The Departure of the King (Mt. 27:26-61)
This morning we considered Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Although he was praised and honored, it was merely the beginning of the end of his earthly ministry.
As we come to a passage that is so familiar to us, we really want to engage our minds and hearts. Let us rely upon the Holy Spirit to move us with a fresh understanding of Christ’s death. We want to understand the event itself so that we can better grasp the value of his atoning sacrifice (Heb. 7:27).
Yes, it was painful. Yes, Jesus suffered physically. But the spiritual reality was much worse than the physical reality. On the cross, Jesus bore the full weight of the wrath of God in our place. Jesus suffered the pains of hell as he hung upon the cross.
The Son of God was isolated from everyone in order to save anyone who believes in him.
Read Matthew 27:26-61
I. The Mockery of the King (26-44)
The Romans (26-37)
Scourge (26): Whip with multiple strands (cat of nine tails) upon which broken pieces of bone and shards of metal were tied. The purpose was to shred open the skin on a person’s back. The soldier would whip the convicted criminal 39x because it was thought that 40x would kill him. In fact, many did die from scourging.
King of the Jews (28-29)
The soldiers dressed up Jesus as a faux king with a scarlet robe, a crown of thorns, and a reed.
While a mockery of worship is offered by the Roman soldiers, Jesus can expect to be enthroned above with a true crown of gold and a mighty scepter (Psalm 110:2) and clothed in the garment of the high priest (Rev. 1:13).
V.32 – This was a parody of the emperors parade and it serves as a stark contrast with Jesus’ triumphal entry. Normally, those condemned to crucifixion were made to carry their own cross. Upon arriving at the scene of the crucifixion the upright beam would already be in place. None of the disciples were present despite his warnings (10:38; 16:24). A new Simon replaces Simon Peter despite his protests (26:33, 35).
Nails in the wrists and feet were sometimes used, instead of rope, to increase the cruelty. As breathing became labored the victim would have to lift his body up, placing more of his weight upon the feet, in order to raise his chest and take a breath. Sometimes the cross was fitted with footrests and seats, not for relief, but in order to prolong the agony. It was often slow, lasting days, before the victim suffocated.
V.34 – Wine + myrrh = painkiller, but Jesus refused to receive any relief from the pain. Jesus will consume the cup in full measure (26:39-42). Division of garments fulfills Psalm 22:18.
The Jews (38-44)
V.38 – The robbers were possibly insurrectionists associated with Barabbas. Either way, they were likely violent criminals to be killed on a cross.
V.39-40 – Jewish passersby wagged their heads and added their own mockery.
V.41-43 All three distinct groups who make up the Sanhedrin are unified in their rejection of Jesus.
“Hosanna” (21:9, 15) was shouted at the triumphal entrance, but Jesus was incapable of saving himself.
It was due to his commitment to save others that Jesus refused to come down from the cross. to save himself would have been the condemnation of others.
V.44 – Although both robbers mock Jesus initially, one will eventually repent (Lk. 23:40-43).
France When the Roman soldiers mock him as king of the Jews (27-31) and the Jewish crowds mock him as temple-builder, savior, king of Israel and Son of God (39-43) they speak truer than they know.
Gospel writers did not elaborate or emphasize the physical torment Christ suffered on the cross. We may not grasp the horrendous scene of this event, but apparently that’s not the critical component for us to understand.
I’m trying to strike a balance between providing an understanding of the crucifixion without sensationalizing the details. The original audience didn’t need specifics. They were thoroughly familiar with the cross. But the gospels never focus on these physical pains, which seemingly highlights the spiritual torment he faced.
Yes, Jesus felt the pain, but God probably wasn’t waiting for Mel Gibson to adapt it into a horror flick for us to really get the picture.
Christ suffered truly, but more importantly, Christ suffered vicariously (1 Pt 2:22; 3:18; 2 Co 5:21; Gal 3:13; Heb 9:28; Isa 53:5-6).
Let us hate and grieve over our sin that held him there!
II. The Death of the King (45-61)
Forsaken by the Father (46-50)
The seven final sayings of Jesus:
- Lk. 23:34 “Father, forgive them…”
- Lk. 23:43 “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
- Jn. 19:27 “Dear woman, here is your son…”
- V.46 “Why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1. “My God” unique address from Jesus who normally spoke to God as “my Father” (11:25, 26; 26:39, 42). Reflects his sense of abandonment. His feelings indeed match the reality. The Father has “turned his face away”. Jesus experienced genuine anguish at this moment.
White If I were coldly logical I could point out that Jesus knew the answer to his own agonized cry. He knew why. He had known during his earthly ministry. He had known with awful clarity in the Mount of Olives. His question is not a plea for intellectual understanding but an expression of agony that overwhelmed understanding.
When he who knew no sin became sin for us, he experienced the unmitigated wrath of God. The punishments of hell include the separation from God’s love (though not his presence which is omniscient). Jesus’ only hope is in the God who had forsaken him. And Jesus will express his confidence in reunion with his Father just before his death.
- Jn. 19:28 “I am thirsty”
- Jn. 19:30 “It is finished!” V.50?
- Lk. 23:46 “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” We do not know how long the Son was abandoned, but it seems he was rescued by the Father just before he breathed his last.
The crucifixion for many lasted multiple days. Jesus lasted roughly six hours.
- Mk 15:25 – The crucifixion began at the 3rd hour (9am).
- V.45 – Darkness began at the 6th hour = 12pm
- V.46 – Jesus died about the 9th hour (3pm).
This would have allowed 3hrs for his burial before sunset, when the Sabbath officially began.
Evidences (45, 51-53)
- Darkness (45) We do not know the extent of this darkness or even if this was a naturally occurring phenomena (cloud coverage) or something more significant. What is clear is the symbolism of darkness representing the judgment of God. It would recall the darkness that fell upon the land of Egypt for three days (Exod. 10:22). An even better parallel is found in Amos 8:9-10. The darkness ended when Jesus defeated it at his death.
- Curtain split in two (51a) The curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the outer chamber where priests served daily. Only the high priest would enter the HoH on the Day of Atonement. Top to bottom: God made access for us. With the death of Christ, all believers have access to God through faith in Christ.
- Earthquake and rocks split (51b)
- Resurrections (52-53) They are mentioned here as another evidence of Matthew’s testimony, but they were not raised until after Christ’s resurrection (cf. 1 Co 15:20-23; 1 Thes. 4:14).
- Centurion + (54)
- Two Marys (55-56, 61) These same women were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ death, burial (61), and resurrection (28:1). They would not have been mistaken about the tombs in which he was buried.
- Joseph of Arimathea (57-60). Fulfills Isa. 53:9. Instead of the disgraceful public plot generally allotted to those crucified, Jesus was given an honorable burial from a generous follower. Joseph was also part of the Sanhedrin (Mk. 15:43; Lk. 23:50).
White It is far better to cry “Why?” than not to cry at all. It is better to protest in dismay than to curse God and die.… Our very agitation is a product of faith.… Once we lose all hope that there is an ear to hear or a heart that is concerned, despair becomes absolute.
There is a proper place for lamentation in worship, and it is sorely underserved in the church today. Psalm 22 seems to have been on the mind of Christ as he neared his final breathe. It includes lamentation (1-21) and thanksgiving (22-31). It is proper to practice both in the context of corporate worship. It’s appropriate and good to practice them separately. Thanksgiving doesn’t cancel out the lamentation. The true lamentation anticipates thanksgiving that was sure to follow.
Christ was not defeated on the cross, but triumphant.
Col 2:14-15 By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Jesus was victorious because his sacrifice was not in vain. He was the perfect Lamb who was slain, providing us with a perfect atonement. He fully satisfied the wrath of God so that we might receive grace and peace.