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Mocking the Crucified God

Crucified God

The crucifixion of Christ has so many dimensions, but we don’t always reflect on the humiliation of Jesus’ cross and the insults that were hurled at him while he hanged there enduring excruciating pain and suffering. Matthew 27:31–44 offers us a snapshot of the pocking that Christ Jesus endures, beginning with the Romans.


The Romans

Mocking the crucified God, the Romans began stripping Jesus of his clothing and clothed him with a purple robe and a crown of thorns, symbols of royalty with a twist of mockery and humiliation. They beat him and spat on him, and when they had exhausted their mockery, they put his clothes back on before he was led out to carry his cross, only to be taken away from him again before being crucified.


Making his way to Golgotha, a place of execution with a terrifying Aramaic name, “The Place of the Skull.” Jesus, having just been scourged by the Romans had lost much blood and was now very weak. Halfway to the Place of the Skull, carrying the cross that weighed 14 to 18 kilograms, he crumbled to the dust in utter exhaustion. Jesus’s internal organs had suffered injury and his broken body burned from the lacerations. Unable to carry his cross any further, the soldiers grabbed the nearest spectator, Simon of Cyrene to continue carrying Jesus’s cross. Simon was from the Jewish community in North Africa and had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. There are clues in the New Testament that suggest that Simon and his son may have become Christians.


After Jesus was crucified and lifted up, the Romans continued to mock him giving him cheap wine mixed with bitter herbs which may have even been poisonous. And then they cast lots among themselves for Jesus’s clothing.



On either side of him were two rebels. We don’t know anything more about them, other than being thieves or insurrectionists. Later we hear that at least one of them mocked Jesus, heaping insults upon him. Most reasonable human beings would find it difficult to mock and insult anyone who is severely disfigured and undergoing intense suffering, and yet the passes-by who were coming into Jerusalem for the Passover also hurled their insults at Jesus adding to the depths of his humiliation. However, once you hear the words of their insults, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” The curtain is drawn back, and you quickly realize who it is that is behind the insults:


Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down [and the angels will rescue you] ….” (Matthew 4:1–2; 5–6a).


The Religious Leaders

The Romans mocked Jesus, as did one of the rebels. The devil instigated the passes-by in mocking the crucified God, who was joined in by the high ranks of Israel’s religious institution, “the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders.” They muttered to themselves, “‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.’” (v. 42). Yet, Jesus performed a multitude of miracles while he walked among them, so would they have really believed him even if he rescued himself? Indeed, he did something even greater, he rose from the dead after three days, and still, they would not believe it!


Further, the religious elite sniggered, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” But the truth is, they missed the point because while Jesus certainly did trust in God his Father, he is in fact himself God, which is precisely why Jesus’s focus was not about saving himself but about saving you and I.



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