In the Fulness of Time/Part 152

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2012
In order to obtain the complete presentation of the Roman trial of Jesus, both Luke’s and John’s Gospels must be included. This approach will also make it possible to observe all the attempts of Pilate to release Jesus. Pilate seems to be a weak unprincipled man, at least in this case.

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Crucifixion and Burial of the King. Matthew 27:33-66

The Crucifixion. Mt. 27:33-56

The Crucifixion Prophesied by the Scriptures. Mt. 27:33-38

Mt. 27:33-38 “And when they were come to a place called Golgotha¸ that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall; and when he had tasted it, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, And upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there, and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two other thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.”

Prophecy #1: Psalm 69:21. Mt. 27:33-34

Psalm 69:21 “They gave me also gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

In John 19:17 it states that they “went forth into a place called the place of a skull which is called in the Hebrew¸ Golgotha.” The word for “skull” in Greek, is kranion, and in Luke 23:33 the Latin word Calvary is used, from calvaria, or skull.

Some writers, connecting verse 34 with Mark 15:23, “wine mingled with myrrh,” insist that this was a stupefying drink; thus Jesus refused it because He wanted to bear the full measure of the punishment for sin with a clear, unclouded mind. Others have added that this drink was presented by wealthy Jewish women as an act of mercy, in accordance with Proverbs 31:6-7: “Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that are of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” However nice this may sound, several things refute the theory. First, there is no mention that women brought the drink; second, Luke 23:36 makes clear that it was the soldiers who offered it to Jesus, and third, both Mark 15:36 and Luke 23:36 indicate that the motive of the soldiers in giving the drink was sarcastic mocking, not mercy! Further still, it has been noted that myrrh may have been used with wine to strengthen the drink, but it has no effect on pain.

Prophecy #2: Psalm 22:18. 27:35

Psalm 22:18 “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”

Five items of apparel were worn by Jewish men of that day: “The head gear, the outer cloak-like garment, the girdle, and the sandals, would differ little in cost…. But beside these four articles of dress was the seamless woven inner garment.” (Edersheim, Alfred. Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1956, Vol. 2, p. 592). A quaternion, (four soldiers) were required to remain at the crucifixion until the victim died. Customarily, the garments of the crucified were part of their wages. It is John 19:23-24 which gives the details, especially how the vesture was “without seam, woven from the top throughout.” Then John added that they cast lots for it separately, “that the scripture might be fulfilled,” and quoted Psalm 22:18. Obviously, the soldiers themselves were oblivious to Scripture; nevertheless, they fulfilled the prophecy exactly!

Prophecy #3: Isaiah 53:12. Mt. 27:36-38

Isaiah 53:12 “He was numbered with the transgressors.”

In two ways this prophecy came into fulfillment, the first being the public inscription that, indeed, Jesus was a transgressor, from the viewpoint of the Jewish rulers. Of all their accusations leveled against Jesus, Pilate used the one true designation with which the Jews charged Him: “saying that he himself is Christ, a king” (Luke 23:2). So it was that the “accusation” (aitia, “indictment”) was set up over His head, making Him a malefactor, even as they had said to Pilate: “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee” (John 18:30). Secondly, the prophecy was fulfilled because He was crucified with a malefactor on either side; perhaps this was an additional way of emphasizing that Jesus was the greatest malefactor of the three. The other two were insurrectionists, but He was claiming to be the king, yes, and to be the Son of God as well (Matthew 26:63-64).

The Crucifixion Publicized by the Fourteen Utterances. 27:39-50.

It is expedient at this juncture to present the familiar “Seven Last Words from the Cross” from the lips of our Lord, and this is fitting; but there are seven other statements which run parallel, revealing truths often overlooked. These are the “Seven Last Words from the Crowd” at the crucifixion. These fourteen utterances will give a comprehensive view of the crucifixion, not only as recorded in Matthew 27:39-50, but as supplemented by the other Gospel accounts.

The Seven Last Words from the Cross

1. The Word of Pardon. Luke 23:34

Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Forgive” is from aphiemi and includes the ideas of remission, or sending away of sin. There is the forgiveness of the sinner who believes in Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13), and forgiveness of the believers’ daily sins as they are confessed to the Lord (1 John 1:9); but neither of these conditions is present here in Luke 23:34. The fact that “they know not what they do” certainly seems like sins of ignorance; but surely they knew they were condemning “innocent blood” since even Pilate recognized this.

The answer lies in Acts 3:17-19. Those involved in the crucifixion were not forgiven in the sense that they were seeking salvation. Peter made this clear when he spoke to the Jews: “I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers,” but was quick to add: “Repent¸ therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” What then, was Jesus asking His Father to forgive? Paul said that those who crucified Jesus “would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8) had they known the wisdom of God, so it may be that this particular sin is what Jesus asked to be forgiven. In similar fashion in Acts 7:60, Stephen prayed concerning those who were about to kill him: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” As mentioned, Acts 5:4 indicates that five thousand believed on Christ as a result of Peter’s message. We can only hope that many of those responsible for the crucifixion were in that company who repented, for subsequent chapters in Acts show that neither the Jewish nation nor the Romans recognized Christ as their Savior and King.

2. The Word of Promise. Luke 23:43

Luke 23:43 “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me I paradise.”

In John 14:1-3, before the crucifixion, Jesus had promised that He would go to His Father’s house and prepare a place for those who believe in Him. But this promise to the repentant thief was for that very day, not after His resurrection and ascension!

So, where was this place “paradise” to which Jesus promised to take him that very day? In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus taught that the place of departed spirits consisted of two parts at that time; Abraham’s bosom for the saved, and Hades for the lost, with a great gulf between the two, so that there was no possibility of passing from Abraham’s bosom to Hades or vice versa. Further, when Peter explained Psalm 16:10 in Acts 2:30-31, he said of David’s prophesying: “He, seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in Hell (hades), neither did his flesh see corruption.” When Christ was buried His soul went to Abraham’s bosom, and thus, the soul of the repentant thief was promised to be with Christ on that very same day. Christ called the place “paradise.” When Christ went to paradise, the event was described in Ephesians 4:8: “He that descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” Then He “ascended up on high, he led captivity captive,” so that part of Hades (Abraham’s bosom) was emptied, and the souls were taken up; therefore the Apostle could say that he was “caught up into paradise” which he called “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). For any believer who died after the ascension of Christ it is “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The thief on the cross had the privilege to go down to paradise with Jesus on the day they died, and to have his soul go up to paradise on the day Christ ascended to heaven!

For us who believe, “in the fulness of time,” the promise of Christ in John 14:1-3 will be completely fulfilled. Not only has He gone to prepare a place for us, but He will come again to receive us unto Himself, that where He is, so will we be also!

Read Part 153

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