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Bible Commentaries

Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 27

Verses 1-66

  1. Introduction
    1. Last week, we saw Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we saw Judas betray Jesus into the hand of the Chief priests, and finally we looked at Peter denying Jesus 3 times!
    2. We pick up by reading in Chapter 26 to set the stage for Chapter 27…
  2. The Crucifixion of Christ
    1. Judas Betrayed Him
      1. Mat 26:46-50 / Mat 27:1-10
        1. ​​​​​​​Zec 11:12-13 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
        2. Act 1:15-19 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
    2. The Chief Priest Laid Hold on Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Matt 26:57-68
        1. ​​​​​​​They couldn’t find any false witnesses…odd, they planned this. It was required to condemn someone to death that there be at least 2-3 eyewitnesses.
        2. Jesus held His peace…
          1. ​​​​​​​Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
        3. They buffeted Him…
          1. Isa 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
    3. Pilate Condemned Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:11-26
        1. ​​​​​​​Luke 23:4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
          1. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and had only be brought to him because of envy. So he looked for a way to release Jesus, and hoped he found a way in the custom of releasing one Jewish prisoner at the time of Passover.
        2. ALSO: His wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man”: Pilate had all the evidence he needed to do the right thing and release Jesus. But he would not do what he knew was right, because he cared more about what the crowd said than what he knew was right.
          1. Pro 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
        3. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”
          1. ​​​​​​​The voice of the crowd is not always the voice of God. Democracy is only good when all are seeking the Lord’s best!
        4. By choosing Barabbas instead of Jesus, it reflected the fallen nature of all humanity.
        5. But! If anyone knew what it meant that Jesus died in their place, it was Barabbas. We can imagine when the soldiers said, “Barabbas, you are a guilty man - but you will be released because Jesus will die in your place!”
        6. Finally, Pilate tries to avoid responsibility for Jesus’ fate. When Pilate saw that he could not prevail with the crowd…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.” And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
          1. He took water and washed his hands before the multitude: Pilate could never wash his hands of this. It was a responsibility that could not be avoided, and his guilt is echoed in the creeds (crucified under Pontius Pilate) throughout the centuries.
          2. I am innocent of the blood of this just Person: Hidden in Pilate’s attempt at self-justification is a declaration of Jesus’ innocence. When he called Jesus this just Person, he admitted that Jesus was the innocent man - not Pilate. Just because Pilate saidI am innocent” doesn’t mean that he was innocent.
          3. The Crowd: His blood be on us and on our children: They really had not understanding of what they asked for. They didn’t understand the glory of Jesus’ cleansing blood, and how wonderful it would be to have His blood . . . on us and on our children. They also didn’t understand the enormity of the crime of calling for the execution of the sinless Son of God, and the judgment that would be visited on their children some forty years later in the destruction of Jerusalem.
    4. The Soldiers Crucified Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:27-37
        1. ​​​​​​​When he had scourged Jesus: The blows came from a whip with many leather strands, each having sharp pieces of bone or metal at the ends. It reduced the back to raw flesh, and it was not unusual for a criminal to die from a scourging, even before crucifixion.
          1. Quoting from Dr. William Edwards in the article “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 3/21/86)
          2. “Scourging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt.”
          3. The goal of the scourging was to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse and death. “As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive the cross.” (Edwards)
          4. “The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.” (Edwards)
        2. The blows of scourging would lessen as the criminal confessed to his crimes. Jesus remained silent, having no crimes to confess, so the blows continued with full strength.
        3. Jesus is beaten and mocked. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 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!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 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.
          1. Mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Everything in this scene was intended to humiliate Jesus.
          2. They stripped Him: When a prisoner was crucified, they were often nailed to the cross naked - simply to increase their humiliation. Jesus hasn’t been crucified yet, but His humiliation has begun, and He was publicly stripped.
          3. Put a scarlet robe on Him: Kings and rulers often wore scarlet, because the dyes to make fabrics that color were expensive. The scarlet robe was intended as cruel irony.
          4. They had twisted a crown of thorns: Kings wear crowns, but not crowns of torture. The specific thorn-bushes of this region have long, hard, sharp thorns. This was a crown that cut, pierced, and bloodied the head of the King wearing it.
          5. A reed in His right hand: Kings hold scepters, but glorious, ornate scepters that symbolize their power. In their mockery of Jesus, they give Him a scepter - but a thin, weak reed.
          6. They bowed the knee before Him: Kings are honored, so they offer mocking worship to this King.
          7. “Hail, King of the Jews!” Kings are greeting with royal titles, so in their spite they mocked Jesus with this title. It was meant to put down not only Jesus, but also the Jews - saying, “This is the best King they could come up with.”
        4. Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head: They now shift from mockery to cruelty. They seize the ironic “scepter,” take off the “kingly” robe, and begin to hurl spit and fists and the head of Jesus.
        5. And led Him away to be crucified: The march to the place of crucifixion was useful advertising for Rome. It warned potential troublemakers that this was their fate should they challenge Rome. A centurion on horseback led the procession, and a herald shouted the crime of the condemned.
          1. As Jesus was led away to be crucified, He was - like all victims of crucifixion - forced to carry the wood He would hang upon. The weight of the entire cross was typically 300 pounds. The victim only carried the crossbar, which weighed anywhere from 75 to 125 pounds. When the victim carried the crossbar, he was usually stripped naked, and his hands were often tied to the wood.
          2. The upright beams of a cross were usually permanently fixed in a visible place outside of the city walls, beside a major road. It is likely that on many occasions, Jesus passed by the very upright He would hang upon.
          3. When Jesus said, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me, this is exactly the scene He had in mind. Taking up your cross wasn’t a journey; it was a one-way trip. There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip.
        6. On the way to Golgotha (in Latin, Calvary). Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.
          1. ​​​​​​​A man of Cyrene, Simon by name: This man was probably a visitor to Jerusalem, there as a faithful Jew to celebrate the Passover. He was far from Cyrene in North Africa (some 800 miles away).
          2. Him they compelled to bear His cross: Simon knew little if anything about this Jesus, and had no desire to be associated with this Man who was condemned to die as a criminal. Yet the Romans were the law, and Simon was not given a choice. Him they compelled to bear His cross. Perhaps he was chosen because his skin was black, and he was more conspicuous in the crowd.
          3. Wonderfully, we have reason to believe that Simon came to know what it really meant to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus. We know that his sons became leaders among the early Christians (Mar_15:21 and Rom_16:13).
        7. A place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull: There was a specific place outside the city walls of Jerusalem, yet still very close, where people were crucified. At this Place of a Skull Jesus died for our sins, and our salvation was accomplished.
          1. Golgotha - in Latin, “Calvary” means “Place of a Skull.” It was called that because it was the established place - outside the city walls, yet on a well-established road - where criminals were crucified.
        8. They gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink: It was customary to give those about to be crucified a pain and mind-numbing drink, to lessen their awareness of the agony awaiting them. But Jesus refused any numbing drug. He chose to face the spiritual and physical terror with all His senses awake.
        9. Jesus is crucified. We have yet to see an accurate depiction of crucifixion in our media. If it were ever made, it would be limited to adult audiences, because of its sheer horror and brutality.
          1. Again quoting Dr. William Edwards, “Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering.”
          2. The victim’s back would first be torn open by the scourging, then the clotting blood would be ripped open again when the clothes were torn off the victim. When thrown on the ground to fix his hands to the crossbeam, the wounds would again be torn open and contaminated with dirt. Then, as he hung on the cross, with each breath, the painful wounds on the back would scrape against the rough wood of the upright beam and be further aggravated
          3. Driving the nail through the wrists would sever the large median nerve - this stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms, and could result in a claw-like grip in the victim’s hands.
          4. Beyond the excruciating pain, the major effect of crucifixion inhibited normal breathing. The weight of the body, pulling down on the arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the respiratory muscles in an inhalation state, and hinder exhalation. The lack of adequate respiration would result in severe muscle cramps, which would hinder breathing even further. To get a good breath, one would have to push against the feet, and flex the elbows, pulling from the shoulders. Putting the weight of the body on the feet would produce searing pain, and flexing of the elbows would twist the hands hanging on the nails. Lifting the body for a breath would also painfully scrape the back against the rough wooden post. Each effort to get a proper breath would be agonizing, exhausting, and lead to a sooner death.
          5. “Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals.”
          6. Death from crucifixion could come from many sources: acute shock from blood loss; being too exhausted to breathe any longer; dehydration; stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure leading to a cardiac rupture. If the victim did not die quickly enough, the legs would be broken, and the victim would soon be unable to breathe.
          7. The most significant thing about Jesus’ sufferings was that He was not, in any sense, the victim of circumstances. He was in control.
          8. Joh 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
    5. The Elders Mocked Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:38-44
        1. ​​​​​​​Psalm 109:25 I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.
        2. 2Kings 19:21-22 This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. 22 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
        3. Psa 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
    6. The Father Sold Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:45-54
        1. ​​​​​​​Psa 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
        2. Psa 22:14-15 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
        3. Matt 27:54 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.
    7. His Friends Buried Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:55-66
        1. ​​​​​​​This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus: Customarily, the bodies of crucified criminals were left on their crosses to rot or be eaten by wild animals. But the Jews wanted no such horror displayed during the Passover season, and Romans were known to grant the corpses of executed men to friends or relatives for proper burial.
        2. He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth: Joseph followed the burial customs of that day - the best he could, considering that they had very little time because the Sabbath drew near (Luke 23:54).
    8. Who is He to You?
      1. ​​​​​​​Is He a nut? A crook? A blasphemer? A great prophet? A nice guys?
      2. …or is He the Son of God, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world?
      3. …if He is God, Are you “All in?”
      4. Time’s running out!
  3. Conclusion
    1. ​​​​​​​Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    2. ​​​​​​​Rom 5:7-9 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Copyright Statement
Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Matthew 27". "Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnc/matthew-27.html. 2017.