In these two chapters we see failed leadership in
1) Jesus’ disciples – Peter James and John slept through Jesus’ agonizing struggle in Gethsemane; all but two (Peter and John) deserted Him at His arrest and then Peter denied Him; only one (John) was at the cross. John went all the way with Jesus and ultimately received the greatest revelation of Him and God’s plan for human history — The Revelation of Jesus Christ — the last book in the Bible.

2) The Jewish leaders – Pride and envy blinded their vision and they did not recognize their long-awaited Messiah even as He came in the midst of them. –“You did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:44) And pride can blind our vision of Jesus.
3) The crowd – They too shouted –“Crucify Him.” Beware of mob mentality commonly known as peer pressure. In World War II ordinary German men became mass murderers out of peer pressure. What would others think if they didn’t participate? Would they be labeled coward? How about their careers after the war? ( Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning) The only true remedy for peer pressure is loving God with all our hearts and the fear of the Lord. If we fear Him properly we will fear no one else. (Gal.1:10)

4) Pontius Pilate – "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar." Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out.” (John 19:12-13) Pilate feared the loss of political power more than he feared God — Who stood in the flesh before him. Tradition has it that Pilate later committed suicide.

The sacrifice on the cross — Even as this was the week of Passover we see the Passover image here as Jesus the spotless Lamb of God was sacrificed for our sins. (1 Cor. 5:7) As in the days of Moses on that dreaded night in Egypt the death angel has passed over us because we have placed the blood of Jesus on the doorposts of our hearts. (See Exodus 12:29-30) We must be more than enlightened by Jesus’ teachings, we must be saved by His shed blood. (Rom. 3:23-25; Gal. 2:21) Jesus was crucified naked between two thieves (–“terrorists”), mocked and ridiculed by the Jews, Gentiles, the men on the cross (both initially) and even those who just passed by this very public place outside the walls of Jerusalem. This is a picture of the world’s rejection of Jesus. Again He was deserted by all of His disciples but one as only John was at the cross to see Jesus suffer the –“most wretched of deaths” per historian Josephus who saw many crucifixions. And worst of all He experienced God-forsakenness. The One Who died naked has clothed us with a robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10) and the One Who was God-forsaken has brought us near to Him. (Eph. 2:13) Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Victory on the cross — How a person dies says a lot about their faith and Jesus died victoriously with faith hope and love as He ministered to others and prayed to His Father. Listen to His seven statements from the cross recorded in the four gospels:

1) –“But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing " (Luke 23:34)
2) –“And he (the good thief) was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42-43)
3) –“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved (John) standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on this disciple took her into his home .” (John 19:26-27)
4) –“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46-47; Also see Mark 15:34-36)
5) –“I thirst.” This is the only statement where Jesus wasn’t ministering to others or praying to His Father.
6) "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” This was not a cry of defeat (–“I am finished”) but a shout of victory to His Father and the world. Tetelestai! – means it is completed, fulfilled or accomplished. (John 4:34; 17:4) 7) –“Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46) This follows His shout of victory and shows His absolute trust in His Father even though He had experienced His forsakenness.

Jesus’ victory is also seen in the sign above His head on the cross The King of the Jews. Though the Jewish leaders told Pilate to change it to say –“He said He was the King of the Jews, Pilate refused. It was written in Aramaic (for the Jews) Latin (for the Romans) and Greek which was the universal language. In essence this was an announcement to the world that Jesus’ kingship was available to the world. –“He was put in a rich man’s grave.” (Isa. 53:9) Jesus was buried in a new garden tomb inside the gates of Jerusalem like the kings of Israel. (2 Kings 21:18, 26) It was a royal burial fit for a king.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are examples for us to follow in their sacrificial love for Jesus. As religious professionals with considerable social privilege and religious power they risked it all to honor the Lord. The hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes was expensive and an extravagant expression of their love for Jesus. These two who were previously afraid to stand up for Jesus now stood up boldly for Him. They went from John 12:42-43 to Romans 1:16.


…–“they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” (See John 12:42-43) This in essence is peer pressure and it is just as true for adults as it is teenagers. We too can fail as leaders for Jesus if we bow to the peer pressure around us to conform to the world which ignores or rejects Jesus. How can we learn to seek God’s approval more than man’s and fear God more than man? John 5:44 says we are to –“seek” the glory or praise that comes from God. How can we seek God’s praise?

Why do you think the –“world” hates Jesus Christ today even as they did when they mocked Him and nailed Him to a cross? (See John 3:19-20)

We all suffer to one degree or another by living in a fallen world and sometimes from God’s loving discipline for our sins. Jesus shows us how we can still continue to minister to others even while we are suffering ourselves. Scripture says that the pain we have experienced or continue to experience makes us more effective in ministering to others who are going through similar trials. (See 2 Cor. 1:3-7) Why do you think this is true? Based on your sufferings, who may God be calling you to comfort?

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were no longer afraid of their peers or ashamed of a bloody Savior. What do you think Paul means in Romans 1:16 when he says he is not ashamed of the gospel?

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