February 13

Matthew 27:1-31


In Matthew 27, Jesus is handed over to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Rome. He was the only one who could execute a death sentence. Jesus faces Pilate starting in verse 11. Pilate watched and listened as the chief priests accused Jesus. In verse 14, it says Pilate marveled greatly that Jesus would not speak up for Himself. After all, Pilate was the one who could have pardoned Him, and yet Jesus didn’t react to their accusations. Pilate didn’t care that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, but the charge the priests put on Jesus was that He was King of the Jews. Pilate may have some concern about a person trying to rise up as a leader to bring a revolt against Rome. However, in verse 18, it says that Pilate knew Jesus was brought in because of envy. 


Verse 15 says that it was customary to release a prisoner during the Passover feast. It is interesting to me that Barabbas’s name means “son of God” from bar, meaning son, and abba, meaning Father or God. Pilate was warned by his wife, having experienced a nightmare over Christ, calling Him just. Pilate allowed the crowd to choose between releasing Barabbas and Jesus. The religious leaders had influence over the Jews, and they used that influence to persuade the people. They crowd chose to release Barabbas. Pilate saw the crowd was rising into an angry mob. He didn’t want a riot, so he washed his hands, signifying he wanted nothing to do with Christ’s crucifixion. 


The Roman soldiers took Jesus and tortured Him. They mocked Him as a king, stripping Christ of His clothing and putting a scarlet robe on Him. They made a crown of thorns, shoving the thorns into his scalp and put a reed into His hand as a scepter. They bowed their knee before Him, mocking Him, shouting, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they took the reed and struck Him in the head with it, hitting the crown of thorns, driving it further into His head. They spat on Him. Then they led Him away to be crucified. These Roman soldiers were violent men – disgusting, hateful, hardened men that had no fear for God. 


We see that Judas regrets what he has done. Isn’t it just like the devil to use a person and then after being used, pull up a curtain so he or she realizes the devastation of their wrong choice? The devil reminds me of the Joker in the Batman movies. He is clever, deceiving people, then uncovers his trick, bringing destruction to the one he used. Satan is twisted. Judas takes the money back to the chief priests. They would not take back what they had done, so Judas throws the money down to the floor of the temple, then he hung himself. The priests picked up the 30 pieces of silver from the floor, but would not put it back into the treasury because it was the price of blood. Instead, they bought a piece of land that belonged to a potter. What is interesting is that Jeremiah prophesied hundreds of years prior that this purchase would be made (Jeremiah 32:6-9). Not only Jeremiah, but Zechariah prophesies this in Zechariah 11:12. God has a foresight that we do not have. How wise we are to follow His leading today!


Leviticus 16-17


Why is there so much bloodshed? Offering blood and killing animals seems gruesome, even cult-like. In chapter 17, Moses the purpose of offering the blood of animals. In verse 11, it explains that life is in the blood. The price for our sin is death, so for God to come near His people, life, or blood, has to be paid. Christ was a pure human sacrifice, so His life’s blood and death removed the penalty of sin.  The price of an animal could not remove the price, only cover it. 


In chapter 16, Moses shares God’s instruction for the Day of Atonement. The priests continually offered sacrifices in the Holy Place, but only once a year did the high priest enter into the Holy of Holies for sacrifice for an annual atonement for the entire congregation (Hebrews 9). 


During this event, there was also the ceremony of the scapegoat. In this ceremony, there are two goats brought before the Lord at the door to the tabernacle. Aaron would cast lots to decide which goat would be a sacrifice for the Lord and which would be the one to escape sacrifice. Aaron performs blood rituals, then sacrifices a goat for the sins of the people of Israel. Aaron then lays both his hands on the scapegoat to transfer the sins of the people onto the goat, then releases the goat into the wilderness. This signifies sending sin away from the people. 


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