Matthew 27:32-66 (NRSV)
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.
There is reason to believe that Simon came to know what it really meant to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus, for there is some evidence to suggest that his sons became leaders among the early Christians (Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13).
33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
It was customary to give those about to be crucified a pain-numbing and mind-numbing drink, to lessen their awareness of the agony awaiting them. But Jesus refused any numbing drug. He chose to face the spiritual and physical terror with His senses awake.
Psalm 69:21 (NASB)
They also gave me gall for my food
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
35And when they had crucified him,
“Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering.”
–Dr. William Edwards
they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him.
Psalm 22:18 (NASB)
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
38Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
Psalm 22:7 (CEB)
All who see me make fun of me—
they gape, shaking their heads.
Significantly, they mocked Jesus for who He really was and is.
· They mocked Him as a Savior.
· They mocked Him as a King.
· They mocked Him as a believer who trusted in God.
· They mocked Him as the Son of God.
They acted as if Jesus did what they said, they would believe Him. Yet it is precisely because He did not save Himself that He can save others. Love kept Jesus on the cross, not nails! Jesus did greater than come down from the cross; He rose from the dead, yet they did not believe even then.
The Death of Jesus
45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
46And about three o”clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Psalm 22:1 (NASB)
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”
48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”
50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.
54Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
55Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (verse 3)
Calvary’s mournful mountain climb;
There, adoring at his feet
Mark that miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear him cry;
Learn from Jesus Christ to die.
–James Montgomery (1771-1854)
The Burial of Jesus
57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.
He came into the world from a virgin’s womb; He came forth again from a virgin tomb. No body had ever been set in that tomb, so that when a body came forth and the tomb was empty, there was no possible confusion as to which body came forth.
He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”
65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
from Meditations on the Cross,
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945):
We stand between Good Friday and Easter, the days of God’s overpowering deeds in history, the deeds in which God judgment and grace were made visible to the world:
–Judgment, in those hours when Jesus Christ, the Lord, hung on the cross;
–Grace, in the hour when death was devoured by victory.
No human beings acted here. No, God alone did this. He walked the path to the people in endless love. He judged what is human. And He gave grace beyond merit.
HERE is a haunting rendition of “Were you there when they crucified my Lord.” The spiritual was arranged by Moses Hogan and is sung by Anthony León.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.