The Death of Jesus

Notes for December 15-16, 2018
Matthew 27:27-31   

Biblical Background

  • Pilate, Governor: Just recently, one of Pilate’s rings was identified from an archaeological dig of “The Herodian,” one of Herod’s palaces outside of Jerusalem.  The ring has the inscription of Pilate’s name on it and is just one more piece of evidence which backs up the historical accuracy of the biblical text.

  • Governor’s HQ: Pilate, the Roman governor of the time would have stayed in Herod the Great’s former palace which was a lavish, spacious residence in Jerusalem. 

  • Roman soldiers: The duty of executing punishments fell to the Roman soldiers, many of whom were from other parts of the Roman Empire. Their cruel ways, mockery, and the way in which they went about the lashings and eventual crucifixion reflect the sinful nature of mankind.  There were around 600 of them stationed around Pilate’s HQ.

  • Scarlet Robe: The color of scarlet was the color of royalty and was made from the murex sea snail, an expensive dye. The robe was put on Jesus as a way of mocking the idea that he was a king.

  • Crown of Thorns: There are a number of thorny plants in the Jerusalem area that could have been used to make this cruel crown that would have pierced Jesus’ head and caused severe pain. Again it is used to make a mockery of Jesus’ kingship.

  • Via Dolorosa – The Way of Suffering: Jesus walked a path from the Governor’s palace that eventually led to his crucifixion on Golgotha. Christians around the world memorialize this painful walk of redemptive suffering by Jesus through the “stations of the cross.” Part of this tradition are from Scripture and others are from church tradition. 

  • Crucifixion: This was the most painful and shameful means for a person to be executed in the Roman world. Jesus was stripped naked (shaming him in front of all), he would be put on display for all to see, unable to control his bodily functions, his body already in extreme pain from the beatings and torture, and eventually he would die from asphyxiation, unable to pull himself up to breathe. In some cases, the person would be on the cross for 2-3 days in agony.In the case of Jesus’ death, he went on his own timing, having died from the weight of the sin of the world.The other criminals crucified on Jesus’ left and right had their death’s hastened by the breaking of their legs which made it impossible for them to continue to raise themselves up for air.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read Matthew 27:11-26 to get the background of the scene.  Who are the players in this tragedy? What roles do they play?

  2. Who is responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion?

  3. Now read our passage, Matthew 27:27-31.

  4. Why were the Roman soldiers given the job of crucifying Jesus?

  5. What is the meaning of their antics? Giving Jesus a scarlet robe, a crown of thorns, etc…?

  6. Who did the Roman soldiers think of Jesus? How did they reflect the crowd’s animosity?

  7. What feelings do you have after picturing this scene?  Describe

  8. In what ways is Jesus mocked today in the world?

  9. Why is it important to reflect upon the death of Jesus during the Advent season?

  10. What do we know from the birth narratives of Jesus that would point to His eventual atoning sacrifice for us on the cross?

  11. Herod the Great played a role in trying to kill Jesus as a baby.  How does the fact that Pilate made the decision to turn over Jesus to the Jewish leaders in Herod’s former palace fit in the story?

  12. As you think about the birth of Jesus this Christmas, take time to thank Jesus for His obedience to His calling which included the pain and suffering of the cross.

  13. How might you share the good news of Jesus and His sacrificial love for them during the Christmas season?Share some ideas and then intentionally do them.