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Sunday School

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THE LESSON BACKGROUND. Matthew chapters 26 and 27 trace the sad series of events that brought Jesus to the cross. Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and arrested by an armed force sent by the Jewish leaders. Then He faced two bogus trials. The first one was conducted at night before Caiaphas, the high priest, the scribes and the elders (see Matthew 26:57) in violation of Jewish law. At that trial, Jesus was judged worthy of death and the reason given by these Jewish leaders was that He had committed blasphemy (see Matthew 26:65-66). The second trial was conducted early the next morning at a meeting of the Sanhedrin council, the Jewish court. They formalized the decision to put Jesus to death (see Matthew 27:1). After being illegally convicted by the Sanhedrin, Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate the Roman governor of Judaea who under pressure from the people, sentenced Jesus to die (see Matthew 27:17-26). At this point the soldiers took Jesus away, stripped Him of his clothes, put a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns on Him while making fun of Him saying “Hail King of the Jews” (see Matthew 27:27-29). If that wasn’t enough, the soldiers spit on Him and took a reed and beat Jesus about His head (see Matthew 27:30). After further mocking the LORD, the soldiers took off the robe they put on Him and put His own clothes back on Him and took Him outside the city to a place called Golgotha meaning “a place of a skull”(see John 19:17) to be crucified (see Matthew 27:31, 33). Golgotha is the Hebrew or Aramaic (the language most Jews in Jesus’ day spoke) word for “skull,” and it is also used in John 19:17. But in Luke 23:33 “Calvaria” or Calvary” is used which is the Latin for Golgotha. On the way to Golgotha or Calvary, the soldiers “found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his (Jesus’) cross” (see Matthew 27:32). Once they reached Golgotha, the soldiers nailed Him to the cross, gambled for His clothes and put a sign over His head saying “This is Jesus King of the Jews” (see Matthew 27:35-37). This is where our lesson begins.

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