Today: [Matthew 27]

Today: [Matthew 27] The Trial and Death of Jesus: After apprehending Jesus in the garden He is led away to Pilate’s judgment hall. There Jesus is scourged and beaten so badly that He doesn’t have the strength to carry the timbers of the cross to the placed of the skull. The work of redemption is being carried out. The purchase price of our sin is being paid in blood from the body of Heaven’s Spotless Lamb. We stand by in mute witness to the awful scene, knowing it was our sin that necessitated what takes place this day as we look on in dismay.
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[Mat 27:1-66 KJV] 1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 And when they had bound him, they led [him] away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that]. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me. 11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15 Now at [that] feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it]. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [him] to be crucified. 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band [of soldiers]. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 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! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 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]. 32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

In chapter 27 of Matthew we find recorded the events of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. The chief priests and elders have taken Jesus into custody and humiliated him at the high priest’s residence. Because they do not have authority under Roman rule to put Him to death, they lead Him away to Pontius Pilate in hopes that there in Pilate’s judgment hall they might achieve their purpose. In verse 3 we find that Judas is aware of these events and is strangely disturbed by them. What did He think would happen, once he betrayed his Master? Whatever be the case, he tries to return the thirty pieces of silver he was paid as bounty for Jesus’ apprehension. The elders scoff at Judas sudden reversal and in despair Judas goes out and hangs himself. The Jews, ever concerned where money was involved, take the 30 pieces of silver and use it to purchase a field for the burying of paupers (how thoughtful of them). All of this is fulfillment of scripture according to the prophesying of Jeremiah.

The thirty pieces of silver reference is controversial because some source dispute there is any such reference in Jeremiah, although Zecheriah in Ze. 11:12-13 state it plainly. Nonetheless when this is brought up to Jewish scholarship today the immediate response is followed up by accusations of anti-Semitism just for asking the question. In ancient times 30 pieces of silver was not a large amount, but it was connected with a perfunctory sum involved in the liberation of a slave from bondage, suggesting that it was Jesus’ price being paid to deliver us all from the bondages of sin and death.

Jesus is brought before Pilate to be interrogated. The governor asks Jesus is He the king of the Jews? Jesus enigmatically responds “thou sayest it…” Pilate then reviews the accusations of the chief priests and elders to which Jesus gives no response at all. Pilate is surprised at the silence with which Jesus endures these accusations and marvels that Jesus makes no defense against them. Sensing clearly that he is being politically manipulated Pilate seeks to release Jesus by offering Him put with Barabbas, a known killer and thief. To Pilate’s dismay the people cry for Barabbas’ and not Jesus’ freedom and he delivers Jesus to be scourged after the people demand Jesus’ death with a curse saying “His blood be on us, and upon our children…” As Stephen proclaimed a short time later, if they had known they were crucifying the Lord of Glory they would have refrained from this awful course of action.

Pilate washes his hands in a ceremonial show of innocence and instructs that the soldiers take Jesus and scourge him thoroughly. The soldiers take Jesus, strip Him and beat Him mercilessly. The commencement of the purchase price of our redemption has now begun in earnest. For every blow that was delivered and rained down upon Jesus, He is paying the price for your sin and for mine. There in Pilate’s compound God’s answer to Adam’s transgression is to render up as a sacrifice His only begotten son, to be scourged, to be crucified that you and I might be delivered from eternal death and punishment. It is holy ground that we can only stand and view with stunned silence realizing it was our sin that compelled the necessity of this awful scene.

33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted [thereof], he would not drink. 35 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. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 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. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking [him], with the scribes and elders, said, 42 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. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard [that], said, This [man] calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled [it] with vinegar, and put [it] on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make [it] as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

As Jesus is led away to be crucified, He is so weakened by blood loss that He cannot carry the crossbeam that had been laid upon His shoulders. This beam would have only weighed around 30 to 40 pounds but so battered and bruised as Jesus was, it was not possible for Him to bear it further than a few steps. The soldiers then compel Simon the Cyrene to carry the timber to the place of the skull and there to complete their dread tasks of crucifying our Lord. Who was this Simon the Cyrene? There are references to a Simon the Cyrene in the New Testament whose two sons, Alexander and Rufus became Christian missionaries, so there are indications that this was a life changing event for Simon. Gnostic heresy of the first century claim that Jesus could never have actually died on the cross, therefore they falsely teach that Jesus transfigured Simon’s form in appearance so that the Romans supposedly crucified Simon instead, while Jesus in spirit-form ascended up to the right hand of the Father, which teaching of course is condemned as false doctrine.

Having fastened Jesus to the tree, the Roman’s gave Him vinegar mixed with gall as was according to Roman custom. This concoction was a pain killing narcotic that actually was intended to prolong the suffering of the accused, but Jesus nonetheless refuses it, wanting to be fully conscious and in possession of His faculties until the purchased price was fully exacted upon Him on the tree. Having made the offer, then the Roman turn to cast lots for His garments while one of their officers fixed a sign over Jesus’ head saying, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”. We know from other accounts that the elders and chief priests complained about this to Pilate who refuses to take the sign down.

On Jesus right and left there are two thieves crucified alongside Him, and in their agony they both begin to rail upon him in their own death throes, while the chief priests and the elders prance back and forth at the foot of the cross, taunting Jesus saying if He was the Christ, let Him save Himself and prove His divinity. This goes on for six hours, when suddenly darkness falls like a supernatural gloom over the whole scene. The Father has turned His face from His only begotten son.

For three hours Jesus hangs there, forsaken, rejected, condemned. Finally at the ninth hour He cries out with a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” saying “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” He can endure it all, the beating, scourging, the torment upon the cross itself, but to be torn from His fellowship with the Father is a weight more than He can bear in silence. What a penalty was paid for you and I. He was separated from His father so that you and I can say “I and the Father are one…”

The people are puzzled at the darkness that has come, and at Jesus’ words and wonder if He is calling for Elijah to come and take Him away in a fiery chariot. They want to goad Him further, but He seems to be unconscious, so they rouse Him with vinegar on a sponge to see if they can torment Him into some other enigmatic statement. At that moment, with a final cry Jesus gives up the ghost and the earth begin to quake all about the city of Jerusalem. In the temple precincts the veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies is rent in two revealing the scandalous fact that the ark of the Covenant has not been there since the time of Solomon. At the same time graves are burst open and many of the righteous dead are seen walking the streets of the city, appearing to many.

No doubt these would have included Joseph, whose bones were carried out of Egypt to be buried near this site as a prophetic act prophesying that one day the sin debt would be paid and Joseph himself would appear to attest to the finished work of Calvary.

One of the officers in charge, a centurion watching these events and looking Jesus on the cross says loud enough to be heard “Truly this was the Son of God…” Some distance away from the scene Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of James and John make contact with Joseph of Arimethea to arrange for Jesus’ burial. Joseph, having influence with Pilate manages to negotiate the body to be released to him, and wrapping it in clean linen lays Jesus’ lifeless form in a borrowed tomb and it is covered by a great stone with only the two Marys standing by to mourn Him, the disciples having all retreated in grief and fear and dismay.

The day following the priests are not sure they have done enough to desecrate Jesus’ memory and ask that soldiers stand guard over the tomb. These elders had no doubt seen how the two Mary’s hovered around the grave, and feared that something might happen to make Jesus more of a problem in death than He was in life. Pilate, disgusted and impatient dismisses the elders telling them to make their own preparations, and they then set a watch over the sepulcher until further notice. Thus, begins a three day period that it would seem outwardly that the earth is without a savior. The enemy thought he had won. The Jews thought they had regained their power. The disciples cower in fear, as the faithful women alone, risk their lives to mourn at the tomb. The silence from heaven is deafening. All of the universe and all of humanity stand weighed in the balance as Jesus descends into hell to complete the work of redemption.

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