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Those Final, Dreadful Hours, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2021 7:05 am

Those Final, Dreadful Hours, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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November 5, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Commission: A Study of Matthew 21–28

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Leading the Way
Michael Youssef
Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Fellowship in the Word
Bil Gebhardt
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

When we're watching a scary movie and when the hero of that story comes face to face with his worst enemy, it's our natural tendency to look away from the screen.

We can't bear to watch our favorite character take any punches. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll asks us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in order to witness the injustices that he suffered on our behalf. Our study in Matthew's Gospel brings us to the 27th chapter. In this passage, we read about the mockery of Jesus.

Chuck titled today's message, Those Final Dreadful Hours. There are some passages of scripture that we feel we can simply sit before in awe, let the wonder in. We've come to one of those today in Matthew 27, 27 through 50. This represents the final dreadful hours our Savior spent on earth before breathing his last and releasing his spirit as he bore the sins, yours and mine, and those of the whole world after the Father had turned away from him.

Truly one of the most awesome scenes ever recorded, if not the most. I'll be reading from the New Living Translation, Matthew 27, beginning at verse 27. Some of the governor's soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him, put a scarlet robe on him.

They will foreign branches into a crown and put it on his head. They placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit on him, grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it.

And they were finally tired of mocking. They took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again, then led him away to be crucified. Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene. The soldiers forced him to carry Jesus' cross. They went out to a place called Golgotha, which means place of the skull. The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus' head announcing the charge against him. It read, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. Look at you now, they yelled at him. You said you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross.

The leading priests, the teachers of right of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. He saved others, they scoffed, but he can't save himself. So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him. He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him. For he said, I am the Son of God. Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, which means my God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.

One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, wait, let's see whether Elijah comes to save him. Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Those Final Dreadful Hours. History has no shortage of cruel ways to kill a person. Sadists and sociopaths and psychopaths have occupied positions of power since civilization began. And they have devised dozens of ways to execute their enemies.

All of them designed to bring death as slowly and as humiliatingly and as painfully as possible. In his memoirs, Pierre Van Passen writes of an ugly scene that reveals this as it was carried out by the Nazi stormtroopers. At the beginning of World War Two, they had seized an elderly Jewish rabbi and dragged him into their private headquarters. At the far end of the same room, two other Nazis were beating another Jew to death. But those who had seized the rabbi had decided to have some sadistic fun with him. After stripping him naked, they commanded that he preach the sermon he had prepared for the synagogue, the coming Sabbath.

The rabbi asked if he could wear his yarmulke. In doing so, the Nazis with a cynical grin agreed. To them it only added to the sick joke. There he stood, trembling with a raspy voice, delivering a message on what it means to walk humbly before the Lord God. All the while being poked and prodded by the hooting and cursing Nazis. And at the same time, while hearing the last cries and screams of his fellow Jew being beaten into oblivion at the other end of the room. Horrible scene.

Horrible beyond description. As I read the sacred record of the unfair trials and the brutal mockings and the cynical mistreatment in the final execution of Jesus. I think of that naked rabbi standing humiliated and forced to preach in front of those beastly brutes in that private place of horrors. I do my best to imagine the pain mixed with the brutality that our Savior received. It's all I can do to fathom the indignity, the absolute humiliation that he endured as he too was stripped, naked, flogged, hit in the face and spat on. Bernard of Clairvaux comes the closest to giving me the words I need to read at times like that. O sacred head now wounded with grief and shame weighed down, now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown.

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend, for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end? How simple the words fall off our lips when we read of soldiers taking Jesus into their headquarters. The word is the Greek term praetorium. I think of it as a barracks. And there they call the entire regiment.

The Greek reads the whole band, the new American Standard, the whole cohort. It represents one tenth of a legion. So this would be 600 men jammed in the barracks for that spectacle they would make of our Savior. What a sick blast they had together as they scourged him. They dressed him up like a silly king, putting a robe on him, putting a scepter in his hand. He needs a crown, so they made one of thorns and jammed it on his head. As the blood ran, they taunted and mocked him. Hail, King of the Jews! And then they spit on him, took the scepter and struck him with it, hit him with their fists. Until, as Isaiah writes, the old King James, his visage no longer appearing as a man. Swollen great welts and finally tired of the scourging, they lead him out to the streets toward Golgotha.

Let's not leave the scene too quickly. Not one of us has ever witnessed a crucifixion, thank God. We don't know the procedure, we haven't even a mental image, except from artists who can never do its service.

How can you possibly put on canvas words like I'm going to read? In those days, there were two kinds of scourging or flogging, Jewish and Roman. The Jewish method is described in Deuteronomy 25, 1 to 3, where we are told that a person was not to be beaten more than 40 times. Because the Jew was afraid of breaking the law of God, he would commonly strike the victim 39 times, making sure he counted meticulously so that he didn't go beyond 40. But in Roman scourging, there was no specified number of times that a victim could be beaten.

Think of that. Understandably, then, the Romans commonly called their torturous act of scourging halfway death. Before the scourging began, the victim was stripped of all clothing and bent forward over a low, thick stump or post. At the base of the post were four metal rings. The wrists and the ankles of the victim were shackled to the rings.

Jesus was stripped of his garments, bent low over the post, with wrists and ankles shackled into that position. The scourging was done by a man called a lictor, L-I-C-T-O-R, a professional in the grim art of torture. The instrument used for scourging was called a flagellum, a piece of wood 14 to 18 inches long, circular in shape, not unlike our own broom handle, only shorter, to which were attached long leather thongs. Into these leather thongs, or straps, were sewn bits of glass, bone, and pieces of metal.

Jim Bishop, in his work, The Day Christ Died, adds these details. The soldier who performed the flagellum, the flagellations, moved to a position about six feet behind the victim, spread his legs. The flagellum was brought back all the way and whistled forward, making a dull drum sound as the strips of leather smacked against the back of the ribcage. The bits of bone and chain curled around the right side of the body and raised small subcutaneous hemorrhages on the chest. The flagellum came back again, aimed slightly lower, and again, aimed higher, and again, and again, and again, crashing against the skin and flesh, the flagellum now moved in slow, heavy rhythm. It was designed to reduce the naked body to strips of raw flesh and inflamed bleeding wounds. It was not uncommon for a man to die on the stump. I should add that it was not uncommon for the teeth to chatter like a death rattle in that horrible time of panic.

And the body shook uncontrollably. That's our savior, scourged by brutal Roman soldiers who could care less about who he was. Just another crucifixion criminal to them.

When they were worried of this, if the victim lived through it, and Jesus did, which tells us something of his physical condition, he was in great physical shape to endure such torture. They lead him now along a path. We read of it in verse 32 through 34. Along the way, they come across, or they came across a man named Simon. It's a Jewish name. He was from Cyrene. It's a Greek settlement located west of Alexandria in northern Africa. On the coast of the Mediterranean, it had a large Jewish population. And Simon, being Jewish, no doubt, was reared in this prosperous trade center, quite likely had come to Jerusalem at the time of Passover.

He's randomly chosen, and to begin with, he's forced into the scene, which he never expected as a visitor in the land of Israel. He's forced to carry Jesus' cross, verse 32 ends. Not the entire cross. No one could carry 450 pounds. Back then, they carried only the cross beam, which is the horizontal piece, that weighed approximately 200.

It was heavy enough, so heavy, that part of it dragged on the ground, as it was carried on the shoulder or under the arm, as long as the victim could carry it. So they brought him in, and he carried the cross for Jesus. And then we read, they went out to a place called Golgotha, which means the place of a skull. It doesn't mean skulls were there, it means it was a terrain shaped like a massive skull. Golgotha is a Hebrew word that answers to cranium in the Greek, or calvary, which is Latin, standing for the same thing. The whole idea of a shape of a skull. How simply Matthew records it, and the details are left out like I'm giving you, because those in the first century are all familiar with crucifixion.

They've all witnessed it. It's the most common form of Roman capital punishment, which they took delight in, because it stated to everyone, crime does not pay. Rebel against the emperor, that's where you wind up. It also explains why Jesus was taken along this pathway.

If you travel in Israel today, it's called, by the popular name, the Via Dolorosa. And when you take that path, if it is a similar path to the one he literally took in the first century, it's narrow, there are markets on either side, sometimes very close to one another, the path narrows. So the marketplace where people are gathered would give public attention to the one dragging his cross beam. They all knew what it meant. They all knew where he was going.

They all knew what it represented. So without a word, as he goes through this, they all see the one carrying the cross beam on his way to Golgotha. When he gets there, before they do the nailing, and again Matthew writes it with such simple words, there they nailed him to a cross. But before that, notice the soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall.

It's a mixture of oil with myrrh, a thick oil designed to stupefy the one about to be nailed to large beams, to keep him from struggling and screaming violently. Maybe this is the first time you've heard the gruesome details of crucifixion. Though unpleasant, it's absolutely crucial that we comprehend the extent of Jesus' suffering on our behalf. This is Insight for Living. Our Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, Those Final Dreadful Hours. And to learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at You know, it's in these moments when we're reflecting on God's Word that His Spirit teaches us the truth.

There's no shortcut for comprehending what God is saying to us. And for that reason, we're always looking for meaningful ways to come alongside you with resources that enhance your personal study of the Bible. For instance, Chuck has written a full-length book in biographical style called Jesus, the Greatest Life of All. You'll find all the details for purchasing a copy at slash store. In addition, let me recommend a sermon Chuck presented that parallels the one you heard today. It's called Delivered Up to Be Crucified.

And you can order a copy by going to slash offer. This daily Bible teaching program and all of the companion resources are prepared just for you. And we love getting your emails, letters, and phone calls.

For instance, we heard from a friend who said, Chuck, after hearing your series on grace, the Spirit convicted me that I was a legalist. As a result, I took my grown adult children out to dinner and apologized to them, asked their forgiveness, and set them free to be who they were meant to be in the Lord. Thank you for your message. Well, on behalf of this listener and countless others like her, we want to thank all those who give generously. Your contributions are channeled directly into making a life-changing impact on those who hear this program. To give a much needed donation today, go to To give a contribution over the phone today, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. Travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but few measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for Living Ministries. With a proper mix of historical information and biblical context, we provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in. Our goal is to create special moments.

When you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 6-17, 2022. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by hand-picked Israeli guides. And we choose the best, along with seminary-trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers.

To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to slash events. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. Join us again on Monday when Chuck Swindoll continues our study in the book of Matthew, right here on Insight for Living. We'll be right back.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-27 16:35:13 / 2023-07-27 16:42:53 / 8

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