Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Matthew 27: 27- 44

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Jesus is Executed!

Jesus is Executed!
 
General Idea: Three incredible themes resound from this passage: first, Jesus was continually obedient. He chose to endure through the most heinous suffering a person could experience! The soldiers severely abused and humiliated Jesus for their entertainment, infecting their brutal wrath upon Him. Here was the Creator and Lord of the universe, the Person who created and loved the soldiers, and their response was to whip their real Lord and King. All the time, Jesus was taking God's wrath from them! They refused to acknowledge Him, choosing rather to inflict their way upon His Way. In addition, as the great irony, they added a mocking sign which said, This is Jesus the King of the Jews, when, in fact, He was-and is!

 

Secondly, Jesus took one cup and rejected another. Jesus was crucified, the most heinous form of torture ever conceived, inflicting the longest torment and pain imaginable upon a person. Jesus walked up to it and endured it when He could have easily walked away. When they offered Him the drink of gall that would have helped ease His suffering, He rejected that cup so He could fulfill the cup of suffering for us as He agonized on the cross!

 

Thirdly, the religious leaders and people, even the criminals hanging next to Him, hurled their insults at Him. Jesus could have answered the blasphemers, come down from the cross, and showed them His omnipotence. But, for our benefit, He stayed nailed to the cross for our sins!

 

1.   Praetorium refers to a general's tent, or a military camp command center. Here, it refers to the governor's palace, the Fortress of Antonia, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where Pontius Pilate resided.

a.   Garrison was the entire soldier company of 600+ men quartered there and assigned to the governor to protect him and insure order. These were soldiers recruited from the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. Their officers and leaders were from Rome as the Jews did not make good soldiers and would not have been loyal to Rome.

b.   Stripped Him. They rendered the King and Creator of the universe naked! Crucifixion was more than punishment; it was designed to inflict shame! Its victims were stripped of their clothes, and beaten in public, which was extremely embarrassing. The embarrassment was even worse than the pain of the beatings in Palestine culture. This was done to insure public restraint and obedience and to discourage rebellion, for rebellion would have invited such a visit to a cross.

c.   The Romans, when conquering a new land, would randomly crucify people for a testimony of what would be in store if a rebellion occurred.

d.   Scarlet robe was the cloak of a Roman soldier that was made of mohair, a very harsh, prickly fabric from camels that would have adhered to wounds, further tearing into the flesh!

e.   Roman soldiers were brutal and would use the knuckle bones of their victims for dice to play games with!

f.     Crown of thorns. They pressed a crown of sharp thorns into His scalp. These thorns were nasty-a display of utter contempt.

g.   Reed /Scepter. The soldiers mocked Him by placing a simple representation of authority in His hands, hands that were aching from the leather straps holding him to the pike as they whipped Him. The beating would press the sharp thorns further into His scalp, causing a lot of bleeding. The soldiers continued to mock our Lord and hit Him across His face. By this time, Jesus would have been unrecognizable.

h.   Hail King of the Jews. The soldiers were acting with a mindset of sadistic sport and contempt towards Jesus! Hail is the salutation a soldier gave an important commander or Emperor.

i.    Spat on Him. This was a grievous insult of total contempt.

j.     Reed was made of bamboo with slits-extremely painful.

k.    Own clothes. This was possibly only His loincloth.

l.     Luke records that Jesus was taken to both a Roman and a Jewish trial, a passing game between the local government and religious leaders. He was taken to the Procurator of Judea, Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea, as well as from Pilate to Herod. It was a back-and-forth game among people who refused to take responsibility. They knew of Jesus' popularity and did not want to incite the religious leaders or the people, so they passed Him off to one another, hopeful that someone else would take the possible fall (Luke 23:6-16).

m.  The agony of the pain would have been overwhelming, causing Jesus to slip in and out of consciousness.

 

2.   Simon, from Cyrene. Cyrene was a large, mostly Jewish city in what is now Libya. Simon would have been in Jerusalem for the Passover.

a.   Bear His cross. He was carrying the heavy patibulum (crossbeam) of the palus (the pole of the cross that was usually permeating, planted in the ground) on a 650 yard journey from the Fortress of Antonia to Golgotha.

b.   Romans often enlisted others to carry their stuff, often for many miles and even days.

c.   Jesus was unable to carry the load due to the severe beatings He had endured. Even in a state of severe trauma and shock, He did not allow His Divinity to override His physical stamina. Keep in mind-Jesus was a "man's man," very fit as a carpenter in a time of no power tools, and was always walking. He would have been in top-notch physical condition. He was no weakling, as some have suggested! Also, remember, most other victims of crucifixion, including the other criminals beside Him, did not go through lashings and torture, to the extent that Jesus did, prior to their crucifixion. To crucify someone with only the beating beforehand would allow the victim to last several days on the cross versus a few hours!

d.   Sour wine…gall… was a drink made of alcohol and myrrh (gall is a colloquialism for myrrh) that was a pain killer (Luke 23:26). Jesus refused this cup so to take on all of the suffering (Psalm 69:21; Matt. 26:29; Mark 15:23). (Church legend states this was the myrrh given to Jesus as a baby, but there is no Scriptural support for this.) This offering of the gall may also been a form of mockery, as the taste was horrible and would not have quenched His incredible thirst (Psalm 69:21).

 

3.   They crucified Him. Jesus was nailed onto the crossbeam, through His wrists, with large, heavy, square, wrought iron nails approximately the size of railroad spikes. These spikes were driven through the body and deep into the wood of the cross.

a.   Several soldiers, using large wooden forks, ladders, or ropes, lifted him up. The sensation and pain of these spikes being driven through would have been indescribable. The soldiers would have been careful not to pull the arms tightly, but allow them some movement. The crossbeam was placed in the notch, and tied. Then His left foot was pressed backward against a block (suppedanium Latin) used as a sadistic foot transfixion rest, to prolong the crucifixion. Then, with feet on top of each another, His knees extended, and His toes facing down, they were nailed through the arches of His feet into the bottom block with one nail-spike. The knees were left bent so they could flex.

b.   This Jesus the King of the Jews, the mocking placard, was nailed above His head on top of the stipes and the titulus (Latin) of the cross. This was the ultimate irony as He was and is King of the Jews as well as King of the universe! However, Pilate was not mocking Jesus. Rather, it came from the religious leaders!

c.   Lots. This was a form of gambling similar to dice (Psalm 22:18). The act shows an economic loss to Jesus, as clothes back then were one of the biggest investments. This was also a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).

d.   Two robbers. The word used here is the same word Josephus used for revolutionaries.  It may have referred to men who initiated a rebellion rather than to common criminals. They probably were Barabbas' coconspirators, as regular criminals were not executed this way; it took too much time and resources (Mark 15:7).

e.   Build it in three days. Jesus was referring to the temple of His body and His resurrection. They thought He meant the Temple in Jerusalem.

f.     Blasphemed refers to the ridiculing of someone who is righteous for being righteous! It infers that the person suffering from being righteousness only brought despair, whereas sin brings fun, and both bring the same fate. Consider the source-criminals who are bitter and do not see the big picture of God! The use of the language here is reminiscent of the Psalms (Psalm 27:7).  

g.   Save yourself. The mocking of the robbers as well as the scribes and elders echo Satan's mocking in Matthew 4:1-11. They wanted a messiah to fulfill their expectations; they were callous and unconcerned for what God had for them, or for what the Scriptures, which they had sworn to uphold, foretold-the criminals trying to be messiahs by revolution, and the leaders being pious frauds.

h.   Come down from the cross. Would they have believed Him if He had done so (John 12:23-28)? Perhaps not, as pride and will override truth and reality. What we desire is always our focus; they did not desire to know Him, so, without an override of their will (which Jesus did not do), the leaders would not have believed in Him (Psalm 22:8).

i.    Most of this passage is a fulfillment of Psalm 22.

 

          Here is the cross-that symbol of torture and punishment-turned into an enduring icon of redemption and love! The cross is pivotal for the real Christian faith. Without it, there would have been no redemption or real faith, as the substance of our faith would have been absent. The cross is central to who Jesus is and what He did for us. If you take away the cross, you no longer have a faith; you have a mere religion based on superstitions and man's creative ingenuity.

 

          The cross represents atonement-our being forgiven of our debt of sin by our Lord's shed blood. This is the heart and core of our faith. There is no Christianity without the cross! Jesus carried the sins of those religious leaders, the sins of those soldiers, and our sins to the cross. Such an enormous, incredible gift of grace! If only we will accept it by faith! If only we would be willing to pursue that faith into the depths of His Word and precepts in order to be better in our character, in our maturity, and in our witness!

 

         One of the interesting aspects of the Christian faith is that our obedience may cause others to suffer. Our faith may have a cost that others will have to pay, such as the sacrifices of a wife for her husbands' ministry, or a child's sacrifice to move to a foreign land because of his or her missionary parents. At the very least, other's plans will be disturbed. Our lives may be used by God to convict and to convert. A cost may be required, but we have to see that cost as glorious, as it is for the Lord. And, we can never compare it to the cost He gave for us!  

 
 

Questions:

 

1.   Has the death of another person, such as a friend or relative, affected you? If so, how so?

 

2.   Jesus chose to endure through the most heinous sufferings a person could experience. How does this affect you?

 

3.   How would you describe the motivations of the soldiers?

 

4.   Why is it to our benefit that Jesus stayed nailed to the cross for our sins?

 

5.   How would you describe a crucifixion to a person who has never heard of it?

 

6.   Why would the Romans seek to inflict shame upon the people of the territories they conquered?

 

7.   How did Jesus respond to the soldiers mocking of Him? How would you have responded?

 

8.   The agony and the pain Jesus was in would be overwhelming, causing Him to slip in and out of consciousness. How does this affect your faith and walk in Him?

 

9.   What would you have done if you had been Simon? What would you have said? How would you have responded? Would you have been angry?

 

10. Why was Jesus unable to carry the load? Does this diminish your faith or strengthen it? How, and why?

 

11. Why did Jesus refuse the cup of gall?

 

12. How would you describe Jesus' physical condition before the Passion, and then during it?

 

13. Why do you suppose the placard was nailed above His head?

 

14. How do you think Jesus felt to see the soldiers gambling at His feet as He suffered?

 

15. What do you think of the ridiculing of someone who is righteous for being righteous? Have you ever felt that others did that to you? Have you ever done this to others?

 

16. The mockers cried, Come down from the cross! Would they have believed Him if He had?

 

17. How does the fact that most of this passage is a fulfillment of Psalm 22 give you more confidence in Jesus? What will this mean to you in your daily life?

 

18. How did the cross go from being a symbol of torture and punishment to an enduring icon of redemption and love?

 

19. Why is the cross pivotal for the real Christian faith? What would your life be like without it? What would your life be like with more understanding of it?

 

20. How do you feel about the fact that your faith and obedience might cause others to suffer? How can this help motivate you to learn and grow in Christ-not to be sadistic, but to be used to convict?

 

For more insights see The Crucifixion of Jesus!

 

 

© 2004 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

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