READ Matthew 27:27-44
A royal mockery is set up by the soldiers, complete with scarlet robes, a crown of thorns, a staff and royal honors (28, 29). The unspeakable indignity runs to flogging, spitting and striking. Perhaps the greatest shame for a Jew would be to be stripped publicly (28, 31). The mockery of the “written charge” (37) recalls Pilate’s original concerns (11). And the trumped-up charges are used to insult Jesus once again (39, 40; 26:60-61). With profound irony, Matthew actually holds the soldiers, the crowd and the two robbers up to ridicule. It is they who are making a dreadful mistake and making themselves look very stupid a they demonstrate no insight whatsoever into what Matthew and we, his readers, know about Jesus. It is they who are the sinners. All of them fail to understand the greatest act of salvation (40-44), a theme which dominates the minds of the crowd (40, 42). Once again Jesus refuses to provide an easy route to faith (42). Spiritually speaking, seeing is not believing.
Crucifixion was a form of execution of slaves and criminals. It entailed enormous cruelty and suffering. The Roman soldiers seem to regard it almost as a spectator sport (36). Interestingly enough, however, none of the Gospel writers are particularly concerned with the details of Jesus’ suffering. They are more concerned with the theological significance of the cross. That is why this passage bristles with the Old Testament quotations and allusions (Isaiah 50:6-9; 53:12; Psalm 22:7, 8, 18). Matthew has already given us a deeper understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice in his account of the Last Supper (26:17-30). Jesus’ broken body and poured-out blood mean forgiveness of sins and a new covenant for many.
PRAY Thank You, Jesus, for dying for me. Help me to live for You. I
have been forgiven much. Help me to love much.