When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
For the exposition of this portion, see the note at John 18:28, etc.
This portion is special to Matthew. On the progress of guilt in the traitor, see the notes at Mark 14:1-11, Remark 8; and at John 13:21-30.
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,
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned. The condemnation, even though not unexpected, might well fill him with horror. But perhaps this unhappy man expected that, while he got the bribe, the Lord would miraculously escape, as He had once and again done before, out of His enemies' power; and if so, his remorse would come upon him with all the greater keenness.
Repented himself - but, as the issue too sadly showed, it was "the sorrow of the world, which worketh death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).
And brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. A remarkable illustration of the power of an awakened conscience. A short time before, the promise of this sordid self was temptation enough to his covetous heart to outweigh the most overwhelming obligations of duty and love; now, the possession of it so lashes him that he cannot use it, cannot even keep it!
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. What a testimony this to Jesus! Judas had been with Him in all circumstances for three years; his post, as treasurer to Him and the Twelve (John 12:6), gave him special opportunity of watching the spirit, disposition, and habits of his Master; while his covetous nature and thievish practices would incline him to dark and suspicious, rather than frank and generous, interpretations of all that He said and did. If, then, he could have fastened on one questionable feature in all that he had so long witnessed, we may be sure that no such speech as this would ever have escaped his lips, nor would he have been so stung with remorse as not to Be able to keep the money and survive his crime.
And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that: - `Guilty or innocent is nothing to us: We have him now-begone!' Was ever speech more hellish uttered?
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
And he cast down the pieces of silver. The sarcastic, diabolical reply which he had got, in place of the sympathy which perhaps he expected, would deepen his remorse into an agony.
In the temple, [ en (Greek #1722) too (Greek #3588) naoo (Greek #3485)] - the temple proper, commonly called 'the sanctuary,' or 'the holy place,' into which only the priests might enter. How is this to be explained? Perhaps he flung the money in after them. But thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet - "I cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord" (Zechariah 11:13). And departed, and went and hanged himself. See, for the details, the note at Acts 1:18.
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.
And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, [ korbanan (Greek #2878)] - 'the Corban,' or chest containing the money dedicated to sacred purposes (see the notes at Matthew 15:5) --
Because it is the price of blood. How scrupulous now! But those punctilious scruples made them unconsciously fulfill the Scripture.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
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; Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying (Zechariah 11:12-13), And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value,
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. Never was a complicated prophecy, otherwise hopelessly dark, more marvelously fulfilled. Various conjectures have been formed to account for Matthew's ascribing to Jeremiah a prophecy found in the book of Zechariah. But since with this book he was plainly familiar, having quoted one of its most remarkable prophecies of Christ but a few chapters before (Matthew 21:4-5), the question is one more of critical interest than real importance. Perhaps the true explanation is the following, from Lightfoot:-`Jeremiah of old had the first place among the prophets, and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest in Matthew 16:14; because he stood first in the volume of the prophets (as he proves from the learned David Kimchi) therefore he is first named. When, therefore, Matthew produceth a text of Zechariah under the name of Jeremy, he only cites the words of the volume of the prophets under his name who stood first in the volume of the prophets. Of which sort is that also of our Saviour (Luke 24:44), "All things must be fulfilled which are written of me in the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms," or the Book of Hagiographa, in which the Psalms were placed first.'
(1) The mastery acquired by the passions is, probably in every case, gradual. In the case of Judas-the most appalling on record-it must have been very gradual; otherwise it is incredible that he should have been such a constant and promising follower of our Lord as to be admitted by Him into the number of the Twelve, and that he should not only have been allowed to remain within that sacred circle to the last, but have remained undiscovered in his true character to the Eleven until after he had sold his Master, and even within an hour of his consummated treason. What a lesson does this read to the self-confident, to resist the beginnings of sinful indulgence!
(2) The love of money, when it becomes the ruling passion, blinds-as does every other passion-the mind of its victim, which is only to be opened by some unexpected and disappointing event.
(3) The true character of repentance is determined neither by its sincerity nor by its bitterness, but by the views under which it is done. Judas and Peter repented, it should seem, with equal sincerity and equal pungency, of what they had done. But the one "went and hanged himself;" the other "went out and wept bitterly." Whence this difference! The one, under the sense of his guilt, had nothing to fall back upon; and deeming pardon for such a wretch utterly hopeless, and unable to live without it, he hasted to terminate with his own hand a life of insupportable misery. The other, having done a deed which might well have made him incapable of ever again looking his Lord in the face, nevertheless turned toward Him his guilty eyes, when, lo! the Eye of his wounded Lord, glancing from the hall of judgment full down upon himself, with a grief and a tenderness that told their own tale, shot right into his heart, and brought from it a flood of penitential tears! In the one case we have natural principles working themselves out to deadly effect; in the other, we see grace In the one case we have natural principles working themselves out to deadly effect; in the other, we see grace working repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of.
(4) What a vivid illustration have we here of the reality of supernatural illumination and the divine truth of the Scriptures, as also of the consistency of the divine arrangements with the liberty of the human will in executing them! Here we have a prophet, five centuries before the birth of Christ, personating Messiah, in bidding the Jewish authorities give him his price, if they thought good, and if not, to forbear; whereupon they weigh him for his price the exact sum agreed upon between Judas and the chief priests for the sale of his Lord-thirty pieces of silver. Then, the Lord bids him cast this to the potter; adding, with sublime satire, "A goodly price that I was prized at of them!" Whereupon he takes the 'thirty pieces of silver, and casts them to the potter in the house of the Lord' (Zechariah 11:12-13). Now, each of these acts was so unessential to the main business, that they might have been quite different from what they were, without in the least affecting it. Our Lord might have been identified and apprehended without being betrayed by one of His apostles; because the plan was first suggested to the authorities by Judas offering, for a consideration, to do it. And when agreed to, the sum offered and accepted might have been more or less than that actually agreed on. But so it was, that of their own accord they bargained with Judas for precisely the predicted thirty pieces of silver. Nor was this all. For, as the consciences of those holy hypocrites would have been hurt by putting the price of blood into the treasury, and therefore it must be put to some pious use, they resolve to buy with it "the potter's field" as a burial-ground for strangers-thus again unconsciously, and with marvelous minuteness, fulfilling a prediction five centuries old, and so setting a double seal on the Messiahship of Jesus!
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.
For the exposition, see the notes at Luke 23:1-25, and at John 18:28-40.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 15:16-22.
They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof he would not drink They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
For the exposition, see the notes at John 19:18-30.
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;
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. This was the thick and gorgeously-worked veil which was hung between the "holy place" and the "holiest of all," shutting out all access to the presence of God as manifested "from above the mercy-seat and from between the cherubim:" - "the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made mainfest" (Hebrews 9:8). Into this holiest of all none might enter, not even the high priest, except once a year, on the great day of atonement, and then only with the blood of atonement in his hands, which he sprinkled "upon and before the mercy-seat seven times" (Leviticus 16:14) - to signify that access for sinners to a holy God is only through atoning blood. But as they had only the blood of bulls and of goats, which could not take away sins (Hebrews 10:4), during all the long ages that preceded the death of Christ, the thick veil remained; the blood of bulls and of goats continued to be shed and sprinkled; and once a year access to God through an atoning sacrifice was vouchsafed-in a picture, or rather, was dramatically represented, in those symbolical actions-nothing more.
But now, the one atoning Sacrifice being provided in the precious blood of Christ, access to this holy God could no longer be denied; and so the moment the Victim expired on the altar, that thick veil which for so many ages had been the dread symbol of separation between God and guilty men was, without a hand touching it, mysteriously "rent in twain from top to bottom:" - "the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was NOW made manifest!" How emphatic the statement, "from top to bottom;" as if to say, Come boldly now to the Throne of Grace; the veil is clean gone; the Mercyseat stands open to the gaze of sinners, and the way to it is sprinkled with the blood of Him - "who through the eternal Spirit hath offered Himself without spot to God"! Before, it was death to go in, now it is death to stay out. See more on this glorious subject at Hebrews 10:19-22.
An Earthquake-the rocks torn apart-the graves opened, that the saints which slept in them might come forth after their Lord's Resurrection (Matthew 27:51-53).
And the earth did quake. From what follows it would seem that this earthquake was local, having for its object the breaking of the rocks and the opening of the graves.
And the rocks rent ('were rent') - the physical creation thus sublimely proclaiming, at the bidding of its Maker, the concussion which at that moment was taking place in the moral world at the most critical moment of its history. Extraordinary rents and fissures have been observed in the rocks near this spot.
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
And came out of the graves after his resurrection. These sleeping saints (see the note at 1 Thessalonians 4:14) were Old Testament believers, who-according to the usual punctuation in our version-were quickened into resurrection-life at the moment of their Lord's death, but lay in their graves until His resurrection, when they came forth. But it is far more natural, as we think, and consonant with other scriptures, to understand that only the graves were opened, probably by the earthquake, at our Lord's death, and this only in preparation for the subsequent exit of those who slept in them, when the Spirit of life should enter into them from their risen Lord, and along with Him they should come forth, trophies of His victory over the grave. Thus, in the opening of the graves at the moment of the Redeemer's expiring, there was a glorious symbolical proclamation that the Death which had just taken place had "swallowed up death in victory;" and whereas the saints that slept in them were awakened only by their risen Lord, to accompany Him out of the tomb, it was fitting that "the Prince of Life" "should be the First that should rise from the dead" (Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).
And went into the holy city - that city where He, in virtue of whose resurrection they were now alive, had been condemned.
And appeared unto many - that there might be undeniable evidence of their own resurrection first, and through it of their Lord's. Thus, while it was not deemed fitting that He Himself should appear again in Jerusalem, except to the disciples, provision was made that the fact of His resurrection should be left in no doubt. It must be observed, however, that the resurrection of these sleeping saints was not like those of the widow of Nain's son, of Jairus' daughter, of Lazarus, and of the man who "revived and stood upon his feet," on his dead body touching the bones of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21) - which were mere temporary recallings of the departed spirit to the mortal body, to be followed by a final departure of it "until the trumpet shall sound." But this was a resurrection once for all, to life everlasting; and so there is no room to doubt that they went to glory with their Lord, as bright trophies of His victory over death.
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. Now when the centurion - the military superintendent of the execution,
And they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake - or felt it and witnessed its effects,
And those things that were done - reflecting upon the entire transaction,
They feared greatly - convinced of the presence of a Divine Hand,
Saying, Truly this was the Son of God. There cannot be a reasonable doubt that this expression was used in the Jewish sense, and that it points to the claim which Jesus made to be the Son of God, and on which His condemnation expressly turned. The meaning, then, clearly is, that He must have been what He professed to be; in other words, that He was no impostor. There was no medium between those two. See, on the similar testimony of the penitent thief - "This man hath done nothing amiss" - at Luke 23:41.
And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus, [ eekoloutheesan (Greek #190)]. The sense here would be better brought out by the use of the pluperfect, 'which had followed Jesus.'
From Galilee, ministering unto him. As these dear women had ministered to Him during His glorious missionary tours in Galilee (see the notes at Luke 8:1-3), so from this statement it should seem that they accompanied Him and ministered to His wants from Galilee on His final journey to Jerusalem.
Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
Among which was Mary Magdalene (see the note at Luke 8:2), and Mary the mother of James and Joses - the wife of Cleophas, or rather Clopas, and sister of the Virgin (John 19:25). See the notes at Matthew 13:55-56.
And the mother of Zebedee's children - that is, Salome: compare Mark 15:40. All this about the women is mentioned for the sake of what is afterward to be related of their purchasing spices to anoint their Lord's body.
When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
For the exposition of this portion, see the notes at John 19:38-42.
And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary - "the mother of James and Joses," mentioned before
Sitting over against the sepulchre. See the note at Mark 16:1.
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation - that is, after six o'clock of our Saturday evening. The crucifixion took place on the Friday, and all was not over until shortly before sunset, when the Jewish Sabbath commenced; and "that sabbath day was an high day" (John 19:31), being the first day of the feast of the Unleavened Bread. That day being over at six on Saturday evening, they hastened to take their measures.
The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver - Never, remarks Bengel, will you find the heads of the people calling Jesus by His own name. And yet here there is betrayed a certain uneasiness, which one almost fancies they only tried to stifle in their own minds, as well as crush in Pilate's, in case he should have any lurking suspicion that he had done wrong in yielding to them.
Said, while he was yet alive. Important testimony this, from the lips of His bitterest enemies, to the reality of Christ's death; the cornerstone of the whole Christian religion.
After three days - which, according to the customary Jewish way of reckoning, need signify no more than 'after the commencement of the third day.'
I will rise again, [ egeiromai (Greek #1453)] - 'I rise,' in the present tense, thus reporting not only the fact that this prediction of His had reached their ears, but that they understood Him to look forward confidently to its occurring on the very day named.
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.
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure - by a Roman guard,
Until the third day - after which, if He still lay the grave, the imposture of His claims would be manifest to all.
Lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead. [The word nuktos (Greek #3571), 'by night,' appears by the authorities not to belong to the genuine text here, and was probably introduced from Matthew 28:13]. Did they really fear this?
So the last error shall be worse than the first - the imposture of His pretended resurrection worse than that of His pretended Messiahship.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch. The guards had already acted under orders of the Sanhedrim, with Pilate's consent; but probably they were not clear about employing them as a night-watch without Pilate's express authority.
Go your way, make it as sure as ye can, [ hoos (Greek #5613) oidate (Greek #1492)] - 'as ye know how,' or in the way ye deem securest. Though there may be no irony in this speech, it evidently insinuated that if the event should be contrary to their wish, it would not be for want of sufficient human appliances to prevent it.
So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone - which Mark (Mark 16:4) says was "very great,"
And setting a watch - to guard it. What more could man do? But while they are trying to prevent the resurrection of the Prince of Life, God makes use of their precautions for His own ends. Their stone-covered, seal-secured grave shall preserve the sleeping dust of the Son of God free from all indignities, in undisturbed, sublime repose; while their watch shall be His guard of honour until the angels shall come to take their place!
(1) How grandly was the true nature of Christ's death proclaimed by the rending of the veil at the moment when it took place! He was "by wicked hands," indeed, "crucified and slain." He died, it is true, a glorious example of suffering "for righteousness' sake." Yet not these, nor any other explanations of His death, however correct in themselves, furnish the true key to the divine intent of it. But if the temple and its services were the center and soul of the Church's instituted worship under the ancient economy; if that portion of the temple which was the holiest of all, and the symbol of God's dwelling place among men, was shut to every Israelite by a thick veil through which it was death to pass, and was accessible to His high-priestly representative only on that one day of the year when he carried within the veil the blood of atonement, and sprinkled it upon and before that mercy-seat which represented the Throne of God; if on that one occasion, and upon that one action, in all the year, Yahweh manifested Himself in visible glory, as a God graciously present with sinful men, and accepting the persons and services of sinful worshippers-thus symbolically proclaiming that without the shedding of blood there was no remission, and without remission, no access to God, and no acceptable worship-while yet it was manifest that the only blood which ever was shed upon the Jewish altar, and sprinkled upon the mercy-seat had no atoning virtue in it at all, and so could not, and never did take away sin; and finally, if after all this teaching of the ancient economy up to the moment of Christ's death, as to the necessity and yet the absence of atoning blood, it came to pass that at the moment when Christ died-without a hand touching it-the thick veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and so the holiest was thrown open: who can fail to see that this was done by a Divine Hand, in order to teach, even by the naked eye, that the true atoning Victim had now been slain, and that, having put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself-having finished the transgression, and made an end of sins, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and sealed up the vision and prophecy, He had anointed the holy of holies (Daniel 9:24), in order that not the high priest only, but every believer, not once a year, but at all times, might have boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which He hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His own flesh" (Hebrews 10:19-20). Nor is it possible to give any tolerable explanation of this tearing of the curtain at Christ's death, if its sacrificial, atoning character be denied or explained away. To talk of its signifying the breaking down of the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, as some do, is altogether wide of the mark. For the veil was intended to shut out, not Gentiles, but Jews themselves, from the presence of God; and the liberty to pass through it once, but once only, with atoning blood, both showed what alone would remove that veil for any worshipper, and the absence of that one thing so long as the veil remained. And thus the great doctrine of the sacrificial design and atoning efficacy of the death of Christ was proclaimed in the most expressive symbolical language at the moment when it took place.
(2) Do Christians sufficiently recognize the fact, that sin is "put away" as a ground of exclusion from the favour of God; so that the most guilty on the face of the earth, believing this, has "boldness to enter in by the blood of Jesus" to perfect reconciliation. As no worshipper was holy enough to have right to go within that veil which shut out the guilty under the law, so no worshipper is sinful enough to be shut out from the holiest of all who win enter it by the blood of Jesus. As all were shut out alike under the law, so all are alike free to enter under the Gospel. This is that present salvation which Christ's servants are honoured to preach to every sinner, the faith of which sets the conscience free, and overcomes the world; but want of the clear apprehension of which keeps multitudes of sincere Christians all their lifetime subject to bondage.
(3) What a grand testimony did the rending of the rocks and the opening of the graves at the moment of Christ's death bear to the subserviency of all nature to the purposes of Redemption! As when He walked the earth all nature was at His bidding, so now at His Death-which was the reconciliation of Heaven, the life of the dead, the knell of the kingdom of darkness, and Paradise regained-Nature felt the deed, and heaved sympathetic.
(4) How beautifully does the resurrection of those sleeping saints of the Old Testament, by virtue of Christ's resurrection-that they might grace with their presence His exit from the tomb-proclaim the unity of the Church of the redeemed under every economy, and the fact that, whether they lived before or live after Christ, it is 'because He lives that they live also!'
(5) How remarkable is it to find a heathen officer-who probably knew little or nothing of Christ except the charge on which He was condemned to die, that "He made Himself the Son of God" - unable to resist the evidence which the scenes of Calvary furnished of His innocence, and consequently of the truth of His claims, little as he would understand what they were; while those who had been trained to the study of the Scriptures, and had been favoured with overpowering evidence of the claims of Jesus to be the Hope of Israel, were His bloody murderers!
(6) How precious to Christians should be those testimonies to the reality of Christ's death which even His enemies unconsciously bore, since on this depends the reality of His resurrection, and on both of these hang all that is dear to God's children! So little did they doubt of His death, that their only fear-whether real or pretended-was that His disciples would come and steal away His dead body, and pretend that He had risen from the dead. Then, having gotten what they wanted from Pilate-full power to see to the sealing of the stone and the placing of a military guard to watch it until the third day-they thus themselves unconsciously attested the reality of the resurrection which, on the morning of the third day took place, when, in spite of all their precautions, the sepulchre was found empty, and the grave-clothes lying disposed in grand orderliness, as they had been laid calmly aside when no longer needed!
(7) Have we not here one of the most striking commentaries imaginable on those words of the Psalmist, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain"? (Psalms 76:10). For as the death of Christ, which the wrath of man procured, was infinitely to the praise of God, and the "remainder of that wrath" might have extended to the infliction of indignities even upon the dead body, had it been exposed, it pleased God to put it into the heart of Pilate to give the body for interment into the hands of Jesus' friends, and so to "restrain the remainder" of His enemies' wrath that they themselves sealed up the grave and set the militant guard over it-thus securing its sacred repose until the appointed hour of release. O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
(8) How sweet should be the grave to Christ's sleeping saints! Might we not hear Him saying to them beforehand, "Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will go down with you, and I will surely bring you up again"? And indeed He has gone down, and lain in as cold, and dark, and narrow, and repulsive a bed as any of you, O believers, will ever be called to lie down in; and has He not sweetened the clods of the valley-or haply, the great deep-as a perfumed bed for you to lie down in?
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany