Going to Golgotha
Jesus Crucified (15:23-28)
Jesus Mocked (15:29-36)
Jesus Dies (15:37-41)
Jesus Buried (15:42-47)
Cross, insults, mocked, King of
the Jews, King of Israel,
forsaken, Son of God, women
1. Forsaken by God (Ps 22:1; Isa
53:4, 6); rejected and ridiculed (Ps 22:7-8,17; Isa 53:3); torture and
persecution (Ps 22:12-13; Isa 53:7-8); physical agony (Ps 22:14-15); pierced
(Ps 22:16; Isa 53:5); dividing His garments (Ps 22:18); buried (Isa 53:9);
(Note that Jesus’ resurrection, glory, and salvation are also prophesied in Ps
22:19-31 and Isa 53:10-12)
2. Jesus was tempted throughout
His ministry, even while He was on the cross. The devil attacked Him with
physical torture (flogging, crucifixion) and mental anguish (forsaken,
ridiculed). That is how we are assured that He knows our weakness (Heb 4:15).
When we rely on the Lord Jesus, we can overcome our suffering, like He did.
1a. Because Simon was “compelled” (21) to carry the cross, he was not a
willing participant. He was just passing by, and did not expect to get
involved. He probably did not consider it an honor to carry the cross, a symbol
of shame (cf. Lesson 14, Did You Know 4). Perhaps he was just a curious
bystander. Being from far away (cf. Did You Know 1), he might never have heard
of Jesus. Or, perhaps he was a disciple of Christ who (like Peter) wanted to
remain anonymous, but somehow caught the attention of the Roman soldiers.
1b. From the beginning, Jesus set His own
wishes aside. Everything He did was for the good of others. He obeyed God’s
will for Him to suffer and die on the cross, even though His human instincts
told Him not to drink the bitter cup. Sometimes, work is placed upon our
shoulders, even though we are unwilling. We want to hide because we feel like
we did not ask for the responsibility. In those times especially, we must learn
from Jesus, who prayed to the Father for the wisdom and strength to finish His
work. When we put our faith in the almighty God, He will make our burdens light
2. In both cases, there was a
commotion. Many people followed Jesus. However, whereas they shouted “Hosanna!”
when He entered Jerusalem, they now cursed him
on the way to Golgotha. Before, they wanted to
crown Him king. Now, they mocked Him as “The King of the Jews.” They were
easily influenced by the chief priests and the scribes. They forgot about
Jesus’ words and miracles. All they wanted was to watch Him die a painful and
shameful death on the cross.
3a. Either Jesus would not rely on human means to reduce His pain, or
His pain was too great for medicine to have any effect. Also, Jesus did not
want to dull his senses because He still had work to do. Even as He was hanging
on the cross, He continued to show His love (to His tormentors and His mother)
and to save souls (the robber who repented).
4. It was a declaration of Jesus’
“guilt” as well as a mockery to His claim. However, our Lord Jesus has proved
that he is not only the King of the Jews, but the King of kings who triumphs
over evil (cf. 1Tim 6:15-16; Rev 17:14; 19:15-16). The written notice “The King
of the Jews” and the cross were meant to demean Jesus,
but they have become a symbol of hope and power for Christians. When we are
saved, we boast in nothing except for the cross of Jesus Christ (Gal 6:14).
5. If we turn away from the Lord
Jesus after we’ve tasted His grace, it is as if we are crucifying and
disgracing Him all over again. We’d be no better than the Jews who, after
having received healing and mercy from Jesus, repaid Him by nailing Him on the
6a. Distorted and laughed at
Jesus’ words about rebuilding the temple in three days (29); dared Him to come
down from the cross (30,32); mocked Him that He could not save Himself (31);
mocked His title of Christ and king (32); jokingly waited for Elijah to come
save Jesus (36)
6b. In this passage, twice the people
misunderstood or misheard Jesus, and laughed at Him. First, they blindly
repeated the false claims on what Jesus had said regarding the temple (cf.
Lesson 23, Question 7). Second, when Jesus cried out to God (“Eloi”), they thought He was calling for Elijah. They
thought Jesus was just a failed prophet less than Elijah (Mk 8:28). They
repeatedly challenged Him to come down from the cross, not knowing that they
were speaking against the will of God. Their hearts were so hardened that even
the three-hour darkness before Jesus’ death did not faze them (33, 35-36). They
simply refused to repent.
7. No, the chief priests and the
scribes would not have believed. They said they would believe only because
Jesus seemed doomed on the cross. A further proof of their unbelief is their
cover-up after Jesus’ resurrection (Mt 28:11-15). Like Jesus said in the
parable of the rich man and Lazarus, because they rejected the word of God, they
would not be persuaded even if one rose from the dead (Lk
8. Jesus didn’t come down from the
cross for the same reason He did not ask the Father to send twelve legions of
angels to protect Him (cf. Mt 26:53-54). After Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He resolved to fulfill the Scriptures (Mk
14:49). His earthly ministry was finished; nothing would be accomplished by
staying longer. If Jesus didn’t suffer and die, how could He have resurrected
to prove that He has triumphed over sin and death? If he had chosen to save
Himself, today we would have no hope of salvation.
9. The people rejected the idea
that they would be saved through the cross, a symbol of shame. They refused to
believe, even though Jesus had clearly revealed the truth to them. They trusted
in their own wisdom and rejected Jesus as foolish. “But God has chosen the
foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1Cor 1:27). Because our
wisdom is nothing when compared to God’s infinite wisdom, we must humbly
believe in His words.
10. When one of the robbers repented, Jesus forgave Him (Lk 23:40-43). He also forgave the people who had rejected
Him (Lk 23:34). “While we were still sinners, Christ
died for us” (Rom 5:6-8). Through His example, Christ teaches us to forgive
regardless of whether or not it was asked. This was Paul’s plea to Philemon to
forgive Onesimus (Phm
11. The robber who later repented probably had first based his opinion
of Jesus on what other people said. But when he saw for himself who Jesus is,
he knew that the others were wrong. Jesus’ words of forgiveness and love (Lk 23:34, 40-43; Jn 19:25-27)
convinced Him to believe. Today, a person might have misconceptions about our
faith. Our words and actions must show the love of Christ, so that they too
will repent and believe in Jesus.
12a. During Jesus’ last three
hours, darkness came over the whole land (33). When He died, the temple curtain
was torn from top to bottom (38). There were others recorded in Mt 27:51-52.
signs showed the spiritual power and significance of Jesus’ death on the cross.
The darkness was a sign of mourning for Jesus’ agony (Am 8:9). The torn curtain
symbolized how Jesus broke His body so that we can enter the Most Holy Place, to be able to directly
receive God’s forgiveness.
13. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to His
“Abba, Father.” However, in the moment of His greatest agony, Jesus was severed
from His Father. He suffered the wages of sin—eternal death, forsaken by God
(Rom 6:23). On the cross, Jesus no longer felt His Father’s presence. When He
carried the sins of all mankind, He was abandoned. When He cried out, He felt
as though God did not answer (Ps 22:2). The darkness over the land symbolized
how His spirit suffered.
the people who were set to crucify Jesus, the centurion was sensitive to what
he saw and heard. With only a few hours of firsthand experience of Jesus, he
became convinced that Jesus was the Son of God. He saw how Jesus forgave those
who persecuted Him. He must have realized that the darkness across the land
meant something. He heard Jesus’ bitter cry to God. Jesus’ power and love
compelled him to exclaim the truth he now believed.
centurion’s understanding of Jesus was incomplete. He thought that it was the
end, and did not realize that Jesus would soon rise again. Jesus is alive
today. He is the Son of God!
In terms of faith, the centurion
was ahead of the Jews (including the chief priests and scribes); he saw what
Jesus did and believed. However, if that was the extent of his understanding,
he might have lamented not knowing Jesus sooner and passed up a chance to know
Christ better. When we experience the power of the Lord Jesus, we must continue
to grow in spiritual wisdom. The more we know, the more we are sure of what we
believe. The more we believe, the more God will teach us.
15. Jesus’ death is the most powerful example of love (1Jn 3:16). He
died to wash away our sins, so that we can come to God with a clear conscience
(Heb 10:22). If we are truly convinced that Christ died for us, we would no
longer live for ourselves (2Cor 5:14-15). We must follow Christ’s example and
love our brothers (1Jn 3:17-19). If we deliberately continue to sin after
having received the knowledge of the truth, then we will be judged (Heb
17. Jesus served with all His might. He put all His energy into His
ministry—teaching, healing, forgiving sins, etc. On the cross, He was finally
drained of His last strength. The physical torture was too much. The spiritual
severance from God stripped Him of all hope. No one could have survived long
under those circumstances.
Jesus’ short time on the cross
might also indicate God’s mercy when we suffer. The heavenly Father does not
allow anyone to suffer more than necessary (1Cor 10:13). When we’ve “fought the
good fight” (2Tim 4:7) for the Lord, we need not fear death. It is a blessing
to die in the Lord because we no longer have to suffer in a world of sin (cf. Lk 16:20-22; 1Kgs 14:12-13). There will be a “crown of
righteousness” (2Tim 4:8) waiting for us in heaven, where “there shall be no
more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Rev 21:4).
18. He “boldly” (43 NIV) asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. He offered a new
tomb, some linen cloth (46), and a large quantity of spices (Jn 19:39). He and Nicodemus personally embalmed Jesus’ body
(Jn 19:39-40). Both of them had been disciples of Christ in secret (Nicodemus came to Jesus at
night [Jn 3:1-2]), but now both were not afraid to
proclaim their faith. Sometimes it is a “risk” to put our faith into action.
People will know that we are Christians. Sometimes it’s for the better.
Sometimes it’s for the worse. We might risk embarrassment before the
unbelievers. We might have to sacrifice our time, effort, money, etc. But James
reminds us, “faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:26).