Lesson Seven – Israel Kills the Messiah

Israel Kills the Messiah

Lesson Aim:  To show that physical Israel fulfilled her last prophesied role as God’s nation by pressuring the Gentiles into crucifying Jesus Christ.


Concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Apostle Paul said to King Agrippa, “For this has not been done in a corner.”  Acts 26:26.  We can believe our great God in heaven made sure the death of His Son on the cross received more notice than a one day headline in a Jerusalem newspaper.


The things God did directly from heaven certainly impressed those who were present to witness His intervention.  Even the Roman soldiers became frightened because of God’s intervention with the laws of nature, for one said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”  Matt. 27:54.  We can believe the soldiers took their story of the cross back to Rome.  Thousands of Jews were in Jerusalem from many nations to keep the Passover.  They would also return home with some fantastic stories.  They would tell of the darkness that came upon them at high noon and how the curtain in the temple split from top to bottom opening the way into the Holy of Holies.  No one could have been unaware of the earth shaking and the rocks splitting.  Some could even tell stories of how dead saints appeared to them after the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 27:45-53).

Surely these people did not consider the crucifixion of Jesus Christ an event that “happened in a corner.”  Then on the third day after Jesus’ death, they found His empty tomb and this in spite of the presence of the Roman guards (Matt. 27:66-28:6).  Cleopas and his friend asked the One who appeared to them near the village of Emmaus, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  Luke 24:18.  Certainly, that One knew well what had happened because He is the One of which we still talk.  He is Jesus the Nazarene.

The nation of Israel added some very heavy drama to bring this story “out of the corner” and make it the international story it is today.  They even had the angels of heaven in suspense as the Jews played their role in God’s plan to offer His Son as the final sin-offering (I Pet. 1:10-12).  One of the most interesting things about the Jews’ role is the fact that they already knew about many of these things before they happened.  Please review the “check list” of prophecies Part IV, Lesson Four.  The Jewish leaders and certain others were right on target to fulfil each prophecy in the Old Testament books they possessed.  Jesus publicly revealed their plot to kill the Son of God (Luke 20:9-19).  We can read the last chapters of the four Gospels and put a check by each prophecy on the “check list” about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  This, within itself, has caused the world to ponder this event since the first century A. D.  Most of the Jews still can’t believe it even though the story is preached in Jerusalem today.

Another aspect of Israel’s role that makes the story of Jesus intriguing is how they had been looking for the Messiah for ages.  They were looking for the seed of David to arrive during Daniel’s fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire.  However, as it had been prophesied, when the Messiah rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and received a king’s welcome by the citizens, the leaders plotted to kill Him (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:4, 5).  Since our check list came from the Old Testament, the Jews had the same list, but they “…kept on calling out, saying, ‘Crucify, crucify Him!’”  Luke 23:21.

Even the high priest became a prophet by pronouncing the death of the Son of God (John 11:47-51).  Caiaphas made this prophecy after a discussion with the Jewish Council about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-48).  It was not a question of whether Jesus was performing miracles or not, their motive was to stop Him.  These same leaders were so pious they did not want to defile themselves by entering the Roman governor’s residence on a Sabbath; yet, their business the same day was to get Pilate to kill the Son of God (John 18:28).  How could Israel, who still claimed to love God, kill His Son?  Jesus gave us the answer when He said, “But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”  John 15:25.

Surely something is wrong with this story!  No, the story is true.  At the end of centuries of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion against God’s will, He was using her as a nation for His plan to offer forgiveness and salvation to Israel and all ethnics – Gentiles.  God was laying the ground work for the true Israel of God.  This is not the first time God had hardened and blinded a “vessel of wrath” in order to bless the “vessels of mercy.”  See Rom. 9:17, 22, 23; 11:7, 8.

The Jewish leaders were among those who were given a spirit of stupor; otherwise, surely they would not have killed the Lord of glory (I Cor. 2:8).  They, like Pharaoh, were sinners by their own choice, but God used them for His work.  Judas Iscariot can also be classified as a vessel of wrath and one who fulfilled prophecy (Psa. 41:9; Zech. 11:12; Matt. 26:24, 25).  God had Judas’ plot for betraying Jesus, and even the price, recorded for Judas, himself, to read.  His name has become a byword in the world.  All of these different episodes, when added together, make this the unforgettable story of our Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Israel, as a physical nation, played her last ignoble role in God’s great and awesome ministry of reconciliation.  They did indeed strike the Shepherd and the sheep scattered, but because this thing “was not done in a corner” the sheep are still being gathered back to the Shepherd (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31; John 10:16).  Israel played her last role well, but all is not lost for her, for she too is included in the plan of salvation for which the One she falsely accused died.  This becomes the part of the story that draws more attention than all of the other parts combined.  Israel killed her own sacrifice in ignorance and wickedness, but she could not have done it without the cooperation of both Jesus and the heathens.  God is the king maker (Dan. 2:21).  How much king-making did God do to fulfil the following scripture?

Why are the nations in an uproar, and the people devising a vain thing?  The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed.  Psa. 2:1, 2

We have already seen how God prepared Rome to help the Jews fulfil His plan; even so, Jesus freely gave His life in order to do His Father’s will (John 12:27).  He could have stopped the whole scheme of redemption at any time He chose, for Jesus said, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on my own initiative.”  John 10:18.  Happily for us, Jesus also cooperated and carried out His role to perfection.  He died for the ones who killed Him.  His behavior demanded one who had life (zoe), and especially love (agape).  He died that we might have life, and in so doing, He demonstrated a great law of life.  He fulfilled Isaiah, chapter fifty-three, by taking our sins to the cross.  Then He cried out, not only  from pain, but because His Father turned away from Him.  He said, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?”  That is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  Psa. 22:1; Matt. 27:46.

A little while after Jesus had returned to heaven, His and His Father’s church in Jerusalem gave glory to God for letting them see it all come about (Acts 4:23-30).  The time was right, Pilate was the right Gentile leader and Caiaphas was the right high priest.  Judas was a thief.  Mary and all the others were ready for God to bless the world.  Yes, they were all in place, the rich man with his new tomb, the thieves were hanging on either side, the soldiers were casting lots for His garment and the gall and vinegar were nearby.  Each was a story within itself; however, if it had not been for the love of God the rest of the story would have long ago been forgotten.  The real story is God loved all people enough to let His one perfect Son die for the imperfect.  Truly, it was not done in a corner.

These things were accomplished in the way they were done so we might know and believe it happened to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  It has been “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”  John 20:31.  Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the message of the cross to the entire world in every generation (Matt. 28:18-20; II Tim. 2:2).  This is the grace of God for the remissions of sin.  However, we do not want to make the cross the symbol for the Christian religion.  The grace of God has no meaning until we have understood Jesus preaching of the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).  Sinners must understand their role in the kingdom and accept God’s new covenant with a repentant attitude.  See Acts 8:12; 20:20-25.  The grace of God is only for those of us who are willing to accept God’s new covenant.  We desire to be, act and feel like sons of God in his eternal kingdom (Phil. 2:15).  Grace gives us peace with God so His program for us can begin (Rom. 5:1-5).

Questions for Discussion

  1. As Jesus hang on the cross what did God do to make it a memorable event?
  2. What did Cleopas say to Jesus to make us believe the story of Jesus’ death was well publicized in the Jerusalem area?
  3. What was Israel’s last role as God’s special nation?
  4. What would a discerning Jew have known about the events in this lesson?
  5. How did Caiaphas add drama to the story of Jesus’ death?
  6. In what way could Israel’s leaders in the first century be compared to the Pharaoh of Egypt during the time of Moses?
  7. What made the story of Judas’ role so dramatic?
  8. How might God have worked to make Psalms 2:1, 2 come to pass?
  9. How did the striking down of the Shepherd give the Shepherd more sheep?
  10. What one thing contributed most to the story of the cross that has kept it from becoming an event done in a corner?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply