The Skull of Death – The Missing Horror Matthew leads us to the crucifixion of Jesus itself.
We watch as they take him to Golgotha – “Skull” – symbol of death’s finality and hopelessness. We observe Simon of Cyrene, evidently later a disciple. We see the wine and gall. The clothes divided, the casting lots. But where is the crucifixion itself? One word in a subordinate phrase. No nails or thudding hammers, no bloody, weak body, agonizing pain, deep groans, labored breathing. What would I have written? Think of The Passion of the Christ (2004). Mt counts on his readers to know the horror, degradation, and prolonged torture of the cross. See N. T. Wright (*below). Mt leaves out so much and includes such strange little things: Simon, the wine and gall, the clothes, the lots, the watching, the head wagging, the multiple mocking insults. Mt expects a lot of us. So much that he says depends for its power on us knowing the scriptures. He highlights little details in the often-told story that point us to scriptures (esp. Ps 22 & 69). Mt is not writing for history, or even to move us emotionally. He juxtaposes scripture and mockery to force a quandary. What do you see? What’s happening? What would you say?