So when the centurion saw what happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!" - Luke 23:46-47
In the earliest hours of the day which came to be known as Good Friday, Jesus was arrested after being betrayed by Judas. He was jostled and mistreated as the Temple Guards took Him to see the Elders. Over the next few hours he went through six different interrogations, going from Caiaphas and the Elders to Herod, back to the Elders until He was ultimately deemed guilty and then taken to Pontius Pilate for sentencing.
Only after mockery of a trial satisfied the other Elders could Caiaphas declare Him guilty of blasphemy. And despite the protestations of Nicodemus, Jesus was then taken to Pilate to ask the Roman Governor to sentence Him to death. They knew they couldn't deliver and carry out a death sentence during the Passover under Jewish law, they needed to use the law of Rome.
Pilate deemed Him innocent of High Crimes and initially sentenced our Savior to forty lashes, which were delivered with extreme brutality by the laughing Roman guards. Barely able to stand, He was brought back to Pilate and the Jewish leaders waiting below complained that the punishment was not sufficient and that trouble was likely to brew in the streets.
Pilate knew that any public disorder could threaten his position, so he offered the Jews the choice of deciding on death for either Jesus or the heinous criminal Barabbas, saying he would pass sentence on the one selected. Caiaphas in turn rallied the select crowd to pick Jesus to be put to death. Pilate relented to their demand, symbolically washed his hands to show his disfavor and turned Jesus offer to the Roman guards. It was now nine o'clock in the morning, most of the trial action having been taken before the supporters of Jesus were even aware what was taking place.
They flogged him severely, put a crown of thorns on his head violently, and told him to carry the heavy wooden cross through the city and up the steep hill to Golgotha, the Place of Skulls, where he would be crucified. He trudged onward and upward, stumbling frequently while continuously being flogged, bleeding and sweating profusely. Finally when he could go no further without rest, the guards ordered a man in the crowd, a Cyrene named Simon, to help Jesus carry the Cross. Together, they managed to slowly make it up the hill where Jesus finally collapsed.
The Cross was lying flat on the ground and the guards ordered him to crawl onto its surface where they put Him in place, and proceeded to nail his hands and crossed feet to the Cross with nails resembling smaller railroad spikes. Jesus was in horrible agony, in pain, bleeding and dehydrating as they lifted the cross up and placed it upright in the anchoring hole. His body shuddered in pain as they forcefully dropped the cross into the hole, pulling and tearing on his flesh where the nails had been driven. It was now High Noon.
Jesus died an agonizingly slow death and during this time He was totally alone, for this was the last requirement that God had placed on Him, to suffer alone to atone for the sins of all mankind, present and future. It was why he asked why the Father had forsaken Him. Finally, after another three long hours alone, in pain and suffering, he lifted His eyes up toward Heaven, committed himself to the Father and said, "It is finished", and His spirit was off to be with His Father.
It was 3 p.m. when the skies darkened and the centurion came and looked up at Jesus and realized who He was. It was also the same time that the High Priest at the Temple butchered the little lamb who was sacrificed to God as the Passover sacrifice. That little lamb had been placed in bondage in the Temple at the same time that Jesus was initially placed in bondage after Pilate's approval of the death sentence. The little lamb and the Lamb of God both suffered their fate on the same schedule. One as a sacrifice to God in a religious ceremony, the other as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
And at His moment of death, man was forgiven for His sins. The only remaining requirement was for him to accept Jesus' forgiveness and follow Him. The ultimate gift was given to each of us. The question left is will each of us accept it, for it is an individual decision with an individual answer. Eternal Life or permanent death, that is the question.
Praise His Holy name.