Lesson 3 - The Passion Ministry of Jesus Christ

Lesson Three: The Passion Ministry of Jesus Christ

(Chapters 18-21)

The apostle Paul summarized the passion ministry of Jesus Christ in the following verses in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.  "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."


His Arrest

A detachment of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees arrested Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.  As background to this scene in John 18:1-18 read the same account in Matthew 26:36-56.

When Jesus was being arrested, three times it is recorded in John's gospel that Jesus said, "I am He."  See John 18:5, 6, 8.  The translation of this statement is inaccurate.  The Lord simply said, "I AM."  The word He is in italics in the NKJV text, which means that the word was not in the original Greek manuscripts.  Jesus was saying that He is the great I AM of the Old Testament.  Compare John 8:58, where the NKJV translation is correct.  In John 18:6 notice the reaction by those who came to arrest the Lord, when He said, "I AM."  They drew back and fell to the ground.

Jesus had considered Judas a "friend."  See Matthew 26:50.  Now His friend had betrayed Him, and all of His disciples forsook Him and fled.  Peter was the bravest of them, brandishing a sword, but even he wound up denying the Lord three times.  How sad!


His Judgment

Jesus was bound and taken to appear before Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest.  Next He went from Annas to Caiaphas to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.  At first Pilate had no desire to be involved with the judgment of the Lord.  Instead he told the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus themselves according to their law.  They refused because they lacked the authority to put Him to death, and they wanted Jesus to die.

Pilate questioned Christ about His kingship, and concluded, "I find no fault in Him."  John 18:38.  To avoid the condemnation of Jesus, he offered a compromise.  At the Passover there was a custom that a prisoner would be released, and Pilate offered to release Jesus.  The Jews rejected the offer, and Jesus was to be crucified.


His Death

At this point it is good to read the 19th chapter of John.

The question is often asked, "Who killed Jesus?"  It is obvious that He was crucified by Roman soldiers.  It is also true that the Jews were responsible for His death.  They had cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"  And they had said, "We have a law, and according to our law, He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God."  John 19:6, 7.

Now look at Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.  Both of these Scriptures are prophetic.  Psalm 22 foretells the way Jesus died...by crucifixion.  Isaiah 53 tells us why Jesus died...for our sins.  These Scriptures and others are fulfilled in the death of Christ as recorded in the gospels.  Consider a comparison of John 19:24 and Psalm 22:18; John 19:28 and Psalm 22:15; John 19:36 and Psalm 34:20; John 19:37 and Zechariah 12:10.  Since we are studying John's gospel, we have limited ourselves to those prophetic Scriptures which were fulfilled in John 19.

Pontius Pilate had Jesus crucified as "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS."  John 19:18.  Jesus had been asked by Pilate, "Are you the king of the Jews?"  Jesus later replied, "My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

There are some things that you should know about this kingdom.  His kingdom is spiritual, heavenly, and eternal.  We enter this kingdom by being born again of the Spirit of God.  Read John 3:1-15.  We experience this new birth by trusting in the Redeemer and His finished work on the cross of Calvary.

Jesus' final words were "It is finished," not "I am finished."  John 19:30.  He finished the redemptive work that the Father had given Him to do.  He died as the Lamb of God, the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.  Praise God!


His Burial

Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea.  See Isaiah 53:9.  Joseph had been a secret disciple of the Lord, but he had feared the Jews.  Together with Nicodemus of John 3, he laid Jesus' body to rest.

Some skeptics of the gospel claim that Jesus hadn't really died on the cross. No one in history survived a crucifixion.  In Cañon City there is a joke, where visitors are told that no one living in the city can be buried in the local cemetery.  The astonished response is "Why can't they be buried there?"  The answer is obvious.  We don't bury the living.  We only bury the dead.  It's nonsense to say that Jesus didn't die.  Joseph and Nicodemus buried a dead man. 

Other skeptics claim that Jesus' disciples reported that Jesus had risen from the dead, because they went to the wrong tomb.  No doubt Joseph's tomb was no secret.  In fact Roman soldiers were stationed there to prevent His disciples from being stolen.  See Matthew 27:62-66.


His Resurrection

The good news is that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead early in the morning on the first day of the week.  Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, the third day.

At first Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John, who is "the other disciple," discovered the tomb empty.  At that point in time "they did not know the Scripture, that He (Jesus) must rise again from the dead."  John 20:9.  Read Peter's sermon in Acts 2 to learn some Old Testament Scriptures that predicted the resurrection of Christ.

Peter and John returned to their homes, but Mary remained at the tomb weeping.  She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain.  They asked her why she was weeping, and she explained, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."  When she turned around she saw Jesus!  Later she went to the disciples and shared her experience with them.

On the same day in the evening Jesus appeared to His disciples.  The apostle Thomas was not present when Jesus came.  He had missed the Sunday evening service, and missed out on the blessing.  When his friends told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe."  John 20:25.  Talk about a hardnosed unbeliever.  No wonder he earned the title, "Doubting Thomas."

Eight days later Jesus again appeared to His disciples.  This time Thomas was there.  "And Thomas answered, 'My Lord and My God!'"  Jesus didn't correct Thomas, because Thomas got it right.  "Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"  John 20:29.

Jesus appeared a third time to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.  He ate with them there.  At that time He also commissioned Peter to feed His sheep.  This was the same Peter, who had denied Him three times.  Now three times the Lord asks Peter, "Do you love Me?"  (There is a play on the Greek words here, but we won't get into that in this lesson.)  Peter humbly responds in the affirmative, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."

Jesus' final words to Peter in John's gospel were "Follow Me!"  Peter saw the apostle John and asked, "But Lord, what about this man?"  Jesus replied, "What is that to you.  Follow Me!"  Don't be preoccupied with others and their ministry for the Lord.  You follow Christ!  Peter did, and according to tradition he suffered crucifixion upside-down.

In the preparation of this Bible study there is a feeling of inadequacy.  So much has been written in this wonderful gospel.  The apostle John felt the same way, that much more could have been written.  He concluded, "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  Amen."

The Gospel According to John is the Great News.  Believe it, and share it, following in the steps of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.





All About God

Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
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