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Around 3 pm on Thursday of Passion Week Jesus died upon the cross.  The religious leaders of Israel had sought their will against Him and had now obtained it.  He came as light into the world but they would not receive it, for they loved darkness rather than the light and wanted to extinguish His light that shone upon their darkness.  As they arrested Him in the garden of Gethsemane He surrendered Himself saying, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luk 22:53).  They had rejected His Spirit from filling their temple—His Spirit of submission to do the will of the Father—and prayed their own will to be done, to which they were given over, and now He was dead. 

But already they were becoming aware that having obtained their own will may not have actually been in their best interests.  Pilate immediately recognized that Jesus was not guilty of the crimes they charged Him with and that it was because of envy that they had delivered Him up.  He made extraordinary efforts to release Him so it was only by the extraordinary exertion of their own will that they had prevailed.  Although they had sought to make Pilate, like Judas, their patsy for Christ’s death, their actions proved him, a despised Gentile, more righteous than they, and demonstrated why God’s kingdom was being taken from them and given to the Gentiles who would produce the fruit of it; cf. Mat 21:43.  Even at the moment they obtained their desire and Pilate gave in to crucify Him, their eyes would have begun to open to the truth.  For he washed his hands in innocence and told them to “see to that yourselves” (Mat 27:24), which were the very words they had said to Judas when he tried to undo his own deed but they smugly rejected him, confident that God was answering their prayers (Mat 27:4).  In response, the crowd, whom they had just incited against Jesus, accepted full responsibility for His death, even calling down a curse upon themselves and their children (Mat 27:24-25). 

Although their conscience was already seared and they would have hardened their hearts all the more for joy from having obtained their will, still, they couldn’t have helped but wonder as they followed Him to the cross to get in their last licks and mock Him as He died.  For no sooner was their enemy raised upon the cross than an unnatural darkness fell upon the land, as if to punctuate the divine displeasure at the darkness of their deed, and as an omen foreboding the setting of their sun at noon and the darkness that would now fall upon the nation.  No matter how hard they tried to ignore it, the realization of what they had done would have continued to grow like a gnawing worm upon their souls.  Their eyes seem to have opened even further when they saw the title Pilate placed upon the cross in three languages for all to see, not as they had wanted to communicate that Jesus died for claiming to be the king of the Jews, but because they crucified a man whom none could deny was a king of the Jews in a very different sense that they were only now beginning to see.  And now, after their will was fully accomplished and He was dead, they perhaps felt a little like Haman when he had begun to fall before Mordecai.  For what seemed so clear and they were so confident about just hours earlier now seemed to be turning against them.  For although they had assigned His grave with the wicked to cast a stigma upon Him and squash the spread of His followers, Pilate had now granted His body to a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who did the exact opposite and dignified His death with an honored burial in an expensive tomb. 

Still though, He was dead—mission accomplished—and they had no time to give any thought to their forebodings.  For the Passover was about to begin and with it the high Sabbath for the first day of Unleavened Bread, followed the next day by the seventh day Sabbath.  As teachers of the Law they took pride in their political savvy, and the two Sabbaths would give them time to get out in front of any potential blow-back and manage any repercussions as they had always done in the past.  And yet, try as they might, they couldn’t shake the gnawing, nagging feeling that all was not right, that they had unawares crossed some invisible line that would now determine their fate and from which they could never turn back.  For their eyes were about to be fully opened to understand how naked they were before God.  And like the words of king Ahasuerus that covered Haman’s face, so would the words of the King they rejected soon cover theirs before the night was over.  For two days earlier in the temple when they made clear their rejection, when did Jesus say that their eyes would be opened to see Him, and when did that happen?  See Mat 23:39 and note that the words Jesus said they would say are from Psa 118:26 which was the last of the Hallel psalms sung as part of the Passover feast that they were about to eat.  See the whole context of Psa 118:20-26 and with Psa 118:20 cf. Joh 10:7; with Psa 118:22-23 cf. Mat 21:42, Act 4:11; with Psa 118:24-25 cf. Mat 21:9,15 and note that Hosanna is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for do save or save now in Psa 118:25.  Although their hardened hearts would have sought to dismiss it, at that moment their eyes would have been opened to see that He was their king, the Messiah.  And try as they might to suppress it, in their heart of hearts they would never be able to escape the truth that they had crucified their Messiah sent to save them, and would now bear their guilt as God’s judgment would soon overtake not just themselves but the whole nation for their deed.  Cf. Mat 23:35, 27:25, Act 2:23,36, 5:28, 7:52.  What does this teach us about the great and terrible danger of seeking our own will to be done, and the much lighter yoke of Jesus who always sought to do the will of the Father and not His own?  Cf. Mat 11:28-30 and hymn.  What awful burden from which they could never find rest would those leaders now bear for the suffering they had brought upon so many, and how would that worm never again allow them to lie down in peace?  Cf. Jam 3:1 and contrast Joh 14:27. 

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