People's New Testament
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
27:1 Jesus Crucified
SUMMARY OF MATTHEW 27:
Christ Delivered to Pilate. Judas Hangs Himself. Jesus Before Pilate. Barabbas and Christ. Pilate's Wife's Intercession. Pilate Acquits Jesus, but Yields to the Clamor. Jesus Scourged, Mocked, Taken to Golgotha, Crucified. Mocked on the Cross. Reviled by the Thieves. It Is Finished. The Veil of the Temple Rent. The Centurion's Confession. Pilate Yields the Body of Jesus to Joseph. Buried in the New Tomb. The Tomb Sealed and Guarded.
When the morning was come. Jesus had already been condemned, but another meeting of the Sanhedrin after daylight was necessary to give its legal effect, as condemnations to death could not be made in the night. That was the object of this meeting. For a fuller account of it, see Lu 22:66-71. For account of Christ before Pilate and the crucifixion, compare Mr 15:1-47 Lu 23:1-56 Joh 18:1-38.
And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
27:2 Delivered him to Pontius Pilate. The first mention of the Roman procurator by that name. He was both military and civil commander, usually dwelt at Caesarea, but came up to Jerusalem at the passover feasts to preserve order. The Sanhedrin could not put Jesus to death, as the Roman rulers demanded that all cases of capital punishment be referred to them.
The governor. The whole province of which Judea was a part was called Syria, and was ruled by a proconsul. The divisions of one of the great proconsulships were ruled by procurators, translated governors. Pontius Pilate, Felix (Ac 23:24) and Festus (Ac 25:1) are examples of the latter.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
27:3 Then Judas... saw that he was condemned. The annals of men record no sadder history than that of Judas, impelled by avarice and resentment to betray his Master for money, and only to awake to the nature of his awful crime when it was too late. The language here suggests that Judas had hoped that the betrayed Jesus would deliver himself from his enemies.
Repented. Not, in the Greek, the word used for repent in Ac 2:38 and elsewhere, but one that means, rather, remorse. The first, metanoeo, means to change the mind or purpose; the other, metamellomai, to carry a burden of sorrow over the past. One promises a change in the future; the other is born of despair; Peter repented; Judas regretted.
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
27:4 I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood. The Jewish law demanded that if new testimony was offered after condemnation the case should again be heard. Perhaps Judas thought his testimony to the innocence of Christ might, under the circumstances, be heard.
What is that to us? No words could more emphatically declare the utter disregard of the Jewish rulers to justice. They concerned themselves not in the slightest concerning the innocence or guilt of Christ; they cared only to procure his death.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
27:5 Cast down the pieces of silver in the temple. Where he had this interview with the Sanhedrin.
Went and hanged himself. So have done, since, thousands of criminals when the blackness of their crime had revealed itself to them. How often a man after the committal of a murder shoots himself!
And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
27:6 It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury. These men were not too scrupulous to send the innocent to death, to shed the blood of the innocent, but were too scrupulous to put blood money into the treasury. They could pay blood money, but could not take it back.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
27:7 The potter's field. A field that had been used for the purpose of making pottery until it was worthless for other purposes and could be bought cheap. Potters' fields are still found in the Kedron Valley south of the city.
To bury strangers in. A burial place for the poor. The Jews usually provided their own tombs. Peter, Ac 1:18, says that Judas fell down headlong and his bowels gushed out. The common explanation is that he hung himself on a tree overlooking the valley of Hinnom, that the rope gave way, and that he fell headlong upon the rocks below, a distance of forty to sixty feet.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
27:9 Then was fulfilled. The prophecy is found in Zec 11:12. Albert Barnes shows that a change of a single letter in the original would transform Zechariah into Jeremiah, and it is supposed that some early copyist made the mistake. Another explanation is that Jeremiah, in the Jewish arrangement of the prophets, stood first, and that his name was given to the whole book of prophecy.
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
27:11 Jesus stood before the governor. In the judgment hall (Joh 18:28), which the Sanhedrin did not enter for fear of defilement. It was probably about seven a.m. that they presented themselves to Pilate, hoping that he would order their condemned prisoner to death without inquiry, but on his demand for charges they accuse Jesus of seeking to make himself King of the Jews. This charge causes Pilate to ask:
Art thou the King of the Jews? They had condemned Jesus for blasphemy, but now make a political charge, and Pilate's question is whether Jesus is claiming a temporal kingdom.
Thou sayest. Jesus was King, not of the Jews only, but men, and he admits the charge. He was King, however, in a spiritual sense, as he explained to Pilate (Joh 18:36).
And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
27:12 He answered nothing. He made no defense, just as he had done when before Caiaphas (Mt 26:62-64).
Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
27:14 He answered him to not a word. To their charges of seeking to establish a worldly kingdom and of stirring up sedition he returned not a word. His impressive silence moved Pilate deeply.
Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
27:15 At that feast. The passover. How the custom of releasing a prisoner at the passover arose is unknown, but such customs are common under arbitrary rules.
And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
27:16 A notable prisoner. A leader in an insurrection in which he had committed murder (Mr 15:7 Lu 23:19).
Barabbas. The word means son of a father. Some have made him a type of the guilty human race which is released from punishment by the substitution of the innocent Christ.
Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
27:17 Therefore when they were gathered together. After the first examination, Pilate, finding that Jesus was from Galilee, sent him to Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, then in Jerusalem, to be tried by him as belonging to his jurisdiction. Herod, however, after trying to induce him to work a miracle and mocking him, sent him back (Lu 23:6-11). Now they had gathered after his return.
Barabbas, or Jesus? Pilate, desirous of releasing an innocent man, afraid to oppose the Sanhedrin, adopted this expedient in the hope that the increasing multitude of people would demand Christ rather than a blood-stained robber.
For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
27:19 When he was set down on the judgment seat. Probably while the people were deciding for which one to ask. The judgment seat was a kind of lofty official throne, placed on the pavement (Joh 19:13).
His wife sent unto him. On this sad day the voice of a Gentile woman was the only one that interceded for Christ. That she should speak of Jesus as a righteous man, shows that she knew much of him and that he had already made a wide and deep impression.
A dream. It may have been entirely natural. She was probably already deeply interested in Jesus and knew that he was to be seized in the night. Her waking thoughts would be reflected in her sleep.
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
27:20 Persuaded the multitude. To call for the release of Barabbas, instead of Christ. It is likely that few of the Galileans, so favorable to him, yet knew of his arrest. The multitudes were such as the authorities would summon at this early hour.
The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
27:21 They said, Barabbas. Pilate's artifice had failed. The Jewish nation had not only rejected its Messiah, but chosen a robber instead.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
27:22 Let him be crucified. This is the decision of the Jewish people. He shall suffer the fate which was due the crime of Barabbas who had been released in his stead.
And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
27:23 What evil hath he done? Pilate's struggle between his desire to be just and to please a body demanding a crime at his hands is pitiable. He repeats the question three times and offers to appease their rage by chastising the innocent (Lu 23:22). He had, however, lost his power when he began to parley with a mob. They, utterly unreasonable, only demand the move vehemently that Jesus be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
27:24 When Pilate saw that... a tumult was made. It was a dangerous time for a tumult, with more than a million Jews in Jerusalem, and probably not a thousand Roman soldiers in the castle. If one occurred, it would be reported to Rome, and he could hardly make a plausible defense to the emperor. He therefore yielded, and gave his sanction to confessed wrong, rather than endanger himself.
Washed his hands. A symbolic act, meaning that the responsibility of the sin was upon the Jewish authorities and people instead of himself.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
27:25 His blood be on us. That is, let us have the responsibility and suffer the punishment. A fearful legacy, and awfully inherited. The history of the Jews from that day on has been the darkest recorded in human annals.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
27:26 He had Jesus scourged. Scourging usually preceded crucifixion. It was an awful punishment, inflicted by brutal soldiers, and continued until the victim was fainting under the torture.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
27:27 Then the soldiers... took Jesus into the common hall. After the scourging which was inflicted in the court (Mr 15:16). Josephus says that Pilate stayed, while in Jerusalem, in Herod's palace, on the northern brow of Zion, near the Jaffa gate.
The whole band. The cohort (from 400 to 600 men) on duty at the palace. They gathered to mock the doomed prisoner.
And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
27:28 They stripped him. His clothing, stripped off at the scourging, had been replaced, but was now removed to wrap him in a mock royal mantle. Scarlet or purple were the royal colors.
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon 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!
27:29 A crown of thorns. Both in mockery and for torture.
And a reed in his right hand. For a scepter. Having thus arrayed him, in royal robe, crown of thorns, and mock scepter, they kneel before him and deride him.
And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
27:30 They spat upon him. In order to show still greater contempt. Brutal as these heathen soldiers were, they were no more so than the Jewish Sanhedrin had been.
And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
27:31 After that they had mocked him. Pilate presented the bleeding prisoner once more to the people, evidently to secure their pity, and made one more effort to release him, but in vain (Joh 19:5). Then Jesus was led away to the cross.
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
27:32 As they came out. Of the city. Jesus was crucified without the gate (Heb 13:12). A company of soldiers, led by a centurion, had charge.
A man of Cyrene. Simon by name, the father of two well-known Christians (Mr 15:21). Cyrene was in North Africa, and was the house of many Jews.
To bear his cross. At first Jesus bore his own cross, but exhausted by scourging, sank under the weight (Joh 19:17). Luke seems to show that Simon only bore the after part of the cross, the lighter end, which had been dragging on the ground (Lu 23:26).
And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
27:33 Golgatha. A Hebrew word, meaning a skull. From its Latin equivalent, calvaria, comes our English word Calvary, which occurs in the English New Testament only in Luke, where it should be translated a skull (Lu 23:33). The name was due, either to a rounded rock like a skull, or to the fact that it was a place of execution and that skulls were lying there. The locality is not certainly known.
They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall. A stupefying drink, intended to lessen suffering.
He would not drink. The tasting implied a recognition of the kindly purpose of the act, but a recognition only. In the refusal to do more than taste, we trace the resolute purpose to drink the cup which his Father had given him to the last drop.
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
27:35 They crucified him. This was the most dreadful, terrible and shameful death known to antiquity. The Jews never crucified Jews, nor the Romans, Romans. That the Jews should demand of the Romans to inflict it on Jesus shows the intensity of their hate.
And parted his garments. From Joh 19:23 we learn that there were four soldiers at the cross, and the garments were the perquisite of the soldiers. The outer garments were divided into four parts, one to each, but the coat, rather the tunic, an inner garment, was seamless, woven in one piece, probably of wool. As it would have been spoiled by dividing it, the soldiers decided to cast lots for it, thus fulfilling another prophecy (Ps 22:18).
And sitting down they watched him there;
27:36 And sitting down they watched him there. It was their duty to remain by the cross until the execution was ended by death.
And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27:37 THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. It was the Roman custom to place on the cross over the criminal's head, a titulus, or placard, stating the crime for which he suffered. Lu 23:38 says that the title was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the chief languages then spoken, and all spectators would be able to read it.
Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
27:38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him. In all probability, partners in the crime of Barabbas. The mountain robbers, or banditti, were always ready to take part in such desperate risings against the Roman power.
And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
27:39 They that passed by reviled him. The people going in and out of the city, on the thoroughfare near the place of crucifixion.
Wagging their heads. Derisively and insultingly. Compare 2Ki 19:21 Job 16:4 Ps 109:25.
And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
27:40 Thou that destroyest the temple. It is very remarkable that now, while this was receiving its real fulfillment, it should be made more public and more impressive by the insulting proclamation of his enemies. Hence the importance attached to it after the resurrection (Joh 2:22).
Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
27:42 He saved others. This may be ironical, but if Christ had saved himself he could not have saved others.
If he is King of Israel. The language is that of taunt, and refers to the inscription upon the cross.
He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
27:43 I am the Son of God. It was because he said this that the Sanhedrin condemned him to death. In that he hung, seemingly helpless, on the cross, the chief priests, the very persons who voted his death, considered it demonstrated that he was not the Son of God.
The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
27:44 The thieves also,... cast the same in his teeth. Luke only tells of the penitence of one (Lu 23:39-43). Doubtless, both at first reviled him, but one was converted in three hours that they hung side by side.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
27:45 From the sixth hour... unto the ninth hour. From twelve until three o'clock.
Darkness over all the land. Not the whole earth, but Judea. Early Christian writers speak of this, and appeal to heathen testimony in support of the fact. The period of outward darkness, no doubt, coincided with that of Christ's mental agony and sense of desertion. The darkness was not total, but probably a deep gloom, such as every one remembers to have experienced in his life-time.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
27:46 About the ninth hour. Three o'clock, after the Lord had been six hours on the cross. The cry that follows is from Ps 22:1.
Why hast thou forsaken me? These words can only express the idea that he was treading the wine-press alone. As he hung on the cross, made sin for us (2Co 5:21), he was left to struggle without a sense of his Father's presence.
My God, my God!. The cry shows that he still clung to the Father as his own.
Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
27:47 This man calleth for Elijah. The resemblance between the word Eli and the name Elijah is very close in the original. There is an allusion to the belief that Elijah would come before the Messiah.
And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
27:48 One... took a spunge, and filled it. This was occasioned by our Lord's cry, I thirst, the fifth word from the cross (Joh 19:28).
Vinegar. This was the sour wine used by the soldiers; not mixed with myrrh, as in the case of the stupefying draught Jesus had refused before crucifixion.
The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
27:49 Let be, let us see, etc. This was spoken in the way of interruption of him who was furnishing the draught of vinegar. According to Mark, he replied, and asked to be let alone (Mr 15:36).
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
27:50 When he had cried again with a loud voice. It is finished (Joh 19:30), the sixth word from the cross. The three evangelists all dwell upon the loudness of the cry, as if it had been the triumphant note of the conqueror. The last words from the cross were those recorded in Luke, Father, into thy hands, etc. (Lu 23:46). The first word in the prayer for his enemies (Lu 23:34).
Yielded up the ghost. He voluntarily gave up his life for his sheep, and took it back again (Joh 10:17).
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
27:51 The veil of the temple was rent. The curtain before the Holy of Holies separating it from the Holy Place.It took place about the time of the evening sacrifice and showed by symbol that the real atonement, of which the yearly atonement was only a type, had been offered and that the true High Priest had entered into the true Holy of Holies.
And the earth did quake A common event at Jerusalem, but now significant of the sympathy of nature with the great tragedy.
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
27:52 The graves were opened. The convulsions of the earth would naturally roll the stones from the doors of the sepulchers.
The saints which slept arose. Who is not stated, or whether their bodies returned to the grave again. Their rising was a testimony that the death of Christ is life to the saints.
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
27:54 The centurion. The Roman officer in charge of the execution.
Truly this was the Son of God. Rather, a son of a god. He was a heathen soldier, believing in many gods, and the scenes of the cross had convinced him that Jesus was more than man.
And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
27:55 Many women. The devoted women were still faithful, when the disciples had fled. Of the apostles we only know that John was near.
Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
27:56 Mary Magdalene. Mentioned first here, also in Lu 8:2, before the resurrection. She had been healed by the Lord.
Mary the mother of James and Joses. She was the wife of Clopas or Alphaeus (Joh 19:25).
The mother of Zebedee's children. Salome. John mentions his (Jesus') mother's sister (Joh 19:25), but does not name Salome, his own mother. Hence it is inferred that Salome was the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also at the cross.
When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
27:57 There came a rich man. On the burial, compare Mr 15:42-47 Lu 23:50-56 Joh 19:38-42 Of Arimathaea. Its location is unknown. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, who had not consented to the murder of Jesus (Lu 23:50-51 Mr 15:43).
Jesus' disciple. But secretly for fear of the Jews (Joh 19:38).
He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
27:58 Begged the body of Jesus. Usually, the Romans suffered the crucified to remain unburied, but Joseph, to prevent this, or any abuse of the sacred body, begged it of Pilate. The latter consented readily, probably anxious for respect for the body of him whom he vainly sought to save from death.
And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
27:59 Joseph had taken the body. Carefully down from the cross.
Wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. A winding sheet. Another Sanhedrist, Nicodemus, aided him (Joh 19:39), and they enclosed spices in the winding sheet.
And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
27:60 Laid it in his own new tomb. A rock-hewn sepulcher, cut horizontally into the cliff.
Rolled a great stone to the door. The usual method of closing the rock-hewn tombs. Thus Christ was buried, according to the Scriptures (1Co 15:4) in a rich man's tomb, was with the rich in his death (Isa 53:9).
And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
27:61 The other Mary. The mother of James and Joses (Mr 15:47). These women saw where he was laid and returned there after the Sabbath with spices.
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
27:62 The next day. The Sabbath.
That followed the day of preparation. That is, the day before the sabbath (Mr 15:42).
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
27:63 Sir, we remember. These dignitaries had not forgotten the predictions of Christ that he would rise on the third day, even if his own disciples had.
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
27:64 Until the third day. That is, until Sunday morning. Friday would be the first day.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
27:65 Ye have a watch. That is, ye can have a guard. He granted them a guard of Roman soldiers.
So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
27:66 Sealing the stone. A cord was stretched across the stone door and sealed at each end with wax. The seal would have to be broken to remove the stone.