Mark 15; Matthew 27; Luke
23; John 19 The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Five times Christ is
declared innocent of the charges brought against Him
by the Jewish religious leaders. Pilate repeatedly
said Jesus was innocent. (1) Luke 23:4; John 18:38;
(2) Luke 23:14; (3) Luke 23:15; (4) John 19:4-6;
Mark 15:14; Matt. 27:23; Luke 23:22 (5) Matt. 27:24
However, Pilate yielded
to the manipulation and vehement accusations before
pronouncing the sentence to crucify Jesus, and
released Barabbas the insurrectionists and murder.
He had Jesus scourged and delivered to be crucified.
The scourging of Jesus
was a brutal custom by the Roman soldiers, and was
part of the capital punishment. The prisoner was
stripped and tied in a bent over position to a short
post in the ground. The scourge was made of leather
thongs, weighted with sharp pieces of bone, glass,
lead, metal hooks, etc. The victim was stripped
naked and often beaten until unconscious or dead.
The church historian Eusebius saw Christian martyrs
die while being scourged.
The Roman soldiers took
Jesus into their quarters at the Praetorium and
contemptuously mocked Jesus as a king. The pagan
soldiers treated Him as they pleased.
Roman Soldiers Mock
Mark and Matthew record
how the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus before leading
Him out of the Praetorium to His crucifixion (Mark
15:16-19; Matt. 27:27-30). The Sanhedrin had earlier
mocked Jesus when they condemned Him to death. Herod
Agrippa had also mocked Him and put a gorgeous robe
of a king on Him (Luke 23:6-12).
The Roman soldiers who
were on duty called on their comrades to join them
in making sport of Jesus. The scarlet robe was
probably a military cloak worn by the Roman soldiers
and used in the imitation of an imperial Roman robe.
"Then the soldiers of the
governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered
the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him
and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting
together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head,
and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down
before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of
the Jews!" They spat on Him, and took the reed and
began to beat Him on the head" (Matthew 27:27-30,
NASB95). All Scripture references are from the
New American Standard Bible 1995 Update unless
The crown of thorns (stephanos)
was made by twisting together a flexible branch of
thorns so as to represent a royal diadem of a king,
and then pressed down on the head of Jesus.
They put a reed cane in
his hands to mock Him as a king with his royal
scepter. Then they used the cane to continued to
strike Him in derision. They continued to ridicule
Him in mock gestures as if salutation to a king.
They spat on Him.
The verbs in all of these
actions in verses 29 and 30 indicate repeated
action. They kept it up for a period of time. Then
when they had finished mocking Him they put His
cloths back on Him and led Him out like a persecuted
animal to His death.
Jesus on the Way to
It is before 9 a.m. on
Friday morning, and the trials are over and Jesus is
led away to be crucified by the Roman soldiers.
The crucifixion was
invented to make death as painful and as lingering
as possible. The Romans borrowed it from the
Carthaginians and then adapted it to make it the
most inhuman and cruel form of execution imaginable.
People would linger in extreme anguish for days
before they would die. Roman government would not
allow one of their own citizens to be crucified.
This form of execution was reserved for slaves and
John Shepherd tells us,
"The victim was usually first stripped naked, the
garments falling to the lot of the executioners . .
. First the upright was planted firmly in the ground
and then the victim was laid down with arms extended
on the crossbar to which they were fastened by cords
and afterwards by nails through the palms. Then the
transom was raided to its position on the upright
and nailed while to the body was left to swing or
its weight rested on an iron saddle peg driven into
the upright. Following this the feet were nailed
either through instep separately, or both together
with a single iron spike. There the body was left to
hag in agony sometimes two or three days, until
death from the pain and starvation ensued" (The
Christ of the Gospels, p. 596).
Mark and Matthew
tell us after the Roman soldiers had mocked Jesus
they took off the robe and put His garments back on
Him and led Him away to crucify Him (Mark 15:20;
Matt. 27:31-34). John adds they took Jesus and He
went out bearing the cross Himself (John 19:16-17).
Because of sheer
exhaustion from the scourging, mockery and abuse of
the trials, at some point along the way the Roman
soldiers compelled a man from Cyrene, named Simon,
to go with them and carry the cross for Jesus (Mark
15:21; Matt. 27:32; Luke 23:26). Tradition says that
Jesus fell under the weight of the heavy cross beam
that He bore on His shoulders. "When they led Him
away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in
from the country, and placed on him the cross to
carry behind Jesus" (Luke 23:26).
Along the way to Calvary
Jesus encountered a large group of women beating
their breasts and wailing for Him. Jesus was
concerned for them and the suffering they would
endure shortly. He had previously predicted the
suffering of the people of Jerusalem in Matthew
23:36-24:3. Within a generation these words came
true at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
"And following Him was a
large crowd of the people, and of women who were
mourning and lamenting Him. But Jesus turning to
them said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for
Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
For behold, the days are coming when they will say,
"Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never
bore, and the breasts that never nursed." Then they
will begin to say to the mountains, "Fall on us,"
and to the hills, "Cover us." For if they do these
things when the tree is green, what will happen when
it is dry?' Two others also, who were criminals,
were being led away to be put to death with Him.
When they came to the place called The Skull, there
they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the
right and the other on the left" (Luke 23:27-33).
observed, "If the Romans dealt with Jesus thus, whom
they considered innocent, how much worse will they
deal with the guilty and rebellious ones in the time
of the future way. And so it was later when more
than a million Jews perished in Jerusalem in a few
days' time. . . . if the leaders of Israel now do
these things, such as deliver up their Divine King,
in the early stages of Israel's history, thus
setting a flame to her green tree; how terrible will
become the judgment of God in the dry wood of an
apostate and rebellious people in future years" (Life
and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 2, pg.
The place called "the
skull" was Golgotha in Hebrew. It probably refers to
a skull-shaped hill on the highway near the
outskirts of Jerusalem where the execution of Jews
normally took place. Gardens and tombs dating to the
first century have been found in the area.
They offered Jesus wine
mingled with myrrh to dull the pain, but Jesus
repeatedly refused the exceedingly bitter drink
(Mark 15:23; Matt. 27:34). He was unwilling to blunt
the pains of dying, and wanted to be fully conscious
of His suffering for the sins of His people. His
death was a voluntary death on behalf of sinners.
First Three Hours
on the Cross
The simplest way to
arrange the chorological order of the events at
Calvary is to follow the arrangement of Mark. Jesus
arrived at Calvary around nine a.m. and utters three
sayings from the cross between 9 a.m. and noon. The
terrible darkness that hid His suffering was from 12
noon until 3 p.m. During that time He uttered four
more sayings from the cross.
Without describing any of
the horrible details of the crucifixion the Gospel
writers simply declare, "they crucified Him." They
removed His garments and the Roman soldiers cast
lots to decide how to divide up His garments between
them. Jesus was probably absolutely naked before the
glaring world. This further humiliated the sinless
Lamb of God. "Then the soldiers, when they had
crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made
four parts, a part to every soldier and also the
tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one
piece" (John 19:23). Matthew quotes the psalmist
indicating it is fulfillment of prophecy (Matt.
27:35). "They divide my garments among them, And for
my clothing they cast lots" (Psalm 22:18).
A Roman centurion was in
charge of the crucifixion with four soldiers
stationed at each cross. As always, the cross was
borne to the execution by the person who was to
suffer on it. The soldiers usually took the longest
route to the place of execution, along the most
crowded streets, so as to attract most public
them" (Luke 23:34)
"When they came to the
place called the Skull, there they crucified Him and
the criminals, one on the right and the other on the
left" (Luke 23:33). There was a lot of activity
taking place around the cross of Jesus. Jesus was
praying from the cross. "Jesus was saying" or "kept
saying" is in imperfect tense in Greek indicating
continuous action in past implying He kept it up.
Jesus was saying over and over again, 'Father,
forgive them; for they do not know what they are
doing.' And they cast lots, dividing up His garments
among themselves" (Luke 23:33-34). No one knows how
many times Jesus prayed that pray from the cross
The Son of God was
praying for His enemies from the cross. A. T.
Robertson said, "It is certain Jesus spoke these
words for they are utterly unlike anyone else!" They
do not fit the lips of anyone else. No one ever
prayed like Jesus prayed.
The word "Father" implies
an intimate love relationship of trust. Jesus does
not pray, "Father, forgive Me." He was the spotless
Lamb of God, without blemish, offering Himself up as
the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world.
Father forgive them, and condemn Me. He was dying as
our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21).
Not only was Jesus
praying for the Roman soldiers nailing Him to the
cross, the Jewish religious leaders who condemned
Him, the people mingling about the cross spitting on
Him, and the criminals with their pleas, but He was
praying for you and me while He died on that cross.
Pilate's way of getting
even with the Jewish leaders was by placing an
inscription above Jesus' head implying this is what
we will do to any of you claiming to be the king of
"There they crucified
Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side,
and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an
inscription and put it on the cross. It was written,
'JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.'
Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription,
for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the
city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in
Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews were saying
to Pilate, 'Do not write, "The King of the Jews";
but that He said, "I am King of the Jews." Pilate
answered, 'What I have written I have written.' Then
the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took
His outer garments and made four parts, a part to
every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was
seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one
another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it,
to decide whose it shall be'; this was to fulfill
the Scripture: 'They divided My outer garments among
them, and for My clothing they cast lots'" (John
"Today you will be
with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:35-43)
Jews from the city of
Jerusalem were gathering about the cross and
shouting with malicious jeering and insults. They
heaped insults on Jesus. "And those passing by
were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and
saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and
rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are
the Son of God, come down from the cross'" (Matthew
27:39-40; cf. Mark 15:29-30).
The chief priests lead
the crowd mocking Jesus, "In the same way the chief
priests also, along with the scribes and elders,
were mocking Him and saying, 'He saved others; He
cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let
Him now come down from the cross, and we will
believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him
now, if He delights in Him; for He said, "I am the
Son of God." The robbers who had been crucified with
Him were also insulting Him with the same words"
"And the people stood by,
looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at
Him, saying, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself
if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.' The
soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering
Him sour wine, and saying, 'If You are the King of
the Jews, save Yourself!' Now there was also an
inscription above Him, 'THIS IS THE KING OF THE
JEWS.' One of the criminals who were hanged there
was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are You not the
Christ? Save Yourself and us!' But the other
answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even
fear God, since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly,
for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds;
but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was
saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your
kingdom!' And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you,
today you shall be with Me in Paradise'" (Luke
The rulers of the Jews
were saying over and over again, "He saved others;
let Him save Himself if this is the Messiah of God,
His Chosen One." The Roman soldiers chimed in
mocking Jesus continuing to come up to Him, offering
Him sour wine, and continuing to say, "If You are
the King of the Jews, say Yourself!" One of the
criminals who were being crucified with Jesus kept
blaspheming or kept on abusing Jesus saying, "Are
You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" The other
criminal rebuked him saying, "Do you not even fear
God, since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are
receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this
man has done nothing wrong." Then he kept on
repeating, "Jesus, remember me when You come into
Once and for all, not to
be repeated, Jesus said, "I solemnly say to you,
this very day you will be in Paradise with Me." Here
is the greatest example of saving faith in the New
Testament. The One making the promise dies first!
Nothing is superimposed, not even baptism or church
membership or last rites or communion or good works
or living a perfect life. The penitent sinner is
saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
The penitent thief spoke
of the future; Jesus reassured him of "today you
will be with Me in Paradise." Jesus gave him eternal
assurance of salvation. He was saved by the grace of
God alone by means of personal faith in Christ.
"Woman behold your
son" (John 19:25-27)
When the disciple John
saw Jesus nailed to the cross, he went back to the
city of Jerusalem and brought with him Mary, the
mother of Jesus. It could well be that the other
women at the cross also came with John and Mary.
"Therefore the soldiers did these things. But
standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and
His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and
Mary Magdalene" (John 19:25). Where were the
half-brothers and sisters of Jesus? They were not
with Mary at the cross. Jesus turns to His disciple
John to care for His mother.
What would Jesus have to
say to His mother? Will He have a special position
for her in His kingdom? What special privilege of
grace will He assign to Mary?
"When Jesus then saw His
mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing
nearby, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold, your
son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold, your
mother!' From that hour the disciple took her into
his own household" (John 19:26-27).
In effect Jesus was
saying to Mary, "From now on, not I, but John, is
your son." The amazing fact is Jesus did not call
Mary, "mother," but "woman." He did not say
"mother." He could just as easily said "mother," but
He chose to say "woman." Jesus was not being
disrespectful. He must terminate the earthly
relationship. It was as if Jesus was saying to Mary:
"Mother, look to John. Call him son. He will be with
you and take care of you. I must be about My
Father's business. Mary lost a son, but found a
R. G. Lee wrote: ".
. . Jesus cut Himself off from mother's love.
He forsook the best earth had to offer Him. He
renounced every tie that might interfere with His
Saviourhood. He removed even the obstruction
of filial devotion. He gave up all for sinners. He
gave up all for me. He gave up all for you . .
. It was a greater renunciation when Christ gave up
the glories of heaven to come to this earth and die
for the sins of mankind. He renounced His mother in
order that he could become her Savior."
Three Hours of
Darkness on the Cross
The last four saying take
place during the three hours of darkness between
noon and 3 p.m. just before the death of Jesus.
Matthew, Mark and Luke
inform us that a darkness covered the land from noon
until 3 p.m.
"My God, my God,
why have You forsaken Me" (Matt. 27:46)
"The robbers who had been
crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the
same words. Now from the sixth hour darkness fell
upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the
ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,
saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My
God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" (Matthew
27:44-46; cf. Mark 15:33-34).
Martin Luther sat
contemplating these words, "My God, my God, why have
you forsaken me?" For a long time, without food or
water, he sat in deep meditation reflecting on this
saying of Christ. After a long time he rose from his
chair and exclaimed in utter amazement, "God
forsaken of God! Who can understand that?"
These words of Jesus from
the cross must be the most staggering sentence in
the depths of His suffering for us. John R. Broadus,
"In Himself the Savior was still well pleasing to
the Father, in voluntarily laying down His life that
He might take it again (Jn. 10:17f); it must have
been as our substitute, because He "bares our sins
in His own body on the tree," that He was forsaken."
John Shepherd writes:
"These words mark the climax of the suffering of
Christ for a lost world. Here He drank to the dregs
the cup of sorrow, grief, and pain on our behalf. In
these hours when the sun refused to shine upon
suffering deity, Jesus found fitting expression to
His feeling of desolation in the words of the
Psalmist. Isaiah had given a vivid portrayal of the
suffering Servant who was to be 'wounded for our
transgressions.' John the Baptist pointed to Jesus
as 'the Lamb of God that takes away the collective
sin of a world of sinners.' Christ gave Himself a
'ransom for many.' Him who knew no sin God 'made
sin' for us. On the cross Christ became a 'curse for
us' and so redeemed us from the curse of the law. We
are 'redeemed by the precious blood of Christ' shed
on Calvary. He gave Himself a 'ransom for all.' The
writers of the Gospels make it plain that Jesus 'had
a baptism to be baptized with' and a 'cup to drink,'
Paul and other writers of the epistles lay out
clearly the same plan of redemption. Jesus had to
pay the price alone and tasted death, spiritual
death, for every man. Spiritual death is broken
communion. Jesus had a taste of such a broken
communion, the first and last He ever experienced in
those desolate hours when darkness lay upon the
earth and upon His soul. That is the reason He used
the words of distressed astonishment: Eloi, Eloi,
lama sabachthani (Hebrew) 'my God, my God, to what
end or purpose hast thou forsaken me?'" (The
Christ of the Gospels, p. 602).
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah
said the Suffering Servant would be "wounded for our
transgressions and bruised for our iniquities." The
LORD God was laying on Him "the iniquities of us
all." The Suffering Servant of Yahweh was crying
out, "My God, My God . . ."
John the Baptizer pointed
to Jesus and declared, "Behold the Lamb of God who
lifts up and takes away the collective sin of a
world of sinners" (Jn. 1:29, 36).
"I thirst" (John
Some of those near the
cross thought Jesus was calling for Elijah, and
someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine
put it on a reed and lifted it up to Jesus' lips.
"Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge,
he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed,
and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said,
'Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him'"
(Matthew 27:48-49). This is not the drugged wine
referred to in Matthew 27:34, but the sour wine, a
cheap wine drank by the Roman soldiers. Some were
saying stop, don't give Him anything to drink, let's
see if Elijah was come and save Him.
"After this, Jesus,
knowing that all things had already been
accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, 'I am
thirsty.' A jar full of sour wine was standing
there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine
upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His
mouth" (John 19:28-29).
H. C. Lenski writes, "The
entire Scriptures in all that they present
concerning the earthly work of Jesus have now been
turned into actuality, the work mapped out by
Scripture is now a work actually accomplished"
(John, p. 1303). Nothing else needed to be done. His
work of suffering is complete. In a few minutes
Jesus will sip the sour wine at His lips and shout
"Finished!" announcing to the world that His work is
done. The price for our redemption is paid in full.
What was accomplished
took place in those three hours of darkness when
Jesus, covered with our guilt, experienced that even
God had turned his face from Him. Jesus' suffering
in bitter agony was over, and our redemption was
completed. All that the Scriptures had foretold
concerning His earthly work was completed. Nothing
more was needed but to give up His spirit and die.
The long, great work of redemption was completely
"It is finished!"
"Therefore when Jesus had
received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!'
And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit" (John
Jesus did not say, "I am
finished." He declared, "It is finished!" The work
of salvation is completed, done, finished. The "it"
that is finished is the payment of the penalty due
to us is paid in full by Jesus. We deserve to die
for our sins, but Jesus paid our penalty for us.
is perfect tense meaning it was finished and as a
result it is finished forever. "Done." "It stands
finished." The victory is complete.
The "it" is the payment
of the penalty of the accumulated guilt and sin of
all men. It is paid in full. "For the wages of sin
is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Jesus
died that death for us. He is our substitute who
paid our debt to God's rigorousness.
Leon Morris writes,
"Jesus died with the cry of the victor on His lips.
This is not the moan of the defeated, nor the sight
of patient resignation. It is the triumphant
recognition that He has now fully accomplished the
work that He came to do." The eyewitness John gives
us the touching detail that He bowed His head and
gave up His spirit. It "is the thought of a peaceful
death, the death of One who trusts in His Father . .
. His relation to death is not the same as that of
other people." In his footnote Morris says, "Most
important is the truth that Jesus' work was
finished. He came to work God's work, and this meant
dying on the cross for the world's salvation. This
mighty work of redemption has now reached its
consummation. It is finished" (John, p. 815).
The "it" of Isaiah 53:6
was declared finished. "The Lord has laid on
Him the iniquity of us all." It is the "it" of
Isaiah 53:12, "He poured out his soul unto death."
The "it" of 2 Corinthians
5:21 was finished. "God has made Christ to be sin
for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the
righteousness of God in Him."
The "it" of 1 Timothy
2:5-6 is finished. "For there is one God, and one
mediator also between God and men, the man Christ
Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all . . ."
The "it" of Revelation
5:9 is finished. "And they sang a new song, saying,
`Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its
seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for
God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue
and people and nation.'"
The "it" Jesus completely
satisfied was the personal penalty due you and me
because of our individual sin
"Father, into Your
hands I commend My spirit" (Luke 23:46)
"And Jesus, crying out
with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Your hands I
commit My spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His
last" (Luke 23:46). The loud voice appears to be the
scream, shriek (krazo) Matthew refers to in
27:50. If so, it would be an inarticulate scream,
and then the words of Jesus in a loud voice,
"Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."
The slaying of the
Passover lambs took place at the Temple at the very
moment the Lamb of God died on the cross. Jesus
summoned death to serve Him. Augustine said, "He
gave up His life because He willed it, when He
willed it, and as He wiled it."
How many times was Jesus
mocked that day? The Sanhedrin and the Jewish
leaders (Luke 22:63-65); Herod Antipas and his
soldiers (Luke 23:11); Pilate's Roman soldiers
(Matt. 27:27-30; the people mingling about the cross
who were stirred up by the religious leaders (Luke
23:35; Matt. 27:39-44); the soldiers about the cross
(Luke 23:36), and the criminals being crucified with
Jesus (Luke 23:39; Matt. 27:44) were all mocking
If you were there, how
would you have treated Him? What is your
relationship with Jesus Christ?
We stand guilty before a
holy and righteous God. "For all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But
God in His amazing grace has provided for us what we
could never provide for ourselves. He sent His Son
who knew no sin to die as our substitute and pay our
sin debt. "For the wages of sin is death, but the
free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (Romans 6:23). "For God so loved the
world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have
eternal life" (John 3:16). That love is demonstrated
at the cross when Jesus died for us. "For while we
were still helpless, at the right time Christ died
for the ungodly. . . . But God demonstrates His own
love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). All that we need
to have a perfect relationship with the LORD God has
been provided for us. What then must we do to
receive God's free gift of salvation or eternal
life? "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as
Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him
from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart
a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and
with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
. . . for 'Whoever will call on the name of the Lord
will be saved'" (Romans 10:13).