Matthew 27:24–34 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 15:15–22; Luke 23:24-33; John 19:1-3, 16-17)
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.Matthew 27:26-28
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.
Pilate acceded to the demands of the Jews, released Barabbas, and began the process of Jesus’ crucifixion. He had Jesus beaten, which was often part of the process, in order to hasten death on the cross. The Roman soldiers stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe on Him in order to begin the action of humiliating Him. The intimidation of this event was massive, as a garrison could have numbered 600 soldiers.
29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 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.Matthew 27:29-31
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, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.Matthew 27:32-34
After the somewhat public humiliation of Jesus by the Roman garrison, which included mock worship and spitting on Him, the soldiers forced Jesus to carry His cross and move toward Golgotha. “Golgotha” is an Aramaic word that means skull. In Greek, it is translated Kraniou Topos, or “place of the skull. In Latin, the word for skull is Calvaria, form which we get the word “Calvary.”
When Jesus could not bear the load of the cross, they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. They mocked Him once more by offering Him bitter wine, mixed with gall. Usually, the criminal was offered wine mixed with myrrh to ease the pain of the cross. In this case, it was laced with a bitter, mildly poisonous chemical that He wisely refused.
In the Lukan parallel, it alludes to the fact that the people followed Jesus on His death walk, with the women who followed Jesus mourning and lamenting, perhaps already repentant for their temporary bloodlust for His death. He asks them not to mourn for Him, but for themselves. The people will be judged of God, as previously foretold, but Jesus was ready for His pain and suffering. Still, in this horrible circumstance, Jesus demonstrated compassion and care for others.
Jesus is the Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is compassionate to the very end. He began a harsh journey in this passage that would take Him to the place of utter sacrifice for our sins. The dark night of His suffering was for us. His humiliation was to make us free from the scandal of our sins and place us among the circle of the redeemed. Embrace this gift and be free.
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