Matthew 27:32-44 (NIV)
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 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!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
This passage is full of irony.
The soldiers mocked Jesus by placing a sign over his head, yet he really was King of the Jews.
Passers-by mocked him for saying “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19), but the temple he referred to was his body – which was raised in three days.
The chief priests and teachers of the law mocked him, saying “He saved others, but he can’t save himself” and “Let God rescue him”, yet In Matt 26:53, at his arrest, Jesus tells the disciples not to defend him, saying “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
The final irony is that there is so much fulfilment of prophecy here. The death of the Messiah and the soldiers’ actions in offering Jesus poisoned wine and casting lots for his clothes area prophesied in Psalm 22:16-18. The insults hurled at him are prophesied in Psalm 22:7-8. There are many other prophecies about the Messiah, especially in Isaiah 53.
So what does all that mean for me? Two things stand out. I am touched yet again by Jesus’ suffering – emotional as well as physical. I imagine that it took effort to not react to the taunts thrown at him. I am also freshly amazed and reassured by the truth of the Bible – prophecies of these events are so accurate although written over 900 years earlier.
Dear Lord, thank you for enduring so much to rescue me. And thank you for giving us the Bible as a guide and a doorway to relationship with you. Let its truth continue to speak to many today. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell