“Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS” Matthew 27:37

This was the charge.  They had pointedly asked Him “Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

He couldn’t deny it.

They immediately surrounded Him and spit on Him.  They punched Him with their fists and slapped Him. They mocked Him saying “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

It had begun.

Meanwhile, Peter had fallen fast and hard.  After he denied ever knowing Jesus for the third time, a rooster crowed, just like Christ predicted.  Jesus was close enough to look into Peter’s eyes, “And he (Peter) went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75

Judas, too, was seized with remorse, and went back to the chief priests and the elders who had paid him money to betray his Friend saying, “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.” Matthew 27:4

But they didn’t care, and they didn’t forgive his sin.

The crowd was asking for Barabbas, a notorious insurrectionist and murderer — charges worthy of crucifixion — to be released and for Jesus to take his place.

Why would they want a known murderer back out on the streets, and a man who just a week prior they had celebrated calling Him “Son of David!”?

The murderer hadn’t personally betrayed them, but Jesus had.

Jesus had come into Jerusalem — their beloved city, the city of God — riding on a donkey, a sign of peace.  They thought He was their messiah, their savior, their king…and now He was arrested and at the mercy of the leaders.

He didn’t look at all like a savior or a king.  He had lied to them, and they were angry.

They shouted “Crucify Him!”

But when Pilate pressed them, they answered “His blood is on us and on our children!” Matthew 27:25

Cat-O’-Nine-Tails

And so it would be.  But in His mercy, that was God’s plan all along.

By now Jesus’s face and head would be swollen and dripping with blood, teeth knocked to the ground.

They ordered Him to be scourged.

Prior to crucifixion, Romans routinely used a cat-o’-nine-tails — a whip fixed with small pieces of metal or bone at the end.  He would be whipped up to forty times.  

His flesh was torn from the bone, exposing organs, tendons, nerves.  Blood flowed profusely.  His body began to shake with shock, and then it started to shut down.

Then soldiers dragged Him back inside the court room.  They took off His clothes and put a scarlet robe on Him and gave Him a staff.  Someone ripped a branch off a thorny bush and twisted it into a crown and shoved it on his head, spikes stabbing His flesh.  They spit on Him again, grabbed the staff and hit Him in the head over and over.  They took the robe and put His clothes back on.The pain was excruciating, but there was still the road to Golgotha.

A crossbeam weighing a hundred pounds was heaved onto his mangled, screaming back.  He struggled and stumbled under the weight of it, and Simon from Cyrene was pulled from the crowd to carry His cross.

Some prisoners were only tied to their crosses.  Nailing was left for those who were seen as especially heinous.

His clothes were taken and He was laid on the ground while large nails were driven through flesh and bone, sending burning pain up through His arms and legs.  He was heaved up onto the main beam, and a sign naming His charge was nailed to the top:

THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Through all of it every word He spoke was full of grace and mercy and compassion and forgiveness.  

Even through the magnitude of His torture, none of it matched the pain of the sin — from the garden where sin began to the end of time – that was heaped upon Him.  Every vile murder, every sickening rape, every twisted abuse, every act of adultery… Peter’s and Judas’s betrayal.  Yours and mine. Every sin was laid on Him.

And He bore it all with love.

Once our sin was paid for, it was up to us to choose whether or not to accept that payment.

Judas chose to confess his sin to the wrong men.  No one has authority to forgive sin but God though the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Confession to anyone else is futile. In his overwhelming guilt, he hung himself. 

Peter would face Christ and his sin would be forgiven, his guilt and shame forever taken away.

Jesus once asked His friends, “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15

He asks every one of us that same question.  People who lived near Jesus believed all kinds of things about Him, but only one thing was true: He really was the King of the Jews, and of anyone who would call on His Name.  But His kingdom wasn’t an earthly one.  They wanted to make Him king, but He wasn’t just king, savior, messiah, He was King, Savior, Messiah! His kingdom was a spiritual one.  He was King of all kings, with all power and authority, for all time and eternity.  He was and is more than they could have ever imagined.

My friend, if you don’t already know it, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and that includes you. He died for your sins so you don’t have to.  So you can be free of the weight and the guilt and shame.  So you can live in peace and know you have a home waiting in heaven.

God loves you. It’s why He sent His Son to the cross.  Confess your sin to Him today, and He promises to forgive you, for “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Perhaps you’re angry at God.  Maybe you’ve accused Him of some wrongdoing, like the crowd had.  Their expectations drove them into sin, but they would have a chance to confess and be forgiven, too.  Soon they would see that everything Jesus claimed to be was true, because the story was just beginning…