JESUS SUFFERED UNJUST TREATMENT BY THE ROMAN AUTHORITIES WHILE BEING REJECTED BY THE CROWD IN FAVOR OF BARABBAS
INTRODUCTION – PART 1:
Last night Karen and I enjoyed a Christmas performance by the United States Army Field Band at the ornate Hippodrome Theater in downtown Baltimore. It was a surprising Christian and gospel oriented presentation – one of the highlights being portions from Handel’s Messiah with the ringing lyrics of “King of Kings and Lord of Lord … and He must reign forever and ever … Hallelujah, Hallelujah!” This was good preparation for our text for this morning – because you cannot fully appreciate the injustice suffered by the Lord in His trials before the religious authorities (which we covered 2 weeks ago) and here today His trial before the governmental officials – Pilate and in the other synoptic accounts, Herod until you contrast that treatment with the praise and worship He deserves as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Aside regarding the dynamics of sermon delivery: I had this message prepared to deliver last Sunday, but saved it for today instead. But as noted by my earlier comments, I have revised some of my approach and emphasis because I am not the same person today as I was a week ago. I have been impacted by the experiences of this past week. That is why I can never simply pull out a message from my files and deliver it again verbatim — especially since I don’t have it written out verbatim! But seriously, this points to how the Lord uses the personality of the messenger just as he used the personality and experiences of those who wrote His inspired Word. That is one of the reasons why we are not supposed to just sit at home on Sunday morning and download a message from Sermonaudio.com – of which there are many fine ones on this very passage – (almost 2000 on some portion of Mark 15). The Holy Spirit wants to use the dynamics of the personality and experiences of the preacher and his relationship with those listening. This also caused me to reflect on the need for a congregation to hear from multiple speaker – not just the preaching of one man. If you have the gift of teaching or preaching, we need you to be using that gift among us.
Enough with my digression … on to the text for this morning … we will only cover vv. 1-5 today . . . but the entire section hangs together as outlined on the back of your bulletin.
Parunak: The structure of 14:53-15:20 compares the trial before the Sanhedrin and that before Pilate. The one rejects Christ through deliberate malice, the other through lack of political courage. Structural similarities:
a) In each, the Lord is confronted with two questions, one indirect (via accusers), the other direct (by the judge). In both. he declines to reply to the accusers, but does reply to the judge, and the testimony he bears in both cases is the same: he is the one to whom all dominion belongs.
b) In each, after the conclusion of the trial, the Lord is cruelly abused by the judge’s underlings.
c) In each, the condemnation by the authorities is echoed by the Lord’s denial by the common people, each time marked by three questions.
How often have you heard it said that the “wheels of justice grind slowly?” In the case of the injustice dispensed by both the religious authorities and the political authorities, the wheels were greased to move at lightning speed. No delays in these kangaroo courts.
How long do prisoners sit on Death Row in our American system of justice?
Apostles Creed – “He suffered under Pontius Pilate” – shows how memorable and significant this chapter of Scripture remains down through history
Derek Thomas: His name of course is now infamous from The Apostles’ Creed: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate….” Strange, isn’t it, that Pontius Pilate’s name should be mentioned in a creed of the church? It does, I think, two things. It was of course on one level an assertion of the way in which the state condemned Jesus: that the condemnation of Jesus was total. But it was also, of course, a way of saying that there’s a historicity to this man Jesus Christ, this Jesus of Nazareth: that He suffered at a particular point in history, during the reign and rule of this prefect of Judea called Pontius Pilate, dating somewhere between 25 or so and 36 A.D. on the map of history
Here you have the official, governmental judgment against the Lord Jesus along with the abuse and mockery and humiliation that accompanied that experience
JESUS SUFFERED UNJUST TREATMENT BY THE ROMAN AUTHORITIES WHILE BEING REJECTED BY THE CROWD IN FAVOR OF BARABBAS
(:1) AUTHORIZED TRANSITION – RELIGIOUS AUTHORITIES DELIVER JESUS OVER TO THE POLITICAL AUTHORITIES
A. Swift Injustice
1. Transacting Justice Illicitly
“And early in the morning”
Around 5-6 AM
They knew that it was wrong to try a capital case in the middle of the night; they knew that they must wait until the following day to deliver the indictment; as soon as morning of the next day broke, they sprang into action; trying to legitimize their nefarious dealings
Hendriksen: The main reason for the early morning meeting may well have been to give a semblance of legality to the action against Jesus.
2. Total Complicity by the Entire Sanhedrin
“the chief priests with the elders and scribes, and the whole Council,”
This court represented the religious establishment – all the movers and shakers in Judaism in Jerusalem
There was no voice for justice; no voice for truth; no voice for righteousness; no voice for doing the right thing by Jesus; no balance in this group – they were united in their rage against Jesus;
Blinded by envy and jealousy and pride and hypocrisy and ambition and lust for power and popularity and possessions
This was the group that ended up manipulating the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas;
That ended up manipulating Pilate to deliver Jesus over to be crucified
– mob mentality
– political expediency
Think of the importance of not violating your conscience – of course it is important that your conscience be informed by the truth of God as applied by the Holy Spirit – but don’t go against your conscience as Pilate did here
Nothing done from conviction or principal – this is how you end up with injustice
3. Taking Action Urgently
No proper amount of time to consider the wisdom of their actions;
Afraid that additional time would bring additional pressure to bear upon their predetermined indictment of Jesus; felt the necessity to act swiftly
A lot of times wisdom is better served if people would just slow down and consider things more reasonably without being driven by the emotion of the moment … but there is no pursuit of wisdom or justice here
Luke 22:66ff expands upon this third phase of the religious trials – gives us more details
4. Travesty of Justice Consummated
“held a consultation;”
Ray Stedman: The reason they had to consult together was because they knew that the charge on which they had condemned Jesus would never stand before the Roman governor. They condemned Jesus for blasphemy. They said that he claimed to be God, so he was worthy of death. But the Romans would pay no attention to that charge, so they had to come up with something else before they sent him to Pilate. Luke tells us that they levied three charges against him: First, he was charged with perverting the nation, that is, arousing troublemakers, creating riots and dissension. Second, he was charged with forbidding the payment of tribute to Rome, teaching people to not pay their taxes. Third, he was charged with wanting to be king instead of Caesar. Now it is this last charge that Pilate seized upon as being the only important one of the three.
B. Shifting Injustice – from the Religious Realm to the Political
1. Restraining Jesus as a Dangerous Criminal
“and binding Jesus,”
make him appear as a common criminal and a dangerous threat;
eliminate any possibility of escape;
demonstrate their control over the prisoner
look at how Samson was bound in the OT – but that was no protection against the Lord giving him supernatural strength to break any type of restraints that man could impose
How puny and impotent are man’s attempts to thwart God’s purposes
2. Transferring Him to a Different Venue
“they led Him away,”
wicked hands making the decision about where to take Jesus;
yet He is traveling the road laid out for Him by the eternal decree of His heavenly Father;
throughout this passage you get a strong flavor of the sovereignty of God at work and the fulfillment of OT prophecy
3. Pressuring Pilate to Perform Their Dirty Work
“and delivered Him up to Pilate.”
Shows how the trial scene has now escalated from the ecclesiastical realm to the political
Mark 10:33 prophecy of Jesus that he would be “delivered over to the Gentiles”
Background on Pilate:
Robert Rayburn: Pontius Pilate was the fifth Roman prefect of Palestine, appointed by the emperor Tiberius. He ordinarily lived in Caesarea but at the Jewish festivals, when large numbers of Jewish pilgrims streamed into Jerusalem and religious fervor ran high, the governor’s presence was needed in the capital. Pilate was prefect from A.D. 26 to A.D. 37, the longest tenure of any of the 14 Roman governors of Judea.
Hendriksen: One thing is certain: he exercised little common sense in handling the delicate problem of the strained relations between the Jews and their Roman conquerors. In fact, it would almost seem as if he enjoyed annoying the Jews: using the temple treasure to pay for an aqueduct, bringing Roman standards into Jerusalem, and even defiling the temple with golden shields inscribed with the images and names of Roman deities.
Necessity of involving the Roman authorities:
J. C. Ryle: they had no longer the power of putting any one to death, and were under the dominion of the Romans. By this one act and deed they declared that the prophecy of Jacob was fulfilled. “The scepter had departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet,” and Shiloh the Messiah, whom God had promised to send, must have come. (Genesis 49:10.)
So now we have made the transition away from the high priest and the Sanhedrin and see Jesus standing before the political authorities
I. (:2-5) ASTONISHING TRIAL BEFORE PILATE – AMAZED AT HIS SILENCE
A. (:2) Interrogation of Jesus by Pilate – Nature of the Kingdom
1. The Charge
“And Pilate questioned Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’”
Charge of blasphemy has now been switched over to a charge that would have significance for Pilate and the Roman government = treason against Caesar; a crime worthy of the death penalty
John 18: 28ff gives fuller account
Hypocrisy of their actions:
MacArthur: “They led Jesus from Caiaphas into the praetorium and it was early. And they themselves did not enter into the praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” These hypocrites are something, aren’t they? They don’t want to be defiled while they’re trying to murder the Son of God, because they don’t want to step on Gentile land, they don’t want to get into Gentile space, Gentile building, a Gentile room, a Gentile praetorium because they would ceremonially defiled by contact with the Gentile.
Are you a rival king to Caesar – looking to take political control here in Jerusalem?
• Physical, national, military kingdom vs spiritual, religious kingdom is the issue
Certainly the disciples understood that Jesus was the long-promised King of the Jews – even though they had misunderstandings about the nature and timing of the implementation of that kingdom
The crowd was conflicted – bouncing back and forth between being wowed by His teaching and His miracles and His character so that they shouted at His Triumphal Entry:
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest” (11:9-10)
The Jewish authorities were united in their rejection of this claim.
2. The Response
“And answering He said to him, ‘It is as you say.’”
Parunak: a strong affirmative: “You yourself know that what you have said is so.”
But not a king in the sense that you might expect; thus the more extended interaction in the Gospel of John where Jesus explains the nature of His kingdom; not one that would be a threat to the Roman government
B. (:3) Interrogation by the Chief Priests – False Charges
“And the chief priests began to accuse Him harshly.”
Pilate just said: “I found no guilt in Him” – what can we charge Him with now?
Luke 23:2 details the false charges
Hurling all types of false charges against Jesus – shows how they drove the whole situation; forcing the hand of Pilate
What is striking is the silence of Jesus – causing Pilate to highlight this unique aspect of this trial
C. (:4-5) Interrogation by Pilate – Why the Silence
1. (:4) Appealing for a Verbal Refutation of False Charges
“And Pilate was questioning Him again, saying,
‘Do You make no answer? See how many charges they bring against You!’”
Surely all of these charges are not true – Pilate could see that many of them were trumped up and embellished; any good defense attorney would have had a field day pointing to contradictions and discrepancies in the testimony; but Jesus offered no defense; didn’t he understand the gravity of the situation – his very life was at stake; how could he remain silent
2. (:5) Amazed at the Silence of Jesus
“But Jesus made no further answer; so that Pilate was amazed.”
double negative used here by Mark for emphasis – Jesus no more answered anything
Ray Stedman: I think that here, before Pilate, it was quite possible for Jesus to save himself from the cross. For it was evident to him that Pilate knew he was innocent and wanted to deliver him and was seeking some way to do so. If he had replied to Pilate in any way, the governor would have used his words to dismiss the charge and free him immediately. It is obvious that Pilate’s sympathy at this point is with Jesus, not with the priests. He knows what they are trying to do, that they are trying to railroad Jesus. He knows that the man is innocent, and is no real threat to Rome, and wants to set him free. But he marveled because Jesus would not cooperate. He did not say a word, and gave Pilate no grounds on which to free him.
Hiebert: Luke at this point told how the mention of Galilee caused Pilate to transfer the case to Herod Antipas (23:5-12). When Jesus refused to entertain this corrupt ruler (cf. Mark 6:14-29) with miracles, Antipas returned the prisoner to the court of original jurisdiction.
Pilate has one last resort to bail him out of this predicament of making a judgment that went against his conscience and against the very facts of the case
What will it be like on that final judgment day when the roles are reversed and the false religious leaders and those who have been driven by expediency instead of conviction stand before the holy Judge who himself has down no wrong but has returned victorious to judge the living and the dead?
Does Jesus reign as almighty king right now in your heart and life – or do you reserve some areas of sovereignty where you resist the reign and control of Jesus as king?
As we partake of the Lord’s Supper, let’s reflect on the injustice that was heaped upon Jesus and how he humbled himself and willingly took upon himself the scorn and mocking and rebuke and false charges and the then that awesome penalty of the wrath of God as He died in our place on the cross.
Throughout the coming week we need to be singing the Hallalujah chorus of Handel’s Messiah.
INTRODUCTION – PART 2:
This is truly an amazing historical account. How in the world did Barabbas become more popular and more desirable in the eyes of the Jewish people than Jesus of Nazareth? When given the choice, how could they possibly request of Pilate that he release back into their community Barabbas, a noted rebel and thief and murderer and insurrectionist instead of Jesus, the Son of Man who had traveled through their cities doing good, teaching the wise counsel of God, healing the sick, raising the dead, showing love and compassion to all?
Perhaps there is no clearer picture anywhere else in Scripture of what is involved in the substitutionary atoning death of Jesus than in this picture of sinless Jesus taking the place of wicked Barabbas who deserved to die on that cross between the two thieves. One has to wonder whether Barabbas came to the point of saving repentance and faith as he considered the injustice heaped upon Jesus that was rightly deserved to be poured out against himself. Here was one who chose not to defend Himself from trumped up charges that could have been easily refuted; here was one who opened not his mouth but allowed himself to be led as a sheep to the slaughter; here was one who could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set him free … but chose to die there for you and for me.
Perhaps there is no clearer picture anywhere else in Scripture of what is involved in calling good evil and evil good; in choosing so unwisely; in demonstrating such utter depravity as to pick the release of Barabbas over the release of the sinless Lamb of God. This was depravity magnified. This was foolishness multiplied.
Perhaps there is no clearer picture anywhere else in Scripture of the tragic consequences of pursuing a path of expediency and compromise as exemplified by Pilate rather than that of conviction and conscience. Here was a powerful political leader who clearly understood the right course of action and yet cowered before the pressure of the Jewish religious leaders and the rabid crowd who were crying out for the crucifixion of an innocent man.
Perhaps there is no clearer example anywhere else in Scripture of the sovereignty of God who took the actions of wicked men and through His predetermined plan and foreknowledge, brought the ultimate good out of the ultimate evil.
JESUS SUFFERED UNJUST TREATMENT BY THE ROMAN AUTHORITIES WHILE BEING REJECTED BY THE CROWD IN FAVOR OF BARABBAS
II. (:6-15) ACCOMMODATING TRADITION THAT WOULD ALLOW FOR THE RELEASE OF JESUS
A. (:6-8) Recognition of the Tradition – Opportunity to Release One Prisoner
1. (:6) Historical Review
“Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested.”
Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν ἀπέλυεν αὐτοῖς ἕνα δέσμιον ὃν παρῃτοῦντο.
Quite an accommodation on the part of the Roman authorities; helped to keep the crowd orderly and avoid any uprisings and conflicts; a way to appease the Jews to some extent; they would probably ask for one that was imprisoned more on political grounds than a dangerous criminal that would be a threat to society
What is the motivation for the Jews to want a criminal to be released back into society?
2. (:7) Horrific Rebel
“And the man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection.”
ἦν δὲ ὁ λεγόμενος Βαραββᾶς μετὰ τῶν στασιαστῶν δεδεμένος
οἵτινες ἐν τῇ στάσει φόνον πεποιήκεισαν.
What did it mean for Barabbas to be a man without hope; a man condemned to die for his opposition to Roman rule;
Do we understand how we used to be in a state of hopelessness; enemies of God; deserving of His wrath; without hope of any future apart from the eternal fires of hell …
What does it mean today to choose Barabbas over Jesus Christ?
World when presented with choices – rejects Jesus whom they hate — “We will not have this man to rule over us” – they do not want the freedom to pursue righteousness; they hate the light because their deeds are evil; they want the freedom to live as they please
Ironic choice Pilate offered the people – as seen in the names:
Jesus Barabbas son of the father or Jesus of Nazareth, true son of the Heavenly Father
3. (:8) Habitual Request
“And the multitude went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.”
καὶ ἀναβὰς ὁ ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι καθὼς ἐποίει αὐτοῖς.
B. (:9-14) Response of the Multitude – Crucify Jesus
1. (:9-11) Preference of Pilate – that the Jews would ask for the release of Jesus
a. (:9-10) Offer to Release Jesus
1) (:9) Understood Jesus was no Threat
“And Pilate answered them, saying,
‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’”
ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς λέγων·
θέλετε ἀπολύσω ὑμῖν τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Ἰουδαίων;
2) (:10) Understood His enemies Were Motivated by Envy
“For he was aware that the chief priests had delivered Him up
because of envy.”
ἐγίνωσκεν γὰρ ὅτι διὰ φθόνον παραδεδώκεισαν αὐτὸν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς.
Hendriksen: Envy is the displeasure aroused by seeing someone else having what you do not want him to have. So, for example, the leaders envied Jesus because of his fame and following, his ability to perform miracles, etc.
b. (:11) Opposition by Religious Leaders
“But the chief priests stirred up the multitude to ask him
to release Barabbas for them instead.”
οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς ἀνέσεισαν τὸν ὄχλον ἵνα μᾶλλον τὸν Βαραββᾶν ἀπολύσῃ αὐτοῖς.
This is the key factor in frustrating Pilate’s desire to release Jesus – the chief priests stirred up the crowd into a frenzy of hatred against Jesus;
How were they able to accomplish this?
Talk about a rigged voting process; they controlled the narrative; they blinded the minds of people against the truth about Jesus and spread malicious false charges; they used their power and prestige to create blind followers who lost all sense of discernment
How can people be so deceived and manipulated?
This sin was brought up by Peter in his preaching by the Holy Spirit just 50 days later – speaking to the same group that had cried
“We have no king but Caesar;”
“Let His blood be on us and on our children”
Acts 2:22-23; 37-38
2. (:12-13) Plea by Pilate
a. (:12) Confusion by Pilate
“And answering again, Pilate was saying to them,
‘Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?’”
ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς·
τί οὖν [θέλετε] ποιήσω [ὃν λέγετε] τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Ἰουδαίων;
b. (:13) Frenzied Response
“And they shouted back, ‘Crucify Him!’”
οἱ δὲ πάλιν ἔκραξαν· σταύρωσον αὐτόν.
3. (:14) Protestation by Pilate – Jesus not deserving of execution
a. Hesitation by Pilate
“But Pilate was saying to them, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’”
ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· τί γὰρ ἐποίησεν κακόν;
Not recorded here is the warning sent by Pilate’s wife – Matt. 27:19
“Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
Don’t meddle in the affairs of this righteous man
b. Frenzied Response
“But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify Him!’”
οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἔκραξαν· σταύρωσον αὐτόν.
C. (:15a) Release of Barabbas Instead of Jesus of Nazareth
1. Motivation of Pilate
“And wishing to satisfy the multitude,”
βουλόμενος τῷ ὄχλῳ τὸ ἱκανὸν ποιῆσαι
2. Mob Mentality
“Pilate released Barabbas for them,”
Ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος . . . ἀπέλυσεν αὐτοῖς τὸν Βαραββᾶν,
– Wringing his hands – caught between a rock and a hard place; yet can’t bring himself to do the right thing
– Washing his hands – yet cannot remove the blood of culpability
– Waving his hands – take Jesus away and crucify Him
Pilate ended up committing suicide – in charge of a military operation against the Samaritans -committed such excessive atrocities that he was tried before the Roman govt and convicted; will stand before Jesus in judgment in the last days
Chuck Smith: PILATE’S TRAGIC DECISION, VERSE 15.
A. Violation of his own conscience.
1. He had testified, “I find no fault in Him.”
B. Violation of his own desire.
1. He really did not want to do it, yet he did.
C. Why would a man violate his own conscience and desire to commit such a heinous crime?
1. “Pilate willing to content the people.”
a. The crowd is not always right.
b. The crowd is many times stupidly wrong.
c. Your crowd may be wrong and to follow its influence may damn your soul.
2. Seeking to be accepted by the crowd led him to be rejected by God.
J. C. Ryle: We have in this striking fact a vivid emblem of the manner in which God pardons and justifies the ungodly. He does it, because Christ has suffered in their stead, the just for the unjust. They deserve punishment, but a mighty Substitute has suffered for them. They deserve eternal death, but a glorious Surety has died for them. We are all by nature in the position of Barabbas. We are guilty, wicked, and worthy of condemnation. But “when we were without hope,” Christ the innocent died for the ungodly. And now God for Christ’s sake can be just, and yet “the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus.”
D. (:15b) Relinquishment of Jesus
1. Further Beatings
“and after having Jesus scourged,”
καὶ παρέδωκεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν
Parunak: Pilate has already had him scourged. The scourge had bits of lead, glass, and bone embedded in its thongs, so that it tore the flesh from the back of the victim. The Lord is bleeding profusely, his flesh in shreds, his clothing sticking to the clotting blood.
2. Final Sentencing
“he delivered Him to be crucified.”
φραγελλώσας ἵνα σταυρωθῇ.
CONCLUSION TO PART 2
Ryle: To reject Christ and choose Barabbas was indeed an astounding act! It seems as if blindness, madness, and folly could go no further. But let us take he
ed, that we do not unwittingly follow their example. Let us beware that we are not found at last to have chosen Barabbas and rejected Christ. The service of sin and the service of God are continually before us. The friendship of the world and the friendship of Christ are continually pressed upon our notice. Are we making the right choice? Are we cleaving to the right Friend? These are solemn questions. Happy is he who can give them a satisfactory answer.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
PART 3 – INTRODUCTION – vv. 16-21
The Roman Catholic approach to the season of Lent has always mystified me. Here you have religious people making their own free choice regarding what comfort or enjoyment or food they are willing to give up to identify with the suffering of Jesus Christ on their behalf.
Lent is defined as a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. Began this year on March. 1.
In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as “giving up” certain luxuries in order to “replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days”.
Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God. – Wikopedia
You might have friends that have shared with you what they are giving up this year for Lent – maybe chocolate or going to the movies or having dessert ….
But how can any self-imposed period of abstinence compare to the depths of humiliation and physical suffering which Jesus Christ endured at the hands of sinful Roman soldiers? Here you have the majestic Creator laying aside all of His rights and prerogatives as Sovereign to submit to unimaginable scorn and sadistic abuse from those He had created and had come to rescue from their fallen state of depravity and enmity to God.
The abusive treatment we are going to pause to consider today should remind us of both the depths of human depravity and the depths of our Lord’s patience and mercy and forbearance as He faithfully completes His mission of accomplishing redemption for lost sinners. Consider how much Jesus gave up as He humbled himself to submit to suffering and then death on the cross. Consider what it means for us to be challenged by Jesus to take up our cross daily and follow after Him. Certainly we are not talking in the same realm as giving up chocolate or dessert or the movies. Need to pause and linger at this text; look into the face of our Savior; see his patient suffering at the hand of sinners; enduring shame on our behalf
THE ROAD TO GLORY FOR JESUS CHRIST PASSED ALONG THE VIA DOLOROSA – THE WAY OF INENSE HUMILIATION AND SUFFERING
The Via Dolorosa (Latin: “Way of Grief,” “Way of Sorrow,” “Way of Suffering” or simply “Painful Way”; is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the Antonia Fortress west to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—a distance of about 600 metres (2,000 feet)
Borgman: The passage before us is brutal, and bloody and cruel
III. (:16-20) ABUSIVE TREATMENT AT THE HANDS OF THE ROMAN SOLDIERS
A. (:16) The Sadistic Nature of This Abuse
Definition of Sadistic: deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.
Setting Structured for Unrestrained Abuse
1. The Place
“And the soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium),”
Οἱ δὲ στρατιῶται ἀπήγαγον αὐτὸν ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς, ὅ ἐστιν πραιτώριον,
Barclay: It was when the cross was being prepared that Jesus was in the hands of the soldiers. The Praetorium was the residence of the governor, his headquarters, and the soldiers involved would be the headquarters cohort of the guard.
Jesus could not have been more alone than He was at this time in this prestigious courtyard.
This is a place without restraint or checks and balances where the soldiers could heap upon Jesus whatever abuse might give them pleasure.
Look at the verbs that speak to the submission of Jesus – how He was led around as if He were powerless and at their mercy … when the reality was that they could not lift a finger against Him without Him allowing it
2. The Participants
“and they called together the whole Roman cohort.”
καὶ συγκαλοῦσιν ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν.
600 soldiers; one tenth of a legion – this is a huge, blood-thirsty troop that probably despised the Jews as an ethnic group
Military elite – charged with keeping the peace in Jerusalem; supposed to be on the side of law and order – cruel, vile, coarse men
Emphasis on “the whole” – everybody wanted the opportunity to get in on the fun of heaping indignities on this wild man who claimed to be the King of the Jews
They are emboldened now – remember when they came to take Jesus in the Garden – took precautions to bring plenty of soldiers – did not know how Jesus would respond – fell back just at the power and authority of his word – but now Jesus has become more of a pathetic figure to them
Steven Lawson: comments on the darkness of these Gentile unbelievers who participated in this sadistic horseplay
1 Cor. 2:8 – if they had understood they would not have crucified the Lord of glory
Beating and humiliating the Creator of the universe
They are in spiritual ignorance
Eph. 4:17-18 Gentiles walk in the futility of their minds; being darkened in their understanding because of darkness in them due to ignorance
2 Cor. 4:3-4
All of this took place under the sovereign plan of God – no surprise to Jesus – He had predicted to his disciples that he would be delivered up to the Gentiles and suffer such scourging and abuse
Mark 10:32-34 – this took place over a year earlier
B. (:17-18) The Scorn and Satire of Abuse – Mocking Royal Treatment
1. (:17a) The Royal Costume
“And they dressed Him up in purple,”
καὶ ἐνδιδύσκουσιν αὐτὸν πορφύραν
put a costume on him like some Halloween party
garments would have stuck to his bleeding skin – created more pain when torn off him at the end
Matt. says the color was scarlet – different witnesses would describe the same color somewhat differently – or it was two-toned due to perspiration and blood and dirt …
A cloak that they would have taken from one of the soldiers and cast over his bleeding shoulders; by this time his muscles were exposed from all the severe lacerations; he would have been bleeding profusely; in extreme pain and very weak
Certainly not a kingly figure – Is. 53 over 700 years earlier had prophecied that he would not even be recognizeable as a man
2. (:17b) The Royal Crown
“and after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on Him;”
καὶ περιτιθέασιν αὐτῷ πλέξαντες ἀκάνθινον στέφανον·
made from a plant with spikey thorns that would cut into his forehead and cause the blood to pour down his face
they rammed it down on his head; just one thorn would have been painful; but here the thorns surround his head; severe bleeding
Brings to mind curse from Gen. 3 on the environment – thorns and thistles would now grow – Jesus becoming a curse for us on the cross
3. (:18) The Royal Cry
“and they began to acclaim Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’”
καὶ ἤρξαντο ἀσπάζεσθαι αὐτόν· χαῖρε, βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων·
just as you would address Caesar as King; this is how much they hated the Jews and were happy to act out this scene of mockery and scorn and ridicule
should have been addressing him with respect and reverence
look at how much has transpired in one short week – remember Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest.”
Now that cry has been perverted into one of mockery and derision.
They are ignorant of How Christ will return in judgment:
C. (:19) The Suffering of Abuse
1. Physically — The Beating
“And they kept beating His head with a reed,”
καὶ ἔτυπτον αὐτοῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν καλάμῳ
Gen. 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
Don’t see that obedience of the people in evidence yet – that awaits His Second Coming
Here they take that scepter and beat Him over the head with it
Imperfect tense – kept on beating him and beating him and beating him
the reed that symbolized rulership; they took it from his hand and used it to beat him on his head; complete repudiation of his sovereignty and majesty
being passed around and beat like a piñata
2. Emotionally — The Humiliation
“and spitting at Him,”
καὶ ἐνέπτυον αὐτῷ
the same mouths that should have been employed in praise of their Creator and Sovereign are here engaged in spitting on Jesus
Second Degree Assault is a misdemeanor under Maryland Law, although it does carry the very significant maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and or a $2,500 fine. … Typical second degree assaults involve punching, kicking, shoving, biting or spitting on another person.
This is the ultimate form of expressing contempt for someone
We have had famous examples in the sports arena:
– Roberto Alomar – Orioles second baseman spits on the face of umpire John Hirschbeck
On Sept. 27, 1996
– Sept. 2013 (good month for spitting) Ray Rice accused of spitting on Cleveland Browns
nose tackle Phil Taylor
3. Spiritually — The Mockery
“and kneeling and bowing before Him.”
καὶ τιθέντες τὰ γόνατα προσεκύνουν αὐτῷ.
Feigning worship and subservience
There will come a day when Jesus returns and these same wicked men will have to bow the knee in silent submission and accept the verdict that the Judge of all the earth will deliver
D. (:20) The Satisfaction of Abuse
1. Satisfied with Their Mocking
“And after they had mocked Him,”
Καὶ ὅτε ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ,
Did Pilate tell them enough was enough … or had the soldiers just had enough of this wicked drama?
Got tired of the fun … couldn’t think of anything else to throw at Jesus
2. Satisfied with Their Satire
“they took the purple off Him, and put His garments on Him.”
ἐξέδυσαν αὐτὸν τὴν πορφύραν καὶ ἐνέδυσαν αὐτὸν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ.
They got bored with their horseplay and mockery; they had had enough
Look at ISIS and their barbaric executions – amazing how cruel and savage men can be
3. Satisfied with Their Sentence
“And they led Him out to crucify Him.”
Καὶ ἐξάγουσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα σταυρώσωσιν αὐτόν.
No second thoughts; no wavering over his innocence; no regard for his fate;
Intent on carrying out the sentence of execution by crucifixion
David Thompson: typically would take the longest route to make a theatrical show out of it; let everyone see the condemned prisoner; executions carried out outside the city; near a major road so everyone could see it
(:21) TRANSITION – THE VIA DOLOROSA
“They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.”
καὶ ἀγγαρεύουσιν παράγοντά τινα Σίμωνα Κυρηναῖον ἐρχόμενον ἀπ᾽ ἀγροῦ, τὸν πατέρα Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ῥούφου, ἵνα ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ. (Mk. 15:21 BGT)
Gen. 22 – Abraham taking Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice – laid the wood on Isaac – you carry the wood for your own sacrifice – but here it became a physical impossibility for Jesus to continue to carry His cross
Why are the 2 sons mentioned here? Known to the church
Rom. 16:13 “Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.”
Transforming experience for Simon of Cyrene and his sons
MacArthur: Biblical scholars generally agree that he was one of the sons of Simon of Cyrene, the man enlisted to carry Jesus’ cross and was likely saved through that contact with Christ. Mark wrote his gospel in Rome, possibly after the letter to Rome was written, and circulated. Paul would not have mentioned Rufus if that name were not well known to the church in Rome. . .
Rufus’ mother, the wife of Simon of Cyrene, at some time had cared for Paul during his ministry travels.
Brian Borgman: Why did Christ have to suffer such abuse?? We know He must pay the penalty for our sins and suffer death …
1) Christ’s suffering at the hands of men reveals the absolute wretchedness of the human heart and its fundamental attitude towards God and His Son and His rule over our lives —
Offended by behavior of these soldiers
We are more like these soldiers in the depravity of our hearts than like Jesus in His sinless perfection
2) Christ’s suffering by the will of God at the hands of men was for us – He suffered and died – closely connected – don’t ever separate the two – suffering and death are part of the curse; the last Adam needed to experience this for us; suffers for us in our place by us; we see the beauty and the glory and the majesty of Jesus Christ
This scene of the agony of Jesus captured in poetry by Bernard of Clairvaux in the famous hymn:
“O Sacred Head now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.”
As we transition to observing the Lord’s Supper this morning, it is our distinct privilege to call this suffering and abused Jesus … our precious and beloved Savior.