Jesus told His followers ahead of time that He had come to earth to die for our sins. "Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 'We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will turn Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!' (Matthew 20:17-19)
"Now the feast of unleavened bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people... And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present." (Luke 22:1-5)
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is My body.'
"Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (Matthew 26:26-28)
After He prayed, Judas arrived with "a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people…Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him." (Matthew 26:47,50)
"Those who had arrested Jesus took Him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled... The chief priest and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put Him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward..." (Matthew 26:57-60)
"The high priest said to Him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'
"'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
"Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, 'He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?'
"'He is worthy of death,' they answered.
"Then they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists." (Matthew 26:62-67)
Jesus was then taken before the Roman governor Pilate, "and the governor asked Him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?'
"'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied." (Matthew 27:11)
He "had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified. Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail, King of the Jews!' they said. They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.
"As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of the skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it. When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Two robbers were crucified with Him, one on His right, and one on His left. Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!'
"In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. 'He saved others,' they said, 'but He can't save himself! He is the king of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for he said, "I am the Son of God."' In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.
"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?' -- which means, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'... and when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit... When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw... all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely He was the Son of God!'" (Matthew 26:26-54)
It looked like a horrible and humiliating death on the cross. But through His death, He paid the ultimate price for sin, allowing people who trust in Him to go free. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) He willingly took on Himself the death and the judgment which we deserve for our sins so that we might go free when we receive Christ as our Savior. That is truly something better than anything else we could imagine.
The Apostle Paul said that Jesus’ crucifixion was a “stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Is this central truth of Christianity hard for you or your friends to accept?