15 When morning came, the chief priests met in council with all the Jewish leaders. They bound Jesus, led Him away, and turned Him over to the Roman governor, Pilate.
Pilate (after hearing them): 2 Are You the King of the Jews?
Jesus: You have said so.
3 The chief priests went on to accuse Jesus of many things, but Jesus simply stood quietly.
Pilate: 4 Do You have anything to say? How do You respond to all these charges that have been made against You?
5 But Jesus said nothing more, and Pilate was astonished.
6 Now it was his custom at that feast that Pilate should release one prisoner from custody, whomever the people most desired. 7 There was one rebel from those imprisoned for insurrection against the Roman occupation. He had committed murder during an uprising. His name was Barabbas. 8 A crowd had gathered in front of Pilate’s judgment seat to request that Pilate follow his usual custom.
9 Pilate turned to them.
Pilate: Why don’t I release to you the King of the Jews?
10 He knew that the chief priests had delivered Jesus because they were threatened by Him, not because Jesus was a criminal.
11 But priests moved among the crowd and persuaded them to call for Barabbas instead.
Pilate: 12 Then what do you want me to do with the King of the Jews?
Crowd: 13 Crucify Him, crucify Him!
14 But now he called to them.
Pilate: Why? What has He done to deserve such a sentence?
Crowd (crying all the louder): Crucify Him, crucify Him!
Barabbas is an active and a militant Jewish leader. In one sense, the choice that the crowd is offered—to have either Jesus or Barabbas released—can be seen as a choice between two types of revolutions. Do they want a revolution of power, a revolution that is easily visible, a revolution that will conquer their enemies in a way they can understand? Or do they want a revolution of healing, a revolution of love, a revolution that will bring the kingdom of God to earth in a mystical, transcendental way? It’s no wonder they make the choice they do. Who wants a gentle revolution in a time of war?
15 When Pilate saw that he could not persuade the crowd to change its mind, he released Barabbas to them and had Jesus publicly whipped, which was the normal prelude to crucifixion. Then he had Jesus led away to be crucified. 16 The soldiers took Him into the headquarters of the governor; and the rest of the soldiers in the detachment gathered there, hundreds of them. 17 They put a purple robe on Him and made a crown of thorns that they forced onto His head, 18 and they began to cry out in mock salute.
Soldiers: Hail to the King of the Jews!
19 For a long while they beat Him on the head with a reed, spat upon Him, and knelt down as if to honor Him. 20 When they had finished mocking Him, they stripped off His purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they took Him away to be executed.
21 Along the way, they met a man from Cyrene, Simon (the father of Rufus and Alexander), who was coming in from the fields; and they ordered him to carry the heavy crossbar of the cross. 22 And so they came at last to the execution site, a hill called Golgotha, which means the “Place of a Skull.”
23 The soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh to dull His pain, but He refused it. 24 And so they crucified Him, divided up His clothes, and cast lots (an ancient equivalent of rolling dice) to see who would keep the clothes they had stripped from Him.
25 His crucifixion began about nine o’clock in the morning. 26 Over His head hung a sign that indicated the charge for which He was being crucified. It read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 27 On either side of Him were two insurgents who also had received the death penalty. [28 And the Hebrew Scripture was completed that said, “He was considered just another criminal.”][a]
29 Those passing by on their way into or out of Jerusalem insulted and ridiculed Him.
Some in the Crowd: So You’re the One who was going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days? 30 Well, if You’re so powerful, then why don’t You rescue Yourself? Come on down from the cross!
Chief Priests and Scribes (mocking Jesus among themselves): 31 He rescued others, but He can’t rescue Himself. 32 Let the Anointed—the King of Israel—come down from the cross now, and we will see it and believe.
Even the insurgents who were being crucified next to Him taunted Him and reviled Him.
33 At noon, the day suddenly darkened for three hours across the entire land. 34 Sometime around three o’clock Jesus called out in a loud voice.
Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
Jesus was speaking, as in the psalms, “My God, My God, why have You turned Your back on Me?”[b]
35 Some of those standing nearby misunderstood Him.
Bystanders: Hey, He’s calling for Elijah.
36 One of them filled a sponge with wine that had turned to vinegar and lifted it to Jesus’ lips on a stick so He could drink.
Bystander: Let’s see if Elijah will come to take Him down.
37 Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and He took His last breath.
38 At that moment, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The tearing of the temple veil is a picture of what Jesus’ death has accomplished. The temple sanctuary is divided into two sections: the holy place and the most holy place. The most holy place is a chamber so sanctified that only the high priest can enter—and then only once a year. There God’s presence is manifest on earth.
A long curtain divides the two areas, and at the moment of Jesus’ death it is torn in two. The veil that serves as a means to protect everyone but the high priest from the power of God’s presence is no longer needed because Jesus, on account of His sacrificial death, gives everyone access to God. Only God Himself can rip the curtain in two “from top to bottom,” opening the way for people to come into His presence.
39 The Roman Centurion, the soldier in charge of the executions, stood in front of Jesus, [heard His words,][c] and saw the manner of His death.
Centurion: Surely this man was the Son of God!
40 Off in the distance, away from the crowds, stood some women who knew and had followed Jesus, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the younger James, Joses, and Salome. 41 These were women who used to care for Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who had followed Jesus to Jerusalem joined them.
42 Evening came. The crucifixion had taken place on preparation day, Friday, before the Jewish Sabbath began at sundown. 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the ruling council who was also a believer anxiously waiting for the kingdom of God, went to Pilate and boldly asked for the body of Jesus.
44 Pilate could not believe Jesus was already dead, so he sent for the Centurion, 45 who confirmed it. Then Pilate gave Joseph permission to take the body.
46 Joseph had the body wrapped in a linen burial cloth he had purchased and laid Him in a tomb that had been carved out of rock. Then he had a stone rolled over the opening to seal it. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching as the body was interred.