- The Mocking of the Soldiers (vv.27-31)
- The Actual Crucifixion of Jesus (vv.32-37)
- The Mocking of the Jews (vv.38-44)
- The Three Hours of Darkness (vv.45-49)
- The Death of Jesus and the Signs the Followed (vv.50-54)
- The Women Who Followed (vv.55-56)
- The Burial of Jesus (vv.57-66)
The Mocking of the Soldiers (vv.27-31)
- “A scarlet cloak“. Scarlet is the color of royalty. Kings for millennia have been clothed in scarlet. Evidently this robe was not only scarlet, but was partly purple as well (Mark 15:17; John 19:2). Purple is the color of nobility, and in Mark and John the emphasis is on the Lord’s being the Son of God, while in Matthew it is on His being Messiah. It was a false robe however, for the purposes of mocking Jesus. Incidentally, Herod’s soldiers did a similar thing (Luke 23:11)… evil minds think alike.
- “A crown of thorns“. Crowns are also connected with royalty. There are two words in the New Testament translated crown; one is ‘wreath’ or ‘crown’, the other is ‘diadem’. Crowns are rewards for service and accomplishments. Diadems are worn by right and title, as by royal birth. Here the word is ‘wreath’ and it is the same word used in Hebrews 2:9. Man awarded Jesus with a crown of thorns, but God seated Him at His right hand and gave Him a crown of glory and honor! Thorns are the fruit of the curse (Gen. 3:18), and unwittingly these soldiers depicted the work Jesus would shortly accomplish as the Lamb of God.
- “A reed in His right hand“. The reed was given to Jesus as a mock-scepter; the symbol of authority. Usually, a scepter is made of gold (Est. 4:11), but this was a flimsy stick. It was given to suggest that Jesus was powerless; that He had no real authority. How bold! Yet the Blessed Savior took this mockery in patient submission. I can’t help but think of Jehovah’s words to His Son in Psa. 2:8-9: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
- Feigned reverence. Perhaps the most cruel of all, the soldiers then “bowed the knee” before the Savior, and “mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” Such behavior is fitting only for a king, but the soldiers did so in cruel mockery. They were mocking the notion of Jewish sovereignty at the same time. Christ will not only be “king of the Jews” but “King of kings, and Lord of lords”. I can’t help but think of that verse; “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isa. 45:23).
The Actual Crucifixion of Jesus (vv.32-37)
The Mocking of the Jews (vv.38-44)
- The passers-by (v.40) would have been Jews from all over Palestine that had come to Judea and were passing through the gate to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. Think of that, these ones walked by the true Passover as He hung on the cross, and they shook their heads at Him in mockery. The misconstrued statements of our Lord in John 2:19 and Matt 24:2 had gone out over all the country. They mocked His power, as He hung there crucified in weakness, and they also mocked His Divinity; “If thou art Son of God, descend from the cross.”
- The Jewish leaders (vv.41-43) rose even higher is their insults. Down through history, the worst crimes can often be laid at the feet of false religion. They mocked His apparent helplessness in the face of all Jesus had done to help others; “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” They mocked His Messiahship, the fact that He claimed to be King of Israel, yet was crucified outside Jerusalem. They falsely promised to believe in Him, if He would come down from the cross. Finally, they dishonored Him as Son of God. What is most awful about this suffering is that they were calling into question His identity as the Son of God, and His eternal relationship to the Father! If ever there was love, it was the Father’s love for the Son. If ever there was acceptance, it was the Son’s acceptance with the Father. If ever there was honor, respect, appreciation, and relationship, it was between the Father and the Son. All this was denied and thrown in the face of the suffering Savior. As if God would not have His Son! And Jesus had to let that mockery stand unanswered, not because it was true – nothing could be further from the truth – but because He had a deeper motive. But what suffering that must have caused in His inmost being. To me, this insult from the Sanhedrin was the deepest wound that humanity inflicted on His soul, apart from the weight of our sins. They quote from Psa. 22:8, unwittingly fulfilling the voice of the godless mockers. But what was the true reason He could not save Himself? Because He was not thinking of Himself. One hymn (L.F. #257) so beautifully describes the reasons why He could not save Himself; all of which are well supported by scripture. “Himself He could not save;” because: He must satisfy the righteous claims of a Holy God, He must stand in our place as our Substitute and our Surety, and because of His love and devotion to His Father. That is why He did not save Himself. That is why He hung there in silence while the seed of the serpent railed against Him. But God be praised, that insult has been answered in the resurrection and glorification of His Son!
- The robbers (v.44) who were suffering along with the Savior joined in the mockery. They vented their anguish on the blameless One. Even degraded criminals insulted Him. Jesus went below the lowest of the low, such that He could say; “I am a worm, and no man” (Psa. 22:6). Matthew doesn’t record it, but at some point in the first three hours one of the thieves repented (Luke 23:40-44), rebuked his fellow who continued to rail against Christ, and ultimately received the assurance that after death, he would be with Jesus in Paradise. Matthew leaves out those details because he focuses on the testimony to the nation, and their rejection of their Messiah.
The Three Hours of Darkness (vv.45-49)
- “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34)
- “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43)
- “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34)
- “Woman, behold thy son!… Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26-27)
- “I thirst” (John 19:28)
- “It is finished” (John 19:30)
- “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)
“Jesus felt it all; but the anguish of His trial, where after all He was a calm and faithful witness, the abyss of His sufferings, contained something far more terrible then all this malice or abandonment of man. The floods doubtless lifted up their voices. One after another the waves of wickedness dashed against Him; but the depths beneath that awaited Him, who could fathom? His heart, His soul — the vessel of a divine love — could alone go deeper than the bottom of that abyss which sin had opened for man, to bring up those who lay there, after He had endured its pains in His own soul. A heart that had been ever faithful was forsaken of God. Where sin had brought man, love brought the Lord, but with a nature and an apprehension in which there was no distance, no separation, so that it should be felt in all its fulness. No one but He who was in that place could fathom or feel it.”5
The Death of Jesus and the Signs the Followed (vv.50-54)
- The Veil… the barrier between man and God. In the tabernacle and later in the temple, there was a thick curtain that blocked the entrance into the holy of holies, which was where the ark was, and the presence of God. Only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year, and not without blood. “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” (Heb. 9:8). When Jesus died, the veil (ten cubits tall) was physically torn “from the top to the bottom” showing the hand of God at work. But really, it pictured the spiritual opening up of the way into the presence of God. The veil had to be torn so that God could come out to man in blessing, and so man could go in to God for worship. As a result of Jesus’ death, we have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Heb. 10:19-20). God was also showing that the whole system of Judaism (or of any religious element that interposes between God and man) was set aside, although Judaism continued thereafter in a condition of deadness. The priests might very well have seen the veil being rent, as they would have been in the temple; because the ninth hour was the “hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1), and the time offering the evening burnt sacrifice (2 Chron. 2:4; 1 Kings 18:36).
- Death… the power of the Devil. The next series of events were various upheavals in nature; earthquakes, the rocks rent, and finally, the tombs opened. The death of Christ was outwardly a scene of ultimate defeat, but it was really the foundation for ultimate victory! It was really “through death” that Jesus “destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). This was manifested outwardly in the earthquake, and the opening of the graves. The bodies of many of the sleeping saints arose “after his resurrection”, and were publicly manifested in the city. It had to be that way, because Christ is “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). This event was but a demonstration of what it yet to take place just prior to the rapture, when all those who are Christ will rise at His coming (1 Cor. 15:23). What happened to these risen saints? No one knows, because God has not told us.
The Women Who Followed (vv.55-56)
The Burial of Jesus (vv.57-66)
Joseph’s Tomb (vv.57-61)
The Attempt to Secure the Sepulchre (vv.62-66)
- “Observe how Luke’s account brings together John’s statement and that of Matthew and Mark. The Lord must alone have borne the cross until relieved of some portion of it by Simon.” – Kelly, William. Notes on the Gospel of Luke. Crewe, UK: E. E. Whitfield, 2013. Note #576
- The Catholic tradition that Jesus fell down three times under the weight of the cross is pure speculation. John 19:17 says that the Lord carried His cross all the way to the place of crucifixion. We do know that the Lord was physically weakened, but we read nothing of the Lord slipping or falling.
- W. H. J., The Languages of the Bible. Bible Treasury, 2nd Edition, Volume 1, August 1856.
- Midlane, A. Himself He could not save. Little Flock Hymnbook #257, 1881.
- Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. G. Morrish, 1940