Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot 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 deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Understanding And Applying the Text
God exposed his only-begotten Son to every kind of insult and humiliation. Christ took what we deserve. We deserve the angels spitting on us. We deserve the humiliation of being stripped naked before the world. We deserve the mockery of heaven and earth. But the Father allowed His Son to suffer that so He may clothe us in His Son’s righteousness. Christ did that so He can present us spotless before the Father. He took our dishonor. Dishonor He did not deserve. He gave us his righteousness. Righteousness and honor we do not deserve.
Today the world mocks us for our faith in Christ. But this mockery is so much less than the mockery and suffering of Christ.
The soldiers stripped Jesus and put on him a scarlet robe. They gave him a crown. It was a crown made of thorns. Then they knelt before Him. In a mocking tone, they all said “Hail, King of the Jews.” When they tired of their game they removed the robe and put Jesus’ clothes back on Him. And led Him away for crucifixion.
Crucifixion was a slow and agonizing death. Nails were probably driven through the wrists rather than the palms. And the arms were probably tied to the crossbar. This would prevent the nails from ripping through and the victim from off the cross. The weight of the suspended body made breathing difficult and painful. The legs would push up in an involuntary effort to allow the victim to breathe easier. This put pressure on the feet and increased the pain. This continued until the exhausted victim could no longer breathe. This might take days.
It was customary for the condemned to carry their own crosses to the site of punishment. But it was not common to beat the condemned to the brink of death. So they could bear the burden. This was not the case with Christ. They scourged Jesus. So He folded under the weight of the cross. The soldiers constrained someone else to carry the cross. The cross was so detestable that anyone who touched it was thought polluted. But God honors this man. Now all history knows his name. We know where he was from. And we even know the names of his children (Mark 15:21)
They brought Jesus to the place criminals the Romans executed common criminals. If you and I were there we would see an execution of a convicted rebel. We would not see the cosmic significance. It looked like a normal or at least natural event. We would not perceive anything supernatural.
But this event had significance for all mankind and for eternity.
Jesus was sacrificed for our sins outside the city. The writer of Hebrews refers it to as an ancient figure of the law. (Hebrews 13:12). God commanded his people to burn outside the camp the bodies of those animals. They carried the blood into the sanctuary to make atonement for sins. (Exodus 29:14, Leviticus 16:27). The writer to the Hebrews says Christ went out of the gate of the city, by taking upon him the curse which belongs to us. (Hebrews 13:12)
When they arrived at Golgotha they offered Jesus a cup of wine. This is not the wine mentioned by John. (John 19: 29) Commentators often note that myrrh mixed with wine is a painkiller. They did not offer the wine as a gesture of compassion. The offer of galled wine was not a gesture of compassion but of mockery. Jesus’ thirst but the gall made the wind undrinkable.
The dividing of Jesus’ garments was a fulfillment of Psalms 22:18. The events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus include many prophecies in Psalms 22.
Pilate placed a placard at the head of Jesus’ cross. It specified the crime. Pilate thought he was insulting the Jewish leaders. The irony was the placard was true. This was clear to the early church.
The Romans crucified two others with Jesus. The term translated as “robbers” is the word Josephus uses for rebels. Robbers were not usually crucified. It could be these were partners of Barabbas
We should not pass over the mockery of the crowd. It shows us the extent of Christ’s humiliation. It makes clear how much our salvation cost Him.
One of the ways to read the Bible is to read it existentially. Read it and see yourself in the story.
When I read the words Matthew records from the crowd. I hear myself saying those words. If I were there they are the exact words I would have used. I know because I know me.
“You said you could destroy and rebuild the temple in three days. Yeah right. You can even save yourself. Oh, you are the Son of God. Oh sure. The son of would not hang on a cross. Come on down. If you do that I will believe you are the son of God. But no you can’t because you are a fraud. Oh, you saved other people. How about saving yourself? You can’t because you’re a phony. You said you trust in God. Well so do I and I trust you will get what you deserve and slow, miserable death. God would not allow His messiah to hang up there on a cross. You are no messiah. And the evidence proves it.”
Those would have been my words. I know myself well enough to know that. But praise God. I was not there. Praise God. He showed me the grace to allow me to see the truth. Praise God. He gave me mercy to not suffer the consequences of those words. Praise God.