Jesus was crucified

by Dr. Samuel Lee   05/07/2000     0 reads



Matthew 27:1-56

Key Verse: 27:46

  "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi,

Eloi, lama sabachthani?'--which means, 'My God, my God, why

have you forsaken me?'"


1. Read verses 1-2. What was the decision of the religious leaders?

Why did they send Jesus to Pilate? (Compare Jn 18:31) Read verses

3-10. How and why did Judas try to undo what he had done? How was

scripture fulfilled?

2. Read verses 11-26. How did Jesus answer Pilate? How did he answer

the charges brought against him? Why did Pilate want to release

Jesus? (18,19) How and why did he compromise the truth and avoid


3. Read verses 27-31 What kind of men were the soldiers? (35) How did

the soldiers' mockery fulfill scripture? (Isa 53:3)

4. Read verses 32-44. What shows Jesus' physical weakness? His

resolve? How did passers-by taunt and tempt him? What truth was

hidden in the taunts of the religious leaders? What is the meaning

of his suffering to us? (Isa 53:4-5,10; 1Pe 2:24)

5. Read verses 45-56. What does it mean that the world became dark?

What did Jesus cry out? What was his deepest agony? (Isa 59:2;


6. What happened at the moment of Jesus' death? What was the

testimony of the centurion? What is the meaning to us and to the

world of Jesus' death? (Heb 9:7,25,26; 1Ti 2:5; Php 2:6-8; Heb





Matthew 27:1-56

Key Verse: 27:46

  "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi,

Eloi, lama sabachthani?'--which means, 'My God, my God, why

have you forsaken me?'"

In this chapter, we find Matthew's account of Jesus' crucifixion

and death. In this passage, the cross of Jesus reveals something of the

deep meaning of his death. Let's think about how Jesus suffered and

died on the cross. Especially, let's think about why he had to die.

First, the tragic end of Judas Iscariot (1-10). Before describing

Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, Matthew records the tragic end

of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. It was the time when the Jewish

religious leaders had already decided through their overnight meeting

to put Jesus to death. But they had no authority in their own country

to pronounce a death sentence on criminals (Jn 18:31). So they bound

him and handed him over to Pilate to try him quickly and hand down a

death sentence (2).

Judas Iscariot had not imagined that the religious leaders would

kill Jesus. When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with

remorse. He regretted what he had done and wanted to undo it. So he

returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.

"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood" (3,4a).

What was their response? "'What is that to us?' they replied. 'That's

your responsibility'" (4b). Judas wanted to undo what he had done and

escape the responsibility of betraying innocent blood. But it was too

late. What had been done could not be undone. Judas didn't mean to do

so. But history attests that he is the one responsible for betraying

the innocent blood of Jesus. Judas was one of the twelve disciples. How

did he become a betrayer? It was because he did not follow Jesus to

become a disciple, but to get some benefit from Jesus. He had lived a

common life together with Jesus. But he had never learned anything from

Jesus. Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray him. He tried hard to

help him repent and come back to him (Jn 13:22-29). But Judas did not

realize Jesus' great love because his motive was money, not Jesus.

Judas took the money back to the religious leaders in order to

escape his guilty feelings. But it didn't work as he had wished. So

Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Finally, he hanged

himself.  Judas' death was tragic. But the greater tragedy for him was

that he was responsible for betraying innocent blood. We must make

money for daily bread, but we must not be lovers of money. Otherwise,

there is a danger for each of us to be like Judas Iscariot. It's not

good to die in remorse like Judas Iscariot. The chief priests picked up

the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the

treasury, since it is blood money" (6). So they decided to buy the

potter's field as a burial place for foreigners (7). This small event

appeared to be another mischief of the chief priests. But it was not.

It was to fulfill what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet: "They took

the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel,

and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me"

(9b,10).  Man only commits many sins; but God does his work all by


Second, Jesus was tried by Pilate (11-26). Usually, a criminal is

tracked down, and if he is arrested, he is tried. At that time, trial

was a very shameful thing. They brought in a criminal and dashed him

down on the floor to kneel down before a judge to be tried. He was at

the mercy of the judge who was in charge of his case. Jesus is the Son

of God. He is the Judge of the living and the dead. But he was tried in

our place.

What was the charge? Look at verse 11. "Meanwhile Jesus stood

before the governor, and the governor asked him, 'Are you the king of

the Jews?' 'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied." The charge was

rebellion against the Roman Emperor--claiming himself to be the king of

the Jews.  If Jesus answered, "No," it would have been a denial of his

kingship as the Son of God. If he said, "Yes," he would be charged with

insurrection against the Roman Emperor. What did Jesus say? He said,

"Yes, it is as you say." Jesus said nothing but the truth. His answer

would cause him the death penalty, but he said, "Yes." Then the chief

priests and the elders continued to accuse him, but he gave no answer

(12). Verse 14 says, "But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single

charge...." Usually, people try to defend themselves in times of trial.

But Jesus didn't defend himself at all.  How was it possible for him?

Isaiah 53:6b,7 says, "...and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of

us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her

shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." Jesus bore the trial

silently in our places.

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and that their accusation was

out of envy (18). Besides, his wife sent word to him concerning her

terrible suffering in a dream because of Jesus (19). Nevertheless,

Pilate did not follow the truth, but decided to compromise. At the

Feast, it was customary for the governor to release one prisoner chosen

by the crowd. Pilate asked the crowd to choose between Barabbas--a

notorious prisoner--and Jesus, hoping to make use of that custom to set

Jesus free. But it didn't work. The chief priests stirred up the crowd,

and the mob became irrational. They chose Barabbas. In his

helplessness, Pilate asked, "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is

called Christ?" They all shouted, "Crucify him!" (22) Finally, Pilate

became a victim of public opinion. Now, all he could do was escape the

responsibility of shedding the innocent blood of Jesus. So he performed

an obnoxious hand-washing ceremony before the crowd and said, "I am

innocent of this man's blood. It is your responsibility!" (24) History

attests that Pilate is responsible for it. The Apostles' Creed says,

"...Jesus Christ, His only Son...suffered under Pontius Pilate, was


How did the crowd respond? Verse 25 says, "All the people

answered, 'Let his blood be on us and on our children!'" Pilate could

not stand against the mob, so he could not but surrender Jesus to

them.  According to custom, before handing him over, Pilate had Jesus

flogged.  At that time, Roman flogging was terrible torture. The victim

was stripped and his hands were tied behind his back. They say that the

lash was studded at intervals with sharpened pieces of bone and lead.

Finally, Jesus was handed over to the soldiers.

Third, Jesus was mocked by the soldiers (27-31). We might shudder at

what the soldiers did. They had no idea of who Jesus was; they indulged

in soldiers' cruelty against Jesus. They made sport of his kingship.

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted

together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in

his right hand, knelt in front of him and mocked him, saying, "Hail,

king of the Jews!" They spit on him and took the staff and struck him

on the head again and again. They struck Jesus again and again. What a

humiliating mockery it was for him! After they had mocked him, they

took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him

away to crucify him (27-31). We are the ones who should have been

mocked, due to our shame and guilt. But Jesus took upon himself all our

transgressions and iniquities (Isa 53:5).

Fourth, Jesus was crucified (32-44). After that, Jesus was again handed

over to the soldiers while the cross was being prepared. Crucifixion is

the most terrible and cruel death man has ever devised for taking

vengeance on his fellow man. Physically, Jesus was too weak to carry

his own cross.  So they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry it for him. At

this time, when his physical body was weak, he refused the drugged

drink that would lessen his pain because he had decided to take all the

suffering to the fullest (32-34). The soldiers fastened Jesus to the

cross, his body already bleeding from the flogging. They drove nails

through his hands and feet with hammers. Then they lifted him up to

hang between heaven and earth, to die of pain and thirst. His lifeblood

was oozing out of his wounds.

Why did he have to be so wounded and crushed? It was for our

sins.  Isaiah 53:10 says, "Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and

cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt

offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will

of the Lord will prosper in his hand." He was hanging there as a guilt

offering. The Holy Son of God was hanging there like a criminal because

of our sins. He was hanging there in our place. Peter also learned the

meaning of Jesus' cross and said, "He himself bore our sins in his body

on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;

by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pe 2:24). In verse 54 there is a

Roman centurion. He must have been trained to be a tough soldier. He

must have conquered many cities and killed many people ruthlessly. This

Roman centurion hardened his heart and was executing Jesus of Nazareth.

But when he looked at the cross of Jesus, he could not harden his heart

anymore. He could see God in Jesus. At the moment he looked at the

cross of Jesus, the light of God smeared into his heart, and he said,

"Surely he was the Son of God!"

Fifth, Jesus did not save himself (38-44). We know well that everyone

wants to save himself. In order to save himself, a person cannot but be

selfish. But Jesus did not save himself; instead, he saved his people

(38-44). What happened when he did not save himself? He became an

object of scorn. He was crucified between two robbers. Look at verse

39. "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their

heads...." It was to fulfill the prophecy concerning the suffering

Messiah in Psalm 22:7,8. Look at verse 40. "...and saying, 'You who are

going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!

Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!'" They challenged

him to come down from the cross and prove that he was the Son of God.

It was a great temptation to Jesus. But he did not come down from the

cross. We are tempted to come down from the cross many times a day.

The chief priests and their friends also mocked him, saying, "He's

the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will

believe in him" (42b). They continued to tempt him, saying, "He trusts

in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the

Son of God'" (43). They were saying to Jesus, "God doesn't love you. If

he did, why would he let you suffer like this? If you were really his

Son, he would rescue you, wouldn't he? God doesn't want you." The

robbers who were crucified with him also joined in the insults. The

religious leaders played the role of Satan to make Jesus doubt God's

love. But in the extreme anguish and pain of the cross, Jesus did not

doubt the love of God. Jesus could have called more than twelve legions

of angels to come and rescue him (Mt 26:53). But he did not try to save


Jesus was God, but he was also fully human. So crucifixion was too

hard for him to endure. In his humanness, he wanted to come down from

the cross to escape the bleeding and the pain of the nails. He wanted

to come down from the cross to wipe the tears from the eyes of his

mother and from the eyes of the other women standing beneath the cross

crying.  But Jesus remained as a man of sorrow to the end. Jesus did

not save himself so that he might save all his people from their sins.

Sixth, before his death Jesus suffered great agony of soul (45-48).

Look at verses 45,46. As he hung on the cross, the whole world became

dark.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in his native language, in

great agony of soul, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" His

physical pain was great, but his greatest pain was the momentary

separation from God (Isa 59:2; 53:6b,12b,c). Jesus had already suffered

so much during the time of his earthly ministry, but these sufferings

never mattered to him, because he had a personal love-relationship with

God. But when he had to die on the cross, his love-relationship with

God had to be cut momentarily because of the sins of the world. It was

really unbearable punishment for him. So he cried out, "My God, my God,

why have you forsaken me?" He was utterly alone at the time of his

greatest agony. Jesus suffered unbearable loneliness for us. Praise


Seventh, Jesus gave his life for us (50-53). Look at verse 50. "And

when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit."

After crying out in such a way in great loneliness of soul, he gave up

his spirit.  To give up one's spirit means to die. But Jesus did not

die for himself; he died for the sins of the world. He died to fulfill

God's will for world salvation. There have been many who have died

miserably and selfishly. A Russian novelist died after saying as his

last words, "Tragedies, trage dies!" An American novelist died after

saying a most sorrowful last word, "It might have been." They all died

selfishly. But Jesus died unselfishly.  Jesus died not for himself, but

for the sin of the world. But it was not the end. It was just the

beginning of a new era. At that moment the curtain of the temple was

torn in two from top to bottom (51). Now, people do not need to go to

the temple to make animal sacrifices. Through the death of Jesus as the

Passover Lamb (Heb 9:7,25,26), each of us can go to God directly (1 Ti


Look at verses 52,53. "The tombs broke open and the bodies of many

holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the

tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and

appeared to many people." The tombs opened. The tomb lost its power,

and the grave its terror. Through Jesus' death we can see a prelude of

his glorious resurrection.

Eighth, Jesus died on the cross to obey the will of God. These days,

many people don't like to hear the word "obedience." No one seems to be

happy to obey. But Jesus was happy to obey God's will for him to die as

the Passover Lamb. In order to obey, Jesus gave up the power and glory

of the kingdom of heaven. The first condition of obedience is

humbleness. So Jesus humbled himself and made himself nothing. His

obedience was not superficial; he humbled himself and became obedient

to death--even death on a cross! (Php 2:6-8). His obedience was a

bloodshedding one. The ancestor of our human race, Adam, disobeyed God,

and sin and death entered the world. But Jesus obeyed God even to death

on a cross and became the source of salvation for those who believe in

him (Heb 5:8,9).

Let's remember that the cross of Jesus is for the sin of the