1. Early in the morning. Jesus had already been sentenced to death, but another meeting of the Sanhedrin had to be held to make it legal, since the night trial had no legal standing. Mark says they met hurriedly. Luke gives more detail (Luke 22:66-71).
2. And handed him over to Pilate. The Sanhedrin could sentence to death, but not execute. The Romans reserved that right to themselves. Pilate was both the Roman governor and the commander of the army in that area. His home was at Caesarea, but he brought troops to Jerusalem during Passover, to keep order.
3. When Judas... saw. How sad! Some think the language implies Judas expected Jesus to use his “power” to escape at the last moment. He repented. METAMELETHEIS. Regret—worldly sadness (2 Corinthians 7:10). Peter turned away from his sin and turned back to Jesus and was forgiven! Judas regretted his action and killed himself!
4. I have sinned. Perhaps Judas thought his confession of guilt would be “new evidence” that would free Jesus. What do we care about that? This is the attitude of the Jewish leaders. They had used Judas [but remember: he volunteered!], and cared not at all what became of him now.
5. Judas threw the money into the sanctuary. He spoke with the Jewish leaders in the Priest’s Court, and threw the money into the Holy Place itself [the sanctuary]. Hanged himself. See Matthew 27:3. Luke gives some details in Acts 1:18-19.
6. This is blood money. Note they call it blood money. If Jesus had been a real criminal, it would have been justice money. Their Tradition allowed them to pay blood money, but not to take it back.
7. They used the money to buy Potter’ Field. “Potter’s Field,” so named because clay was dug from it to make pottery. The priests bought this in Judas’ name, so it was legally his (Acts 1:18).
8. Field of Blood. So named because it was bought with “Blood money,” and because Judas fell to his death there (Acts 1:18).
9–10. Then what the prophet Jeremiah. This quotation may have come from Jewish Tradition. Scholars think it a paraphrase from Zechariah 11:12-13; Jeremiah 18:2-3; Jeremiah 32:6-15. Thirty silver coins was the value of a slave (Exodus 21:28-32).
11. Are you the king of the Jews? [Pilate had come out of the Governor’s palace to meet with the Jews (John 18:28-29).] At the Jewish Trial, they had charged Jesus with blasphemy. Pilate’s question shows they have charged Jesus with “leading a revolt to make himself king of the Jews.” So you say. Jesus admits to being king, but not in earthly terms (see John 18:33-38).
12. He said nothing. Jesus did not answer the accusation of the Jews. Note they accused him of “revolt” both before and after Pilate’s question in Matthew 27:11 (see Luke 23:1-5).
13. So Pilate said. A death sentence is no light matter, and Pilate tries to make Jesus answer their charges.
14. But Jesus refused to answer. He does not “dignify” the charges by giving an answer to them. Pilate is very much impressed by Jesus’ silence. Later Pilate would try to set Jesus free (John 19:12).
15. In the habit of setting free. Pilate may suspect that Jesus is innocent, and that the Jewish leaders have brought him here out of jealousy. A custom gives him a chance to test this.
16. A well known prisoner. One who did lead a revolt (Mark 15:7). The two criminals who would be crucified with Jesus were fellow conspirators with this “Jesus Barabbas.” [“Barabbas” may mean: “son of a father,” or “son of a Rabbi.”] Some have made him a “symbol” of the guilty human race which is set free from punishment by the substitution of the innocent Christ.
17. So when the crowd gathered. When Pilate found Jesus was a Galilean, he sent him to Herod, ruler of that region, who was in Jerusalem at this time. After trying to get Jesus to do a miracle, Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus, then sent him back to Pilate (Luke 23:6-12). It is after Jesus is sent back to Pilate, that this crowd gathers. Which one? Both Pilate and Herod have pronounced Jesus innocent of guilt (Luke 23:15). Pilate wanted to set Jesus free (John 19:12), so he gives them a choice between Jesus Barabbas (who was guilty of revolt and murder) and Jesus the Christ (who was innocent of any crime).
18. He knew very well. Pilate knew their motives, but he was afraid to do the right thing.
19. His wife sent him a message. On this sad day, only a Gentile woman spoke up to say a good word for Jesus. She called him “that innocent man.” Procula (that is her name) must have been deeply interested in Jesus, and tradition says she became a follower of Christ after his resurrection. [Contrast Jesus’ attitude toward women (Luke 8:1-3) with the Jews who said: “For better is the iniquity of a man, than a woman doing a good turn” (Sirach 42:14).]
20. Persuaded the crowds. This crowd was assembled by the Jewish leaders at this early hour, and was probably “hand picked.” It may be that those who welcomed him in the Triumphant Entry just a week before, did not even know of his arrest.
21. Barabbas! they answered. Pilate asked them again, “Which one?”, but their minds are made up. The Jewish leaders have rejected Jesus Christ and chosen a murderous revolutionary instead. [This choice was prophetic of their own doom! See note on Matthew 24:21. ]
22. Nail him to the cross! This is the decision of the Jewish leaders and the people they represent. He will receive the punishment which Barabbas should have experienced for his crimes.
23. What crime has he committed? Pilate struggles between his sense of justice and his fear of the Jews. He repeats the question three times, and offers to have Jesus whipped and set free (Luke 23:22). But the situation is out of control, and he is too much the coward to take harsh measures to restore order.
24. When Pilate saw it was no use to go on. More than two million Jews were in Jerusalem for Passover, and probably not more than one thousand Roman soldiers were at his command. He could neither control a riot, nor explain it to his Roman superiors. Washed his hands. A symbolic act which said he was no longer responsible for what happened. This is your doing. Pilate is saying the guilt of this man’s death is on the Jewish leaders and their people.
25. The whole crowd answered back. They understand what Pilate said, and they are willing for all this guilt to be placed upon both they and their children! But later they try to escape from what they have done (Acts 5:28). Jesus had prophesied: “So the people of this time will be punished for the murder of all the prophets killed since the creation of the world” (Luke 11:50). See also Luke 23:27-31; Deuteronomy 28:49-57.
26. He had Jesus whipped. Condemned prisoners were whipped before being crucified. The whip was made of leather strips, and would cut the skin. It was done cruelly to drain the strength of the condemned man before nailing him to the cross.
27. Took Jesus into the governor’s palace. Pilate stayed in Herod’s palace when in Jerusalem (see map). The company of soldiers was probably a “maniple” of 200. These Gentile soldiers make fun of Jesus and cruelly abuse him (compare Mark 15:16-20).
28. They stripped off his clothes. They had put his clothes back on him after the whipping. Now they take them off again, and put a scarlet/purple robe on him [probably a worn-out robe thrown away by Herod]. Scarlet and purple were the “royal colors.”
29. A crown out of thorny branches. Both to make fun of his claim to be the king of the Jews, and to cause him as much pain as possible.
30. They spat on him. The greatest insult! But these Gentile soldiers are no worse than the Jewish Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:67).
31. When they had finished making fan of him. Pilate tried once more to persuade the people to free Jesus (John 19:5-16). When he could not convince them, he placed Jesus in the custody of the high priests, and the soldiers took Jesus away to nail him to the cross.
32. As they were going out. Jesus died outside the city gate (Hebrews 13:12). A man from Cyrene. Simon, father of two well known Christians (Mark 15:21). Cyrene was in North Africa, and had a large Jewish population. [Some think he was a black man.] To carry Jesus’ cross. Prisoners carried their own crosses, but Jesus is too weak from all that has happened to him and fell while carrying his cross (implied in John 19:17). Simon is forced to carry it for him. [Some think Luke 23:26 implies Simon only carried one end of the cross.]
33. Golgotha. A Hebrew word which means “skull.” The Latin word is calvaria, from which we get “Calvary.” It may have been a place of execution. No one knows for sure just where it was located.
34. Wine to drink, mixed with gall. Mark says “myrrh,” but perhaps both words refer to the same thing. This sour wine mixed with gall/myrrh was a drug to kill pain. [“Vinegar” in ancient times, was a sour wine made of grapes (such as chianti).] After tasting it. He understands their purpose.
35. They nailed him to the cross. This was the most hideously cruel death known to the ancient world. The victim suffered from fever and dehydration, but death did not usually come in less than 36 hours. Jews did not crucify Jews, nor Romans crucify Romans. Intense hate is shown by the Jewish leaders demanding that Jesus be crucified. Then divided his clothes. See John 19:23-24. This fulfilled Psalms 22:18.
36. Watched him. A guard was posted until the victim died.
37. This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Luke says this was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, so that everyone would be able to read it. The Jewish leaders objected to this, but Pilate said: “What I have written stays written” (John 19:19-22).
38. Two bandits. Fellow conspirators with Barabbas (Mark 15:7). They were being crucified for their part in leading a revolt against the Romans.
39. Shook their heads. A form of insult (see 2 Kings 19:21; Job 16:4; Psalms 109:25). Hurled insults. They taunted him. [Remember that this is Passover, and many thousands of Jews have come to Jerusalem and some are camped on the hills around the place of execution.]
40. You were going to tear down the temple. What Jesus had prophesied was now taking place (John 2:19-22). If you are God’s Son. That is: “What could God’s Son be doing on a cross?”
41–42. In the same way. The Jewish leaders make fun of him. But he cannot save himself. A paradox! If he now saved himself, he would not be able to save others. Isn’t he the King of Israel? Making fun of Jesus and the sign Pilate had put on the cross.
43. And says he is God’s Son. The Sanhedrin had sentenced him to death because he said this. “What could God’s Son be doing on a cross?”
44. Even the bandits. They were in great agony, but they insult him also! [But one changed his mind. See Luke 23:39-43.]
45. Darkness, which lasted for three hours. Over Judea, and some think the entire earth. This would not have been an eclipse, at the time of full moon. The darkness was the mighty act of God!
46. At about three o’clock. Jesus has been on the cross about six hours. Jesus cried with a loud shout. Some think that God had to briefly withdraw his “presence” from Christ, so he could experience death. Some think the fact that Jesus “shared our sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) caused God to briefly turn his back on Jesus as he held the world’s sin on the cross. The words show that Jesus felt he hung on the cross alone, yet he calls: “My God, My God.”
47. He is calling for Elijah. This is probably a deliberate misunderstanding. The Jews expected Elijah to come before the Messiah.
48. Tried to make him drink it. Jesus had said: “I am thirsty” (John 19:28). This was the sour wine the soldiers drank (see note on Matthew 27:34). This time Jesus drinks some, to moisten his dry throat (John 19:30).
49. Wait. This is spoken to the one giving Jesus the wine. They do not want to do anything that would prevent Elijah coming to save Jesus. [They are making fun of Jesus when they say this.]
50. Jesus again gave a loud cry. “It is finished” (John 19:30). The “Church Fathers” believed this showed that Jesus died voluntarily. Dr. Stroud believes it shows Jesus died of a ruptured heart. Probably both are true. See John 10:17-18.
51. The curtain... was torn in two. This was the heavy curtain which divided the “Holy of Holies” from the “Holy Place” (see plan of Herod’s Temple). “From top to bottom” shows this to be an act of God, and it is intended to be symbolic (see Hebrews 10:19-21). The earth shook. Not an ordinary earthquake. This is a part of the supernatural and symbolic “signs” that accompany the Death of Jesus.
52. The graves broke open. This too is symbolic. Were raised to life. But not until Jesus himself was raised to life. This is implied in Colossians 1:18.
53. They left the graves. Matthew states it this way to show that it was not Jesus who raised them from death; but that as Jesus came out of the grave, they also left their graves and went into Jerusalem. [We are not told whether they returned to their graves at a later time. Some think they ascended with Jesus, but we are not told this] Where many people saw them. Perhaps three million people crowded Jerusalem at this time (see note on Matthew 26:5). The crucifixion of Jesus and the “signs” which followed were seen by the whole Jewish people who were assembled here. THIS WAS GOD’S ACT IN HISTORY!
54. He really was the Son of God! The army officer meant this in the Jewish sense! He knew the charge against Jesus (John 19:7), and he would know Jewish customs well enough to be aware of the meaning of what he said.
55–56. There were many women there. These devoted women were still faithful, when the disciples had fled [They may have felt less threatened by the Jewish leaders, because they were women.] Of the apostles, we know only that John was near [he shows himself an eyewitness]. Alford (Greek Testament) thinks there was another group of disciples within sight, but at a distance. Mary Magdalene. Spoken of here in Luke 8:2 (before the Resurrection). Mary the mother of James and Joseph. She was the wife of Clopas or Alphaeus ( John 19:25). See note on Matthew 10:2-4. The mother of Zebedee’s sons. Salome, “his (Jesus’) mother’s sister” (John 19:25). See note on Matthew 10:2-4. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also at the cross, but Alford thinks she was led away by John (John 19:27).
57. His name was Joseph. A member of the Sanhedrin, and a rich man. He had not been a part of the murder of Jesus (Luke 23:50-51:Mark 15:43). A disciple of Jesus. A secret follower (John 19:38), but this action brings him out in the open. The death of Christ gave him courage.
58. Asked for the body of Jesus. Usually the body was left on the cross to decay. This Sabbath was a special day (John 19:31), so the bodies were removed. It probably made Pilate “feel better” about the whole thing, to give the body of Jesus to Joseph.
59. So Joseph took it. He took it down from the cross. Wrapped it in a new linen sheet. Nicodemus (also a member of the Sanhedrin) helped him embalm the body with spices (John 19:39), but they could only do a partial job, since time was short.
60. And placed it in his own grave. This made Isaiah 53:9 come true. “Among the wicked they gave to him a tomb, among the rich after his death, although he did no injustice and deception was not in his mouth”(Isaiah 53:9 Zamenhof’s version). [It is important that Jesus was wrapped in a new linen sheet and placed in a new grave never before used. This made it impossible for any to say that the spirit of a dead man (demon) had come into the body and animated it (zombie).]
61. The other Mary. The mother of James and Joseph (Joses). See note on Matthew 10:2-4. These women saw where Jesus was buried and came back after the Sabbath was over, with spices (Luke 24:1), intending to finish embalming the body.
62. On the next day. On the Sabbath (Saturday).
63–64. Sir, we remember. These Jewish leaders remembered Jesus’ prediction. Give orders, then. They wanted a Roman guard posted. Until the third day. That is, until Sunday morning. Friday would be the first day. (See note on Matthew 12:40).
65. Take a guard. Pilate grants them a guard of Roman soldiers. Since Pilate does not expect Jesus to rise from death, there is no irony in what he says.
66. And made the grave secure. The grave was a cave dug in the rock, with a large stone rolled across the entrance to close it. A cord or string is stretched across the rock and sealed at each side with wax. Moving the stone would break the seal. The guard is posted, and everything humanly possible has
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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 27". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany