February 22: Matthew 27, Numbers 1 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Matthew 27 depicts the longest day, beginning with Jesus being handed over to Pilate, the Roman governor; since the Jews did not have right to execute capital punishment. Judas hanged himself and the thirty pieces of silver given him in exchange for the betrayal of Jesus was used to buy the Potter’s field. Pilate tried to wiggle out of his role as a judge, his wife had warned him, so he came up with the idea to release one prisoner at Passover which was the custom. Pilate chose Jesus or Barabbas to be released and of the two the people chose Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Pilate acquiesced to the mob and so Jesus was flogged by the soldiers for a public spectacle and then he was led away, but after the flogging Jesus was too weak to carry his own cross, so they forced Simon from Cyrene to carry Jesus cross all the way to the place of the skull, and there Jesus was crucified together with two criminals. To identify Jesus they put an inscription on the top of the cross “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” A number of prophecies were fulfilled during the crucifixion, and Jesus finally died on the cross. At that very moment the Temple veil was torn in two, from bottom to top and for the first time the holy of holiest was revealed. Jesus, now being dead was taken down from the cross and put in a tomb, a stone was rolled in front of the entrance and the tomb was sealed, and – this is important, they put up a guard to secure the tomb. Why did they do that? Think about that.
Numbers 1 consists of a listing of the heads of the people that left Egypt, the first census.
Today there are three chapters to read.
March 15: Mark 15, Deuteronomy 9, Deuteronomy 10 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Mark 15. Early in the morning Jesus is brought before Pilate since only the Romans could execute capital punishment. Pilate, trying to get out of the situation offers to release Barabbas or Jesus and the crowd chooses Barabbas. Pilate gives in to the crowd, the Soldiers mock Jesus, and so the Crucifixion of Jesus the King begins. Dead it carefully. Jesus Dies, and at the same time the Temple vail was rent in two, from top to bottom, opening up for us full access to God himself. Finally Jesus’ burial is recorded.
Deuteronomy 9, Israel’s rebellion is reviewed, but in spite of being a stiffnecked people doing abominations to the LORD like the Golden Calf, God in His mercy still keeps His promises.
Deuteronomy 10, take Two Tablets, Fear the LORD and circumcise your hearts, that is the Essence of the Law. Remember, you too were aliens in Egypt.
Luke 23, Jesus before Herod and Pilate, the Crucifixion, the “Seven Last Words”, Jesus’ Death, Jesus’ Burial.
Mark 15, Jesus Before Pilate, Barabbas, the Soldiers mock Jesus, Crucifixion of the King, Jesus’ Death, Jesus’ Burial.
Duccio interpreted the scene, between 1308-11, with this tempera on wood (entitled Christ Before Pilate Again). It is maintained at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena, Italy.
This is how a tomb with a large stone looked.
Verse 63 was the verse that finally convinced me that Jesus is risen. The honesty in recording what the chief priests and Pharisees said suddenly convinced me that the resurrection is true. They too wanted to make sure Jesus was dead for good, and by sealing the grave they wanted to be absolutely sure Jesus would cause no more trouble for them. God works in wonderful ways.
The gospel of Luke adds to this account: Luke 22:49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Jesus had already eaten the Passover with the apostles. Most Jews had switched to the next day to eat the Passover since the evening sacrifice had been switched from just after sunset on the 14th of Nisan to after the ninth hour on the 14th of Nisan, or 21 hours later. (Remember, a Jewish day starts at sunset.)
Luke 23: 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. 8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.