Thursday after Laetare
Scripture: St. Matthew 27:1-38 (NKJV)
27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
So Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”
12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. 35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” 36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
The Nicene Creed says, “…and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.” The Jewish nation did not have the power of capital punishment, and thus any sentence of death needed to be brought to the Roman governor for his approval and decree. Pontius Pilate examined Jesus and concluded that Jesus was not an earthly king guilty of any treasonous charge. He heard the accusations of the Jewish leaders and concluded that “they had handed him over because of envy.” Nevertheless, Pilate feared for his job and gave in to their demands to have the innocent Jesus crucified.
In Matthew chapter 27, the Sanhedrin hands Jesus over to Pontius Pilate (v.2). In verses 3-10, Judas, the one who handed Jesus over to the Sanhedrin (26:15), commits suicide. Once the self-serving Pilate had declared himself innocent, he handed Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified (v.26). With the handing over of our Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, into the hands of men (Matt. 17:22), into the hands of Gentiles (20:19), and into the hands of Pontius Pilate, the governor (27:2), we have the redemptive work of Jesus for our salvation.
St. Peter tells us that Jesus was “handed over by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). “For God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Repent of your sins and believe in the One who was handed over so that you might receive the forgiveness of your sins.
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.