spirit, no comfort, no protection from Satan’s power, just solitude in a very big dark and dangerous universe with no recourse, no help, no hope. This realization caused even Jesus, the creator of the universe to cry out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” For a brief moment did he, having this unexpected sensation suddenly wonder, ‘so this is what it feels like to be cut off by God?’ In that moment he recognized that he would be willing to do anything to have God back in his life where He was needed.

In that moment of being disconnected from God, Jesus connected a lot of dots. He no doubt recognized why we do what we do in our imperfect state when we feel abandoned. He had already paid for our sins, but this would have added a layer of understanding as to why we do what we do when we feel the lack of God in our life. He would now understand in a more perfect way the sorrow and loneliness we experience when we have broken a commandment and have pushed ourselves farther from God. Whatever he may have only understood before intellectually, now gained a deep and personal emotional connection to what it means to be mortal and less than perfect to start with.

Jesus suffered for our sins, and went through what he did on the cross because he wanted to understand what even the weakest of us have to go through. Jesus wanted his own compassion for us to be as perfect as the rest of him already was. Now that he has had a taste of what it means to be estranged from God, to feel abandoned and alone, to suffer in both body and spirit, he is better equipped as our Redeemer to help us through our own times of hardship and trial. He, as the greatest of God’s children didn’t need to suffer for a lifetime to learn what he needed to learn, but only needed to see what it felt like, to experience it for a moment, and he got it. His understanding is perfect and comprehensive. This experience on the cross finished his education in mortality. It crowned him with the final piece of compassion he needed to be our perfect support and source of strength in our own times of trouble.

Day 4

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

Luke 23:34 – The Savior is our example of forgiveness.

When Jesus asked God to forgive “them” for they knew not what they were doing, he was referring to the Roman soldiers who were on duty that day. He was not referring to the Jews, for they knew perfectly well what they were doing. They just didn’t care. Their hatred for him overruled their good sense.

The soldiers were raised in a different culture, with different beliefs, and were following the traditions and beliefs of their birth culture. Jesus didn’t want them condemned for what they did not know. He is the same way with us. He never holds us accountable for something we haven’t ever been taught. It is only when we do have an understanding of the truth then violate that truth that he holds us accountable. As we saw in his interactions with the Pharisees, Jesus doesn’t pull any punches when dealing with those who know better and don’t do what they profess to believe. I find it noteworthy that even in the severity of his own personal suffering he didn’t neglect his responsibilities as our mediator with the Father. Even in his own pain he wanted to make sure these soldiers weren’t held accountable for his death.

One of the aspects of Christ’s forgiveness I never really noticed until this lesson is his readiness to be tolerant and forgiving of anyone who either hasn’t been taught the truth yet, or for those who come to him with repentance in their heart. Those people he will always forgive quickly and with love.

FHE/Personal Study

Mark 15:39 – Son of God

This lesson is a follow up to earlier lessons this week. No man in his right mind plans out the day and way in which he will die out of strictly altruistic motives. Jesus knew he had to die or the gift of resurrection would not be possible for all of humanity. He knew he had to pay for our sins first then suffer all sorts of physical torture that would test his limits of staying alive until every bit of his work on earth was completed.

The whole time Jesus was suffering from one form of mistreatment or another, his focus was on being obedient to his Father’s will and completing his assigned work for those whom he and our Father love. I write that in present tense since we and our future generations are also included in that number. How could anyone who wasn’t fulfilling the Father’s will have such a grand vision of what mortality can produce, and still keep his attention so perfectly fixated on saving the human race from themselves?

To those who were blinded by their hatred for what Jesus stood for, his death was their proof that he wasn’t what he claimed to be. They had set their own tests of authenticity, and when he didn’t live up to their own standards, they concluded him to be a charlatan worthy of their cruelty and the death they inflicted upon him. Even with all the miracles he performed in front of them, they kept saying that they wouldn’t believe unless he did what they wanted him to do. God doesn’t work that way. Even as they were having the Romans crucify Jesus they were declaring taunting statements to his face as he hung on the cross. ‘Come down from the cross and we will believe! Prove to us that God will save you!’ They knew full well that no one but God could do such a thing, but not having any understanding of the atonement, they didn’t realize that Jesus had already paid for the very sins they were committing as they spoke their mocking taunts.

I am sure that the irony of the situation was not lost on Jesus. This whole ordeal was a fulfilment of prophesy. All of which he knew by heart. It was all of his own doing, as he deliberately performed miracles in front of the Pharisees, knowing that their hatred for him would make them want to kill him, just like the Israelites killed the prophets of old.

Jesus did what he did, because he was the son of God, because his purpose was to come and demonstrate God’s love for His children, because he loves each of us despite our love or lack thereof for him. We are more important than any stroking of feelings Jesus might receive from our obedience to his commandments. He paid for our sins knowing us – warts and all. Nothing was hidden from him, and he paid for our sins anyway. We each contributed to his personal suffering, and he died so he could give us the gift of the resurrection anyway. None of us deserve the love Jesus has shown us, but he gives it any way.

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NT26-2023 – It Is Finished