Matthew 27: 27-53

The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun.  They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga.  They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head.  They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter.  Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence:  “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said.  “Bravo!”  Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick.  When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him.  Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross.  Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call “Skull Hill,” they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn’t drink it.

After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes.  Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him:  THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left.  People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament:  “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself!  If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him:  “He saved others—he can’t save himself!  King of Israel is he?  Then let him get down from that cross.  We’ll all become believers then!  He was so sure of God—well, let him rescue his ‘Son’ now—if he wants him!  He did claim to be God’s Son, didn’t he?”  Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery.

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark.  Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Some bystanders who heard him said, “He’s calling for Elijah.”  One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink.  The others joked, “Don’t be in such a hurry.  Let’s see if Elijah comes and saves him.”

But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.

At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom.  There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces.  What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised.

The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death.  They said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

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