The Crucifixion and Old Testament Prophecy
by R.C. Sproul
If we look at the intricacy of the drama of the events of Jesus’ crucifixion, we see that some amazing things took place so that Old Testament prophetic utterances were fulfilled to the minutest detail. In the first instance, the Old Testament said that the Messiah would be delivered to the Gentiles (“dogs” or “congregation of the wicked”) for judgment (Ps. 22:16). It just so happened in the course of history that Jesus was put on trial during a time of Roman occupation of Palestine. The Romans allowed a certain amount of home rule by their conquered vassals, but they did not permit the death penalty to be imposed by the local rulers, so the Jews did not have the authority to put Christ to death. The only thing they could do was to meet in council and take Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, asking him to carry out the execution. So Jesus was delivered from His own people to the Gentiles—those who were “outside the camp.” He was delivered into the hands of pagans who dwelt outside the arena in which the face of God shone, outside the circle of the light of His countenance.
Second, the site of Jesus’ execution was outside Jerusalem. Once He was judged by the Gentiles and condemned to be executed, He was led out of the fortress, onto the Via Dolorosa, and outside the walls of the city. Just as the scapegoat was driven outside the camp, Jesus was taken outside Zion, outside the holy city where the presence of God was concentrated. He was sent into the outer darkness.
Third, whereas the Jews did their executions by stoning, the Romans did them by crucifixion. That determined the method of Jesus’ death: He would hang on a tree—a cross made of wood. The Bible doesn’t say, “Cursed is everyone who is stoned.” It says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”
Fourth, when Jesus was put on the cross, there was an astronomical perturbation. In the middle of the afternoon, it became dark…
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