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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Matthew 27

Verse 1

27:1 Verse 1. The Sanhedrin pronounced the death sentence against Jesus and that was as far as it could go under the power that the Roman government granted to it. The members of the court then consulted or planned the next move they would have to make to get this sentence affirmed by the officer who had the necessary power.

Verse 2

27:2 They bound him which was unnecessary as far as security of the prisoner was concerned, for Jesus had not given any indication of even wishing to escape. But it was customary to put some kind of shackle on a man who was a prisoner, and the feeling of this mob was such that it would certainly not make any exception of Jesus. Pilate the governor was an officer appointed by the Romans to represent the empire in parts of Palestine. His presence in Jerusalem at this time, and also some other useful information will be explained by a quotation from Smith's Bible Dictionary. "He was appointed A. D. 25-6, in the twelfth year of Tiberius. His arbitrary administration nearly drove the Jews to insurrection on two or three occasions. One of the first acts was to remove the headquarters of the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem.... It was the custom for the procurator [governor or agent] to reside at Jerusalem during the great feasts, to preserve order, and accordingly, at the time of our Lord's last Passover, Pilate was occupying his official residence in Herod's palace. Caesarea was the official headquarters for the Roman government in Palestine, which accounts for the mention of Pilate's temporary presence in Jerusalem at this time.

Verse 3

27:3 Condemn is a legal and judicial term as used in this place. Thayer defines the original, "To give judgment against one, to judge worthy of punishment, to condemn." The word is stronger than a mere accusation and means that the case had been decided officially against Jesus and that no way could be used for him to escape death. Judas had not expected this to happen; see the comments on this subject at chapter 26:48. The pronouns are to be understood as follows: "When he [Judas] saw that he [Jesus] was condemned." Repented himself does not mean that Judas had repented in the sense of "repentance unto salvation" (2Co 7:10), for in that case his conduct afterward would have been righteous. Instead, it means he reversed the money part of the transaction by returning the pieces of silver.

Verse 4

27:4 Judas knew from the start that Jesus was innocent, but expected him to resort to his miraculous power to escape from the hands of the mob. He had a guilty conscience but it was overruled by the effect of his disappointment so that he did not have the moral courage to do the right thing. What is that to us means they were not concerned about the affairs of his conscience.

Verse 5

27:5 Casting the pieces of silver down in the temple indicated that Judas was offering the money to the sacred service as "conscience money."

Verse 6

27:6 The priests understood the purpose of Judas to be that the money was to be put into the treasury. They pretended to have great respect for the sacredness of the temple, notwithstanding they had treated the one who was "greater than the temple" (chapter 12:6) with the deepest disrespect.

Verse 7

27:7 Potter's field. After all the clay suitable for the making of pottery has been taken from a field, the land is of little use and hence very cheap commercially. A plot of such land was bought with this money and devoted to the burying of strangers or persons unknown to the community. From this circumstance comes the name "potter's field" today, a portion of cemetery grounds where poor people may bury their dead. free of charge for the ground.

Verse 8

27:8 The field of blood was so called because it was purchased with the money that had been paid to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus. The priests had called it the price of blood (verse 6), and thought it was not fitting to put such "tainted money" into the treasury of the temple.

Verse 9

27:9 Was spoken by Jeremy [Jeremiah] the prophet. This prophecy is actually in the book of Zechariah, chapter 11:13. Various explanations have been offered for this apparent contradiction, but I consider the most reasonable one to be that which is based on the outstanding prominence of Jeremiah. He was so highly respected that he was looked upon as a sort of "dean of prophets," and hence the prophecy was accredited to him in a complimentary or honorary sense.

Verse 10

7:10 Lord appointed me. The first person of the pronoun is used because the passage represents Christ as the speaker, and the Lord would be the Father who had appointed him to suffer this shame.

Verse 11

7:11 Thou sayest is equivalent to giving an affirmative answer. This conversation is referred to by Paul in 1Ti 6:13 in which it is called "a good confession." This indicates that the confession required of men may be made in any form of speech that amounts to such a profession of faith.

Verse 12

7:12 He answereth nothing. This fulfilled Isa 53:7, "As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."

Verse 13

3-14 Pilate was surprised at the silence of Juses in the face of accusations made by the chief priests. This was the same thing that happened in the presence of the high priest (Mat 26:62).

Verse 15

7:15 Governor was wont to release means it was customary for him to do so. The • feast of the pass-over was celebrated on the part of the civil powers by releasing a prisoner. There is little or no information available today as to when or how the custom started. Selection of the one to be favored was left to the. voice of the people or unofficial crowd, not to the chief priests or other officers.

Verse 16

7:16 They means the people who had this prisoner in confinement for the security of the public. He is said to have been a notable prisoner. Thayer says this word means "notorious, infamous" [of bad report]. This bad name is explained in Mar 15:7 which says he had committed murder and insurrection in connection with others.

Verse 17

7:17 All of the pronouns in this verse refer to the people, described in verse 15. Since they were the ones who must name the prisoner to be released, it was necessary for Pilate to ask them this question. Barabbas or Jesus. Pilate believed that Jesus was innocent of the accusations being made against him, but he was powerless to make any decision in the matter. However, as a suggestion which he thought would influence the crowd in their decision, he named Barabbas and Jesus. This prisoner was such a wicked character that surely they would not want him turned loose upon society. He thought they would reason that "of two evils it is better to choose the lesser." If they would do this it would result in the discharge of Jesus without any responsibility on his (Pilate's) part. It is possible they would have done as Pilate expected had it not been for the fact that will be explained at verse 20.

Verse 18

7:18 They in this verse means the chief priests (Mar 15:10) who had been responsible for the arrest of Jesus. Since that was the case Pilate thought the people would not be so prejudiced against him and would certainly vote in favor of his release rather than such a dangerous character as Barabbas.

Verse 19

7:19 There is nothing to indicate this to have been a miraculous dream. It is natural for the exciting events occurring in one's presence to make an impression on the mind, and that in turn would cause dreams to come in sleep. The innocence of Jesus was so evident that even this pagan wife of the governor was concerned about what might come to her husband if he should have any part in persecuting such a just man.

Verse 20

7:20 While Pilate was waiting for the decision of the crowd, the chief priests and elders were busy among them, using their persuasive powers to influence the decision. They were not permitted to have any public voice in the selection, hence they accomplished their wicked purpose by working on the people who did have such a voice.

Verse 21

7:21 Pilate repeated his question to the people. Acting upon the influence of the chief priests and elders, the crowd named Barabbas as the one to be released.

Verse 22

7:22 If such a notorious criminal as Barabbas was to be given his freedom, surely as just a man as Jesus would not be dealt with very severely, hence the somewhat challenging question was asked as to what should be done with the man who was called Christ. Their answer that he was to be crucified, was to carry out the sentence imposed by the Sanhedrin but which it did not have the authority to execute.

Verse 23

7:23 There is nothing in the text that indicates any knowledge on the part of Pilate as to the charge upon which Jesus had been brought into his court. It is true the crowd accused him of perverting the nation (Luk 23:2), but that was not any authoritative testimony for it was made by this mob at the moment. According to Mat 26:64-66 the point at which the Sanhedrin voted Jesus guilty was when he claimed to be the Son of God. Pilate, however, did not know anything about that (as far as we know), hence it was logical for him to ask the crowd the question stated. They refused to answer Pilate's question although they knew the pretense the Sanhedrin used in rendering its verdict. But they also knew that such a decision would not have much weight in a secular court, hence they ignored the question of the governor and repeated their wicked demand instead.

Verse 24

7:24 Although Pilate was a Roman official, he was somewhat acquainted with the Jewish history because of the frequent appearances of the leading men of that nation in Roman affairs. In Deuteronomy 21 is a provision in the law to dispose formally of a case of death for which it was not known who was responsible. The elders of the city nearest the body that was found were technically held to be guilty, or at least to have guilty knowledge thereof. The Lord knew that in some cases this would be unjust toward innocent persons, so a ceremony was ordained that included the washing of the hands which settled the case and cleared them of all responsibility. Pilate thought he could use that ceremony and thus avoid all responsibility for the death of Jesus. He failed to consider, however, that the Mosaic ceremony was in force only in cases where the elders actually were innocent or did not know anything about the case, while Pilate did have knowledge of the merits of the case and even had pronounced Jesus not guilty (Luk 23:4). He therefore could not escape responsibility by this misuse of the law intended only for the protection of the innocent.

Verse 25

7:25 The people understood from this performance of Pilate that he was hesitating because of a conscientious regard for the possible results of turning Jesus over to crucifixion. In order to remove that obstacle and secure the desired decree, they uttered the awful statement, His blood be on us, and on our children. This rash sentence proved to be a prediction that was fulfilled forty years later. In the year 70 A. D. the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and the Jewish people suffered untold miseries in the siege. That event was a part of the Roman military strategy, but God caused it to come upon the Jews because they had slain His own Son.

Verse 26

7:26 It was a custom with the Romans to scourge a prisoner who was to be executed. There were various methods of administering this punishment. Luk 23:22 reveals that Pilate proposed to chastice Jesus and let him go. That would have been a compromise with the hopes of pacifying the Jews and yet not being so harsh upon Jesus. But the mob would not accept it, so Pilate followed the cruel practice and scourged Jesus, after which he turned him over to the mob to have him crucified.

Verse 27

7:27 Of course the people of the Jews could not personally perform this execution since they were not officers of the Roman government. That action was to be done by the soldiers, who took the victim into the common hall which the margin correctly renders "governor's house"; here they brought the entire band of soldiers. There was no need for such a military display for Jesus was not showing any disposition to resist. It was done through pomp and to humiliate the doomed man by their show of power.

Verse 28

7:28 They stripped him. This was after Jesus had been scourged, for that operation required that his clothing be removed first according to Smith's Bible Dictionary. This denotes that after the scourging was performed his clothing was replaced upon his wounded body. Scarlet was one of the royal colors of Rome, and the placing of this robe on the body of Jesus after it had been stripped the second time, was in mockery because he had said he was a king.

Verse 29

7:29 The actions of this verse also were done in mockery of the claim of Jesus that he was a king of the Jews. For a crown they used thorns, which comes from the same Greek word as that used in chapter 13:7. Thayer defines the word, "A thorn, bramble-bush, brier." It means something that was not visible at the time the sowing was done, for it was afterward that the thorns "sprang up." The plant used as a mocking as well as a painful article was the kind that could be platted or woven into a crown and then pressed down upon the head of Jesus. Kings usually hold a baton or rod in their hand which was called a scepter when so used, indicating the authority of the throne. For that purpose a reed was placed in his hand in mockery of his claim as king. Smith's Bible Dictionary gives the following information on the reed that grew in Palestine. "A stronger reed, Arundo donax, the true reed of Egypt and Palestine, which grows 8 or 10 feet high, and is thicker than a man's thumb. It has a jointed stalk like a bamboo, and is very abundant on the Nile." There is something very pathetic about this item of the mocking ceremony. The placing of a crown on the head would require only that Jesus would not resist, but to put a reed in his right hand would be possible only by his cooperation, for an object like that would have to be grasped in order for the act to be a success. All of this was in keeping with the prediction of nonresistance that was made in Isa 53:7 and Act 8:32-33. It is fitting that a king would be saluted respectfully in the manner described in this verse, but these wicked men did it in mockery.

Verse 30

7:30 Isa 53:3 predicts that Jesus was to be "despised" which means to be treated with contempt or belittled. That was fulfilled when they spit upon him, which was done also when he was in the high priest's house (chapter 26:67). They next took the reed out of his hand and struck him on the head. That indicated that he was to be dispossessed of the authority he claimed to have, and then be punished by the very authority he claimed to represent as king.

Verse 31

7:31 After completing their• shameful mockery, they replaced the robe with his own clothing and started the "last mile" of his life toward the place of crucifixion.

Verse 32

7:32 Simon did not "bear the cross alone," but helped Jesus with the burden. See the comments on this subject with the reference cited at chapter 16:24.

Verse 33

7:33 No genuine believer in Christ would wish to lessen the respect that is so universally held for "the scenes of Calvary," yet it should be understood that most of the sentimental expressions on the subject are prompted by the general facts connected with the crucifixion. Even the poetic term "Mount Calvary" is not justified except figuratively as may be seen by the information now to be offered to the reader. Golgotha, rendered "Calvary" in Luk 23:33," is from the Greek word KRANION which Thayer and Robinson define by the simple term "a skull." Smith's Bible Dictionary says the following in an article entitled Golgotha. "The Hebrew name of the spot at which our Lord was crucified. Mat 27:33; Mar 15:22; Joh 19:17. By these three evangelists it is interpreted to mean the 'place of a skull.' Two explanations of the name are given: (1) that it was a spot where executions ordinarily took place, and therefore abounded in skulls; or (2) it may come from the look or form of the spot itself, bald, round and skull-like, and therefore a mound or hillock in accordance with the common phrase--for which there is no direct authority --'Mount Calvary.' Whichever of these is correct, Golgotha seems to have been a known spot." In his comments on the word "Calvary," Robert Young, author of the Analytical Concordance to the Bible, says the following: "This name occurs only in Luk 23:33, and is not a proper name, but arises from the translators having literally adopted the word Calvaria (i. e., "a bare skull") the Latin word by which the Greek word is rendered in the Vulgate [a Latin version of the Scriptures]. This Kranion is simply the Greek translation of the Chaldee Golgotha. The place of crucifixion is by each of the four evangelists called Kranion, and is in every case translated Calvaria in the Vulgate, and in every place but that in Luke the English version translates the word by 'scull.' There is no sanction for the expression 'Mount Calvary,' for it is only 18 feet high."

Verse 34

7:34 According to both Smith's Bible Dictionary, and Funk and Wag-nails Standard Bible Dictionary, this gall was made from the poppy plant which grew in abundance in Palestine. That, combined with the vinegar which would be somewhat alcoholic, composed a stupifying product that would act as an easement from pain. Jesus would not drink it because he was not willing to do anything to make his sufferings any less severe. Incidentally, we have an important bit of information as to what the verb "drink" means. The passage says that Jesus "tasted" of the mixture but would not "drink," which shows there is a difference between the two. Christians are commanded to "drink" of the fruit of the vine, not just taste of it. There is no need to consume a regular serving of it as one would to quench thirst, but we are expected to partake of it enough that it can be said we drink and not merely taste as is commonly done. Most churches do not provide enough of the fruit of the vine in the Lord's supper to meet the requirement of the ordinance.

Verse 35

7:35 The crucifixion of Jesus forms so important a part of the plan of human salvation, that I believe the reader should have some information on the manner of performing the act itself. I shall quote a description of it as may be found in Smith's Bible Dictionary. "The one to be crucified was stripped naked of all his clothes, and then followed the most awful moment of all. He was laid down upon the implement of torture. His arms were stretched along the cross-beams, and at the center of the open palms the point of a huge nail was placed, which, by the blow of a mallet, was driven home into the wood. Then through either foot separately, or possibly through both together, as they were placed one over the other, another huge nail tore its way through the quivering flesh. Whether the suf-ferer was also bound to the cross we a not know; but, to prevent the hands and feet being torn away by the weight of the body, which could 'rest upon nothing but four great wounds,' there was, about the centre of the cross, a wooden projection strong enough to support, at least in part, a human body, which soon became a weight of Agony. Then the 'accursed tree' with its living human burden was slowly heaved up and the end fixed firmly in a hole in the ground. The feet were but a little raised above the earth. The victim was in full reach of every hand that might choose to strike. A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly,--dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic [shock from a wound] fever, tetanus, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of unattended wounds, all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness. The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries, especially of the head and stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and, while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of burning and raging thirst. Such was the death to which Christ was doomed. The crucified was watched, according to custom, by a party of four soldiers, Joh 19:23, with their centurion, Mat 27:54, whose express office was to prevent the stealing of the body. This was necessary from the lingering character of the death, which sometimes did not supervene even for three days, and was at last the result of gradual benumbing and starvation. But for this guard, the persons might have been taken down and recovered as was actually done in the case of a friend of Josephus. Fracture of the legs was especially adopted by the Jews to hasten death, Joh 19:31. In most cases the body was suffered to rot on the cross by the action of sun and rain, or to be devoured by birds and beasts. Sepulture [burial] was generally therefore forbidden; but in consequence of Deu 21:22-23, au express national exception was made in favor of the Jews. Mat 27:58. This accursed and awful mode of punishment was happily abolished by Constantine." Parted his garments. We learn from the aforesaid quotation that the victim to be crucified was stripped of his clothing before the crucifixion. It was a custom that the soldiers performing the execution should have this raiment as extra pay in addition to their wages as soldiers. According to Joh 19:23 there were four of them, corresponding to the four parts to be nailed, the two hands and two feet, and hence there would be four parts to be shared by them. Casting lots. Most of the garments were so made that they could be divided into parts without any damage to them. But Joh 19:23-24 says the coat was made by weaving into one piece without any seams, and therefore it could not be divided without ruining it. Accordingly, the soldiers agreed to decide the question by casting lots for the garment. This action fulfilled the prediction in Psa 22:18. That it might be fulfilled. The bearing on this kind of phrase is explained in the comments on Mat 4:14.

Verse 36

7:36 Consult the preceding verse for the reason why they watched him.

Verse 37

7:37 Accusation written. It was a custom of the Romans to place a tablet on the cross over the head of the victim on which was written the accusation for which he was crucified. In the present case the "crime" was that he was Jesus the king of the Jews. According to John's account (Joh 19:21) the chief priests objected to the wording of this inscription, which will be commented upon at that place.

Verse 38

7:38 The scripture does not tell us the motive of the Romans for crucifying these thieves at this particular time and in the position with Jesus as stated. But we can understand the part the Lord had in it, for it fulfilled a prediction in Isa 53:12 that "he was numbered with the transgressors."

Verse 39

7:39 Thayer says this wagging of the head was "expressive of derision." A similar movement is recorded in Job 16:4 and Psa 109:25. Reviled is a stronger term and comes from the same Greek word as "blaspheme." Thus by the movement of their body and their word of mouth, these cruel people showed their contempt for the Lamb of God who was at that very hour making the supreme sacrifice that creatures like them might have an opportunity of being saved.

Verse 40

7:40 To blaspheme means to speak evil, whether in direct falsehood or otherwise. The preceding verse says they reviled him which means to blaspheme, and the present verse tells us some of the false things they said. Jesus never said he would destroy the temple (Joh 2:19), hence this was one of the blasphemous falsehoods they uttered against him. IF thou be the Son of God denotes they understood what was the real issue between Jesus and his enemies. It was not about his personal life nor his knowledge, but it was his identity. That is why the devil dwelt on that question in the temptations (chapter 4:3, 6), and why Jesus asked the question stated in chapter 16:13, 15 and 22:42. All the other questions and facts in the life of Christ are important only in so far as they pertain to the fundamental claim that he is God's Son.

Verse 41

7:41 The reproachful sayings in the preceding verse were from the crowd in general. This verse specifies the chief priests and scribes as the ones who were mocking Jesus. They had been against him all through his public work, so it is not surprising that they would join in the mob clamor at this time.

Verse 42

7:42 Saved others refers to the miraculous cures that Jesus did for people. Himself he cannot save means he cannot deliver himself from the cross. This was another falsehood, and it ignored the incident in the garden when Peter thought to defend him against bodily attack (chapter 26:51-54). They professed that they would believe in him if he would come down from the cross. This was a hypocritical claim for Jesus had done many works in their presence that were as great as this would have been, yet they refused to acknowledge him as the Lord.

Verse 43

7:43 Let him deliver him means for God to deliver his Son from the cross. This was as insincere as the statement of the preceding verse. They must have known that God would have the same reason for not interfering with the crucifixion as Jesus had for not resisting it.

Verse 44

7:44 This reproach from the thieves- was as much out of place as any such a thing could be. There was no honorable reason why they were in the difficulty of the hour, for they could have avoided it by the right conduct. But Jesus was so situated from the fact that his conduct was righteous. We are glad that one of them did see the situation in the proper light and so expressed himself. (Luk 23:39-43.)

Verse 45

7:45 The sixth and ninth hours corresponds with our noon and three In the afternoon. This darkness is pre dicted in Joe 2:30-31 and is referred to by Peter in Act 2:19-20. It seems that nature was draped in mourning during the last hours of this human-divine sacrifice. And to add to the gloom, the Father withdrew his comforting grace so that Jesus made a strong outcry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In order that the Son of God might make a complete sacrifice, that he might "pour out his soul unto death" (Isa 53:12), he was left unattended in his painful solitude, no soothing hand to calm the nervous agitation with a caressing touch, but, deserted by all his friends and mocked by his enemies, compelled to die for the unjust.

Verse 46

7:46 Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani is from Hebrew words as Jesus uttered them. Then Matthew translates them into Greek, which the translators of King James render in English for us, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken met This bewailing sentence is recorded as a prophecy in Psa 22:1.

Verse 47

7:47 The Hebrew word that Jesus used is similar in sound to the Greek for Elias, and that misled the bystanders to think he was calling for Elias who had been predicted to come into the world as his forerunner (Mal 4:5).

Verse 48

7:48 In Joh 19:28-29 where this part of the event is recorded, Jesus is reported to have said he was thirsty.. Thus in our present verse we are told that a person standing near offered him a drink of vinega (sour wine), serving it with a sponge on .a reed. That was the most convenient way either of serving or receiving it under the circumstances. This was done merely to quench his dying thirst and not as an opiate since it did not have the gall mixed with it which he had refused (verse 34).

Verse 49

7:49 Others, with less sympathy with Jesus in his distress, were willing to let him linger on in pain to see if his friend Elias (as they supposed) would come to his rescue and take him down from the cross.

Verse 50

7:50 When a human being is at the point of death from exhaustion, he is generally unconscious, or if not, he is very weak and would not be expected to make a strong cry. An exception to this would be when the patient is in delirium and hence acting with abnormal energy and without intelligent expression. No part of this description can apply to Jesus at this point. He not only was conscious, but his mind had not entered that stage where it would be acting mechanically, for according to Luk 23:46 this "loud voice" was immediately followed by the all impressive words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Our present verse says he yielded up the ghost, which comes from the same Greek word as spirit. So this outcry was evidently the final expression of one who, though ready to die, being "crucified through weakness" (2Co 13:4), was able by the force of the will to make a triumphant shout as he was ready to leave the scenes of death and go to his Father.

Verse 51

7:51 This veil separated between the holy and most holy rooms in the temple. Through it the high priest went on the day of atonement to offer a service of blood for the sins of the people (Lev 16:29-30). Jesus died at the hour that the animal was slain for the sacrifices, and hence it was fitting that this veil be rent at the same time, signifying that the great High Priest was ready to offer himself as a ransom for all. The quaking of the earth and rending of the rocks was God's method of opening the graves, the significance of which will be explained in the next two verses.

Verse 52

7:52. raves were opened. The tombs are meant which were in the form of caves that either were natural or were hewn out of a rock (verse 60), and another stone placed at the entrance to close the burial place. The earthquake loosened these stones and made them roll away thus opening the graves or tombs. A saint is anyone who is devoted to the service of God. These could not have been Christians because the church had not been set up. They were persons from one or all of the following groups of servants of God; those who had lived and died under the Patriarchal or Jewish dispensations, or disciples who had been called by the preaching of John or Christ, and who had died within the three years of their personal ministry. The rising of these saints forms a link in a very important chain of thought, which will be dealt with at Rom 8:29-30. For the present, however, I will state that these saints never died again.

Verse 53

7:53 One thing that is often overlooked in referring to this event, and that is that it was after his resur rection. that the saints arose. That was in order to make Christ the first one to come from the dead to die no more (Act 13:34; Act 26:23). Also, it was necessary for it to occur this close to the resurrection of Jesus in order that he could be the first "among many brethren" (Rom 8:29). The holy city means Jerusalem because it was the capital of the Jewish nation in its religious system.

Verse 54

7:54 The centurion and the other watchers were filled with awe by the demonstration. It was. not at the resurrection of anyone for that had not taken place yet. But they saw and felt the shaking of the earth at the same time that Jesus died, and knew that some supernatural power was the cause of it. They were pagans and did not know God as Christians know him, but they did know that Christ claimed to be His son, and the demonstration convinced them that he was what he claimed to be.

Verse 55

7:55 These women were faithful to the last, but with feminine timidity they stood some distance away watching. They had come from the same district where .Jesus was brought up, Galilee, and had served him on various occasions.

Verse 56

7:56 Mary Magdalene was the woman whom Jesus cured of demons (Mar 16:9) Mary the mother of James and Joses was the mother of Jesus (Mar 6:3); the mother of Zebedee's children was the mother of James and John (Mar 10:35).

Verse 57

7:57 Luk 23:50-51 says that Joseph was a counsellor which means that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. That passage states also that he "had not consented to the counsel and deed of them," meaning the Sanhedrin. Decisions of that body were made by the voice of the members (Mat 26:65-66), and when the case of Jesus was presented, Joseph did not vote with those who condemned him. It should be noted that Joseph was a rich man, also that he was "a good man and a just," and that he was a disciple of Jesus. All of this disproves the teaching of some that a man cannot be a true disciple of Jesus and still be a rich man. It is the trusting in riches that will condemn a man (Mar 10:24; 1Ti 6:17-18). But if he will "do good" with his riches he will thereby lay up for himself a good foundation against the time to come, and lay hold upon eternal life. Had Joseph not been a rich man he might not -have been able to purchase the burial place that was used to give the body of Jesus the respect that even any human body deserves, much more that of the Son of God. Another thing, by the fact of this man's being rich it fulfilled the prediction that Christ "made his grave with the rich" (Isa 53:9). That same prophecy includes a grave with the wicked which means the people of the world from whom Joseph purchased the place.

Verse 58

7:58 Joseph knew he would have to make special provisions and obtain a legal permit in order to take charge of the Lord's body. As an explanation of that subject I shall quote again a part of the statement from Smith's Bible Dictionary. "In most cases the body was suffered to rot on the cross by the action of sun and rain, or be devoured by birds and beasts. Sepulture [burial] was generally therefore forbidden." The statement that Pilate commanded the body to be delivered shows that a considerable amount of "red tape" was necessary in procuring the body of one who had been crucified.

Verse 59

7:59 Joseph wrapped the body in a winding sheet of clean linen. In the comments at verse 35 it is shown that a person to be crucified was stripped of all his clothing, hence the immediate need for using this linen cloth, for under the circumstances there was no opportunity for getting a burial shroud.

Verse 60

7:60 Joh 19:38-40 says that Joseph had a helper in this loving service, the man who came to Jesus by night (Joh 3:1-2). This gives us the information that Nicodemus became friendly with Jesus at least, and was willing not only to assist in the work of burying the Lord, but contributed a substantial amount of valuable products to be used in the burying according to the Jewish manner of such a ceremony. The tomb was hewn out of the rock and might well be compared to the burial chambers that are made in the walls of modern mausolems in the public cemeteries. The body was borne by these two men and laid in this cavity as it would be deposited on a couch. To close it a great stone was rolled up against the opening.

Verse 61

7:61 The other Mary was the mother of Jesus (verse 56). These women found a seat opposite where Jesus was buried and "beheld where he was laid" (Mar 15:47), which explains their concern about the stone when they were coming the day after the sabbath with spices, intending to anoint his body (Mar 16:1-3).

Verse 62

7:62 The day before any holy or sabbath day was called a preparation (Mar 15:42), and this would apply to every holy day, not only the regular weekly sabbath. The day of the passover was a holy day (Lev 23:4-5), hence the day before it would be a preparation. The passover came on Friday the 14th, thus it would naturally be a day that followed the day of preparation, and also the day following the crucifixion. On that day the leading Jews came to Pilate with their request.

Verse 63

7:63 The Jews reminded the governor of the claim of Jesus that he would rise from the dead after three days. Yes, Jesus did declare such a thing, and the Jews had no misunderstanding of the words. But when they had a wicked motive prompting them, they perverted them to serve their hypocrisy (chapter 26:61).

Verse 64

7:64 I do not believe these Jews actually feared the disciples would steal the dead body of their Lord; what could they do with it? Besides, they were discouraged and in no mood for trying any rash means of what at best could only have been propaganda that would soon have been exposed. But these Jews were foolish enough to think that a seal over the tomb would prevent Jesus from breaking it, just as there are people today foolish enough to think that by having their bodies cremated they can escape the lake of fire. Error and deceiver are from Greek words with virtually the same meaning. The last error means the last deception, and the thought was that if they let the disciples succeed in their plan, then they (the Jews) would be worse beaten at the game than they were the first time.

Verse 65

7:65 Pilate reminded them of the watch in existence already, which consisted of various regulations as to the number of men to be on the watch at a time and the number of hours each group was required to be on duty. In addition to this, Pilate authorized them to make the tomb as secure as possible.

Verse 66

7:66. Acting upon the authority of Pilate, they put a Roman seal on the tomb and appointed the watchmen to bA on duty at the grave.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 27". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/matthew-27.html. 1952.