Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jesus Is Crucified

Matthew 27:27-44

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.  And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.  And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!  And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.  And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.” (Matthew 27:27-31)

Herod had had his soldiers abuse Jesus.  Pilate turned Jesus over to the Jews, refusing to have any part in what he clearly believed was murder.  The Roman soldiers were hated by the Jews.  They probably saw this as an opportunity to please the crowd and have some fun at the same time, so they started making fun of the claims that he was a king, forcing him to disrobe and put on an expensive robe and crowning him with a crown of thorn.  They placed a reed-like stick in his hand like a scepter and bowed to him, making fun of him by acting as if he were a king then snatching the stick away and hitting him on the head with it and spitting on him to show their contempt.  

It was a parody of what the crowd had done just four days before when Jesus came into the city riding a donkey on Palm Sunday, and the crowd apparently loved it.  When they got tired of making fun of him they put his own clothes back on him and led him out to crucify him,

“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27:32)

One of the Roman laws the Jews hated most was that if a Roman soldier asked a person for help carrying something the person was required to immediately stop whatever he was doing and carry whatever the soldier asked him to for one mile.   Soldiers frequently abused the law, ordering people to carry their stuff even when no help was needed.  Since the cross was too heavy for one person to carry, the soldiers ordered Simon to help carry it so they didn’t have to.

 “And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.” (Matthew 27:33-34)

When they arrived at Golgotha, where they carried out crucifixions, they gave Jesus a mixture of gall and vinegar to drink to minimize the effects of dehydration and prevent lapsing into unconsciousness before he died.  When he tasted it, Jesus refused to drink it. 

“And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” (Matthew 27:35)

It was customary for the soldiers who crucified a person to divide up his clothing and personal effects as part of their pay for doing the execution.  When the soldiers hung Jesus on the cross, they sat at the foot of the cross and gambled to see who got which part of his clothing.  In doing so, they fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 22:14-18, once again proving he was the Messiah.

“And sitting down they watched him there; And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Matthew 27:36-37)

Pilate had written a sign saying declaring Jesus as king of the Jews.  When they crucified him, the sign was nailed to the top of the cross.  John 19:1922 describes the Jewish reaction.  “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.  This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.   Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.  Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.” 

The Jewish leaders were offended that the sign said Jesus was the king of the Jews, feeling that it indicted them for having him Crucified and demanded Pilate change it.  They had already pushed Pilate beyond his limit in forcing him to authorize the execution of an innocent man, and he refused to change it.    The sign remained, clearly declaring Jesus as King of the Jews for all to see.    The crowd sat down to wait and see what would happen.

“Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.  And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.  He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.  The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” (Matthew 27:44)

People passing by on their way to from Jerusalem stopped to throw Jesus’ prophecy about rebuilding the temple in his face, implying that he had claimed he could rebuild such a structure in three days but couldn’t even get down off the cross.  The religious leaders took a day off and made similar comments, saying that if he could get down off the cross they would believe in him and that if he was really the son of God, God would surely get him down. 

Jesus was crucified between two thieves.  To distract himself, one of them made fun of jesus just like the rest of the crowd.  The other recognized jesus for who he really is according to Luke 23:39-43.  “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

The thief acknowledged that death was what he deserved and asked Jesus to remember him when he reached the kingdom.  Jesus promised that he would be with him in paradise that very day.   It is exactly what Jesus promised to everyone who would believe in him.

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