Mocking the Messiah
Text: Matt. 27:27-44
1. Illustration: Nobody likes to have people make fun of them. Most of us know the old saying, "stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." Well, I think most of us know that isn't true. Nothing hurts worse than to have someone make derogatory comments about us. It hurts our feelings, self-esteem, and can leave us with scars that may never go away.
2. Much as been said, preached on, written about, and even made movies of Jesus' physical suffering in going to the cross. However, his emotional suffering is often overlooked.
3. In our text today, Jesus is abused emotionally by Four Groups of People...
a. The Soldiers
b. The Passersby
c. The Religious Leaders
d. The Revolutionaries
4. Let's stand together as we read Matt. 27:27-44
Proposition: Jesus suffered as much emotionally as he did physically.
Transition: The first group of people to abuse Jesus emotionally is...
I. The Soldiers (27-31).
A. Mockery and Taunted
1. After enduring the trial before the religious leaders, the trial before Pilate, and the scourging, Jesus is now left to the mercy of the governor's soldiers.
2. Matthew tells us, "Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment."
a. The Praetorium in this period was Herod the Great’s old palace, where the Roman governor stayed when he visited Jerusalem.
b. A cohort of six hundred men was normally stationed in Jerusalem (at the fortress Antonia on the Temple Mount), reinforced by troops who accompanied Pilate to the feast in case they were necessary for riot control (Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
c. There were no legitimate Roman soldiers in Palestine, only auxiliaries that were recruited from among the non-Jewish population.
d. The torture was not do as a result of Pilate's orders but was on their own initiative. In doing so there were expressing their own disrespect for the Jewish people (Horton, 623).
e. Notice that the verse says that brought him out in front of the entire regiment.
f. You can just imagine the kind of abuse that was thrown at him from over 600 soldiers who, by the way, hated the Jews!
3. The next thing they did to him was, "They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him."
a. Nakedness was especially embarrassing to a Jewish person in antiquity.
b. Red robes would be those most readily available, because soldiers wore them; this garment could resemble the purple robe of the pre-Roman Greek rulers of the East (Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
c. This along with the other items given Jesus was an attempt to ridicule Jesus who was accused of claiming to be a king.
4. Then "They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!”
a. The crown here was woven from weeds, which in this area included long, sharp thorns, very unlike the thorns on a rose that we think of today.
b. Again this is done to ridicule Jesus as "King of the Jews."
c. The scepter, made from a reed, also represented something common to nobility.
d. Now they soldiers fall on their knees mocking Jesus as king. From beginning to end they make a mockery of Jesus as king of the Jews.
e. The Romans detested people like Barabbas and the Zealots he associated with whose goal was to overthrow the Roman authorities.
f. So they use Jesus to vent some of their anger for the Jews (Horton, 623).
5. Adding insult to injury, "they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it."
a. Spitting on a person was one of the most grievous insults short of violence; Jewish people considered the spittle of non-Jews particularly unclean (Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
b. Now their abuse goes far beyond emotional abuse to becoming more physical.
c. They take the crown of thorns they had placed on Jesus head and begin beating him with a stick, and thus ramming the thorns deeper into Jesus skull.
d. The force of the Greek here indicates that they did it repeatedly.
e. Ironically this is a part of the curse associated with the sin of humankind (Horton, 625).
f. Genesis 3:18 (NLT)
It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.
6. Matthew then tells us, "When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified."
a. After they had finished mocking Jesus they take Jesus to be crucified.
b. However, by this time his body is a mess of bleeding welts and bruises.
c. After the scourging and the abuse with the crown of thorns, as well as the beating to his head, Jesus is physically and emotionally spent.
d. Yet he never uttered a word!
B. Attacking His Lordship
1. Illustration: Crowns have always been the sign of authority and Kingship. Charlemagne, whom historians say should deserve to be called "great" above all others, wore an octagonal crown. Each of the eight sides was a plaque of gold, and each plaque was studded with emeralds, sapphires, and pearls. The cost was the price of a king’s ransom.
a. Richard the Lionheart had a crown so heavy that two earls had to stand, one on either side, to hold his head. The crown that Queen Elizabeth wears is worth over $20 million.
b. Edward II once owned nine crowns, something of a record.
c. Put them all together, from all of Europe and from the archives of the East, all of them are but trinkets compared to Christ’s crown.
d. Revelation 19 says he had many diadems. He wears a crown of righteousness. He wears a crown of glory. He wears a crown of life. He wears a crown of peace and power.
e. Among those crowns, however, one outshines the rest.
f. It was not formed by the skilled fingers of a silversmith, nor created by the genius of a craftsman. It was put together hurriedly by the rough hands of Roman soldiers.
g. It was not placed upon its wearer’s head in pomp and ceremony, but in the hollow mockery of ridicule and blasphemy. It is a crown of thorns.
2. Jesus willingly accepted a crown of thorns.
a. Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
b. He was willing to be ridiculed in front an entire regiment of soldiers.
c. He was willing to accept the shame of being stripped of his clothes.
d. He was willing to be mocked and his Kingship denied.
e. He was willing to accept the thorns smashed into his head.
f. He was willing because of his great love for us!
3. He willing accepted the soldiers ridiculed so that we could have hope.
a. Hebrews 12:3-4 (NLT)
Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
b. He endured this abuse so that we could be forgiven.
c. He endured this abuse so that we could have the hope of eternal life.
d. He endured this abuse so that when we face difficulties and abuse in life we would know that He understands what we are going through.
e. The crown of thorns he wore should have been mine.
f. The crown of thorns he wore should have been yours.
g. But he willing accepted it for us!
Transition: The next group of mockers are...
II. The Passersby (39-40).
A. People Passing By
1. This group are not soldiers, leaders, or people of high importance. No, there are the common everyday people.
a. Ironically, these are the kind of people that Jesus had ministered to, healed, and reached out to all of his ministry.
b. Many of these people at the beginning of the week were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David."
c. But now they are mocking him.
2. Matthew tells us, "The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery."
a. "People passing by" is a correct interpretation of the Greek word used here.
b. Remember that it took place near a very busy road outside of the city.
c. However, what Matthew is probably indicating here is that these were sensation seeking individuals that had come out of the city.
d. Shaking their heads was an expression of insult and mockery that goes all the way back to OT times.
e. Again we see fulfillment of prophecy, this time from Psalm 22:7.
f. Psalm 22:7-8 (NLT)
Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, 8 “Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!”
3. As Jesus was hanging there beaten, bruised, bleeding, and struggling just to breathe they said things like, “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
a. Obviously the accusation from Jesus trial before the religious leaders has become known among the people, perhaps deliberately.
b. This is a direct temptation of Jesus by the devil.
c. Even in this last hour the enemy is still trying to cause Jesus to disobey the Father and derail his mission.
d. And he did it by using the same people to whom Jesus spent most of his time.
B. Don't Be a Bystander
1. Illustration: At the end of WWII, as the Allied forces moved into Germany they discovered the unspeakable atrocities of the death camps. As they saw the incredibly inhumane treatment, stench of decaying bodies, and the other unspeakable horrors, they marched the people of the nearby town into the camps. First, they made them look at the unspeakable horrors, and then they forced them to begin moving and burring the bodies of the dead Jews. Not because they were the ones doing these unspeakable horrors, but because they knew it was going on and did nothing.
2. After all that Jesus has done for us how can we be bystanders.
a. Revelation 2:4 (ESV)
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
b. How can we stand by and do nothing as morality becomes optional?
c. How can we stand by and do nothing as our nation turns its back against God?
d. How can we stand by and do nothing as our family, friends, and neighbors move closer and closer to an eternity in hell?
3. After all that Jesus has done for us how can we join in with the crowd.
a. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT)
Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”
b. When we allow ourselves to be tempted by those around we become like the bystanders.
c. When we are the influenced instead of the influencers we become like the bystanders.
d. When we do not stand for the faith because of fear of what others might think we become like the bystanders.
e. Don't be a bystander!
Transition: The third group is...
III. The Religious Leaders (41-43).
A. Lead Priests and Teachers of the Law
1. This group is one that we are all too familiar with: the religious leaders.
a. Now that they have gotten their way, they couldn't resist the temptation to gloat.
b. They thought they had finally won, and wanted to make sure that they padded their own egos.
2. Matthew sets this up by saying, "The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus."
a. This group is the religious leaders who were jealous of Jesus and would stop at nothing to get rid of him.
b. Here they are gloating at their supposed victory.
c. They felt it was beneath them to address Jesus directly so they used the third person.
d. However, we should note that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were not among those who were summoned to the illegal trial, and neither are they among those who mock Jesus as he hangs on the cross (Horton, 631).
3. First, they taunt him by saying, “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!"
a. "He saved others," must not be seen as recognition of Jesus' ministry.
b. The religious leaders never could deny the miracles that Jesus performed; however, they accredited them to the work of Satan.
c. Even if Jesus had come down from the cross at this point they still wouldn't have believed in him.
d. Rebels are never convinced by miracles. That takes the power of the Holy Spirit to break through their stubborn hearts (Horton, 631).
4. Then they say something that must have hurt Jesus more than anything. They said, "He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
a. The ridicule his trust in God. If he truly had a special relationship with God, God certainly would have saved him.
b. They insinuate that if he truly was the Messiah that God would not be allowing this to happen to him.
c. However, what they fail to recognize is that because of what he was doing that made him the Messiah. If it hadn't of been for the cross Jesus could not have saved us.
B. Religious People
1. Illustration: Do you know the meaning of the word "sophomore?" The word sophomore comes from two Greek words "sophos" and "moros." "Sophos" means to be wise."Moros" is the word from which we get the world "moron." "Moros" means stupid, blockhead, or fool. So the word "sophomore" means wise fool. And unfortunately there are a lot of well-meaning religious people that go to church every week for years and years, but are nothing but wise fools because they don’t know God.
2. It's not enough to religious if there is not a change in your heart.
a. Matthew 7:22-23 (NLT)
On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
b. Religious people can say all the right things.
c. Religious people can wear all the right clothes.
d. Religious people see themselves as holier than thou.
e. But if their hearts have not been changed, and their actions don't reflect a personal relationship with Jesus they are only fooling themselves.
3. Religious people need a transformation.
a. Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
b. Religious people can be some of the meanest people on earth.
c. They judge people without knowing all the facts.
d. They condemn people who aren't just like them.
e. They use a cookie cutter approach to what a Christian should be.
f. But the one that needs to meet Jesus is the self-righteous, self-centered, self-important religious person.
Transformation: The final group of people are...
IV. The Revolutionaries (38, 44).
A. Two Revolutionaries
1. This group may be the most baffling of all.
a. If anyone in this narrative had no right to mock Jesus it was these two.
b. If anyone had nothing to gain and everything to lose by mocking Jesus it was these two.
2. Matthew simply identifies them as "Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left."
a. Revolutionaries: "one who robs by force and violence" (Louw and Nidda, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains).
b. While Jesus was falsely accused and condemned, these two deserved what they were getting.
c. Although it may seem like mere chance that Jesus was crucified with these two, it in no coincidence that it is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12.
d. Isaiah 53:12 (NLT)
...He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
3. Matthew tells us, "Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way."
a. The two between whom Jesus is crucified join in the mockery by heaping insults on Jesus.
b. It seems inappropriate that the two others being crucified would insult Jesus, but Luke fills in some details.
c. One of them ridicules Jesus for his ineffectual claim to be the Messiah: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39).
d. But Luke goes on to recount that the other bandit halts the ridicule and acknowledges the innocence of Jesus.
e. He exhibits a form of repentance that Jesus declares will cause the bandit to be joined with him in paradise (heaven) that very day.
B. Forgetting Where You Come From
1. Illustration: A forgetful husband thought he had conquered the problem of trying to remember his wife’s birthday and their anniversary. He opened an account with a florist, provided him with dates and instructions to send flowers along with an appropriate note signed, "Your loving husband." His wife was thrilled by this new display of attention. All went well until one day, many bouquets later, when he came home, kissed his wife, and said offhandedly, "Nice flowers, honey. Where’d you get them?"
2. We cannot forget from where we came.
a. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
b. We sometimes forget that sinners we once were.
c. We forget that once we were lost and far from God.
d. We forget that we are saved only by the grace of God.
e. We forget to give others that same chance for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives that we once desired.
3. We must remember to extend mercy to others.
a. Micah 6:8 (NLT)
No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
b. It's more than just doing what is right; it's doing what is right and loving mercy.
c. How can we not show mercy to others when we ourselves are in need of God's mercy?
d. It's more than just doing what is right; it's walking humbly with your God.
e. How can we say we are walking humbly before God when we look down our religious noses at others.
f. The last time I checked we were all sinners saved by grace!
1. In our text today, Jesus is abused emotionally by Four Groups of People...
a. The soldiers
b. The passersby
c. The religious leaders
d. The revolutionaries
2. So which group are you?