The Trial and Execution of Jesus
Palm Sunday Year A
Matthew 27: 11 — 56
At this solemn time in the Christian Calendar the full account of the Passion of Jesus is read each day from one of the Gospels. The word "Passion" is the traditional term used for the sufferings of Jesus, leading to his crucifixion.
The word comes to us from the Latin "patior", I suffer. The same Latin root gives us "patiens", meaning, "bearing", or "enduring", and obviously, "patient." The term is therefore very applicable to describe the monumental suffering of Jesus when we read how it all unfolded in the Gospels.
Instead of us trying to cover the whole account of the Passion, we have selected for meditation a portion of 45 verses in Matthew 27. Again, instead of our usual narrative, we will focus on one meditation point in each section of the reading. At the end there is supplementary reading from an old but vibrant commentary on this wonderful account. This would be immensely valuable spiritual reading during the time up to Easter Day.
Notes On the Text
Verses 11 — 14 Jesus Faces Pilate
If we read any Gospel account of the Passion, two things are immediately obvious:
In this short section Jesus declines to answer any of the charges made against him. They are all false, and he refuses to give them a status they do not deserve.
Verses 15 — 26 Taking the Place of Barabbas
Even the Emperors at Rome came out in a cold sweat at the mention of Pilate's name; such was his reputation for cruel brutality and ruthless extermination of troublemakers.
Even he can see no purpose whatsoever in executing this poor bewildered, gentle man! When the rabble-rousers start chanting for the crucifixion of Jesus, Pilate, in a rare moment of social justice, tries to moderate the extreme views of the religious authorities.
Sadly Jesus' opponents detect they have Pilate on the back foot. There will be no let-up from now on!
Verses 27 — 31 The Soldiers Mock Jesus
The King of Kings is crowned with a hastily made crown of poisonous spines. As if that isn't enough they beat it down on his head with a light rod, to get all the spines digging into Jesus' head.
The soldiers enjoy the spectacle. The blood everywhere goads them on. They taunt our Lord and push him around. Jesus remains entirely silent.
Verses 32 — 44 The King On A Cross
The authorities get their way and make the most of it. When the cross is raised and bedded firmly in the ground, the most senior religious authorities try to make a deal with the Lord.
In other words, provide us with evidence so overwhelming that we will simply be unable not to believe. We had better not get too indignant. After all this is still the most common challenge put to God, if he wants to have plenty of followers. We had better recognise that in our times many people crave for just this sort of evidence if they are to "believe". The associates of some so-called evangelists and the promoters of some places of pilgrimage (or should we say the travel agents and tour organisers who are doing very well out of piety) consistently proclaim that they can lead you to miracles which speak for themselves!
All this is actually the antithesis of faith. At Calvary, Jesus would have none of it.
Verses 45 — 56 Jesus Dies On the Cross
"Truly, this was the Son of God".
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