Dive Deeper Week 3

Written by Kaley Morgan

Week 3 of our Dive Deeper Reading Challenge covers Jesus’ way to the cross, His crucifixion, death, and burial. I want to go over a few pieces of the story where we see proclaimed that Jesus truly is the Son of God.


Jesus was crucified between two other criminals.

Matthew 27:44 says, “In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him.” Mark 15:32b says, “Even those who were crucified with him taunted him.” John’s mention of these two criminals in John 19:18 doesn’t indicate their behavior at all, “There they crucified him and two others with him, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.”

Without Luke’s Gospel, we don’t know anything else about these criminals. But Luke records a conversation between Jesus and one of the criminals that is encouragement to us today.

Right after one criminal hurls an insult at Jesus, Luke 23:40-43 says, “But the other answers, rebuking him: ‘Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

That gives me chills. We know from Matthew and Mark that both criminals were mocking Jesus initially. But with this extra encouraging conversation in Luke, we learn that somewhere along the way, this one criminal recognized that Jesus is the Son of God and believed in Him. No matter what this criminal did (which was something the criminal himself deemed deserving of crucifixion) and regardless of having lived his whole life in sin, in that moment, he was assured by Jesus that he would be with Him in paradise that very day because of his choice to repent and have faith.

If you’re alive and breathing today, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your past, or how long you’ve been living in darkness. No one is out of reach from the saving grace of God. Jesus is right next to you waiting for you to follow Him, and when you do, you are given assurance that immediately upon your death, you will be with Jesus in paradise. Just like the repentant criminal.

Did you know that as much as we want to go to heaven when we die, God also wants us to be there with Him for eternity? He wants you there with Him because He loves you. But He does let you choose.

Choosing to follow Jesus isn’t just a ticket into heaven. It’s even more than that. It erases the sin from your past and covers you with His righteousness, and He gives you the Holy Spirit as a helper through this life on earth. Choosing to follow Jesus changes your past, present, and future for the better.

Reflection and Prayer: If you have not yet chosen to follow Jesus, this invitation is for you. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus says “Follow Me” and that is what He is saying to you now. Praying to Jesus is simply talking to him. So the words you use don’t matter. But if you want to choose to follow Jesus, you can tell him with this sample prayer: “Dear Jesus, I confess my sins and ask for your forgiveness. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, so I can be saved and spend eternity with You. Please come into my heart as my Lord and Savior. Take complete control of my life and help me to walk in Your footsteps daily by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” If you are making this decision for the first time, let us know so we can help you understand more of what this means and help you with next steps.

If you are already following Jesus, take this time to pray for those who are not yet following Him, and reflect on ways that you can help point them to Jesus.

“Since it was the preparation day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special day). They requested that Pilate have the men’s legs broken and that their bodies be taken away” (Jn. 19:31). So they broke the legs of the two criminals to ensure they would die quickly. Seeing that Jesus was already dead, his legs were not broken. Instead, they pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. Why does John report this?

Because it fulfills two prophecies. John 19:36-37 says, “For these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken. Also, another Scripture says: They will look at the one they pierced(Bold Emphasis Mine  Let’s look at these prophecies in the Old Testament.

1. Not one of his bones will be broken:

Psalm 34:20 says, “He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Further, Jesus died on the cross as the final sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God, thereafter eliminating the need to continue the sacrificial system that is set up in the Old Testament. Jesus is the Ultimate Sacrificial Lamb. You’ll see in the Old Testament, that Passover instruction included not breaking the bones of the sacrifice.

Exodus 12:46: “…you may not break any of its bones.”

Numbers 9:12: “they may not leave any of it until morning or break any of its bones”

Jesus, being the Ultimate Sacrifice, falls in line with that instruction.

2. They will look at the one they pierced.

Zechariah 12:10: “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at me whom they pierced.”

Part of the proof that Jesus is the Son of God is in the fulfillment of a number of Old Testament prophecies.

In the CSB Life Essentials Study Bible, Getz gives us 8 prophecies to dig into (p1380). Take some time and look up these prophecies and fulfillments:
Getz says, “What is the likelihood that just eight prophecies would have happened by chance? Statisticians tell us that the probability could be as low as one in ten to the seventeenth power. That’s one chance in one hundred million billion! In view of this observation, it is inconceivable that all the Old Testament prophecies regarding Jesus Christ could be fulfilled by chance” (Getz, p 1380).

That is overwhelming evidence to me. Yet, the religious leaders were blind to these prophetic fulfillments that were happening before their very eyes.

Question for Reflection: Though this kind of evidence is so overwhelming, why do so many unbelievers ignore this information? (Getz, 1380)

Matthew 27:45-54 is quite a fascinating scene. First, we see that darkness fell over the land for 3 hours, starting at noon. Can you imagine it suddenly being dark from noon until 3pm? This is also a fulfilled prophecy found in Zephaniah 1:14-15. Then at the moment Jesus breathed his last and gave up His spirit, the curtain of the sanctuary (into the holy of holies) was torn in half. This is a physical demonstration of the direct access that Israel (and all of us) now have to God because of the sacrificial death of Jesus. Then there was an earthquake. What comes next is hard to imagine or picture what it was like, but it says that “the tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Mt. 27:52).

After all of that, Matthew 27:54 says, “When the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.(Bold emphasis mine)

Up to this point, they had treated Jesus in such a way that demonstrated they did not believe he was the son of God. The religious leaders and the crowds were against Jesus and therefore against his followers and anyone that dared to believe Jesus was who He said He was. Then, lo and behold, a centurion (Roman officer) and all that were with him… thought He was the son of God and kept it to themselves. NO! The scriptures are clear that they knew and said. They didn’t just think, they knew. They didn’t keep this to themselves. They were not secretly deciding to believe in God, so no one else would know. These events led no doubt in their mind, and they were so shaken to their core and convinced, to the point that they were not afraid to outwardly admit it. They said OUT LOUD, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Friends, Jesus is who he says He is. He is the Son of God. I think it’s appropriate to end with what many consider the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Further Study: If you are doubting the Easter story, if you are struggling to believe if any of it true, if you are struggling to believe in the Gospel of Christ, “The Case for Easter” by Lee Strobel is a phenomenal resource and a short read. If you want to go more in depth about Christ (and not just the Easter story), read “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, which does include the content from “The Case for Easter.“
Citations: Getz, G. A. (2019). Holy Bible: CSB Life Essentials Study Bible. Holman Bible Publishers.
All Scripture quotes are CSB.

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