Matthew 27, pt. 2: A Scarlet Robe, A Crown of Thorns and a Reed

Tonight we continue Matthew 27 by reading verses 11-31. Jesus will be judged by Pilate and the Jews, He will take Barabbas’ place as a prisoner and He will also be mocked by soldiers.

Jesus is standing before Pilate and is accused by the Jews of blasphemy: falsely claiming that He was the Son of God. Pilate was impressed at Jesus’s silence as these accusations were leveled at Him. Jesus’s silence here shows us that He was not fighting His fate to die for the sins of mankind. 

Every year during the Passover feast, the Roman governor would release one prisoner back to the Jews. While judging Jesus, Pilate gives the Jews the choice of releasing Jesus or a murderer named Barabbas. The Jews unequivocally choose to release Barabbas, to the confusion of Pilate. It was obvious that Barabbas was the more dangerous criminal, and Pilate did not understand why the Jews wanted so badly to indict Jesus. When Pilate asks what punishment Jesus should have, there Jews say crucifixion. When Pilate asks why, the Jews do not provide a reason but just cry out all the more loudly for Jesus to be crucified. 

Pilate’s choice to give the Jews what they want is motivated both by an urging from his wife based on a dream she had and a desire to keep the peace among the Jews. Had Pilate not released Barabbas and condemned Jesus to suffer and die, he surely would have had a revolt on his hands. So Pilate capitulated to the Jews but felt forced into his decision by these other factors. Therefore Pilate washes his hands to symbolize that none of the blame is on him. 

Pilate’s position is interesting because it is easy to see his point of view and the position he was put in. As governor, keeping the peace in Jerusalem would have been priority number one. Pilate was a Roman and was not sensitive to the religious goings-on at the time with Jesus and the Jews. Pilate could have been placed there by God to carry out these exact decisions because it was all part of God’s plan for the salvation of all mankind. In any case, the judgment of Pilate and where he will spend eternity is up to God alone.

Before crucifixion, Jesus is scourged. This is a severe beating by leather whips embedded with bits of metal and rock. A beating of this kind would leave deep gashes in the victim’s back and would result in heavy blood loss and fainting from the pain. 

After the mock trial and the scourging, Jesus is mocked and spat upon. Soldiers give him a scarlet robe, a crown of thorns and a reed as a scepter. Then they struck Him with the reed as well. After all of this, Jesus is led away to be crucified. 

The main lesson for us tonight is Jesus’s stalwart strength and absolute devotion to do the will of God. The pain and the shame were not enough to convince Jesus to walk away from the crucifixion. He could have called 10,000 angels to come save Him, but He did not. Such was His great love for God. Such was His great love for us. 

Despite the sin in our lives, God prepared this perfect sacrifice for us. Knowing this should help dissuade us from continuing to engage in sin in our lives. Jesus’s example is also deeply encouraging. If He can willingly suffer so much despite being blameless, surely we can make up our minds to avoid the pitfalls of sin in our lives that we are all so familiar with. 

God bless you. My prayer for you tonight is that you make the best choices for your eternal soul!

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