What’s so good about this Friday? – Matthew 27

What’s so good about this Friday? – Matthew 27
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 17, 2013 AM

It was early in the morning on Yom Shishi of Passover, when all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Yeshua of Nazareth to death. We bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. That sad little follower of Yeshua, Yudas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that Yeshua was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to us. He actually wept in our presence and whined, “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.” We retorted, “What is that to us? That’s your responsibility.” So Yudas actually threw the money into the temple and left! Can you imagine? Then he went away and hanged himself. Good riddance, no one likes a traitor! We picked up the coins and agreed that was against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money. So we decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

Those sly spiritual leaders wanted me to do their dirty work for them. They brought Jesus to me. He stood before me, and I asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus surprised me by responding, “Yes, it is as you say.” When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he actually gave no answer. He remained silent. So, I asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” To my great amazement, Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge! Most of the accused before me plead for mercy or justice or make accusations themselves, but Jesus did not! Now it was my custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time, there was a notorious prisoner, an insurrectionist called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, I asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” I knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to me. I had heard the stories of Jesus and I heard their complaining concerning him before.  As I sat on the judge’s seat, ready to make my judgment, my wife sent me a message. She wrote, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” I asked. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” I asked. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When I saw that my arguments were getting nowhere, but instead an uproar was starting, I took water and washed my hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” I told them. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” So, I released Barabbas to them. I then had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Nasty piece of business, but the Jewish leaders hold a lot of power with Caesar.

I was the Centurion in charge on Venerdì or hêméra Aphrodítês of Passover. As the Governor’s own guard, we were in charge of prisoners. So, we took the criminal Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. In order to humiliate the prisoner, we stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. It was great sport! We found an old rod, put it in his right hand and knelt in front of him, and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” we remarked. Some of the men spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. I made them quit. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put the prisoner’s own clothes back on his bloody body. We led him away to crucify him.

As we were going out, we grabbed a pilgrim, a man from Cyrene named Simon, and we forced him to carry the prisoner’s cross. As we came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull), we offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall to numb his pain; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. We laid the beam down and nailed his hands to the wood. We then pulled him onto the upright and nailed his feet to the hypopodium.  When we finished crucifying him, we divided his clothes by casting lots. We sat down on the hill and kept watch over him there. Above his head, Pilate had us place a wooden placard with the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified along with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 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!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “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. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’“ Even the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on Jesus.

We noticed that from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, darkness came over all the land. Then about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” Which we later learned means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the Jews standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of my men ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. Some say that at that very moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. I know that the earth shook and the rocks split. They even said that tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life! They came out of the tombs, and it was said that after this Jesus resurrected, some went into the holy city and appeared too many people! Those of us who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, we were terrified, and I confess, I exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

I, Yoseph from Arimathea, noticed that many women were there, watching from a distance. They evidently had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. I learned that among them were Maria Magdalene, Maria the mother of James and Yoses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. As evening approached, I went to Pilate, and asked for Yeshua’s body. Pilate ordered that it be given to me. No one knew I had become a disciple secretly of Yeshua. I therefore took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in my own new tomb that I had cut out of the rock nearby. We rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:1-60 NIV)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.


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