When Did The Cross Happen?

March 23, 2015

Revelation 13:8; I Peter 1:18-20

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

When Did The Cross Happen?  What was the date when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified just outside of Jerusalem?  To pin down the exact date is difficult for the following reasons:

•      Dionysius Exiguus published his research in 527 AD that Jesus was born on December 25th in the 754th year after the founding of Rome.  And so he introduced the idea that Christ was born in the year 1 AD.

But Matthew 2:1 it says “…Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king….”  But Herod the king died as early as 8 BC! (See www.biblical chronology.com/herod.htm for a good discussion of the chronological evidence involved).  As recorded in Matthew 2:2 the Magi came to Jerusalem and inquired, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? ”  Herod felt his rule threatened and in Matthew 2:16 it says, “…he…was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under.”  ‘The slaughter of the Innocents’ – by which this heinous deed is known – took place up to two years after the coming of the Magi, according to Matthew 2:7.  So the latest estimates (incorporating Josephus’ writings and other extra-biblical sources) put Jesus’ birth as early as 10 BC!

This would date Jesus’ crucifixion around 23 AD, since it is thought he was around 33 years old when He died.

•      Another reckoning from the Biblical record is from the information given in Luke 3, verses 1, 2 and 23:

      Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate
      being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother
      Philip tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias
      the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the
      word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness….Now
      Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age….

On September 17, 14 AD, Tiberius became emperor of Rome.  In his fifteenth year the date would have been either late 28 AD or into 29 AD.  The reigns and time in the positions of the others named in these verses also confirm that date.  Close to this time it says that Jesus was “…about thirty years of age….”  If, as the gospels suggest, His ministry lasted around three years, His crucifixion would have taken place around 32 AD.

You can begin to see the chronological problems!

But let’s shift our focus to our featured scriptures – Revelation 13:8 and I Peter 1:18-21.  I put these in reverse order from where they are found in the Bible because of the thoughts they convey:

•      In Revelation 13:8 it tells us that Jesus is “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

•      I Peter 1:18 through 20 says, “[you know] that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  He was indeed foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you….

The emphasis in both of these scriptures is “…from [or]…before the foundation of the world….”  In other words, the Triune God planned the redemption of fallen man through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross long before the world was even created!  And in the mind of God it was an accomplish fact from eternity past!

This raises another question:  God being omniscient – all-knowing – why did He create the world and mankind if He knew man would fall into sin and all creation would be placed under a curse?  Why did God go ahead with it if the redemption of creation would cost Him the life of His Son?

I think it demonstrates some aspects of God’s attributes we would not have otherwise seen.  These would include…

•      He shows forth His love, mercy and grace toward His creation.  (Remember, according to Romans 8:19 through 23, Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection redeemed not just the souls of sinful human beings, but of all creation!)

•      He reveals His infinitely powerful mind, devising such a profound yet simple plan to redeem all creation!

•      He demonstrates His omnipotence (being all-powerful).  By His power, God overcame all the opposition Satan and his hosts could throw against Him!

•      He brings forth His glory as redeemed people grow more and more to be like Jesus!

So When Did The Cross Happen?  In time – almost two thousand years ago.  In the mind of God – infinitely long ago!

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