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Matthew 27:31-44; Mark 15:20-32;    Listen Podcast
Luke 23:26-43; John 19:4-27

In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:

Pilate works to appease the angry crowd (John 19:4-15)

John 19
4 ¶ Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.”
5 ¶ Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
6 ¶ Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” ¶ Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
7 ¶ The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
8 ¶ Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid,
9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 ¶ Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
11 ¶ Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
12 ¶ From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
13 ¶ When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
15 ¶ But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” ¶ Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” ¶ The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

This is a continuation by John of the sixth trial of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion, and this is his second appearance before Pilate. This trial began back in John 18:39 (see notes) and continues here. Click here to see the chart outlining all six appearances. You will note that John does not record the intermission taken by Pilate from this ordeal when he sent Jesus to Herod in Luke 23:6-16 (see notes); neither do Matthew nor Mark. That being the case, when one just reads the accounts of Matthew, Mark and John, one is left with the impression that Jesus only appeared before Pilate once, and that this is a continuation of trial #4. However, Luke puts it into perspective in letting us know that this is the second appearance of Jesus before Pilate. This incident takes place after Jesus has been scourged, mocked with the crown of thorns and tortured by the Roman guards.

You can imagine that Jesus' physical appearance at this point in time must have been distasteful to view. It would appear that Pilate is thinking that the Jewish leadership will look upon Jesus in this condition and say "enough is enough!" Nope! They want him crucified. Pilate then tries to pass the responsibility off to them, but they pull out the big guns in verse 7 when they proclaim, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." The Jewish leaders are undoubtedly invoking Leviticus 24:16 (see notes), "And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death."

Here's a personal observation with my informed opinion regarding the circumstances and tactics of these angry Jewish leaders. At this point in Jesus' earthly ministry, many of the everyday Jews were losing respect for the corrupt Jewish leadership and giving heed to the teachings of Jesus. Because of this large-scale popularity among the Jewish populace, the Jewish leadership had devised a way to find and capture Jesus at night when the people would not see their anti-Jesus actions. Judas provided the betrayal they needed and allowed them to capture Jesus in an obscure spot in the garden way after nightfall when the multitudes had bedded down for the night. All of the six trials had taken place in the wee hours of the morning while regular ol' Jews were sleeping. Here's the plan: When these regular people wake up, they need to see Jesus being put to death by Romans, not by the Jewish leadership. The Roman judgment hall is packed with anti-Jesus Jewish leaders - not common Jews. To the typical common Jew, Jesus was popular among the people when he went to bed and being crucified by the Roman government when he woke up; what a full night that had been! Undoubtedly, the Jewish leadership felt that if the entire process involving their sinister actions can take place during the night, they will be held guiltless by the Jewish people. By the next morning, it looks like a Roman campaign to put a stop to Jesus. I'm relatively certain that most of the Jewish population had no idea that this whole crucifixion had been orchestrated by their very own Jewish leaders.

Pilate's job was to keep peace in his territory. Now his judgment hall is filled with Jews crying for the immediate execution of Jesus; Pilate senses his dilemma. Jesus actually comforts Pilate at that point in verse 11 when he tells Pilate, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." Subsequently, Pilate wants to release Jesus, but notice verse 12, "From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar." The Jewish leadership is so determined to have Jesus crucified, they make an unimaginable statement in verse 15, "The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!" They lived their lives looking forward to the overthrow of the Roman government, but make a proclamation like this for their own wicked self interests.

John reports in John 19:14 that this proceeding took place "about the sixth hour." John is apparently the only Gospel writer to render the time using the Roman convention for doing so. Mark reports in Mark 15:25, "Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him." That means three hours from the beginning of the day (sunrise), or about 9:00 a.m. or so. The abbreviation a.m. represents a latin phrase "ante meridiem" which means "before noon." That usage began in Rome during the fourth century B.C. and originally counted backwards from when the sun reached it's highest point during the day. So, when John reports "about the sixth hour," he is referring to six hours before the sun reached its highest point, placing it in the 6:00 a.m. range for this trial, perhaps a little later by our clocks since John uses the preposition "about."

The trip to Golgotha (Matthew 26:31-33; Mark 15:20-22; Luke 23:26-33; John 19:16-17)

Matthew 26
Mark 15
Luke 23
John 19
31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
32 ¶ Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.
33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull,
20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.
21 ¶ Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.
22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.
26 ¶ Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
27 ¶ And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.
28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
29 For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, “Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’
30 Then they will begin “to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’
31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
32 ¶ There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.
33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
16 ¶ Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away.
17 ¶ And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,

Jesus bears his own cross as they head to the place of crucifixion. However, along the way a man is solicited to assist him named Simon, who was from Cyrene. Only Luke records Jesus speaking to the women who were following along when he prophesies of the coming persecution. In less than 40 years after the crucifixion, Jerusalem would undergo a massive assault by the Roman army. Josephus (War of the Jews, Book 6, chapter 3) reports that some mothers were reduced to eating their children during the famine in Rome’s siege against Jerusalem, A.D. 66-70. You will recall that Jesus had already prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem back in Matthew 24:2 and Luke 21:6 (see notes).

Jesus draws from the words of Hosea 10:8 (see notes) in Luke 23:30 when he quotes, "Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!'" Jesus is likely making reference to the coming destruction of Jerusalem with these words.

On the cross (Matthew 27:34-44; Mark 15:23-32; Luke 23:34-43; John 19:18-24)

Matthew 27
Mark 15
Luke 23
John 19
34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.
35 ¶ 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.”
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.
37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
39 ¶ And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads
40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
41 ¶ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said,
42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.
43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God.’ ”
44 ¶ Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.
24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
25 ¶ Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left.
28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”
29 ¶ And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days,
30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”
31 ¶ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.
32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” ¶ Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” ¶ And they divided His garments and cast lots.
35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”
36 ¶ The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine,
37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”
38 ¶ And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew:
39 ¶ Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40 ¶ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 ¶ And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.
19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:
20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
21 ¶ Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, “The King of the Jews,’ but, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ”
22 ¶ Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 ¶ Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.
24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Therefore the soldiers did these things.

When they parted the garment of Jesus and cast lots for it, all four gospel writers record it, but only Matthew and John relate the action to a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy by David in Psalm 22:18 (see notes). It's also interesting here that the Jewish leaders have still not received sufficient satisfaction. They stand beneath and mock Jesus upon the cross. Only Mark (15:28) makes the link between Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 53:12 (see notes), "...And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors." That was a reference to Jesus being crucified with criminals. However, Luke records that one of those criminals trusts Jesus for salvation and is received by Jesus that day (Luke 23:43). All four Gospels record the sign placed upon the cross of Jesus that read, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." It was written in three languages - Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Only John records how much this irritated the Jewish leadership. They wanted it reworded, but Pilate refused.

You will notice that the Jewish leadership persists in their ridicule of Jesus even as he is hanging on the cross. Why? It is important to them to dispel any belief among the common Jewish masses that Jesus is the Messiah. Therefore, they make a point to note that Jesus, who performed many miracles during his earthly ministry, is not delivering himself from this cruel death. To them, this taunting should prove to the masses that Jesus is not the Messiah.

Three Marys at the cross (John 19:25-27)

John 19
25 ¶ Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”
27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

What a horrifying sight it would be as a mother to see your innocent son being tortured and crucified. Jesus, however, assigns the responsibility of his mother's welfare to "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Most scholars agree that this is a reference to John. The other two Marys at the cross were Mary Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Cleopas (aka Alphaeus) and mother of James, one of the twelve Apostles. She was Mary's sister according to verse 25. Two sisters named Mary...must indicate the popularity of the name "Mary." As a matter of fact, archaeologists have speculated from the inscriptions on ossuaries that approximately 25% of all women during that period were named "Mary."