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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 27

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Verses 1-10

Mat 27:1-10

The Final Counsel, Matthew 27:1-2.
Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:28)

J.W. McGarvey

1. took counsel.—The counsel now taken was different from that described in the previous chapter. They had then pronounced him worthy of death; they now take counsel "to put him to death." It was not lawful for the Sanhedrim to put any one to death (John 18:31), that power having been taken away by the Romans and lodged in the Roman governor. The question now discussed was the best method of obtaining Pilate’s consent to the execution of Jesus. Doubtless the course which they proceeded to take before Pilate was the one which they now agreed upon.

2. when they had bound him.—He was bound when he was first arrested (John 18:12), and the fact that he was now bound again shows either that his bonds had been loosed while in the presence of the Sanhedrim, or that he was now bound more securely on account of the greater danger of his being rescued by his friends. The latter is the more probable supposition

Pontius Pilate the governor.—After Archelaus, son of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:22), had reigned over Judea ten years, he was deposed by the Roman government, and Judea was placed under Procurators sent out from Rome. Pilate was the sixth of these, and was appointed in the twelfth year of Tiberius Cæsar, or about three years before the beginning of John’s ministry. (Comp. Luke 3:1.) He had now been in office about six years. His character is sufficiently indicated by the incidents connected with the death of Jesus. His official career is fully described in Josephus, and a very succinct account of it is given in Smith’s Dictionary.

Remorse and Death of Judas, Matthew 27:3-10

3. saw that he was condemned.—The condemnation is that by Pilate, not that by the Sanhedrim. This appears from the fact that when Judas came to the chief priests to return the money, they were in the temple (Matthew 27:5); but after the condemnation by the Sanhedrim "the whole multitude of them arose and led him to Pilate" (Luke 23:1), and they remained about the hall of Pilate until he pronounced the desired sentence of death. It was now time for them to be at their posts in the temple to execute the morning service, and there Judas found them. The incident is introduced in advance of its chronological order so as not to interrupt the subsequent narration.

repented himself.—The word here rendered repented (μεταμλομαι) means, as we have already stated under Matthew 21:29; Matthew 21:32, not to repent, but to regret. In this place the regret was most intense, amounting to remorse.

4. the innocent blood.—Not the innocent blood; the article is not in the original, and is not needed in English. This confession has been rightly regarded as forcible testimony in favor of Jesus. If Judas could have named as an excuse for himself any wrongdoing in the life of his victim, he would surely have done so, and have saved himself the mortification of making this confession. But Judas had enjoyed every possible opportunity of knowing the private life of Jesus, and if he pronounced him innocent he must have been so. It is the unwilling testimony of an enemy whose every interest prompted him to withhold it. The only escape from the argument would be to deny the credibility of the story; but this is prevented by the naturalness of the description, and by the exceeding improbability that just such a story could have been invented.

What is that to us?—This reply of the priests was both hypocritical and cruel. If Jesus was innocent, it concerned them as much as it did Judas, and now that they had used him as a tool, it was the extreme of meanness to try to throw the entire responsibility on him.

5. he cast down the pieces.—Bad as Judas was, there is one point in which he compares favorably with many men who consider themselves his superiors. How many there are possessed of ill-gotten gain who never think, of returning it, but cling to it with desperation until death loosens their grasp! But Judas could not do this: he offers to return it, and when the offer is refused he dashes it on the ground as a thing that he hates. While in pursuit of that money it glittered in his eyes; but now that he has it he spurns it as a thing accursed.

went and hanged himself.—The extreme remorse of Judas is hardly reconcilable with the idea that he had been moved by malice toward Jesus, and it shows that in all probability he had not expected a fatal result. He had seen Jesus escape from death too often to think that he would now allow himself to be slain. He had been instigated to the foul deed of betrayal by love of money alone, and never has that overmastering passion displayed its power more strikingly. Jesus had said every thing to him that had a tendency to shake his purpose. He had told the disciples that one of them would betray him, and by the announcement had drawn from them an expression of horror against such an act. He had then pointed out Judas as the man, and had said in his hearing that it were better for him that he had never been born than that he should do the deed. At last, when he was about to depart from the supper to fulfill his contract, Jesus had said, with reproachful sadness, "That thou doest, do quickly." Deaf to all these warnings, and untouched by sympathy for his unresentful victim, he had doggedly and stolidly maintained his purpose. It was not until his purpose was gained, and consequences against which he had deliberately shut his eyes began to show themselves, that he realized how worthless was his prize and how villainous the means by which he had won it. So it is with every man who comes under the dominion of this base passion: it blinds his eyes and blunts his sensibilities while in the pursuit of gold, only to show him at last that he has bartered his soul for a price which, even while he holds it in his hands, becomes an object of loathing and disgust.

6. It is not lawful.—It would be almost incredible, did not thousands of other examples present themselves, that men could be as blind and inconsistent as these chief priests and elders; too conscientious to put this blood money into the Lord’s treasury, but not at all scrupulous about paying it out as the price of innocent blood.

Well did Jesus charge them with straining out gnats and swallowing camels. In the present instance, too, the gnat was one of their own making; for it was their own tradition and not the law which forbade the putting of such money into the treasury. They are not the only men in history who have been less scrupulous about shedding innocent blood than about the observance of their own traditions.

7. the potter’s field.—The definite article shows that it was some well known potter’s field, and the low price indicates that it was but a small piece of ground, or one of little value. The strangers, for whose burial-place it was purchased, were of course poor strangers, and hence the modern application of the name "potter’s field" to all burial-grounds for the poor.

8. unto this day.—This remark shows that Matthew wrote a considerable length of time after the transaction—long enough for it to be worthy of remark that the field still retained its name, "The field of blood."

9, 10. spoken by Jeremy the prophet.—No such passage as the one here quoted is found in the extant writings of Jeremiah; but the following passage from Zechariah bears a striking resemblance to it: "And I said to them, If you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord." (Zechariah 11:12-13.) It is altogether probable that the quotation in the text is a free rendering of this passage, and that the name Jeremiah has been substituted by transcribers for that of Zechariah. It may be, however, that the quotation is made from some passage of Jeremiah’s prophecies not now extant. This is a question for future investigation by critical scholars.

Judas Hangs Himself - Matthew 27:1-10

Open It

1. Over what kinds of situations or mistakes do people decide to kill themselves?

2. What are some ways people try to deal with guilt?

3. Who is the most compassionate and caring friend you know?

4. What are inappropriate sources of income for churches and ministries?

Explore It

5. When did the religious leaders decide to put Jesus to death? (Matthew 27:1)

6. What did the religious leaders do with Christ? (Matthew 27:2)

7. Where did the religious leaders take Jesus? (Matthew 27:2)

8. Why was it significant that Jesus was taken to Pilate? (27:2)

9. How did Judas feel when he saw that Jesus had been condemned to die? (Matthew 27:3)

10. What action did Judas take in an attempt to undo his crime? (Matthew 27:3)

11. What did Judas say to the religious leaders? (Matthew 27:4)

12. How did the religious leaders act when they heard Judas express second thoughts? (Matthew 27:4)

13. What did Judas do when the leaders rejected his offer to return the money? (Matthew 27:5)

14. What did the leaders do with the bounty they had paid Judas? (Matthew 27:6-8)

15. Why was Judas’s suicide significant? (Matthew 27:9-10)

Get It

16. Why do you think the chief priests were so insensitive to Judas’s remorse?

17. In what situations do we sometimes offer token compassion or ignore altogether those who are hurting?

18. What would you say to someone who was feeling extremely guilty and depressed?

19. How can we avoid (or break out of) a downward spiral of sin, guilt, depression, more sin, greater guilt, deeper depression, etc.?

20. How does sin, if allowed to go unchecked, cause us to lose all sense of rightness and kindness?

21. What practical steps can we take when confronted with wrongdoing?

Apply It

22. What big decision do you need to pray about this week so that you do not end up making a choice you will later regret?

23. What can you do today or tomorrow to encourage a friend who is feeling especially low because of a bad or sinful choice?

Verses 11-26

Mat 27:11-26

Silence of Jesus before Pilate, Matthew 27:11-14.
Mark 15:2-5)

J.W. McGarvey

11. the King of the Jews.—Pilate understood the cause of Jesus better than the Pharisees pretended to understand it: for although in answer to his question Jesus admitted that he claimed to be King of the Jews, Pilate so construed this claim that he found no fault in Jesus. He knew that the kingdom in question was not to be a rival of Cæsar’s.

12-14. he answered nothing.—It was to the accusations of the priests and elders that he answered nothing. He left Pilate to discover from the words and actions of his accusers themselves that their accusations were false and malicious. There is no vindication so complete as that which is found in the proofs presented by the accuser: this vindication was accorded to Jesus by Pilate.

marveled greatly.—Pilate had never before known a prisoner, accused of a capital crime, and prosecuted by powerful enemies, appear so indifferent to the result of his trial. He marveled greatly, because he felt sure that Jesus could vindicate himself, and yet he was making no effort to do so.

Barabbas Preferred, and the Message
from Pilate’s Wife,
Matthew 27:15-23.
Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:18-23; John 18:39-40)

15. to release... a prisoner.—Under the ordinary and just administration of government the people do not desire the release of prisoners; but Judea was a conquered country, and the Jews naturally sympathized with their own countrymen who were prisoners in the hands of the Romans, even when the imprisonment was just; and especially was this the case in regard to political prisoners. It added, therefore, to the general good feeling prevalent during the Passover, and rendered the governor himself more popular, to release to the people such a prisoner as the majority of them would call for: hence the custom here stated.

16. a notable prisoner.—For what he was notable, Matthew does not say; but Mark and John incidentally supplement his account by supplying the needed information. (See John 18:40, and note on Mark 15:7.) Hero again the narratives furnish incidental proofs of each other’s fidelity to the truth.

18. for envy.—Nothing had transpired during that morning to convince Pilate that they were moved with envy toward Jesus, except as he connected it with what he had known of their feelings before. This shows that he was familiar with the issues between the parties.

19. his wife sent to him.—The statements concerning Barabbas, and the people’s preference for him, are interrupted in order to mention this message from Pilate’s wife, and from this we infer that the message was received at this juncture. He had probably left her in bed, and the early arousing of her husband to hear the case of Jesus had caused her, when falling asleep again, to have the dream in question. She, too, it seems, was already convinced that Jesus was a "just man."

20. persuaded the multitude.—The common people who had by this time assembled about Pilate’s pretorium, were not of themselves go disaffected toward Jesus as to prefer Barabbas; on the contrary, Pilate made the proposal to them in the expectation that they would call for Jesus, and that he would thus get rid of the case; but "the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude," and their persuasions prevailed. They doubtless represented to the people that Jesus had been guilty of blasphemy, and that he had already been tried and convicted by the highest tribunal of their nation. This story, strongly supported by the most influential men of the city, produced a sudden revolution in public sentiment, so that the multitude whose friendship for Jesus had two days ago made the Pharisees afraid to arrest him (Matthew 26:4-5), were now persuaded to cry out for his crucifixion. This was doubtless a part of the plan agreed upon at the counsel before they brought Jesus to Pilate. (Matthew 27:1.)

22, 23. what evil hath he done?—Pilate’s question was pertinent and demanded an answer; but in the response we see nothing but the unreasoning spirit of a mob: no argument; no answer to objections; no patience with opposition; no attention to entreaties; nothing but an insane clamor for the one thing desired.

Pilate Yields to the People, Matthew 27:24-26.
Mark 15:15; Luke 23:24-25)

24. and washed his hands.—Pilate could have done nothing to more forcibly declare the innocence of Jesus. If the people had not been phrensied, when they saw him solemnly washing his hands, and declaring himself free from the innocent blood about to be shed, they would surely have been deterred from their purpose. But while Pilate’s act had this significance, it also displayed his own weakness and hypocrisy. He was there with his men of war to execute justice among the people, and to restrain them when tempted to deeds of lawlessness; but instead of this he consents to the murder of a man in the same breath in which he pronounces him innocent, and he hypocritically pretends to wash away a responsibility which rested more on him than on any other man. For this act his name must ever stand intimately associated with that of Judas Iscariot, and the world scarcely knows which to look upon with greater loathing the timeserving politician, or the money loving traitor.

25. His blood be on us.—With the same desperation which prompted the cry, "Crucify him," the people accepted the blood guiltiness thrown upon them by Pilate. Little did they think what fate they were bringing down on themselves and their children.

26. released Barabbas.—We know not what afterward became of Barabbas. If he lived to know more of Jesus, he must have experienced strange reflections in reference to his own escape from crucifixion. The sentence of death pronounced against Jesus released one man from a similar death, and the execution of the sentence opened for every man a way of escape from death eternal. The innocent suffered that the guilty might go free, Barabbas being the first man saved by the death of Jesus.

scourged Jesus.—It was customary to scourge men just before crucifying them, and Pilate made no exception in favor of "this just person.

Argument of Section 8

The evidence which the foregoing section furnishes in behalf of Jesus is very striking. It shows that a court organized to convict, and resorting to the most unscrupulous measures to effect their purpose, utterly failed to find in his conduct anything worthy of censure, much less anything worthy of death. His condemnation was based on his confession of that which he had always openly proclaimed, and which he had substantiated by his life and his miracles. The man who betrayed him into the hands of his enemies declared him innocent, and the judge who pronounced the sentence of death declared him, in the same breath, a just person. Never did such circumstances attend the death of any other man. They attest with a force which no honest mind can resist, the unspotted character of Jesus, and thereby they attest the truthfulness of his claim to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. Moreover, his demeanor throughout these iniquitous proceedings, so perfectly in harmony with his exalted pretensions, affords no mean support to the argument in his favor.

Jesus Before Pilate - Matthew 27:11-26

Open It

1. What is the most ingenious or creative excuse you have heard someone give in an attempt to avoid responsibility?

2. What is your opinion of politicians?

3. What governmental customs or laws do you like best and least?

4. How much stock do you put in dreams?

Explore It

5. What title and position did Pilate have? (Matthew 27:11)

6. What question did Pilate ask Jesus? (Matthew 27:11)

7. How did Jesus answer the Roman authority? (Matthew 27:11)

8. How did Jesus answer the Jews when they made accusations against Him? (Matthew 27:12)

9. What did Pilate think of Christ’s silence? (Matthew 27:13-14)

10. What custom did the governor follow at this particular time of year? (Matthew 27:15)

11. Who was in prison at the time? (Matthew 27:16)

12. What choice did Pilate put before the crowd? (Matthew 27:17-18)

13. What message did Pilate’s wife send him? (Matthew 27:19)

14. How did the religious leaders influence the crowd? (Matthew 27:20)

15. What choice did the crowd make? (Matthew 27:21)

16. What did the crowd ask Pilate to do to Christ? (Matthew 27:22)

17. How did Pilate attempt to evade any responsibility in the condemnation of Jesus? (Matthew 27:24)

18. What ironic statement did the crowd make about Jesus’ blood? (Matthew 27:25)

19. What happened to the two prisoners—Barabbas and Jesus? (Matthew 27:26)

Get It

20. How would you rate Pilate’s performance?

21. Why is it difficult not to defend yourself when people are saying mean and untrue things about you?

22. What attitudes, emotions, or perspective must a person have in order to stay calm while being attacked?

23. In what way is not defending an innocent person the same as condemning him or her?

24. When might you be called upon to defend someone who is innocent?

25. What risks are there in defending an innocent person?

26. In what relationships do you need to trust more in the power and sufficiency of Christ?

27. In what situations do you need to quit arguing and defending yourself?

28. What decisions have you been putting off for fear of the responsibility?

29. What helps you face your responsibilities?

Apply It

30. How can you prepare yourself for the next time you have an opportunity to defend an innocent person?

31. What decision do you need to make today and then take responsibility for?

Verses 27-44

Mat 27:27-44

Section IX.
Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus,
Matthew 27:27 to Matthew 28:20

J.W. McGarvey

Mocked and Led away by the Soldiers, Matthew 27:27-32.
Mark 15:16-21; Luke 23:26-32; John 19:1-3)

27-29. Mocked him.—It seems that after the scourging, Jesus was given up for a few moments to the pleasure of the heathen soldiery. More amused than offended at his pretensions to be a king, they began their mocking in a spirit of levity.

30. spit upon him.—The scene which commenced in sportive mockery terminated in more serious feeling and more contemptuous conduct. Exasperated, perhaps, by the meek demeanor of Jesus, the soldiers turned their mockery into indecency and violence. Next to the crucifixion itself, here was the greatest extreme of the world’s cruelty to its Maker and its Benefactor. This was a strange sight to the angels. It can not be contemplated by men without a shudder.

31. took the robe off.—Before leading him away to the crucifixion they restored to him his own raiment, but not till Pilate had led him forth to the people wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, and said, "Behold the man." (John 19:5.)

32. a man of Cyrene.—Cyrene was a flourishing city in the north of Africa, but Simon, as his name indicates, was a Jew. They compelled him to carry the cross merely because he was a stranger, and they met him at the moment that a man was needed for the purpose, Jesus himself having borne it thus far (John 19:17), and being in all probability exhausted by the effort Simon, like all of us when called on to bear the cross, took it up reluctantly, no doubt, but like us when we have borne it faithfully, he was brought to Calvary and to the blood of atonement. There were many Cyrenians afterward engaged in spreading the gospel (Acts 2:10; Acts 11:20; Acts 13:1), and we may indulge the thought that in all probability Simon was one of them.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus - Matthew 27:27-31

Open It

1. What effect do you think violence in the media has on our society?

2. Which is worse, physical or emotional pain? Why?

3. What are the most common ways Christians are mocked?

Explore It

4. Who took charge of the flogging and crucifixion of Jesus? (Matthew 27:26-27)

5. How many people were involved in torturing Jesus? (Matthew 27:27)

6. Where did the guards take Jesus? Why? (Matthew 27:27-28)

7. Once they had Jesus inside, what did the guards do? (Matthew 27:27-31)

8. What did the guards make Jesus wear? (Matthew 27:28-29)

9. What did the soldiers put on Jesus’ head? Why? (Matthew 27:29)

10. In what way did these soldiers mock Jesus? (Matthew 27:29)

11. With what did the soldiers ridicule Christ? (Matthew 27:29)

12. What types of emotional and physical abuse did the guards inflict on Christ? (Matthew 27:30)

13. After mocking Jesus, what did the soldiers do? (Matthew 27:31)

Get It

14. Why did Christ put up with torture when He could have destroyed all His attackers?

15. What do you think the soldiers were thinking as they mocked, taunted, and assaulted Jesus?

16. What would you do if you came upon a group of friends who were abusing (either verbally or physically) some helpless individual?

17. What can we do to curb the abusive mentality of others?

18. Why do people pick on helpless individuals?

19. In what ways does evil become easier to justify when many people are doing it?

20. What evils have become legitimized by consensus in our society today?

21. What can Christians do to resist the tendency for evil to spread once it becomes common?

22. What sorts of opposition should we expect to face when resisting popular evils?

Apply It

23. Whom can you encourage this week who has been facing persecution?

24. What can you do or say to speak out against an evil that is being accepted as normal?

25. In what way can you be a peacemaker this week at home, at work, or among your neighbors?

The Crucifixion, Matthew 27:33-38.
Mark 15:22-28; Luke 23:33-34; John 19:16-24)

33. Golgotha.—A Syro-Chaldaic word, meaning, as translated in the text, "a place of a skull." The spot was so called, no doubt, from some circumstance of which we know nothing, and in reference to which conjectures are in vain. All that we certainly know of the locality is that it was outside of the city (Hebrews 13:12), and yet "nigh to the city" (John 19:20).

34. he would not drink.—The mixture of vinegar (sour wine) and gall was intended to render him less susceptible to pain; but Jesus, having resolved to suffer, declined any such relief.

35. casting lots.—Here again Matthew states a fact needing explanation, and John incidentally furnishes the explanation needed. There appears from Matthew’s account no reason why they should have cast lots in order to divide the garments; but we learn from John that the coat, which was the principal garment, was seamless, so that the goods in it could not be divided, and that it was on this the lots were cast. (John 19:23-24.) The reference to the prophet in this verse is interpolated from John 19:24.

36. they watched him.—That is, they kept guard over him to prevent his being removed from the cross.

37. his accusation.—That is, the ground or cause of his accusation, which was the title that he claimed as King of the Jews.

38. two thieves.—Not (κλεπται) thieves, but (λησται) robbers. They had been condemned to death for robbery, and were executed at this time probably to save the trouble of a separate execution; but the circumstance, whether so intended or not, added materially to the indignity heaped upon Jesus.

Revilings of the People, Matthew 27:39-44.
Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-43.)

39, 40. that destroyest the temple.—It is strange how tenaciously the minds of the people clung to the old slander that Jesus threatened to destroy the temple and build it again in three days. The remark from which it sprang was made during his first visit to Jerusalem after his baptism (John 2:18-22), and yet it is now thrown in his teeth while he hangs on the cross, as though it were the most boastful speech that he had ever made.

41, 42. He saved others.—The chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mock him with reference not to his boast of power, but to his exercise of it. They had doubtless feared that he would save himself, and they were now exulting in the thought that he could not do so.

43. He trusted in God.—As he seemed unable to save himself, they now taunt him with his profession of trust in God, and assume that he can not be the Son of God, or the Father himself would deliver him. All of these revilings are indicative of guilty fear mingled with cruel exultation.

44. The thieves also.—They felt exasperated, perhaps, because his execution hastened their own. We learn from Luke, however, that one of them repented (Luke 23:35-43), and rebuked his companion for reviling Jesus. Matthew, therefore, either uses the plural indefinitely here, as he does in 26:8, 9, or he states what both the robbers did at the beginning, and omits the subsequent repentance of one of them.

The Crucifixion - Matthew 27:32-44

Open It

1. What do you think would be the most horrible way to die?

2. Where do you stand in the ongoing debate over capital punishment?

3. How accurate is the old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me"?

4. What is the weakest and most exhausted you’ve ever been?

Explore It

5. When did these events take place? (Matthew 27:32)

6. Whom did Jesus and his executioners meet as they were making their way to the site of the crucifixion? (Matthew 27:32)

7. What was Simon forced to do? For whom? (Matthew 27:32)

8. Where did the group take Jesus? (Matthew 27:33)

9. What is the meaning of "Golgotha"? (Matthew 27:33)

10. What was offered to Jesus? (Matthew 27:34)

11. After nailing Jesus to the cross, what did the soldiers do? (Matthew 27:35-36)

12. What did the soldiers place above Jesus’ head? (Matthew 27:37)

13. Who was executed that day? (Matthew 27:38)

14. What did onlookers shout at Jesus? (Matthew 27:39-40)

15. What was the behavior of the religious leaders like as they watched Jesus die? (Matthew 27:41-43)

16. How did the robbers act toward Jesus? (Matthew 27:44)

Get It

17. In a passage where many people are anonymous, why do you think Simon of Cyrene is mentioned by name?

18. Why does it hurt to be mocked and laughed at and scorned?

19. In what way were the soldiers showing mercy by offering Jesus wine?

20. What are some ways we attempt to numb ourselves to the reality of the harsh world around us?

21. How does it make you feel to realize that Jesus underwent horrible abuse for you?

22. How is it possible to love the very people who are the most cruel and vicious to us?

23. When are you sometimes insulted?

24. When is it worth undergoing unjustified abuse?

Apply It

25. What "cross" (burden, problem, difficulty, grief) can you unselfishly agree to bear for someone else today?

26. In what way can you show your gratitude to Jesus today in light of all He suffered for you?

27. What steps can you take this week to help you overlook insults and verbal taunts?

Verses 45-61

Mat 27:45-61

The Darkness and the End, Matthew 27:45-56.
Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30)

J.W. McGarvey

45. there was darkness.—This darkness, as Alford well remarks, can not have been caused by an eclipse of the sun, because the moon was full at the time, as it always was on the first day of the Passover. Whether the darkness was over "all the earth," in our sense of the terms, or only over the small portion of it to which the Jews often applied these words, is uncertain. It came suddenly at noon, and passed away at three o’clock; consequently it prevailed during the three hours in which the sun has usually its greatest heat and brilliancy.

46. why hast thou forsaken me?—The depth of meaning contained in this bitter outcry can never, we suppose, be fathomed by human thought, yet the word "forsaken" directs our thought in the right channel. If a good man who has long trusted in God and delighted in his favor could suddenly realize that God had forsaken him, he would enter, at least partly, into the Savior’s feeling. But the peculiar relation which Jesus sustained to the Father rendered this feeling more intense than human hearts can experience, and at the same time it renders most mysterious to us the forsaking itself. It is enough to know that in it lay the chief bitterness of the Savior’s death.

47. calleth for Elias.—I am constrained to think, notwithstanding various opinions of commentators to the contrary (see Lange and Alford), that the persons who made this remark misunderstood Jesus, and took the word Eli for Elias. The mistake arose, not from ignorance of the language, but from the indistinct articulation of Jesus. He had now been on the cross about six hours, and the feverish thirst produced by his intense suffering and some loss of blood, together with the great strain on the muscles of his chest, which resulted from hanging on his outstretched hands, must have rendered articulation difficult and indistinct.

48. gave him to drink.—The drink of vinegar was to remove the painful dryness of the throat which his articulation betrayed. We learn from John also that he said, "I thirst." (John 19:28-29.)

49. The rest said.—The rest of those who thought that he called for Elias. On the import of their remark, see the note, Mark 15:36.

50. yielded up the ghost.—An obsolete expression for "gave up the spirit." It contemplates the body as the man, and the spirit as being released that it may depart. The thought is utterly inconsistent with Materialism. Luke reports that Jesus said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," and that "having said thus, he gave up the spirit." (Luke 23:46.)

51. the veil of the temple.—This is the heavy curtain which hung between the holy and most holy places within the temple. By shutting out from the most holy place all persons except the high priest, who alone was permitted to pass through it, and this only once in the year, it signified that the way into the holiest—that is, into heaven—was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing. (Hebrews 9:7-8.) But the moment that Jesus died, thus making the way manifest, the veil was appropriately rent in twain from top to bottom, disclosing the most holy place to the priests who were at that time offering the evening incense in the holy place.

52, 53. arose, and came out.—The earthquake, the rending of the rooks (verse 51), and the consequent opening of graves, occurred at the moment that Jesus died; while the resurrection and visible appearance in the city of the bodies of the saints occurred "after his resurrection." Matthew chooses to mention the last event here because of its association with the rending of the rocks, which opened the rock-hewn sepulchers in which the saints had slept. There has been much speculation as to what became of these resurrected saints. We have no positive information, but the natural presumption is that they ascended to heaven. The fact that this very singular incident is mentioned by Matthew alone, does not detract from its credibility.

54. this was the Son of God.—From the fact that the centurion was of heathen education, and that the words Son and God are without the article in Greek, some have understood him as meaning, "This was a son of a god." (See George Campbell’s notes on Matthew.) But the expression Son of God, with both words anarthrous, occurs frequently in connections which show that it means the same as when the article is used. (Verse 43; Luke 1:35; John 19:7.) It must be remembered also that these Roman officers, while resident in Judea, made it a part of their business to study the peculiarities of the people with whom they had to deal, and that sometimes, as in the case of Cornelius and the centurion of Capernaum (8:8-10), they became converts to the Jewish religion. This man lived in Jerusalem in the midst of the excitement about Jesus; he had this very day heard him charged with blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God; and he had heard the same idea expressed concerning him since he was suspended on the cross (Matthew 27:43); and therefore he must have been stupid indeed if he did not know what was meant by the expression. it is almost certain that he knew what Jesus claimed to be, and that when he saw the miracles accompanying his death, he was convinced that the claim was just.

55, 56. many women.—These women, "who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him," are represented as "beholding afar off." This accounts for the fact that the mother of Jesus, though present, is not mentioned among them; for she, with the apostle John, was standing nearer, near enough for Jesus to point her out by a look (his only way of doing so) as the one whom John was henceforth to regard as his own mother. (John 19:25-27.)

56. among which.—Matthew names only three of the "many women" (Matthew 27:55) who were "beholding afar off." (For a brief account of Mary Magdalene, see note on Mark 16:9.) "Mary the mother of James and Joses "is called by John the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25), another form of the name Alpheus; consequently the James here mentioned as her son is "James the son of Alpheus" (Matthew 10:3), who was one of the apostles. "The mother of Zebedee’s children" was so called because of the celebrity of her two sons, James and John, and probably also because of the death of her husband. (Comp. Matthew 20:20.) Her name was Salome. (Mark 16:1.)

The Death of Jesus - Matthew 27:45-56

Open It

1. What is it like to be separated from someone you love?

2. When in your life did you ever feel abandoned?

Explore It

3. What happened from the sixth to the ninth hour (from 12 noon until 3 p.m.)? (Matthew 27:45)

4. What did Jesus cry out at the ninth hour? Why? (Matthew 27:46)

5. What did Jesus’ last words mean? (Matthew 27:46)

6. What did some of the bystanders think Christ had yelled? (Matthew 27:47)

7. What did one man in particular try to do for Jesus? (Matthew 27:48)

8. How did the rest in the crowd respond to the gesture of kindness toward Jesus? (Matthew 27:49)

9. What happened the next time Jesus cried out in a loud voice? (Matthew 27:50)

10. What supernatural event took place inside the temple when Jesus died? (Matthew 27:51)

11. How were things in Jerusalem at that time? (Matthew 27:51)

12. How did the death of Jesus affect activity in some of the area’s cemeteries? (Matthew 27:52-53)

13. How did a Roman centurion react to the way Jesus died? (Matthew 27:54)

14. Who else was in the crowd watching the crucifixion? (Matthew 27:55)

15. Who in the crowd was most prominent at Jesus’ death? (Matthew 27:56)

Get It

16. What did it mean that the sky turned black as Jesus hung on the cross?

17. How would you explain to an inquiring friend the significance of the veil in the temple tearing in two as Jesus died?

18. Why does it often take drastic measures or life-threatening upheavals to bring people to their senses and persuade them to follow Christ?

19. What situations or events did God use to convince you that Jesus is the Son of God?

20. Why are the women followers of Jesus mentioned, and not the male disciples?

21. What did Jesus accomplish for you with His death?

Apply It

22. What steps can you take this week to allow the profound truth of this passage to sink in?

23. In the near future, with whom can you share the good news of Christ’s payment for sin on the cross?

The Burial, Matthew 27:57-61.
Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42)

57, 58. and begged the body.—It was seldom that persona who were crucified had friends to care for their remains; bat Pilate knew too well the popularity of Jesus to be surprised that even a man in Joseph’s position should propose to give him a decent burial, and having no malice to gratify, he readily granted the request.

59, 60. in his own new tomb.—The circumstance that Joseph had a new tomb near the spot, in all probability suggested to him the thought of burying the body. That he rolled a stone to the door of it, indicates that it was a vault hewn horizontally into the rock. He undertook the task alone, aided of course by servants, but Nicodemus joined him ere he had completed his task. (John 19:38-41.)

61. sitting over against.—The two Marys had remained near the cross till the body was taken down, and had followed the men, who were probably strangers to them, as they bore the body to the tomb. No doubt it had been their own purpose to have it cared for as best they could, and now that they see all needful attention given to it by others, they quietly sit down opposite the sepulcher and watch the proceedings.

The Burial of Jesus - Matthew 27:57-61

Open It

1. What do you think about fair-weather friends who depart at the first sign of trouble?

2. What would your coworkers say if they found out that you were in this Bible study?

3. Where do you want to be buried? Why?

Explore It

4. Who came to the execution site? When? (Matthew 27:57)

5. What was true about Joseph of Arimathea? (Matthew 27:57)

6. What did Joseph think about Jesus and His message? (Matthew 27:57)

7. What kind of help did Jesus receive at His death? (Matthew 27:57-58)

8. How did Joseph ask for the body of Jesus? (Matthew 27:58)

9. How did Pilate respond to Joseph’s request? (Matthew 27:58)

10. What did Joseph do with Jesus’ body? (Matthew 27:59-60)

11. Where did Joseph put Jesus’ body? (Matthew 27:60)

12. How did Joseph seal the tomb? (Matthew 27:60)

13. Who watched Joseph bury Jesus? (Matthew 27:61)

Get It

14. Where were Jesus’ disciples when all these events were going on?

15. As a respected Jewish religious leader (see Mark 15:42-43 and John 19:38), what risk was Joseph taking in coming forward to bury Jesus?

16. In what ways are you a secret disciple of Christ, afraid to publicly follow him?

17. How might your reputation suffer if you let it be known that your top desire in life is to love and serve Jesus Christ?

18. When, if ever, is it inappropriate to use your power and position to support Christ and his work?

19. What brand-new possessions would you be willing to part with for the sake of Christ?

Apply It

20. What gift (of time, money, effort, possession, etc.) can you give this week out of love and devotion to God?

21. In what setting today, tomorrow, or over the next week do you need to let it be known—maybe for the very first time—that you are a follower of Jesus Christ?

Verses 62-66

Mat 27:62-66



Matthew 27:62 to 28:10

62-66 Now on the morrow.—This was the next day, "which is the day after the Preparation." Friday, the sixth day of the week, was called the day of Preparation, as all labor for the seventh day was to be done then. (Exodus 16:22.) This year it was the Passover; the next day after it was the Sabbath and called by John "a high day." (John 19:31.) Some think that the term "Preparation" became, before Matthew wrote, the solemn designation among the Christians to distinguish the Friday of crucifixion. The "chief priests and the Pharisees" conferred with each other as to what should be done; hence, they went to Pilate sometime during the day to make their request; their principles forbade their doing any labor on the Sabbath. We may suppose that they obtained consent either before the Sabbath began or immediately after it closed. They probably had examined the tomb and saw that the body was safe and the tomb sealed. Matthew is the only one that records these circumstances. The chief priests and Pharisees were aware that Jesus had predicted his own resurrection. Hence, they said to Pilate, "We remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again." They were afraid that he would rise, hence they thought to forestall the possibility of it by a powerful Roman guard around the tomb. However they did not express that fear to Pilate; they deceived Pilate as to their fear and cast aspersion on the disciples of Jesus. They approached Pilate as though it had just occurred to them that something might take place with respect to the body. Jesus had repeatedly said to his disciples that he would be raised on the third day and the public had learned of this. (Matthew 12:40; John 2:19 10:15-18.)

Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day.—They spoke of Jesus as "that deceiver," and that his disciples would attempt to practice deception with respect to his resurrection. They asked for the.power and authority of the Roman government to prevent his disciples from attempting to practice any deception. They thought him to be a pretender as to the Messiahship. They were shrewd in their malice; they said that if the sepulchre was not guarded his disciples might "come and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead." If this should be done, they knew that his disciples could point to the empty tomb as evidence that he had been raised from the dead. Their shrewdness and precaution in making it sure that no one would molest the tomb are commended to all. If the tomb should be found empty, it would give the disciples of Jesus an advantage over them, and they thought that this "last error will be worse than the first." Here they acknowledge that they had made an error. That which they called an error was beyond their control after the resurrection; they could no longer conspire against Jesus, nor stop the spread of the faith in him. In their attempt to put an end to the influence of Jesus, they did exactly what was needed to make it more sure that he was the Messiah and that he actually rose from the dead. It was taken for granted that he was dead, but they feared deception on the part of his disciples. It may be that "the last error" has reference to the people in thinking that Jesus was the Messiah because he had risen from the dead. It would be worse for the people to think that he was the Messiah because he had risen from the dead than it would be to believe him to be the Messiah because of his teaching. They could more easily pervert, contradict, and refute his teachings, so they thought, than to deny his resurrection. Note that these chief priests and Pharisees said to Pilate "after three days" that Jesus had said he would rise again; hence they asked for a guard "until the third day," that is, until the third day had passed; again they understood "after three days" and "until the third day" to mean the same and that they would need the guard no longer.

Pilate said unto them, Ye have a guard.—That is, Pilate said take a guard and do as you wish. Some have understood this to mean that Pilate refused to give permission to use a guard that he refused to have anything further to do with them and that if they wanted the tomb guarded they should guard it with the temple officers or their own officials. However, it seems clear that Pilate gave permission for them to use the Roman guard as the imperative construction of the Greek verb bears this out. Pilate gave them permission to detail a Roman guard for this purpose and commanded them to "make it as sure as ye can." They had permission to take all the armed men that they needed, and to make the sepulchre sure to their satisfaction. "So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, the guard being with them." The stone was rolled over the door of the tomb and sealed; the Roman guard was stationed around it whose duty was to watch with unsleeping vigilance on pain of death. In sealing the tomb one or more cords were stretched across the stone rolled before the opening into the tomb and sealed at each end to the rock by wax or sealing clay. The guard of Roman soldiers was placed at the entrance of the tomb as a double means of preventing fraud. The sepulchre was watched so no fraud could have been practiced. We may infer that the Jews.saw to it that the tomb was sealed and the guard placed around it, for had the soldiers alone sealed it, the Jews might have said that the soldiers had suffered the disciples to steal the body; they could not say this since they sealed the tomb and placed the guard around it. It is probable that Pilate’s seal was used as the Roman guard was held responsible for it.

The Guard at the Tomb - Matthew 27:62-66

Open It

1. If you could have five personal bodyguards (any people on earth) whom would you choose and then where would you go?

2. Where do you feel the safest or most secure and why?

3. When in your life have you been "taken for a ride"?

Explore It

4. When did the chief priests go to Pilate? (Matthew 27:62)

5. Who went to Pilate the day after Christ was buried? Why? (Matthew 27:62-63)

6. What words of Jesus did the chief priests remember and report to Pilate? (Matthew 27:63)

7. What did the religious leaders call Jesus? (Matthew 27:63)

8. What did the religious leaders want Pilate to do? (Matthew 27:64)

9. For how long did the religious leaders want help from Pilate? Why? (Matthew 27:64)

10. What were the Jewish leaders afraid would happen if Pilate refused their request? (Matthew 27:64)

11. What were the chief priests afraid would happen if Jesus’ body disappeared? (Matthew 27:64)

12. What command did Pilate give? (Matthew 27:65)

13. What did the religious leaders do to secure the tomb where Jesus was buried? (Matthew 27:65-66)

Get It

14. Knowing the attitudes and the actions of the Jews, what is ironic about them calling Jesus a "deceiver" guilty of "deception"?

15. What man-made precautions are giving you a false sense of security that everything in your life is under control?

16. In what ways do we trust in our own plans instead of in God?

17. In what areas of life are we prone to try to cover up the truth?

18. Why are we sometimes afraid to admit the truth?

19. What claim or promise of Christ do you need to take more seriously?

Apply It

20. What truth do you need to face today?

21. What foolish, fleshly attempts to control God and your own life do you need to repent of today?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 27". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-27.html.
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