Summary: A look at the implications of the actions of some of those who participated in the crucifixion drama.
THE CRISIS OF THE CROSS
Matthew Chapter Twenty-Seven
The life and ministry of Jesus Christ might be summed up with one simple statement, "He set His face toward Calvary." He was truly born to die. Not as men die, but to die a complete and vicarious death; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and eternally, that man need not do so. " But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9) This death was not just an afterthought or the forced reaction of a Sovereign to His rebellious creation that was running out of control. This was God’s planned consummation of His eternal purpose for His eternal people. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" (Acts 2:23)
As we come to the end of the first gospel we come to the beginning of the absolute procurement and assurance of life eternal for all those who will truly accept His eternal sacrifice. When He cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me," He was at that moment of time tasting eternal death for all those who will truly believe and receive His gift of everlasting salvation. At the very end of that day, the sun hid its face from the awful suffering and sacrifice being played out upon that cross. He then cried out, "It is finished!" The transaction of our redemption and salvation was eternally completed. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:" (I Pet. 3:18)
This central and final scene in the drama of redemption is truly the crisis point in God’s eternal purpose. It is the hub of the history of His universe. From the cross flows the very essence of eternal existence - immortality. It sounds the central cord of God’s divine symphony of love for mankind.
Let us look at the central characters participating in this final scene of the drama of redemption on that all important day. For not only was this a crisis for God the Father and His Son as they unflinchingly and courageously confronted the awfulness of offering a vicarious sacrifice for our sins, but it proved to be a personal crisis for many of those who were participant there on that hill far away.
The drama begins in verses eleven through twenty-four with A GOVERNOR WHO CHOOSES TO COMPROMISE. At this point in his career as a Roman provincial governor, Pilate had already callously condemned hundreds to a horrible, torturous and agonizing death. The Romans had raised, (or lowered), the act of execution to an art form. They were noted for devising cruel and unusual punishments and for speedily dispatching offenders in the most inhuman manner. This cruel Roman despot had signed many death warrants.
Here was a ruler who truly knew the truth of the old saying, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." He easily held the absolute power of life and death in his experienced and cruel hands. But in this scene he seems troubled, vague and somehow just a bit unsure of himself. It is indicated that he is convinced of the innocence of the prisoner, Jesus. What was his problem then?
It seems obvious Pilate had people problems on that fateful day. Perhaps this could explain why he ultimately caved in to the cry of the crowd and gave way to the madness of the mob. When all was said and done it seems he was just your ordinary, run of the mill, populist, politician. We should be able to understand that. After all, we who live in what is termed a democracy, which in once sense implies mob rule, since people rather than leaders rule, know about giving the populace what they seem to want.
It is a central part of every political campaign. Promises are made to be broken. In our country it focuses upon the economy and who gets what and how much in a proposed budget. What special interest groups gets the largest portion of the public purse. You would think that the populist politicians somehow have a money tree or the capacity to manufacture or print money. That somehow the people can really be given something. You might be led to believe that a free lunch is really possible.
Students of the history of Western Civilization realize that the amplification and multiplication of this populist politician philosophy, as ultimately expressed by the "free food and circuses" provided to the Roman population by the Ceasars and Senators, led to the ultimate decline and fall of the Roman Empire.