If you and I were traveling to Washington, D.C., we would certainly take time to see the monuments. We would read the inscriptions and look around, considering just how historically important they were.
In our journey through the scriptures, especially this time of the year, it is worth the time to read the inscriptions and explore the monuments. This week draws our attention to the sufferings of Jesus. We notice a timeline: the trials, the laws and what all this means to us. According to the Gregorian calendar, the arrest and trials of Jesus took place on April 6, 32 AD, during a nine-hour period. We reckon time from midnight to midnight; the Jewish day begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. It still does. The nighttime hours were divided into watches for safety and security’s sake: First watch 6 to 9 p.m., second watch 9 p.m. to midnight, third watch midnight to 3 a.m. and fourth watch 3 to 6 a.m.
Let’s do a quick run through of the events…
1 a.m. – Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemene (the disciples fell asleep, about the third watch)
1:15 a.m. – The betrayal of Judas, Jesus is arrested
2 a.m. – The trial at Anna house, the High Priest emeritus
3:30 a.m. – Trial at the High Priest Ciaphas’ house
6 a.m. – Formal trial before the Sanhedrin
6:30 a.m. – First trial before Pilate
7 a.m. – Trial before Herod
8 a.m. – Second trial before Pilate
9 a.m. – Jesus is crucified
Noon – Darkness falls upon the land
3 p.m. –Jesus died
All in all, there were six trials, not one. The first three were religious in nature – the charge was blasphemy, a Jewish crime admissible only in a Jewish court. Jesus claimed to be God, the Jews only had one God. Romans didn’t care, they were polytheistic. The fourth trial Jesus is accused of treason, a capital crime against Rome. The Jews followed the mosaic law, their legal handbook Talmud. The Romans followed the Roman Code of Law. Both forms had strict guidelines, however, in all the trials that took place, Roman law was followed closely. The Jews had to break their own legal guidelines to carry out the death of Jesus. It’s interesting to consider, Jesus was born under Caesar Augustus (30 BC to AD 14.) Jesus lived and died under Cesar Tiberius (AD 14 to AD 37). So, on April 6, 32 AD, it would have been written: In the year of Tiberius, emperor of Rome, Pilate, Governor of Judea, and Herod Tetrarch of Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.
As we again journey toward the end of Holy Week, these are the cold hard facts. This is how it all happened. But let’s look a little deeper.
There are two amazing things to consider. First, from horrible acts of injustice, God’s justice was satisfied. Listen to Paul’s words to Timothy: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Secondly, something we must always remember, all this was planned from the beginning. In Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” In all that we explore this week, remember, Jesus experienced this for us.
In “Planet in Rebellion,” George Vandeman wrote: “It was May 21, 1946. The place, Los Alamos. A young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific atoll at Bikini. He had successfully performed such an experiment many times before. In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction – scientists call it the critical mass – he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus, instantly stopping the chain reaction. But that day, just as the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped. The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. Instantly, the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze. Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and, thereby, possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and, thus, interrupted the chain reaction. By this instant, self-forgetful daring, he saved the lives of the seven other persons in the room. As he waited for the car that was to take him to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, ‘You’ll come through all right. But I haven’t the faintest chance myself.’ It was only too true. Nine days later, he died in agony.”
The timeline of Jesus’ final hours tell us much. What we learn from the details of Jesus arrest, trials and crucifixion something we must never forget: HE ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN. You don’t think that really they could have held him if he had not wanted to be held, do you? The important stuff: He did it all for you and me.
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.