The Trials of Jesus
Text: Matthew 27 : 32 - 66
The trials were now over. There was a remarkable similarity between the Jewish trial and the Roman one. There was total miscarriage of justice in both administrations. The abuse of power was obvious. There was no regard for the defendant at all. The power of the court lay in the hands of the wicked rulers, and they exercised their prerogatives to suit their own purposes.
Jesus chose silence in both trials. There really was little point in attempting to defend Himself when nobody was going to listen to Him. Silence was not the easiest option to choose, but that stood out in significance against the background of wild and wicked manipulation of the law.
The trials were finally over! The Sanhedrin Council had their wishes fulfilled. They managed to coerce Pilate to condemn Jesus to be crucified. They must now ensure that the order for His execution was completely complied with.
ENROUTE TO GOLGOTHA
It was usual practice for the condemned to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion. In the event that the condemned prisoner lacked the physical strength because of the scourging he received, the soldiers could order someone, anyone, to carry that instrument of death – the cross.
“Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene,
Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.”
Simon of Cyrene entered into the hall of fame that day he carried the cross of Jesus for Him. One moment, he was one of many visitors to Jerusalem, for he was from Cyrene, the capital of Cyrenaica (present day Libya). The next, he was compelled to bear the cross of Jesus. He had no choice about it. Perhaps he did not start out as a believer, but tradition has it that he became one soon after. (Cf. Mark 15:21where his two sons were also mentioned by name).
THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS
The short journey to Golgotha was finally over. The Roman soldiers got down to their gruesome work immediately.
“And when they had come to a place called Golgotha,
that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine
mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it,
He would not drink.
Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
‘They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.’
Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.”
“Golgotha – The Place of a Skull”
Legends abound concerning why the place of execution was called “Place of a skull”. Some say that the Romans allowed the body to rot there and so many skulls were found in that place. Others suggest that the execution ground was on a hillock that resembled a skull. (We must avoid being distracted by all these legends. Our focus should be on Jesus Himself).
“Sour wine, mingled with gall”
The pain suffered must have been truly excruciating. It was not uncommon practice for those being crucified to be offered wine mixed with gall. This would have dulled the pain of the sufferer. When Jesus tasted the drink, Matthew noted a surprising reaction from Jesus.
“He would not drink it.”
To lessen the pain would be tantamount to negating the whole idea of suffering. He had come to suffer for mankind. He must refuse the pain-killing wine!
“That it might be fulfilled…”
Once again we must stand amazed at the way the Scriptures foretold so many events. The dividing of the garments of Jesus was a truly remarkable prophecy indeed. The text cited was a Messianic psalm written by David. Matthew rightly called him “a prophet” (Matthew 27:35. Cf. Acts 2:30) where Peter also called David a prophet). And as we read about how the soldiers actually divided the garments of Jesus by gambling over them, we must be awed by the power of prophecy found in the Scriptures.
“Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there”
The soldiers, used to this detail of crucifying prisoners, sat down to watch their prisoners die slowly, in excruciating pain. They sat because they knew that death would not come soon. It would be many hours (sometimes days) before a crucified person actually expires.
THE ACCUSATION AGAINST JESUS
The accusation against Jesus was written down. This inscription was placed above His head. What irony to read the following inscription.
“And they put up over His head the accusation
written against Him,
THIS IS JESUS,THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven. He invited people to enter into that Kingdom. Few really understood His message. Even fewer comprehended that entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven was through His death on the Cross.