Yes He did! In private conversations with His disciples, Jesus tried to prepare them for the time when He would no longer be with them. Indeed, He indicated that He would be unjustly executed. “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day”. (Matt. 16:21) Some time later He said again, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” (Matt. 17:22,23) This second time He added the detail of how He would be taken—it would be by betrayal. And again at a later date He warned them once more. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matt. 20:18,19) This third time He added that it would not be the Jews that would kill Him, but the Gentiles (Romans) and that His execution would be by crucifixion. These are most remarkable details of an event over which normally you would say the individual has no control. The most startling detail is His prediction that He would rise from the dead.
Did Jesus say why He was to die?
Yes He did! He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, (this is a clear reference to the manner of His death—by crucifixion) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14,15) Here then, is the purpose of His death, that those who believe in Him, that is, in His life, death and resurrection, might themselves have eternal life. This He repeated, in different ways, on several occasions. For example, speaking of those that follow Him, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (John 10:28) And speaking of Himself in prayer to God the Father, He said, “You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” (John 17:2)
Yes it does! In fact the description of the death of Jesus is recorded in all four biographies. Moreover, the explanation of why He died is given in all the later books. Peter explains what happened and Paul explains why it happened. But let us look at the gospels first.
All four gospels record the events leading up to the execution. Different details are given prominence by the different authors. However, there is a harmony between them all. The events of the last twenty four hours in the earthly life of Jesus unfolded in this fashion.
The night before He died He celebrated a Jewish feast, the Passover, with His disciples. At that meal He again warned them that He would soon die, adding that it would be to obtain forgiveness of sins for many. Using a cup of red wine as a symbol for His life blood, He said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood ... which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28) This was a confirmation of something He had said some days earlier. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) A ransom is a price paid to buy back someone from some kind of imprisonment. However, Jesus said His death would be a ransom, not just for one, but for many. Leaving the room where they had shared a last meal together, they travelled across the Kidron valley to a quiet garden, called Gethsemane, where He prayed. It was here that Judas brought a large contingent of soldiers to arrest Jesus. He offered no resistance.
Early the following morning, to give the trial of Jesus some semblance of legality, the Sanhedrin (the council that ruled the Jews) was convened. Jesus was found guilty of blasphemy (a religious charge) and condemned to die. However, the Jews at that time were a conquered race, and it was the Romans that had the power of life and death over its citizens. So Jesus was taken to Pilate, the personal representative of Caesar, who was the officer who had control of Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders, to obtain confirmation of the death sentence from the Romans, had to change the accusation against Jesus, from a religious one to a political one. They accused Him of plotting against Rome. Even though Pilate was convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was innocent of all charges, he finally submitted to pressure and blackmail, and gave Him to an execution squad to crucify.
By this time Jesus was in a quite appalling condition, having been beaten, abused and flogged over a period six hours. Nevertheless, He was compelled to carry His execution stake. But because He was so weak He collapsed under its weight, and another was conscripted to carry it.
Because it was a political execution, the Romans selected a site for the crucifixion that would be very public. It was near a busy cross-roads, in fact near the road on which Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem to fulfil the prophecy, “Tell the daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming to you”. (Matt.21.5) When the execution party reached the spot, the Romans nailed Him to a cross. At this time Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”. (Luke 23.34) This was at nine o’clock in the morning (the time of the morning sacrifice in the Temple). He hung on the cross for another six hours, the last three of which was under the cover of an unusual darkness. It was when the light of the sun was shut out that He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46)
At the end of the six agonising hours, during which He had suffered the wrath of man, the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God, He declared, “It is finished” (John 19.30) and gave up His life. This was at 3 o’clock in the afternoon (the time of the evening sacrifice in the Temple).
When the request came to bring His body down from the cross, one of the execution party, to make sure He was dead, thrust a spear into His side. From this open wound came blood and water to mingle with the blood already on the ground beneath the cross.
Such were the main facts of the end of Jesus’ earthly life.
He was betrayed—just as He said.
He suffered at the hands of the Jewish leaders—just as He said.
They condemned Him to death—just as He said.
They handed Him over to the Romans— just as He said.
The Romans mocked Him and flogged Him—just as He said.
He was crucified—just as He said.