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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 27

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Verses 1-2

Delivered to Pilate

The Lord was questioned and mocked all night long by the religious leaders of the people, the people to whom He came to set free from their sins. But they do not want Him. He was also betrayed by one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, abandoned by all His other disciples and also denied by Peter.

How lonely He is in all that happens to Him. And what a defamatory and humiliating treatment He has yet to face. In all this He knows that One has not forsaken Him. Yet He knows that when He hangs on the cross, He will finally be forsaken there by His God. He has accepted the cup and will drink it until the last drop.

The chief priests and elders deliberately find Jesus guilty and decide to kill Him. Their deliberations are the result of their own importance. The ego of the religious man comes to the conclusion that Christ, the Son of God, must be murdered. Because they are not allowed to carry out a death sentence themselves, they hand Him over to Pilate. They would have wanted to kill Him themselves, but they are afraid of the people. They seek the support of the government to make it seem a legal conviction. To bring him to Pilate they bind the almighty God Who has always been a blessing in their midst and lead Him away from the house of the high priest. He does not resist.

Verses 3-10

The Death of Judas

Judas followed the ‘trial’. When he sees that the Lord is condemned, he wants to withdraw from the plot. During the interrogation and mistreatment he did nothing. It seems he has been waiting for the moment when the Lord would miraculously rid himself of His assailants. But Judas is blind to Who Christ is and to the work He will do. The money has him in its grip. Therefore, all his considerations are in vain. Nor is his repentance a repentance for his crime, but for the outcome that he did not estimate.

Judas knows that the Lord is innocent. His conscience, deceived by satan, needs to bear witness to the innocence of the Lord. The hardening of the chief priests and elders is, if possible, even worse than that of Judas. Judas acknowledges that he has betrayed innocent blood. The leaders are unscrupulous, people without any feeling. They want to get rid of Christ whatever it costs them in money or people.

After the complete insensitivity of the leaders Judas sinks into complete despair. What he seemed to have won with his betrayal, he throws back for nothing into the temple sanctuary. Tempted and completely overwhelmed by the devil, he then loses himself as well. He goes away and hangs himself. It is no redemption from his tormenting conscience. His deed will torment him forever in the pains of hell (John 17:12; Matthew 18:8-1 Samuel :).

The chief priests have the silver back in their hands. It reveals their supreme hypocrisy. The money that they themselves have paid out for the betrayal is now labelled as blood money. It betrays their blindness. They themselves are the cause of this blood money. In so doing, they condemn themselves. They confer what to do with this money. Every deliberation is based on the idea that they want to get rid of the Son of God, while pretending to themselves that they want to keep clean hands.

As always, God is above this event and uses the outcome of their deliberations as a testimony against them. By buying the field they have created a permanent memorial of their own sin and the blood they have shed. Through the murder of God’s Son, the world has become a Field of Blood.

The plan to use the pieces of silver for the purchase of the Potter’s Field was also foretold by God in His Word. The citation comes from Zechariah 11 (Zechariah 11:12-1 Chronicles :). [That it says “which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet” may have been the result of a later insertion, for it is possible that originally there was nothing but “the prophet”.]

Verses 11-14

Questioning by Pilate

The Lord Jesus stands there before the governor. An impressive scene. There the Creator of heaven and earth, the ruler of the universe, stands before a corrupt vassal of Rome, the representative of Roman authority to which Israel is subjected by its unfaithfulness. The governor questions Him. What a position of humiliation Christ takes. He Who is the Judge of all the earth, let Himself be questioned by a corrupt public servant. Pilate asks Him if He is “the King of the Jews”. That is the important question for him and not whether he is the Son of God. Because it is again a question about His Person, the Lord also answers this question (cf. Matthew 26:63-3 John :).

While the Lord stands before Pilate, the chief priests and elders do their best to convince Pilate of His guilt. They are tireless in their efforts to get Him sentenced not to imprisonment, but to death. The Lord does not respond to all their accusations. Pilate finds it strange that He doesn’t react to everything that is testified against Him. He is not deaf, is He? Pilate does not get an answer either. He remains as if deaf. Pilate has never had such a prisoner before. He is very amazed about His attitude.

Verses 15-21

Jesus or Barabbas

The governor is looking for a way to release the Lord. Now he thinks of his custom of releasing a prisoner of the people’s choice on the occasion of a feast. As the Passover is drawing near, as a good politician he can use his custom to see if he can release Him that way. These are the excuses of the natural human being not to choose for himself but to pass the responsibility on to others.

As the executor of justice, Pilate failed completely. But God will use Pilate’s custom to make the absolute will of the people to kill His Son even clearer. The unjust representative of the authority of the nations is powerless against evil because he is guilty of the same evil. He too thinks only of himself and his own interests.

Ironically, Pilate has a certain Barabbas in mind as an ‘alternative’ to the Lord. The irony lies in the meaning of his name. Barabbas means ‘son of the father’. His father is the devil. This ‘son of the father’ is placed next to the Son of the Father. Pilate thinks he is making a smart move with Barabbas. He knows that Barabbas is a big criminal in the eyes of the people. They would certainly want him to release Jesus. His thought stems from the right conclusion that the Lord was surrendered out of envy. But he has no eye for their deep hatred of Him, just as he is blind to the corruption of his own heart.

In order to dress his proposal up with authority, he sits on the judgment seat. What an exhibition! The puppet of the people and the servant of Rome represents the official authority and must do justice. He is convinced of the innocence of Christ, but he refuses to express it clearly.

He even receives a warning from his wife. She sends him the message that God has given her in a dream. She calls Him “that righteous Man”. She also says that in her dream she suffered a lot because of Him. This can only be done by the Spirit of God. She listens to the message of God and wants to keep her husband from the greatest iniquity ever. With this she shows herself to be a real help, as a wife is meant to be for her husband.

But Pilate is just as unattainable to his wife as his attempts to release the Lord are to no avail. He will bow to the boundless wickedness and murderousness of the chief priests and elders. They manipulate the crowds to choose Barabbas, while at the same time inciting them to demand the death of the Lord Jesus.

Pilate’s weak answer consists of the choice he announces to them once more. But there is no consideration among the people. The choice is fixed. It doesn’t matter who is released, as long as Jesus is killed.

Verses 22-26

Sentenced to Death

Now that the choice of the people has proved unshakeable, Pilate asks what to do with “Jesus who is called Christ”. Which judge has ever asked the people what to do with a prisoner? It happens to the Lord Jesus. No injustice, no humiliation has been spared him. And in the midst of this whole pretense, this sham trial, He remains silent.

Pilate tries to bring them to reason with the question of what evil He has done. The people are not open to reason. They want to see blood, His blood.

Pilate realizes that he has to stop his attempts to free Him. His first concern is to keep the people quiet. When there is a revolt, he gets into trouble with his boss in Rome. And he wants to avoid this at all costs, at the expense of justice, at the expense of truth, at the expense of Him Who is the truth.

At the same time, he also wants to exonerate himself. Therefore he takes water to wash his hands as a sign that he has clean hands and is therefore innocent of His blood. As if physical water can take away the great sin that he commits out of his selfish heart. The fool. He believes that he can pass on his own responsibility and place it on the people by saying that they have to see to that themselves. His guilt is fixed forever.

The people are also one hundred percent guilty. They pronounce the word that in the following centuries has become true in a horrible way. It will also become true in the most horrible way in the great tribulation that will come upon them.

Pilate washed his hands, but that doesn’t change the fact that his hands are tied to the will of the people. His hands are covered in blood. He releases the murderer Barabbas and he scourges the Lord. Even if his soldiers actually do it, he is responsible for it. Similarly, he is responsible for crucifying the Lord.

Verses 27-31


The governor’s soldiers, soldiers over whom he has authority, take the Lord with them into Pilate’s official residence. These soldiers call on all their comrades to gather “around Him”. Before He is crucified, He becomes the target of the mockery of an entire cohort. Everything that constitutes His dignity as Man is taken from Him. The stripping will not have been done gentle. Then they dress Him up as King by putting a scarlet robe on Him.

To make His confession that He is a King even more ridiculous, they twist a crown of thorns and put it on His head. The Lord is not spared any humiliation. Thorns are the result of sin that has come into the world (Genesis 3:18). By putting a crown of thorns on Him, it is as if they declare Him to be the cause that sin has come into the world. They also give Him a reed as a scepter in his hand. And the Lord holds it.

Mockingly they fall on their knees before Him and greet Him as King of the Jews. And that He is. One day they will fall to their knees before Him. Then it will not be to mock Him, but to confess Him in truth as Lord (Philippians 2:10).

Their contempt knows no bounds. They spit on Him with slanderous spittle. He has not turned His face away from it (Isaiah 50:6). Is there anything that expresses greater contempt than spitting in someone’s face? The reed they had put into His hand as a mocking symbol of government, they take away from him again, beating Him on His head crowned with thorns. The reed is not one that breaks easily, but a real stick. A sponge can be put on it to lift it up to give in that way a drink to the Lord (Matthew 27:48). When their lust for mockery is satiated, they take off the robe of mockery and put his own garments back on Him. Then they lead Him away to crucify Him.

It is poignant that the Lord is completely silent during all the mistreatment and ridicule. There is not even a threatening look. This does not mean that He has allowed everything to come over Himself stoically, numbly, as an inevitable fate. He has felt every mistreatment and ridicule deeply, both physically and in His soul. In several psalms He expresses His feelings about what is done to Him (Psalms 22; 69; 102; 109). He is truly perfect Man, but He is also the perfect Man because He trusts Himself completely to God and knows that He is supported by God in this terrible suffering inflicted upon Him by men.

Verses 32-38

The Crucifixion

That the Lord is perfect Man is shown by the fact that He almost collapses under the weight of the cross He has to carry to Calvary. His strength is dried up like a potsherd (Psalms 22:15). He is so weak, that He can hardly do it. The soldiers see that and want to prevent that He succumbs along the way. Simon of Cyrene has the honor – although he did not see it that way at the time, for he must be pressed to do so – to carry the cross of the Lord Jesus on his back.

When they have passed through the streets of Jerusalem and left the city, they arrive with their Prisoner at the place called Golgotha. This is the place of execution. Because of its shape or perhaps also because of the many executions that have taken place, it has been given the name “Place of a Skull”. A gruesome place, conceived by man to allow criminals to die a horrible death. But what a tremendous blessing has proceeded out of this terrible place through the death of the Savior.

Crucifixion causes indescribable pain. It is a torturing death. To alleviate the suffering to some extent, a kind of anesthetic, wine, mixed with gall, was given to drink. It is also given to the Lord to drink. After having tasted this medicine momentarily, He does not want to drink it, for He wants to taste death in all its fullness.

Matthew says nothing about the crucifixion itself. It must have been awful for the Lord to be laid on the wood and to be attached to the cross with nails through His hands and feet. Then the cross is erected and placed in a hole that has been dug for it. The soldiers who do that work would not have done it gently. The suffering of people in general and of this Man in particular does nothing to them.

After this terrible treatment they sit under the cross casting lots for His garments. Who would have worn His garments later? What they do to have fun is a fulfilment of the Scriptures (Psalms 22:18). God fulfils His Word to the letter, also in the evil of man. The soldiers guard Him to prevent His disciples from taking Him off the cross before He dies. Again such a foolish act in the light of God’s plan.

An inscription hangs above his head: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” The inscription is meant as a mockery and an accusation, but how true it is. He hangs on the cross because He is. Two more criminals are crucified with Him. Matthew expressly mentions that they are crucified to the right and left of Him, so that He hangs in the middle, as if He were the greatest criminal.

Verses 39-44

On the Cross

Even when He hangs on the cross, the slander continues. People, His people, despised Him. They pass Him by shaking their heads and slandering, underlining, as it were, the verdict being carried out upon Him. This is how they mocked Him Who had been such a blessing among them.

The content of their slander is a corruption of what He said about the temple of His body (John 2:19). How much dishonor the Lord is done today by changing His words, by interpreting them differently than He intended. It is my prayer that He will keep me from doing so.

The religious leaders of God’s people cannot stop with their mockery. In the euphoria of victory they call out to the Lord with fresh slander, while He hangs there in great pains and deep humiliation. In their mockery they pronounce a great truth. He has indeed saved others and He cannot save Himself. He can’t save Himself because His love for the lost doesn’t allow Him to do so. His obedience to His Father also commands Him to stay there. In their great hypocrisy, they add that they will believe when He comes down from the cross. As if they haven’t seen enough miracles to believe.

It is also true that He has trusted in God and still does and that He is God’s Son. They also challenge God to show that He is with Christ. But God is also silent and does not answer by killing all the murderers and opponents of His Son with lightning from heaven. However much appearances may contradict, God has the greatest pleasure in His Son, Who is there to carry out His will completely.

Even the murderers who have been crucified to the right and left of Christ and are also in agony, turn against Him.

Verses 45-50

Forsaken by God

Everyone has turned against the Lord. Now the creation follows. There is three hours of darkness coming. Every outlook is taken away from Him. He hangs indescribable lonely between heaven and earth. The earth does not want Him and lifts Him up. Heaven now closes itself above Him as well.

The darkness is not just an abnormal natural phenomenon, because it is in the middle of the day. This particular darkness is also a sign of what happens in those three hours of darkness. In these hours there is also darkness in the soul of the Lord Jesus. He is burdened with the sins of all who have believed in Him since Adam and of those who will believe in Him until He has established the new heaven and the new earth. He is made sin, the source from which all sins have come forth (2 Corinthians 5:21). Thus the holy God judges everything that has come into creation against His will in His only beloved Son. He did not spare Him (Romans 8:32).

At the end of those hours that are inscrutable for us, the cry sounds: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”. We cannot fathom the profundity of this exclamation. Christ was always in perfect fellowship with His God. There has never been anything between Him and God. He was God’s Associate (Zechariah 13:7) and walked with Him in perfection. The Father has once and again testified of the pleasure He has in His Son (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5).

All the time the Lord Jesus has been on earth, He has given God full joy. He, the Son of God, has been the only Man Who has perfectly obeyed all commandments. And He has done so much more. The Son has also been obedient in everything the law does not require. At the same time, the Son not only does what God has asked for obediently, but He also does it out of complete love for the Father. It is His food to accomplish the Father’s will (John 4:34).

And this Son, Who has honored God in all things, is made sin by God. God repels Him from Himself as the most horrible object on earth. The sword of His righteousness awakens and strikes Him (Zechariah 13:7). After the three hours of darkness in which He was made sin and received God’s judgment on it, He expresses the magnitude and depth of His grief in the most striking way in His question: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

It is one of the few times that the Holy Spirit has rendered a statement of the Lord Jesus untranslated. He adds the translation for us. The fact that the Lord’s lamentation is reflected in the language in which He spoke deepens the feeling of His suffering. In the language of familiarity He expresses His deepest feelings about the rejection He is now undergoing. Everything that people have done to Him, He has tolerated quietly and silently. But now His God has forsaken Him. This is intolerable. God was always with Him. He feels to the depths of His soul that God has turned against Him.

He turns to God as His God. God has always been ‘My God’ for Him. The Lord says twice: “My God, My God”. It strengthens the lack of contact with His God. Then he asks why God forsook Him. This also results from His perfection. He also did the will of God in carrying our sins. At the same time God could not have any contact with Him. Sin always brings separation between man and God. That was true in the hours of darkness in full intensity for Christ. We know why God had to leave Him: it is because of our sins that separated us from God. He destroyed that separation by experiencing that separation for Himself. What grace!

Bystanders deliberately misinterpret His words. What He calls to God in His greatest need is mockingly interpreted as a call for Elijah. Then there is someone who does feel sorry for Him. Touched by what he sees and hears, this bystander wants to give him a drink to soothe his suffering. At the same time he thus fulfils the word from Psalm 69 (Psalms 69:21). God fulfils His Word in every detail and the Lord Jesus is the fulfilment of it.

But His haters know no mercy. They stop the man who wants to give the Lord a drink and continue their mockery. They want to see if Elijah comes to save Him. They have gone through the darkness, but the frightening impressions of it have immediately disappeared when the darkness is gone. This is how many people react to situations of fear. It does not bring them to God, but they go forth in the same ungodliness because for them the situation has changed for the better.

Then the Lord calls again and for the last time with “a loud voice”. His ‘loud voice’ indicates that the strength of His spirit is unbroken. Then He yields up His spirit, which indicates that it is a conscious action, wanted by Him Himself. It completes His obedience. Until His death He does everything that is written about Him in the Scriptures. His death is supernatural and is accompanied by the supernatural signs described in the following verses.

Verses 51-56

Effects of the Lord’s Death

The first consequence of Christ’s death is that the veil of the temple tears in two. The way to the sanctuary is now open (Hebrews 9:8). His death is the basis for approaching God. God, Who has always been hidden behind the veil, reveals Himself completely through the death of His Son. The whole Jewish system, the connections with God under this system, the priesthood, everything falls away with the tearing of the veil. The believer is in the presence of God, without a veil in between. The holy God and the believer who has been cleansed of his sins, have been brought together through the death of Christ. What took place in the temple as a symbol of what took place in heaven was not perceived by anyone. Faith may know this wonderful result.

The death of Christ also has consequences for material creation. The whole of creation comes into motion. His death there too will bring a great change (Hebrews 12:26-Hosea :). These signs are a forerunner of that.

There is a third consequence, a third sign. This concerns the fallen asleep saints. The work is completely finished and accepted by God. His resurrection has yet to take place, but the omens of it we see in the opening of the tombs and the revival of the bodies of many saints. It is the first proof that death has been conquered. For man, death has the last word. Through the death of Christ the power of death is broken and “life and immortality” is brought to light (2 Timothy 1:10).

The saints who have been raised by the death of Christ only come out of the tombs when He is risen. He is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20; Acts 26:23). They are the first fruits of His victory and follow Him. As He appears to many (1 Corinthians 15:5-Ruth :), they appear to many.

A pagan centurion with those keeping guard over the Lord Jesus acknowledge, through what they have seen in Christ, that He is the Son of God. They confess their faith in Him (1 John 4:15).

Where men lack courage and dedication, we often see it in women, as here. The disciples have disappeared; the women are standing, even though from a distance, at the cross to see what is happening to their beloved Master. Three women are described in more detail. Two of them are called Mary. Two of them are reported to be mothers. With one, the name of the person to whom she is married is mentioned. These are all details that have to do with life on earth. The death of the Lord does not change the earthly circumstances. The relationships remain as they were. Mary Magdalene is the woman who loves Him dearly because He has freed her from seven demons (Luke 8:2).

Mary of Bethany is missing. She doesn’t have to be here. Just as she waited at home for the Lord when her brother Lazarus had died (John 11:20) because she knew Him, so she is at home now because she knows Him. She has already said goodbye to the Lord and she knows He will rise again (Matthew 26:6-Judges :; Matthew 26:12). She knows Him through her relationship with Him, by sitting at His feet to listen to His word (Luke 10:39).

Verses 57-61

The Burial

Now a man comes forward who was earlier hidden. He has the courage to make himself one with the dead Christ. He acts so that it may be fulfilled that the Lord Jesus will be with the rich in His death (Isaiah 53:9). God allowed him to be born to fulfil His Word. No doubt he will have done more for the Lord that God has not mentioned in His Word, but has written down in His book of memorial.

He is not ashamed to make Pilate aware of his desire regarding the body of the Lord Jesus. Pilate allows his desire to be carried out. Then Joseph takes the body in his arms, as Simeon did when the Lord was newly born (Luke 2:28). Then He was wrapped in cloths, here Joseph wraps Him in a clean linen cloth. Then he lays Him “in his own new tomb”.

It is his tomb, but instead of Joseph being laid in it himself, he lays the Lord in it. This is a beautiful symbol of the place the Lord has taken to free Joseph from the consequences of sin. It is also a new tomb, which means that this place has not yet been in contact with death. It indicates the completely new state of affairs that is beginning with the death and burial of the Lord.

At the grave two Mary’s are also present. They do not depart from the Lord Jesus. They want to be where He is. Their love and dedication to Him are touching, although here too Mary of Bethany is missing. She is not missing because her love and dedication are lesser. They are greater. She has Him in her heart and is always with Him. What is more, she is aware that He is always with her, despite the fact that He died, because for her He lives, even though He died. She believes that.

Verses 62-66

The Guard at the Grave

The religious leaders continue to chase the Lord in their hatred, even now that He has died. In their folly, they also want to prevent His Name from continuing to live on. They want to wipe out any thought of Him. So they go to Pilate and ask for a guard at the grave. They also determine the duration of the guard: three days. They do so in response to what the Lord has said about His resurrection. They never listened to His word or accepted His works. Now they are afraid that what He said of His resurrection will be true. They remember this better than the women and His disciples. Unbelief does not trust itself. It distrusts everything because it fears that what it denies might be true. But their unabated unbelief and hatred are revealed in continuing to blaspheme Christ stubbornly and resolutely, calling Him “that deceiver”.

The proposal that they make in the folly of their unbelief will become an additional proof for the resurrection of the Lord. Had there not been a guard, after His resurrection they could have spread the rumor that His disciples had stolen Him. Now that they have the grave secured, there will be witnesses that in any case His disciples did not come, but that a supernatural act, an act of God in power, has made Him come out of the grave. Their plans will be destroyed and God will use them to fulfil His plans.

Pilate agreed to their request. He is a characterless man who satisfies everyone if he can prevent further harassment. Therefore, as with Joseph, he accepts the request here as well.

The absurdity of their precautions will prove itself. Its effect will become an unequivocal testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Everything they do only makes them involuntary witnesses and gives us the certainty of the fulfilment of the fact they are so afraid of. They are a testimony against themselves and thus unintentionally bear witness to the truth of the resurrection. The precautions Pilate might not have taken, they push so far that any mistake about the fact of his resurrection is excluded.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Matthew 27". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/matthew-27.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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