In vs. 1-12, we learn that Pilate had Jesus scourged. Scourging was a vicious, brutal punishment and oftentimes it was the case that people would die while being scourged. After the scourging, the Roman soldiers made a crown of thorns. It was their way of making sport out of one of the Jews and in this case, they mocked Jesus saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Obviously, Pilate hoped that seeing a fellow Jew treated so cruelly would cause the Jews to pity Jesus and ask for His release. Pilate had feared a riot at the time and did not want trouble with the Jewish leaders. But still, the chief priests and office had no compassion for Jesus in which they cried: “ Crucify! Crucify! ” It did not matter that Pilate did not find any guilt in Jesus. To the Jews, they found plenty of guilt because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, which they understood as blasphemy. In fact, the Law of Moses ordained: “The one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death” (Lev. 24:16).
So Pilate, being already fearful from what his wife said in “having nothing to do with Jesus (Matt. 27:19) and fearing the Jews, went back to talk to Jesus. Pilate was angered and said, “Do you not know that I have authority to release or to crucify You?” Of course, Jesus replied that Pilate would have absolutely no power or authority over Him unless given from above. And, even though Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he felt trapped by the Jews. And so, Pilate washes his hands in a basin of water and symbolically states that he is innocent of Jesus’ blood (27:24).
Well, in vs. 13-16, the Jews obtain the desired sentence of death by crucifixion as Pilate sat down on the judgment seat at Gabbatha. Now, this was during the day of preparation for the Passover, which would be Friday. The preparation here is to be the fixed name for the day before the Sabbath, hence Friday. And then, when we look at the addition of the word ‘Passover,’ makes this a reference to be the Friday during Passover. So, Pilate’s sentencing of Jesus fell on the Friday of the great feast of liberation itself. And, this was during the “sixth hour” (i.e., 6am if Roman time and noon if Jewish time) that they began to head towards Golgotha for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Now, in vs. 18-22, we learn that Jesus was crucified with two other men who were criminals. While on the cross, one of them begged Jesus to save them from death if He was indeed the Christ (Lk. 23:29). But, the other one rebuked his fellow criminal and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom (Lk. 23:40-42). This is a remarkable statement by one who is about to die on a cross which Led Jesus to say to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43). This statement shows that while Jesus was on the earth, He forgave the sins of repentant people. But now, His plan for saving people includes: believing that He is the Christ, repenting of past sins, confessing Jesus as the Son of God, and being immersed in water. Obedience to Jesus’ commands brings salvation today, which is still salvation by grace for we do nothing to merit it.
Now, during the crucifixion, Pilate had put an inscription on Jesus’ cross (vs. 19-20). It was a common practice in crucifixions to have the charge written for all to see. And so, the writing was in essence, “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews” and was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek so that all who passed by it could read it. Also during this time, the soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothing, which was a precious commodity, especially being seamless.
Now, in vs. 25-27 after Jesus committing His mother to John’s care, and after a few other comments to various people, He said, “It is finished,” meaning, the great plan of God for the redemption of humankind had been accomplished. Jesus’ activity among men upon the earth was finished and now, all that remained was the resurrection, the charge to be given to the apostles, and the ascension back to the Father in heaven.
Now, because this was the day of preparation, they did not want the crucified men to remain on the cross overnight. So, they requested that they legs be broken which would hurry death. But, when the soldiers came to break the legs of Jesus they discovered that He was already dead. But, to make sure, a soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’ side and blood and water came out indicating that indeed He was dead. And, in vs. 35, the writer wanted his readers to know that he had been an eyewitness of what had happened. But, in a sense, we were all there because Jesus died for all humankind and we all have an opportunity for the forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life. But, we must first come to the foot of the cross and see Jesus, our Paschal lamb.
Then, as this chapter closes (vs. 38-42), we find a wealthy Jew, Joseph of Arimathea, requesting permission to bury Jesus in his own new tomb, which was near Golgotha. He is assisted by a member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus during the first year of His ministry (Jn. 3). They, prepared the body for the burial custom of the Jews and placed him in the tomb, at which time, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate to request that a guard be placed at the tomb and that it be sealed to prevent anyone from stealing the body.