Matthew 27:1-32 New King James Version (NKJV)
Jesus Handed Over to Pontius Pilate
27 When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.
The 71 member Sanhedrin called for the death of Jesus for blasphemy. Only the Romans could inflict a sentence of death,
2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius[a] Pilate the governor.
They knew that Pilate wouldn’t execute Jews for the crime of blasphemy so they concocted three false political charges: Luke 23: 2 quotes them,
Judas Hangs Himself
3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Matthew wrote that Judas was remorseful. What were his options?
6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.”
7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced,
10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”[b]
Jesus Faces Pilate
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”
Jesus’ answer was simple, but Pilate did not take the title seriously. He was not a friend of the Jews, but he realized that the leaders could complain to Rome and threaten his career. Jesus impressed him, and he did not wish to execute Him. He knew that Jesus was no revolutuinary.
12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.
13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?”
14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
Luke wrote that Pilate needed a second opinion. He heard that his rival, Herod Antipas, was in town from Galilee. This is not the same Herod who entertained the Wise Men in Matthew Chapter 2. Possibly to buy time Pilate sent Jesus to see him. Herod was hoping to see this Jesus perform some miracle or trick, and his men mocked Him and put a fancy robe on Him. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, and from then on they were friends.
Taking the Place of Barabbas
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished.
Some Jews were imprisoned for their rebellion against Roman rule. Every Passover the government would release one of these political prisoners.
16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.[c]
Barabbas may have been a violent criminal as well as a threat to the Roman rule.
17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
Pilate might have been added the words “who is called Christ” to distinguish him from Barabbas who was known as Jesus Barabbas.
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.[d] You see to it.”
Pilate refused to take responsibility for his actions. He had the power to be true to his beliefs, but he not only had Jesus torchured, but he sent Him to death on the cross.
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
Barabbas had probably just requested his last meal and then he gets another chance at life.
Pilate ordered the Roman soldiers to whip Jesus knowing that many people did not survive such an ordeal. .
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
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.
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.
The King on a Cross
32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.
Luke wrote that as they came out of the city, Simon of Cyrene was just coming in from the country. Jesus had survived the scouraging, but may have been too weak to both walk and carry the weight of the cross. Roman soldiers could demand that Jews carry their loads for them or face arrest.
Why did Mark tell us that the names of Simon’s children were Alexander and Rufus?
In Romans 16: 13 Paul salutes “Rufus, chosen in the Lord and his mother…” Did the man who carried the cross of Jesus come to know Him and become a future laborer with Paul.
Watch the Lamb by Ray Boltz tells how it might have been to carry the cross of Jesus to Golgotha.
Jesus commands us to take up our own crosses and to follow Him.