On Thursday morning of Passion week, not long before noon, Jesus was led to Golgotha, the Skull, and crucified between two criminals, accounted as one of them by the religious leaders, who, from the sin in their hearts, were deceived to call evil good, and good evil. The inscription attached to the cross above His head gave His name and read The King of the Jews as the charge for which He was condemned. As the title of a book summarizing His life it was a fitting description, with the paradoxical picture on the cover inviting the world to read more. It was written by Pilate, and although understood superficially by others as mocking Jesus, it is likely that he himself meant more than that, as indicated by the offense taken to it by the chief priests who wanted him to change it. For he had wanted to release Jesus (Luk 23:4,13-16,22), recognizing that He was no ordinary man (Mat 27:19, Joh 18:37-38, 19:7-8, 11-12), and understood that it was from envy that they had delivered Him up to him (Mat 27:18). From their desire for Pilate to change the charge on the inscription, the title seems to have been what God in His providence provided through the Gentile governor as a worm that began to gnaw on their conscience as their eyes were opened to see the ignominy that their deed would bring upon them. In this way it also foreshadowed how the kingdom of God would be taken away from the Jews and given to the Gentiles who would produce the fruit of it; Mat 21:43.
What does Matthew now describe about the onlookers who were there to witness Jesus’ crucifixion? See Mat 27:39. From the abuse they were hurling at Him, who should we understand these passersby to include? See Mat 27:40, cf. Mat 26:59-63, Luk 22:70. Consider that there were false witnesses who were willing to twist Jesus’ words in testimony against Him and then follow Him to the cross to further express their hatred as He died; what does this indicate about the opposition to Jesus coming not just from the religious and political leaders, but also from others among the general public who didn’t like what He had to say? Cf. 2Sa 16:5-6,13, Joh 3:19-21. As throughout history the Lord’s people have always been a relatively small flock of mostly ignoble sheep in the midst of ravenous wolves, should we imagine that it was any different even in the days of Jesus’ ministry? Cf. 1Sa 22:2, Psa 22:6-7,12-13, 16, 118:10-13, Joh 6:60,61,66. What does it mean that they were hurling abuse at Him? See Psa 57:4, 140:3, Jer 9:3, Rom 3:13-14, and note that the Greek word used is βλασφημέω from which we get our word blasphemy, as the word is often translated. Although they didn’t recognize who Jesus was and so were not willfully committing blasphemy, did that make them any less guilty of it? Cf. 1Ti 1:13. What does this teach us about the danger of abusive speech, even towards those with whom we are at odds? See Psa 109:1-20,25, Mat 12:36-37, Jam 3:2.
What does Matthew specifically record that the onlookers said to Jesus, that was echoed by the chief priests as well, that was proof to them that He was not the Christ, the king of the Jews, nor the Son of God? See Mat 27:40,42. What do their words indicate about their understanding of salvation as the preservation of one’s physical life, and how does that differ from Jesus’ understanding of salvation unto eternal life? Cf. Mat 26:39,42, Joh 4:34, 5:30, 6:38, 17:3, 18:11. How does Matthew’s description of them “wagging their heads” illustrate the spiritual blindness the natural man has in regard to the deeper truths of the spiritual realm? See 1Co 2:14; cf. Joh 3:6, Rom 8:5. In hindsight, in what way do we now understand that Jesus was the Christ, the king of the Jews, and the Son of God precisely because He didn’t seek to save Himself and come down from the cross? Cf. Mar 8:35, Luk 17:33, Joh 12:25. In what similar way do we prove we are true children of God? See Mat 12:50, Rom 8:14. In view of our own human response, why would the words of the chief priests and the others who rejected Him have been a serious temptation to Jesus’ soul, perhaps even the greatest He ever faced, here in the last moments of His life? Whose spirit were they then actually full of, and what does this again remind us about the danger of abusive speech, even towards those whom we may deem to be our enemies who are getting their just desserts? Cf. Mat 4:3,6, Luk 9:54-56, Joh 8:38,41,44. In contrast to the abusive speech that flows from the hearts of those who are filled with the unclean spirit of the god of this world, what speech flows from the hearts of those who are led by the Holy Spirit of God? See Mat 12:34-35, Eph 4:29, Col 3:8, 4:6, Jam 3:8-11, Jud 1:9. What does Jesus’ example teach us should be our own response when similarly reviled? See 1Pe 2:23; cf. 1Co 4:12. Because our natural inclination is to respond in kind, especially in the midst of suffering when our flesh is weak, how are we to prepare for such circumstances? See Mar 14:38; cf. Mar 13:33-37, Act 20:31, 1Co 16:13, Eph 6:18, 1Pe 5:8.
The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?