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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 27:25

And all the people said, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!"
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
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  3. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  4. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  5. Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament
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Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Barabbas;   Complicity;   Court;   Demagogism;   Impenitence;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Judge;   Opinion, Public;   Persecution;   Politics;   Responsibility;   Rulers;   Verdict;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Injustice;   Jews, the;   Sins, National;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Barabbas;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Blood;   Crucifixion;   God;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Murder;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Jews;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Barabbas;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bar;   Blood;   Bloodguilt;   Capital Punishment;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Pilate;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Barabbas ;   Blood;   Blood ;   Matthew, Gospel According to;   Trial of Jesus;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Barabbas ;   Judah, the Kingdom of;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Jews;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Jesus Christ, the Arrest and Trial of;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Barabbas;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Blood Accusation;   Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;   New Testament;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

His blood be on us and on our children - If this man be innocent, and we put him to death as a guilty person, may the punishment due to such a crime be visited upon us, and upon our children after us! What a dreadful imprecation! and how literally fulfilled! The notes on chap. 24, will show how they fell victims to their own imprecation, being visited with a series of calamities unexampled in the history of the world. They were visited with the same kind of punishment; for the Romans crucified them in such numbers when Jerusalem was taken, that there was found a deficiency of crosses for the condemned, and of places for the crosses. Their children or descendants have had the same curse entailed upon them, and continue to this day a proof of the innocence of Christ, the truth of his religion, and of the justice of God.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

156. Jesus before the people (Matthew 27:15-31; Mark 15:6-20; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-40; John 19:1-16)

Although assured that Jesus was innocent, Pilate felt it wise to give the Jews some satisfaction; for by this time a crowd had gathered and he did not want a riot to break out. He therefore offered to punish Jesus by flogging, and consider the matter finished (Luke 23:13-16).

But the people yelled for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate did not want the situation to get out of control, so made another offer. He agreed to accept the Jews' accusation of Jesus' guilt, but he offered to give Jesus the special pardon reserved for one criminal each Passover season (Matthew 27:15-18).

By this time the priests scattered throughout the crowd had the people under their power. They quickly spread the word that the prisoner they wanted released was not Jesus, but Barabbas, a rebel who had once taken a leading part in a local anti-Rome uprising (see Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19). Pilate, unaware of the influence of the priests in the crowd and thinking that Jesus had widespread support, agreed to allow the crowd to choose between the two, no doubt thinking they would choose Jesus. As he waited for them to make their choice, his wife sent him a warning not to condemn Jesus (Matthew 27:19-20).

If supporters of Jesus were in the crowd, they were a minority. People in general were more likely to support a nationalist like Barabbas. Finally, they succeeded in having Barabbas released and Jesus condemned to be crucified. They accepted responsibility for this decision and called down God's judgment upon them and their children if they were wrong (a judgment that possibly fell on them with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70). Jesus was then taken and flogged as the first step towards crucifixion (Matthew 27:21-26; Luke 23:18-25; John 18:39-40; John 19:1).

While some soldiers were preparing for the execution, those in Pilate's palace cruelly made fun of Jesus. They mocked him as 'king' by putting some old soldiers clothes on him for a royal robe and thorns on his head for a crown. They hit him over the head with a stick that was supposed to be his sceptre, and spat in his face and punched him as mock signs of homage (Matthew 27:27-31; John 19:2-3).

Pilate showed this pitiful figure to the crowd, apparently hoping it might make them feel ashamed and change their minds; but it only increased their hatred (John 19:4-6). Pilate became more uneasy when he heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Maybe, thought Pilate, this man was one of the gods. He became even more anxious to set Jesus free when Jesus told him that God would hold him responsible for the way he used his authority. Pilate was guilty for condemning a man he knew was innocent, but Caiaphas and the other Jews who handed Jesus over to him were more guilty (John 19:7-11).

Again Pilate tried to release Jesus, but the Jews reminded him that he himself could be in danger if he released a person guilty of treason. This disturbed Pilate further, and after a final offer that the Jews rejected, he handed Jesus over to be crucified. The Jews' declaration of loyalty to Caesar demonstrated their hypocrisy and confirmed their rejection of God (John 19:12-16).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And all the people answered and said, His blood be on us and our children.

This evil prayer was answered; thus people receive what they ask. All the subsequent sorrows that came upon Israel were then and there invoked by a multitude that included the highest official representatives of the nation. Of all rash things, the rashest is a rash prayer; nor was this the first time that Israel had prayed and received the answer of so rash a petition. Their ancestors had cried in the wilderness, "Would God we had died in the wilderness" (Numbers 14:2). Of course, that is exactly what that generation did; they died in the wilderness. A similar thing happened when Rachel prayed, "Give me children, or I die? (Genesis 30:1). She died in childbirth when Benjamin was born. The petition recorded here, "His blood be on us and our children," was also answered in the most dramatic and overwhelming manner when, according to Josephus, 30,000 young Hebrew men were crucified upon the walls of Jerusalem by the soldiers of Titus when the city fell during the summer of A.D. 70; but the full tragedy of that tragic prayer and its tragic aftermath shall never be known until eternity. Through the long centuries, the persecutions, blood-purges, and pogroms directed against Israel must surely be classed among the most astonishing social phenomena ever known; and it is not too much to say that all of them head up to a single fountain in this awful prayer.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

His blood be on us … - That is, let the guilt of putting him to death, if there be any, be on us and our children. We will be answerable for it, and will consent to bear the punishment for it. It is remarked by writers that, among the Athenians, if anyone accused another of a capital crime, he devoted himself and children to the same punishment if the accused was afterward found innocent. So in all countries the conduct of the parent involves the children in the consequences of his conduct. The Jews had no right to call down this vengeance on their children, but, in the righteous judgment of God, it has come upon them. In less than forty years their city and temple were overthrown and destroyed. More than a million of people perished in the siege. Thousands died by famine; thousands by disease; thousands by the sword; and their blood ran down the streets like water, so that, Josephus says, it extinguished things that were burning in the city. Thousands were crucified suffering the same punishment that they had inflicted on the Messiah. So great was the number of those who were crucified, that, Josephus says, they were obliged to cease from it, “room being wanted for the crosses, and crosses for the men.” See the notes at Matthew 24. To this day, also, the curse has remained. They have been a nation scattered and peeled; persecuted almost everywhere, and a hissing and a byword among people. No single nation, probably, has suffered so much; and yet they have been preserved. All classes of people, all the governments of the earth, have conspired to overwhelm them with calamity, and yet they still live as monuments of the justice of God, and as proofs, going down from age to age, that the Christian religion is true - standing demonstrations of the crime of their fathers in putting the Messiah to death, and in calling down vengeance on their heads.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

  1. Introduction
    1. Last week, we saw Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we saw Judas betray Jesus into the hand of the Chief priests, and finally we looked at Peter denying Jesus 3 times!
    2. We pick up by reading in Chapter 26 to set the stage for Chapter 27…
  2. The Crucifixion of Christ
    1. Judas Betrayed Him
      1. Mat 26:46-50  /  Mat 27:1-10
        1. ​​​​​​​Zec 11:12-13 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.  13  And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
        2. Act 1:15-19  And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)  16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.  17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.  18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.  19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
    2. The Chief Priest Laid Hold on Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Matt 26:57-68
        1. ​​​​​​​They couldn’t find any false witnesses…odd, they planned this.  It was required to condemn someone to death that there be at least 2-3 eyewitnesses.
        2. Jesus held His peace…
          1. ​​​​​​​Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
        3. They buffeted Him…
          1. Isa 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
    3. Pilate Condemned Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:11-26
        1. ​​​​​​​Luke 23:4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
          1. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and had only be brought to him because of envy. So he looked for a way to release Jesus, and hoped he found a way in the custom of releasing one Jewish prisoner at the time of Passover.
        2. ALSO:  His wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man”: Pilate had all the evidence he needed to do the right thing and release Jesus. But he would not do what he knew was right, because he cared more about what the crowd said than what he knew was right.
          1. Pro 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
        3. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”
          1. ​​​​​​​The voice of the crowd is not always the voice of God.  Democracy is only good when all are seeking the Lord’s best!
        4. By choosing Barabbas instead of Jesus, it reflected the fallen nature of all humanity.
        5. But!  If anyone knew what it meant that Jesus died in their place, it was Barabbas.  We can imagine when the soldiers said, “Barabbas, you are a guilty man - but you will be released because Jesus will die in your place!”
        6. Finally, Pilate tries to avoid responsibility for Jesus’ fate.  When Pilate saw that he could not prevail with the crowd…he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
          1. He took water and washed his hands before the multitude: Pilate could never wash his hands of this. It was a responsibility that could not be avoided, and his guilt is echoed in the creeds (crucified under Pontius Pilate) throughout the centuries.
          2. I am innocent of the blood of this just Person: Hidden in Pilate’s attempt at self-justification is a declaration of Jesus’ innocence. When he called Jesus this just Person, he admitted that Jesus was the innocent man - not Pilate. Just because Pilate saidI am innocent” doesn’t mean that he was innocent.
          3. The Crowd:  His blood be on us and on our children: They really had not understanding of what they asked for. They didn’t understand the glory of Jesus’ cleansing blood, and how wonderful it would be to have His blood . . . on us and on our children. They also didn’t understand the enormity of the crime of calling for the execution of the sinless Son of God, and the judgment that would be visited on their children some forty years later in the destruction of Jerusalem.
    4. The Soldiers Crucified Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:27-37
        1. ​​​​​​​When he had scourged Jesus: The blows came from a whip with many leather strands, each having sharp pieces of bone or metal at the ends. It reduced the back to raw flesh, and it was not unusual for a criminal to die from a scourging, even before crucifixion.
          1. Quoting from Dr. William Edwards in the article “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 3/21/86)
          2. “Scourging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt.”
          3. The goal of the scourging was to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse and death. “As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive the cross.” (Edwards)
          4. “The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.” (Edwards)
        2. The blows of scourging would lessen as the criminal confessed to his crimes. Jesus remained silent, having no crimes to confess, so the blows continued with full strength.
        3. Jesus is beaten and mocked.  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
          1. Mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Everything in this scene was intended to humiliate Jesus.
          2. They stripped Him: When a prisoner was crucified, they were often nailed to the cross naked - simply to increase their humiliation. Jesus hasn’t been crucified yet, but His humiliation has begun, and He was publicly stripped.
          3. Put a scarlet robe on Him: Kings and rulers often wore scarlet, because the dyes to make fabrics that color were expensive. The scarlet robe was intended as cruel irony.
          4. They had twisted a crown of thorns: Kings wear crowns, but not crowns of torture. The specific thorn-bushes of this region have long, hard, sharp thorns. This was a crown that cut, pierced, and bloodied the head of the King wearing it.
          5. A reed in His right hand: Kings hold scepters, but glorious, ornate scepters that symbolize their power. In their mockery of Jesus, they give Him a scepter - but a thin, weak reed.
          6. They bowed the knee before Him: Kings are honored, so they offer mocking worship to this King.
          7. “Hail, King of the Jews!” Kings are greeting with royal titles, so in their spite they mocked Jesus with this title. It was meant to put down not only Jesus, but also the Jews - saying, “This is the best King they could come up with.”
        4. Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head: They now shift from mockery to cruelty. They seize the ironic “scepter,” take off the “kingly” robe, and begin to hurl spit and fists and the head of Jesus.
        5. And led Him away to be crucified: The march to the place of crucifixion was useful advertising for Rome. It warned potential troublemakers that this was their fate should they challenge Rome. A centurion on horseback led the procession, and a herald shouted the crime of the condemned.
          1. As Jesus was led away to be crucified, He was - like all victims of crucifixion - forced to carry the wood He would hang upon. The weight of the entire cross was typically 300 pounds. The victim only carried the crossbar, which weighed anywhere from 75 to 125 pounds. When the victim carried the crossbar, he was usually stripped naked, and his hands were often tied to the wood.
          2. The upright beams of a cross were usually permanently fixed in a visible place outside of the city walls, beside a major road. It is likely that on many occasions, Jesus passed by the very upright He would hang upon.
          3. When Jesus said, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me, this is exactly the scene He had in mind. Taking up your cross wasn’t a journey; it was a one-way trip. There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip.
        6. On the way to Golgotha (in Latin, Calvary).  Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.
          1. ​​​​​​​A man of Cyrene, Simon by name: This man was probably a visitor to Jerusalem, there as a faithful Jew to celebrate the Passover. He was far from Cyrene in North Africa (some 800 miles away).
          2. Him they compelled to bear His cross: Simon knew little if anything about this Jesus, and had no desire to be associated with this Man who was condemned to die as a criminal. Yet the Romans were the law, and Simon was not given a choice. Him they compelled to bear His cross. Perhaps he was chosen because his skin was black, and he was more conspicuous in the crowd.
          3. Wonderfully, we have reason to believe that Simon came to know what it really meant to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus. We know that his sons became leaders among the early Christians (Mar_15:21 and Rom_16:13).
        7. A place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull: There was a specific place outside the city walls of Jerusalem, yet still very close, where people were crucified. At this Place of a Skull Jesus died for our sins, and our salvation was accomplished.
          1. Golgotha - in Latin, “Calvary” means “Place of a Skull.” It was called that because it was the established place - outside the city walls, yet on a well-established road - where criminals were crucified.
        8. They gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink: It was customary to give those about to be crucified a pain and mind-numbing drink, to lessen their awareness of the agony awaiting them. But Jesus refused any numbing drug. He chose to face the spiritual and physical terror with all His senses awake.
        9. Jesus is crucified.  We have yet to see an accurate depiction of crucifixion in our media. If it were ever made, it would be limited to adult audiences, because of its sheer horror and brutality.
          1. Again quoting Dr. William Edwards, “Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering.”
          2. The victim’s back would first be torn open by the scourging, then the clotting blood would be ripped open again when the clothes were torn off the victim. When thrown on the ground to fix his hands to the crossbeam, the wounds would again be torn open and contaminated with dirt. Then, as he hung on the cross, with each breath, the painful wounds on the back would scrape against the rough wood of the upright beam and be further aggravated
          3. Driving the nail through the wrists would sever the large median nerve - this stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms, and could result in a claw-like grip in the victim’s hands.
          4. Beyond the excruciating pain, the major effect of crucifixion inhibited normal breathing. The weight of the body, pulling down on the arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the respiratory muscles in an inhalation state, and hinder exhalation. The lack of adequate respiration would result in severe muscle cramps, which would hinder breathing even further. To get a good breath, one would have to push against the feet, and flex the elbows, pulling from the shoulders. Putting the weight of the body on the feet would produce searing pain, and flexing of the elbows would twist the hands hanging on the nails. Lifting the body for a breath would also painfully scrape the back against the rough wooden post. Each effort to get a proper breath would be agonizing, exhausting, and lead to a sooner death.
          5. “Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals.”
          6. Death from crucifixion could come from many sources: acute shock from blood loss; being too exhausted to breathe any longer; dehydration; stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure leading to a cardiac rupture. If the victim did not die quickly enough, the legs would be broken, and the victim would soon be unable to breathe.
          7. The most significant thing about Jesus’ sufferings was that He was not, in any sense, the victim of circumstances. He was in control.
          8. Joh 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
    5. The Elders Mocked Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:38-44
        1. ​​​​​​​Psalm 109:25 I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.
        2. 2Kings 19:21-22 This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.  22 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
        3. Psa 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  7  All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  8  He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
    6. The Father Sold Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:45-54
        1. ​​​​​​​Psa 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
        2. Psa 22:14-15  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.  15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
        3. Matt 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
    7. His Friends Buried Him
      1. ​​​​​​​Mat 27:55-66
        1. ​​​​​​​This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus: Customarily, the bodies of crucified criminals were left on their crosses to rot or be eaten by wild animals. But the Jews wanted no such horror displayed during the Passover season, and Romans were known to grant the corpses of executed men to friends or relatives for proper burial.
        2. He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth: Joseph followed the burial customs of that day - the best he could, considering that they had very little time because the Sabbath drew near (Luke 23:54).
    8. Who is He to You?
      1. ​​​​​​​Is He a nut?  A crook?  A blasphemer?  A great prophet?  A nice guys?
      2. …or is He the Son of God, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world?
      3. …if He is God,  Are you “All in?”
      4. Time’s running out!
  3. Conclusion
    1. ​​​​​​​Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    2. ​​​​​​​Rom 5:7-9 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Copyright Statement
Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". 2017.

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible

Jesus was sentenced to death by Pilate - : Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus did not reply to the false charges made by the chief priests and elders. This caused Pilate to marvel and to understand that Jesus really was innocent. Pilate believed in Jesus but, like many, would not submit to Him. Even Pilate"s wife knew Jesus was an "upright man." "...His wife sent to him, saying, have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him." (Matthew 27:19) Though man can never rid himself of personal responsibility Pilate tried. He first wanted to release Jesus instead of Barabbas. The people refused. Then in response to the people"s desire to crucify Jesus, Pilate washed his hands of responsibility (he thought) and allowed Jesus to be crucified.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

on. Greek. epi. App-104. Not the same as verses: Matthew 27:19, Matthew 27:30.

children = offspring. Greek. Plural of teknon. App-108.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

25.His blood be on us. There can be no doubt that the Jews pronounced this curse on themselves without any concern, as if they had been fully convinced that they had a righteous cause before God; but their inconsiderate zeal carries them headlong, so that, while they commit an irreparable crime, they add to it a solemn imprecation, by which they cut themselves off from the hope of pardon. Hence we infer how carefully we ought to guard against headlong rashness in all our judgments. For when men refuse to make inquiry, and venture to decide in this or the other matter according to their own fancy, blind impulse must at length carry them to rage. And this is the righteous vengeance of God with which he visits the pride of those who do not deign to take the trouble of distinguishing between right and wrong. The Jews thought that, in slaying Christ, they were performing a service acceptable to God; but whence arose this wicked error, unless from wicked obstinacy, and from despising God himself? Justly, therefore, were they abandoned to this rashness of drawing upon themselves final ruin. But when the question relates to the worship of God and his holy mysteries, let us learn to open our eyes, and to inquire into the matter with reverence and sobriety, lest through hypocrisy and presumption we become stupefied and enraged.

Now as God would never have permitted this execrable word to proceed from the mouth of the people, if their impiety had not been already desperate, so afterwards he justly revenged it by dreadful and unusual methods; and yet by an incredible miracle he reserved for himself some remnant, that his covenant might not be abolished by the destruction of the whole nation. He had adopted for himself the seed of Abraham, that it might be

a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, his peculiar people and inheritance,
1 Peter 2:9.)

The Jews now conspire, as with one voice, to renounce a favor so distinguished. Who would not say that the whole nation was utterly rooted out from the kingdom of God? But God, through their treachery, renders more illustrious the fidelity of his promise, and, to show that he did not in vain make a covenant with Abraham, he rescues from the general destruction those whom he has elected by free grace. Thus the truth of God always rises superior to all the obstacles raised by human unbelief.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. This was a very busy morning…
      1. Jesus was to be on the cross by 9am. They had their make-shift hasty trial at Caiaphas’ house, in the wee hours of the night. Now the Jewish council reconvened in the morning & delivered their official verdict against Jesus.
      2. Since they couldn’t exercise Capital Punishment, off to Pilate’s He is sent.
    2. Last week, Peter yielded to the flesh when he denied his Lord. Judas yielded to the devil in his great sin. This week, Pilate yielded to the world by listening to the crowd.
  2. JESUS BOUND? (1,2)
    1. ​​​​​​​Bound Him - Just as Isaac was bound before he was laid upon the altar.
      1. Both in their prime. Both in submission. Jesus submitting to His reason 4 coming
    2. Bound Him? - They actually bound the hands that had stopped waves. Hushed Wind. Stayed storms. Hands that turned water into wine & multiplied bread. Hands that dealt w/ diseases, touched/healed Lepers, & turned mud into Healing Ointments. Hands that opened deaf ears. Loosed a tongue w/an impediment. Hands that even raised the Dead.
      1. They bound Him, who came to loose those bound. Bound w/demons, infirmities, and those bound with sin? - They bound Him…with what?
        1. ​​​​​​​The only thing that kept Him bound was...His obedience to the Father & His love for us.
      2. Jesus could have easily snapped those cords like Samson did to the Philistine ropes. But there were other cords that bound Him…
        1. The cables of covenant agreements, oaths, promises. The zip-tie bond of His love to you & I.
  3. JUDAS’ REMORSE (3-10)
    1. ​​​​​​​(3) Remorse (sorrow) - Nothing wrong with the word itself. It was used of the young man who told his dad no he wouldn’t go work in the field, then felt remorse & went. It’s not the word but the result we need to look at.
      1. Remember from last week...Regret (involves just the mind). Remorse (involves the mind & emotions…we feel terrible). Repentance (involves the changing of the mind, the emotions, & the will i.e. turning away from sin)
      2. Peter felt remorse/sorrow & it led Peter back to Jesus side. Judas felt remorse & it led him to suicide.
      3. Repentance always moves us towards God, it seeks Him. Remorse brings hopelessness, desperation, a feeling of worthlessness.
    2. (4) One good result that came out of this confession was towards Jesus not Judas. It proved again His innocence.
      1. Listen skeptics: here is a man that ate, slept next to, lived with, & traveled with Jesus day-n-night for 3 yrs. And he could not find one flaw in Him. And now would be the time to bring one out.
      2. But even the traitor in his dying speech declared His innocence.
  4. PILATE ARRESTED By Jesus’ Patience (11-14)
    1. ​​​​​​​(11, intro) Jesus was accused of 3 things: (from Lk.23:2)
      1. 1) Misleading the nation. 2) forbidding to pay taxes. 3) claiming to be King.
      2. Pilate’s focus was on the 3rd charge, because this was a definite threat against Rome.
        1. If he handles this properly, Pilate could please the Jews & impress the Emperor at the same time.
    2. (14) Pilate marveled greatly - Jesus wouldn’t stand up for Himself. He said nothing. Accusation after accusation still no defending Himself?
      1. Pilate was arrested by Jesus Patience!
    3. Patient silence. Calm endurance.
      1. He had much to say to mankind. Not a single word for Himself.
      2. No mans spoke like Jesus. No man was silent like Him.
      3. Nothing to say to stop the slaughter of His sacred body.
      4. The best apologists for Christianity in the early days were its martyrs.
      5. The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing their blows.
  5. PILATE ARRESTED By Jesus’ Purity (15-26)
    1. ​​​​​​​(15) One more scheme up Pilate’s sleeve…the tradition of Releasing a prisoner. [something California has adopted & perfected, our catch & release program of prisoners because of jail over-crowding]
    2. Pilate hoped for the popularity of Jesus among the people…Jesus or this ISIS captive?
    3. You cannot stay neutral in what you think of Jesus. And, can never rely on the popular opinion of the people.
      1. Pilate knew what was right, but refused to do anything about it.
      2. As a Governor he was supposed to uphold the law. As a Politician he knew he had to get along w/the people. But as a Man he one day would have to stand in judgment for his soul.
        1. He looked for the easy way, not the right way.
        2. He has gone down in history as, the man who condemned Jesus.
    1. ​​​​​​​(19) Here was an unlooked-for witness to the innocence of Christ...Pilate’s wife.
    2. History and literature of the Roman Empire is full of reports of dream prophecies, dream ghosts and dream gods.
    3. Surely this would have reminded Pilate of the dream of another Roman woman, before a very critical day. It was Julius Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, who having seen her husband before her in a dream, covered with wounds & streaming w/blood, entreated him not to leave his house for the Roman Senate on the Ides of March. He did & was assassinated.
    4. Adam sinned by listening to his wife. Pilot sinned by not listening to his wife.
    5. I think we’ll meet Pilate’s wife in Heaven. She had some Staying Power...even when her husband didn’t deserve her by his side.
      1. ​​​​​​​She had such a strong conviction of right & wrong.
      2. She had the courage to testify to Jesus’ righteousness & innocence.
      3. We know her story in only 21 words.
        1. Tradition says, she leaned toward Judaism & may have been a Jewish Proselyte & a secret follower of Jesus.
        2. Later Christian tradition has given her the name Claudia Procula, meaning, follower at the gate. [some authorities have identified her w/Claudia in 2 Tim.4:21 who was no doubt a Roman Christian]
        3. The Greek Orthodox Church canonized her & set aside Oct.27th as her feast day.
      4. So she sends a message to her husband, at the most important trial the world has ever seen...not to condemn Jesus.
        1. She was the only person who came to the defense of Jesus while He was on trial.
        2. With a women’s delicate intuition she had sensed the approaching evil, & with a wife’s concern she had tried to save her husband from this terrible decision to put a just man to death. Her intervention caused Pilate to hesitate & once more to give the mob its choice, but they chose to crucify Jesus.
      5. In her dream she awoke with 2 convictions: that Jesus was an innocent man & that her husband would be inviting disaster if he took action against him.
        1. Both were true. Pilate had admitted, I have found no fault in this man. And, her husband’s administration ended abruptly.
        2. He was banished to Southern France where he ultimately committed suicide.
        3. Pilates wife stayed with him to the end. Lovingly supporting him. Truthfully encouraging him to do right. Allowing him to make wrong decisions. She Stayed.
    6. ​​​​​​​A wife may have insight that a husband lacks, & therefore, it is wise to listen to her.
      1. Remember, God could have just as easily gave Pilate the dream, but He chose to communicate it through his wife.
      2. Although Pilate’s wife does not succeed in convincing her husband, she rightly gives him her opinion. Spouses should regard their mates input as valuable. Remember, our spouses bring us different perspectives, & considering the other point of view helps us see life with 2 sets of eyes instead of 1. Max Lucado’s
    7. It is a mystery why God allowed the record of her dream to be recorded by Matthew. It almost seems totally irrelevant, for Pilate does not seem to have been impressed, and as far as we know it had no effect on the outcome of the trial of Jesus.
      1. So why is it here? For one, we can look at Matthew's interest in dreams.
        1. He is the dream collector of the NT. The word for dream here is onar, and it is used just 6 times in the NT, & all 6 come from the pen of Mt.
        2. 5 of the 6 dreams deal with the birth & childhood of Jesus (4 to Joseph, 1 to wisemen).
        3. Only the dream of Pilate's wife deals with the other end of his life, His trial & death
    8. It is only speculation, but even the great Spurgeon agrees that it is likely Claudia saw in her dream the crucifixion. She states clearly that she suffered, and what could her suffering had been but the vision of this innocent man being crucified unjustly.
      1. ​​​​​​​God's plea for His Son through Claudia was, "Not guilty!"
  7. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​EVERYONE’S QUESTION (22-25)
    1. ​​​​​​​(22) He asks the crowd but again doesn’t ask his own conscience, What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? - Everyone’s eternity teeters on this one question.
    2. (24) The outward rites will never cleanse the impure soul.
      1. Some run to church for a whole month of Sundays in a row. Some use a patterned prayer, almost like a rabbits foot. Some start doing extra good deeds to relieve their guilt.
      2. Oh, Mr. Pilate your on the right track. You need cleansing, but you need something stronger than water to wash that blood off your hands.
        1. You need the washing of the very blood you’re about to spill.
        2. Agur said in Pr 30:12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness. (sounds like Pilate)
    3. What then shall I do w/Jesus who is called Christ? Ask Him to wash you of your sins this very morning. Ask Him to be Lord of your life.
    1. ​​​​​​​WHO WAS BARABBAS? Bar/abbas = son of/the father.
    2. He had made insurrection (open revolt against civil authority) against Rome.
      1. And in the rebellion had committed murder.
      2. In the eyes of the Emperor he would be considered a dangerous political prisoner. (a Terrorist)
    3. Jesus was delivered. Barabbas was released.
      1. Jesus delivered bound, delivered unto death.
      2. Barabbas released unto freedom, released to life.
    4. Barabbas should have died for his crime but Jesus occupied his cross.
      1. Then the words of Pilate & then the soldier, Barabbas…you’re free!
        1. ​​​​​​​Free??? Yes, another is to die in your place.
    5. WHAT HAS BARABBAS DONE? [Adapted from Judah Smith’s message on Barabbas]
      1. He deserves this. He’s a bad man. He’s a thug. A terrorist. He should be on death row. He’s a rebel for wrong. He led a rebellion. He murdered people. He deserves this. He deserves the chains. He deserves crucifixion. He deserves death He deserves hell.
      1. He didn’t deserves this. He’s a good man. He heals. He restores. Delivers. Sets free. Opens blind eyes & deaf ears. Heals the lame & the leper.
      1. ​​​​​​​There seems to be no conscience w/Barabbas.
      2. We don’t see him turn to Jesus saying, I owe you everything now, for you have set me free.
    8. (Jesus) It’s ok Father, let them have Barabbas.
      1. He knew the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas so He could treat Barabbas like Jesus.
      2. Remember, this is all about Jesus going to the cross.
      3. (Jesus) Yes, let them have Barabbas, Take me!
      4. What a picture of divine Grace this substitutionary death presents.
        1. Substitution = The just for the unjust.
        2. Vicarious Taking the place of another. [Vicar=substitute]
        3. Barabbas could say, He died for me.
      1. The people didn’t set Barabbas free. Pilate didn’t set Barabbas free. It was ONLY the Love of the Father that set Barabbas free.
      2. (God the Father) I Love Barabbas. I wanted him to go free.
        1. (me) WHAT? but he’s bad man.
      3. (Father) But I Love Barabbas. I wanted him to go free.
        1. (me) But didn’t you know he probably will never acknowledge the free gift?
      4. (Father) Yeah, but I love him. Brian remember, For while you were still a sinner Christ died for you?
        1. ​​​​​​​(me) So You are saying you sent Your Son Jesus, for Barabbas, even the one who would walk away from Jesus, and His free gift, & never come back?
      5. (Father) I Love Barabbas. I wanted him to go free.
      1. Barabbas is you...its me...its us. We are Barabbas.
      2. How many times have I stood on that platform w/Pilate & Jesus, and I’m Barabbas. And they started to take my chains off. And I say, No, No. I deserve this. I deserve the guilt. I deserve the shame. I deserve the consequence. I deserve it.
        1. ​​​​​​​And Jesus responds, No son. Let me have it. Let me have your sin. Let me have your pain.
        2. (me) No God, I did this to myself. I deserve this. I deserve poverty. I deserve sickness. NO!
        3. (me) But God I’m so ashamed. (Jesus) Give Me your shame.
          (me) But what if I do it again. (Jesus) I’ll still be here again.
          (me) God I don’t want to do this anymore. (Jesus) Give Me your sins son.
          1. This is all we got. It’s all I got. It’s all you got...It’s God alone.
      1. Your greatest challenge is not your discipline, your devotion, your focus. Your greatest challenge is believing the gospel.
      2. Could there be that there’s a God with a love so scandalous. So wide. So deep. So vast. So high. So expansive. So welcoming.
        1. ​​​​​​​Just give me your sin son/daughter. And you do.
          1. Then you see him walking now to the post to be whipped. While you stand a free man/woman. He says go son/daughter, live your life. Be free. I’ll pay the price.
        2. His blood is sufficient for your salvation. His blood is sufficient to sustain you...​​​​​​​through every challenge & every sin & every temptation.
          1. JESUS IS ENOUGH
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide



Ver1. But when the morning was come (Syr. when it was dawn), all the chief priests, &c. "See here," says S. Jerome, "the eagerness of the Priests for evil," their feet were swift to shed blood ( Psalm 14:6). They were urged on by their bitter hatred of Christ, and by Satan"s instigation. It was the morning of Friday, only a few hours before His crucifixion, when Caiaphas, who had already tried and condemned Him the night before, summoned thus early the great Council of the Sanhedrin. It was to obtain His condemnation by the whole Body, which would ensure the subsequent condemnation by Pilate. S. Matthew omits the proceedings of this Council, as being a mere repetition of what he had already recorded (chap. xxvi59 seq.). But the narrative is supplied by S. Luke (xxii26 seq.), as explained above (see ver59).

S. Leo says strikingly, "This morning, 0 Jews, destroyed your Temple and altars, took away from you the Law and the Prophets, deprived you of your kingdom and priesthood, and turned all your feasts into unending woe" (Serm. iii. de Pass.).

To put Him to death. That is, how they could do it without hindrance or tumult, and also by what kind of death, as, e.g., that of the Cross, the most ignominious of all. Some members of the Council were probably Christ"s followers and friends; and these most likely absented themselves, or were not summoned, or sent away elsewhere, for fear they should defend Him. But if any of them were present, they either gave sentence in His favour, or were forced by the clamour of the rest to remain silent; as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa ( Luke 23:51). Here notice, this wicked Council erred not only in fact, but in faith. For it gave sentence that Jesus was not the Christ nor the Son of God, but that He was guilty of death, as having falsely claimed to be both: all which statements are erroneous and heretical. This, however, was only a small and particular, not an Œcumenical Council. These latter, as representing the whole Church, have the gift of inerrancy by the power of the Holy Ghost and by Christ"s own promise. But you will say the whole Jewish Church at that time fell away from the faith. It was not so, for many of Christ"s converts in Judæa remained steadfast, and there were true believers among the Jews who were converted at the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2).

Ver2. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away, and delivered Him to Pontius Pitate the governor. "For," as S. Jerome says, "it was the Jewish custom to bind and deliver to the judge those they had condemned to death." Here then was Samson bound by Delilah, Christ by the Synagogue. Origen says truly, "They bound Jesus who looseth from bonds; who saith to them that are in bonds, I Go forth" ( Isaiah 49:9); who looseth the fetters, and saith, "Let us break their bands asunder."" For Jesus was bound that He might set us free by taking on Himself the bonds and the punishment of our sins.

They brought. Caiaphas, i.e., and all the other members of the Council, to crush by the weight of their authority both Jesus and Pilate alike. For if Pilate refused to ratify their sentence, they would be able to accuse him of aiming at the sovereignty of Juda, and being thus an enemy of Csar, and so force him in this way, even against his will, to condemn Him to death.

Delivered to Pontius Pilate. Why? Some think from what is said in the Talmud that the Jews were forbidden to put any one to death. But see Deuteronomy 21:23; Numbers 25:4; Joshua 13:29; 2 Samuel 21:6-9.

But the fact was that the Romans had taken away from the Jews the power of life and death ( John 18:31). Ananus was deposed from the High-Priesthood for killing James the Lord"s brother and others, without the consent of the Roman governor. The stoning of S. Stephen was only an outbreak of popular fury.

There were also other reasons1. To remove from themselves the discredit of His death, as though it had arisen merely from envy2. To dishonour Him as much as they could, by getting Him condemned by Pilate to the ignominious death of crucifixion, the punishment of rebels. They themselves had condemned Him of blasphemy, which was punished by stoning (Lev. xxiv16). 3. To dishonour Him the more by causing Him to be put to death as a profane person, by one, too, who was himself profaning the holy feast of the Passover (see S. Chrysostom, Hom. lxxxvi in Matt.; S. Augustine, Tract. cxiv. in John; and S. Cyril, Lib. xii in Joan. cap6).

But a retaliatory punishment was inflicted on the Jews; for as they delivered up Christ to Pilate, so were they in turn delivered up to be destroyed by Titus and Vespasian (S. Cyril on John, cap. xviii.; Theophylact, and Victorinus on Mark xiv.).

Vers3, 4. Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw that he was condemned, &c. Judas, when he sold Christ, did not expect that He would be killed, but merely seized, and either render them some satisfaction, or in some way escape, as before, out of their hands. But on finding Him condemned to death, he felt the gravity of his sin. And repenting, when too late, of what he had done, he was self condemned, and hanged himself. "The devil is so crafty," says S. Chrysostom, "that he allows not a man (unless very watchful) to see beforehand the greatness of his sin, lest he should repent and shrink from it. But as soon as a sin is fully completed, he allows him to see it, and thus overwhelms him with sorrow and drives him to despair. Judas was unmoved by Christ"s many warnings; but when the deed had been wrought, he was brought to useless and unavailing repentance."

That He was condemned. By Caiaphas, i.e., and the whole Council, and that he would shortly be condemned by Pilate on their authority, and by their urgent importunity.

Repented himself. Not with true and genuine repentance, for this includes the hope of pardon, which Judas had not; but with a forced, torturing, and despairing repentance, the fruit of an evil and remorseful conscience, like the torments of the lost. In Gr. μεταμεληθείς.

Brought again the thirty pieces or silver to the Chief Priests. To rescind his bargain. As if he had said, "I give back the money; do ye, on your part, restore Jesus to liberty." So S. Ambrose (in Luc. xxii.), "In pecuniary causes, when the money is paid back, justice is satisfied." And S. Hilary, "Judas gave back the money that he might expose the dishonesty of the purchasers." And S. Ambrose, "Though the traitor was not absolved himself, yet was the impudence of the Jews exposed; for though put to shame by the confession of the traitor, they insisted wickedly on the fulfilment of the bargain."

I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent Blood; Gr. α̉θω̃ον; for what more innocent than the immaculate Lamb? what purer than the purity of Jesus Christ?

But they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. Carry out what thou hast begun. Bear the punishment of the guilt thou ownest. We own no fault in ourselves. But He is guilty of death as a false Christ, and therefore we insist on it. Now, as they refused to take back the money, Judas cast it down in the Temple, and hung himself, despairing of the life of Jesus and of his own salvation. For assuredly he would not have thus acted had the Chief Priests taken the money back and set Jesus free. Up to a certain point, then, his repentance was right, but when it drove him to despair it was wrong. "See how unwilling they were," says S. Chrysostom, "to see the audacity of their conduct, which greatly aggravated their fault. For it was a clear proof that they were hurried away by audacious injustice, and would not desist from their evil designs, foolishly hiding themselves the while under a cloak of pretended ignorance."

And he cast down the pieces of silver in the Temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. He first took them to the house of Caiaphas, or certainly to that of Pilate, where the Chief Priests were prosecuting their case; and afterwards, on their refusing to take them, threw them down in the Temple for the Priests to pick up. Some of the Chief Priests were probably there, but anyhow by throwing them down in the Temple he devoted them, as the price of the Most Holy Blood, to sacred and pious uses, if the Priests refused to take them back.

And he went and hanged himself. The Greek writers are mistaken in thinking that he did not die in this way, but was afterwards crushed to death (see on Acts i18). Judas then added to his former sin the further sin of despair. It was not a more heinous sin, but one more fatal to himself, as thrusting him down to the very depths of hell. He might, on his repentance, have asked (and surely have obtained) pardon of Christ. But, like Cain, he despaired of forgiveness, and hung himself on the self-same day, just before the death of Christ. For he could not bear the heavy remorse of an accusing conscience. So S. Leo (Serm. de Pass. iii.; S. Augustine, Qust. v., and N. Test. xciv.). David had prophesied respecting him, "Let a sudden destruction," &c. ( Psalm 35:8). Thus S. Leo, "0 Judas, thou wast the most wicked and miserable of men, for repentance recalled thee not to the Lord, but despair drew thee on to thy ruin!" And again, "Why dost thou distrust the goodness of Him who repelled thee not from the communion of His Body and Blood, and refused thee not the kiss of peace when thou camest to apprehend Him? But thou wast past conversion (a spirit that goeth and returneth not); and with Satan at thy right hand, thou followedst the mad desire of thy own heart, and madest the sin which thou hadst sinned against the King of Saints to recoil on thine own head; that thus, as thy crime was too great for ordinary punishment, thou mightest pronounce, and also execute, the sentence on thyself.

Some say that Judas hung himself from a fig-tree, the forbidden tree of Hebrew tradition, and one of ill-omen. Hence Juvencus—

"Even as his own wild punishment he sought,

He hung with deadly noose on fig-tree"s height."

Now it was avarice that drove Judas to this fate. "Hear ye this," says S. Chrysostom; "hear it, I say, Ye covetous. Ponder it in your mind what he suffered. For he both lost his money, and committed a crime, and lost his soul. Such was the hard tyranny of covetousness. He enjoyed not his money, nor this present life, nor that which is to come. He lost them all at once, and having forfeited the goodwill even of those to whom he betrayed Him, he ended by hanging himself."

This confession of Judas, then (not in word, but in deed), was a clear proof of Christ"s innocence, and it assuredly ought to have kept the Jews from killing Him, if they had only had the smallest amount of shame. But their obstinate malice could not be restrained even by this strange portent.

Symbolically: Bede remarks (in Acts 1.), "His punishment was a befitting one. The throat which had uttered the word of betrayal was throttled by the noose. He who had betrayed the Lord of men and angels hung in mid-air, abhorred by Heaven and earth, and the bowels which had conceived the crafty treachery burst asunder and fell out." S. Bernard, too (Serm. viii. in Psalm 90 [vci.]), says, "Judas, that colleague of the powers of the air, burst asunder in the air, as though neither the Heaven would receive nor the earth endure the betrayer of Him who was true God and man, and who came to work salvation in the midst of the earth" ( Psalm 83:12, Vulg.). Again, S. Augustine (Lib. Hom1., Hom. xxvii.), "That which he wrought on his own body, this was also wrought on his soul. For as they who throttle themselves cause death, because the air passes not within them, so do they who despair of the forgiveness of God choke themselves by their very despair, that the Holy Spirit cannot reach them."

But the chief priests said, It is nor lawful for to put them into the treasury. Corban is the same as offering. It here signifies the treasury into which the offerings were cast. In Arab. the house of offerings (see Joseph de B. J., i8).

Because it is the price of blood. What hypocrisy! They suffer not the price of Christ"s blood to be paid into the treasury, whereas they had taken money out of it to procure His betrayal and death.

Ver7. And they look counsel, and bought with them the potter"s field, to bury strangers in. "They saw," says Origen, "that it was most fitting that, as the price of blood, it should be expended on the dead and their place of burial."

Strangers: for the inhabitants had their own burial-places. And God so ordered it that this field should be a standing witness both of Judas" repentance and of Christ"s innocence. "The name," says S. Chrysostom, proclaims their bloody deed with trumpet tongue, for had they cast it into the treasury, the circumstances would not have been made so clearly known to future generations."

Symbolically: It was thus signified that the price of Christ"s Blood would benefit not Jews only, but strangers, the Gentiles, i.e., who would hereafter believe on Him. So Hilary, "It belongs not to Israel, but is solely for the use of strangers."

Ver8. Wherefore that field was called Arcedama. A Chaldee word. The Ethiopic and Persian versions agree as to its meaning. Adrichomius (Descr. Jerus. Numbers 216) describes the spot, and a peculiar property of the soil, that it destroys within a few hours the dead bodies which are placed in it, a property which it preserves even when taken elsewhere. Some of it the Empress Helena is said to have taken to Rome, where it forms the Campo Santo. "It still retains," says Cornelius, "the same property."

Tropologically: "The field bought for strangers with Christ"s Blood is the Church (S. Chrysostom in loc.; S. Augustine, Serm. cxiv. de Temp.), and particularly the state of "Religious," who count themselves strangers upon earth, and citizens of Heaven, and of the household of God," &c. See also

1 Peter 2:11, where S. Chrysostom says, "Nothing is more blessed than this burial, over which all rejoice, both angels and men, and the Lord of angels. For if this life is not our life, but our life is hidden, we ought to live here as though we were dead." So S. Paul, Colossians 3:3. It was perhaps for this symbolical reason that this soil possessed the remarkable property mentioned above. See Comment. on Acts 1:18-19.

Vers9, 10. Then was fulfilled, &c. See on Zechariah 11:12-13.

The price of Him that was valued; Gr. τὴν τιμὴν του̃ τετιμημένου. Christ, who is beyond all price (Theophyl.), Whom the Chief Priests bought of the sons of Israel, of Judas, i.e., who was one of them. (So Titelman and Barradeus.) This is stated to add to the ignominy of the transaction, viz., that He was sold not by a Gentile, but by an Israelite, and one, too, who was called after the Patriarch"s eldest son. The plural is here put for the singular. Theophylact explains it otherwise, that Christ was valued, or bought, by the Chief Priests for the thirty pieces. Euthymius and others, that this price was put on Christ by those who were of the sons of Israel, i.e., Israelites.

The Syriac version has the first person, agreeing with Zechariah, "And I took," &c. ( Zechariah 11:13).

As the Lord appointed me. These words can be taken: 1. As the words of Christ speaking by the Prophet, and signifying that God would suffer nothing which concerned Him to come to nought, so that even the field purchased with the price of His Blood should not be unoccupied, but serve for the burial of strangers2. As the words of the Prophet, "God ordained that I should by my own act, as well as by my word, prophesy and foretell this, and even the goodly price," as he says in irony, "at which Christ should be valued."

Ver11. But Jesus stood before the Governor. S. Matthew having recorded the fate of Judas, now returns to the main narrative, omitting, however, several incidents, which are to be found in John 18:19. It appears from S. Luke xxiii2that the Jews brought three definite charges against Jesus—that He was perverting the people, that He forbade them to give tribute to Cæsar, and maintained that He was Himself a King. Pilate, it would seem, put aside the first two as false and malicious, and dwelt only on the third. He simply asked Him whether he were the King of the Jews, as being of royal descent, or as the promised Messiah, or on any other ground. Jesus asked him in reply, "Sayest thou this of thyself?" ( John 18:34). He knew very well the nature of the charge. But he wished to mortify Pilate by suggesting that this must be a mere calumny of His enemies, since he who was bound to maintain the authority of the Emperor, and had hitherto been most vigilant in the matter, had heard nothing of the kind. Pilate was irritated, and replied, "Am I a Jew, so as to know or care anything about Thy family or descent, or aught else relating to Thyself, who art a Jew born? Thine own nation and the Chief Priests have delivered Thee to me. What hast Thou done?" This was the very answer which Jesus wished to obtain from him, and He clearly and directly replied, "My kingdom is not of this world," &c. ( John 18:36).

He explained that it was not to be supported by human agency or force of arms (so that Tiberius need not fear that he would lose the kingdom of Judæa, but that it was heavenly, spiritual, and transcendental,—a kingdom wherein He would reign in the hearts of the faithful by grace, and bring them to His kingdom in Heaven. S. Matthew, omitting all other points for the sake of brevity, assigns this last as the true cause of Christ"s death, merely saying, The Governor asked Him, saying, Art Thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. He meant by this, I am Messiah the King. He might have said truly, I am not the King of the Jews, I am no temporal King, nor do I aim at being one. But the Jews understood the title King of the Jews to mean the Messiah, and as He could not deny His Messiahship, He confessed that He was the King of the Jews, the promised Messiah.

It will be asked, What is the nature of Christ"s kingdom, and its manifold relations? Christ, then, as man had a twofold kingdom even when on earth1. A spiritual kingdom, i.e., His Church, which He instituted as a commonwealth of the faithful, and founded with certain laws, ordinances, and sacraments. He rules it by S. Peter and his successors, as His Vicars, and makes it spread through all nations. This kingdom David and the Prophets foretold would be given to Christ (S. Aug. Tract. cxvii. in John). 2. As S. Thomas (Lib. i. de Reg. Princ. cap. xii.) and others rightly teach, in opposition to Abulensis [Tostatus] on Matth. xxi., it is physical and of this world. For Christ, from His very conception, had properly and directly dominion over the world, so as to depose and appoint kings, though as a fact He did not exercise such power on earth.

Here observe there is a threefold dominion and sovereignty1. The highest of all, which God exercises over all creatures, being peculiarly His Own2. The human authority, which earthly kings and princes exercise3. Between these two is the authority of Christ as man, which far surpasses all kingly power: 1. In its origin, for God gave it to Christ2. In its stability, for it cannot be overcome, and abides for ever3. In its object, as extending to all created beings, even to angels (see Rev. xix16; i5; Matthew 28:18). This was His, as man, by reason of His hypostatic union with the Word or Son of God. And accordingly this sovereignty is peculiar to Christ as man, nor has He communicated it to any one, not even to S. Peter and the Pontiffs his successors.

It will be asked whether Christ as man had a human claim to the Jewish kingdom? And I say, He had; for He was the son, the successor, and heir of David. He did not, it is true, enter on His kingdom, nor was He inaugurated as King. But yet He furnished an instance of what He was by His triumph and entry into Jerusalem. He did not actually enter on His kingdom, both because the family of David had long ceased to reign, and the kingdom had by common consent passed into other hands.

Ver12. And when He was accused of the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing1. Because all the charges against Him were false, and deserved not an answer. So S. Augustine (Serm. cxviii. de Temp.), "The Lord by keeping silence does not confirm the charge, but makes light of it. For far better is that cause which is undefended, and yet is successful; that justice is most complete which is not supported by words but is based on truth. The Saviour, who is Wisdom itself, knew how to conquer by silence, to overcome by not replying." 2. Jesus knew that any answer would be useless, and would only make the Jews more eager for His death3. For fear He should excuse His crime, and obtain His deliverance, and so the benefit of His death be deferred, says S. Jerome, "for He wished to he condemned through keeping silence, and to die for the salvation of men." So S. Ambrose (in Luc. xxii.), "He rightly keeps silence who needs not a defence. Let those who fear defeat be eager for defence. But why should He fear who wished not to escape? He sacrificed His own single life for the salvation of all." 4. To atone thus for all faults of the tongue, and teach men to keep their tongues from all evil words.

Ver13. Then saith Pilate unto Him, Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee? For Pilate had brought Him forth from his house to hear the accusations of the Chief Priests, as they would not enter the hall, lest they should be defiled (see John 18:28).

Ver14. And He answered him to never a word, insomuch that the Governor marvelled greatly. Pilate marvelled at His silence in this His extreme peril, when assailed by vehement accusations and clamour. He marvelled at His gentleness, calmness, and contempt of death, and, recognising more fully His innocence and holiness, he laboured the more earnestly to deliver Him. [Pseudo-]Athan. de Cruce, says, "It was a marvellous thing that our Saviour was so effectual in His persuasion by keeping silence, and not by answering, that the judge acknowledged of His own accord that it was a mere conspiracy against Him." And thus do the Saints often in like manner refute the false charges against them.

Ver15. Now at that feast the Governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner whom they would. There comes in before this verse Luke 22:5, which records Jesus being sent to Herod, Pilate and Herod being reconciled, and His coming back again in a gorgeous or white robe. This was the dress of candidates for an office, of royal persons, and also of buffoons: Herod mocking in this way at the supposed ambition of Jesus in affecting to be a king.

Symbolically: The white garment represented the innocence, victory, immortality, glory, &c., of Christ, which He purchased by His sufferings and insults. "Let thy garments be always white" (Eccles. ix8). And so S. Ambrose, "He is arrayed in white, in evidence of His immaculate Passion," and that as the spotless Lamb of God He took on Himself the sins of the world. Pilate then saw what was Herod"s object in sending Him back, and said to the Chief Priests (Luke xxiii14), "Ye have brought this man unto me as one that perverteth the people . . . I will therefore correct Him, and let Him go," that is, chastise and punish Him, not for His offence (for He is guiltless), but to satiate your rage against Him. Shortly afterwards he proposed another plan for His deliverance, viz., by releasing some one to them at the Passover, having little doubt, if the choice were given them, whom they would prefer. This Paschal custom was introduced in memory of the deliverance from Egypt. But did Pilate really wish to release Christ? Rupertus thinks it was mere pretence, for that he had secretly agreed with the Jews to put Him to death, having given Him up to their will. But S. Augustine and the rest suppose, more correctly, that Pilate was sincere (see Luke 23:20 and Acts 3:13). This is clear also from the many occasions on which he laboured to save Him (see John 18:31,

John 18:38; Luke 23:7, Luke 23:15).

Ver16. For he had then a notable prisoner called Barabbas. Notorious, that is, for his crimes. S. John terms him "a robber." S. Mark and S. Luke, "one who had committed murder in the insurrection." "Notorious," says S. Chrysostom, "for his bold bearing, and stained with many murders." Now to be thus compared with Barabbas, and counted his inferior, was a great dishonour and pain to Christ. And His patience under this wrong is a fitting pattern to all Christians when slights are put on them.

Barabbas. In Hebrew "the Son of a father, of Adam, i.e., the first father of all sinners." And Christ was made lower than Adam when He took on Himself to atone for his disobedience and sin.

S. Jerome explains it less correctly as Barabbas, the son of a Master.

Ver17. When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus? "That if the Chief Priests wished through envy to destroy Him, the people, who had experienced His manifold benefits, might ask for His life," saith Druthmar; or if, as S. Chrysostom says, "they did not wish to pronounce Him innocent, they might release Him, though guilty, in consideration of the feast."

Which is called Christ. Pilate was in earnest, wishing the Jews to demand His deliverance, as being their promised Messiah.

Ver18. For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him. From their general bearing and demeanour, and also from his own knowledge of His holiness, and teaching, and boldness in reproof.

Ver19. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day (this night) in a dream because of Him. This act of Pilate"s wife is a fresh effort to deliver Him. Her dreams were full of threats against her husband and herself, if he condemned Christ. Some suppose them to have been the work of an evil angel, wishing to prevent His death, lest sinners should be saved by Him. (See the Sermon on the Passion, apud S. Cyprian; S. Bernard, Serm. i. in Pasch; Lyranus, Dionys. Carthus., Rabanus, and others.)

Origen, S. Hilary, S. Chrysostom, S. Augustine, S. Ambrose, and others more correctly suppose that it was the work of a holy angel, and that the dream was sent to Pilate"s wife (not himself): 1. That both sexes (as well as all the elements afterwards) might witness to Christ"s innocence2. That she might make it publicly known by telling her husband3. Because she appears to have been a noble, tenderhearted, and holy woman. Origen, S. Chrysostom, and others consider that she was in this way brought to a true belief in Christ. S. Augustine (in Aurea Catena) says, "that both husband and wife bore witness to Christ;" "thus presaging," says S. Jerome, "the faith of the Gentiles." And S. Augustine (Serm. cxxi. de Temp.), "In the beginning of the world the wife leads the husband to death, in the Passion she leads him on to salvation." Joanna, too, the wife of Chusa, Herod"s steward, was one of those who ministered to Christ of their substance.

The Greek Menology terms her Procula; some suggest that she was Claudia ( 2 Timothy 4:21), as she probably remained at Rome when he was banished. S. Augustine implies that she converted him (Serm. iii. de Epiph). "The Magi came from the East, Pilate from the West. They accordingly witnessed to Him at His birth, he at His death, that they might sit down with Abraham, &c., not as their descendants in the flesh, but as grafted into them by faith." Tertullian, too (Apol. cap. xxi.), speaks of Pilate as a Christian.

But all this is at variance with what others say of his banishment and his self-inflicted death.

When Pilate then is termed a Christian, it must mean a favourer and protector of His innocence. He yielded, it is true, at last to the threats of the Jews; and so it was that by the just retribution of God he was himself the victim of the like false charge from the Jews, who caused him to be exiled.

Ver20. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The Chief Priests used the time which Pilate had given the people for consideration in persuading them to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus, as the most dangerous person of the two.

Notice here the effect of anger and malice, and the false and perverted judgments of the world. Jesus, the author of salvation, was to suffer; but Barabbas, the murderer, was to he spared. But God undoubtedly so ordered it that the Innocent should suffer, and thus atone for the guilt of sinners, whom Barabbas represented.

Ver21. But the Governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. That is, after he had given them time for consideration, he again asked them, and demanded an answer.

Bede (on Mark 15:9) strikingly remarks, "The demand they made still cleaves to them. For as they preferred a robber to Jesus, a murderer to the Saviour, the destroyer to the Giver of Life, they deservedly lost both their property and their life. They were reduced, indeed, so low by violence and sedition as to forfeit the independence of their country, which they had preferred to Christ, and cared not to recover the liberty of body and soul which they had bartered away."

A1legorically: "Their choice of Barabbas foreshadowed," says S. Jerome, "that robber Antichrist, whom they would hereafter choose in the end of the world." And S. Ambrose (in Luke 22), "Barabbas means the son of a father. They, therefore, to whom it was said, "Ye are of your father the devil," are set forth as those who would afterwards prefer Antichrist, the son of his father, to the true Son of God."

Ver22. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let Him be crucified. "Pilate," says S. Chrysostom, "places the matter in their hands, that all might be ascribed to their clemency, thus to charm and soften them down by his obsequiousness. But all in vain. For the Chief Priests had already resolved to insist on His crucifixion, as being not only the most cruel, but also the most ignominious of deaths, the death of robbers and other evil-doers. For they hoped in this way to destroy all His former credit and reputation." So says S. Chrysostom, "Fearing that His memory should be kept in mind, they chose this disgraceful death, not knowing that the truth when hindered is more fully manifested."

Ver23. The Governor said, Why, what evil hath He done? But they cried out the more (vehemently, πεζισσω̃ς), saying, Let Him be crucified. The more Pilate insisted on His innocence, the more did they clamour for His crucifixion, "not laying aside their anger, hatred, and blasphemy, but even adding to them" (Origen). They thus fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 12:11), "Mine heritage (the synagogue) is made unto Me as a lion in the forest; they have uttered their voice against Me;" and David"s ( Psalm 22:13), "They opened their mouth upon Me, as a ravening and a roaring lion;" and Isaiah"s ( Isaiah 5:7), "I looked for judgment, and behold iniquity; and for righteousness, and behold a cry." (So S. Jerome.)

Ver24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude. α̉πενίψατο, washed away. "He adopted," says Origen, "the Jewish custom, and wished to calm them down, not by words only, but also by deed." He washed his hands, but not his conscience. But this took place after the scourging and crowning, of Christ. (See S. John.) Here is a transposition.

Saying, I am innocent. I condemn Him against my will. Ye are the offenders. Ye are guilty of His death. How foolish was this timid, heartless, and slothful Governor in speaking thus! Why opposest thou not the injustice of the people? "Seek not to be judge, if thou canst not by thy power break through iniquities" (Eccles. vii6). At another time thou didst let loose the soldiers an the riotous mob (Joseph. B. J., xviii4). Why dost thou not act thus firmly now? If thou canst not, through the fury of the Jews, set Him free now, at least delay thy sentence till their fury subsides.

S. Chrysostom (in Luke 23:22) says, "Though he washed his hands, and said he was innocent, yet his permitting it was a sign of weakness and cowardice. For he ought never to have yielded Him up, but rather rescued Him, as the Centurion S. Paul" ( Acts 21:33). S. Augustine more forcibly (Serm. cxviii. de Temp.) "Though Pilate washed his hands, yet he washed not away his guilt; for though he thought he was washing away the Blood of that Just One from his limbs, yet was his mind still stained with it. It was he, in fact, who slew Christ by giving Him up to he slain. For a firm and good judge should not condemn innocent blood, either through fear or the risk of being unpopular." And S. Leo (Serm. viii. de Pass.) said, "Pilate did not escape guilt, for by siding with the turbulent mob he became partner of others" guilt."

Ver25. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Let the guilt thou fearest be transferred from thee to us. If there be any guilt, may we and our posterity atone for it. But we do not acknowledge any guilt, and consequently, as not fearing any punishment, we boldly call it down on ourselves. And thus have they subjected not only themselves, but their very latest descendants, to God"s displeasure. They feel it indeed even to this day in its full force, in being scattered over all the world, without a city, or temple, or sacrifice, or priest, or prince, and being a subject race in all countries. It was, too, in punishment for Christ"s crucifixion that Titus ordered five hundred Jews to be crucified every day at the siege of Jerusalem, as they crowded out of the city in search of food, "so that at last there was no room for the crosses, and no crosses for the bodies" (Joseph. B. J. vi12). "This curse," says Jerome, "rests on them even to this day, and the blood of the Lord is not taken away from them," as Daniel foretold ( Daniel 9:27).

Strange stories are told by Cardinal Hugo of special diseases which attacked the Jews, in periodical loss of blood, etc., though Salmeron and Abulensis [Tostatus] attribute them to natural causes.

Ver26. Then (when the Jews had taken on themselves the guilt of Christ"s death) released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. S. Matthew, as usual, slightly touches on the scourging; S. Mark and S. Luke speak of it more fully, and reckon this as Pilate"s fifth appeal to the compassion of the Jews, to induce them to ask for His life.

Observe—1. Scourging among the Romans was the punishment of slaves. (See Ff de Pænis1. "Servorum," and the Lex Sempronia.) S. Paul, as a Roman citizen, protested against being scourged (Acts xvi.). Martyrs were scourged by way of disgrace, of which many instances are given2. Free persons also were scourged after they had been condemned to death, as though they had thus become slaves. Hence the fasces had rods for scourging, and the axe for executions3. This scourging of Christ was before His condemnation, and He was thus spared the usual scourging afterwards. For one scourging only is spoken of in the Gospels4. S. Jerome (Epitaph. Paulæ), S. Paulinus (Ep. xxxiv.), Prudentius, and others (see Gretser, de Cruce, Lib. i.), say that Christ was fastened to a column to be scourged, and that this column was afterwards placed in the Church of S. Praxedes at Rome. But the column which is there is very small, and is consequently supposed to be only a part of the large column mentioned by S. Jerome. Bosius maintains that it is the whole of the column, and that S. Jerome is speaking of the column at which Christ was first scourged. S. Chrysostom considered that there were two scourgings. But most probably it was only part of the column S. Jerome mentions, or one of those to which He was bound in the house of Caiaphas, and the larger one that at which He was scourged in the house of the Governor.

But in what respects was this scourging so cruel and savage?

1. Christ being bound to this short column, and standing with the whole height of His body above it, was quite at the mercy of those who scourged Him. Again, the mere exposure of His most pure and virgin body to these filthy mockers was a sore affliction to Him. But He was twice, or as some say thrice, stripped; first, at His scourging; secondly, when crowned with thorns. This stripping was attended with the greatest pain; for as His garment stuck to His wounds, they were forcibly reopened as it was torn away.

The forty martyrs were animated by this example, when they boldly stripped themselves and plunged into the freezing water. (See S. Basil"s Homily.)

2. Pilate wished to excite the compassion of the Jews by saying, "Behold the man." Behold Him who has no longer the appearance of a man, but of some slaughtered animal, so besmeared was He with blood and marred in His form.

3. The soldiers had of their own wanton cruelty crowned Him with thorns, and perhaps had been bribed by the Jews to scourge Him with greater severity. The blessed Magdalene of Pazzi, a nun of Florence, saw in a trance Christ scourged by thirty pairs of men, one after the other. Some say that He had5000 blows inflicted on Him. S. Bridget is said to have had the exact number (5475) revealed to her. From such a scourging as this He would have died naturally again and again, had not His Godhead specially sustained Him.

4. His bodily frame was most delicate, and acutely sensitive to pain, as fashioned by the Holy Spirit, and He consequently felt the scourging more severely than we should have done.

5. The prophets, and also Christ Himself, foretold that this scourging would be most heavy and severe. See S. Matthew 20:19, and Job 16:14, "He brake Me with wound upon wound." They added, i.e., blows to blows, wounds to wounds, so that the whole body seemed one continuous wound. Conf. Psalm 73:14, "All the day long have I been scourged;" and Psalm 129:3, "The sinners wrought upon my back as smiths on an anvil;" but the Hebrew [and A.V.], "The ploughers ploughed upon My back," they made furrows on My back with scourges. So, too, Aquila and Theodot. This is also indicated by Jacob"s words (Gen. xlix11), "He shall wash His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of the grape," meaning by His garments and clothes His flesh, and by the wine His blood.

6. Christ was scourged, as slaves were, with small ropes or thongs. Some suppose that He was scourged: 1. with rods of thorns; 2. with cords and iron goads; 3. with chains made of hooks. Antonius Gallus (de Cruciatu Martyrum) describes the various kinds of scourges which were used.

S. Bridget says that the Blessed Virgin was present at the scourging, and that her pain and sorrow added wondrously to His. She describes also the mode and the barbarity of His scourging (S. Bridget, Revelation 1:10).

Now Christ wished in this way to atone for our evil lusts and manifold sins. And in doing this (says S. Thom., par. iii. sec46, art6, ad6), He considered not only the great virtue of His sufferings from the union of His Godhead with His human nature, but also how much it would avail even in that nature for making satisfaction. Moreover, He wished to obtain power and strength for all martyrs, in order to their enduring every kind of scourging. Conf. Isaiah 53:5. In all this Christ manifested most marvellous patience. He uttered not a groan, gave no indication of pain, stood firm as a rock. Nay, He lorded it over all sufferings, as being above them. Such a temper obtained heathen admiration. S. Cyprian (de Bono Patient. cap. iii.), among the proofs of His Divine Majesty, speaks of "His continuous endurance, in which He exhibited the patience of His Father." Tertullian, too (de Pat. cap. iii.), "He who had proposed to hide Himself in man"s form, exhibited nought of man"s impatience. And in this ye Pharisees ought to have specially recognised the Lord." S. Ambrose, too (Serm. xvii. in Ps. cxviii.) [cxix.], speaks of His "triumphant silence under calumny." The Jews ought to have gathered from this the conclusion of the Centurion, "Truly this was the Son of God." All this was caused by His love of God and man. Love triumphed over pain, and made His pains as nothing. And hence He was willing to suffer in all points, and in all His members and senses. S. Thomas (par iii. qu46, art5) thus writes, "He suffered in the desertion of His friends, in His credit, in His honour, in the spoiling of His goods, in His soul by sorrow, in His body by His wounds. He suffered too in all parts of His body, and in every sense." But His sufferings of mind were by far the greatest. For He was specially wounded by the sins of each single man. He grieved also for the multitude of the lost. He had sympathy for the martyrs and others who had to endure sufferings. But His boundless love urged Him on to endure all this. For love is the measure of pain, and we cannot live in love without pain. Hence it is said of Christ, "Sculptured, thou seest His love in every limb."

Delivered Him to be crucified. After His scourging and crowning with thorns, which comes next, as I have said (ver24). This is therefore a transposition. S. Matthew here relates many things briefly, which S. John 19:1-16 records more fully. Pilate then delivered Jesus to the Jews, after he had condemned Him. Adrichomius (p163) gives Pilate"s supposed sentence, which states that the charges had been proved; making these charges, which he knew to be false, a cloak for his own sloth and injustice; the Chief Priests gave no proof, but merely made false and calumnious assertions.

Pilate in his rescript to Tiberius says that he had condemned Jesus through the importunity of the Jews, though He was in other respects a holy and divine man. Orosius (Hist. vii4) speaks of his testimony to Christ"s virtues; and Eusebius (in Chron. ad an38), that he spoke in favour of Christians to Tiberius, who proposed that Christianity should be recognised among other religions. (Conf. Tert. Apol. cap5,21; Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. ii2, and others.)

Christ, then, was on Pilate"s own testimony most unjustly condemned by him; for envy accused, hatred witnessed against Him; His crime was innocence; fear perverted judgment, ambition condemned, cruelty punished.

Ver27. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall. "Then" refers not to the preceding words, "delivered Him to be crucified," but to the scourging. The soldiers scourged Jesus, and crowned Him at the same time with thorns.

Gathered unto Him the whole band, to adorn Him, by way of insult, with the royal insignia, as pretending to be King of the Jews. "For soldiers are a cruel race," says S. Chrysostom, "and take pleasure in insulting." It was the Prtorian Band, quartered in the castle of Antonia.

Ver28. And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. "Making jest of Him," says Origen. This stripping can be referred either to His scourging or to His crowning with thorns. It is consequently uncertain whether He resumed His garments after He had been scourged, and was stripped of them again and arrayed in the scarlet robe, or whether the scarlet robe was put upon His naked body immediately after His scourging.

Symbolically: "In the scarlet robe," says S. Jerome, "the Lord bears the blood-stained works of the Gentiles." "He bare," says S. Athanasius, "in the scarlet garment a resemblance to the blood wherewith the earth had been polluted." And Origen, "The Lord, by taking on Him the scarlet robe, took on Himself the blood, that is, the sins of the world, which are bloody and red as scarlet; for the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Anagogically: S. Gregory, "For what is purple save blood, and the endurance of sufferings, manifested for love of the Kingdom?" And again, "The Lord made His empurpled ascent in a triumphal litter, because we attain to the Kingdom that is within through tribulation and blood."

S. Mark and S. John call this a purple garment (not scarlet). S. Ambrose says they were two different garments, and that He was arrayed in both. Gretser (Lib1, de Cruce) gives authorities for there being only one garment, called indifferently purple or scarlet. Perhaps the garment had been twice dyed,—with the murex and the coccus; and garments thus dyed are of a more lasting colour. Now this was a kingly dress, and thus did they make Christ a King in mockery. This robe or chlamys was shorter and tighter than the pallium, and soldiers wore it over their armour. The one then used seems to have been the worn-out dress of some Roman soldier, but being purple, was of the imperial colour.

Symbolically: S. Cyril (in John 13:15) says, "By the purple garment is signified the sovereignty over the whole world, which Christ was about to receive." So, too, Origen, S. Augustine, and others. But this He obtained for Himself by fighting and shedding His blood. African and other soldiers anciently wore red garments. See, too, Nahum 2:3.

Ver29. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head. This was done both for insult and for torture. It was done, too, by Jewish insolence, and not by Pilate"s order, though he permitted it (see above on ver25). These thorns were those of the sea-rush or of the blackthorn; perhaps the two sorts were twisted together. S. Helena brought two of them to Rome and placed them in the Church of Santa Croce. S. Bridget ( Revelation 1:10) says that the crown was placed a second time on His head when on the Cross; that it came down to the middle of His forehead, and that such streams of blood flowed from the wounds as to run down to His eyes and ears, and even to His beard; that He seemed one mass of blood. He could not indeed see His Mother till the blood had been squeezed out of His eyelids. All pictures represent Him as crucified with the crown of thorns, as Origen and Tertullian distinctly assert He was. The torture of all this was very great, for the thorns were very sharp, and also driven into the head and brain. The literal object of this was to insult and torture Christ for pretending to be King of the Jews.

But Origen gives its mystical meaning, "In this crown the Lord took on Himself the thorns of our sins woven together on His head." For S. Hilary says "the sting of sin is in the thorns of which Christ"s victorious crown is woven." "Let me ask you," says Tertullian (de Con. Milit. ad fin.), "what crown did Jesus wear for both sexes? Of thorns, methinks, and briars, as a figure of those sins which the earth of our flesh hath brought forth unto us, but which the virtue of the Cross hath taken away, crushing, (as it did) all the stings of death by the sufferings of the head of the Lord. For besides the figurative meaning there is assuredly the contumely, disgrace, and dishonour, and, blended with them, the cruelty, which thus both defiled and wounded His brows."

Tropologically: The thorns teach us to wound and subdue the flesh with fastings, haircloths, and disciplines. "For it is not fitting that the members of a thorn-crowned Head should be delicate," says S. Bernard. And Tertullian (ut supra) teaches us that Christians out of reverence for Christ"s crown of thorns, did not wear crowns of flowers, as the heathen did. Christ offered S. Catharine of Sienna two crowns,—one of jewels, the other of thorns,—on condition that if she chose one of them in this life she should wear the other in the next. She seized at once the crown of thorns from His hand, and fixed it so firmly on her head that she felt pain for many days, and therefore she received a jewelled crown in heaven. S. Agapitus, a youth of only fifteen, when live coals were put on his head, said exultingly, "It is a small matter that that head which is to be crowned in heaven should be burned on earth," &c. Think, then, when enduring any kind of pain, that Christ is giving thee one of the thorns from His crown.

Anagogically: S. Ambrose (in Luke 32) says, "This crown placed on His head shows that triumphant glory should be won for God from sinners of this world, as if from the thorns of this life."

Symbolically: S. Bernard (de Pass. Dom. cap. xix.) says, "Though they crown Him in derision, yet in their ignorant mockery they confess Him to be a crowned King. Therefore is He proved to be a King by those who knew Him not." And S. Augustine (Tract. cxvi. in John) says, "Thus did the Kingdom which was not of this world overcome the proud world, not with fierce fighting, but lowly suffering. [Jesus comes forth] wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, not resplendent in power, but overwhelmed with reproach." "Purple," again says Elias Cratensis, "exhorts good rulers to be ready to shed their blood for the benefit of their subjects." Hence the purple is given to Cardinals to remind them that they should shed their blood for the Church; and S. Germanus, Patriarch of C. P. (Orat. in Sepult. Christi), says that the purple robe and the crown of thorns which was placed on Him before His crucifixion assured the victory to Him who said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

[Pseudo-]Athanasius (de Cruce) strikingly says, "When the Lord was arrayed in the purple, there was raised invisibly a trophy over the devil. It was a strange and incredible marvel, and doubtless a token of great victory, that they placed the ornaments of triumph on Him whom they had struck in mockery and derision. He went forth to death in this array, to show that the victory was won expressly for our salvation." He points out also that Christ was crowned with thorns to restore to us the tree of life, and to heal our worldly cares and anxieties by taking them on Himself.

Godfrey of Bouillon refused on this ground to be crowned king of Jerusalem, since it ill became a Christian king to wear a crown of gold in the very city in which Christ had worn one of thorns.

The tonsure of priests and monks represents this "crown of thorns," and is a token of their humility and contempt of the world (Bede, Hist. Angl. v22, and S. Germanus, C. P., in Theor. rer. Eccles.).

Anagogically: Tertullian (de Cor. Mil. cap. xiv.) says, Put on Christ"s crown of thorns, "that so thou mayest rival that crown which afterwards was His, for it was after the gall that He tasted the honey; nor was He saluted as King by the heavenly hosts till He had been written up upon the Cross as the King of the Jews. Being made by the Father a little lower than the angels, He was afterwards crowned with glory and honour." "Christ," says S. Jerome, "was crowned with thorns that He might win for us a royal diadem."

And a reed in His right hand. This, which represented His sceptre as King of the Jews, was a fragile, worthless, mean, and ridiculous thing. It is described as a smooth cane with a woolly top, &c.

Symbolically: S. Jerome and [Pseudo-]Athanasius say, as the reed drives away and kills serpents, so does Christ venomous lusts. Hear S. Jerome: "As Caiaphas knew not what He said ( John 11:50 seq.), so they too, though acting with another intent, yet furnished us believers with mysteries (sacramenta). In the scarlet robe He bears on Him the blood-stained deeds of the Gentiles; in the crown of thorns He does away with the ancient curse; with the reed He destroys poisonous animals, or (in another sense) He holds in His hand the reed to record the sacrilege of the Jews." S. Ambrose too (in Luke xxii.) says, "The reed is held in Christ"s hand that human weakness should no more be moved as a reed with the wind, but be strengthened and made firm by the works of Christ; or, as S. Mark says, it strikes His head that our nature, strengthened by contact with His Godhead, should waver no more." This reed and other relics of the Passion are said to have been carefully preserved (Bede, de Con. Sanctis, cap. xx.; and Greg. Turon. de Gloria Martyrum, cap. vii.)

And they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! Notice here all that was done in jest. Bringing together the whole band as an attendant army. His throne a stone or seat, raised up like a tribunal. His crown was of thorns, His robe a scarlet chlamys, His sceptre a reed; in the place of the people"s applause were the mockings of the soldiers; there were the spittings, the blows, and the stripes. All these did Christ bear with divine humility and patience, and thus deserved "that at the name," &c. ( Philippians 2:10).

Tropologically: Christ here wished to set forth the vain estate and the sufferings of all kings and rulers; to turn all insults into weapons of victory, and specially to overcome the pride of Satan by His humility; to teach that worldly kingdoms consisted in pomp and display, His in contempt of honour, pleasures, and self. See Theophylact, Jansenius [Gaudno], Pseudo-Athanasius, and Tertullian, ut supra.

It is to be noted that Agrippa was shortly afterwards insulted at Alexandria exactly in the same way. See Philo, in Flaccum.

Ver30. And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. As having foolishly aspired to be King of Juda; to drive also the crown of thorns more firmly into His head. These grossest insults and most cruel pains were devised by devils rather than men, says Origen. "Not one member only, but the whole body suffered these atrocious injuries," &c., says S. Chrysostom. Here comes in John 19:1-16. Pilate"s presenting Christ to the people to excite their compassion; their vehement demand that He should be crucified, as making Himself the Son of God. Pilate on hearing this was startled, and asked Him who He was, as if He might have been the son of some heathen god who might avenge His death. When He gave no answer, Pilate added that He had power to put Him to death, which brought out our Lord"s reply, that he had no power over Him, "unless it were given him from above." For Pilate, notwithstanding his paramount authority over other Jews, had but a permissive authority over Christ, who, as the Son of God, was not subject to any human power. Pilate then, in judging and condemning Christ, sinned in a threefold way: by usurping an authority over Him which He really had not; by yielding to the clamour of the Jews, and by condemning an innocent man.

Ver31. And after that they had mocked Him they took the robe off from Him. "After they had fully satiated themselves with their insults," Victor of Antioch on Mark xv. "But they left on Him (says Origen) the crown of thorns." "He is stripped," says [Pseudo-]Athanasius, "by His executioners of the coats of skins which we had put on in Adam, that for these we might put on Christ."

And put His own raiment on Him. That they who crucified Him might claim it as their own, and also that He might thus be recognised and be insulted the more.

And led Him away to crucify Him. Preceded, it would seem, by a trumpeter, who summoned the people to the execution (Gretser, de Cruce, 116). Now Christ was worn out by having been constantly on foot both through the night and on the morning. (Adrichomius calculated the exact distances.) Accordingly,

Ver32. As they came out (either from Pilate"s house, so S. Jerome—or from the city, so Fr. Lucas and others) they found a man of Cyrene. Either Cyrene in Libya, or in Syria, or in Cyprus, from whence he came to Judæa. He was a Gentile (S. Hilary, S. Ambrose, S. Leo, Bede, and others), though Maldonatus and Fr. Lucas consider he was a Jew, having probably become a proselyte on coming to Judea. This signified that the Gentiles would believe in Christ, and that the Jews would be eventually converted by their means.

Simon by name. Pererius mentions the tradition that he and his afterwards became Christians. S. Mark adds that he was the father of Alexander and Rufus, who, it seems, were well known in his day as Christians. (Rufus was first Bishop of Thebes and afterwards of Tortosa. He is mentioned by Polycarp (ad Philipp. chap. ix.). Alexander was martyred at Carthagena, March11.) Some suppose Simon or Niger ( Acts 13:1) to be the same person.

Him they compelled. See above, chap. v41. It was a great injury and insult which they put on Simon as a stranger. But he bore it all with patience, and therefore was enlightened by Christ, and became, as I have said, a Christian. He was a sharer in His Cross first, and afterwards a partaker of His joy.

Symbolically: S. Gregory (Mor. viii44), "To bear the Cross by compulsion is to submit to affliction and abstinence from some other motive than the proper one. Does not He bear the Cross by compulsion who subdues his flesh, as if at Christ"s command, but yet loves not the spiritual country? So, too, Simon bears the Cross, and yet dies not under it, since every hypocrite chastens, indeed, his body by abstinence, and yet through love of glory lives to the world."

To bear the cross. Christ at first bare His own Cross, fifteen feet high (as is said) and eight feet across. And that, too, when covered all over with blood, wearied, and broken down. He supported one end on His shoulder, and dragged the other along the ground. He thus constantly struck against the stones, and so reopened His wounds, causing continual pain. S. John says, "He went forth bearing His cross" (xix17), as was customary with criminals (see Lipsius and Gretser). But when the soldiers saw that He was sinking under it, they placed it on Simon, to keep Jesus alive, and reserve Him for greater sufferings. They wished, too, to get quickly over their work, and then go home to their meal, for it was now mid-day.

It does not appear that Simon carried the Cross with Jesus in front and himself behind, but that he bare it alone. (See Luke 23:26.) The Fathers here discern various mysteries.

[Pseudo-]Athanasius, "The Lord both bear His own Cross, and again Simon bare it also. He bare it first as a trophy against the devil, and of His own will, for He went without any compulsion to His death. But afterwards the man Simon bare it, to make it known to all that the Lord died not as His own due, but as that of all mankind." S. Ambrose

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Bibliographical Information
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. 1890.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

This time shall we turn in our Bibles to Matthew"s gospel chapter twenty-seven? In the twenty-sixth chapter we left Jesus before the high priest, the Sanhedrin, and Peter had just outside of this group denied his Lord. And at this moment he is out somewhere weeping bitterly over his failure.

Now when the morning was come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took council against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor ( Matthew 27:1-2 ).

Now the reason for the pretrial of Jesus was that they might be able to frame some charges against Him to bring to the Roman governor. What they accused Jesus of was blasphemy because He said that He was the Son of God. The high priest said, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us, are you the Messiah, the Son of God?" And Jesus said, "you"ve said it." And this guy ripped his clothes, and he said, "what need we of any further witnesses, you"ve heard Him with His own mouth, it"s blasphemy"( Matthew 26:63-65 ).

However, the Roman government had taken away from the Jews the right of capital punishment, just a few years earlier. And so the Jews did not have the authority to order a person put to death. And they were desiring that Jesus should be put to death. So they could not bring the charges of blasphemy before Pilate because Pilate would say, that"s your own religious matter, you guys settle it on your own.

So they had to bring charges against Jesus that would hold in the Roman court, and so they made actually charges of insurrection against the Roman government. The charge that Jesus was saying that they shouldn"t pay taxes to Rome, and the charge that Jesus declared Himself the king, and thus was setting Himself up against the Roman government, because He said that He was king.

Now these three charges are actually false charges that were made against Christ, scurrilous charges of which they could not offer any real proof. Pilate, being a seasoned judge, was able to see through their charges. And having examined Jesus, of course he realized that Jesus was innocent of these charges made against Him. However, at this point they were seeking to develop the charges. They bound Him, and then brought Him to the governor Pontius Pilate.

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priest and to the elders ( Matthew 27:3 ),

Now there is the theory by some, and it is plausible that Judas Iscariot by his betraying of Jesus was trying to force the hand of Jesus to establish the kingdom. That Judas didn"t like Jesus talking about the kingdom being prolonged, and he was getting impatient, even as John the Baptist earlier got impatient, and sent his disciples to Jesus and said, "Hey, are you the one that we are looking for, or shall we look for someone else?"( Matthew 11:3 ). In other words, let"s get this show on the road. And Judas himself was actually seeking to force Jesus to declare the kingdom, to manifest Himself as the king. And thus, it was actually a plan gone awry, in a sense, so that when he saw that Jesus was condemned, suddenly he realized that the whole plan had backfired on him, and he repented for what he had done.

However, that"s reading into Judas, motivations of which we have no way of proving; it"s just interesting speculations. It should be noted that there are two kinds of repentance. I think that if you would go to San Quentin, you would find that every prisoner there was repentant. They were all of them sorry. Very few of them sorry for what they did, but most of them sorry that they got caught. And there is two kinds of repentance that way. Sorry that the plan backfired perhaps or really sorry for what he did.

Now just what it was, we do not know. But Peter failed the Lord, and he repented, and he went out and wept bitterly. Contrasted to Judas, he repented, and we read, he went out and hanged himself. He brought the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and to the elders and he said,

I have sinned ( Matthew 27:4 )

And there is the confession of sin on Judas" part,

in that I have betrayed innocent blood ( Matthew 27:4 ).

It is interesting to me how that God all the way through was bearing witness to the innocence of His Son Jesus Christ. Judas, who betrayed Him said, "I have betrayed innocent blood." Pilate as he examined Him said, "I have examined Him, and I find no fault in Him." Later the thief on the cross said to the other one, "look this man has done nothing amiss." Look how many places God was attesting to the innocence of Jesus Christ, so that we would realize that He was dying not for His own guilt, not for His own sin, but He was dying for our guilt, and for our sins. For God was in Christ reconciling the world with Himself.

And so the priest at this point having finished with Judas said to him:

What is that to us? [That"s your problem] And so he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went out and hanged himself ( Matthew 27:4-5 ).

Now according to the account in the book of Acts, he fell on the ground, and his body burst open, so that the theory is that when he hanged himself, the rope broke and his body actually then fell to the ground.

Now the chief priest took the silver pieces, and said, It"s not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood ( Matthew 27:6 ).

Interesting that they are interested in this little point of the law, when their trial of Jesus was actually illegal. Under their law it was illegal to try a man the day that he was arrested. And yet they arrested him in the garden, and brought Him right in and tried Him. Also, we read that the day was the preparation for the Passover. And it says, and the next day, because it was the Sabbath day, they wanted to hasten the death of the prisoners by breaking their legs, because there was a preparation for the Passover, and they didn"t want the bodies hanging there. But the interesting thing is this, the next day they came to Pilate and said, "Now we"ve heard that while He was alive He said He was going to rise after three days." And they are coming to Pilate on a business issue on the Sabbath day was completely against their law, and that violation of the Sabbath was one of the chief causes that they had against Jesus.

How convenient it is, to use the law, but how easy it is to abuse the law, when the necessity is there.

So they took counsel, and they bought with them the potter"s field, to bury the strangers in. [And] wherefore that field is called, The field of blood, unto this day [Aceldama]. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, and the price of him that was valued, whom the children of Israel did value; and they gave them for the potter"s field, as the Lord appointed me ( Matthew 27:7-10 ).

Now at this point a problem arises, because that prophecy doesn"t appear in Jeremiah, but in Zechariah. And just what the answer is to that I don"t know. If Matthew made a mistake, and I know that it is very possible when a person is writing or speaking to make a mistake in reference. And if you will go back over my tapes I am certain that you find I have made a lot of mistakes in making reference to the Old Testament prophets. In fact I have a crazy crossover network in my mind that many times when I am talking about Noah, I call him Moses or I am talking about Moses, I call him Noah. And there is a crossover network, there is a switch loose up there, and it vibrates and gives a crossover every once in awhile.

Or it is possible that one of the earlier copyists, who was copying the scripture, as he was copying made the mistake and put Jeremiah, instead of Zechariah. But it is obvious that this prophecy is in Zechariah chapter eleven, and so there is that problem that does exist in this particular verse. And I only recall it to your attention before someone else does, and you can work with it.

And Jesus stood before the governor [that is Pilate]: and the governor asked him, saying, Are you the king of the Jews? ( Matthew 27:11 )

Now this was one of the charges, one of the three charges that they laid against Jesus. He said, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

And Jesus said, Thou sayest it, [or you said it] ( Matthew 27:11 ).

Affirm me: "Yes I am, you"ve said it."

And when he was accused of the chief priest and the elders, he answered nothing ( Matthew 27:12 ).

"As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth" ( Isaiah 53:7 ).

Then said Pilate unto him, Don"t you hear how many things they are witnessing against you? And he answered him never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly ( Matthew 27:13-14 ).

Surely he never had a prisoner quite like this before, an accused man quite like this, who did not say anything to defend Himself against the obvious false charges that were being made. Boy, I mean if it were us, and those charges were being made, we"ll be yelling "liar", and we would surely be speaking up to defend ourselves.

Now it was the custom of the Roman government to release a prisoner, during the feast ( Matthew 27:15 ),

As a gesture of good will from Rome to the people, and sort of to just ingratiate the people to the Roman government and as a general rule, the prisoner that was released was a political prisoner. And quite often the people"s favorite, one that the people admired for his courage. And his crime really wasn"t a felonious type of a crime, except it was against the Roman government as a rule. And usually they were political prisoners that they would release.

Now at this time they had a very notable prisoner, [who was guilty of insurrection, and also of murder] his name was Barabbas ( Matthew 27:16 ).

Which is an interesting name. It is "son of the father". "Abba", you know is father, and "bar" in the Hebrew is son. Barjacob, son of Jacob; Barabbas the son of the father. It is thought that his name, and there are some accounts in the Syriac, the Pashida versions, they say his name was Jesus Barabbas; and that is why Pilate was saying and referring to Jesus as, Jesus which is called the Messiah, to sort of distinguish him from Jesus Barabbas. Jesus is the Hebrew name "Joshua". It was a very popular name. And so to identify which Jesus he was speaking of, they would either say, "Jesus of Nazareth", or "Jesus the Christ", which Pilate used.

Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ [or the Messiah]? For Pilate realized that it was only for envy that Jesus had been delivered ( Matthew 27:17-18 ).

The chief priests were envious of Him, because of the multitude following after Him, and actually they were jealous and also fearful. If the crowds went after Jesus completely, then they would lose their authority and their positions. So knowing that it was only for envy that they delivered Jesus, he figured for sure that the crowd would call for the release of Jesus.

Now when he was sat down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him ( Matthew 27:19 ).

There are certain apocryphal writings, which say that his wife"s name was Claudia Pecula, but actually they had a little son Palatis, who was healed by Jesus, and that Claudia was actually a Christian. And there is quite a story; whether or not it is true is something, of course, we do not know. But it is quite an interesting story to say the least. And thus put a little extra drama into this whole story.

His wife sent unto him saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man." She calls Him, "that just man". Again God testifying of the innocence of Jesus. "For I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him."

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. And the governor said unto them, Whether of the two will that I release unto you? And they said, Barabbas. And Pilate saith unto them, What shall I then do with Jesus which is called the Messiah? ( Matthew 27:20-22 )

Very interesting question, a question that is not limited to Pilate, but a question that every one of you must face. For every one of you have to make the same kind of a decision that Pilate made. You must decide what you are going to do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

You can"t escape it. Jesus will not allow you any neutrality. He said, "he that is not for me is against me"( Matthew 12:30 ). Therefore you must decide what you are going to do with Jesus: either believe, or not believe; either accept, or reject; either confess, or deny. The interesting thing about Pilate"s decision is that in the final analysis, it had nothing to do with the destiny of Jesus. For what Jesus was to do He had to do, because the scriptures declare and prophesied the crucifixion. That was inevitable. It was inescapable. No matter what Pilate did, the crucifixion was inescapable. He was crucified from the foundations of the earth. According to God"s predetermined council and foreknowledge, the crucifixion took place.

Therefore Pilate"s decision really didn"t determine the destiny of Jesus. What it determined was his own destiny; even as though you sit as judge concerning Jesus, and you judge in your own heart whether He was the Son of God, or not, whether He was a liar, a fraud, or the way, the truth and the life. And you yourself make your judgement concerning Jesus, but the judgement you make doesn"t determine His destiny. What Jesus is He is, it makes no difference what you believe about it. But you determine concerning Jesus, and your judgement concerning Him, does determine your own destiny.

So though you sit as judge, ultimately you have judged yourself, by choosing to except or to reject. And thus no one can blame God for their destiny, because God has given to each man the capacity of choice. And you must determine what you are going to do with Jesus, who is called the Christ. And what you do with Him does determine your destiny.

"For as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to those who believed upon His name" ( John 1:12 ). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have ever lasting life" ( John 3:16 ). But if you don"t believe in Him, then you will perish. But that"s where you"re sitting in the judgement seat is determining your destiny, as you choose to believe, or not to believe.

Now, surely a person should not make a judgement concerning Jesus Christ without first of all personally, carefully examining all of the evidence. Before you reject Jesus, before you walk away as an unbeliever, it would be very wise for you to carefully examine all of the evidence. And not the testimony of His enemies, not the testimony of the people that don"t know Him, not the testimony of people who have never meet Him. And yet it"s unfortunate, but that"s where the majority of people"s determinations concerning Jesus Christ has come.

In a college classroom, or in a high-school classroom, when the teacher is a professor is making some slanderous remarks about Jesus and ridicule and making fun of it, and saying Jesus said this, or that, and makes a joke out of it. "And if He were really the Son of God then this would have been--" Oh, yeah, professor is always smart. And this person is gullible. And they take the word of some professor, rather than examining for themselves the evidence. It"s tragic, because the professor doesn"t know Him. He has never met Him. If you really want to know about Jesus Christ, if you really want to make a reasoned judgement, then you must examine all of the evidence fully. And I am convinced if you will honestly, with an open heart, examine all of the evidence; there will be no problem. You"ll immediately accept Jesus. It"s the most reasonable thing anybody can do. But what have you got to lose? But think of what you got to gain.

Pilate was in a difficult position. He was under tremendous pressure, inward pressure. He knew what was right. He knew that Jesus was innocent. He knew what he should do as a righteous judge, but there was this outside pressure of the crowd, forcing him to a decision that he knew was wrong. Unfortunately, many times we are under that kind of pressure too. The crowd forcing us to a decision or to an action that we know to be wrong. I feel sorry for a person in that condition. In your heart you know it"s right; you"re going against your own conscience, your own heart what you know to be right and true. And going against it is always a difficult thing and you suffer many times for years for something like that.

Awhile back I did something that I knew was wrong, and it still bothers me. It still bothers me, cause I knew it was wrong but I was pressured, and I went ahead and did it. And it bothers me still that I would go against what I know to be right just because of pressure that is being put on you.

The crowd said, Let him be crucified. The governor said, Why, what evil has he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified ( Matthew 27:22-23 ).

Now when Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, and notice there was no rational, just louder cries. There is never any rational with a mob. But it seems that so often it"s just the loudest voice that prevails. Such was the case here. No justice, really. Just the loudest voice is prevailed.

Then Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but rather only a [ruckus] tumult was being created, he took water, and he washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see you to it ( Matthew 27:24 ).

Now under the Old Testament law if a man was found dead in a field, there were no witnesses, just a dead body found in the field, they would measure from that body to the villages around. And the closest village to where the dead body was found, the elders would have to offer a sacrifice, and then they would have to wash their hands, declaring, "we are innocent, we don"t know how this man was killed."

So Pilate is picking up a traditional Jewish law, and saying, "Look, I am innocent. You want to murder the man, but I am innocent, see you to it."

And the people answered, His blood be on us, and on our children ( Matthew 27:25 ).

I wonder if they really knew what they were saying.

You read in Josephus of the Holocaust, when Titus came with the Roman legions and destroyed Jerusalem, that horrible carnage. You begin to get a little of the implication of what these men were saying, when they said, "His blood be upon us, and on our children." However, the Lord said, that the children will not suffer or be punished for the parents" sin, nor the parents for the children, but each man for himself.

Now indirectly our children often suffer for our sins. God help us. There are a lot of children today suffering for their parents" sins. If their parents were using drugs, or their parents are alcoholics, or if their parents are child abusers, the child is suffering for their parents" sins. For when that child comes to stand before God, he will not be responsible for what his parents did, but will only be responsible for what he did. Many parents have the heartbreak of seeing their children go out and do horrible things, but when they stand before God, and the parents suffer, and the parent is hurt by the consequences that have fallen upon the children for the deeds that they have done. But when they stand before God, every man stands for himself. I do not have to answer for anybody but me. You have to answer for yourself when we stand before God.

Then he released Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified ( Matthew 27:26 ).

Now scourging before crucifixion was a common Roman practice. The prisoner would be tied to a post in such a way, in such a position, that his back would be bent over. And then the Roman guard would take a leather whip and in which there were bits of bone, and pieces of lead imbedded. And over the stretched back, the prisoner of course was stripped naked, and over his back, he would lay this whip, which as he would pull it back would pick up pieces of flesh with it, with these little bits of lead and bone imbedded in the whip. The prisoners oftentimes died at the whipping post. Most generally they fainted two or three times during the beating.

The purpose of the scourging was to solve the unsolved crimes in the community. The idea being that if the prisoner would confess to a crime, that the executioner applying the whip would make it a little easier each time. But if he was stubborn and refused to confess some crime against Rome, then he lay it on harder, and harder, and harder, until the prisoner, because of the excruciating pain, was force to cry out his crimes against Rome.

They always had a man standing by, a scribe, ready to write down the things that the prisoner confessed. And thus the Roman government was able to solve many of the crimes in the community by this method of torture. Again, "and as a sheep before her shearers is done, so He opened not His mouth."

He had absolutely nothing to confess. The sentence was forty stripes. For forty is the number of judgement in the scriptures. However, there would only be thirty-nine stripes laid upon the prisoner. Thirty-nine being the number of mercy, not much mercy. But to show mercy, the Roman government would only lay on thirty-nine, though forty was always the sentence. Many times the prisoners bleed to death, having received the scourging, they would be physically weakened, their backs torn to shreds, looking like hamburger.

And then they were taken out and placed on the cross with their hands nailed, and their feet were usually tied rather than nailed. But with their hands nailed, there was no way that they could shoo away the flies, and the bugs, that began to just cover their bodies. Death by crucifixion was a very inhuman act. And yet Jesus, because He loves you so much, knowingly went to the cross, endured the suffering, despising the shame, in order that He might have that joy of being able to say to you, "You are forgiven, every sin you have committed. Enter into my kingdom". Oh such love. Hard for us to fully comprehend; I am sure we don"t.

So when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and they gathered unto them the whole band of soldiers. And there they stripped him, and they put on this scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it on his head, and they put a reed in his right hand: and they bowed their knees before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! ( Matthew 27:27-29 )

A Historian records how that this similar scene happened once before. Where there was an idiot who was proclaiming himself as king, and so the Roman soldiers just for sport took a piece of cloth and sort of wove it around, and put it on his head for a crown. And they took a stick that was nearby and put it in his hand, and they began to say, "hail king". And they began to bow down, and pretend like he was the king and were making fun of this idiot. That is the kind of mockery they subjected Jesus to, the mockery that they had subjected the idiot to.

However, they made for him a crown of thorns. Here He is, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, wearing a crown of thorns, that has been pressed into his scull. But really how fitting. Where did thorns come from? When Adam sinned God said, "cursed be the earth, thorns shall it bring forth"( Genesis 3:17-18 ). The thorns came as a result of God"s curse against men"s sin. And how appropriate that His Son, who was coming to bear the curse of sin, should wear the crown of thorns.

And then they began to take the reed, and with it they began to smite him on the face, and they began to spit on him ( Matthew 27:30 ).

Now already He had been buffeted earlier in the high priest"s precinct, where they covered His head and began to hit Him. So already no doubt His face was marred, swollen, bruised, eyes probably swollen shut.

Isaiah said, "His visage, or His face was so marred, you could not recognize Him as a human being" ( Isaiah 52:14 ). Have you ever seen a person really beaten up, huge welts, bruises; face distorted? That"s what Jesus looked like when they were finished with Him. You couldn"t even tell that He was a human being.

And after they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put on his own raiment, and led him away to crucify him ( Matthew 27:31 ).

Usually the prisoner had to carry the cross arm. The post was already implanted in the ground.

As they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: and they compelled him to bear his cross ( Matthew 27:32 ).

Simon probably was a Jew who had come for the Passover, maybe saved up his money up for years to come to Jerusalem. If a Roman soldier put his sword on your shoulder, he just says do this, do that; and you had to do it. They could compel you to do whatever they wanted. All they had to do is take out their sword, and lay it on your shoulder, and that was the badge of authority. And they could compel you to carry their gear for a mile.

And Jesus made reference to that earlier. He said, "look, if they compel you to carry it a mile, take it two" ( Matthew 5:41 ). When they say, "Hey, what"s the matter? How come you are taking it two, not just one?" Gives you a chance to witness.

So they compelled this Simon to carry His cross. Now we are told that he is the father of Alexandrian and Ruffus, in another gospel ( Mark 15:21 ). So that there are some interesting stories concerning Simon and his sons and the commitment that they made to Jesus Christ.

When they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, the place of the skull ( Matthew 27:33 ),

And of course just outside of the Damascus gate there is this face of the cliff that has the caves that give the appearance of a skull, as the result of the coring of the stone from that area. So that is where Jesus was crucified outside of the walls of the city of Jerusalem, outside the gate. And interestingly enough, over in Jerusalem now they have excavated the Damascus gate, which is below the modern day Damascus gate, but this gate that has been excavated is the very gate of the Roman period, the gate through which Jesus walked on His road to Golgotha. We got to go into it for the very first time this last year. One of the most exciting experiences as you stand in that gate, and as you walk out and realize, this is the very Roman gate of the Herodian period that Jesus went out going to the cross. Heavy, heavy.

And they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall ( Matthew 27:34 ):

Now the wealthy women of Jerusalem made up this concoction of wine, sour wine mixed with frankincense, which was an anesthesia, it was a drug, and it sort of put you out so that you didn"t feel the pain and the suffering of the cross so much. It was sort of a gesture of kindness, because dying on the cross was such a painful experience. You hang there until your muscles finally give way. And then as your muscles give way, your body begins to fall out of joint. And I don"t know if you ever had a knee go out, or whatever, sometimes it"s excruciatingly painful.

And so this was sort of a kind gesture to give a little bit of anesthesia, or drug, to the prisoner, so that he could endure more easily the horrible pain of crucifixion. Significant that Jesus did not take it. Later on when He cried, "I thirst", and they gave Him the mixture again, then He did take it. But he wanted to taste for every man the cup of God"s indignation against sin. And He suffered completely for you and for me.

he had tasted of it, he did not drink ( Matthew 27:34 ).

He knew what it was.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots [ Psalm 22:18 ]. And sitting down they watched Him there; And they set up over His head the accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS ( Matthew 27:35-37 ).

Now they would carry -- actually, that when the prisoner was going to the cross there would be a square of Roman soldiers around him. And the sergeant over the group would carry a little sign, and on the sign was the accusation against the prisoner. And they usually did not take them directly to the cross, but took them through the streets of the city, so that all of the people would be terrified by the power of the Roman government. And the fellow would hold up the accusation as they were walking through the streets, and all of the people would see this guy on the way to the cross, and they would see the accusation that was made against him. And so then when they came to the cross, they would nail the accusation on the post going up on the top of it, so that the people would know this man was being crucified, because -- and of course, with Jesus He claimed to be, according to the accusation, the King of the Jews. He is actually the King of the Universe.

Then there were two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, the other on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, as they were wagging their heads ( Matthew 27:38-39 ),

Now the wagging of their heads was cultural, and sometimes they still do that today. There is a shrill cry that they"ll give, they"ll wag their heads, they will wave their hands and all. And so they that passed by were reviling Him, as they wagged their heads, and they said,

You that destroyed the temple [or you that said you could destroy the temple], and build it in three days, save thyself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and the elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save ( Matthew 27:40-42 ).

What an interesting statement and how true it is. He saved others. In fact the priest said two things about Him. First of all in verse forty-two, He saved others, and in verse forty-three, He trusted in God. What a testimony concerning Jesus. He saved others and He trusted in God. With that testimony that the high priest made against Jesus, he was really condemning himself. We are condemning a man who saved others and trusted in God. He saved others. Himself He cannot save. How true that is. If He saved Himself, He could not save others. It was only by not saving Himself that He was able to save you.

When Peter pulled the sword and began to flail there in the garden, Jesus said, "Put it away Peter. They that take up the sword will die by the sword. Don"t you realize, Peter, I am in control. At this moment I could call for ten legions of angels to deliver me out of their hands, but then how could the scriptures be fulfilled? How could I save man? How could I redeem mankind, if I would deliver myself from this?"

He saved others; Himself He cannot save. True, if He is to save others, He cannot save Himself. He"s got to go through with it, if He is going to save others. Interesting statement; I am sure made by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, only because the man was the high priest, and that happened many times in the history of Israel. The high priest wasn"t such a godly man, but because he was the high priest, there was that certain anointing with the office, and he would speak prophetically just because he was in the office of the high priest.

He said,

If he is the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. [Now] the thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth ( Matthew 27:42-44 ).

Until later on when one of them repented and asked forgiveness, and we get that when we get to Luke"s gospel.

Now from the sixth hour [that is noon] ( Matthew 27:45 )

The clock began with morning, sunrise, six o"clock in the morning, third hour be ninth, so that"s when Jesus was put on the cross, the ninth hour, early in the morning. Now three hours later, having been hanging there for three hours, when the sixth hour noon,

there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour [three in the afternoon] ( Matthew 27:45 ).

Impossible that it could have been an eclipse, because this was the Passover season and the Passover is full moon. And you can"t have an eclipse during full moon, because the moon is on the opposite side of the sun. So this is just some phenomena that God created.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice [about three in the afternoon] saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? ( Matthew 27:46 )

Now with this He immediately calls their attention to Psalm twenty-two, because Psalm twenty-two opens with that statement. Perhaps it was just to His disciples standing by that He gave this first verse and sort of saying, "go home and look it up, and read it, and you"ll know what"s going on."

For as they would read through Psalm twenty-two, they would realize that God had prophesied this whole thing. They would understand so much of what was happening. It is there in Psalm twenty-two, that He speaks about "I cried in the daytime, and thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent" ( Psalm 22:2 ), spoke about the darkness that would come.

In Psalm twenty-two it speaks about them casting lots for His vesture ( Psalm 22:18 ) In Psalm twenty-two it talks about His tongue cleaving to the roof of His jaw ( Psalm 22:15 ). That tremendous thirst that they get as their body dehydrates, because of the lost of blood and all.

In Psalm twenty-two it describes, "my bones are all out of joint" ( Psalm 22:14 ), that"s slipping out of joint, that happened to a person who was crucified. And so by crying, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ( Psalm 22:1 ) He has given them a reference point to look up, in order that they might have a more full understanding of just what"s going on.

But also as we hear this cry we begin to understand the agony in the garden the night before, when He began to sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground, as He was pleading with the Father, if it was possible let the cup pass. This is the bitterness of the cup that He had to drink, that effect that sin has of separating a man from God.

Through the eternity past, He had always been one with the Father, never separated. But when God laid on Him the iniquities of us all, because God cannot look in agreement upon sin, there came that separation, as He tasted for a moment that separation from God, in order that you would not have to be separated from God eternally. God laid on Him the iniquities of us all. And when the sins of the world were laid on Jesus, He was forsaken of God.

And thus, that cry that rang out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?". I am certain that none of us have ever experienced quite like He did, that awesomeness of being forsaken of God. Because God has never forsaken any of us, even though we rebel. God has always been there.

Some of them that stood by, when they heard him [say, Eli, Eli. They thought He was calling for Elijah.] they said, Listen he is calling for Elijah. And immediately one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, to give him to drink ( Matthew 27:47-48 ).

They thought He was delirious from the pain; that"s actually what it was. And so a fellow ran to get the anesthesia to sort of put Him out of His head.

And the others said, No, no, wait a minute, wait let"s see if Elijah will come. [Now] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit ( Matthew 27:49-50 ).

He said, "no man takes my life from me, I give my life." They didn"t take His life. He dismissed His spirit. He said, "I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again, no man takes my life." He had the power to say to His spirit, "All right you may leave the body now." And He dismissed His spirit. But the cry that He made, that other loud cry was the cry of victory. It is finished. The redemption of man is complete.

And having made that cry, He said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit"( Luke 23:46 ). And He dismissed His spirit.

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom ( Matthew 27:51 );

Not from the bottom to the top. God was the one that ripped that thing. From the top to the bottom. The veil of the temple had always shown to the people the difficulty of the approach to God by sinful man. The only way a sinful man could approach God was through the high priest. And that only once a year on the day of atonement or one day a year, in which he would come in actually twice, but only the one day of the year he approached to God, and that only after many sacrifices. And he would have to enter in through the veil of the temple. But that heavy veil hanging there. And there are some records that say that it was eighteen inches thick. That heavy veil hanging there was to man a prohibition. God cannot be approached by sinful man, don"t attempt it, lest you be destroyed.

But having established now the new covenant in His blood, the door is open for all men to come to God. And that of course is the significance of the veil being rent in two. God is declaring "come on in." The provision has now been made for your sins, for you to be forgiven, and now you can have access to God through Jesus Christ, who has entered through the veil for us, in order that He might make access for each of us to come to God.

Paul the apostle, as he is talking to the Ephesians in chapter one, concerning the tremendous spiritual blessings that we have in Christ; as he is listing these spiritual blessings, he says, "by whom also we have access through His blood". So the veil of the temple has been rent through Jesus Christ. Any of you can now come to God. The door is open, and the invitation has been given, "come, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden". He"ll give you rest.

Along with the veil being torn,

the earth did quake, and the rocks were torn ( Matthew 27:51 );

You remember Jesus had said, "these very rocks would cry out". Now these rocks are being torn at this convulsion of nature against the horror of man"s sin.

The first recorded sin of man was fratricide or suicide, actually if you go back one. When Adam ate, he committed suicide. God said, "the day you eat thereof, you"re going to die." And when he ate of the forbidden fruit he committed suicide. The second sin was fratricide when Cain killed his brother Abel. But surely the worse sin recorded against men was deicide, when man attempted to kill God, hung Him on the cross. All nature was repelled by it.

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection ( Matthew 27:52-53 ),

Now Matthew is inserting this a little early in the record. But it took place after His resurrection. "The graves were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose."

And they went into the holy city, and appeared unto many ( Matthew 27:53 ).

Now Paul tells us in Ephesians four, eight through eleven, "He who has ascended is the one who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth". And when He ascended He led the captives from their captivity, and He gave gifts unto many.

Jesus tells us in Luke sixteen, and we"ll be getting to that, that there were two compartments in Hades. Abraham was in charge of one, as he was comforting those righteous who died. Peter tells us that Jesus went and preached to those souls who were in prison, and of course opened the doors of hell, to set at liberty those that were bound. And that of course is part of the prophecy of Isaiah; to set at liberty those that were bound, to open the prison doors to the captives.

You see, it was impossible that those Old Testament saints could be made perfect apart from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ because it was impossible that the blood of goats and bulls could put away sin. All it could do was cover it. It took the blood of Jesus Christ to put away sin. So they could not come into that perfected state, until the perfect sacrifice had been made. And once it had been made, then they could come into the perfected state.

Now when the centurion, and those that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: And among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee"s children ( Matthew 27:54-56 ).

The women stuck by Him.

And when the evening was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus" disciple: and he went to Pilate, and he begged for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out of the rock: And he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre ( Matthew 27:57-61 ).

The women were still there faithful, hanging on, sitting by the door of the sepulchre.

Now the next day, that followed [This would have been the Sabbath day, the day that followed] the day of preparation, [the next day that followed, the day of preparation] the chief priests and the Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, that after three days he was going to rise again ( Matthew 27:62-63 ).

Now the disciples had forgotten that. They were totally devastated at this point, but yet the enemies remembered it.

Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest the disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead: so that the last error will be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, You have a guard: go your way, make it as sure as you can ( Matthew 27:64-65 ).

I like that. Hey, just make it as sure as you can. You think you can keep Him in there; go ahead, try.

So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting the watch ( Matthew 27:66 ). "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Before Pilate. The Crucifixion

1, 2. Jesus delivered to Pilate (Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:28 : see on Jn).

1. When the morning] Since according to St. Luke, who follows an excellent and independent authority, the trial itself did not take place 'until it was day' (Luke 22:66), this second meeting must be placed some time later in the morning, considerably after cock-crowing (Matthew 26:74). The object of the meeting, which was evidently largely attended, was simply to consider how to induce Pilate to carry out the sentence, and not as some think to pronounce sentence of death, and so technically to comply with the law which forbade the death sentence to be pronounced on the day of the trial.

2. Pilate] the fifth Roman procurator of Judaea, was appointed in 26 a.d., and held office for ten years. He was then summoned to Rome to answer certain charges made against him, and was banished to Vienna in Gaul, where he is said to have committed suicide. The Roman governor resided generally at Cæesarea, but came to Jerusalem at Passover time to keep order. The Sanhedrin could not lawfully execute Jesus without the consent of Pilate (John 18:31), and Pilate was not likely to regard seriously the purely religious charge upon which Jesus had been condemned. They, therefore, altered the charge to one of treason (Matthew 27:11).

3-10. End of Judas (see Acts 1:18). The divergences of the two accounts of the end of Judas are well known. In St. Matthew he hangs himself; in Acts he is killed by a fall. In St. Matthew the priests buy a field with the blood-money to bury strangers in; in Acts Judas himself buys a field, presumably for his own purposes. It is possible by various ingenious conjectures to harmonise the accounts, but the truth of the matter probably is that the Apostles did not care to investigate at the time so hateful a subject as the fate of the traitor, and that when the Gospels came to be written the exact circumstances could no longer be ascertained.

3. When he saw that he was condemned] This somewhat favours the view that Judas did not intend by betraying Jesus to cause His death. But it is more probable that the meek demeanour of the Sufferer at His arrest and during His trial, brought about a revulsion of feeling in Judas, who now detested himself for what he had done. 'This is the way of the devil. Before we sin, he suffers us not to see the evil of it, lest we should repent. But after the sin is done, he suffers us to see it, to cause us remorse, and to drive us to despair' (Euthymius). Repented himself] Yet his sorrow was not of a godly nature (2 Corinthians 7:9), for it led to despair, and further sin.

4. What is that?] His wicked companions n crime desert him when the crime is done.

5. In the temple] RV 'into the sanctuary,' i.e. into the holy place. Judas in his recklessness and despair penetrated where no one but the priests had a right to enter, or, it may be, standing outside the holy place, flung the money violently through the door.

6. It is not lawful] An argument from Deuteronomy 23:18. The treasury] lit. 'the Corbanas,' so called because what was placed in it was 'Corban,' i.e. given to God: see John 8:20.

7. Bought] In Acts Judas buys the field. The potter's field] The potter probably used to obtain clay from it.

8. The field of blood (Heb. Aceldama)] In Acts it receives its name from the death of Judas in it.

9. By Jeremy the prophet] This quotation, really from Zechariah 11:12-13; (q.v.), is ascribed to Jeremiah, because Jeremiah stood first in the book of the Prophets, from which it was taken; the order being Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Isaiah, the Twelve Minor Prophets. The passage is paraphrased rather than quoted.

This explanation is due to J. Lightfoot, who quotes 'a tradition of the rabbis.' 'This is the order of the prophets. The book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings (former prophets), Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Isaiah, the Twelve (latter prophets).' Other explanations are, a lapse of the evangelist's memory; the word Jeremiah due not to the evangelist but to the first transcriber, who was thinking of Jeremiah 18:2 an oral or traditional utterance ascribed to Jeremiah; a quotation from a lost work of Jeremiah.

And they took] or, 'I took.' Whom they] RV 'whom certain,' RM 'or, whom they priced on the part of the sons of Israel.'

10. And gave] RM 'and I gave.'

11-26. Trial before Pilate] (Mark 15:2; Luke 23:1-7, Luke 23:13-25; John 18:28 to John 19:16). St. Matthew and St. Mark give practically the same account. St. Luke and St. John are independent of one another and of the others. All give a substantially harmonious account of the trial. Peculiar to St. Matthew was the dream of Pilate's wife, the washing of Pilate's hands, and the cry of the people, 'His blood be on us and on our children.' Peculiar to St. Luke are the exact formulation of the political charges (viz. stirring up rebellion against Cæsar, refusing to pay tribute to Cæsar, and professing to be Christ or king), and the trial before Herod.

The peculiarities of St. John are many (see on Jn). The chief are the conversations between Pilate and Jesus, Pilate's merciful purpose in scourging Jesus, and the final cry which overcame Pilate's resistance, 'If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend.' Pilate does not appear at the trial in an altogether unfavourable light. He is not without a rude sense of justice. He shrinks from the guilt of innocent blood, and finally yields only to the fear of being accused at Rome of disloyalty if he exasperates too much the Jewish leaders. Pilate shows his truly Roman contempt for the Jews, his superstition, and, what often goes with superstition, his shallow scepticism. He was, however, genuinely impressed with Jesus, which shows that he was not without religious susceptibility.

11. Thou sayest] i.e. 'I am.' But Jesus explained to Pilate privately that His kingdom was not of this world (Jn). Here, as so often, the Fourth Gospel alone renders the narrative clearly intelligible.

15. At that feast] This is the only evidence of such a custom, which is, however, appropriate to the season of the Passover, which commemorates a deliverance.

17. Barabbas] Some ancient authorities have here. the interesting reading 'Jesus Barabbas,' which may really have been the man's full name. The people may have preferred him to Christ because he had led a rebellion against Rome, whereas Christ had said, 'Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's.' The two thieves probably belonged to his company.

19. His, wife] In tradition her name is given as Procla, or Claudia Procula, and she is said to have been inclined to Judaism, or even to have been a proselyte, and afterwards to have become a Christian. In the Greek Church she is canonised. From the time of Augustus the wives of provincial governors commonly accompanied their husbands.

20. The multitudes were not unfriendly, until the chief priests used their influence against Jesus.

24. Washed his hands] A piece of Jewish symbolism (see Deuteronomy 21:6) adopted by Pilate to make himself intelligible to the multitude.

I am innocent] It was customary for Gentile judges to protest 'before the sun' that they were innocent of the blood of the person about to be condemned.

25. His blood be on us] A cry of blind and vindictive rage. They care not who bears the blame, so that Jesus be put to death. There is tragic irony in this unconscious prophecy, which was fulfilled in two ways. (1) As a curse upon the unbelieving part of the nation, on whom the blood of Jesus was avenged at the destruction of Jerusalem. (2) As a blessing upon believers, on whom the blood of Jesus came for sanctification, and the remission of sins: cp. John 11:50.

26. Scourged] in accordance with the Roman custom before crucifixion. The culprit was stripped and tied in a bending posture to a pillar, or stretched on a frame, and the punishment was inflicted with a scourge made of leathern thongs, weighted with sharp pieces of bone or lead. Criminals sometimes died under it. According to St. John, Pilate scourged Jesus to move the Jews to pity.

27-30. Jesus is mocked by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:16; John 19:1).

27. Common hall] RV 'palace': see on John 18:28. But the expression may mean 'barracks.' The whole band] RM 'cohort': about 600 men: see on John 18:3, John 18:12.

28. Stripped him] RM 'Some ancient authorities read, clothed Him.' The latter is probably right. He had been stripped previously for scourging. A scarlet (or purple) robe] an emblem of royalty. The reed was to represent a sceptre.

31-34. He is led to the Cross (Mark 15:20; Luke 23:26; John 19:16). The cross was regarded as the most horrible and most degrading form of punishment, fit only for slaves. 'It is an outrage for a Roman citizen to be bound; a crime for him to be scourged. It is almost parricide to have him put to death. What can I call having him crucified? No word can be found adequate to describe so monstrous a proceeding '(Cicero). Crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment. It originated among the Phœnicians, from whom it passed to the Greeks and Romans. Alexander the Great once crucified 2,000 Tyrians. After the death of Herod the Great, Varus crucified 2,000 rioters. The crucifixion of Jesus was unconsciously avenged by the Romans, who, after the fall of Jerusalem, crucified so many Jews that there was neither wood for the crosses nor room to set them up. The cross consisted of two parts, a strong stake or pole 8 or 9 ft. high, which was fixed in the ground, and a movable cross-piece (patibulum), which was carried by the criminal to the place of execution. Sometimes the patibulum was a single beam of wood, but more often it consisted of two parallel beams fastened together, between which the neck of the criminal was inserted. Before him went a herald bearing a tablet on which the offence was inscribed, or the criminal himself bore it suspended by a cord round his neck. At the place of execution the criminal was stripped and laid on his back, and his hands were nailed to the patibulum. The patibulum, with the criminal hanging from it, was then hoisted into position and fastened by nails or ropes to the upright pole. The victim's body was supported not only by the nails through the hands, but by a small piece of wood projecting at right angles (sedile), on which he sat as on a saddle. Sometimes there was also a support for the feet, to which the feet were nailed. The protracted agony of crucifixion sometimes lasted for days, death being caused by pain, hunger, and thirst. Jesus was crucified on a cross with four arms (crux immissa), as is proved by a title being placed over His head.

The Seven Words from the Cross

1. 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34).

2. 'Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43).

3. 'Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!' (John 19:26-27).

4. 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? '(Matthew 27:46; Psalms 22:1).

5. 'I thirst' (John 19:28).

6. 'It is finished' (John 19:30).

7. 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit' (Luke 23:46; Psalms 31:5).

32. As they came out] viz. of the city, executions being forbidden within the walls (Numbers 15:35; 1 Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58; Hebrews 13:12). Up to this point Jesus had carried His own cross (patibulum): see John 19:17. The tradition that Jesus fainted under the cross is probably true: see Mark 15:22. He had been greatly weakened by the scourging. Simon] If Simon was coming home from working in the fields (see Mk, Lk), this is another indication that the Feast of the Passover had not yet begun. He was probably a Jew resident in Jerusalem, but born at Cyrene in Libya (N. Africa) where there were many Jews. The Cyrenians had a synagogue in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9). Simon afterwards became a Christian (Mark 15:21 : cp. Romans 16:13).

Compelled] see on Matthew 5:41. Here is to be inserted Christ's address to the daughters of Jerusalem (Luke 23:28), among whom, tradition says, was Berenice, or Veronica, a pious woman of Jerusalem, who gave Him her kerchief, or napkin, that He might wipe the drops of agony from His brow. The Lord accepted her offering, and, after using it, handed it back to her, bearing the image of His face miraculously impressed upon it. This napkin, it is alleged, is now in St. Peter's at Rome, but possession of it is claimed also by Milan, and Jaen in Spain. The legend of Veronica is unhistorical, but interesting from its wide diffusion.

33. Golgotha (Aramaic), or Calvaria (Latin), means 'a skull.' It received its name either from being the place of execution, or from being an eminence shaped like a skull. It was certainly not a 'mountain,' as it has been popularly called since the 5th cent. Calvary was close by the garden in which Jesus was buried (Jn), and there is no reason why the traditional site (which lies within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) should not be the true one. 'The traditional site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, has lately been proved to lie beyond the second wall, which was the outside wall at the date of the Crucifixion, and several rock tombs have been found about it. It was near a road. It may therefore have been the site '(Dr. G. A. Smith). Similarly Sir chapter Warren.

34. Vinegar (RV 'wine') .. mingled with gall] Mk 'wine mingled with myrrh': see Psalms 69:21. Pious women of Jerusalem were ac customed to offer to condemned criminals a draught of wine and myrrh just before their execution, to stupefy them. The editor of the Gk. Matthew, not understanding the custom, and thinking that the myrrh was added to make the cup bitter and distasteful to Jesus, has rendered it 'gall,' seeing in the incident a fulfilment of Psalms 69:21. Tasted] Jesus tasted it, in acknowledgment of the kindness of the women who offered it, but would not drink it, because. He would die for the sins of the world with all His faculties of mind unimpaired.

35. Crucified him] It is important to notice, as bearing upon the question of the reality of Christ's death and resurrection, that the feet were nailed as well as the hands. Even if Christ was not quite dead, the nailing of the feet would effectually prevent His leaving the tomb to appear to the apostles: see Luke 24:40. The time of the crucifixion was the third hour according to St. Mark, but after the sixth hour according to St. John: see on John 19:14.

Parted his garments] At this time the criminals' clothes were the perquisites of the executioners. That it might be fulfilled] This reference to Psalms 22:18 is omitted by RV: see on John 19:23, John 19:24.

37 The variations of the inscription on the cross are unimportant. St. John alone states that it was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

38. Thieves] RV 'robbers,' i.e. brigands, as distinguished from thieves: see on Lk.

39. Passed by] The reference to the passengers along the roads is another indication that this was a working day, not the Passover.

40. Thou that destroyest the temple (RV 'sanctuary')] They called upon Him to perform what He was actually about to do, for 'the temple' was His body: see John 2:21.

43. He trusted in God] Psalms 22:8. The action of the judges in jeering at the sufferings of the man they had condemned to death, is indecent and brutal. Their misuse of the words of Scripture is blasphemous.

45. From the sixth hour (noon)] Jesus had now been about three hours on the cross (Mark 15:25).

Darkness over all the land (or, 'earth')] The chief, if not the only, historical objection to this darkness, is the silence of Josephus.

But Josephus is silent, not only as to this, but as to almost every event connected with Christianity. Whether as a coincidence, or as a miracle, the fact of the darkness must be received, for the oldest tradition is unanimous on the point. The theory of an eclipse is impossible, as the moon was at the full. The apocryphal Gospel of Peter says, 'And it was midday, and darkness covered all the land of Judæa. And many went about with lamps thinking that it was night, and they fell. Then the sun shone out, and it was found to be the ninth hour.'

46. Eli, Eli, etc.] Psalms 22:1. It is not certain whether Jesus spoke in Hebrew or Aramaic, for most MSS contain a mixture of both.

These words are a cry of the human nature of Jesus, which alone could suffer desertion, when He experienced the bitterness of death. They may serve to comfort Christian men and women when they experience the greatest of all trials, the temporary withdrawal of the consciousness of God's presence. But a deeper meaning is also to be sought. Upon the cross Jesus was making atonement for the sins of the world, 'bearing our sins in his own body on the tree,' for upon Him was laid 'the iniquity of us all.' He was so closely identified with the race which He came to save, that He felt the burden of its sin, and cried as the Representative of Humanity, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' 'The Lord was forsaken, that we might not be forsaken; He was forsaken that we might be delivered from our sins and from eternal death; He was forsaken that we might show His love to us, and manifest to us His justice and His pity; that He might attract to Himself our love, in short that He might exhibit to us a pattern of patience. The way to heaven lies open, but it is steep and difficult. He willed to go before us with an example full of wonder, that the way might not alarm us, but that the stupendous example of a suffering God might incite us' (St. Cyprian).

47. Calleth for Elias] RV 'calleth Elijah.' 'No Jew could have mistaken Eli for the name of Elijah, nor yet misinterpreted a quotation of Psalms 22:1 as a call for the prophet' (Edersheim). 'The Jews said this in mockery, having many stories of appearances of Elijah to rescue men from peril of death' (Wetstein).

48. Vinegar] i.e. posca, the sour common wine drunk by the Roman soldiers. Whatever may have been the sentiments of the bystanders, the motive of the man who offered the vinegar was compassion. The Fourth Gospel alone gives the reason of the act. It was our Lord's fifth word, 'I thirst' (John 19:28).

49. Here many ancient authorities insert an account of the spear-thrust mentioned John 19:34. It is remarkable that the interpolation (if such it is) mentions the spear-thrust before the death of Jesus, and not after it, as in St. John.

50. Cried again] with a loud voice in triumph, 'It is finished' (John 19:30), adding immediately, 'Father, into thy hands,' etc. (Luke 23:46).

50. Yielded up] He died voluntarily (John 10:18).

51. The veil of the temple] Two veils, a cubit apart, hung before the Holy of Holies. They are said to have been 40 cubits (60 ft.) long, 20 wide, and of the thickness of the palm of the hand. Both were rent. Josephus, for obvious reasons, does not record this event.

The significance of the rending of the veil is variously understood. Some see in it a sign that the old covenant was at an end, the sacrifices abolished, and the divine presence withdrawn from the Temple, even the Holy of Holies being now made common ground, open to the feet of all. Others who regard the Holy of Holies as a type of heaven, and the rest of the Temple as a type of earth, see in the rending of the veil the removing of the barrier between heaven and earth, the reconciling of God and man through the death of Christ: cp. Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 10:20.

The earth did quake] Probably to be connected with the rending of the veil. 'In the Gospel (according to the Hebrews) we read that the lintel of the Temple of infinite size was broken and divided. Josephus also relates that the angelic powers, who once presided over the Temple, then together cried out, Let us depart from these abodes' (Jerome). The statement of Josephus, however, refers to a later period. Rocks rent] 'It would not be right altogether to reject the testimony of travellers to the fact of extraordinary rents and fissures in the rocks near the spot' (Alford); 'To this day Golgotha is a proof of it, where the rocks were rent on account of Christ' (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-386 a.d.).

52. The graves were opened] i.e. by the shock of the earthquake. And many bodies of the saints, etc.] i.e. they rose, not immediately, but with Christ at His Resurrection.

This incident seems to be a pictorial setting forth of the truth that in the Resurrection of Christ is involved the resurrection of all His saints, so that on Easter Day all Christians may be said in a certain sense to have risen with Him.

54. The Son of God] RM 'a son of God,' i.e. a hero or demigod, which is more suitable in the mouth of a heathen soldier. St. Luke, 'Truly this man was righteous.'

55. Ministering] It was the custom of Jewish women to contribute to the support of famous rabbis: see on Luke 8:1-3.

56. Mary Magdalene] Most authorities regard 'Magdalene' as equivalent to 'of Magdala,' a town near Tiberias. There is no ground for the common identification of this Mary with the sister of Lazarus, or with the 'sinner' who anointed our Lord's feet (Luke 7:37).

Mary the mother of James and Joses] St. Mark calls this James, 'James the little': see on John 19:25. The mother of Zebedee's children] i.e. Salome (Mk). The synoptists omit all mention of the presence of the Virgin, either because she had been already led away by St. John, or because she was not one of the ministering women.

57-61. Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:51; John 19:38 : see on Jn). The burial of Jesus in the tomb of a wealthy and influential man was a literal fulfilment of Isaiah 53:9 : 'with the rich in his death.'

57. Arimathæa] unidentified. Perhaps Ramathaim Zophim in the hill-country of Ephraim.

Joseph] According to St. Luke he was a member of the Sanhedrin, who had not consented to the death of Jesus. According to St. John he was assisted by Nicodemus.

58. Begged the body] According to St. Mark, Pilate assured himself that Jesus was really dead before surrendering the body. It was not lawful to suffer a man to hang all night upon a tree, Deuteronomy 21:23. Strictly speaking, Jesus had no legal right to honourable burial. The Jewish law was, 'They that were put to death by the council were not to be buried in the sepulchres of their fathers, but two burial places were appointed by the council.'

60. He had hewn] Only St. Matthew mentions that the tomb belonged to Joseph.

61. The other Mary] i.e. Mary the mother of James and Joses.

62-66. The sepulchre is guarded (peculiar to St. Matthew). It is sometimes argued that this incident is unauthentic, because the enemies of Christ would not be likely to remember obscure prophecies of the Resurrection, which even the disciples failed to understand. This view is possible. But they remembered the obscure saying, 'Destroy this temple,' etc., two years after it had been spoken, and there was a still more recent and clearer prediction addressed to the Pharisees (Matthew 12:40).

62. Now the next day] RV 'Now on the morrow, which is the day after the Preparation.' The 'Preparation' is the usual word for Friday.

63. After three days] John 2:19; Matthew 12:40, etc.

65. Ye have] BM 'Take a guard,' viz. of Roman soldiers.

66. And setting a watch] RV 'the guard being with them.'

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The trial before Pilate27:11-26 (cf. Mark 15:2-15; Luke 23:3-25; John 18:33 to John 19:16)

Pilate was a cruel ruler who made little attempt to understand the Jews whom he hated. [Note: Hoehner, Herod Antipas, pp172-83.] He had treated them unfairly and brutally on many occasions, but recently Caesar had rebuked him severely. [Note: Idem, Chronological Aspects . . ., pp105-14.] This probably accounts for the fairly docile attitude he displayed toward the Sanhedrin in the Gospel accounts. He wanted to avoid another rebuke from Caesar. However, his relations with the Jews continued to deteriorate until A.D39 when Caesar removed him from office and banished him. In the Gospels Pilate appears almost for Jesus, but he was probably favorable to Jesus because he hated the Sanhedrin that opposed Him. Pilate may also have dealt with Jesus as he did because Jesus posed no threat whatsoever to him from his viewpoint. Conviction by both the Sanhedrin and Pilate were necessary to condemn Jesus. These inveterate enemies united against Him. [Note: See also The New Bible Dictionary, 1962ed, s.v. "Pilate," by D. H. Wheaton.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The people"s response was not new ( 2 Samuel 1:16; 2 Samuel 3:28; cf. Acts 18:6; Acts 20:26). "All the people" in the context refers to the crowd present, not just the Sanhedrin or the whole Jewish nation. This phrase did not cover the Jews who believed on Jesus but unbelieving Israel. Therefore it is inappropriate to use this verse to justify anti-Semitism. [Note: See Hagner, Matthew 14-28, p828; France, The Gospel . . ., pp1057-58.]

"The viciousness of their anger could hardly be described more graphically than by this horrible utterance." [Note: Toussaint, Behold the . . ., pp310-11.]

"Owing to the leaders" abject repudiation of Jesus, they unwittingly effect, not the salvation of Israel as they had anticipated, but just the opposite, Israel"s demise as God"s special people: they bring a curse upon themselves and the people ( Matthew 27:25); they provoke the destruction of Jerusalem ( Matthew 22:7); and they unknowingly make themselves responsible for the transfer of God"s Rule to another nation, the church, which becomes God"s end-time people ( Matthew 21:43; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 13:38)." [Note: Kingsbury, Matthew as . . ., p124. Cf. Edersheim, The Life . . ., 2:578.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

Matthew Chapter 27

After this (chap. 27), the unhappy priests and heads of the people deliver up their Messiah to the Gentiles, as He had told His disciples. Judas, in despair under Satan’s power, hangs himself, having cast the reward of his iniquity at the feet of the chief priests and elders. Satan was forced to bear witness, even by a conscience that he had betrayed, to the Lord’s innocence. What a scene! Then the priests, who had made no conscience of buying His blood from Judas, scruple to put the money into the treasury of the temple, because it was the price of blood. In the presence of that which was going on, man was obliged to shew himself as he is and the power of Satan over him. Having taken counsel, they buy a burying-ground for strangers. These were profane enough in their eyes for that, provided they themselves were not defiled with such money. Yet it was the time of God’s grace to the stranger, and judgment on Israel. Moreover they established thereby a perpetual memorial of their own sin, and of the blood which has been shed. Aceldama is all that remains in this world of the circumstances of this great sacrifice. The world is a field of blood, but it speaks better things than that of Abel.

This prophecy, we know, is in the book of Zechariah. The name “Jeremiah” may have crept into the text when there was nothing more than “by the prophet”; or it might be because Jeremiah stood first in the order prescribed by the Talmudists for the books of prophecy; for which reason, very likely, also, they said, “Jeremiah, or one of the prophets,” as in Matthew 16:14. But this is not the place for discussion on the subject.

Their own part in the Jewish scene closes. The Lord stands before Pilate. Here the question is not whether He is the Son of God, but whether He is the King of the Jews. Although He was this, yet it was only in the character of Son of God that He would allow the Jews to receive Him. Had they received Him as the Son of God, He would have been their King. But that might not be: He must accomplish the work of atonement. Having rejected Him as Son of God, the Jews now deny Him as their King. But the Gentiles also become guilty in the person of their head in Palestine, the government of which had been committed to them. The Gentile head should have reigned in righteousness. His representative in Judea acknowledged the malice of Christ’s enemies; his conscience, alarmed by his wife’s dream, seeks to evade the guilt of condemning Jesus. But the true prince of this world, as regards present exercise of dominion, was Satan. Pilate, washing his hands (futile attempt to exonerate himself), delivers up the guiltless to the will of His enemies, saying, at the same time, that he finds no fault in Him. And he releases to the Jews a man guilty of sedition and murder, instead of the Prince of life. But it was again on His own confession, and that only, that He was condemned, confessing the same thing in the Gentile court as He had done in the Jewish, in each the truth, witnessing a good confession of what concerned the truth as to those before whom He was.

Barabbas, (85) the expression of the spirit of Satan who was a murderer from the beginning, and of rebellion against the authority which Pilate was there to maintain-Barabbas was loved by the Jews; and with him, the wrongful carelessness of the governor, who was powerless against evil, endeavoured to satisfy the will of the people whom he ought to have governed “All the people” make themselves guilty of the blood of Jesus in the solemn word, which remains fulfilled to this day, till sovereign grace, according to God’s purpose, takes it off-solemn but terrible word, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Sad and frightful ignorance which self-will has brought upon a people who rejected the light! Alas! how each one, I again say, takes his own place in the presence of this touchstone-a rejected Saviour. The company of the Gentiles, the soldiers, do that in derision, with the brutality habitual to them as heathen and as executioners, which the Gentiles shall do with joyful worship, when He whom they now mocked shall be truly the King of the Jews in glory. Jesus endures it all. It was the hour of His submission to the full power of evil. patience must have its perfect work, in order that His obedience may be complete on every side. He bore it all without relief, rather than fail in obedience to His Father. What a difference between this and the conduct of the first Adam surrounded with blessings!

Every one must be the servant of sin, or of the tyranny of wickedness, at this solemn hour, in which all is put to the proof. They compel one Simon (known afterwards, it appears, among the disciples) to bear the cross of Jesus; and the Lord is led away to the place of His crucifixion. There He refuses that which might have stupefied Him. He will not shun the cup He had to drink, nor deprive Himself of His faculties in order to be insensible to that which it was the will of God He should suffer. The prophecies of the Psalms are fulfilled in His Person, by means of those who little thought what they were doing. At the same time, the Jews succeeded in becoming to the last degree contemptible. Their King was hung. They must bear the shame in spite of themselves. Whose fault was it? But, hardened and senseless, they share with a malefactor the miserable satisfaction of insulting the Son of God, their King, the Messiah, to their own ruin, and quote, so blinding is unbelief, from their own scriptures, as the expression of their own mind, that which in them is put into the mouth of the unbelieving enemies of Jehovah. Jesus felt it all; but the anguish of His trial, where after all He was a calm and faithful witness, the abyss of His sufferings, contained something far more terrible then all this malice or abandonment of man. The floods doubtless lifted up their voices. (86) One after another the waves of wickedness dashed against Him; but the depths beneath that awaited Him, who could fathom? His heart, His soul-the vessel of a divine love-could alone go deeper than the bottom of that abyss which sin had opened for man, to bring up those who lay there, after He had endured its pains in His own soul. A heart that had been ever faithful was forsaken of God. Where sin had brought man, love brought the Lord, but with a nature and an apprehension in which there was no distance, no separation, so that it should be felt in all its fulness. No one but He who was in that place could fathom or feel it.

It is too a wonderful spectacle to see the one righteous man in the world declare at the end of His life He was forsaken of God. But thus it was He glorified Him as none else could have done it, and where none but He could have done it-made sin, in the presence of God as such, with no veil to hide, no mercy to cover or bear it with.

The fathers, full of faith, had in their distress experienced the faithfulness of God, who answered the expectation of their hearts. But Jesus (as to the condition of His soul at that moment) cried in vain. “A worm and no man” before the eyes of men, He had to bear the forsaking of the God in whom He trusted.

Their thoughts far from His, they that surround Him did not even understand His words, but they accomplished the prophecies by their ignorance. Jesus, bearing testimony by the loudness of His voice that it was not the weight of death that oppressed Him, gives up the ghost.

The efficacy of His death is presented to us in this Gospel in a double aspect. First, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. God, who had been always hidden behind the veil, discovered Himself completely by means of the death of Jesus. The entrance into the holy place is made manifest-a new and living way which God has consecrated for us through the veil. The entire Jewish system, the relations of man with God under its sway, its priesthood, all fell with the rending of the veil. Every one found himself in the presence of God without a veil between. The priests were to be always in His presence. But, by this same act, the sin, which would have made it impossible for us to stand there, was for the believer entirely put away from before God. The holy God, and the believer, cleansed from his sins, are brought together by the death of Christ. What love was that which accomplished this!

Secondly, besides this, such was the efficacy of His death, that when His resurrection had burst the bonds that held them, many of the dead appeared in the city-witnesses of His power who, having suffered death, had risen above it, and overcome it, and destroyed its power, or taken it into His own hands. Blessing was now in resurrection.

The presence therefore of God without a veil, and sinners without sin before Him, prove the efficacy of Christ’s sufferings.

The resurrection of the dead, over whom the king of terrors had no more right, displayed the efficacy of the death of Christ for sinners, and the power of His resurrection. Judaism is over for those that have faith, and the power of death also. The veil is rent. The grave gives up its prey; He is Lord of the dead and of the living. (87)

There is yet another especial testimony to the mighty power of His death, to the import of that word, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.” The centurion who was on guard at the crucifixion of the Lord, seeing the earthquake and those things that were done, trembling, confesses the glory of His Person; and, stranger as he is to Israel, renders the first testimony of faith among Gentiles: “Truly this was the Son of God.”

But the narrative goes on. Some poor women-to whom devotedness often gives, on God’s part, more courage than to men in their more responsible and busy position-were standing near the cross, beholding what was done to Him they loved. (88)

But they were not the only ones who filled the place of the terrified disciples. Others-and this often happens-whom the world had held back, when once the depth of their affection is stirred by the question of His sufferings whom they really loved, when the moment is so painful that others are terrified, then (emboldened by the rejection of Christ) they feel that the time is arrived for decision and become fearless confessors of the Lord. Hitherto associated with those that have crucified Him, they must now either accept that act, or declare themselves. Through grace they do the latter.

God had prepared all beforehand. His Son was to have His tomb with the rich. Joseph comes boldly to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus. He wraps the body, which Pilate grants him, in a clean linen cloth, and lays it in his own sepulchre, which had never served to hide the corruption of man. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (89)-for they were known-sat near the sepulchre, bound by all that remained to their faith of Him whom they had loved and followed with adoration during His life.

But unbelief has no faith in itself, and, fearing lest that which it denies be true, it mistrusts everything. The chief priests request Pilate to guard the sepulchre, in order to frustrate any attempt the disciples might make to found the doctrine of the resurrection on the absence of the body of Jesus from the tomb in which it had been laid. Pilate bids them secure the sepulchre themselves; so that all they did was to make themselves involuntary witnesses to the fact, and assure us of the accomplishment of the thing they dreaded. Thus Israel was guilty of this effort of futile resistance to the testimony which Jesus had rendered to His own resurrection. Theywere a testimony against themselves to its truth. The precautions which Pilate would not perhaps have taken they carried to the extreme, so that all mistake as to the fact of His resurrection was impossible.

The Lord’s resurrection is briefly related in Matthew. The object is again, after the resurrection, to connect the ministry and service of Jesus-now transferred to His disciples-with the poor of the flock, the remnant of Israel. He again assembled them in Galilee, where He had constantly instructed them, and where the despised among the people dwelt afar from the pride of the Jews. This connected their work with His, in that which especially characterised it with reference to the remnant of Israel.

Footnotes for Matthew Chapter 27

85: Strange to say, this means son of Abba, as if Satan was mocking them with the name.

86: We find in Matthew, specially collected, the dishonour done to the Lord and the insults offered Him, and with Mark the forsaking of God.

87: The glory of Christ in ascension, and as Lord of all, does not come within the scope of Matthew historically.

88: The part that women take in all this history is very instructive, especially to them. The activity of public service, that which may be called “work,” belongs naturally to men (all that appertains to what is generally termed ministry), although women share a very precious activity in private. But there is another side of Christian life which is particularly theirs; and that is personal and loving devotedness to Christ. It is a woman, who anointed the Lord while the disciples murmured; women, who were at the cross, when all except John had forsaken Him; women, who came to the sepulchre, and who were sent to announce the truth to the apostles who had gone after all to their own home; women, who ministered to the Lord’s need. And indeed this goes farther. Devotedness in service is perhaps the part of man; but the instinct of affection, that which enters more intimately into Christ’s position, and is thus more immediately in connection with His sentiments, in closer communion with the sufferings of His heart-this is the part of woman: assuredly a happy part. The activity of service for Christ puts man a little out of this position, at least if the Christian is not watchful. Everything has however its place. I speak of that which is characteristic; for there are women who have served much, and men who have felt much. Note also here, what I believe I have remarked, that this clinging of heart to Jesus is the position where the communications of true knowledge are received. The first full gospel is announced to the poor woman that was a sinner who washed His feet, the embalming for His death to Mary, our highest position to Mary Magdalene, the communion Peter desired to John who was in His bosom. And here the women have a large share.

89: That is, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and mother of James and Joses, constantly spoken of as “the other Mary.” In John 19:25, Mary the wife of Cleophas has been taken as in apposition with His mother’s sister. But this is simply a mistake. It is another person. There were four-three Marys and His mother’s sister.

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Darby, John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament". 1857-67.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(25) His blood be on us, and on our children.—The passionate hate of the people leads them, as if remembering the words of their own Law, to invert the prayer—which Pilate’s act had, it may be, brought to their remembrance—“Lay not innocent blood to Thy people of Israel’s charge” (Deuteronomy 21:8), into a defiant imprecation. No more fearful prayer is recorded in the history of mankind; and a natural feeling has led men to see its fulfilment in the subsequent shame and misery that were for centuries the portion of the Jewish people. We have to remember, however, that but a fractional part of the people were present; that some at least of the rulers, such as Joseph of Arimathæa, Nicodemus, and probably Gamaliel, had not consented to the deed of blood (Luke 23:51), and that even in such a case as this it is still true that “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father” (Ezekiel 18:20), except so far as he consents to it, and reproduces it.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts


Matthew 27:2

The councils and kings, the orators and lawgivers of Rome, tower out in the backward look of history, when men nearer us in time are lost in the haze. But there is one Roman who shall outlive them all. He held only a petty post in an obscure corner of the Empire, but he sat as judge on Him who shall one day judge the world, and he delivered unto death the Prince of Life. The name of Pontius Pilate, the governor, shall be remembered when every other Roman name may be forgotten.

Pilate, like all men of culture and thought, had ceased to believe in the cruel and licentious gods of Paganism. And with that disbelief had come the usual disheartening conviction that nothing in all the spiritual world could in certainty be known. For in the moment when a man"s spiritual world has vanished like a dream or a mirage of the desert, when the credulities of a young and ardent youth have been proved to be false, when he sees the men around him living only for things seen, what is there left for him but a sad and melancholy mental despair? "What is truth?" asked Pilate in the climax of his interview with Jesus, and Bacon tells us he jested. If he did jest, it was a bitter jest. It was the partly impatient, partly contemptuous, partly despairing word of a man who flings out a question to which he conceives there is no answer at all. And when we look at this well-read, widely thought, bewildered, and gloomy-minded Prayer of Manasseh, we find in him the type of men common enough among us. For there is no word to describe Pilate but one, and that is "agnostic". It is Pilate, the agnostic, who stands face to face with Christ.

I. Now let us look at the agnostic in the light of Christ. We see Pilate in three scenes. Mark them well, for they are the steps in an agnostic"s progress away from God. We see him in the grey dawn roused from his rest to hear the denunciation of those scrupulous Jewish hypocrites, who will not enter his house lest they should be defiled. We see him with his Roman feeling for justice, refusing to do an act of summary wrong. And then we see him face to face with Jesus alone, and we cannot help a sigh that he did not know his Lord. For Christ"s desire here, as always, is to lift all religious inquiry out of the heating and misleading arena of discussion and debate into the region of personal conduct and conviction. It is the attempt to lead the agnostic from his dialectic, to rouse the interest of his apathetic soul, and to make him face the realities of his own life. But it failed. Pilate is stung by the personal appeal, and the quick retort comes back, with contemptuous scorn, "Am I a Jew?" But Jesus is love that will not let him go, and this clear voice, whose spell never men failed to feel, rang through Pilate"s hall in words Church leaders have not yet fathomed, which spoke of that kingdom not of this world—that kingdom not of the sword—but of the truth. He offered to enrol Pilate as a governor in it. Mark, He does not proclaim Himself as the Son of God. That would have been too high for Pilate, and this Teacher ever stooped to the little ones. He offers Himself as one who came into the world that He might bear witness of the truth. He touched Pilate in his tenderest memories and holiest thoughts and took him back to the days of his youth, when he had dreamed his dreams, and seen his visions of unswerving justice, untainted honour, and ennobling purity. But the agnostic"s habit has become too strong for him. It holds him as in a vice, and with the deep, unalterable conviction that Jesus is innocent, he puts his agnostic question, "What is truth?" breaks off the interview, and passes out from the presence of Christ. When he went out it was the hour of dawn, but the night had begun to fall upon his soul.

II. In the second scene we see Pilate, who has refused to make the question of his religious belief a personal one, become the man of shifts and devices. He goes out to propose Christ"s release under a time-honoured custom of the Feast. But the shout for Barabbas teaches him that he has misunderstood the deep hatred felt for Jesus. A second device suggests itself to him. He will scourge Him—aye, mark you! with that scourge of thongs tipped with lead, every one of which bit like a scorpion—and mock Him, for surely, even their pity will be roused, and they will relent at the sight of the thorn-crowned Prayer of Manasseh, and their rage will be glutted at the sight. But he might as well have fought the blinding spray of a winter storm, as have opposed himself to these hoarse cries of "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" He hurries in to Jesus, anew impressed that He who could so rouse the passions of men, must be more than He seemed, and "Whence art Thou?" he asks Him, as one might inquire at a spirit. But Pilate"s question comes too late. Jesus will not answer. Truth which a man will not accept when it is offered to him, truth which a man will outrage by scourging and mocking, truth which a man will set at naught, that he may escape from a dilemma and avoid a duty, is always silent to such a question as Pilate"s.

III. The third scene is the dramatic moment of it all. It is Pilate—poor, fear-driven, unmanned Pilate—on the judgment seat, washing his hands in water, to declare his innocence, and so chloroform his soul. Ah, perhaps you think that no man could so deceive himself, that Pilate knew that he could have saved Christ if he only had bravely dared. No, that washing of the hands was no conscious mockery to Pilate. He doubtless went down to his house feeling himself justified, for he had reached the most abandoned state of the human soul. He was sinning against the Holy Ghost.

The sweet mysteries of Christ were dark to him, and he was not asked to accept them. But because he would not be true, because he would not live out the truth he knew, because he allowed truth and innocence to pass to shame and to death, he also passed out of Christ"s light, and bears an eternal shame. What hindered him? It was in one word, his interests. That, in many forms—some as coarse and sordid as assailed Pilate, some as subtle and refined as seduce the man of wavering and bewildered mind among ourselves—is the temptation of the agnostic.

—W. M. Clow, The Day of the Cross, p27.

References.—XXVII:2.—J. G. Stevenson, The Judges of Jesus, p153. XXVII:3, 4.—John Ker, Sermons, p282. XXVII:3-5.—E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p139. E. B. Pusey, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii. p197. XXVII:3-10.—B. D. Johns, Pulpit Notes, p112.

Judas"s "I Have Sinned"

Matthew 27:4

The state and history of Judas have, as we humbly trust, through the infinite mercy of God, no exact parallel amongst ourselves.

Judas, we must fear, had already passed into a reprobate state, when he said, "I have sinned". For years he had allowed, and systematically pursued, with a show of charity and piety, that sin which God calls the worst, and places the last, in the whole scale of wickedness. He had, probably, some secret hope that Christ might assert His power, and His sovereignty; and that he himself, after all, might have a high place in that temporal kingdom, which they all expected.

I. The Cry of Despair—Disappointed everywhere—remorse and horror, as they are wont, taking the place of passion—the evil spirit that had lured him on now became, first tormentor, and then instigator to despair. Driven by his evil conscience, Judas sought refuge everywhere, and found it nowhere. Not in his money—what could that do? "He cast down the thirty pieces of silver," with perfect indifference, "on the floor of the Temple;" and the coldblooded priests, to whom he looked in his misery, said, "What is that to us? See thou to that." Not, assuredly, in his own breast. Not in God: he had not sought it there, and though it was not too late to find it, he saw it was too late to seek. And Judas, "departed, and went and hanged himself," that he might go to his own place!

II. A Heartless Acknowledgment—What was the worth of his "I have sinned" at such a time? The Greek word for "sinned" is "missing the mark". It conveys a great deal of important and affecting teaching. But Judas meant probably only the literal, without the spiritual, signification of the word. "I have made a mistake; I have missed the mark." "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood."

III. No Touch of Spiritual Truth.—His "I have sinned" was only the acknowledgment of a worldly error. It stands for no repentance. It never touched one spiritual truth.

References.—XXVII:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No113. XXVII:4, 24.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew XVIII-XXVIII. p299. Cox, "The Son of Loss," Expositions, vol. i. p348. French, "Pontius Pilate," Sermons New and Old, p134. "Conscience," Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv. p554. John Ker, "Judas and the Priests; the end of evil association," Sermons (1Series), p282. Parker, Ark of God, p54, and Inner Life of Christ, vol. iii. p238. Cox, "A Day in Pilate"s Life," Expositor (2Series), vol. viii. p107. Jacox, Traits of Character, etc, p350. Kitto, Daily Bible Illustrations, vol. vii. p426. W. M. Taylor in Three Hundred Outlines on New Testament, p32; and see his Contrary Winds, p37. A. B. Evans, Sermons, p377. C. J. Vaughan, Sermons (1853), p81. Pusey, Sermons, vol. ii. p276. Simeon, Works, vol. xi. pp575, 583. Bishop Hacket, Sermons, p483. Bishop Fleetwood, Sermons, p444.

Matthew 27:5

When an opponent at Gainsborough falsely accused George Fox of claiming to be the Messiah, the Quaker declares, "I called the accuser Judas, and was moved to tell him that Judas"s end would be his; and that that was the word of the Lord and of Christ, through me, to him. So the Lord"s power came over all, and quieted the minds of the people, and they departed in peace. But this Judas went away, and shortly afterwards hanged himself, and a stake was driven into his grave."

References.—XXVII:5.—C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p287. XXVII:7.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p76. XXVII:11.—R. H. Heywood, Sermons and Addresses, p37. R. C. Trench, Sermons New and Old, p134. H. A. Smith, A Book of Lay Sermons, p3. XXVII:11-26.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew XVIII-XXVIII. p310.

The Two Wills

Matthew 27:12-14; Matthew 27:20-23

Never was tragedy so awful or so swift as that which St. Matthew recounts in the chapter from which these verses are taken. And this is because the two elements of all tragedy, the Will of God and the Will of Prayer of Manasseh, are there combined and running to the same end.

We have all been puzzled by the difficulty of reconciling these two: first, that God willed Christ"s death, and, second, that man was guilty of that death.

I. Nothing is clearer from the Gospel than this: that it was Christ"s own will to die. He had long set His face steadfastly to Jerusalem. While others still deemed it impossible, His soul lay already under the shadow of the Cross.

Some men make up their mind to die when they feel the stress of circumstance bearing in that direction. But Jesus felt no outward circumstance compelling Him to death. Because it was His Father"s will He set His face to the Cross.

He also declared why He must suffer. This was not for martyrdom alone. He had come to bear witness to the truth among a people who, as He pointed out, had with tragic consistency slain their prophets. Yet the burden of truth He brought from heaven was not the only burden He carried. He found another awaiting Him on earth in the sins of men; and this, though sinless Himself, He stooped to bear in all its weight... That is why He was so silent before the Jewish Council and with Pilate. It was not for Barabbas only He was silent. On that day Christ Jesus laid down His life for men.

We do not know what happened to Barabbas. But if he changed, if he led a new life, and as an old legend has it, became a servant of God, it was because he understood the meaning of that silence in which Christ assented to His own death and so let him go free.

We must feel what our pardon cost the love of God, and how much that love in Christ endured for us. Then shall there be born in us a penitence, a faith, a gratitude which will bind us to God, which will give us a hatred for sin, which will beget in us a power of holiness—as nothing else can.

II. The way in which human guilt is brought out in this chapter is very tragic. First there is Judas, the only one who accepted his guilt, and it overwhelmed him. The rest shirked their responsibility, and sought to pass it over to one another. But they could not, for the lesson of the chapter is that, where Christ is in question, every man must make decision for himself.

It is significant that our Lord was slain by no mere drift of circumstance, but by the deliberate and confessed choice of men"s wills, and that He was doomed to the cross not by the supreme Roman authority, but, before it could pass sentence, by the voice of the people.

They stood outside the court, because on that day it was not lawful for them to enter Gentile precincts. But even so they did not escape, for the governor brought Christ out to them, and in the end every man of them became His judge.

God will have every common man who has known Christ to come to a decision about Him. This was what Christ came into the world for. And we, to whom He has been presented all our lives, can, least of all, hope to escape.

Nor let us fail to notice the hour in which the men of Jerusalem were called to give their decision. The supreme moment in the history of Christ with themselves was not when He came to them as the King in His beauty, but when He stood an equal alternative with Barabbas.

It is not our attitude to our Lord in the easy hours of worship, which determines our true relation to Him. Our real heart for Him is shown, our true relation to Him is determined, far rather in those other, darker hours, when temptation is strong upon us; and we have to choose between Himself and our sin.

—G. A. Smith, The Forgiveness of Sins, p105.

References.—XXVII:14.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv1894, p42. W. P. Balfern, Lessons from Jesus, p73.


Matthew 27:16

I. We need not go beyond the New Testament for the history and character of Barabbas.

1. His name is the first significant thing about him. He is Barabbas, "the son of the father," or master. His father was a teacher of the Jewish law, and an expounder of its precepts. He belonged to the religious aristocracy of the Jews. He had been trained in the traditions of Hebrew history, and had been taught that to be a member of the commonwealth of Israel was the proudest privilege a man could enjoy. His childhood and youth had been spent amid the influences of a home whose chief interests were the things of God, whose dominating ambition was the steadfast advancement of His kingdom. He was as nearly as possible in the position of a son of the manse.

2. The second significant thing which we are told about him Isaiah, that he had "made insurrection," or, as Luke more precisely puts it, "was cast into prison for a certain sedition made in the city". At the time of the entrance of Barabbas on his manhood, Jerusalem was seething with discontent The whole nation was palpitating with hope, and lifting up its long shadowed face with expectation that the time of the Deliverer was at hand. "Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" was John"s message to Jesus; and when Jesus was found to be able to sway the multitudes with His words, and feed the hungry with bread, thousands flocked round Him, assured that the long-looked-for King had come. Hope deferred had made the heart sick, but the spirit of the unconquerable Hebrew could not be broken, and in the Holy City itself, and especially under the walls of the Temple, insurrection was continually being plotted, and sedition hatched. There was a fierce and defiant Home Rule party in Juda, whose unresting aim was to drive the Roman garrison from the Holy Land. Their chosen name was that of Zealots, because of their unquenchable zeal for the restoration of the Jewish Dominion. Out of their ranks came one of Christ"s disciples, Simon Zelotes, whom Jesus taught a wider truth and, a better way than his fiery heart had at first conceived. These Zealots were the Invincibles in the Jewish struggle, and it was they who, at the siege of Jerusalem, fought with so desperate a fury that they appalled the veteran and disciplined soldiers of Rome. In their stubborn courage they fell in heaps, defending the breaches in the walls. It was this band of Zealots which was ever fostering sedition and making insurrection in the city. Among their number was found young Barabbas, the son of the Master in Israel, eager to roll away the reproach of his people, hating the Roman rule with an implacable hatred, willing to do and dare anything, if only a Jewish king shall reign again in Jerusalem. Many looked with hope on the eager young face of Barabbas Zelotes.

3. The third significant thing we are told of him Isaiah, that he was a robber, and had committed murder in the insurrection. To the last he was no common thief or cut-purse, but a man who had chosen to intrigue and plot, and to take the sword against the Government of Rome. But from the first he had hated Rome more than he had feared God; he had more of the proud ambition of the partizan than the lowly spirit of holy waiting for God, and, at length, his defiant and regardless deeds made him a mark for a keen-eyed and long-armed Government. He was cast into prison, whence he expected to come only to die the traitor"s death on the cross.

4. The fourth and only other thing we are told, is that, both by the priests and the people, he was preferred to Jesus.

II. Now, as the Evangelists tell us the story of Barabbas; they focus our attention on one moment of his life. It is that dramatic moment in which Jesus and Barabbas pass out of Pilate"s presence together, which is to them so full of pathetic suggestions.

1. The first thought in their minds, as in the mind of every one who knows the story, is the startling and amazing contrast of their fate. A man of genius and skill, in our generation, George Tin-worth, has worked out, in terra-cotta, the scene at this dramatic climax, with a discerning spiritual insight. From one door, passing before Pilate"s judgment-seat, there issues Barabbas, smiling in exultation. The soldiers grasp him by the hand in rude congratulations. His friends seize him in transports of joy. The mob hails him with acclamation. By the other door, held by the hard grip of the callous soldiers, seeing no kindly face looking towards Him, confronted by the relentless hate of the infuriated multitude, there issues Jesus. In all the crowd there is only one discerning, pitying heart. The artist has placed, not very far from Christ"s door, a woman with a little child in her arms, and she turns on Jesus as He passes her wondering and compassionate eyes. The woman with the child, alone of all the throng, sees whose is the victory and the unfading glory. That is a master touch. To this day men walk our streets, and sit in our high places, with the triumphant pride of Barabbas, and neither they themselves nor others know how completely they have failed.

2. The second thought which attracts us is—how much Barabbas missed. We cannot help thinking of what might have been in the case of Barabbas. As we recall his radiant youth, his eager patriotism, his daring courage, his chivalrous devotion to Israel, we feel the soul of goodness that throbbed behind this man"s life, his ardent abandonment to what he conceived to be the kingdom of God. This Prayer of Manasseh, we see, might have been, and ought to have been, a disciple of Jesus. The very thing he so dimly and darkly saw, the thing he so fondly desired—the revival of the ancient glory of Israel—was being fulfilled by Jesus.

3. One other thought is plainly in the minds of the Evangelists. It is the madness and folly of the choice of the multitude. We can detect a note of pity for this befooled and blinded multitude, who chose a robber and murderer in preference to Jesus. We share this mingled amazement and sorrow. These Evangelists have caught something of the prayerful compassion of Jesus for those who did not know the time of their visitation. This multitude did not know whom they were rejecting, and did not know that they were closing the book of their history, fixing their eternal destiny, and quenching with their own breath their one hope of temporal peace and spiritual greatness, when they cried: "Not this Prayer of Manasseh, but Barabbas!" But the crowd of condemning faces on which Jesus looks is larger than that which pronounced His doom in Jerusalem.

—W. M. Clow, The Day of the Cross, p85.

Reference.—XXVII:16.—Jesse Brett, The Soul"s Escape, p28.

Envy"s Evil Work

Matthew 27:18

That quiet, simple sentence in this condensed report of Christ"s appearance before Pilate always arrests the mind. It is the statement by the evangelist of the inner judgment of Pilate. He had discerned the motives which lurked behind the air of justice on the part of the chief priests and elders. He knew the men with whom he had to deal. The sight of Christ, and the short interviews he had with Him, convinced him, not only of Christ"s innocence, but of His spiritual majesty. But he was a man caught in the trap of his own past. Had his past been unstained, his action might have been different. He discerned the character of Christ He was awed and touched by His greatness. "He knew that for envy they had delivered Him."

I. Let us first inquire what envy is. Envy must be distinguished from other passions which are sometimes confounded with it. There is a wise and commendable emulation which is far from envy.

Envy must also be distinguished from jealousy, although the one word in common speech is often interchanged for the other. Jealousy is the child of love—love that believes itself wronged, injured, robbed of its due.

Envy is the child of hate. Envy does not long to run in the race and claim fellowship with those who excel. Envy does not seek the love and the well-being of the person envied. Envy is a gnawing hate, an inward grief, a wasting impatience of spirit, the souring of the heart, the distemper of the soul, "a rottenness of the bones".

There is in the Chapel of the Arena, at Padua, a significant fresco, by Giotto, of "Envy". Giotto"s representation is that of a man of mean, misshapen figure, with crouching shoulder, and craning neck. He stands in profile in the picture with lean cheek, sunken, averted eyes, one hand clutching a wallet of gold, the other stretched out with fingers shaped into claws. The ears are large, unshapely, distended. Out of the mouth there plays a serpent, whose fangs are striking Envy himself on the brow. Around the feet there leap up flames of fire. A master conception this of this passion of envy! Take one or two of the features. These large, distended ears are meant to signify that envy is on the alert for every babble of slander. The serpent in the mouth points to the poisonous insinuations, the fabricated stories which the tongue of envy is eager to tell. The hands, clawed like a vulture"s, set forth the tearing motion and the clutching greed of the envious spirit; and the flames of fire round the feet mark the torture and despair in which envy lives—a torture and despair which are of hell. When we look at Giotto"s picture, and read the story of the trial before Pilate, we no longer wonder at the quiet sentence, "He knew that for envy they had delivered Him". We understand that envy is no excusable resentment, no trifling meanness of the spirit, no transient passion, but a deep-seated, over-mastering, indwelling spirit of evil, which reaches its final expression when it hales its victim to his cross.

II. Let us now, in the second place, watch the consequences of envy.

1. Its simplest effect is to blind the mind; that is part of its confusion and evil work.

2. It also poisons the heart. As a poison strikes through the body and fevers the blood, so envy galls and fevers the heart.

3. The climax of evil consequence is reached when envy crucifies Christ.

III. But let us consider the remedy for envy. Envy may often visit the heart without reaching the climax of its consequence. There is no one who has not had a touch of envy at times. The man of saintly character and assured faith has found the subtle passion slipping into his heart, in some unwatchful moment, and troubling his peace. In one of the most thoughtful and uplifting of the Psalm this experience is detailed, and the sin and its remedy are disclosed. "My feet were almost gone, my steps had wellnigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." And the Psalmist tells us the doubts that troubled his mind, and the darkness that fell upon his spirit. But he recovered. "When I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end." Standing in the sanctuary he was illumined, the vision of God was given him again; the baseness of the things he had envied was borne in upon him; the manner of his envious desire stood clearly forth, and in God"s light he saw light clearly.

—W. M. Clow, The Day of the Cross, p71.

Matthew 27:18

Another of Badman"s sins, "among the foulest villanies... rotting the very bones of him in whom it dwells," was envy. Bunyan quotes Matthew 27:18 to show what he means: "For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him". It is a certain malignant hatred of good, the lowest conceivable depth of wickedness. Its root is ignorance. For this we are usually held not to be accountable, but to Bunyan, whether we are accountable or not, was not worth debate. It was "ignorance" which preferred Barabbas to Jesus.

—Mark Rutherford, John Bunyan, pp183, 184.

Reference.—XXVII:18.—J. Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. ii. p156.

Pilate"s Wife—Moral Influence of Women

Matthew 27:19

Of Pilate"s wife nothing is known but the bare fact, recorded by St. Matthew alone, that she interceded with her husband in favour of a prisoner who, for some reason unknown to us, had aroused her sympathetic interest.

Tradition says that her name was Claudia Procula, and that she was a Jewish proselyte. The Greek Church has canonized her, and she ranks among its saints.

The fact that this Roman lady felt so deeply about Jesus that she risked offending her husband by interposing in a matter which lay beyond her proper sphere is of many-sided interest.

I. It serves to illustrate in an undesigned way the profound impression made by our Lord upon women in every case where they came under the spell of His influence.

II. The incident may be used in illustration of the common remark that womanly instinct sometimes hits the mark while masculine calculation goes astray. So far as we know, the sole protest against the counsel and deed of those who forced on the tragedy of Calvary was the protest of a woman.

—J. W. Shepard, Light and Life, p72.

Pilate"s Wife

Matthew 27:19

Every religion may be tested, ethically and practically, by its appeal to womanhood. That faith which outclasses every other in its power to meet the needs of woman, and uplift her to moral beauty, will stand every other test of the truth of God. When Christ came with His meekness and lowliness, His searching and uncompromising hostility to sin, His compassion for weakness, and His great cross of love and atonement, womanhood fell down at His feet in a surpassing loyalty, and Christ placed a crown on her head. It was a man of Macedonia whom Paul saw in his vision, but it was a woman who listened by the river-side, and first made response to Christ. And to this day the voice of Christ finds its clear echo in women"s hearts, and both gentle and simple are found reaching their noblest and highest when sitting at His feet.

It is then precisely what would have been expected, that amid the sad scenes of the tragedy of Christ"s last day on earth, there should be told us this idyll of Pilate"s wife. The story shines on the page like a strong gleam of sunshine on a winter day. It is a word of radiant prophecy in the record of a history laden with sorrow.

I. The first thing I remark about Pilate"s wife was the sorrow and shame of her life. There is no doubt but that a tender love subsisted between Pilate and his wife. This cruel and worldly man had this redeeming virtue left him, as such men sometimes have. The altar flame of love had not gone out. The proof of this mutual love lies in the fact that she accompanied him to Jerusalem. A Roman governor was forbidden by law to take his wife with him to his province, very much for the same reason as a ship captain is forbidden to take his wife to sea. That law could be broken only by a strong personal appeal. But in that imperial age, hastening with swift strides to an unspeakable corruption, husbands were only too willing to be freed from a wife"s watchful eyes, and wives were as willing to be left to live their butterfly lives amid the gaieties of a profligate Roman world. But Pilate"s wife was more than eager to face the loneliness of a life among an alien people. Love broke even a stern Roman law. But how far apart had these two drifted—although their love still persisted. The young Pilate whom the woman had idealized, whose face had flitted through the dreams of her youth, whose career she had so hopefully anticipated, had deteriorated into this sordid, cruel, vengeful, murderous man. The women of Jerusalem who saw Pilate"s wife looking out from her lattice, and caught the flash of the gems on her white hands, and marked the pride of her patrician face, and envied her ease and state, never guessed how wistfully she looked upon them, and how constant was this cloud of sorrow and of shame, because she knew herself to be the wife of a dishonourable man.

II. The second thing I remark about Pilate"s wife is her service to her husband. "When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man." It was a deed of singular daring. It was the last resource of a loving heart making one more appeal. To send a message with the attempt to sway the mind of the judge while he sat upon the seat of judgment was a punishable offence, and only the awfulness of the deed she saw about to be done could have moved her to it. Pilate may have smiled at her dream, but her words stung his conscience, and had there been any way of escape for this hardly pressed Prayer of Manasseh, had he had courage to brave his fate, gladly would he have set Christ at liberty, and gone home to look with the eyes of a Prayer of Manasseh, redeemed from his evil fate, in the face of her whose love had almost saved him.

That is the highest service a wife can do for her husband—to stand in the shadow while he faces public light; to be ever his counsellor, his helper, his gentle and yet unfaltering preacher of righteousness—aye, to be his saviour—is her noblest office.

III. The third thing I remark about Pilate"s wife is her intercession for Christ.

And so to this day Pilate"s wife walks at the head of all that long procession of nobly-born, and nobly-placed, and nobly-gifted women who do service for Christ. She leads the noble army of saintly martyrs and confessors. There follow in her train queens like Helena and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, women of generous hand like Lady Huntingdon, and of saintly wisdom like Lady Glenorchy; and those even greater and more devoted women, enshrined in the Book of Martyrs and the Scots" Worthies, true Ladies of the Covenant, who, when Christ, in His persecuted saints, walked again the way of weeping, cast aside their pride, placed no value on their rank, reckoned light the suffering, and stepped into the way with Him. Surely we shall not say too much when we believe that the name of Pilate"s wife, though not written on this page, is written first on the roll of those women who laboured much in His Gospel, "whose names are in the Book of Life".

—W. M. Clow, The Day of the Cross, p99.

References.—XXVII:19.—G. Lorimer, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii1900, p243. J. G. Stevenson, The Judges of Jesus, p129. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No1647.

Christ, a Perplexity

Matthew 27:22

I. We may crucify the Saviour in many ways when we do not seem to be crucifying Him. That is the very subtlety of the devil"s temptation. There would not seem to be any wickedness in not forgiving a man who had injured you very much and who had prayed for your pardon. If any soul has ever asked you to forgive him, that soul supplied you with the greatest opportunity of being a Christian that ever was supplied during your whole experience To plead for mercy and not to receive it, the case being between two human hearts, that would stab the Saviour with a sixth wound.

There is another thing you can do with Christ: you can admire Him. Many persons admire Him, and get their livelihood out of Him: paint His portrait, surround His head with haloes, give His mother a nimbus, and give Himself as a Babe an aureole; all that you can do, but that is nothing. I have great fear of those who have not passed beyond the point of admiration. Jesus Christ came not to be admired, but to be believed, received, served. He is all, or nothing, and less than nothing.

There is a third thing you can do: you can adore Jesus. Now you are coming to higher ground. You can fall down before Him, you can offer Him your gold and frankincense and myrrh, not of mere gold and material, but of real reverence and love and faith, so that He shall be fairest among ten thousand and altogether lovely; not in form, but in the poetry of His meaning, in the ideality of His desire.

There is a fourth thing you can do: you can serve Him. What is "to serve Him?" It is to suffer for Him. Do we serve Him? is His service a delight? if our lives were deprived of His service would they go down in music, in quality, in hope, in force? If you can say, Yes, then you are in very deed serving the Christ.

II. There are three things you cannot do with Christ.

1. You cannot get rid of Him. Some men may think they have dismissed Him, but they have not. It is Christ"s habit, as it always has been from resurrection time, to appear unto some in "another form".

2. You cannot mistake Him for some one else. That is curious. The uniqueness of Christ is one of the greatest arguments in Christian apologetics. There is none to compare with Him.

3. You cannot change the terms of discipleship. They are severe terms. He never admits anybody easily into His kingdom. What is the way into the kingdom? The Cross is the only way. What is the object of discipleship? The Cross is the object of discipleship. Can I not have some ornamental cross, some ivory crucifix, and place it on my breast and say, Behold my tribe and my Master? No, this must be a heart-born Christ, this must be a cross that throws its shadow, yet its light, over the whole life. "If any man would be My disciple, let him take up his cross daily and follow Me."

—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. v. p184.

Matthew 27:22

Last year about this time our Lord was, as it were, upon the Mount of Olives. He rode, as it were, triumphantly at the head of a small party to the market-cross of Rutherglen, and many cried "Hosannah to the Son of David," for a few days after. But since the22nd of June, 1679, how many have cried out, "Crucify Him, crucify Him, away with Him: we will have no more to do with Him. Christ is too dear a Lord for us. These field-meetings of His are too costly for us. We wish there had never been any of these field-meetings in Scotland!"

—From a Sermon by Richard Cameron

References.—XXVII:22.—S. H. Kellogg, The Past a Prophecy of the Future, p144. W. Howell Evans, Sermons for the Church"s Year, p102. V. R. Lennard, Passion-Tide and Easter, p45. T. Teignmouth Shore, The Life of the World to Come, p125. R. Baldwin Brindley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii. p136. David Purves, ibid. vol. lxx1906, p70. T. Waugh, The Cross and the Dice-Box, p201. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p164. A. Goodrich, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. ii. p189. C. Stanford, The Evening of Our Lord"s Ministry, p256. XXVII:22-50.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No2333.

Pilate Washing His Hands

Matthew 27:24

I. The first point to notice is the vain plea for wrongdoing.

Pilate excused himself to himself on the ground that policy and self-defence forced him to his act. He could say "I am innocent" because he said, "I am obliged to connive at this crime". Though in his case the plea is for a gigantic sin, and in our case it may be for a comparatively small one, the same sort of thing is being said by us continually.

There is nothing necessary for a man which he can only get or keep by tampering with conscience. There are two things needful for us: God and righteousness; and there is no third.

And in another way, the pleading of compulsion from without, as an excuse for evil, is evidently vain; because no man and no thing can force us to do wrong. We know, in each specific case, that, however strong the temptation may have been, we could have resisted it if we would, and that therefore the yielding to it was our act and ours only.

II. Notice here the possibility of entire self-deception.

This man had managed to persuade himself, on a very rotten plea, that he was entirely free from guilt in his act. And the fact that the man who did the most awful of crimes—though perhaps he was not the most guilty—could do it with the profession, to some extent sincere, of innocence, may teach us very solemn lessons.

You can persuade yourself that almost any wrong thing is right, if only you desire to do so. Inclination can silence conscience. The rush of passion can silence conscience. The very stress of daily life tends to weaken the power of pronouncing moral judgment on the things that we are doing. We all have sins altogether unsuspected by ourselves. There are plenty of us that do just as Pilate—who condemned himself in saying, "I am innocent of the blood".

III. Notice how here we get an illustration of the impossibility of wriggling out of responsibility.

It is very interesting to observe how the parties concerned—the conspirators, if I may say so—in this great tragedy try to shuffle the blame off their own shoulders and to place it on others. If there is anything a man"s own, of which he cannot get rid, it is the burden of responsibility for his Acts, and the inheritance of their consequences.

IV. Note the contrast between present and future estimates of our acts.

Pilate probably went back to Csarea after the feast, thinking that he had got well out of what threatened to be an awkward business; and in all likelihood he never thought any more, either about that strange Prisoner, or about that stormy session in the Hall of Judgment. We have not to measure his guilt. It depends upon his knowledge, and his knowledge was very slight. But, for all that, one cannot help thinking of the shock of surprise which struck him when he passed beyond life, and ceased to be a governor and a Judges, and stood at the bar of the Man whom he had condemned.

The same reversal of present and future estimates will come about with many of us. "That fierce light which" flashes from the "throne" will show the seaminess of many a life which looks fairly well by the candle-light of this present.

—A. Maclaren, The Wearied Christ, p222.

References.—XXVII:24.—A. F. Winnington Ingram, The Men Who Crucify Christ, p20. XXVII:24, 25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No1648. G. F. Browne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxix1891, p184. H. Ward Beecher, Sermons (1Series), p92. XXVII:24-31.—C. Stanford, The Evening of Our Lord"s Ministry, p289. XXVII:25.—R. W. Hiley, A Year"s Sermons, vol. i. p189. Father Bernard Vaughan, Society, Sin, and the Saviour, p155. Hugh Black, University Sermons, p212. XXVII:26.—W. P. Balfern, Lessons from Jesus, p210. XXVII:27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No2333. XXVII:27-54.—Ibid. vol. xlviii. No2803; vol1. No2887. XXVII:28.—W. P. Balfern, Lessons from Jesus, p213.

Matthew 27:29

It is so easy to be orthodox in creed and statement; so safe to rest in a merely traditionary belief, that many a decorous Christian fails to perceive the sure though invisible connexion between the life-confession and self-denial of a merely outward profession, and the broader form of denial by which all such profession is derided. Yet between Christ mocked and Christ rejected there is but a step; who shall say how easily it is taken, or how quickly we pass from the hollow homage, the "Hail, Master!" which mocks our Lord, to the smiting and buffeting of open outrage? When Christ is invested with but the show of sovereignty, the reed placed in His hands will be quickly taken, as by the soldiers, to smite His head. This reed is nominal Christianity, a strange slip of a degenerate vine, beneath whose blighting shadow a poison-growth of unbelief never fails to root itself.

—Dora Greenwell.

The whole history of Christianity shows that she is in far greater danger of being corrupted by the alliance of power than of being crushed by its opposition. Those who thrust temporal sovereignty upon her treat her as their prototypes treated her Author. They bow the knee, and spit upon her; they cry "Hail," and smite her on the cheek; they put a sceptre in her hand, but it is a fragile reed; they crown her, but it is with thorns; they cover with purple the wounds which their own hands have inflicted on her; and inscribe magnificent titles over the cross on which they have fixed her to perish in ignominy and pain.

—Macaulay on Southey"s Colloquies.

References.—XXVII:29.—G. H. Morrison, The Return of the Angels, p34. W. H. Brookfield, Sermons, p216. C. Jerdan, Pastures of Tender Grass, p304. B. D. Johns, Pulpit Notes, p25. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No1168; vol. xlix. No2824.

Matthew 27:31

A month before his death, on "Sabbath, 21September," says Dr. M"Crie, "Knox began to preach in the Tolbooth Church, which was now fitted up for him. He chose for the subject of his discourses the account of our Saviour"s crucifixion, as recorded in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, a theme upon which he often expressed a wish to close his ministry."

Reference.—XXVII:32.—F. D. Huntington, Christian Believing and Living, p338.

Matthew 27:33

That spiritual beauty and spiritual truth are in their nature communicable, and that they should be communicated, is a principle which lies at the root of every conceivable religion. Christ was crucified upon a hill, and not in a cavern, and the word Gospel itself involves the same idea as the ordinary name of a daily paper.

—G. K. Chesterton.

References.—XXVII:33, 34.—G. Body, The School of Calvary, p26. XXVII:33-44.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No2942. XXVII:33-50.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew XVIII-XXV1II. p317.

The Unconscious Service of Christ

Matthew 27:34

The drink offered to Jesus was a narcotic. It was offered in mercy and it was offered by those opposed to His doctrines. It was given by the Roman soldiers with a view to mitigate His pain.

I. The act is deeply suggestive. It is an act of friendship performed by antagonists. We are in the habit of dividing the world into Christians and non-Christians. To which of the two classes did these Roman soldiers belong? They were certainly not followers of Jesus; but neither were they against Him. I am told that at the Day of Judgment those will be on the right hand who gave Him drink, and those on the left hand who did not. But here on earth, He has received drink from those apparently on the left hand. Roman soldiers have sought to assuage His sufferings!

II. Is it not the same still? We are so fond of sharp divisions that we forget the intermediate shades; but God does not. There are men among us who at this hour are helping Jesus, and who yet profess to yield no allegiance but to Caesar. They are numbered among the legions, not among the saints. Yet, wherever the Son of Man is crucified, they are there.

III. Wherever humanity is heavy-laden, wherever souls are sad, wherever bodies are burdened, wherever days are darkened, wherever man is mastered by the physical, you will find them there. In the den of poverty, by the couch of pain, at the bed of languishing on the track of fallenness, you will find them there. Where Noah combats the waters, where Abraham journeys homeless, where Jacob lies on a stair, where Joseph weeps in a dungeon, where Moses mopes in a desert, where Elijah hides in a cave, where Job pines in an infirmary, where the Son of Man fasts in a wilderness, you will find them there. They see not the vintage and the gold; but they bear the vinegar and the gall.

—G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p249.

The Endurance of Pain

Matthew 27:34

In the reports of the Passion preserved for us in the Gospels, we are told that at three different times on that first Good Friday was a draught offered to our Lord; and if we read the narratives with care, we shall observe that these draughts were not only offered Him under entirely distinct circumstances, but that His attitude with reference to them was distinct in each case.

I. Let us take first what St. John tells us. All things being now accomplished, we read that Jesus cried out in His agony that He was athirst; and some of the soldiers in tardy mercy took pity upon the patient Sufferer, and offered Him a draught of the sour wine provided for their own use. And Jesus received it, and crying out, "It is finished," bowed His head, and breathed out His spirit.

"All things were accomplished." He had done that for which He had come. And so He no longer keeps back the cry, "I thirst". The lesson is this, that pain, as pain, is of no moral value at all. To suffer a useless pain—that had no place in the economy of redemption; and it has no place in the life of redeemed humanity. When all things were accomplished, Jesus accepted the bracing draught.

II. But yet pain of a sort, of a bitter sort, comes to us all. How are we to meet it? Let us carry our thoughts back to another and earlier scene at Calvary. "And the soldiers," says St. Luke, "also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself. The wine-cup was offered in mockery to the King Who was in truth in their midst, though they knew it not. But He endured it all in patience and sadness. All things were not accomplished yet. It does not need that tragic story to teach us that there are some pains of life which are not in our power to evade. We had best endure them in silence. The cup of insult may be offered to us; it does not rest with us to say whether we shall accept or reject it.

III. But the commonest pains of life are those which we at once ought to endure and which we could evade if we chose. As St. Mark has it, "They gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not". "When He had tasted thereof, He would not drink," says St. Matthew. Why not? The Cross was to be endured with full consciousness. The cup which His Father had given Him He would drain to the dregs. All things were not yet accomplished.

Philosophers have taught us that there are different kinds of fortitude. There is the fortitude which will endure without murmuring the pain that we cannot escape; but to endure pain that we may escape, if we will—that is the true courage. This was the fortitude of the Divine King on the cross. And perhaps, without too curious prying into the purpose and manner of the Atonement, we may see in one direction at least that the conquest that has been achieved by the Gospel of Christ would not have been inspired by a Victim—even a Divine Victim—unconscious at the last.

What is our lesson from this last act of self-denial of Jesus Christ? Is it not this, that to suffer pain which we may evade if we will, to endure unto the end, is often the most imperative of duties?

In the ordinary affairs of business we often see a man lose all profit of his toil because he will not take the small additional pains which are needed to bring his machinery or his organization to perfection. The same is true in science, it is true in art, it is true in every department of human activity. A French proverb tells us that it is the first step which costs; but in truth the last step is as often the one which is critical.

—J. H. Bernard, Via Domini, p154.

References.—XXVII:35.—F. Case, Short Practical Sermons, p104. T. G. Selby, The Cross and the Dice-Box, p3. W. J. Dawson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlii1892, p349.

The Words From the Cross (good Friday)

Matthew 27:36

Jesus Christ"s death on the cross was not only a sacrifice for our sins, but was also part of His great example. He there taught us how to suffer. Let us listen to the few words which came from those patient and holy lips, that we may learn something of the spirit in which, when our hour of suffering comes, we ought to take it.

I. We may very possibly have to suffer through the fault of others; or, when we are suffering, it is possible that others may be hard or unkind to us. When those trials and temptations come, let us stop and think of Him Who was nailed to the cross. What were His first words when the nails had pierced His hands and feet, when the cross was set up, when the malice of His enemies had at length compassed what it sought, when the cup of agony was full? Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Jesus forgave the murderers who crucified Him. Jesus made an excuse for their cruel malice.

II. When we suffer, we generally think only of ourselves. We think that we have enough to bear without troubling ourselves about the wishes or sorrows of others. But watch Jesus Christ on the cross. Watch Him after that long morning of racking agony to nerve and to spirit. Wearied, worn, exhausted, dying, He sees His mother, and the disciple whom He loved. In His own bitter suffering, He sees how they are suffering; He thinks of them; He thinks of what would be a comfort and support to them. Woman, behold thy Son!... Behold thy mother!

III. Nor did He think only of those who belonged to Him—His mother and His disciples. There was a poor wretched criminal, a murderer and a robber, the outcast and the offscouring of society, hanging at His side, hung there to do Him greater dishonour— to show Him to the world as worthy to die with the vilest malefactors. Yet, in the midst of His own torments, amid the jeers and brutal mockery of this miserable man"s companion, He was willing to receive and be favourable to this poor creature"s petition. How should we like, in moments of pain, in the hour of death, to be asked to consider the wants, and to minister to the comfort of an outcast, friendless soul, all its lifetime abandoned to hardened sin? We dare not answer for ourselves. We dare not think what we should do. But we know what the Redeemer did. We know that He did not grudge him words that the greatest saints would have hailed with rapture—Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.

IV. To most of us, pain and sickness seem to bring a release from ordinary duties. We feel ourselves free from the obligations which lie on us in health. We think we need not be so strict. It is one of the great trials of suffering, that it makes us indifferent to what becomes of us, careless of our duties, and of other people who depend upon us. But in those times, think of Jesus Christ on the cross. He thought of fulfilling to the uttermost all that was appointed Him. It had been said of Him that He was to drink the vinegar, so He asked for it. He said, I thirst. He did not put it from Him as a needless, useless interruption in the midst of racking pain and faintness. He would not go till He could say, It is finished.

V. There is one strange and awful sentence of those which He spoke on the cross which we must sometimes have wondered at. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Surely those are not the words of despair and distrust. What they fully mean, it would be dangerous to ask, for they are the words of the Incarnate Son of God in man"s nature. But no more comforting words than they to our poor, weak, fainting nature, were spoken on the cross. On the cross Jesus Christ utters the same cry as His weak and fainting creatures. He takes David"s words in the twenty-second Psalm and makes them His own; not to teach us to cry out against God; not to teach us to distrust God; not to encourage us to give way to hard thoughts of our Father in heaven; but to give us comfort, that if we have such feelings rushing into our minds sometimes, they need not be wrong ones, unless we make them so by our impatience and repining and want of faith.

VI. Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit, and having said this, He gave up the ghost. There He has taught us how to die. Say what we will, death is an awful parting. We love life, and it is hard to take leave of it, hard to lay it down. But here is our lesson. Let these words of Jesus Christ ever be in our hearts while we are in health, that they may be ready to come to our lips when we are dying. We must learn to say them from our hearts, in the hours of pain and sickness, that we may learn to say them as Christ said them when the spirit is almost gone. "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit."—R. W. Church, Village Sermons (2Series), p133.

References.—XXVII:36.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew XVIII-XXVIII. p325. Cosmo Gordon Lang, Christian World Pulpit, vol. Leviticus 1899, p209. J. Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vii. p280. XXVII:39, 40.—W. C. Magee, Christ the Light of all Scripture, p165. XXVII:40.—H. Arnold Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p247. R. W. Hiley, A Year"s Sermons, vol. iii. p136. XXVII:41-43.—R. Dalby, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl1891, p221. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew XVIII-XXVIII. p332.

The Alternatives

Matthew 27:42

These are true words, but they were spoken by men who did not know how true they were. They describe the situation with exactness.

I. Looking back over the life of Jesus, as it is set forth for us in the Gospels, we see that, at every stage of His life, at every new departure in His work, these two alternatives were somehow set before Him—If He is to save Himself, He cannot do His work; if He is to do His work, He cannot save Himself.

From the tempter at the outset of His ministry, from His mother and His brethren during the course of it, from His disciples and Peter as it drew near its close, from the chief priests, elders, and scribes while He hung on the cross, and from the thief, who desired Him to use His Messiahship for His own benefit and theirs, from friend and foe alike, came the suggestion that there was an easy, a less costly way of accomplishing His work. From first to last, from whosoever the suggestion came, Jesus resolutely and steadfastly set it aside. Nor was it merely from those who thus presented the alternative to Him that the thought came. In the agony of the garden He asked if it were possible for the cup to pass? "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me." With strong crying and tears He asked if it were possible to find a less costly way of doing His work.

II. We should miss the strength and comfort which should come to us from the devout study of our Lord"s life, if we did not realize that all these suggestions which we have enumerated called Him to a real decision, and led Him to a greater victory. It was a real situation which always met Him, and at each step there was a possible parting of the ways, and He always had to make a real choice; and He chose the upward, thorny path which led to the agony of the garden and the death on the cross.

III. In our way and in our measure, we are also ever called on to make a similar choice. To each of us a mission has been given, a task has been assigned, and a work has been given to do. Each of us has only one life to live, one place to fill, one work to do. It can only be accomplished if we have a clear vision, a pure heart, a good conscience, and a resolute will.

—J. Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, p18.

Matthew 27:42

Sauve qui peut, Bonaparte is said to have exclaimed at Waterloo, along with his routed army. At all events this was the rule by which he regulated his actions, in prosperity as well as in adversity. For what is Vole qui peut! but the counterpart of Sauve qui peut!... What an awful and blessed contrast to this cry presents itself, when we think of Him of whom His enemies said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save! They knew not how true the first words were, or how indissolubly they were connected with the latter, how it is only by losing our life that we can either save others or ourselves.

—Julius Hare.

References.—XXVII:42.—J. W. Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii1893, p390. W. Scott Page, ibid. vol. lxii1902, p418. J. Baines, Twenty Sermons, p139. W. Hay M. H. Aitken, Mission Sermons (2Series), p169. C. W. Furse, Sermons Preached at Richmond, p32. XXVII:43.—C. E. Jefferson, The Character of Jesus, p135. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No2029. XXVII:45.—H. E. Manning, Sin and Its Consequences, p201. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No1896. XXVII:45, 46.—Frederic Watson, The Seven Words from the Cross, p54.

The Cry of Dereliction

Matthew 27:46

What do these words mean?

I. We cannot explain that cry as a momentary failing of human courage or human conviction. Every line of the Gospel forbids us to do so.

Think of His Name and why He bore it. "He shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." He Who was "in the form of God "could not be happy in heaven while the cry of the world which He had created was beating upon His ears. He had spoken often and not in vain, through Prophets and Psalmists and holy men, and now the time had come for the last supreme appeal, the sovereign proof that what He bade His people be He was Himself. And therefore He went forth and took upon Him the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He went forth and He went down. He could save; but only by going down, with His Divine Nature upon Him, into the very depths of the world; by getting under all the evil, and lifting it up with the strength of His own shoulders, and the suffering of His own body, soul, and spirit.

II. Now how far did He go down? He had suffered whatever man can suffer, betrayal by a friend and disciple, denial by the chief of His Apostles, degrading insults and bodily anguish, such as we shrink from putting into words. And now at the last came those jeering priests. And He must have asked Himself, What are these men? and where are they? And beyond the indifference of the ignorant and careless, beyond the cowardice of timid friends, beyond the animal cruelty of rough soldiers, beyond and below all this, He must have seen and entered a lower depth still—the mind of those who knew or ought to know, who had read their Bibles, who thought themselves the chosen people of God, and yet could crucify their Christ, and then could mock and jibe with the vilest; of the vile at the foot of the cross—the mind of those who are in the outer darkness, hating the light. For one black moment He became as they, that He might be able to save even them.

Then came that loud cry—was it "Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit"? was it "It is finished"?—a loud triumphant cry. God is the Father again, the horrible vision has passed, and the end has come.

III. It is horrible; and yet it is the condition of power and success. For what is the horror? It is the sense of God"s absence, the feeling of abandonment in the outer darkness. And who can feel that except those who know what God"s presence means? Only those who have tasted of love, joy, and peace can understand what evil is. Others may see the outward symptoms of evil, the squalor, the vice, the hopelessness; they alone know the root of the disease, and therefore the way to cure it. Doctors tell us that you cannot cure symptoms. You can alleviate them, and it is a duty to do that, if you can do no more. But to cure you must get down to the cause, and is not that the absence of God? and can you make men understand that unless you know all that it means?

Let this mind be in you, says St. Paul in the Epistle, which was in Jesus Christ Go down like Him and suffer and learn, in His name and in His strength.

—Charles Bigg, The Spirit of Christ in Common Life, p274.

The Fourth Word From the Cross

Matthew 27:46

I. We are told in the Bible that there was a great darkness over all the land, from the sixth hour till the ninth. And in the midst of this outward darkness it would seem that our Lord remained quite silent till at last He uttered these words, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Why was this darkness? Was it to point out our Saviour as the Light of the world? When He was born at Bethlehem a bright star appears; when He dies the sun veils His face. Let us catch from it this certain truth, He was the true Light. Jesus is come to be a new light to Prayer of Manasseh, a new Revelation, a new force, a new light for men to walk by to God.

II. But these words of our Lord, though perhaps the most difficult, have been as fruitful as any in comfort to the simple-hearted. They have been a comfort in helping good people when tempted to despondency. Here they have looked up and have seen, as it were, our Lord, not in bright cheerfulness but in darkness, and they have heard His voice crying, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" as though He were depressed in soul. As we have seen Him suffering outwardly in the body, so this was some inward agony of the soul, the crucifixion, so to speak, of His heart. And He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" It was an extreme agony as though He were being shut out from the presence of God. Not that there was any sense of being actually lost; not that there was any sense of God"s wrath upon Himself; because it is still, "My God, My God ".

III. We need to be more careful, perhaps than we are, about desponding thoughts. They may be very much checked by being watchful over our imaginations. Be careful of indulging your imaginations, either way, towards success, which may lead you to vanity; towards failure which may lead you to despondency, to despair, to unworthy distrust of God. Do your best to keep in check this power of the imagination, and if you—like many saints before you, yea like our Divine Master—have sometimes to pass through a cloud in the journey of life, do not be afraid, if you sometimes have to feel that you are left, deserted; look up to Him, and listen to His word, which He has uttered for our consolation, our hope, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"—Bishop King, Meditations on the Last Seven Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, p37.


Matthew 27:46

They are the words of the greatest Commentator on the Old Testament that the world has ever known. When Christ presents the Passion Music of the twenty-second Psalm, the experience with which from that moment the ancient words become redolent as they ascend to Him Who is throned above the praises of Israel, makes their citation on Calvary the supreme instance of "The Psalm in Human Life". Enriched as they have been with fresh associations of joy and sorrow in every age, it is the crowning triumph of this wonderful book that it was able to express Golgotha.

I. The Realism of Christ.—One thing at least which becomes at once apparent as Jesus uplifts this deep-throated chant upon the evening air is the intense realism of His nature. There is no dreamy idealism or sentimental mysticism in Him Who reigns from the Tree. He has all the living interest in sensation, in the actualities of experience, which marks the largest personalities. We see why it was that He refused the draught of medicated wine, which would have mitigated suffering and deadened pain. There awaited Him a fuller and more satisfying experience than the most crowded hour of glorious life, to see of the travail of His Soul, and to taste death. It is a mark of true nobility, befitting a Richard Grenville or a Robert Browning, to be ready to bear the brunt of the last conflict with unbandaged eyes. But what shall we say of a Spirit like that to which these great words bear witness, as He surveys the scene of His Crucifixion and the agony of His inward experience, nor fails to interpret either to the ear of succeeding generations? Jesus Christ is never more miraculously real than in the hour of death. He reigns because He lives. Every moment as it passes is real to Him. This is a necessary element in the highest type of influence. It is not only to the men of business, heaping up riches and therefore walking in a vain show, that the self-absorption, the other-worldliness, the unpractical quietism of the saints is an offence and a barrier. Natural instinct puts us on the side of Lippo Lippi. We feel that if the world is to be redeemed, it must be first loved, realized, and, above all, seen. The taste of wine, the scent of roses, the bustle at the street corner, the play of facial expression, the children crying in the market-place—you, who would fain bear aid to the human race, will accomplish little if you do not appreciate these things. Fact must be a very sacred thing to you—something axiomatic, a postulate which must be conceded as the condition of your taking life seriously. Docetism leads nowhere. A phantom Christ cannot redeem. That, it may be said in passing, is the appropriate criticism of a theology which sits loosely to the empty tomb or the Virgin Birth.

View it how we will, there can be no doubt that it is not the thought but the Passion of Jesus that has moved the world. This wonderful capacity for experience, not the sweep of His intelligence, is the true warrant of His power to redeem. With Him there are no aristocratic exemptions. He belongs to the painful people. What He tholes is the measure of what He works. Christ with His touches of things common belongs entirely to the realm of reality. His reach extends to the whole gamut of human experience. He sees, He hears, He feels. So perfectly does He bear that, far from forgetting His sufferings, He can make them equally with the impressions of sight and sound the object of a contemplation unspoiled by self-pity. "They pierced My hands and My feet; I may tell all My bones." Is not this the plain inference from the words that rise to His lips when at last the time for utterance has come? He muses upon the Psalm, He cons it over, He fits its passages to the blood-red experience of the Tree; His thoughts are hot within Him till His meditations find a voice, and at the last He speaks with His tongue.

II. The Transcendence of Calvary.—It requires no doctrine of inspiration, no theory of the relation of prophecy to fulfilment, to see that when with loud voice Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He proclaimed from the Cross, as from a universal pulpit, that Calvary is God"s transcendent Acts, whereby He has taken to Himself the shame and sorrow of a guilty race, and out of failure has perfected praise. Never, while the world lasts, will the imagination of Christendom cease to dwell on the weird correspondence between the incidents of this marvellous Psalm and the successive episodes of the Passion. Never will the Christian believer cease to recognize the power and presence of that purposeful Spirit which reaches from one end to the other, guiding towards its appointed consummation the progressive destiny of mankind. But it is the mind and will of Christ Himself that have given to the language of this ancient poet their true significance and undying power. From the day when the Crucified took these words upon His sacred lips they have become Christ"s own commentary on the Cross. "We behold Him, Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour."

—J. G. Simpson, The Guardian, 25 February, 1910.

The Saviour"s Question on the Cross (For Good Friday)

Matthew 27:46

We remember how our Blessed Saviour was withdrawn into a deep silence for some considerable time before He spoke these words. There is very much to be learned from the silence of Jesus Christ. It teaches us how we may most fittingly bear the chastisements of God.

Two things we notice about this mysterious cry of the stricken Saviour. First of all, that it is a question, the only question, which, so far as we are told, was ever uttered to the Father by His lips: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" And the Blessed Son of God seems to put Himself, as it were, with those holy men of old who at different times and stages of Israel"s history pleaded with God concerning His judgments.

And yet, in the second place, how strange it is that to that question there is no reply, as if to teach us of the mystery of God"s dealing with men. What an unspeakable mystery is the Atonement of Christ! We see enough to satisfy our reason to some extent; we see enough to reassure our aching heart, but we cannot fathom the mystery of what Jesus did upon the cross. Religion does not profess to give us cut and dried answers to every futile or unreasonable question that we may ask. All we know Isaiah, and that is quite enough for us, that he that followeth the Lord Jesus Christ shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. And so I suppose in this utterance Jesus shows Himself the helper of the perplexed. Let us be sure that God"s judgments are a great deep, that there is much which in this life at least we must be content not to know, and that our Blessed Lord passed victorious through the pain of perplexity and went forth into the light once more.

And one more thought is this—the thought of the faithfulness of our Creator. He does not say, "My Father, My Father," but "My God, My God". He appeals to God as a Creator. He commits His soul as to a faithful Creator, and He knows that He is safe. Though a man does not see what is the exact meaning, what is the end of the discipline through which he passes, he may commit himself to God with the faithful assurance that he will not be forsaken, for man is not alone in his search for truth. The truth is seeking him.

And so for our comfort in perplexity let us remember that the Blessed Saviour Himself has got a heart that can sympathize with the perplexed, and that He for Whom we seek here, and for Whom we wait, and for Whom we long, will manifest Himself, if not here, then beyond the veil, and in due season we who seek after Him shall find Him, and we shall reap if we faint not.

The Word of Agony (for Good Friday)

Matthew 27:46

This I would term the Word of Agony. The word of Tender Care and the word of Agony come close together, but it is significant.

In the cry "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" our Lori goes back to the Syriac, His old vernacular. You have heard people who are in a great agony going back to their old language: it often happens. So our Lord goes back to His old vernacular, and cries "Eli, Eli,..." which being interpreted Isaiah, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"—the most mysterious of all the words. First of all, fancy His saying "My God, My God!" Hitherto it has been "My Father". It is the cry which comes from His perfect human nature. It shows us that we must not confound our Lord"s human nature with His Deity. We cannot understand these things: we cannot understand how He could "increase in wisdom and stature" when He was the Eternal Son of God; but He did. We do not know why He cried "My God, My God"; but He did; it was perfect human nature. It is the cry of agony. He was born with a perfect human nature that He might die a perfect human death. He was the Man Christ Jesus "Who tasted death for every man". But He was also God.

I. What made Him cry, then? Was it weakness? No. It could not be weakness, because afterwards He cried with a loud voice: He was not exhausted. Was it, do you think, that He had made a mistake and thought that God had forsaken Him? No. He could not make a mistake. He never made a mistake in His life, and not in His death. But had God forsaken Him? How could God forsake God? The only explanation that I can possibly give you is that He willed to feel forsaken that you and I might never be forsaken.

But, to be forsaken of God! We cannot get out of it, because it is so personal. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" If God forsook a sinner we could understand. But the Saviour! It was to teach us the lesson that "the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all". As representing Sin, He had to go through the Passion of seeming forsaken. "He became Sin" (hear the words of Scripture; I do not understand these things, but I believe and worship) "Who knew no sin." And why did He become Sin? For me. "He loved Me, and gave Himself for me."

II. There are times when you and I have come very near to Atheism. When things have gone entirely wrong; when the nearest and dearest have been taken away from us; when all our hopes are shattered, we have said to ourselves, "Well, I doubt really whether there be a God at all. At any rate, if there is one, He has forsaken me!" I do not say that you have passed, but I do say that you may pass, through this gloom. For during the Passion darkness came upon the land, and when you have your passion (it may be at midday or midnight, and though the sun be shining in the heaven yet it may be as dark around you as night) you may say, "I am a God-forsaken man". And He will be near you, I know, and forgive you and excuse you. And when, afterwards, the sun begins to shine upon your life again, and you are sorry you ever said or thought such a thing, you can say to Him, "Thou, dear Saviour, didst say in thine Agony, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" I lie down under Thy cross, and hide myself in Thine Agony, and cover myself with Thy Blood of Redemption".

Matthew 27:46

Such words may not have been uttered, but such despair has been felt by preachers, reformers, and prophets of old time and of all time—by Job, David, and Isaiah; by John the Baptist, St. Francis, Savonarola, George Fox; by Tolstoy and Mazzini. Lama Sabacthani is often the last cry of men whose life seems to end in ignominious failure, but whose very groans have a vital force long after they are gone.

—Frederic Harrison.

References.—XXVII:46.—George Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, p163. A. G. Mortimer, Lenten Preaching, p200. C. J. Vaughan, Words from the Cross, p43. W. Newman, Meditations on the Seven Last Words, p51. W. Wade, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi1902, p123. C. Stovell, ibid. vol. lxv1904, p197. A. F. Winnington Ingram, ibid. vol. lxxiii1908, p276; see also Addresses in Holy Week, 1902, p78; Lenten Addresses, p64. G. W. Herbert, Notes of Sermons, p92. V. S. S. Coles, Good Friday Addresses at St. Paul"s Cathedral, p25. W. Morison, Passio Christi, p20. C. J. Ridgeway, Thoughts for Good Friday, p33. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvi. No2133; vol. xlviii. No2803. F. E. Winslow, Plain Preaching to Poor People (10th Series), p37. J. E. Vernon, Meditations on the Seven Words from the Cross, Plain Preaching to Poor People (6th Series), p34. A. N. Obbard, Plain Sermons, p222. J. Pulsford, Our Deathless Hope, p92. S. D. McConnell, A Year"s Sermons, p71. F. E. Paget, Plain Preaching to Poor People (9th Series), p109.

Matthew 27:47

In His work for man it is the constant fate of God to be misunderstood.


References.—XXVII:47-50.—W. Pulsford, Trinity Church Sermons, p119. Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. iii. p248. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No1869. J. Keble, Sermons for Holy Week, p264. T. R. Stevenson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v. p328. A. P. Stanley, ibid. vol. xvii. p193. G. Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, p163. R. M. McCheyne, Additional Remains, p183. Preacher"s Monthly, vol. i. p294. C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of the Cross and Passion, p150. Clergyman"s Magazine, vol. ii. p153; vol. iv. p89. Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i. p60. W. H. Aitken, Mission Sermons (2Series), p169. XXVII:48, 49.—W. V. Mason, Short Addresses for Holy Week, p32. XXVII:50, 51.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No2015. A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, vol. i. p239. XXVII:50-53.—Spurgeon Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No2059. XXVII:50-54.—Ibid. vol. xxxix. No2311. XXVII:51.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew XVIII-XXVIII. p341. XXVII:52, 53.—R. M. Benson, The Life Beyond the Grave, p43. XXVII:54.—R. W. Hiley, A Year"s Sermons, vol. iii. p136. S. W. Skeffington, The Sinless Sufferer, p93. XXVII:55.—H. R. Haweis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi1899, p24. XXVII:55, 56.—A. F. Winnington Ingram, Addresses in Holy Week, 1902, p30. XXVII:56.—B. D. Johns, Pulpit Notes, p78. XXVII:57-60.—T. A. Gurney, The Living Lord and the Opened Grave, p1. XXVII:60.—V. R. Lennard, Passion-Tide and Easter, p107. XXVII:61.—T. A. Gurney, The Living Lord and the Opened Grave, p19. R. M. Benson, The Life Beyond the Grave, p12. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No1404. XXVII:63.—E. Fowle, Plain Preaching to Poor People (2Series), p39. XXVIII.—R. Steer, The Words of the Angels, p72. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliii. No2518.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 27:11-26. Jesus before Pilate (Mark 15:2-15, Luke 23:2-7; Luke 23:13-25).



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 27:20-26. Result of the appeal to the people.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

His blood be on us; we will bear the blame of his crucifixion: if divine judgments come, let them come on us and our children.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

THE CLOSING SCENES of the Lord’s life are told by Matthew in a way that emphasizes the excessive guilt of the leaders of Israel. This feature has been noticeable all through, and we specially see it in Matthew 23:1-39. The opening verses of this chapter show us that though His official condemnation had to come from Pilate, yet the animus that hounded Him to His death was found with them.

The sequence of the story is broken by a parenthetical paragraph giving us the miserable end of Judas. It looks as if he had expected the Lord to evade His adversaries and pass from their midst as He had done aforetime, but now seeing Him condemned and submitting to their hands he was filled with remorse and horror at what he had done. His was not the genuine “repentance to salvation not to be repented of,” for that goes hand in hand with faith. Now faith was what he lacked, for had he possessed it he would have turned to his Master as did Peter, who also had grievously failed. His eyes were opened to his sin and he confessed it, while also confessing the innocence of Jesus, yet he flung himself out of life and into a suicide’s grave. The very man who was instrumental in handing the Saviour over to His foes had to confess His innocence. God so ordained it; and this is very striking.

The very name, Judas, has become a byword for iniquity, but Annas and Caiaphas were worse than he. Verse Matthew 27:4 shows this. Judas betrayed innocent blood and they condemned it. He at least had some feeling of remorse for what he had done—sufficient to drive him to self-destruction. They had no feeling whatever. What was innocent blood to them? They had no compunction in shedding it, nor had they any fear of the God who requites evil. They were prepared to “murder the innocent,” saying in their hearts, “Thou wilt not require it” (Psalms 10:8, Psalms 10:13). Had they the smallest fear of God they would never have said, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” as recorded in our chapter.

Judas never profited by his thirty pieces of silver. Seduced and ultimately possessed by the devil, he threw away everything for nothing. That is always the end of the story when silly little men attempt to drive a bargain with the giant spirit of evil. The silver was now again in the hands of the priests and became the occasion for them to crown their other sins with supreme hypocrisy. With legal scrupulosity they could not put it in the treasury because it was the price of blood. But who made it such? Why, they themselves! So they fulfilled the scripture by buying the potter’s field. Their act became public, and thus the field acquired its name. The irony of Divine governmental judgment can be discerned in the name, for that land has been a field of blood and a burial place for strangers ever since that day; and will be yet in larger measure, and until the day when at last the Redeemer shall come to Zion.

The religious authorities had now handed Jesus over to the civil governor, and verses Matthew 27:11-26 relate what transpired before him. When examined by Pilate before the multitude Jesus only uttered two words, “Thou sayest,” the equivalent of one English word, “Yes,” He confessed that He indeed was the King of the Jews, which was the specific charge laid at His door in the presence of the Roman power. The three Synoptic Gospels agree on this point. John records other questions raised by Pilate and answered by the Lord in the comparative privacy of the judgment hall, and three times he records Pilate going out from thence to the people. As far as the public examination was concerned Jesus “answered nothing,” for there was really nothing to answer; as Pilate very soon perceived, though he marvelled greatly. He was well versed in the subtle ways of the Jews and his acute legal mind soon discerned that envy was at the bottom of the prosecution. On the other hand he feared the people and wished to stand well with them.

Hence Pilate had a strangely disturbed mind. To condemn Jesus he must violate his judicial sense as well as his wife’s dream and intuition. He was evidently agitated as the subterfuge failed, by which he hoped to extricate himself from the dilemma. The accusing multitude was agitated by the cunning priests and elders. The only serene figure in the terrible scene is that of the Prisoner Himself. We see Pilate virtually abdicating as to his judicial function in the case and throwing the responsibility on the people. He did not really absolve himself of course, but it did lead to the people putting themselves under full responsibility for the blood of their Messiah. In verse Matthew 27:25 we find the explanation of the sorrows that fell upon the people, and that have continued to dog the footsteps of their children to this day. They have yet to face the great tribulation before the account is settled according to the government of God.

Barabbas was released and Jesus condemned to be crucified, and next (verses Matthew 27:27-37) we see Jesus in the hands of the Roman soldiers. Here we see vulgar mockery, brutality, and at last the act of crucifixion. To complete His humiliation they numbered Him amongst the transgressors by placing a thief on either hand. There was no justice, no mercy, no ordinary compassion whether He was in the hands of the religious, the civil or the military authorities. Jew and Gentile alike condemned themselves in condemning Him.

Verses Matthew 27:39-44 show us how all classes united in reviling Him as He was dying on the cross. Deep-dyed criminals have had to listen to stern words when they have been condemned to death, but we have not heard of even the most atrocious and depraved being mocked in their death agonies. Yet this is what happened when He who was the embodiment of all perfection, Divine as well as human, was on the cross. There was no difference, save in the type of language used. “They that passed by” were the ordinary folk on business bent. “The chief priests... with the scribes and elders” were the upper classes. “The thieves also... cast the same in His teeth.” They represented the lowest, the criminal class; but they only followed the fashion in their crude and vulgar way. He was the Son of God and the King of Israel: He could have displayed His might then as easily as He will display it in judgment very shortly. Then He was displaying Divine love by remaining where men had put Him with wicked hands, and bearing the judgment of sin Himself.

Matthew does not develop this in a doctrinal way, but he does pass on to record the solemn three hours of darkness, about the end of which time the holy Sufferer uttered with a loud voice the cry that had been written by the Spirit of prophecy in the opening words of Psalms 22:1-31, a thousand years before. The answer to the cry is supplied in the third verse of the Psalm, “Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” A holy God can only dwell in the praises of sinful people if atonement be wrought by the bearing of sin’s judgment. The forsaking was the inevitable result of the One who knew no sin being made sin for us. The onlookers knew nothing of this: indeed they did not seem able to distinguish between God and Elijah.

After this there was, as verse Matthew 27:50 records, a last loud cry, and then the yielding up of His spirit. The actual words of that last cry are given us partly in John and partly in Luke. It was loud, showing that His strength was not impaired, and so the yielding up of His spirit was His own deliberate act. His death was supernatural and it was at once followed by supernatural signs, indicating its significance and power.

The first of these acts of God touched the veil of the temple, which typified His flesh, as Hebrews 10:1-39 tells us. Under the law “the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” (Hebrews 9:8); but now it is made manifest, for the death of Christ is the basis of our approach to God. The second act touched the material creation, for the earth quaked, the rocks were rent, and graves opened. The third touched the bodies of sleeping saints, and after His arising they arose and appeared to many in Jerusalem. A threefold witness was thus rendered in most striking manner. The first concerned the presence of God, but it took place in the type of the veil, which was seen by the eyes of the priests alone. The second in the realm of nature must have been felt by everybody. The third, doubtless, was for the eyes of true saints alone. In addition to these signs the sun had previously been darkened. There was ample witness to the wonder of that hour, yet we do not read of any being impressed save the centurion on duty and those with him. In his heart was wrought the conviction that here was the Son of God—the very thing that His own people denied, and still deny.

As is often the case, when the men fail in courage and devotion the women supply the lack. The disciples had disappeared but many women lingered round the scene though standing afar off. One man, however came forward and had the courage to identify himself with the dead Christ, begging His body from Pilate, and he an unexpected one. He was a disciple of Jesus but hitherto a secret one, as we are told in John’s Gospel. Here was the rich man with the new tomb, who so acted that Isaiah 53:9 was fulfilled. We know of nothing that Joseph of Arimathaea did save this one thing. God never fails to have a servant of His will who shall fulfil His Word. Joseph was born into the world to fulfil that one brief prophetic statement and so, though men would have appointed His grave with the wicked, He was with the rich in His death.

The women who were witnesses of His death and His burial were marked by devotion but not by intelligence. It was His bitter enemies who remembered that He had predicted that He would rise from the dead. Their hatred sharpened their memories and their wits, and led to their deputation to Pilate with a request for special precautions to be taken. His achievements in life they repudiated, regarding them as the first error. They dreaded lest His resurrection should be established, realizing that it would have far more potent effects. It would to their minds be the last error and worse than the first. It would inevitably vindicate Him and condemn them, as they saw very well.

As with Joseph so with these men Pilate was in an acquiescent mood. Their request was granted: the watch of soldiers was set, but it does seem as if there was a touch of irony in his words, “Make it as sure as ye can.” They did all they could, and in result accomplished nothing save putting the fact of His resurrection beyond all reasonable doubt when once He was risen, and their elaborate arrangements were all brushed aside. God turned their wisdom into folly and made their scheme serve His own purpose and overthrow their own.

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


Matthew 27:22-31

No judge ought to have asked the crowd what he should do. But every man has to do with Christ. He is ever standing before the bar of conscience, and each of us must accept or condemn, do homage or crucify. If we do not pronounce for Him, we pronounce against Him; and there is a moment when our verdict becomes irrevocable. “What I have written, I have written.” We are all writing our legend, and affixing it to the Cross for the universe to read, and a day comes when it is irreversible.

We may wash our hands after the deed of treachery is done, but water will not avail for Pilate, for Lady Macbeth, or for us. We need the blood of Christ, ere we can be cleansed from all sin, 1 John 5:6.

The King of men must wear a crown of the thorns with which sin is so closely identified. See Genesis 3:18. Only thus can the crown of universal empire be won! The robe of mockery must precede His Ascension vesture. The reed is appropriate, for it is through such that he wins and rules. See Isaiah 42:3; Isaiah 57:15.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible


1. Delivered unto Pilate.(Matthew 27:1-2.)
2. The Suicide of Judas.(
Matthew 27:3-10.)
3. Before Pilate. (
Matthew 27:11-14.)
4. The Awful Choice.(
Matthew 27:15-26.)
5. Crowned with Thorns and Crucified.(
Matthew 27:27-44.)
6. The Death of the King. (
Matthew 27:45-50.)
7. The Rent Veil and the Earthquake.(
Matthew 27:51-56.)
8. The Burial. (
Matthew 27:57-66.)

In this great chapter we follow the Lamb of God to the cross. What a journey it was! He, who had lived that wonderful life, had healed the sick, commanded the demons, raised the dead, He, who is announced in the beginning of this Gospel to be Immanuel, God manifested in flesh, the Beloved of the Father is in the hands of men, led away to the cross. What sufferings were His? Who is able to follow the depths of that shame, which He despised, the cross which He endured? But feebly we can meditate on these things, which He suffered in our stead.

The previous chapter closed with that sad record of Peter’s denial and his bitter weeping. The Lord had given His great confession before the high priest, the confession of truth, which resulted in His being condemned to death. The morning had come after this eventful night. (We cannot enter here into the chronology of that week to correct some of the errors of the traditional View.) There was no sleep for many in that night. The Son of God who had watched and prayed in the garden saw no sleep; dragged along He was and reviled by sinners. Peter saw [little] sleep; he went out and wept. The forsaking disciples [had little] sleep; they had fled terror stricken. The chief priests waked and plotted on how to proceed against the Holy One in putting Him into the hands of the Roman governor. Securely bound they led Him away through the streets of Jerusalem, to hand Him over to Pontius Pilate. (Matthew 27:1-2) What humiliation for Him to be thus led away! What a contrast with that which happened a few days before, when He was welcomed by the multitudes as the King of Israel!

But before we see Him standing in the presence of the roman governor, the Holy Spirit gives us the record of what became of Judas. “Then Judas, who delivered Him up, seeing that He had been condemned, filled with remorse, returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, I have sinned in having delivered up guiltless blood” (Matthew 27:3-4). No doubt he stood there and witnessed all what was done to the Lord. He too spent a sleepless night. He saw the meek and lowly One, buffeted and spit upon. It left him all unmoved; there was no love for the Lord in that heart. Did he expect the Lord to manifest that power of which he, the traitor had been so often an eye witness? Perhaps this very thought it was, which Satan, who had entered into him suggested. His love for money, Satan used as bait. He may have whispered “You get the money and he will take care of Himself. He will not die but get free.” Thus Judas was deceived to sell the Lord. What a sin covetousness, the love of money is! It is the root of all evil; it is idolatry. And this sin is one of the great sins of the present day. Its worst feature is that betrayal of the Lord and His truth, for “filthy lucre’s sake” which goes on in Christendom. Professed teachers, who are described in the Epistle of Jude and in the Second Epistle of Peter, who are nothing but natural men, not having the Spirit, who use great swelling words, which the world calls “oratory” are betraying the Lord as Judas did. They are rushing too in a darkness, just as dense as that into which Judas rushed that night. The Word declares “to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

He goes to the priests, who were just as much under that satanic power as he was. He gives them his confession. He has betrayed guiltless blood. That much at least he acknowledges. Then he hanged himself. This is the way Satan uses his victims. He deceives; he is a master in reasoning in a subtle way. He leads on and on, deeper and deeper and when the sin is committed he leads into despair and drags his victim down with himself into the place, which is prepared for him and his angels. Oh, what grace and blessing, to be delivered from the power of darkness, from that awful master. Judas after committing suicide went to his place (Acts 1:25). The view given out by some teachers that Judas will come out of his place, to which he departed, and that he will be the final antichrist, the man of sin, is highly fanciful; one does well to beware of such views.

The silver pieces he cast into the temple and the priests, as covetous as Judas, stoop down to pick them up. That which follows is only reported in this Gospel, in the other Gospel records no mention is made of the fate of Judas. It is put only in the Gospel of Matthew on account of its dispensational bearing. The priests judge very religiously that it is not lawful to put the money into the Corban, the treasury of the temple. They decide to buy with the pieces of silver, the field of the potter for a burying ground for strangers. This was in partial fulfillment of what was spoken by Jeremias. The full prophecy is found in Zechariah, but the Spirit calls here attention to what is also spoken by Jeremias. We read in that book (Chapters 17 and 19) of a potter’s field, which was situated on the side of the valley of Hinnom. That valley is also called “Tophet”, a fearful type with its awful memories of Gehenna. Perhaps there, Judas had ended his earthly existence, and after hanging himself had fallen down, and burst asunder. This potter’s field was bought with the blood money.

“By a fiction of law the money was still considered to be Judas’, and to have been applied by him in the purchase of that potter’s field, for the charitable purpose of burying in it strangers. But from henceforth the name of potter’s field, became popularly changed into that of “field of blood.” And yet it was the act of Israel through its leaders. It was all theirs, though they would have fain made it all Judas’: the valuing, the selling and the purchasing. And “the potter’s field”, the very spot on which Jeremiah had been divinely directed to prophecy against Jerusalem and against Israel, how was it now all fulfilled in the light of the completed sin and apostasy of the people, as prophetically described by Zechariah! This Tophet of Jeremiah, now that they had valued and sold at thirty shekels Israel ‘s Messiah-Shepherd -- truly a Tophet, and become a field of blood! Surely not an accidental coincidence this, that it should be the place of Jeremiah’s announcement of judgment, not accidental, but veritably a fulfillment of this prophecy. (Edersheim Life and Times of the Messiah.)

Prophetically all is a foreshadowing of what was to happen to Israel and Israel ‘s land on account of the bloodguiltiness, which they took upon themselves. Israel ‘s land becoming “a burying place for strangers” and Israel scattered among the nations, finding their graves in Haqal Dama, a field of blood.

We see Him now before Pilate, the Gentile governor, where He was to be condemned to die; the Jews had no power and right to execute any one. First He was condemned by the Jews and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, who also condemned Him. The crowning sin of the world was therefore committed by both, the Jews and the Gentiles. Israel ‘s long promised Messiah and King was delivered by His own people into the hands of the Roman governor, the Gentile power, which was oppressing them. The charge which the leaders of the nation had brought against the Lord before Pilate was the charge of being a rebel; one who made himself king in opposition to the Roman authority. An immense multitude of people must have followed Him to the Praetorium. The governor questions Him without delay, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” The answer comes at once from his lips “Thou sayest.” How brief and full of dignity! Then the accusation of the chief priests and elders began. One after the other spoke. They accused Him urgently, we read in the Gospel of Mark. Perhaps one tried to outdo the other in slandering Him and speaking malicious lies about Him. The Holy Spirit has not given us the detailed accusations they brought against Him; they all were undoubtedly of a political nature. But there He stood, the lamb of God and opened not His mouth. How calm He was in that Babel of voices. There was no need for Him to defend Himself against these unjust accusations. And the Gentile governor, the sharp, worldly, Roman politician wonders at that strange behaviour. Many a time accused criminals had been brought before him and he had witnessed their eagerness in defending themselves. Here stands one in his presence, who does not open His mouth. Nor does He say another word to Pilate after he had questioned him, so that Pilate wondered exceedingly. Such a prisoner had never been before him. He knew he was guiltless.

They had a custom, for how long we do not know, that on the feast the Roman governor would liberate a great criminal, under condemnation. As we read in the Gospel of Mark, the multitude began crying out and to beg, that he would do to them as he had always done. One notable criminal was at that time in custody; his name was Barabbas. Significant name! Translated it means “the son of the father.” The old Syriac version adds another name, the very name which our Lord bore on the earth, the name of Jesus. “Jesus Barabbas” -- a miserable, satanic counterfeit of the true “Son of the Father.” Who was he? He was an insurgent and had committed murder. May he not have been a false Messiah, one of these satanic instruments, who attempted to become leaders? It is not unreasonable to believe this; in all probability he was just such a character.

“Pilate said to them, whom will ye that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? For he knew that they had delivered Him up through envy.” What a scene! Barabbas still in prison, the guilty one; and here before a great multitude of people, among them the elders and the priests, moving around and whispering their satanic council in the ears of the people, there stands securely bound the Holy One, the blessed Lord, in His solemn silence. But ere the question is answered something else happens. We see a messenger coming in haste towards the seat which the governor occupies. He carries an important message, which Pilate has to see at once. The message was from his wife.

“But, as he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with this righteous man; for I have suffered today many things in a dream, because of Him” (Matthew 27:19). It was a solemn warning aimed at the conscience of the superstitious Roman. He knew the victim was without guilt. God in His mercy gave the Gentile a warning. He heeded it not.

The pause, which had come in was well used by the chief priests and the elders for they went among the multitudes and persuaded them that they should beg for Barabbas and to destroy Jesus. Fearful deed it was!

And now he puts the important question: “Which of the two will ye that I release unto you?” It does not take long to bring forth the answer. Barabbas is the people’s choice. Barabbas! Barabbas! Not a voice was heard for the Lord. Where were now the multitudes who had followed Him? Where they who had cried “Hosanna”? If one of them was present they kept silent for fear of the wicked leaders. But Pilate convinced of the awful choice, which had been made, against the authority which he had, makes another attempt: “What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?” What a solemn question it was; and it is so still. The question was answered there and it must also be answered by every, person to whom the Lord Jesus Christ is offered. He must either be accepted as Saviour and Lord or rejected. The choice decides the eternal destiny; those who accept Him and own Him as their Saviour are saved and all who reject Him as Son of God and Saviour are lost. Pilate’s second question is answered by a great cry, that fearful cry: “Let Him be crucified.” Again Pilate asks: “What evil then has He done?” But his voice is drowned in a greater demand: “Let Him be crucified.” Pilate was fully convinced of the innocence of the silent victim before him, but miserable coward he was, he would not act. When he saw he availed nothing and a great tumult was rising, he took water, washed his hands before the crowd and said: “I am guiltless of the blood of this righteous one, see ye to it.” A Roman ceremony this was not, but we think rather that he borrowed it from the Jews themselves. Deuteronomy 21:6; 2 Samuel 3:28; Psalms 26:6 at least refer to what he did here. Pilate with his “See ye to it” casts the bloodguiltiness upon the Jews. The chief priests and elders had used almost the same phrase in speaking to Judas: “See thou to it,” they had said. And what did they answer to the governor’s action and “see ye to it” his word to them? And all the people answering said, “His blood be on us and our children. Then he released unto them Barabbas; but Jesus, having scourged Him, he delivered up that He might be crucified.”

Terrible answer it was. Barabbas is the nation’s choice and the blood of the Holy One is wished by them upon their heads and the heads of their children. Has that awful wish been granted? Let the history of the Jews answer down to the present day. How His blood came upon them and their children; the end is not yet. Barabbas has been their choice and there is still that false Christ to come, who comes in his own name and whom they will receive.

Delivered up to be crucified. The Holy One is now in the hands of cruel, wicked men and all the suffering, shame and cruelty sinful man energized by Satan is capable of inflicting was heaped upon the king, the Lord of Glory. Who could describe that scene, which is before us? Painters have attempted to picture the terrible ordeal on canvas. Recently Tissot has produced pictures, which the world calls “realistic” of great artistic value. Miserable, blasphemous works they are indeed, the imaginations of the human mind. What was done to Him and what He suffered in our stead no brush, no pen, no tongue can tell. The hands tied, the back bent, the cruel scourge of cruel Rome fell upon the Son of God. Satanic hatred against the Holy One supplied the strength to inflict that awful punishment, which Roman writers called “the intermediated death” preceding death by crucifixion. At last that Holy body was a mass of torn and bleeding flesh.

Then the wicked Gentile soldiers began their mockery.

“Then the soldiers of the governor, having taken Jesus with them to the praetorium, gathered against Him the whole band, and having taken off His garment, put on Him a scarlet cloak, and having woven a crown of thorns they put it on His head; and a reed in His right hand; and bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And having spit upon Him, they took the reed and beat Him upon His head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the cloak off Him, and put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified” (Matthew 27:27-30.

A whole cohort of rough, barbaric soldiers are now taking hold of the willing victim. After that terrible scourging, the most awful indignities were heaped upon Him. First they tore His clothes from His outraged body, most likely in eager haste to have their sport with Him. Then they cast a scarlet cloak on Him. That garment was worn by kings, and the scarlet color was produced by the coccus cacti, the crushed insect. Then they wove a crown of thorns and put it on His blessed Head. The crown must have been put upon Him by these instruments of Satan, to inflict pain and to ridicule Him. The crown of thorns also points us back to the garden in which the first man fell. Thorns became the witnesses of the curse, as they are still in nature. The second Man, the Holy One, takes the curse upon His own head. They put a reed, a weak, perishable reed in His hand, the hand which upholds all things, the hand which had been outstretched in blessing over the weak, the erring, the sick, the blind and which had touched the leper; that mighty hand holds the reed, a scepter of mockery. And then the satanic drama of mockery and ridicule is complete. One after the other, these wicked men come and bow the knee before Him, they mock Him. “Oh Joy! or, Rejoice! King of the Jews.” This was their greeting. But they get up from their position and spit upon Him and take the reed and beat Him on His head.

What a scene for us to contemplate! Who can measure its depths! The Son of God, He who came from the bosom of the Father, the Only Begotten, whose Glory Isaiah had seen, insulted, outraged, spit upon trampled upon by His vile creatures. And oh! reader, it was our sin which did it. How affecting to our hearts it should be and indeed it is. How He did love us to give Himself to such shame and suffering.

In that hour it was fulfilled what His Spirit had predicted of His suffering. “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off my hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). And through it all He opened not His mouth. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

And as we gaze upon this scene once more we behold His Glory as well. The scene of His shame and rejection, of mockery and suffering is prophetic of His exaltation and Glory.

He is the King in Glory; the King of kings and Lord of lords. The royal garment is His. The crown of thorne gives way to the many crowns which His brow will wear. The scepter is His. Every knee must bow before Him and every tongue confess Him Lord, to the praise of God the Father. The highest Glory He reached through suffering, the crown through the cross, because He loved such as we are; because God wants us to be with Him in all eternity. Oh! glorious, blessed Gospel, how sweet to our hearts!

Thy holy head, once bound with thorns, The crown of glory now adorns; Thy seat, the Father’s throne; O Lord, e’en now we sing Thy praise, Ours the eternal song to raise-- Worthy the Lord alone!

As Head for us Thou sittest there, Until Thy members too shall share In all Thou dost receive: Thy glory and Thy royal throne Thy boundless love has made our own Who in Thy name believe.

We triumph in Thy triumphs, Lord; Thy joys our deepest joys afford, The fruit of love divine. While sorrow’ng, suff’ring, toiling here How does the thought our spirits cheer The throne of glory’s Thine.

And now they led Him away that He should be crucified. “Once more was He unrobed and robed. The purple robe was torn from His bleeding body, the crown of thorns from His bleeding brow. Arrayed again in His own, now blood stained, garments, He was led forth to execution. Only about two hours and a half had passed since the time that He had first stood before Pilate (about half-past six), when the melancholy procession reached Golgotha (at nine A.M.).” (Edersheim)

“And as they went forth they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to go with them that he might bear His cross. And having come to a place called Golgotha, which means place of a skull, they gave Him to drink vinegar mingled with gall; and having tasted it He would not drink” (Matthew 27:32-35).

Physical weakness made it necessary that one should carry His cross. Was there ever such a procession seen before! The Lamb of God led forth to suffer outside of the camp! Oh, the man of sorrows, how He must have looked when they dragged Him to the place of death! But though He did not carry the cross and was weakened, yet He could not succumb at this point. The soldiers had led forth, no doubt, many a one to a similar death. Perhaps some died before the nails could be driven through the hands and feet. Did they fear that this might be the case with Him, whom they had maltreated, dishonored and mocked? Or was it mercy, which offered Him vinegar mingled with gall? Mercy, we believe it was not. It was a stimulant which they offered Him. They knew not that the Life which was in their hands could not succumb; no one could take that life from Him. He would not drink what was given to Him; He did not seek relief, He did not need it. His loving will was to endure all the suffering in perfect consciousness. But there is a prophecy that He should drink vinegar and gall in His suffering (Psalms 69:1-36). When the right moment had come for the fulfillment of that prophecy, He said, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “I thirst.” Then He drank. Before the crucifixion He refused the vinegar and the gall. Golgotha, the place where they took Him, must have been to the north of Jerusalem. It was outside of the gate near gardens, in which were tombs.

Here they crucified Him. No description of the act itself is given in any of the Gospels. Crucifixion was the most horrible torturing mode of putting criminals to death; it originated in Phoenicia and was adopted by the Roman government. The Jews themselves knew nothing of putting transgressors to death by the cross. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit does not describe the awful act, the nailing of the Lord to the cross, we shall not attempt it. Lifted up, His hands and feet pierced by nails, every muscle stretched and life’s blood pouring out, He hung on the cross, suffering the unspeakable tortures of such a death.

Prophecy is now being fulfilled. All the predictions of His sufferings come true. That what was foreshadowed in the different offerings and sacrifices, is now beheld in its deep and awful reality. The heavenly Isaac is upon the altar and the hand of God about to smite Him; there is no deliverance from the cup, He drinks it to the last drop.

The 22nd Psalm, that great prophecy concerning the sinbearer, comes first of all into view. “They parted His clothes amongst themselves, casting lots.” This was foretold by David (Psalms 22:18). It is said that the division of the garments of the victims was a Roman custom. But there is a deeper significance than a mere fulfillment of a prophecy. His enemies, those who nailed Him to the cross, received His clothes. And so for His naked creature He has provided the robe of righteousness by His death on the cross.

In the next place the superscription is mentioned. “And they set over His head His accusation written: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” A board on which the crime of the condemned was written was generally carried before the criminal, who was led forth to the place of execution through the crowded streets. This custom was most likely followed with our Lord. Pilate himself had the superscription drawn up and it was written in three languages: Latin, Greek and the Aramaean dialect of Hebrew. We can not follow here the report of the different Gospel records about the writing above the cross. The one here in Matthew was undoubtedly the Latin inscription, while the fullest, as reported by John “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” was written in Aramean and the one in Mark “The King of the Jews” is the Greek inscription. Pilate could not help himself, he had to write as he did, though he may have had the thought in mind to avenge himself and to mock the Jews. In spite of the hating Jews He received His true title and that from the Gentile. There it stood written and could not be changed; so it is still. Jesus of Nazareth, the despised, the rejected One, is the King of the Jews, one of His titles; the throne of His Father David is His and in the wider sense He will be the King of kings.

“Then are crucified with Him two robbers, one on the right hand and one on the left.” Another fulfillment of Scripture. “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

“But the passers-by reviled Him, shaking their heads and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou art the Son of God, descend from the cross. And in like manner the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and the elders, said, He saved others, Himself He cannot save. He is the King of Israel; let Him descend from the cross, and we will believe on Him. He trusted upon God, let Him save Him now if He will have Him. For He said, I am Son of God. And the robbers also who had been crucified with Him cast the same reproaches on Him” (Matthew 27:43-44).

We behold still deeper sufferings of the Holy One. We listen again to the voice of prophecy. “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalms 69:20). There is none to pity in the scene before us. He is alone cruelly mocked and He must have felt the reproach as only one who is absolutely holy could have felt it. He was reviled but He reviled not again. Our Gospel does not report a single word coming from His lips. From the Gospel of Luke we learn that the first word He had spoken after He had been lifted up, was that wonderful prayer “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He is silent to the cruel and vile mockeries, born in the pit, the very breath of Satan. The old accusation is once more held up against Him. Little they knew that they were fulfilling that very Word about destroying the temple and that the third day, when He would arise as the mighty victor was not far hence.

But it was not only the rabble of the street, the low down element, the uncultured mob which mocked Him, but the chief priests, the elders had gone out to help in reproaching Him. They had come to deride Him in His agony. What awful depravity this reveals. It is astonishing to see that these cultured religionists in their fearful blindness quoted Scripture, when they gazed upon Him. They had said, “He is King of Israel; let Him descend now from the cross, and we will believe on Him.” The great King of Israel, David, had written by the Spirit that great prophetic psalm of the suffering One, the Twenty-second. They knew that Psalm well. The ancient synagogue even had given this Psalm a Messianic interpretation. The sufferer there in that Psalm cries out, “But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” They gazed upon this great suffering One. “All they that see me laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, they shake the head.” They saw the laughing throng, the cruelly mocking crowds, and they themselves joined in. But there is more than that. The wicked enemies of the great sufferer speak in that Psalm. The very Words they were to utter in the presence of the forsaken sufferer, the words with which they were to revile Him are given. “He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.” (Matthew 27:8.) These very words the sneering chief priests, elders and scribes uttered before the cross. What awful blindness had come upon them! But more solemn still and full of meaning are the words they also said. “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” How true, He saved others. And what a confession from their lips that He did save others. They owned His divine power and yet they rejected Him. He could not save Himself, for He would not. He had come to save others, and that could only be accomplished by taking the place of those He came to save. He had to die on the cross; Himself He could not save.

The robbers, too, cast the same reproaches on Him. The one, indeed, becomes ere he dies the mighty trophy of His Grace and hears from the blessed Lord that marvelous word, “Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” As this incident does not belong into this Gospel we pass it by.

The deepest agony has not yet been reached. Awful as the physical and mental sufferings of the Son of God must have been, there was still greater suffering before Him, a suffering before which all the other sufferings pale. Up to this point He had suffered from wicked men, energized by the devil. But now He is approaching the moment when He who knew no sin is to be made sin, when, instead of suffering from men, He is to suffer from God Himself. The cup from which His holy Being shrank He takes now to drink to the last drop.

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour; But about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45-47).

A solemn darkness settled over the whole land. Was it a darkness which covered the entire earth? Hardly, for in a part of the world it was night and darkness was not possible. No doubt the darkness covered the entire land and perhaps the entire Roman world. It enshrouded the cross with the great sufferer so that He was no longer visible to those who kept guard and those who looked on. That it was not an eclipse of the sun is learned from the fact that it was full moon at that time. It was a supernatural darkness. At the termination of the darkness about the ninth hour we hear His voice out of the darkness. About the ninth hour He cried, not in feebleness, but with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” But what is the meaning of this darkness? It was the outer sign of what passed over Him, who was then the sinner’s substitute before a holy and righteous God. God had hidden His face from Him; He was forsaken by God Himself. His cry explains the meaning of the darkness, and the darkness gives us the meaning of His bitter cry. God had turned from Him, left Him, who had taken the sinner’s place. He then bore our sins, was made sin for us and was the offering for sin. But who can fathom it? Who can understand the deep mystery, the deep suffering when the holy and righteous God dealt with sin in Him, who had no sin, but who was made sin?

“He was alone with God, made sin; nothing to turn aside the cup of justice; nothing to deaden it. The power which was in Him did not shelter Him; it rendered Him capable of bearing that which weighed on His soul, the feeling of the horror of the curse in the measure in which the love of the Father was familiar to Him, the feeling of that which it was to be made sin in the measure of the divine holiness which was in Him. Neither the one nor the other could be measured. He drank then the cup of judgment of God against sin. All forces Him to utter the cry, a cry which we are allowed to hear that we might know what passed there, the reality of atonement: ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ It is a forsaking which none can fathom, save He who felt it.” (John N. Darby.)

Oh the blessed mystery of what transpired then in those three hours of darkness! It is true we cannot fathom it. We cannot know what it cost to make reconciliation, but we know the great work was done. The just died for the unjust that He might bring us to God. All done for us that God might be just and the justifier of him, who believes in Jesus. “And some of those who stood there, when they heard it said, This man calls for Elias. And immediately one of them running and getting a sponge, having filled it with vinegar and fixed it on a reed, gave Him to drink. But the rest said, Let be; let us see if Elias comes to save Him” (Matthew 27:47-50). Who were those who said, This man calls for Elias? It is generally assumed that they were some of the soldiers. They knew perhaps little of Hebrew, it is said, and mistook the word “Eli” My God, for Elias. But against this it must be said that they equally knew little or nothing of Elias. We think rather the persons were mocking Jews, who understood the words and made them the occasion of new mockery. At this time it happened what is more fully recorded in the Gospel of John. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, says, I thirst.” Then they gave Him to drink after which He gave up the spirit. The work was done in the three hours of darkness. After that little unfulfilled Scripture is fulfilled at the right time He said, “It is finished.”

But here in our Gospel we read “And Jesus having cried again with a loud voice dismissed His spirit.” It is significant that twice we read of His loud voice. There was no sign and evidence of exhaustion. His life was not taken from Him but He gave His life; He laid it down Himself. The King Himself, when the moment had come, dismissed His spirit. And now we behold a three-fold result of His death. The veil in the temple was rent. The earth was shaken, and the tomb’s were opened and the centurion made his confession as well as those who were with him.

“And lo, the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to the bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints fallen asleep arose, and, going out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered into the holy city and appeared unto many. But the centurion, and they that were with him on guard over Jesus, seeing the earthquake and the things that took place, feared greatly, saying, Truly this man was Son of God” (Matthew 27:51-54).

The rent veil is the first event following the death of the Lord. The veil was the inner one of the temple, dividing the holy of holies from the holy part. It was not an earthquake, which rent this heavy veil, but the power of God. It was done from above and not from below, “from top to bottom.” It must have happened just about the time when the priests entered the holy part at the evening sacrifice. What terror must have seized these officiating priests when they beheld that unseen hand throwing open the most holy place. It has been suggested that this miracle was responsible that so many priests became converted in Jerusalem. For we read in the Book of Acts “and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). The veil itself was the sign that man was barred from coming to God; that heavy, solid veil, ever gave that testimony that it is impossible for man to approach God. The rent veil shows that it has been made possible. The rent veil declares that the great sacrifice on the cross of the spotless Lamb of God has been accepted. It is the first great answer of God to the majestic word of the dying Saviour, “It is finished.” It likewise shows that the Jewish ceremonial law is fulfilled and ended. Most beautiful and uplifting is that inspired reference to this great event in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say His flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of Hope without wavering; for He is the faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:19-23).

In the next place the earth was shaken, the rocks were rent, and the tombs opened. This statement is peculiar to Matthew; we do not find it in the other Gospel records. The death of the King shook the earth and rent the rocks. The opened tombs declared the glorious news, that His death hath broken the bands of death forever; through death He destroyed him, that had the power of death, the devil (Hebrews 2:14). The interpretation that the rocks were rent and the graves opened, because the Lord in spirit descended into hades, we reject as unscriptural and fanciful, leading towards more serious errors. The Lord did not descend into hades; He went to paradise.

But besides this great sign, showing the captivity led captive, the power of death destroyed by His death, we read something else. “Many bodies of the saints fallen asleep arose, and going out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered into the holy city and appeared to many.” The reader notices that the resurrection of the bodies of these saints did not take place immediately after the Lord had dismissed His spirit. They came forth after His resurrection. They could not precede Him. He is the first fruits, and these saints could not rise till He was risen on the third day. But why is it mentioned here and not in the next chapter in connection with His own resurrection? It belongs there historically. It is put here by the Holy Spirit to show the effect of the great work accomplished on the cross, the efficacy of the death of our Saviour. Death is now to be swallowed up in victory. “Where O death is thy sting? Where O death thy victory? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin the law. But thanks to God, who gives us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinth 15:55-57). By His death the great work of deliverance has been accomplished, and this makes resurrection possible. The rising of the bodies of these saints is a solemn and glorious anticipation of the first resurrection, soon to come. These risen Saints, who came forth after He had left the grave, entered actually in the holy city and appeared to many. It was another mighty, supernatural witness of what had been wrought. But one might ask many questions in connection with this event. Who were they? What became of them? Where are they now? To whom did they appear and for what purpose? These questions and similar ones are unanswerable. It is useless to speculate about it. It is well in these days to abide very close to the written Word.

And the third event, the confession of the Saviour as Son of God by the centurion and the company of soldiers under him. In Luke and Mark we find the centurion mentioned alone, but here it is the entire company. They were Gentiles, heathen. The earthquake, the darkness, the loud voice which had spoken from the cross, all had filled these poor pagans with fear and from their lips, gazing up to the cross where He had bowed His adorable head, came the confession “Son of God.” No such word came from Jewish lips. What a prophetic foreshadowing again. The Gentiles were to believe on Him. That for which they had condemned them and delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles is confessed by those who had put Him to death.

The work was finished, and God made it impossible that any other indignities could be put upon Him, whose body could not see corruption. It was customary to leave the bodies of the crucified hanging on the cross, the prey of wild birds. What happened about the breaking of the bones and the spear thrust is not recorded in our Gospel, but is fully made known in the Gospel of John. We mention it, therefore, briefly without attempting an exposition. “The Jews, therefore, that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for it was the preparation, for the day of that Sabbath was a great day, demanded of Pilate that their legs might be broken and they taken away.” Had they succeeded, instruments of Satan as they were, the Scriptures would have been broken. But what happened? “The soldiers, therefore, came and broke the legs of the first and of the other that had been crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who saw it bears witness, and his witness is true, that ye also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Not a bone of Him shall be broken. And again another Scripture says, They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (John 19:32-37).

Then there were many women who witnessed the sufferings of the second man how He bore the curse. They gazed upon Him from afar (Matthew 27:55-56).

“Now when even was come a rich man of Arimathea, his name Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He going to Pilate begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given up. And Joseph having got the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn in the rock; and having rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, went away. But Mary of Magdala was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the sepulchre” (Matthew 27:57-61).

Who was this Joseph of Arimathea? A wealthy man of the Jews and a secret disciple of the Lord Jesus. He was an honorable councillor, belonging to the Sanhedrin, who also himself was awaiting the kingdom of God (Mark 15:43). He was a good man and just. When the Sanhedrin had come together to condemn the Holy One Joseph of Arimathea had not assented to their counsel and deed (Luke 23:51). Fear of the Jews had kept his discipleship in the background, but now when the Lord had expired on the cross, and after the mighty events, which had taken place, he comes boldly to the front. His fear became a holy boldness. During the earthly life of the Lord, though he knew Him and believed on Him, fear kept him back from avowing openly his discipleship; but now as His Lord had died He makes His great confession of Him before the Jews, the Sanhedrin and the Gentiles as well. He went right to Pilate. This person had the authority to dispose of the bodies of the crucified. Generally they were, after all dishonor had been done to them, thrown in the malefactors’ graves. He then begged for the body of Jesus, and Pilate consented readily and gave his permission. The death of Christ had made a deep impression upon the Roman governor. That Jesus should have died so soon was a great amazement to Pilate. He called for the centurion to get the details from him and perhaps that official gave him his conviction that the crucified One was Son of God (Mark 15:44). And now to the astonishment of Pilate the well known, prominent and wealthy Joseph comes and begs for the body to do Him honor. How it must have disturbed the coward and troubled his conscience. But another one was there, too. That One helped in the hasty preparation for the burial. “And Nicodemus also, who at first came to Jesus by night, came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. They took, therefore, the body of Jesus and bound it up in linen with the spices, as it is the custom with the Jews to prepare for burial” (John 19:39-40). Nicodemus was a very timid man by nature. How he came to the Lord by night for fear of the Jews is well known. From His own lips he heard the blessed truth, the words of life. The precious seed had been sown in his heart. Did it spring up? He also belonged to the council. When the officers returned, having been sent to capture the Lord and they gave their report, Nicodemus, the great acknowledged teacher in Israel ventured a weak defense of the Lord (John 7:50-53). It showed the seed working. But the death of Christ brought him and Joseph of Arimathea deliverance from the fear of men; light and liberty flashed in their souls as the result of the death of Christ. The Lord had said to Nicodemus: “As Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He had been lifted up and Nicodemus believing, confessed Him.

What honor then was done to the Lord. Wrapped in a clean linen sheet, after He had been lifted from the cross and then the resting place for Him, who had finished the work the Father gave Him to do, a new tomb hewn in the rock. It was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9. It is unfortunate that the authorized version gives us such a poor translation of this verse. Literally translated it is “And men appointed His grave with the wicked, but He was with the rich in His death, because He had done no violence, neither was there guile in His mouth.” The authorized version “He made His grave with the wicked” is wrong. The enemy would cast His body to the place where the bodies of the wicked were cast, but the power of God made that impossible.

The great stone is rolled to the door of the tomb. Joseph and Nicodemus depart. Only Mary of Magdala and the other Mary keep their love watch opposite the sepulchre. Thus closed the greatest day in the history of the world, the day on which the Prince of life, the Lord of Glory died on the cross of Golgotha, when the great work of reconciliation had been accomplished and peace was made in the blood of His cross.

That which follows in the chapter is peculiar to Matthew. None of the other Gospels have it. It is indeed the proper place for it.

“Now on the morrow, which is after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying, Sir, we have called to mind that that deceiver said when He was still alive, after three days I arise. Command therefore that the sepulchre be secured until the third day, lest His disciples should come and steal Him away, and say to the people He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be worst than the first. And Pilate said to them, Ye have a watch; go, secure it as well as ye know how. And they went and secured the sepulchre, having sealed the stone with the watch besides” (Matthew 27:62-66).

But little comment on this striking incident is necessary. The enemy is at work to make all secure, but instead of it he only makes his own defeat complete, and the wrath of the enemy is made to praise Him. They remembered suddenly the words of the Lord, showing how they had watched His utterances. The disciples to whom He had said so often that He would rise on the third day, had forgotten all about it. It did not enter into their minds. This is proven by the way they took the news of His resurrection. It was a forgetfulness, no doubt, produced by the Spirit of God; in this very fact lies a strong argument for the resurrection of the Lord. Their imaginations could not produce, as infidelity has claimed, a supposed appearing of the One who had died. But the enemy remembered. Yet could they really fear that His disciples would steal His body? The disciples had been scattered like sheep. Poor Peter, where was he? They had fled. Would the feeble women roll the stone away and steal His body? Could they think that fraud and deception might be practiced? It was the bad conscience which made them fear. Pilate made no objections; he let them have their desire. The stone is sealed, the guard is placed there to make fraud and illusion an impossibility. Little did they know that they were working to make the fact of the glorious resurrection of the Son of God secure beyond controversy. They furnished one of the strongest proofs for that event, thus becoming involuntary witnesses of His resurrection.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels

Ver 15. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?"18. For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him."20. But the Chief Priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21. The governor answered and said unto them, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" They said, "Barabbas."22. Pilate saith unto them, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" They all say unto him, "Let him be crucified."23. And the governor said, "Why, what evil bath he done?" But they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified."24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it."25. Then answered all the people, and said, "His blood be on us, and on our children."26. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Chrys.: Because Christ had answered nothing to the accusations of the Jews, by which Pilate could acquit Him of what was alleged against Him, he contrives other means of saving Him. "Now on the feast day the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner whom they would."

Origen: Thus do the Gentiles shew favours to those whom they subject to themselves, until their yoke is riveted. Yet did this practice obtain also among the Jews, Saul did not put Jonathan to death, because all the people sought his life. [marg. note: 1 Sam 14]

Chrys.: And he sought to rescue Christ by means of this practice, that the Jews might not have the shadow of an excuse left them. A convicted murderer is put in comparison with Christ, Barabbas, whom he calls not merely a robber, but a notable one, that is, renowned for crime.

Jerome: In the Gospel entitled "according to the Hebrews," Barabbas is interpreted, "The son of their master," who had been condemned for sedition and murder. Pilate gives them the choice between Jesus and the robber, not doubting but that Jesus would be the rather chosen.

Chrys.: "Whom will ye that I release unto you?" &c. As much as to say, If ye will not let Him go as innocent, at least, yield Him, as convicted, to this holy day. For if you would have released one of whose guilt there was no doubt, much more should you do so in doubtful cases. Observe how circumstances are reversed. It is the populace who are wont to petition. for the condemned, and the prince to grant, but here it is the reverse, the prince asks of the people, and renders them thereby more violent.

Gloss., non occ.: The Evangelist adds the reason why Pilate sought to deliver Christ, "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him."

Remig.: John explains what their envy was, when he says, "Behold, the world is gone after him;" [John 12:19] and, "If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him." [John 11:48] Observe also that in place of what Matthew says, "Jesus, who is called Christ," Mark says, "Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?" [Mark 15:9] For the kings of the Jews alone were anointed, and from that anointing were called Christs.

Chrys.: Then is added something else which alone was enough to deter all from putting Him to death; "When he was set on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man." For joined with the proof afforded by the events themselves, a dream was no light confirmation.

Raban.: It is to be noted, that the bench (tribunal) is the seat of the judge, the throne (solium) of the king, the chair (cathedra) of the master. In visions and dreams the wife of a Gentile understood what the Jews when awake would neither believe nor understand.

Jerome: Observe also that visions are often vouchsafed by God to the Gentiles, and that the confession of Pilate and his wife that the Lord was innocent is a testimony of the Gentile people.

Chrys.: But why did Pilate himself not see this vision? Because his wife was more worthy; or because if Pilate had seen it, he would not have had equal credit, or perhaps would not have told it; wherefore it is provided by God that his wife should see it, and thus it be made manifest to all. And she not merely sees it, but "suffers many things because of him," so that sympathy with his wife would make the husband more slack to put Him to death. And the time agreed well, for it was the same night that she saw it.

Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caen. Dom.: Thus then the judge terrified through his wife, and that he might not consent in the judgment to the accusation of the Jews, himself endured judgment in the affliction of his wife; the judge is judged, and tortured before he tortures.

Raban.: Or otherwise; The devil now at last understanding that he should lose his trophies through Christ, as be had at the first brought in death by a woman, so by a woman he would deliver Christ out of the hands of His enemies, lest through His death he should lose the sovereignty of death.

Chrys.: But none of the foregoing things moved Christ"s enemies, because envy had altogether blinded them, and of their own wickedness they corrupt the people, for they "persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus."

Origen: Thus it is plainly seen how the Jewish people is moved by its elders and the doctors of the Jewish system, and stirred up against Jesus to destroy Him.

Gloss., non occ.: Pilate is said to make this answer, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" either to the message of his wife, or the petition of the people, with whom it was a custom to ask such release on the feast-day.

Origen: But the populace, like wild beasts that rage the open plains, would have Barabbas released to them. For this people had seditions, murders, robberies, practised by some of their own nation in act, and nourished by all of them who believe not in Jesus, inwardly in their mind. Where Jesus is not, there are strifes and fightings; where He is, there is peace and all good things. All those who are like the Jews either in doctrine or life desire Barabbas to be loosed to them; for whoso does evil, Barabbas is loosed in his body, and Jesus bound; but he that does good has Christ loosed, and Barabbas bound.

Pilate sought to strike them with shame for so great injustice, "What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ?" And not that only, but desiring to fill up the measure of their guilt. But neither do they blush that Pilate confessed Jesus to be the Christ, nor set any bounds to their impiety, They all say unto him, "Let him be crucified." Thus they multiplied the sum of their wickedness, not only asking the life of a murderer, but the death of a righteous man, and that the shameful death of the cross.

Raban.: Those who were crucified being suspended on a cross, by nails driven into the wood through their hands and feet, perished by a lingering death, and lived long on the cross, not that they sought longer life, but that death was deferred to prolong their sufferings. The Jews indeed contrived this as the worst of deaths, but it had been chosen by the Lord without their privity, thereafter to place upon the foreheads of the faithful the same cross as a trophy of His victory over the Devil.

Jerome: Yet even after this answer of theirs, Pilate did not at once assent, but in accordance with his wife"s suggestion, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man," he answered, "Why, what evil hath he done?" This speech of Pilate"s acquits Jesus. "But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified;" that it might be fulfilled which is said in the Psalm, "Many dogs have compassed me, the congregation of the wicked hath inclosed me;" [Psalms 22:16] and also that of Hieremias, "Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest, they have given forth their voice against me." [Jeremiah 12:8]

Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 8: Pilate many times pleaded with the Jews, desiring that Jesus might be released, which Matthew witnesses in very few words, when he says, "Pilate seeing that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made." He would not have spoken thus, if Pilate had not striven much, though how many efforts he made to release Jesus he does not mention.

Remig.: It was customary among the ancients, when one would refuse to participate in any crime, to take water and wash his hands before the people.

Jerome: Pilate took water in accordance with that, "I Will wash my hands in innocency," [Psalms 26:6] in a manner testifying and saying, I indeed have sought to deliver this innocent man, but since a tumult is rising, and the charge of treason to Caesar is urged against me, I am innocent of the blood of this just man. The judge then who is thus compelled to give sentence against the Lord, does not convict the accused, but the accusers, pronouncing innocent Him who is to be crucified.

"See ye to it," as though be had said, I am the law"s minister, it is your voice that has shed this blood. Then answered all the people and said, "His blood be on us and on our children." This imprecation rests at the present day upon the Jews, the Lord"s blood is not removed from them.

Chrys.: Observe here the infatuation of the Jews; their headlong haste, and destructive passions will not let them see what they ought to see, and they curse themselves, saying, "His blood be upon us," and even entail the curse upon their children. Yet a merciful God did not ratify this sentence, but accepted such of them and of their children as repented; for Paul was of them, and many thousands of those who in Jerusalem believed.

Leo, Serm., 59, 2: The impiety of the Jews then exceeded the fault of Pilate; but he was not guiltless, seeing he resigned his own jurisdiction, and acquiesced in the injustice of others.

Jerome: It should be known that Pilate administered the Roman law, which enacted that every one who was crucified should first be scourged. Jesus then is given up to the soldiers to be beaten, and they tore with whips that most holy body and capacious bosom of God.

Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caena Dom.: See the Lord is made ready for the scourge, see now it descends upon Him! That sacred skin is torn by the fury of the rods; the cruel might of repeated blows lacerates His shoulders. Ah me! God is stretched out before man, and He, in whom not one trace of sin can be discerned, suffers punishment as a malefactor.

Jerome: This was done that we might be delivered from those stripes of which it is said, "Many stripes shall be to the wicked." [Psalms 32:10] Also in the washing of Pilate"s hands all the works of the Gentiles are cleansed, and we are acquitted of all share in the impiety of the Jews.

Hilary: At the desire of the Priests the populace chose Barabbas, which is interpreted "the son of a Father," thus shadowing forth the unbelief to come when Antichrist the son of sin should be preferred to Christ.

Raban.: Barabbas also, who headed a sedition among the people, is released to the Jews, that is the Devil, who to this day reigns among them, so that they cannot have peace.

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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel".

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The morning saw the plot hatched in the night carried into effect. This is chronicled in the first two verses of the chapter. The picture of Judas in his remorse is very terrible.

Pilate stands out as a warning against the policy of expediency. He was convinced of the innocence of Jesus, and his conscience- perhaps more acute that day than it had been for a very long time- very plainly revealed to him that his duty lay in releasing the Prisoner. However, he endeavored to secure himself and his position, and so flung Christ and conscience away at the same time.

Let us note the persons gathered around the Cross. The soldiers of Rome, for the most part debased, brutalized men. Simon of Cyrene, compelled to bear the Cross, yet surely discovering its message. Chief priests, scribes, elders, filled with malice and envy, and mocking Him, yet even in their mockery uttering, under constraint of God, great truths. "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." Thieves, the companions of His Cross and death, divided then and forever by their attitude toward Him.

A group of women in the distance watching all. That mixed crowd was surely a prophecy. All sorts and conditions of men have been attracted by that Cross, and have been influenced by it according to the manner of their approach. Some have watched. Some have mocked. Some have been healed.

There was not one of His apostles to bury Him! The two men who attended to this sacred service were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (John 19:39). Two women watched the burying. If it were not so inexpressibly sad as a revelation of hardhearted unbelief, it would be ludicrous to notice His enemies' foolish attempt to guard the dead body of Jesus. Was the irony of Pilate conscious, one wonders, when he said, "Make it as sure as ye can"?

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then answered all the people,.... They were as unanimous in their imprecations upon themselves, as in desiring the crucifixion of Christ:

and said, his blood be on us, and on our children; not for the cleansing of them from sin, which virtue that blood has, but if there were any stain, blot, or pollution, through the shedding of it, they wished it might be on them and theirs: not for the forgiveness of sins, which that blood was shed for; but on the contrary, if there was any sin and guilt in it, they desired it might be imputed to them: nor for their justification before God, and security from wrath to come, both which are by his blood; but all the reverse of this, that if there were any punishment, and condemnation, and death, due for the shedding of it, they imprecated it all upon themselves, and their posterity: so this phrase is used in Joshua 2:19, and in other places, and in the TalmudF19T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 110. 1. Yoma, fol. 2l. 1. & Avoda Zara, fol. 12. 2. : and it is a notion of the Jews, that the guilt of innocent blood, and the blood of that innocent man's children, lie not only upon the persons immediately concerned, but upon their children to the end of the world: and so the judges used to address the witnesses upon a trial, after this mannerF20Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 12. sect. 3. ;

"know ye, that capital causes, are not as pecuniary ones: in pecuniary causes, a man gives his money, and it atones for him; but in capital causes, דמו ודם זרעו תלויין בו, "his blood, and the blood of his seed, hang upon him", to the end of the whole world: for lo! of Cain it is said, "the voice of the blood of thy brother cryeth", &c. his blood, and the blood of his seed.'

And this imprecation of theirs, has been notoriously verified in them; for though this blood was shed for many of them, and Christ prayed for the forgiveness of them, and they had the Gospel, and the doctrine of remission of sins first preached among them, which was made the power of God unto salvation to some of them, even of those who were concerned in the crucifixion of Christ; yet, on the generality of them, his blood was in the sense they wished it; and for the shedding of it, wrath came upon them to the uttermost, in the entire destruction of their nation, city, and temple, and very remarkable it is, that great numbers of them were put to death by crucifixion; and very likely some of those very persons, that were so clamorous for the crucifying of Christ; and if not, at least their children; five hundred of the Jews and more, were sometimes crucified in a day, whilst Titus was besieging the city; till at length there wanted "room for crosses", και σταυροι τοις σωμασι "and crosses for bodies", as JosephusF21De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 12. says, who was an eyewitness of it: and to this day, this dreadful wish of the blood of Christ upon them, is to be seen in their miserable, abject, and captive state; and will be, until such time that they look to him whom they have pierced, and mourn.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament


Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; John 18:39-40; Luke 23:13-25. And Pilate, having called together the high priests, rulers, and the people, said to them, You have brought to me this Man as revolutionizing the people; and, behold, I, having judged Him in your presence, found nothing in this Man criminal of those things which you accuse against Him; neither did Herod; for I sent you to him, and, behold, nothing worthy of death has been done by Him. Therefore, having scourged Him, I will release Him.” The cruelty of the Roman punishments actually beggars all description. This scourging which Pilate mentions was horrific in the extreme. Previously to the crucifixion of a man, they beat his naked body with thongs of rawhide, having in them steel points, which lacerated his flesh most excruciatingly, so that it was nothing uncommon for the poor victim to die during the scourging. Pilate, however, lights upon this as a dernier ressort to save the life of Jesus, thinking that a punishment so awful administered to an innocent man would certainly produce a reaction on the part of His enemies, constraining them to relax their apparently implacable animosity toward Him, so that they would consent to His release. Pilate, though a corrupt heathen ruler, in this matter underestimated the diabolical malice and hellish venom which was at that time the controlling principle of the big preachers and ruling elders, who were determined to have Him put to death. When the devil gets possession of religious people, they have in all ages proved more demoniacal than the wicked people of the world.

Mark 15:6-12. But during the feast he was accustomed to release unto them one prisoner, whom they demanded. There was one called Barabbas, having been bound along with the insurrectionists, who had committed murder in the insurrection. The rabble, roaring, began to ask as he was always accused to do unto them. Pilate responded to them, saying, Do you wish that I shall release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the high priests had delivered Him through envy.” It is said that Joseph’s brethren sold him to the Ishmaelites through envy. He was a beautiful type of Christ, sold for money, and suffered seven years in the loathsome State prison, thus vividly symbolizing Jesus, in His first coming, to suffer and to die. Finally, when promoted to the throne of Egypt, the ruling kingdom of the world, invested in royal robes, riding in a golden chariot, fifty couriers running before him, shouting, “Bow the knee for the king cometh,” how vividly does he emblematize our glorious King Jesus in His second advent, accompanied by the mighty angels, and crowned King of kings and Lord of Lords! Pilate is so anxious to release Jesus that he restricts their choice to the two — Jesus and Barabbas. Then, coming before them, he seeks to forestall their verdict by shouting aloud, Shall I release unto you the King of the Jews?”

Matthew 27:19. He, sitting upon his tribunal, his wife sent to him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that Righteous One; for I suffered many things this day in a dream on account of Him.” In common parlance, the day includes the night. Of course, the woman had the dream during the night. Tradition has given us the character of this dream. It is said that when the courier arrived from their suburban home at Bethany, bringing a letter from Lucia Metella, the governor’s wife, in the midst of this momentously exciting trial, Pilate took it hurriedly, and aiming to read inaudibly, was so excited that his tremulous utterances were overheard. “My Dear Husband, — Be sure that you have nothing to do with that Righteous One; for this very day I saw Him, in a vision seated on high Olympus, and all the gods and goddesses hurling their crowns at His feet! I tell you, my husband, He is one of the gods.” Of course, she and Pilate were Romans, believing in the many gods of the Roman Empire.

Luke 23:8-23. And the whole: multitude cried out saying, Take Him away; but release unto us Barabbas, who , on account of a certain insurrection and murder in the city, had been cast into prison,” and Barabbas was a formidable robber chief, who had given them awful trouble, the Roman guards with difficulty having finally succeeded in arresting him, and thus breaking up his robber band. Then Pilate again called to them, wishing to release Jesus. And they continued to cry out, saying, Crucify Him! crucify Him! And the third time he said to them, For what evil has He done? I have found nothing worthy of death in Him; therefore, having scourged Him, I will release Him.” You see Pilate’s plan was to move their sympathies and mitigate their cruel wrath by scourging Him, thinking they would then consent to His release.

And they continued to lie on, with great voices demanding that He should be crucified; and the voices of them and the high priests continued to wax stronger and stronger.” As they were disappointed in their plan of killing Him in the night, and it is now eight o’clock, the news flying on the wings of the wind, and all who hear of it rushing to the scene of action, crowding the streets and alleys and the flat roofs of the houses all around Pilate’s judgment-hall, the high priests, Sanhedrin, and ruling elders feel that the crisis is on them, and if some-thing is not done quickly, the mob will rise and take Him out of their hands. Hence they roar and roar as if they would split their throats, demanding of the governor His crucifixion.

Matthew 27:24-26. And Pilate, seeing that he profits nothing, but the more is the uproar, taking water, washed his hands in presence of the multitude, saying, I am innocent, from the blood of this Just One; you shall see to it. And all the people, responding, said, His blood be upon us and our children. Then he released unto them Barabbas.”

Luke 23:24-25. And Pilate decided that the request should be granted, and he released unto them the one who on account of sedition and murder had been cast into prison, and he delivered Jesus according to their choice.” Contemporary history says that Pilate had but few soldiers in Jerusalem at that time comparatively with the ordinary force which he kept on hand, having recently been under the necessity of sending away a large detachment to quell an insurrection in Syria. He was therefore apprehensive of a bloody revolution, surging like the waves of the stormy sea, and every moment threatening to break out, deluge the judgment-hall in blood, blockade the streets with the slain, and wrap Jerusalem in a terrible civil war. Consequently, resorting to a principle long rulable, especially in Oriental despotisms, that one innocent man would better die than for many to lose their lives, and having repeatedly pronounced Jesus innocent, he signs His death-warrant as a mere peace measure, in order to prevent a bloody conflict, in which many would certainly perish.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Geneva Study Bible

Then answered all the people, and said, i His blood [be] on us, and on our children.

(i) If there is any offence committed in slaying him, let us and our posterity suffer for it.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

15–26.] BARABBAS PREFERRED TO HIM. HE IS DELIVERED TO BE CRUCIFIED. Mark 15:6-15. Luke 23:17-25. John 18:39-40. In the substance of this account the Four are in remarkable agreement. John gives merely a compendium, uniting in one these three attempts of Pilate to liberate Jesus, and omitting the statement of the fact of Barabbas being liberated, and Jesus delivered to them.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

25.] αἶμα λέγουσι τὴν τοῦ αἵματος καταδίκην, Euthym(181): but more probably with a much wider reference—as the adherence of blood to the hands of a murderer is an idea not bearing any necessary reference to punishment, only to guilt.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

the people answered: his blood be upon us, and upon our children which continues, saith St. Jerome, to this day. Then Pilate delivered to them Jesus to be crucified. (Witham) --- This blasphemous prayer continues to this day, and will continue a protracted curse upon the Jews, and upon their posterity. (Origen) --- Behold the insanity of the Jews! Their passion and pertinacious obstinacy will not suffer them to see and understand: they draw down curses upon themselves in these terrible imprecations: his blood be upon us and upon our children. Still the God of all mercies did not literally comply with their impious prayer. For, of these children he selected some for himself; amongst the rest even Paul, and many thousands who were converted at Jerusalem. (St. John Chrysostom)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 27:25 ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς, κ. τ. λ.] Defiant and vindictive cry, in the hurry of which ( τοιαύτη γὰρ ὁρμὴ κ. πονηρὰ ἐπιθυμία, Chrysostom) the verb is left to be understood (Matthew 23:35). Comp. 2 Samuel 1:16, and see on Acts 18:6. From what we know of such wild outbursts of popular fanaticism, there is no ground for supposing (Strauss; comp. also Keim, Scholten, Volkmar) that the language only represents the matter as seen from the standpoint of Christians, by whom the destruction of the Jews had come to be regarded as a judgment for putting Jesus to death. And as for their wicked imprecations on their own heads, they were only in accordance with the decrees of the divine nemesis, and therefore are to be regarded in the light of unconscious prophecy.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

The Bible Study New Testament

25. The whole crowd answered back. They understand what Pilate said, and they are willing for all this guilt to be placed upon both they and their children! But later they try to escape from what they have done (Acts 5:28). Jesus had prophesied: “So the people of this time will be punished for the murder of all the prophets killed since the creation of the world” (Luke 11:50). See also Luke 23:27-31; Deuteronomy 28:49-57.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

As the Jews had no authority, under the Roman regime, to visit the death penalty upon anyone, they were unable to carry out the Levitical law which condemned a blasphemer to death (Leviticus 24:15-16), unless they took things into their own hands and acted contrary to the code imposed upon them by Caesar’s government, as they did later in the case of Stephen who, like his Lord, was charged with blasphemy (Acts 7:54-60).

In the case of Jesus, the chief priests and other leaders were anxious to shift the responsibility for His death to the Romans in order that the people who had heard Jesus gladly might not turn in indignation upon them. Therefore, having declared Him worthy of death, their next move was to bring Him before Pilate, the procurator of Judea at that time.

When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor, (vv. 1-2)

As soon as circumstances permitted, Jesus, bound with chains, was brought into Pilate’s court. No doubt the governor had known something of Him and possibly thought of Him as a harmless zealot of some Jewish sect. Now he was called upon to pass judgment upon Him as a seditionist, who was endeavoring to arouse the populace to rebellion against Rome and to accept Him as their king instead of Caeasar.

At this juncture, Judas the traitor appeared before the chief priests and elders. He was filled with remorse as the full import of the deed he had done began to dawn upon him. Many have tried to excuse Judas on the ground that he may have been overanxious to see the kingdom of Messiah established, and that he thought possibly by betraying his Master to the clique that sought to destroy Him, he would force His hand, so to speak, and bring Him to declare Himself at once as the King of the Jews. But of this there is no hint in Scripture. Nothing save that Judas is described as a covetous man, who sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

Now that he began to realize the probable fate awaiting Jesus, he was seized with fear and, in his crushing anxiety, endeavored, too late, to undo the fearful wrong of which he had been guilty.

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood, and they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called the field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me. (vv. 3-10)

The repentance of Judas was not true self-judgment because of the sin he had committed. The word used here is not the ordinary one for “repented,” which implies a complete change of mind or attitude. It rather means “to be remorseful,” and there may be bitter remorse apart from genuine repentance.

Bringing the thirty pieces of silver back to those from whom he had received them, Judas exclaimed, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” He knew well the holiness and righteousness of Jesus. He had kept company with Him during some three or more years, and he realized there had been no flaw in His character, no evil in His behavior.

Coldly the priests replied, “What is that to us? see thou to that.” These calloused hypocrites had their prey in their power, as they believed, and they were unconcerned as to the truth or untruth of the charges brought against Him. They were determined upon His condemnation.

In his horror and despair, Judas threw down the money in the temple, and, rushing out in an insane frenzy, he sought a secluded spot where he committed suicide by hanging himself. Peter supplies details omitted here. He tells us that “this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18). Putting the two accounts together, we gather that the wretched man, who was probably somewhat corpulent, hung himself, possibly from some tree or beam which broke under his weight, so that his body was so ruptured in falling to the earth that the condition depicted by Peter resulted. It was a sad and terrible end indeed to a life that once promised so much!

The priests, too punctilious to put the blood-money into the temple treasury, after some consultation, decided to buy with it a potter’s field-that is, a piece of ground from which clay had been extracted for the making of pottery, so in this way Judas himself really purchased the field with the reward of iniquity. This wasteland was set apart as a cemetery in which to bury strangers for whose interment no other arrangements could be made. Significantly it was called “The Field of Blood”-a constant reminder of the nefarious transaction in which the priests and Judas had participated.

There have been questions raised as to the proper understanding of verse 9. In the book of Zechariah we read, in reference to the thirty pieces of silver, “Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD” (11:13). While this passage is very similar to that which is quoted here, it is not quite the same: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.” There is the possibility that Jeremy, or Jeremiah, is a faulty reading, which some scribe may have written inadvertently in place of Zechariah, as he was thinking of another manuscript which he may also have copied, telling of Jeremiah’s visit to the potter’s house, and that later copyists, finding this name in the text, did not feel free to alter it. On the other hand, it may not be Zechariah’s prophecy that is definitely referred to at all, but rather something handed down by tradition that was spoken, not written, by Jeremiah.

J. N. Darby suggests that the book of Zechariah formed part of a scroll which began with the prophecy of Jeremiah, and therefore would bear his name, and so it could be spoken of as an utterance found in “Jeremiah.” In any case, we may be sure that there is nothing here to invalidate the authority of Holy Scripture.

Leaving the sordid story of Judas, we turn again to Pilate’s court to see what will become of the Prisoner whom the chief priests had brought before him.

And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them. Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. (vv. 11-18)

In response to the governor’s question, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus calmly replied, “Thou sayest.” That is, you have said that which I am. Thus, before Pontius Pilate, He witnessed a good confession (1 Timothy 6:13). While He made no answer to the false and vindictive charges brought against Him by His enemies, He unhesitatingly declared the truth when the procurator himself addressed Him.

Pilate was astonished at the quiet confidence which the Lord manifested. No accusation perturbed Him. He did not attempt to defend Himself. Assured in his own mind that Jesus was innocent of any crime, and yet knowing the implacable character of His accusers, Pilate sought for some way whereby he might release Jesus and yet not displease these wily and unscrupulous religious leaders. It was Passover time, and for some years-as a favor to the Jews-it had been customary to release some notable prisoner of their own nation. If they were sincere in charging Jesus with sedition, might they not appreciate the dismissal of the charge and the freedom of the prisoner? Another seditionist was awaiting execution at the time, Barabbas, who had led in an insurrection against the government. So Pilate put the two names before the crowd and asked, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” Both were charged with the same offence. Why then might not Jesus be released and so the people be satisfied?

While the matter was being debated excitedly by the accusers of Jesus and the rabble who had gathered about them, a message came to the governor from his wife.

When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate said unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified, (vv. 19-23)

Church tradition has made a saint of Claudia Procula, the wife of Pilate. Legend says she was a Jewish proselyte who became a believer in Jesus. But Scripture tells us nothing more than what is recorded here. She sent a message to her bewildered and time-serving husband, bidding him have nothing to do with “that just man,” because of whom she had suffered much in a dream.

We are not told of Pilate’s reaction to this, except that we find him casting about still for some way whereby he might not have to face the issue before him and take up the case of Jesus in a thoroughly legal and judicial manner, which could have resulted only in the acquittal of the Prisoner. This would arouse the intense indignation of His accusers, who would then, in all probability, go to any length to destroy the governor by misrepresenting him to Caesar as an untrustworthy servant of Rome, because of failing to do his duty concerning One who should have been condemned as a seditionist.

He waited for the people to make their choice. Who should be released: Jesus or Barabbas? The answer was not long in coming. Moved upon by the chief priests and elders, the multitude vociferously gave their voices in favor of Barabbas.

“What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” Pilate asked weakly. It is a question every man has to meet sooner or later wherever this story of Jesus is known.

The throng cried as with one voice, “Let Him be crucified.” Thus the King of Israel, the Anointed of Jehovah, was definitely rejected; and so, for the time, the hopes of the Jews were destined to be obliterated. There could be no kingdom for them when their rightful Ruler was spurned and slain.

Recognizing his impotence in dealing with this mob of excited religionists, Pilate called for water and dramatically washed his hands before the multitude as he exclaimed, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” Yet he was there as the representative of the imperial throne, and he was responsible to condemn the guilty and to acquit the innocent. How little he realized that for all time to come his name was destined to be linked with that of the patient Sufferer whom he weakly surrendered to His prejudiced accusers. Untold millions yet unborn were to intone in all the centuries to come, “I believe in God … and in His Son Jesus Christ… crucified under Pontius Pilate.” No water could ever wash away the stain of the blood of the Son of God!

In fearful recklessness, the Jews invoked a malediction upon themselves as they cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” The awful anguish and suffering the unhappy nation has endured throughout the past two thousand years can be traced back to the choice made that day when they preferred a murderer to the One who came in grace to redeem them. For every individual among them, as for all others, who will turn to God in repentance, the curse has been turned aside because of the Savior’s intercession, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Yielding to their demands, Pilate delivered Jesus to their will, and He was turned over to the soldiers, who heaped added indignities upon Him.

Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. (vv. 26-28)

In accordance with the horrible custom of the times, Pilate gave order to scourge Jesus-a most cruel ordeal that involved the tearing of His flesh into ribbons as He was beaten on the bare back by a whip of several lashes, on which were fastened pieces of metal, so that His body must have been soon literally bathed in His own blood. Yet no word of reproach escaped His holy lips. Knowing He was condemned because He had claimed to be a King, the soldiers stripped Him of all His outer garments and put a discarded scarlet robe on him, and crowned Him with thorns, then mockingly bowed before Him.

And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross, (vv. 29-32)

They knew it not, but their action was most significant as they pressed the thorny circlet upon His pallid brow. When God cursed the earth for man’s sin, He caused thorns and thistles to be brought forth (Genesis 3:18). The thorn is the fruit of the Curse, and Jesus was about to be made a curse for those who so basely treated Him and for all men, that all who would trust in Him might be redeemed from the curse of the law.

The ribald soldiery made obeisance before Jesus, in whose hand they placed a reed for a scepter, and cried in jeering tones, “Hail, King of the Jews!” To them it was all a huge joke, that this meek, defenseless Prisoner should ever have imagined Himself, or permitted His followers to think of Him, as a King. In their eyes there was nothing regal about Him. Yet to the eye of faith He was never more royal than when He endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, with such holy patience and resignation to the will of the Father.

The soldiers spat in His face, as the Jews had done in the house of Caiaphas. Jew and Gentile were one in their rejection of Him.

When they wearied of their coarse and vulgar treatment of Him, they took the robe off Him and put His own garments upon Him, and so led Him away to crucify Him.

Tradition, not Scripture, tells that He fell beneath the weight of His cross, not only once but thrice, but this rests on no authentic records. However, it seems evident His physical strength was so weakened by loss of blood and excessive suffering that even the callous soldiers saw He needed help in bearing His cross, so they laid hold on Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming that way, and compelled him to assist. What a privilege was Simon’s! We would like to know for certain that he appreciated it. The early Christians said that the Alexander and Rufus, mentioned as his sons in Mark 15:21, both became ardent followers of Jesus, and that their father too was of His company. We may hope this is more than an unfounded tradition.

At last they reached the little hill outside the walls of Jerusalem called “Golgotha” by the Jews, and by the Latins, “Calvary,” “the place of a skull.” There the tragedy of all the ages was to be enacted. There the Sacrifice of which all the offerings of the Old Testament were types was to be presented to God on our behalf.

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left, (vv. 33-38)

It was customary to give one who was being put to death by crucifixion a stupefying draught to make it easier for him to endure the fearful ordeal through which he was called to pass. Such a drink, composed of sour wine (or vinegar) mingled with gall, or myrrh, was offered to Jesus, but He refused it. He would not take anything that might benumb His mind or alleviate the sufferings He was undergoing.

Below the cross the soldiers who were responsible for His execution divided His garments among themselves and cast lots, gambling, for His seamless tunic, in accordance with David’s prophecy uttered a thousand years before (Psalms 22:18). During these six hours, one prophecy after another was fulfilled.

The thirty-sixth verse might well speak to all our hearts: “And sitting down they watched him there.” While for “watched” we might better read “were keeping guard,” yet the sentence as it stands is most suggestive. These hardhearted, indifferent soldiers looked carelessly upon Him as He hung upon the tree. You and I, my reader, may well turn aside and see this great sight, the Holy Son of God suffering unspeakably at the hands of men whose very lives depended upon His mighty power. We may learn much as we sit down and behold Him there, bleeding and dying for sins not His own.

It was customary to indicate by a placard the crime for which one was being punished. So Pilate had a document prepared that read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” It was as much as to say He was being crucified for setting Himself up as king in rebellion against Caesar.

Two thieves were crucified with Him, one on either side. Thus He was numbered with transgressors.

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth, (vv. 39-44)

The hearts of those passing by were untouched by the Lord’s affliction. They continued to mock Him, raising again the old accusations and saying, “Thou that destroyed the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.” They even challenged Him to descend from the cross if in very truth He was the Son of God.

The religious dignitaries also joined with the rest in belittling and ridiculing Him, and yet uttered a great truth which they themselves did not comprehend when they said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” Our Christian poet was right when he wrote:

Himself He could not save;

He on the cross must die,

Or mercy could not come

To ruined sinners nigh.

Oblivious to the real meaning of His death, these priests and elders challenged Him, as the rabble had done, bidding Him come down from the cross if He was indeed the King of Israel. In that case, they declared, they would believe Him. They even quoted from Psalm 22 without seeming to realize it, saying, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him.” He had said He was the Son of God. They called upon Him to demonstrate it by descending from the cross.

The thieves, too, cast the same, we are told, in His teeth. Matthew does not tell us of the subsequent repentance of one of these. We must turn to Luke’s account for that.

Up to this point, which takes in a period of three hours, from 9 A.M. to 12 noon, Jesus had been suffering at the hands of men. It was not these sufferings that put away sin. The next few verses summarize the awesome events of the last three hours, when He endured the wrath of God, as the great Trespass Offering, able to say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalms 69:4).

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. (vv. 45-49)

No finite mind can fathom the depths of woe and anguish into which the soul of Jesus sank when that dread darkness spread o’er all the scene. It was a symbol of the spiritual darkness into which He went as the Man Christ Jesus made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. It was then that God laid on Him the iniquity of us all-that His soul was made an offering for sin.

The tempest’s awful voice was heard;

O Christ, it broke on Thee.

Thine open bosom was my ward;

It bore the storm for me.

We get some faint understanding of what this meant for Him when, just as the darkness was passing, we hear Him cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Each believer can reply, “It was that I might never be forsaken.” He took our place and endured the wrath of God our sins deserved. This was the cup from which He shrank in Gethsemane; now, pressed to His lips, He drained it to the dregs.

His the wormwood and the gall:

His the curse; He bore it all;

His, the bitter cry of pain,

When our sins He did sustain.

Some who heard His piercing cry in Aramaic did not know the meaning of the words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” and thought He was calling on the prophet Elijah for help. One ran and filled a sponge with vinegar and put it to His parched lips, giving Him to drink. This He received. Others said indifferently, “Let be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” But there was none who could deliver Him. He must endure the pains of death that we might never die.

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children, (vv. 50-56)

When all had been accomplished that it was given Him to do, Jesus cried with a loud voice-John tells us what He said-“It is finished.” Then He dismissed His spirit. He did not die of exhaustion, but He laid down His life voluntarily when His work was done.

The veil in the temple, separating the holy from the most holy place was immediately rent in twain from the top to the bottom, the unseen hand of God tearing that curtain apart to signify that the way into the holiest was now made manifest. No longer would God dwell in the thick darkness. He could come out to man in the light, and man, redeemed by atoning blood, could enter with boldness into the very presence of God.

Certain natural phenomena also occurred, which Matthew alone mentions- a great earthquake, rending rocks and opening graves. Saints whose bodies had been sleeping in the tombs were raised and came out of the graves after His resurrection and appeared unto many.

The centurion in charge of the squad of soldiers who were detailed to guard the crucified victims was so impressed by all he had seen and heard that he was filled with awe and declared, “Truly this was a Son of God.” He did not use the definite article, as given in the Authorized Version. But, like Nebuchadnezzar of old as he saw the mysterious fourth One in the furnace (Daniel 3:25), he was persuaded that the holy Sufferer who had just died on that central cross was more than Man.

Standing afar off, with hearts filled with conflicting emotions, were many devoted women who were true to Jesus to the last, though they could not understand why He was left to suffer and die unaided. Among these were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and also the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John.

It is worthy of note that as long as our blessed Lord was taking the sinner’s place in His vicarious offering of Himself to God, His enemies were permitted to heap upon Him every kind of shameful indignity. But from the moment the blood and water-which were, with the Holy Spirit, the witnesses to accomplished redemption (1 John 5:6; 1Jn_5:8)-flowed from His wounded side, God seemed to say, as it were, “Hands off.” From that instant, no unclean hand touched the body of His holy Son. Loving friends took it down from the cross, wrapped it in the new fine linen clothes, and laid it in the bed of spices, sent by Nicodemus (John 19:39-40), in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. It was the burial of a King (see 2 Chronicles 16:13-14).

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre, (vv. 57-61)

“A rich man … named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple.” He was one of the few of those who had riches who waited for the kingdom (Matthew 19:23-24; Mark 15:43), but he had not, hitherto, openly proclaimed himself a follower of Jesus (John 19:38). He had been a secret disciple, but he proved loyal and brave when the test came.

“Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.” Thus the body of Jesus was preserved from further indignity, and Isaiah 53:9 was fulfilled. He must be with the rich in His death.

“He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.” As was customary in Jewish burials, the body was entirely swathed in long, linen strips, not simply covered with a shroud.

“Rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre.” This stone covered the entire entrance and was probably like a great millstone, fitted into a groove cut in the face of the cliff.

“Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary.” Mary of Magdala, out of whom seven demons had been cast (Luke 8:2), and Mary, the mother of Joses (Mark 15:47), were looking on, taking note of everything that was done, so that they might come to the tomb after the Sabbath was past and properly embalm the body of the One they had loved and on whom all their hopes were set, but who now was cold in death.

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch, (vv. 62-66)

“The next day, that followed the day of preparation.” This was on the evening of the day when Jesus died, as we would count time. But for the Jews, the new day began at sunset. So, immediately following the fourteenth Nisan, as the evening that ushered in the fifteenth of the month began, the Pharisees and others hastened to Pilate to prefer their request.

“We remember that that deceiver said … After three days I will rise again.” Strange that they, His enemies, should remember what His own disciples had forgotten! It is evident that His prediction had become well known.

“Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day.” They were taking no chances. They realized that if the least ground were given for starting a rumor that Jesus had fulfilled His promise, their efforts to destroy the effect of His teaching would be in vain. The disappearance of His body from Joseph’s new tomb would be, in their estimation, a tragedy and would be accepted by many as a proof of His resurrection. So they were afraid His disciples might arrange to rob the sepulcher and hide the body away, therefore, the importance of effectually thwarting any such attempt.

“Make it as sure as ye can.” Pilate was probably not only incensed, but even amused by their fears and anxiety. He gave them a detachment of Roman soldiers and appointed them to guard the tomb. His grim words bidding them make it as sure as they could seem almost sardonic. They were soon to learn how helpless they were when God’s hour should strike.

“So they … made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” To break that seal would be a crime of the first magnitude, which they felt none of the disciples would dare to attempt, and the guard of soldiers would ensure that no one would be able to steal the body before the three days had elapsed.

It is evident that His own declaration that He was to rise again the third day (20:19) had made a deeper impression upon the minds of His enemies than upon the hearts of His own disciples. Although He had mentioned it on several occasions, they never seemed to enter into the meaning of His words. They wondered what the rising from the dead could mean (Mark 9:10; Mar_9:31-32; Luke 18:33-34). So even after He was crucified they had no expectation of His resurrection (John 20:9). But the leaders of the people, who had so definitely opposed Him, remembered His words, and while they did not expect them to be fulfilled, they were fearful that by some kind of trickery His disciples might be able to persuade the credulous populace that He had actually triumphed over death. Hence their errand to Pilate and their request that every precaution be taken to prevent the disappearance of His body from the tomb. But all in vain, for in spite of the sealing of the stone, which covered the entrance to the sepulcher, and the watchfulness of the Roman guard, the stone was rolled away and the Savior arose from the dead and appeared to many reputable eyewitnesses, who testified to the reality of His resurrection.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 27:25. πᾶς λαὸς, κ. τ. λ., all the people, etc.) An argument against the Jews why they are at present in exile, although that exile is somewhat less severe than formerly.— ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς, κ. τ. λ., upon us, etc.) cf. Deuteronomy 28:18; Psalms 69:24; Psalms 109:17. They mean, “We will be accountable for it.”(1189)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew

Matthew 27:11-31.
Jesus Tried By Pilate

Found also in Mark 15:2-20, Luke 23:2-25, John 18:28 to John 19:16. Luke here gives a good deal, and John still more, of matter not found in Matt. and Mark; while Matt. has two remarkable points not found in the others, viz., John 19:19 and John 19:24 f. This section in Matthew divides into John 19:11-14, John 19:15-18, John 19:19, John 19:20-23, John 19:24; Joh_19:26-31.

I. Matthew 27:11-14. Pilate Finds No Grounds Of Condemnation

And Jesus stood before the governor, viz., Pilate. (Matthew 27:2)

The time was early morning. (Matthew 27:1; John 18:28) The place was either in the Castle of Antonia, at the northwest corner of the temple area, or at the grand palace of Herod the Great, on the western side of the city, near the present Jaffa gate; it does not seem possible at present to decide between the two localities. The Greek word translated "governor" is a general term signifying leader, ruler, governor in general, as in Matthew 10:18, 1 Peter 2:14, and frequently applied to a Roman procurator, as throughout this and the following chapters, and in Acts 24:1 to Acts 26:32; so sometimes in Josephus.

When Archelaus was banished in A. D. 6 (compare above, end of ch. 2), Judea and Samaria were made a Roman province, governed by a procurator, who resided at Cesarea as the political capital, and visited Jerusalem upon occasion, especially at the time of the great feasts. The sixth procurator, A. D. 26-36, was Pontius Pilatus, who, besides New Testament and Jos., is mentioned by Tacitus ("Ann.," 15, 44), "Christus, in the reign of Tiberius, was executed by the procurator Pontius Pilatus." We know nothing of Pilate's history before entering upon office. In the probably four years he had now been holding it, he had made himself very odious to the Jews, by disregarding their religious convictions and feelings. We find mention of four instances, all apparently belonging to this early period. (a) In removing his army from Cesarea to Jerusalem for winter quarters, he sent in by night some ensigns bearing busts of Cesar, while former governors had used other ensigns in entering Jerusalem, out of regard for Jewish feeling against graven images. Multitudes of the people went to Cesarea and continued for five days and nights their incessant entreaties for the removal of these images, which he refused because it would seem an insult to Cesar. On the sixth day he let in soldiers threatening the suppliants with slaughter; but they prostrated themselves and bared their throats before the drawn swords, saying that they would gladly die rather than allow transgression of the law; so he yielded, and ordered back the images (Josephus,"Ant.," 18, 3, 1; "War," 2 9, 2-4). (b) Philo, in urging upon Caius Caligula the example of Tiberius, tells that Pilate once offered up in the palace of Herod some golden shields, without figures, but inscribed, and after long obstinately refusing the entreaties of the people, received orders from Tiberius at Rome to remove them. See that curious work, written soon after A. D. 40, Philo's "Embassy to Caius," sec. 38. (c) He used the sacred treasure called Corban, (Mark 7:11) to build an aqueduct near fifty miles long. On his return to Jerusalem the people gathered about his tribunal with loud clamours, and he sent among them soldiers, who beat them savagely with staves, killing many, while others were trodden to death in the flight; and so in that case he triumphed (Josephus "War," 2, 3, 9). (d) He slew certain Galileans while engaged in offering sacrifices at the temple, so that their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices—to Jewish feeling a horrible combination of cruelty and profanation. (Luke 13:1) We need not wonder that Josephus has no account of this, for Philo speaks of Pilate's "successive murders without trial," declaring that he feared any appeal to Tiberius, lest the embassy should also accuse his "acceptance of bribes, plunderings, outrages, and wanton insults, continual and most grievous cruelty," and characterizing him as "unbending, selfwilled, harsh, and malignant." These facts and statements will prepare us to understand the relations of the accusers and the judge in the trial of Jesus before Pilate. It should be added that six years later the proconsul of Syria, who was the procurator's superior, upon complaint of his cruelty towards certain Samaritans, ordered him to Rome, where he arrived after the death of Tiberius ("Ant." 18, 4, 1 f.). Eusebius says ("Hist." II, 7), that "in the time of Caius (A. D. 37-41) Pilate fell into so great misfortunes that he committed suicide." It is stated by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Euseb., that Pilate made an official report to Tiberius concerning his trial of Jesus; but this is now represented only by unquestionably spurious writings.

John relates how Pilate came out from the praetorium, because the rulers were unwilling to enter, and inquired "What accusation bring ye against this man?" They replied that he was an evil-doer. Upon Pilate's bidding them take him and judge him themselves, they said "We (emphatic) are not permitted to put any one to death;" and, so Pilate knew that they designed a grave accusation. He must have repeatedly heard of Jesus during the last three years, of the great crowds that followed him, and the reported miracles, but also that he seemed to have no political aims. Luke (Rev. Ver.) tells that they said, "We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king." They kept the purely religious question in reserve, (John 19:7) and put forward political accusations, such as alone properly concerned a Roman governor, (compare Acts 18:12-17) and these of the most serious kind. Now, in Roman trials (Keim), great importance was attached to a confession by the accused. Accordingly, Pilate asked the question given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John, Art thou the king of the Jews? This in Matthew and Mark requires something said by the Jews as accounting for it, which John and Luke afford. 'Thou' is emphatic, being separately expressed in the Greek. Thou sayest, viz., sayest what is true (compare on Matthew 26:25). John shows that this question and answer were spoken in private within the praetorium, (John 18:33) and that Jesus explained, "My kingdom is not of this world." We have seen on Matthew 25:34 how our Lord had of late been speaking of himself to the disciples as king, and on Matthew 26:64 how before the Sanhedrin he avowed himself the Messiah, and thus a king. It is probably to this confession that he was the king of the Jews that Paul refers in 1 Timothy 6:13, Rev. Ver.: "Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession."

When he was accused, or, 'while he was being accused.' By the chief priests and elders, first one speaking, and then another. This was probably both before and after Pilate's private interview with him. To never, or, not even to one word, is the literal translation. Pilate's remonstrance (Matthew 27:13) appears to have been kindly meant. The utter silence of the accused seemed wonderful. (Matthew 27:14). A Roman writer says, "Silence is a kind of confession." Did Jesus mean thus to confess the charge as true? There was something about him which disinclined the governor to think so. How many things. The Greek may mean either how many or how great, indeed may include both—what a mass of things. Can we see reasons for this remarkable silence, before the Roman as well as the Jewish tribunal? (Matthew 26:63) (1) He has already been condemned by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy. His death is a foregone conclusion with them, and Pilate is fettered by his own past wrongdoing, and must yield to their wishes. It will do no good to speak; it would be casting pearls before swine. The only charge that needed explanation to Pilate he did explain to him in private. (2) The crisis of his ministry has arrived, his 'hour' is now come. For two years he has prudently avoided exciting the hostility of his enemies, and the fanaticism of his friends. But there is no occasion for further delaying the inevitable collision. He has finished his work of teaching, his life of humiliation, and the hour is come that he should be glorified. (John 12:23, John 17:4) (3) His death is not only inevitable, but necessary, and he now voluntarily submits to it. (John 10:17 f.) One prayer to the Father might stop it, but he will not so pray. (John 12:27, Matthew 26:53) The thought of this hour has long been a burden to his soul, (Luke 12:50) and last night its approach cost him a long and painful struggle in the garden; but now he is ready to endure the cross, despising the shame, for the joy that is set before him. (Hebrews 12:2)

Luke and John here relate that Pilate declared he found no fault in the accused. (Luke 23:4, John 18:38) So the trial before him was thus far a failure. But the Jewish rulers (Luke 23:5, R.V.) "were the more urgent, saying, lie stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, and beginning from Galilee even unto this place." Thus Pilate learned that the accused was a Galilean. He seized upon this fact as affording a prospect of an escape from this unpleasant trial, and at the same time of conciliating Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, with whom he had been at enmity. So he sent Jesus to Herod, who had come to Jerusalem for the feast. (Luke 23:7-12) This formed the second stage in the Roman trial. But while he succeeded in conciliating Herod, the governor failed to escape the responsibility of the investigation. Jesus was utterly silent before Herod also, and was sent back, nothing having been accomplished.

II. Matthew 27:15-18. Pilate Attempts To Release Jesus

Mark 15:6-10, Luke 23:13-16, John 18:39 f.

Summoning the rulers and the people, the procurator declared (Luke) that he, and likewise Herod, had found no fault in this man concerning the matters of accusation. So he proposed a sort of compromise, "I will therefore chastise him, and release him." He hoped that this amount of punishment might satisfy the hostility of the accusers. At that feast, Rev. Ver., the feast, feast by feast, whenever a feast occurred; but the reference is probably to the passover, and not all the feasts. The governor was wont to release unto the people, multitude. This was more likely a Roman than a Jewish custom, but its origin is quite unknown. Despots have often found some release of prisoners to be popular with the many. A, one, prisoner. This is clearly a numeral, and not an indefinite article, compare on Matthew 26:69. They had, viz., the governor and those associated with him in such matters. Barabbas. The insurrection against the Romans when a procurator was first appointed had left some popular robbers, who were regarded as patriots (compare on Matthew 22:17). It is not unlikely that Barabbas was one of those. He was not only "a robber ", (John 18:40) but had excited an insurrection in the city, during which he and his followers had committed murder. (Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19) These facts account for Matthew's calling him a notable prisoner, or 'a prisoner of mark.' It is also probable that the two robbers crucified with Jesus were Barabbas' followers, so that the Saviour literally 'took his place. Jesus was falsely accused of sedition, and a man really guilty of sedition was released. The name Barabbas occurs frequently in the Talmud, and signifies 'son of Abba,' or 'son of a teacher,' it being common to call a rabbi 'father.' (Matthew 23:9) Compare Barjonah, (Matthew 16:17) Bartholomew. (Matthew 10:2)

The name might mean simply 'son of his father,' but not so probably. A few documents give in Matthew 26:16 and Matthew 26:17, or in Matthew 26:17 alone, 'Jesus Barabbas.' Every one feels this to be an interesting reading, but the evidence is too slight to warrant accepting it, as is done by Fritz., Meyer, Farrar, and others. Tregelles has shown how it might have arisen through a mistake in copying; see also Tisch. and W. H., App. Whom will ye that I release unto you? John also states, and Luke implies, that Pilate suggested the release of Jesus. Mark (Mark 15:8) at first seems to make it come from the people. But he only states that the thronging multitude at that point reminded Pilate of the custom, a very natural thing upon coming before the tribunal early on the first day of the feast, and Pilate took up the idea and asked whether they wished him to release Jesus. For envy they had delivered him. Mark carefully distinguishes—Pilate addressed "the multitude," and "perceived that for envy the chief priests had delivered him up," R.V. Their jealousy arose from the fear that a person claiming to be the Messiah would interfere with their popularity and power. Pilate might well enough suppose that the multitude would have little sympathy with this feeling. Or Jesus, which is called Christ. We usually find 'the Christ,' the Messiah, see on "Matthew 2:4"; but here, as in Matthew 1:1, Matthew 1:16, and probably in Matthew 16:20, it is simply 'Christ,' a proper name.

III. Matthew 27:19. Message From Pilate's Wife

This is found in Matthew only. The judgment seat was a special chair, often carried about by a Roman official of rank, and placed as a seat of justice in front of his tent or house, upon an elevated 'pavement,' tessellated or mosaic.

The Romans were ostentatious of publicity in trials, as opposed to secret investigations. Compare (Keim) the case of the procurator Florus, who in A. D. 66, after spending the night in Herod's palace, "the next day placed in front of the palace a judgment seat, and sat down; and the chief priests and men of power and all that was most distinguished in the city stood beside the judgment seat." (Josephus, "War," 2, 14, 8.) This curious interruption from Pilate's wife gave time for the rulers to move about among the crowds and persuade them to ask for Barabbas. (Matthew 27:20.) It is suggested by Edersh. (compare above on Matthew 26:47) that so large a force as a cohort, commanded by a chiliarch, could not have been furnished to the rulers for the apprehension of Jesus without authority from Pilate. This would account for the fact that Pilate's wife knew what was going on, and felt distressed and anxious. Have thou nothing to do with that just man; the same Greek construction as in Matthew 8:29, John 2:4. This day in the Jewish sense, beginning at sunset. There is nothing here to indicate a divine influence in connection with the dream, and it can be accounted for by natural causes. The message would naturally increase the governor's reluctance to condemn the accused. A tradition, with but slight support, gives to Pilate's wife the name of Procla, or Claudia Procula. In like manner, the two robbers, the centurion, etc., have received traditional names, which interest some minds, but are of no real value. In A. D. 21, it was proposed in the Roman Senate that no provincial magistrate should be accompanied by his wife, as had been growing common; but the motion failed. Tacitus ("Ann.," III., 33-35) gives a summary of arguments on both sides.

IV. Matthew 27:20-23. The People Choose Barabbas Rather Than Jesus

Mark 15:11-14, Luke 23:18-23, John 18:40. The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude, while Pilate was occupied with the message from his wife, Notice that great throngs of people were gathered in front of the praetorium. The Jews have always been skilful politicians. The popular zeal about Jesus as the Messiah had evidently cooled, and probably because now for five days since the triumphal entry he had done nothing towards establishing himself as king. The wily demagogues could say that the highest court had tried Jesus, and found him an impostor and a blasphemer, who deserved to die, and they hoped Pilate would crucify him. If Barabbas was associated with patriotic traditions, as we have supposed (on Matthew 27:16), it was easy to excite popular good-will towards him. Compare the modern Greek robbers under Turkish rule. Mark, Rev. Ver., says, "the chief priests stirred up the multitude," a strong term, indicating that they roused them to excited feeling, for Barabbas or against Jesus, or probably both. 'Persuaded that they should ask', is a non-final construction, explained on Matthew 5:29. —Alexander: "This deliberate preference of a bad man to a good one, of a justly condemned criminal to one whom even Pilate recognized as innocent, would have been enough to brand the conduct of the priests with infamy. But when to this we add that they preferred a murderer to the Lord of life, a rebel and a robber to a prophet, to their own Messiah, nay, to the incarnate Son of God himself, this perverseness seems almost incredible and altogether irreconcilable with rectitude of purpose and sincere conviction." Compare the striking statement by Peter in Acts 8:13-15.—In consequence of this skilful persuasion from the rulers, the multitudes 'cried out' (Luke and John), shouted the request. What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? He wishes them to observe (Alex.) that the effect of their choosing Barabbas is to leave Jesus in danger, hoping that this thought may lead them to change the request. They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. The hint to this effect had probably been given the crowd by the rulers. They could thus make his death ignominious, so as to break his hold on popular admiration; and could also have an excuse for saying in future, if complained of, that it was not their act but that of the Romans—as some Jews anxiously maintain now. They knew not that under an overruling Providence they were bringing about a form of death most suitable to atonement, as involving "shedding of blood," and causing wounds that would be marks of identification after resurrection, without the distressing mutilations caused by stoning. As to the term, 'crucified,' see on "Matthew 16:24", and see on "Matthew 27:35". Why, what evil hath he done? Pilate had no liking for the rulers, and understood their jealousy of Jesus. (Matthew 27:18.) And where his own interests or passions were not involved, he had some sentiment of Roman justice. So he remonstrates with the crowd. Luke tells us that he declared, "I find no cause of death in him," B. U. Ver., and a second time proposed, (Luke 23:16, Luke 23:22) as a sort of compromise that might satisfy the enemies of Jesus, "I will therefore chastise him and let him go." All this, as Chrys. says, was weak and unmanly conduct; see on "Matthew 27:24". But they cried out the more, or exceedingly. An excited throng is often more boisterous in proportion as it has less reason. Compare Acts 19:34.

Matthew 26:24. Pilate tries to shift the responsibility, and the people assume it. This is recorded by Matt. only.—Saw that he could prevail nothing, that he did no good by his suggestions. Why was the man of power thus powerless? Why could he not say, Fiat justitia, ruat caelum? [Let justice be done, if the heavens fall]. He was evidently very anxious to avoid condemning the innocent, for he made in all six distinct efforts to escape the difficulty: (1) sending Jesus to Herod; (2) suggesting that he might be released according to the custom; (3) proposing to compromise by scourging and releasing, Luke 23:22 f.; (4) washing his hands and disclaiming responsibility; (5) proposing to turn the case over to the Jewish rulers, John 19:6; (6) appealing and remonstrating before he pronounced judgment, John 19:14 f. Pilate was not a man of heroic mould, but he was "self-willed and obstinate." Why could he not do what he so greatly desired? He was entangled by his own previous wrong-doing, see on "Matthew 27:11". He had made rulers and people hate him thoroughly, so that they would be glad of an excuse for reporting him to Tiberius; and he knew that the suspicious and jealous emperor would be slow to pass over the charge that he let go one who claimed to be king. Pilate was weak now because he had formerly been wicked. Like many a politician, his record was in the way of his conscience. A tumult was made, or, was arising. The Romans desired two things in the provinces, tribute and peace. A successful governor was one who kept everything quiet, and popular tumult was greatly disliked, as being troublesome and expensive, if not dangerous. Washed his hands before the multitude. The law of Moses had directed this ceremony in a peculiar case of real innocence; (Deuteronomy 21:6-9) an image was drawn from it in Psalms 26:6. Pilate might easily become acquainted with this Jewish custom, which was in itself a very natural symbol. Innocent of the blood of this just person, or righteous man. The shorter text of margin Rev. Ver. is quite probably correct, 'innocent of this blood'; there is no important difference, for Pilate elsewhere declares him to be righteous, Luke 23:14; John 19:4. But the governor was; not innocent. Plump.: "One of the popular poets of his own time and country might have taught him the nullity of such a formal ablation "—

'Too easy souls, who dream the crystal flood

Can wash away the fearful guilt of blood.'

—Ovid, 'Fast': ii. 48.

And he himself felt that he was not innocent, for it was afterwards that he made the two new efforts in John 19:4-16 to overcome the opposition of the Jews. Then answered all the people. Not simply some; it was a general cry. His blood be on us and on our children. Jerome : "A fine inheritance the Jews leave to their children." Josephus tells that in the insurrection against Florus, about A. D. 65, "many of the Jews were apprehended and brought before Fiorus, who first scourged and then crucified them." And Titus, during the siege, A. D. 70, caused many captured fugitives, sometimes five hundred a day, to be "scourged and tortured in every form, and then crucified in front of the ramparts.... And so great was their number that there was no space for the crosses, nor were there crosses for the bodies." ("War," 2, 14, 9; 5, 11, 1.)

V. Matthew 27:26. Jesus Delivered To Be Crucified

Mark 15:15, Luke 23:24 f.; John 19:1. Scourged. The terrible Roman scourging carried with it into the provinces the Latin word, which is here borrowed into the Greek of Matt. and Mark, and so into the Syriac (Pesh.) and Coptic (Memph.) Jerome here remarks that it was according to the Roman laws that one who is crucified shall first be scourged. Wet. quotes Greek, Roman, and Jewish writers as showing that it was common to scourge before crucifying; compare Jos. above. The sufferer was stripped and bound to a pillar or post, bending forward so as to expose his back completely; the heavy whip or strap often contained bits of bone or metal, and tore the quivering flesh into one bloody mass. The law of Moses had provided, (Deuteronomy 25:3) that a scourging should not exceed forty stripes, and Jewish custom made sure of this by stopping at "forty save one'"; (2 Corinthians 11:24) but the Roman scourgers were restricted by nothing but strength and inclination. We ought to feel a shuddering gratitude at our inability to conceive the consequences of this cruel infliction. Delivered, to some of his soldiers. (Matthew 27:27.)

VI. Matthew 27:27-31. Jesus Mocked By The Soldier, And Led Away To Be Crucified

Mark 15:16-20; John 19:2-16. The soldiers of the governor, the Roman soldiers in immediate attendance. These were seldom Italians, (Acts 10:1) but drawn from all parts of the empire. They may in this case have been Syrians, or may have been Germans. Took Jesus into the common hall. In Rev. Ver., palace was used by English Revisers. This is not the word rendered 'palace' in Com. Ver. of Matthew 26:3, Matthew 26:58, Matthew 26:69, but another term, the Roman praetorium (borrowed in the Greek), denoting the proctor's tent or abode, the general's head-quarters. The American Revisers wisely preferred to render proetorium. The trial and the scourging had taken place in front of the praetorium, in a broad open space where the judgment seat was placed and the crowds assembled. The mocking that follows occurred within the praetorium, and afterwards the sufferer was again led out by Pilate, for another appeal to the people. (John 19:5, John 19:13) And gathered unto him the whole band, or 'cohort' (margin, Rev. Ver.), compare on Matthew 26:47. The expression (Meyer) is of course popular, not necessarily implying that every soldier of the cohort was present; but it was a large number. And they stripped him. There can be little doubt that this is the correct text; that of margin, Rev. Ver. (differing in the Greek by only one letter) would mean that having previously stripped him for the scourging, (Acts 16:22) they now replaced his garments and then put round him the scarlet cloak. A scarlet robe. Mark and John, 'purple.' The ancients did not so carefully discriminate colours as we do, and royal purple is believed to have included all tints from sky-blue to crimson. The term here rendered 'robe' denotes a short red cloak worn by Roman military and civil officials. The soldiers would naturally take this as a mocking substitute for a king's purple robe; indeed, a Roman emperor might wear it. A crown of thorns. So Mark and John. The crown would simply be a garland. The plant employed cannot certainly be determined, but was most probably the nubk of the Arabs, "a tree which is found in all the warmer parts of Palestine, and about Jerusalem.... The flexible boughs are tough, and well suited to form a garland, and the thorns are numerous and sharp" (Tristram, "Nat. Hist."). The thorns were of course unpleasant to the brow, but not excessively painful, and were probably used more in derision than in cruelty. A reed in his right hand, as a mock sceptre. Hail, King of the Jews! The Jews had mocked him as a pretended prophet; (Matthew 26:68) here the Romans mock him as a pretended king. Spit upon him (Mark likewise), as the Jews had done in their mocking. (Matthew 26:67) And took the reed and smote him on the head. So Mark. The tense of 'smote' is imperfect, a continued smiting, and so in Mark as to the spitting also. Then restoring his own garments, they led him away to crucify him. So Mark, Luke, John. John interposes an account not given by the other Evangelists, of a renewed effort made by Pilate once and again, to excite popular compassion and change the result. But the wily Jewish rulers knew his weak point and their advantage, and said, (John 19:12) "If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cesar." We have seen (on Matthew 27:24) why Pilate felt helpless in presence of this thought. And so his last efforts had failed.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 27:11 f. Henry: "Many oppose Christ's holy religion, upon a mistake of the nature of it; they dress it up in false colours, and they fight against it." Griffith: "So always a true he-art will speak out boldly, indifferent to circumstances,—will not endeavour to clip and tear and file the form of its utterances, in order to avoid collision with misconception and prejudice."

Matthew 27:14. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent.—Matthew 27:19. Henry: "It is an instance of true love to our friends and relations to do what we can to keep them from sin."

Matthew 27:21. Barabbas. (1) The son of a religious teacher sometimes becomes very wicked. (2) People often choose some evil person or thing in preference to Christ. (3) A man guilty and condemned may escape death because of Christ's dying in his place.

Matthew 27:22. Alas! for the fickle multitude who shout "Hosanna" today, and ere a week has passed cry out, "Crucify him." The vox populi is sometimes vox diaboli.

Matthew 27:23. Henry: "The Lord Jesus suffered as an evil-doer, yet neither his judge nor his prosecutors could find that he had done any evil."

Matthew 27:25. Chrys.: "Passion and wicked desire suffer not men to see anything of what is right. For be it that ye curse yourselves; why do you draw down the curse upon your children also?" Calvin: "There is no doubt that the Jews felt secure in devoting themselves, supposing their cause to be just in the sight of God; but inconsiderate zeal drives them headlong to cut off from themselves all hope of pardon for their wickedness. Hence we learn how anxiously in all judgments we should avoid headlong rashness."

Matthew 27:26. Lessons from the case of Pilate. (1) Scepticism and superstition often go together—"What is truth?" and the dream. (2) Scepticism will sometimes turn away from the richest sources of instruction and the amplest evidence. (3) A man feebly anxious to do right may be sorely embarrassed by previous wrong doing. (4) A man cannot make a decision and evade the responsibility of it. (5) Others may voluntarily share a man's guilt, and not lighten it.—the greatest of all instances of God's bringing good out of evil is the fact that because of Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate. and Barabbas, the Divine Redeemer was lifted up that he might draw all men unto himself.

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Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". 1886.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Matthew 27:11-26. Jesus again before Pilate - He seeks to release Him but at length delivers Him to be crucified. (= Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-40).

For the exposition, see on Luke 23:1-25; see on John 18:28-40.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

For the exposition, see the notes at , and at John 18:28-40.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary


This chapter opens with the delivery of Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor (Matthew 27:1-2); then follows the account of Judas’ remorse (Matthew 27:3-10); Jesus is now questioned by Pilate (Matthew 27:11-14); Barabbas is released and Jesus is condemned (Matthew 27:15-26); He is crowned with thorns and crucified (Matthew 27:27-44); He dies (Matthew 27:45-46), and is buried (Matthew 27:57-66).

The account of Judas’ remorse (Matthew 27:3-10) seems to contain two discrepancies. For example, Matthew 26:5 compared with Acts 1:18, the explanation of which is that he fell after the hanging. Matthew 26:9-10 may allude to Jeremiah 18:1-4; Jeremiah 19:1-3, but if so, the application is remote, since Zechariah 11:12-13 fits the case more exactly. Perhaps this is a copyist’s mistake, although there is another explanation. In the Jewish canon the books of the prophets began with Jeremiah, and sometimes his name was given to the whole section of the prophets just as we use David’s name for any of the Psalms, or Solomon’s for the Proverbs, though there were other authors in each case.

Note that Jesus’ reply to Pilate, “Thou sayest” (Matthew 27:11) is equivalent to a declaration that He was what Pilate said, “The King of the Jews.”

Note Pilate’s testimony to the innocence of Jesus, and that according to Roman law He was condemned unjustly (Matthew 27:24).

Note Jesus’ consciousness to the end, as illustrated in his refusal to sip the stupefying drink (Matthew 27:34).

The inscription on the Cross is recorded differently by the evangelists, but this does not imply a contradiction or weaken the argument for the inspiration of their records. The inscription was in three different languages involving a different arrangement of the words in each case. Secondly, no one of the writers quotes the entire inscription. Thirdly, they all agree in emphasizing the one great fact that He was “the King of the Jews.” Fourth, their narratives combined give the full inscription as follows:

“This is Jesus, The King of the Jews”

“The King of the Jews”

“This the King of the Jews”

“Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews”

It is consistent with the strictest view of the inspiration of the original autographs that the Holy Spirit may have had a purpose in causing the four different records to be written, and that the purpose was to bring out in relief the charge made against Jesus, as that charge was in itself the strongest testimony to His Messiahship and the fulfillment of the Word of God.

The words “yielded up the ghost” (Matthew 27:50) should not be passed over. They mean “dismissed His spirit,” and imply an act of His will. Christ did not die like other men who cannot help themselves, but because His work was done His life was laid down of His own volition. (Compare Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 10:18; John 19:30.) This is an inferential testimony to the sacrificial character of His death.

The “veil of the temple” (Matthew 27:51) separated between the Holy Place and the Most Holy the latter that into which the High Priest alone entered once a year with the blood of atonement (Exodus 26:31; Leviticus 16). It was a type of the human body of Christ, and its rending signified that “a new and living way” was opened for believers into God’s presence (compare Matthew 9:1-8; Matthew 10:19-22).

The resurrection referred to (Matthew 27:52-53) was one of the most remarkable testimonies to the deity of Christ and the divinity of His work on the Cross. Did the bodies of these saints return to their graves? It is usual to imagine so, but they may have ascended to heaven with Jesus when He “led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8-10).


1. Name the seven chief events of this chapter.

2. Name the parallel Scriptures.

3. How would you harmonize Matthew 26:5 with Acts 1:18?

4. How would you explain the different reports of the writing on the Cross?

5. What evidence have we here to the voluntariness of Christ’s death?

6. What was the significance of the rending of the veil?

7. Have you read Ephesians 4:8-10?

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Gray, James. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker



Almighty God, we come to thee through the crucified One as through the only way by which we can find access to thy throne. We stand by the cross, and as we look up into the eyes of the dying Sufferer, our sin finds out all the meaning of his great work. He was delivered for our offences, he was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him. By his stripes are we healed. We know not all the mystery of this love: it is enough for us to know that it was love. God is love, infinite love: we need it all: we sin every day, and every day we need the cross. Blessed be thy name, the cross stands through all the light and through all the darkness; the night and the day are the same to it, for thy mercy endureth for ever. Where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound. Thy grace is greater than the law,—taking it up and causing it to be swallowed up in that which is greater than itself. We are saved by grace, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God—the grace, the favour, the mercy of God. In this grace we stand, by it we are saved, and in it is the secret of our hope, and the security of our being is in it also. Thou dost give more grace, thou dost give grace upon grace, till we are filled with thy love and made holy by thy presence.

We have come to worship thee in hymns and psalms and loud thanksgivings, for thy tender mercies are over all thy works, and the morning brings us a new revelation of thy lovingkindness. Thy faithfulness is as a great rock, and thy mercy as a boundless sea, and thy wisdom and thy love like a great shining heaven. We run into thine house and find security there. This is the day the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Recall to our memory, we humbly pray thee, all that is best, purest, tenderest in our recollection, and make our memory glow as it brings before its review thy wonderful tokens of patience and regard and love. May we omit nothing of the great sum; thou hast left no moment unbaptized: in every moment hast thou hidden some drop of thy dew. O thou who givest always, give us thy very self to reign in our hearts.

As for thy word, it is sweeter to us than honey, yea than the honeycomb; we found thy word and we did eat it; we sighed for some token from heaven, and behold we found it in the written word, full of light and love and redeeming messages, filled from end to end with the majesty and tenderness of the cross. We would live upon thy word as upon bread sent down from heaven; it would be unto us bread which the world knoweth not of, a light at midnight, a song in the storm, an angel always in the house. Grant us an inspiring spirit to read the inspired word—so shall we go beyond the letter and find out all the mystery of the music and all the blessedness of the eternal love.

What we are thou knowest, and what we would be none but thyself can tell. We are here for a few days, most of the time as a cloud overhead, and we see nothing but the great gloom. We struggle and wonder, we pray and blaspheme, we read thy word and forget it, and in the midst of all the rush of life thou dost lay us down in our last sleep. Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. We all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away. O that we were wise, that we would consider our latter end. Lord, teach us the number of our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. May we be amongst those servants who shall be found waiting when their Lord cometh, having in their hearts a great expectancy, a noble and inextinguishable hope.

Look upon us now as needy suppliants at thy throne—needing light, grace, forgiveness, uplifting of heart, rekindling of all that is best which is of thine own creation. Thou wilt not spare any blessing which thy needy children ask at thy hands. When thou hast given all, then forgive—hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and when thou hearest. forgive. May the power of the cross, its holy blood and great sacrifice, be realized in our consciousness of individual and complete pardon.

Grant to each of thy people what each most needs—guidance through the immediate perplexity, release from the day"s embarrassment, an answer to the difficulty of the immediate time, solace under the deep wound which has touched the heart. Cover up our graves with flowers, make our bed in our affliction, lift up the weak in thine arms and give them rest and renewal of strength, and lead us all the way through to the very end, till we languish into life. Amen.

20. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

22. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified (the first direct intimation of the mode of death).

23. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands ( Deuteronomy 21:6) before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

25. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (Madly inverting the law, Deuteronomy 21:8.)

26. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged (flagellum: the Roman punishment with knotted thongs of leather) Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

27. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall (the Prtorium), and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers (the cohort, or subdivision of a legion).

28. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. (Probably some cast-off cloak of Pilate"s own.)

29. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand (representing the sceptre used symbolically both in the Republic and the Empire): and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

30. And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

31. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name (Mark mentions him as the father of Alexander and Rufus), him they compelled to bear his cross.

33. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha (nigh unto the city, John 19:20), that is to say, a place of a skull,

34. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall (wine mingled with myrrh, meant to dull the sufferer"s pain), and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

35. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36. And sitting down they watched him there;

37. And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS (the titulus, or bill, or placard).

38. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

39. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40. And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41. Likewise also the chief priests, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42. He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

44. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

45. Now from the sixth hour (the place of execution was reached about9 a.m.) there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (to the Roman soldiers and the Hellenistic Jews unintelligible), that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

47. Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias (probably a wilful perversion).

48. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

49. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

The Crucifixion

Barabbas or Jesus." That is the question, today, that question never changes. Our choice is not between things similar, but between things exactly and irreconcilably opposite. This does not always appear to be the case, but it is so in reality. We have shaded things now so much into one another that we delude ourselves with the notion that the distance between one action and another is merely nominal. We must get rid of that sophism, if we would begin the real work of life. There are but two spirits in the universe, both present at the opening of human history, and they rule the world today. Those spirits are good and evil, God and the devil, the pure and the impure, the heavenly and the infernal. To one or other of these we belong.

Yet we may not appear to belong to either of them decisively. In our motive and purpose we may be the very elect of God, whilst we are apparently the children of wrath. We are what we would be if we could. Our character is not in the broken deed, the unsaintly word, the passing temper: our character is in our heart of hearts, our secret motive, our supreme purpose. Herein are men misjudged, both on the one side and the other; herein has been found a considerable difficulty in the reading of the Bible itself to some, for they know not how a man can be said to be a man after God"s own heart, when he has done thus and so—actions evidently contrary to the spirit of holiness and of justice. How can Peter be a disciple of Christ, when he has sworn with an oath that he knew not the man? Surely there must be some other standard of judgment by which we make our mistakes, for we make no true judgments. I find rest in the doctrine that we are in reality, all appearances to the contrary, what we really would be, in our holiest prayers and in our highest inspirations. If we can say, "Lord, thou knowest all things—thou knowest that I love thee," though ten thousand accusing voices ring from the very caverns of hell itself in impeachment of our life, God will know how to esteem us.

The doctrine holds good on the other side. We are not to be judged by our occasional goodnesses, our fits of charity, our studied actions of beneficence. We cannot pay the mighty debt of accusation which the law brings against us. Thrust we our hand never so deep into our resources, there is nothing in those resources themselves to answer the mighty claim. So let us be just on the one side as on the other. I do not value the momentary sigh, the mere cry of a calculating penitence, which is sorry for the result rather than for the sin. I must be understood as speaking to reality, to essences, to the very vitalities of things, and as holding the candle of the Lord over the thoughts and reins of the heart.

Is not some such word of cheering necessary to recover us from the leprosy of despair? We get into the way of adding up what we have done, and complaining of the little sum. There is a sense in which such action is perfectly proper—but what is your spirit, what is your supreme desire? Stripping yourselves of all commendation, false refuges, mistaken trusts, and fanciful conceptions of life, what is it that you really wish to be? If hidden in God"s sanctuary, shut up with God face to face, you can truly say, "Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee: God be merciful unto me a sinner," then who shall lay anything to the charge of God"s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" It is Christ that died—who is he that shall rub out the record of his sacrifice and blood? Stand in the temple of these infinite securities and let no man take thy crown.

"The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus." The chief priests and elders are doing the same thing today. The priest is always a bad man; if he be not more than a priest, he is the worst of men. This was the irreligiousness of religion. Religion has done the very worst things that ever were done in human history. We must get rid of his word "religion" in some of the senses in which it is so often mistakenly and mischievously employed. Religion lay. at the bottom of the original FALL. Eve never could have been deceived by anything but religion. It was along the religious instinct she was approached, it was through the religious instinct she was destroyed. What said the tempter? "Ye shall be as gods."

That is the sophism which underlies the subtlest temptations which assail our life: to be as gods,—to break through the boundary line, to commit the final trespass, to include all things within the circle of our thought and movement! Religion may describe a merely outward attitude, religion may be nothing but a Latin name: what we want is.... Godliness. God is a Spirit.

We want an essential quality, a vital spirit, a holy inspiration. Religion may be irreligious, but godliness can never be less than divine.

In all the imprecatory psalms we have nothing but the irreligiousness of religion; religion pressed beyond its proper province; a partial and imperfect righteousness, a little and mean righteousness which thinks itself virtuous because it would bring down fire upon the vices of other people. The great righteousness is love. O that we could learn that lesson! then should we get rid of all censoriousness and cynicism, and all mutual criticism, and men would be silent where they are now noisy as to one another"s faults. The imperfect Prayer of Manasseh, the Old Testament saint, the man who thinks that righteousness consists in perpetual visitation of justice upon the head of the offender, is an irreligious religionist. He who sees righteousness rising in infinite glory into love, and shedding from its boundless firmament the dews of pity, upon a sinning world—he touches the very heart of Christ! Truly I know not where religion would lead some men; it makes them angry, sour, cynical, and foolish, and invests them with a power of doing incalculable mischief in the family and in the church.

The action of Pilate is described with infinite naturalness. There be many who condemn Pilate and laugh at him. I cannot join the unholy contempt. Pilate could have done nothing else. He has been condemned for vacillation by men who have not transformed themselves into his personality and made themselves reel under the tremendous pressure of the tumult which surged around him. He has been to them but a figure on a page; they have approached him with cold criticism; they have condemned where they should have sympathised and pitied. I honor Pilate. He was in a difficult position—he was not master: he suggested reasons and methods, which if accepted would have tended towards pity, release, and even justice of the noblest kind. But whilst I speak this word for the historical man Pilate, I have nothing but condemnation for modern Pilatism. Always distinguish between the historical man and the principle which has been modernized and named in his name. Cain is dead—Cainism never dies! Pilate is no more with us in the flesh, but Pilatism is the principal influence in the church today. What does Pilatism do? It affects friendship; it pays compliments; it transfers responsibility; it wants to be on both sides; it speaks a word and then does a contradictory deed; it washes its hands and shuts its eyes to the great murders of the times. It accepts a ritual, it avoids a discipline.

How far are we ourselves the subjects of this condemnation? Where is the honest follower of Christ? Not the blatant follower, but the steady, constant, loyal, loving follower whose life is a gospel written in the largest characters, and whose speech is eloquent with the messages of the cross itself? In what relation do we stand to modern controversies? Men are surging around Christ now who want to crucify him again on a literary cross, or a cross that is critical. How do we stand in relation to them— are we firm, clear, simple, not with the firmness of bigotry, not with the simplicity of ignorance, but with the steadiness of loving gratitude to Christ for every revelation of wisdom and every hope of redemption? Let the church be steady and it will become the centre of peace in a tumultuous world. The peaceful man brings peace into every scene.

The people answered Pilate with this great cry, "His blood be on us and on our children,"—a prayer with an unconscious meaning, a vulgarity with a sanctuary enclosing it! It is marvellous how many persons have uttered words with unconscious meanings, and how some of the greatest testimonies have come from men who did not know that they were uttering them. Take the case of Caiaphas, for example: he gave counsel to the Jews that it was "expedient that one man should die for the people": he did not know what he was saying, yet in that saying he uttered the very gospel of eternity. We cannot tell how far our words go and what they really do in the world, and what great meanings will be attached to words which we spoke with more or less of thoughtlessness or with more or less of merely local contraction and application.

How noble an eulogium might be wrought out by skilful eloquence out of the testimony of outsiders and enemies! I ask for no other testimonial to the spirit and character of Christ, and to the effect of his spirit and character, than that which has been unconsciously given by those who were outsiders, or who were supposed to be personal enemies. What said Judas? "Innocent blood." What said Pilate"s wife? "Just person." What said the centurion amid all the darkness and terrible phenomena of the last hour—the Roman centurion, a participator in the great guilt? At the close of all he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God." These are not the testimonies of personal allies or sworn supporters. Judas and Pilate and Pilate"s wife and the centurion concur in writing under the name of Christ a testimony which is sufficient of itself to confirm his claim and to lift his character above all just suspicion. "He maketh the wrath of men to praise him, he drags the enemy at his chariot wheels." It is one of two things, a hearty, spontaneous, cordial union in the mighty anthem which bears his name above every name in its thunders of praise, or a reluctant testimony forced out of unwilling lips, but still tending in the direction of the lofty and immortal song.

Now we come to the last scene of all. Hear these words, "He delivered him to be crucified." The law that would find no fault in him was like an iron gate crushed down by an angry mob—the gate of law gave way, the last barrier fell, and the powers of darkness were triumphant. Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified. If wolves can be glad when they fasten their gleaming teeth in the flesh of their prey, then were those men glad when they laid their cruel hands on the unresisting Christ. From him there was no cry of pain, in him there was no shudder of mortal fear—he had died some time before, the bitterness of death was past, he had accomplished his sorrow, in all its higher aspects, in Gethsemane. Now he is "led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." They could not touch him; they could tear down the house in which he lived, but himself was beyond the cruel act!

See the ingenuity of cruelty: see what hell can do at its best. Let us realize the scene so far as we know it. Let Christ be the central figure of our assembly; closing our eyes, as it were, let us look upon him with the inner vision and see what actually took place. They stripped him, they plaited a crown of thorns and put it upon him, they put a reed in his right hand, they mocked him, they spat upon him, they took the reed out of his hand and smote him on the head—they led him away to crucify him. The ingenuity of hell could go no further. They stripped him who said, "If thine enemy take thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." He who preached the great sermon lived it in every throb of its infinite passion. They plaited a crown of thorns for him who said, "My kingdom is not of this world." They mocked him who said, "Our Father, which art in heaven." They spat on him who kept the door open for the prodigal and would not begin the feast till the wanderer came back. They smote him on the head who never had one thought or wish but for the public good. They led him away to be crucified who never harmed a single living thing! The evil powers triumphed. When he hung upon the cross they said, "He trusted in God, let him deliver him now if he will have him. They that passed by wagged their heads and railed on him. The thieves also which were crucified with him cast the same in his teeth." And Hebrews, as if confirming the very triumph of hell, said with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama, Sabachthani,—My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" There was darkness over the whole land—the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened, and the God-forsaken Sufferer hung there—the Victim without a friend, the Saviour of many without a voice to defend his fame!

O thou great hell, take the victory. Spirit of evil, damned from all eternity, mount the central cross and mock the dead as thou hast mocked the living! The night is dark enough—no such night ever settled upon the earth before. Will the light ever come again—is the sun clean gone for ever—will the blue sky ever more kiss the green earth? All the birds are dead, their music is choked; the angels have fled away and the morning stars have dropped their sweet hymn. This is chaos with an added darkness. What is happening?

May be God and Christ are communing in the secret places away beyond the mountains of night—may be that this murder will become the world"s Sacrifice—may be that out of this blasphemy will come a Gospel for every creature. It cannot end where it is—that cannot be the end of all! What will come next? We must wait.


"And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand, and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" Did not the thorns come of the curse? "Cursed is the ground for thy sake;.....thorns shall it bring forth." Did he not, in the fullest sense, bear the curse for us? They put a reed in his right hand,—do not all insincere professors do the same? Partial sovereignty, often merely nominal sovereignty, is given to Jesus Christ even by those who avow his religion. The soldiers knelt before their victim in an attitude of mock worship; this, even more than crucifixion, is the uttermost depth of depravity; crucifixion may be a legal Acts, but mockery is the refinement of cruelty.

"And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head." Truly, it was the hour and power of darkness. The spiritual temptation having failed, the lower instrument of physical torture is employed without mercy. The soul was untouched,—why fear them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do? They smote him on the head—or into the head, είς κεφαλήυ, drove the thorns into his head with bats and blows."—(Trapp).

"They compelled Simon of Cyrene to bear his cross." The writer just quoted well says: "Not so much to ease Christ, who fainted under the burden, as to hasten the execution and to keep him alive till he came to it. Truly the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel! "They gave him vinegar—cold comfort to a dying man; but they did it in derision, q.d, Thou art a King, and must have generous wines. Here"s for thee, therefore."

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The redemption of man is comprised in many scenes. The last supper of our Lord — his agony in the garden, for there man first offended — the treason of Judas — the apprehension of Christ — his appearance before Annas — his arraignment before the sanhedrim — his deliverance to the Roman power when arraigned before Pilate — his appearance before Herod — his return to Pilate, condemnation, scourging, and crucifixion — his resurrection — his ascension — and the promise of his second coming. Here we trace the tragic footsteps of the divine wisdom, and discover that God has done what was best and fittest to be done for our redemption.

Matthew 27:5. He went and hanged himself. The Vulgate reads, se suspendit, “suspended himself;” but some read, strangulatus est, “was hanged.” One thinks, and no mean critic, that the devil took him up into the air, and strangled him, and on letting him fall he was almost broken in pieces. It seems however more likely that the abdomen burst, when somebody cut him down.

Matthew 27:9. By Jeremy the prophet. The above citation is found in Zechariah only. Jeremiah’s name was either inserted without authority, or as his name stood foremost of the minor prophets, any passage cited from them might be said to be in the book of Jeremiah. So Lightfoot. But as Zechariah and Jeremiah are twice distinctly cited by St. Matthew, the name has probably been mistaken by the copyist. Augustine thinks it was a defect of memory in the evangelist.

Matthew 27:11. The governor asked him, Art thou the king of the jews? The rulers, determined to take away his life, made this the grand charge, and urged that through all jewry he had stirred up the people to sedition against the Romans. The Saviour’s reply is modest, glorious, and convincing. Thou sayest. It is as thou sayest. I am the king of the jews. To this purpose was I born, and for this end came I into the world, to bear witness of the truth; but my kingdom is not of this world. Thus the Lord, having avowed his Divinity to the sanhedrim, that he should come on the clouds of heaven; now avows his regal dignity to the governor, as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, according to St. Paul, he “witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate.” — The governor now pronounced him faultless, which roused all the bloody passions in the rulers’ hearts.

Matthew 27:15. To release unto the people a prisoner. At festivals the jews used to put criminals to death, to deter the nation from crimes. But as they had been released from Egyptian bondage at the paschal feast, they humanely released a felon according to the popular humour. Pilate therefore followed this custom.

Matthew 27:19. Have thou nothing to do with that just man. I am utterly surprised at the comment which certain critics put upon these words. All agree that the dream was supernatural; but the question is, whether it proceeded from God or from Satan. “We commonly reckon,” says John Calvin, “that this woman was suborned of the devil to obstruct or retard the redemption of man.” Maldonatus obviously leans to the same idea. Why then should Satan enter into Judas, and hurry him on to betray his Master, and then immediately inspire the dream of this woman to prevent his crucifixion? If Satan act against Satan, how shall his kingdom stand? The dream was most assuredly of God, to prevent Pilate from destroying himself in ignorance, by becoming the principal agent in the Saviour’s death. But were not the rulers and Pilate fated, or predestinated from eternity, to be the instruments of the Saviour’s death? It is replied, and largely illustrated in Genesis 22., that Abraham had, after a hard inward conflict, bound and laid his Isaac on the wood, and had raised his arm to slay his only son; and consequently that the obedience both of the father and the son were as consummate as if Isaac had actually been immolated. No man doubts of this. Hence John Goodwin, in his “Redemption Redeemed,” strikingly infers from Isaac, the type of Christ, that if the jews had embraced the Saviour, being convinced of his divine mission by his miracles, his obedience or willingness to die would have been equally meritorious of our redemption.

This thought has a high claim to consideration; for St. Paul founds the merits of Christ on his obedience, saying, he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8. Also in Psalms 40:7 it is said, Lo I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, oh my God. In that case our Saviour might probably, like Enoch, have been translated to the glory of the Father, after doing his will on earth. But against this supposition the words of Christ to Peter in the garden will be opposed. How then must the scriptures be fulfilled? I answer, the prophecies concerning Christ’s death were not more positive than those which once announced the sentence of death on Ahab, on Hezekiah, and on the Ninevites; yet in all these three cases, tears saved the men from punishment. And our Saviour himself twice said of Jerusalem, EXCEPT YE REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5. Moreover, sooner than admit that Pilate and the jews were absolutely fated to so foul a deed, I would adopt a system favoured by the Augustine theology; that the jewish rulers about the time of Lazarus’s resurrection, were rejected, passed into a state of reprobation, and so God employed them, as demons also are employed, to fulfil the scriptures in crucifying the Lord of glory.

Matthew 27:20. The chief priests — persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas. When a strong passion has once gained possession of the mind, not only the moral principle becomes extinct, but the understanding is blinded as to the consequences of guilt. Surely, had they thought at all, they must have seen the developement of their malice; aye, and what is most to be dreaded, the vengeance of heaven for the innocent blood of a prophet.

Matthew 27:24. Pilate — took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person. This custom was primitive. “If I am wicked, why then labour I in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.” Job 9:29-31. In cases of an undiscovered murder, Moses required the elders of Israel to wash their hands over a heifer, slain in the valley for expiation. Deuteronomy 21:6. Ovid, the Roman poet, is then not quite accurate in ascribing this custom wholly to the Greeks. He says, “The ancients believed, by the lustrations they prepared, that murder might be expiated. The commencement of this error was in Greece, where it was thought that an impious murder might be expiated by ablutions. Thus the son of Actor, surnamed Aruneus, was absolved by Peleus; and Peleus himself, from the murder of Phocus, was absolved by Acastus in the camp of Heraclea. —

The son of Amphiarus too, cries in fury, wash away, oh river Achelous, the guilt of my parricide; and lo, he is washed at once from his crime and his remorse. — Oh no, no! The sword awaits its victim. Canst thou be so credulous as to think that water can wash away a crime so foul?”

Omne nefas omnemque mali purgamina causam Credebant nostri tollere posse senes. Græcia principium moris fuit: illa nocentes Impia lustratos ponere facta putat. Actoriden Peleus, ipsum quoque Pelea Phoci Cæde per Hæmonias solvit Acastus aquas. — Amphiaraides Naupactoo Acheloo, Solve nefas, dixit, solve et ille nefas. Ah nimiùm faciles, qui tristia crimina cædis Flumineâ tolli posse putetis aquâ. FASTORUM, lib. 2. Matthew 5:35. Ed. Paris, 1804.

The repose which Pilate procured by this sacrifice of innocence to fury was but momentary. Some insurrection having happened in Samaria, Pilate destroyed many; and being accused to the emperor Vitellius, he was deposed, and died on his passage to Rome. But Eusebius says, he was banished to Vienne in France.

Matthew 27:25. His blood be on us, and on our children. The people who said this were misguided by the rulers and their dependents. But alas, they little thought that one million one hundred and ninety three thousand lives would so soon be required for this and all their other sins. — Josephus’s Wars of the Jews, book 7.

Matthew 27:26. When he had scourged Jesus, with the lictors, who did the same to Paul and Silas. This was a cruel punishment which they inflicted on malefactors in order to extort confessions. A full tragedy in character now followed, in planting the crown of thorns on his head, putting on him the robe, placing in his hands the reed for a sceptre, and paying to him the regal homage of bowing the knee. Such was the barbarism of the primitive world. When the French and the English made their first establishments in North America, great jealousies were excited among the six Indian nations; and when they got hold of a solitary traveller, they treated him with mockery and insults conformably to their humour. Oh what a heart is there in man. Those insults were permitted to the Saviour, that being the hour and the power of darkness, that the Father might by contrast, crown him with glory and honour, array him in the robes of light and majesty, and command the nations to bow the knee, lest with his iron sceptre he should dash them to pieces.

Matthew 27:34. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall. St. Mark says, “myrrh,” the usual draught of bitter poisonous herbs, to dull the exquisite pains of crucifixion. This draught our blessed Lord declined.

Matthew 27:37. This is Jesus the king of the jews. Pilate wrote this in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin, for he knew that such a claim of regal power would justify him with Cæsar. Every insult the Saviour received connected the cross with the crown; he was indeed the King of the jews, and also of the gentiles, who in his times shall show who is the only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Matthew 27:38. Two thieves crucified with him. The supineness of the Hebrews in taking life, and the encrease of crimes and tyranny, caused the country to abound with bands of robbers. There were also robbers in the city. The zealots who opposed the Roman yoke were often outlawed, and encreased the number.

Matthew 27:43. He said, I am the Son of God. This is equivalent to saying, “I and my Father are one.” John 10:30. Matthew 26:64.

Matthew 27:45. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land to the ninth hour, when the Saviour gave up the ghost into the hands of the Father. Of this darkness we have the testimony of Dionysius, in his seventh epistle to Polycarp, and in his eleventh epistle to Apollophanes. Several heathen writers also bear the same testimony.

Phlegon says, Anno quarto Olympiadis 202, fuit eclipsis solis omnium quæ ante innotuerunt maxima, et nox horâ diei sextâ facta est, ita ut stellæ in cœlo apparerent; magnus item terræmotus in Bithynia factus magnam partem Nicææ evertit. That is, “In the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiade, there was a total eclipse of the sun, the greatest ever known, which occasioned darkness from the sixth hour, and so great that the stars appeared in heaven; and at the same time a great earthquake in Bithynia, in which part of the city of Nice was destroyed.”

This darkness is also recorded by Thales; and Tertullian, in his apology, boldly appeals to the archives of the Romans, as containing the record of Phlegon; an event unknown before, that the sun in the midst of heaven should give this sign of obscuration. Likewise Apollophanes, then a gentile philosopher, having observed the darkness at the full moon, when a solar eclipse was impossible, writing to Suidas, said, Aut Divinitas patitur, aut compatitur ei qui patitur. “Either the divinity suffers, or sympathizes with him who suffers.” — Vide Poli Synop. See note on Luke 23:44.

Matthew 27:46. Why hast thou forsaken me? Our Saviour is thought to have suffered in his soul the anguish due to us. Hence, in the garden, his soul was sorrowful even unto death; for he felt the whole wrath of God against the human kind for sin. So RICHARD WARD. His humanity therefore complained, because help and succour were deferred. So URSINUS. Besides the mocking of the jews, he is supposed to have suffered all the horrible injections with which hell in the hour and power of darkness was permitted to assail his soul. Yet there was no momentary dissolution of the hypostatical union; nor can we say that inward solace or comfort was denied, for his confidence was retained, saying, my God, my God. Let believers learn of their dear Lord never to let go their confidence, for that is the anchor-hold. And, as he never forsook his servants in trouble, so we should never give up our hope of deliverance.

Matthew 27:50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. The voice of expiring men dies away like the vibrating sound of a bell; but the Saviour’s voice was strong. His enemies had indeed done their worst, but no man, said our Lord, taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. His death was voluntary, and he surrendered up his soul into his Father’s hands. His whole divinity was in that prayer, which left his body in the hands of men. His dying voice opened heaven, shook the earth, and awoke the dead. He rent the veil of the temple, and disclosed its mysteries to vulgar eyes; figurative that the veil of his flesh was now rent, that the sublime mysteries of faith stood disclosed, even life and immortality, and that the new and living way was opened for us to enter, following his flight into the holiest of all.

Matthew 27:51. The veil of the temple was rent in twain. Maimonides says, in the first temple there was a wall one cubit thick, separating the holy from the holy of holies. On building the second temple, it was doubted whether the thickness of that wall should belong to the holy, or to the holy of holies; they therefore hung up two veils at a cubit distance, and called it paraxis, or trouble. If the two veils remained in our Saviour’s time, they were both rent, and the holy of holies exposed to view, and just about the time of the day when the priest would be burning incense. This veil, St. Paul says, signified that the way into the holy place was not yet laid open, till Christ entered heaven by a new and living way; that is, by the rending of his flesh on the cross. Hebrews 9:8.

Matthew 27:52. Many bodies of the saints arose. These, says Ignatius, were the holy prophets, raised to live with Enoch and Elijah in the paradise of God. To help our weak faith God was pleased to do this, as a sort of firstfruits of the general resurrection.

Matthew 27:54. When the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and as Mark adds, that he gave up the ghost, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God. In the course of the day, they had understood his claims of divinity, and had mocked him in all his offices, as the prophet, priest, and king of Israel. Now the grandeur and terrors of his death, the earthquake, and the supernatural darkness, which could not proceed from an eclipse, it being then the full moon, drew these expressions from the centurion. Having learnt these words of the jews, they amount to a full confession of his Godhead, as in John 1:49. Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.

Matthew 27:55. Many women were there, beholding afar off, conformably to the modesty of the east, attesting all his agony of love, weeping in his tears, and dying in his death. A sight they would never forget, a sight we should always keep in view, and set Christ crucified before the eyes of the people. Galatians 3:1. Many men also who had stood aloof through fear, returned, smiting their breasts in anguish and grief: a cloud of witnesses attesting the love of God to fallen man.

Matthew 27:57-58. When the evening was come, as was the ancient law, Joshua 10:27, Joseph of Arimathea — went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus, the precious grain of wheat, whose resurrection produced a harvest of converts. Joseph buried him in his own new sepulchre, in which, as yet, no corpse had been interred. Nicodemus assisted in all those decencies of haste; for Christ crucified brings the dead to life: and thus without design made the evidences of his resurrection incontestible, by which he was declared to be the Son of God with power. Romans 1:4.

Matthew 27:66. They went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch. God takes the wise in their own craftiness. All those precautions were collateral proofs of the Saviour’s resurrection. Death liberates from the persecutor’s arm, but malice operates unceasingly in the heart. Paradise and the tomb gave the Saviour repose, but a guilty conscience allowed no rest to his murderers. Their honour was now at stake; and if he had not risen they would have exposed his body to the public, as Achilles exposed the body of Hector around the walls of Troy.


We now follow the Lamb of God to see him set us an example in suffering, and to view him taking away the sin of the world. In every view we trace a wisdom and a temper worthy of his infinite dignity and glory. While Annas asked him of his doctrine and disciples, an officer, perceiving that Jesus answered with the dignity of a prophet, rather than the muttering of a felon, struck him. The Saviour explained to him his duty, to bear witness of evil, and not to strike, and left him to blush for his sin. This little circumstance marks the christian as possessing a superiority above all others.

The council or sanhedrim were ready in a nocturnal session, as wolves, to devour the Lamb. They sought for false witnesses, whose evidences, being political, would affect the Saviour’s life; but they found no such evidence. The highpriest therefore, more learned in wickedness than the temporal counsellors, adjured him in the name of God to say whether he was the Christ. This demand was contrary to every law of jurisprudence. It was unworthy of a minister of justice to urge it. But wrong as it was, the Lord confessed, and denied not, but said, Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Here was truth in the fact, here was modesty in the expression, here was an affirmation that he inherited the glory which the jews had seen in the desert, and should inherit it for ever. Here was in short, a positive declaration of his Godhead; for it is written, My glory will I not give to another. So indeed the highpriest understood it, for he rent his robes at the presumed blasphemy, and persuaded the court to deliver him to Pilate as worthy of death; and yet this court agreed to keep silence before Pilate, and to forge charges of seditious expressions against Jesus. What incomparable wickedness! What sad fruits of rejecting the divine words and works of the Lord! Oh Caiaphas, thou hast rent thy robe, and God has rent the mitre from thy head, and from thy house; he has rent away the glory from thy people. Oh sanhedrim, you have taken counsel, deep as hell, against the Lord, and against his anointed; but he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at you, the Lord shall have you in derision. You shall come to nought, that the kingdom and the glory may revert to Jesus; and that you, reprobates by choice, may shortly be summoned to his high tribunal.

The morning came, the sun chased away the night; but ah, the darkness of that nocturnal guilt could never be removed. Jesus was early hurried before Pilate. The jews had power indeed to put thieves and murderers to death; but it would seem that the Romans in all cases reserved a right to judge state prisoners. Now in this prince we see a man of selfish policy, of weakness and fear, and a full portrait of embarrassment. He knew that the jews had delivered Jesus for envy; he saw it was not a political, but a religious affair; and therefore he sought to release him by impossible means, by a futile attempt to soften hearts which could not be softened. His weakness and indecision were perceived; and on being menaced with an appeal to Rome, instead of acting an independent part, he discovered the extreme of weakness and fear. He declared once and again, yea, three several times, that he found no fault in Christ. Yet to procure political repose, he scourged the innocent, and delivered him to die. Thus he foolishly procured the detestations of virtue, and an infinitude of pangs for his conscience.

In the flagellation or scourging of our blessed Lord, we may learn many lessons. We are healed by his stripes, and receive glory through his shame, when in reality all these indignities justly belonged to us for sin. Our Saviour, though apparently by the Roman custom of scourging criminals, was most significantly mocked in all his offices of prophet, priest, and king. He was crowned with thorns, arrayed in regal purple, and invested with the reed for a sceptre. But God, ever the advocate of innocence, converted them into real and immortal dignities. He crowned him with glory and honour, he arrayed him in the garments of majesty, and put a rod of iron into his hand, that he might rule the guilty nations. Yea, either for mercy or for judgment he will make every knee bow at the name of Jesus, and every tongue confess that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

We may next remark as the apostles do, the surpassing excellence of our Saviour’s temper before the council, and before Pilate. When he was smitten he threatened not, for punishment was due to us; when he was accused he answered nothing, for we were guilty; except when called upon, he witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate, and before the jews. Thus he has taught the suffering saints to commend their cause to God.

We must also observe, the dignity with which he died. He kept his eye on the accomplishment of prophecy; for that is the grand design of providence. He took care of his mother by recommending her to John. He pitied the ignorance and infatuation of his country, and prayed for the pardon of his enemies. He took care of the penitent thief. He, knowing that his work was finished, as Daniel had foretold, died with confidence — Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Thus he gave up life of his own accord, before the usual crisis of expiring nature. See farther Reflections on Mark 15.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

Ver. 25. His blood be on us, and on, &c.] God said Amen to this woeful curse, which cleaves close to them and their posterity, as a girdle to their loins, soaking as oil into their bones to this very day, Psalms 109:18-19. Thirty-eight years after this fearful imprecation, in the same place, and close by the same tribunal where they thus cried out, His blood be on us, &c., historians tell us, that Herod, wanting money, demanded of the Jews so much out of their treasury as would pay for the making of a water course. But the Jews, supposing it a needless work, not only denied him, but gave many outrageous and spiteful speeches, tumultuously flocked about him, and with great clamours pressed upon him, even as he was in his seat. Whereupon to prevent mischief, he sent to his soldiers to apparel themselves like citizens, and under their gowns to bring with them a dagger or poniard, and mingle themselves among the multitude; which they did, observing who they were that made the greatest uproar. And when Herod gave the sign, they fell upon them, and slew a great multitude. Many also, for fear of loss or danger, killed themselves; besides others, which seeing this massacre, suspecting treason among themselves, fell one upon another. What a dispersed and despised people they have been ever since! exiled, as it were, out of the world, by the common consent of all nations, for their inexpiable guilt. And beware by their example of wishing evil to ourselves or others, as our desperate God-damn-me’s do at every third word almost, and God will undoubtedly take them at their words, as he did those wretches that wished they might die in the wilderness, Numbers 14:28. As he did John Peters, the cruel keeper of Newgate in Queen Mary’s days; who commonly, when he would affirm anything, were it true or false, used to say, If it be not true, I pray God I rot ere I die; and he had his desire. So had Sir Gervase Ellowais, Lieutenant of the Tower, hanged in our remembrance on Tower Hill, for being accessory to the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury; who being upon the gallows, confessed it was just upon him, for that he had often in his playing of cards and dice wished that he might be hanged if it were not so and so. In the year 1551, the devil in a visible shape lifted up a cursing woman into the air in Germany; and therehence threw her down in the view of many people, and brake her neck. Another brought her daughter to Luther, entreating his prayers for her, for that she was possessed by the devil, upon her cursing of her. For when she had said in a rage against her daughter, Involet in te diabolus, The devil take thee, he took possession of her accordingly. The same author relateth a like sad story of a stubborn son, cursed by his father, who wished he might never stir alive from the place he stood in, and he stirred not for three years. Cursing men are cursed men. Alterius perditio tua fit cautio. Seest thou another suffer shipwreck, look to thy tackling.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

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.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Matthew 27:25". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Pilate's last attempt to reason:

v. 24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it.

v. 25. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us and on our children.

From the beginning, Pilate had miscalculated badly: He had not insisted upon proper legal procedure in demanding definite charges with sufficient testimony; he had not reckoned with mob influence, the chief priests outgeneraled him. It had now gotten to the point where he was facing a tumult which might develop into an insurrection. And so he continues the weakling's course in trying to shift the blame from his own person. Calling for some water, he washed his hands before all the people as a token of his innocence. He wanted to be held blameless in the entire matter; the guilt of this innocent blood should not rest upon him. In making this statement, he was either a hypocrite or a coward. Either he wanted to salve his conscience by declaring Christ's innocence openly, or he declared that he was forced into a condemnation against his sincere belief. In either case he was guilty, though he places the whole blame on the Jews. "But thus it always happens with the blood of Christ the Lord and with that of His Christians. The older Herod murders the innocent children about Bethlehem. His son murders the holy John the Baptist. And both of them thought they might get some benefit out of such murder. Pilate here also does not consider it a serious matter that he condemns Christ to death. He fondly imagines that, as he thinks of it, God will also think of it, and consider him blameless. But without doubt the wrath of God did not hesitate about coming, and the house, generation, and name of Pilate was annihilated, and body and soul condemned to hell and everlasting fire. There he found out how innocent he was of this blood. " The governor's action only brought out a most blood-curdling curse on the part of the people: May the blood of this man be upon us and upon our children! If this man be innocent, and we demand His death as a guilty person, may the punishment of such a crime be visited upon us, and upon our children after us! A little more than a generation later, this terrible curse was visited upon them, then their account was demanded of them with a heavy reckoning, in one of the most horrible judgments of God that history knows of.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             NINTH SECTION


Matthew 27:11-31

( Mark 15:2-20; Luke 23:2-25; John 18:28 to John 19:16.)

11And Jesus stood [was placed][FN15] before the governor: and the governor asked [questioned][FN16] him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest [it].[FN17] 12And when he was accused of [by] the chief priests and [the] elders, he answered nothing 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things14[what things, πόσα][FN18] they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word [and he answered him not a word];[FN19] insomuch [so] that the governor marvelled15[wondered] greatly. Now at that [the] feast[FN20] the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would 16 And they had then a notable [notorious ἐπίσημον],[FN21] prisoner, called Barabbas.[FN22] 17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas,8 or Jesus which [who] is called Christ? 18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things [much] this day in a dream because of him.

20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask [for] Barabbas, and [should] destroy Jesus 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain [Which of the two] will ye that I release unto you? They 22 said, Barabbas. Pilate said unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which [who] is called Christ? They all say unto him,[FN23] Let him be crucified 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

24When Pilate saw that he could prevail [avail] nothing,[FN24] but that rather a tumult was [is] made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person:[FN25] see ye to it. 25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he [but Jesus he scourged and,τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν φραγελλώσας] delivered him to be crucified 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall [Prætorium],[FN26] and gathered unto him the whole band of 28, soldiers.[FN27] And they stripped him,[FN28] and put on him a scarlet robe 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand:[FN29] and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.


General View.—Matthew describes the sufferings of Christ chiefly from the theocratic point of view. Hence, under the general head of a theocratic reference, we would group the silence of Jesus before Pilate, after He had declared that He was the Messiah; His being put upon an equality with Barabbas; the testimony of the wife of Pilate, and the testimony of Pilate himself (following that of Judas); the cry of the Jews: “His blood,” etc.; and the detailed narration of the mocking Christ in His kingly nature, on the part of the soldiers. The events, according to the Evangelists, occurred in the following order:—At first Pilate wished to hand Jesus over to the Jewish court, that Isaiah, to receive a simple ecclesiastical censure. Then he sent Jesus to Herod, to get rid of the difficulty. Thereupon occurred the presentation of Christ along with Barabbas, and, after the failure of that device, the significant hand-washing. Then, the presentation of Jesus to the people, after He had been scourged: Ecce homo. Finally, the scornful treatment of the Jews by Pilate, designed to veil his own disgrace.[FN30]

Matthew 27:11. Art Thou the King of the Jews?—For the circumstances leading Pilate to put this question, see John 18 Matthew 27:29 ff. From the same passage, Matthew 27:34-37, we learn that Jesus, before replying in the affirmative, asked whether Pilate used the expression, King of the Jews, in a Roman or a Jewish sense. The chief point for Matthew was, that Jesus, even before Pilate, the civil ruler, declared Himself explicitly to be the Messiah. Theophylact has, without reason, interpreted σὺλέγεις as an evasive answer.

Matthew 27:12. He answered nothing.—After He had, according to John 18:37, declared that He was the Messiah, and in what sense, He made no answer to the most diverse accusations and questions, and spake not till Pilate cast in His teeth the taunt, “Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee?” John 19:10. The accusations were by His silence stamped as groundless, and this majesty of silence filled Pilate with wonder and amazement.

Matthew 27:15. Now at the feast.—Annually, at the Passover. The Passover was the Jewish feast κατ̓ἐξοχήν, and the connection shows that to this festival reference is here made. The antiquity of this custom is unknown. The Talmud makes no allusion to it; but that is in all likelihood an intentional over sight. Grotius says, this custom was introduced by the Romans for the purpose of flattering the Jews. Braune: “The Roman and Greek custom of releasing prisoners upon the birthdays and festive seasons of the emperors, and upon days of public rejoicing, had been undoubtedly introduced among the Jews before the time of Pilate, to soften the Roman yoke.” Meyer: “We must not overlook a reference to the significance of the Passover.” Hence our thoughts are carried back to the free escape of the Israelitish, first-born. Looked at in this light, the release of the prisoners at the Passover reminds us of the Good Friday dramas of southern Roman Catholic countries. The custom, as a Jewish custom, was improper, and was opposed to the law, especially in such a case as the present, Exodus 21:12. Barabbas had been arrested for sedition and murder, Luke 23:19.

Matthew 27:16. They had then a notorious prisoner.—The wardens of the jails, in which were confined those who had committed offences against the Roman laws.

Called Barabbas.—Several cursive MSS, versions, scholiasts, and also Origen, read Jesus Barabbas. See note appended to the text. Barabbas,=בַּר אַבָּא, which appears frequently, according to Lightfoot, in the Talmud, means “the father’s son.” Ewald says: “He was the son of a rabbi.” Theophylact saw in it an allusion to Antichrist, “the son of the devil.” On the contrary, Olshausen makes it refer to the Son of God, and finds in it a play of divine providence, according to the proverb: Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus. De Wette terms this a very improper play of pious wit; and yet he must acknowledge it to be possible that Barabbas, being a mover of sedition ( Luke 23:19), might have played the part of a false prophet, or a messiah. The objection, that he would not have committed a murder had he been representing himself as a messiah, is of no weight. Let us now conceive to ourselves the whole state of matters: a Jesus Barabbas, the son of the father, a pseudo-messiah, is presented to the Jews along with Jesus Christ. Surely in all this may easily be seen a striking sport of Song of Solomon -called “chance.” And why should the supposition that providence controlled the similarity and difference between the two names, be so senseless? It is conceivable, however, that the Christian tradition removed the name Jesus, out of reverence.

Matthew 27:17. When they were gathered together.—Pilate had by this time discovered how matters stood. In his crooked policy, accordingly, he calculated upon certain success, when he should place the notorious or distinguished criminal side by side with Jesus, for the Jews to choose which of the two should be released. Besides, he appears to have waited cunningly till the people had reassembled in very large numbers before his palace on the Antonia, after having gone and returned with the train which conducted Jesus to Herod. Because, according to Luke, this train had gone off before the events here recorded occurred. Pilate knew by this time how envious the members of the Sanhedrin were of Jesus, and must from this conclude that he stood high in the favor of the people.

Matthew 27:18. For envy.—The Evangelist mentions here, in a historical connection, envy as the cause of all the hostility manifested against Jesus, as if it were something well understood.

Matthew 27:19. When he was set down on the judgment-seat.—The people had a moment for consideration, and Pilate regards the issue as one of such certainty, that he ascends the seat of judgment to receive the decision of the people, and to pronounce judgment accordingly. The judge was required to pronounce judgment from a lofty seat of authority, from his chair of office. This stood usually upon a stone pavement (Lithostroton, in Hebrew, Gabbatha, John 19:13).[FN31]

His wife sent to him.—This fact is found in Matthew only. As formerly, according to Matthew, the spirit of truth had in visions of the night borne witness for the new-born Jesus, and as the testimony of the heathen magi had in the day-season confirmed this witness, so on this occasion is the solemn, political testimony of Pilate on behalf of the suffering Jesus strengthened by a witness speaking out of the dream-life of his wife. Thus it is that each Evangelist selects out of the store of facts those which accord best with his views and purpose. From the time of Augustus, it became usual for the Roman governors to take their wives along with them into the provinces, though the custom was attacked down till the age of Tiberius: Tacit. Annal. iii33. Pilate’s wife, according to a tradition, given in Niceph. Hist. Eccles. 1:30, was called Claudia Procula or Procla, and was, according to the Gospel by Nicodemus, θεοσεβής, i.e, a proselyte of the gate, and perhaps one who revered Jesus. The Greek Church has canonized her.

Have nothing to do with that just man. She designates Jesus the Just, and hints that Pilate, by injuring Him, may subject himself to the divine punishment.—For I have suffered much.—An ordinary dream would not be spoken of in this way, as a dream of bitter agony. Nor would such a dream have led a Roman wife to send a dissuasive message to her husband when seated upon the judgment-seat. Some apparition, something supernatural, awful, must be here understood. Hence many have attributed this dream to a direct interposition of God, especially[FN32] Origen, Chrysostom, Augustin; others—namely, Ignatius (Epist. ad Phil. cap. 4), Beda, Bernard, also the old Saxon Gospel-Harmony, Heliand—ascribe the dream in a naive way to the devil, who wished in this way to prevent the redeeming death of Jesus. Of course the dream may have arisen quite naturally, as de Wette and Meyer hold. The governor’s wife knew something of the mission of Jesus; and the night before, the Sanhedrin had in all probability alarmed the procurator’s household, coming to demand a guard. But this view does not militate against divine interposition, although the Evangelist makes no allusion to such intervention. The dream was a morning dream, hence σήμερον—according to the Roman time-division, from twelve at midnight Klopstock makes Socrates appear in the dream to the wife of Pilate (in the seventh Song of the Messias).

[It is a remarkable fact that a woman, and she a heathen, should be the only human being who had the courage to plead the cause of our Saviour during these dreadful hours when His own disciples forsook Him, and when the fanatical multitude cried out. Crucify Him, crucify Him! It is equally remark able that she should call Him δίκαιος ἐκείνος, that just Prayer of Manasseh, and thus remind one of the most memorable unconscious prophecy of heathenism, viz, Plato’s description of the perfect δίκαιος, who, “without doing any wrong, may assume the appearance of the grossest injustice (μηδὲν γὰρ ἀδικῶν δόξαν ἐχέτω τῆς μεγίστης ἀδικίας);” yea, who “shall be scourged, tortured, fettered, deprived of his eyes, and, after having endured all possible sufferings, fastened to a post, must restore again the beginning and prototype of righteousness” (see Plato, Politia, vol. iv. p 74 sqq.; ed. Ast, p360 sq, ed. Bip, and my History of the Apostolic Church, p 433 sq.). Aristotle, too, says of the perfectly just Prayer of Manasseh, “that he stands so far above the political order and constitution as it exists, that he must break it, wherever he appears.” The prophecies of Greek wisdom and the majesty of the Roman law here unite in a Roman lady, the wife of the imperial representative in Jerusalem, to testify to the innocence and mission of Christ. It is very likely that the wife of Pilate was one of those God-fearing heathen women, who, without embracing the Jewish religion, were longing and groping in the dark after the “unknown God.”—P. S.]

Matthew 27:20. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded.—The members of the Sanhedrin availed themselves of the delay during which Pilate was occupied in receiving this message, to canvass the people and obtain their support. The two warnings which came, the one from the thoughtful presentiment of a pious spirit to Pilate, the other from the tortured conscience of Judas to the priests—proved fruitless; indeed, the first occasioned only a delay which the enemies of Jesus turned to their account. Nevertheless the testimony of his wife was not wholly lost on Pilate, for it reacted upon his own later solemn testimony.

Matthew 27:21. But he answered, ἀποκριθεὶς δέ.—Meyer properly explains, He replies to these preparations on the part of the Sanhedrin, which he overhears from his chair, by asking the people again, and more definitely: Which of the two, etc, and so puts a stop to this canvassing of the priests.

Matthew 27:22. Let Him be crucified, σταυρωθήτω.—They might have asked simply that he would confirm the condemnation for blasphemy, and sentence Jesus to the Jewish mode of execution by stoning; but they go further, and demand his active cooperation in the judgment. They wished Jesus to be executed as an insurrectionist, and hence to be crucified according to the Roman custom. They sought by this extreme penalty and this deepest disgrace to annihilate the memory of Jesus, and to stake the Roman might against faith in Him. Thus, in their senseless, self-destructive fanaticism, they consigned to the Roman cross their own Messianic idea; for the accusation, that Jesus was a mover of sedition, was only an inference which they deduced from the Messianic dignity claimed by Jesus.

Matthew 27:23. What evil then hath He done? Tίγὰρ κακὸν ἐποίησεν;—then, γάρ, implies that they must be able to give positive reasons for His death. The Evangelist passes by, however, the further special points, and represents only the effect of the uproar, which threatened to become an insurrection.

Matthew 27:24. Washed his hands.—A symbolical act of Jewish custom (consult Deuteronomy 21:6; Sota, 8, 6), by which one frees oneself solemnly from guilt. Pilate adopted a Jewish custom, to make himself from their own stand-point fully understood, and probably also to make a final attempt to dissuade them from the course they were pursuing. “The heathen practice of cleansing the hands to clear them from the guilt of murder after it had been committed, might, from its analogy, have led to the adoption of the Jewish custom.” Meyer. The matter, however, was important enough to call for a peculiar symbolic expression. [Pilate washed his hands, but not his heart, and in delivering up Christ, whom he pronounced innocent, he condemned himself. Sense of guilt made him a coward.]

Matthew 27:25. His blood be on us—That Isaiah, the punishment for His death, if He be guiltless. That Matthew is the only one who records this act of self-cursing on the part of the people, cannot throw any doubt upon the truthfulness of the same, when we remember that he wrote for Jewish Christians, and brought, in this declaration, the saddest truth before his nation. The early Christians had reason to see in the speedily following downfall of the Jewish state a fulfilment of this imprecation. [The history of the Jews for these eighteen hundred years is a continued fulfilment of this daring and impious imprecation, this fearful legacy bequeathed by the murderers of Jesus to their posterity. Yet for repenting and believing Jews, this curse is turned into a blessing; the blood of Jesus which cleanseth from all sin, and speaketh better things than that of Abel, comes upon them as a cleansing and healing stream, and may yet come upon this whole race, after the fulness of the Gentiles has been saved, Romans 11:25-26.—P. S.]

Matthew 27:26. But Jesus he (caused to be) scourged.[FN33]—The Roman scourging, of which mention is here made, was much more severe than the Jewish. According to the latter, only the upper part of the body was bared; according to the former, the entire body. The Jews numbered the lashes ( 2 Corinthians 11:24); the Romans laid them on without number or mercy. Besides, the Roman scourge was more excruciating. None but slaves were subjected to this flogging, Acts 22:25. Little value was attached to a slave’s life, much less his feelings. It is a matter of controversy whether bones, iron teeth, or leaden balls, were inserted among the thongs of the lash (see Heubner, p435). “That such lashes are mentioned, is not to be doubted; one of such a description was called μάστιξ ἀστραγαλωτή, a knout with bones woven to the end of the thongs, from ἀστράγαλος, a joint of the back-bone, then dice, talus.” The Romans scourged in two different ways. Those who were condemned to be crucified were flogged after one fashion. This scourging was so cruel, that the criminals died frequently while undergoing the punishment. Another kind of scourging was inflicted upon delinquents who were not condemned to capital punishment, for the purpose either of extorting a confession from them, or to punish them for a crime. This was the kind of scourging to which Pilate subjected Jesus. It was no less cruel than the other, inasmuch as it lay entirely in the hands of the judge to declare how far the punishment was to be carried.—See Friedlieb, p114.—De Wette: “Matthew and Mark represent Jesus as suffering the scourging which the Romans inflicted upon those condemned to the cross. (Liv32:36; Joseph. Bell. Judges 5, 11, 1; Hieron. ad27:34) According to Luke, Pilate merely proposes to punish, that Isaiah, to scourge, Jesus, and then release Him; but from his account ( Matthew 23:16) it would appear that there had been no actual infliction of scourging. From John 19:1, it seems that Pilate caused Jesus to be really scourged, hoping thus to satisfy the Jews, and to awaken their sympathy. Paulus holds John’s account to be the decisive one, and hence falsely explains our passage: after having already previously caused Him to be scourged.[FN35] Strauss (2:525) considers that the Synoptists give the more correct and earlier account.” It is manifest that John’s narrative is the most exact. The scourging which Pilate inflicted was employed, it would seem, as a punishment of Him whom he considered innocent, in order to satisfy the accusers, and to move them to compassion. It was a police correction, and the right of inflicting it rested upon the right to employ torture. In this sense it was that Pilate had long ere this, according to Luke, proposed to scourge Jesus, hoping by this act to work upon the feelings of the people, and to influence them in their choice between Barabbas and Christ. Hence Luke considers it superfluous to record the later, actual chastisement. Matthew presents the scourging in its significance as an actual fact, which, in his eyes, was the transition from trial to crucifixion, the first act in the crucifixion agonies. He might all the more properly view the scourging in this light, inasmuch as Pilate sought to effect, in his hesitation, a twofold object. At one moment it seemed as though he would himself take the initiative in the crucifixion; again, as though he would craftily overmaster the Jews.—“It was usually lictors that scourged; but Pilate, being only sub-governor, had no command over lictors, and so handed Jesus over to the soldiers. Hence it is probable that Jesus was not beaten with rods, but scourged with twisted thongs of leather.” Friedlieb, p115. Those who were flogged were tied to a pillar; generally they were bound in a stooping posture to a low block, and so the skin of the naked back was stretched tight, and fully exposed to the fearful lashes. The whips were either rods or thongs, to the ends of which lead or bones were attached, to increase the tension of the lash, and render the blow the more fearful. The backs of the prisoners were completely flayed by this process. They frequently fainted, and sometimes died. The soldiers would not inflict the punishment mildly, for they were the cruel ones who mocked Him afterward. It was, moreover, the policy of Pilate that Jesus should be perfectly disfigured.

Matthew 27:26. He delivered Him to be crucified.—The actual decision succeeded the presentation of Jesus, after His being scourged and crowned with thorns. The history which Matthew gives of these circumstances is quite systematic. The matter was now as good as settled. The form of the sentence was not prescribed, but must be short and valid. It was commonly: Ibis ad crucem. By the time these transactions were over, it was already, as John informs us, the sixth hour, toward mid-day.

[By delivering Jesus to the Sanhedrin, Pilate sacrificed his lofty and independent position as a secular judge and representative of the Roman law, to the religious fanaticism of the Jewish hierarchy. The state became a tool in the hands of an apostate and blood-thirsty church. How often has this fact been repeated in the history of religious persecution! By this act Pilate condemned himself, and gave additional force to his previous testimony of the innocence of Christ, showing that this was dictated neither by fear nor favor, but was the involuntary expression of his remaining sense of justice from the judgment-seat.—P. S.]

Matthew 27:27. Into the prætorium or governor’s house.—Luther translates πραιτώριον by Richthaus (common hall). Its original meaning is the tent of the general in the Roman camp: then it came to signify the residence of the provincial ruler (prœtor, proprœtor), where the court of justice likewise was held. The prœtorium is consequently the residence of a military, or a civil and military magistrate; and hence it is connected with the main guard-house, and equally with the state-prison ( Acts 23:35). “Already existing palaces were employed as prœtoria in the provincial towns; and we see from Joseph. Bell. Judges 2, 14, 8, that the procurators of Judæa, when they were in Jerusalem, converted the palace of Herod into a prœtorium.” Winer. Is it certain, however, that the palace of Herod was always so used? According to tradition, the governor lived in the lower city, and, as some more definitely assert, in the fortress Antonia. Winer is of opinion, that Pilate would find the empty, waste-standing palace of Herod the most convenient residence. But where, in that case, would Herod Antipas, who had come up to the feast, dwell? There is nothing certain to be made out. The following fact, however, speaks in support of the fortress Antonia. The scourging had taken place in from of the prœtorium. Then Christ was handed over to the soldiers; and they, instead of leading Jesus away immediately, commenced to mock and make a sport of Him. To carry this mockery on undisturbed, they conducted Jesus into the court of the prœtorium. In this conduct, the soldiers followed the excitement of the capital in its hate against Jesus, continuing the godless sport, which Herod had begun when he invested the Lord in a white robe, the token of candidateship, and so make a mock of His claim to the throne. Pilate had, however, the double design, either to mollify the Jews by the sight of the derided Jesus, or to mock them through Him, should his cunning plan fail.

And gathered unto him the whole band.—This is conclusive for the place being the fortress Antonia: σπεῖρα, the tenth of a legion, from400 to600 men.[FN36]

Matthew 27:28. And they stripped Him.—Meyer adopts the reading ἐνδν́σαντες, they clothed Him, and explains that His clothes had been torn off to scourge Him, and were now again put on. But the clothing is silently implied—mention being made here of a new maltreatment. Perhaps they may have first put on again the white dress in which Herod had caused Him to be clothed, to mark Him out as a candidate for royal honors, and then taken it off in order to invest Him with the scarlet robe, the sign of His having attained to kingly dignity. The drama would thus be complete. They, accordingly, again stripped off His outer garment, and, instead of it, put on a scarlet military cloak, sagum, which was intended to represent the imperial purple; “for even kings and emperors wore the sagum (only longer and finer).” Meyer. The mantle was a pallium dyed with cochineal The epithets, purple, purple robe, used by Mark and John, are explained by the fact, that they had before them the ironical import of the cloak.

Matthew 27:29. A crown of thorns.—It is impossible to settle accurately what particular kind of thorns was employed to crown Jesus. Paulus assumes, without good reason, that the crown was made of blooming branches of the hedge-thorn (Michaelis, of bear’s wort). Meyer: “A wreath of young, supple thorn-twigs, with which they would caricature the bay crown, as they did the sceptre by the reed. Their object is not to occasion pain, but to mock.” Why thorns then? Consult Winer, art. Dorn, as to the plentiful supply of thorns in Palestine. Hug considers it was the buckthorn. Braune: Perhaps the crown was made from the supple twigs of the Syrian acacia, which had thorns as long as a finger.

And a reed in His right band.—John omits this point, from which we might suppose that the reed had not remained in His hand. Probably a Song of Solomon -called Cyprian (we say now Spanish) reed. Sepp, iii516. De Wette says, ἀπέθηκαν, does not agree with κάλαμον. His ἔθηκαν does not agree, however, with the idea of a hand, which did not need to close on receiving the reed.

And they bowed the knee.—“After they clothed Him, they began their feigned homage, bowing the knee, and greeting, according to the usual form: Hail, King of the Jews!”

[On the symbolical meaning of this mock-adoration, Wordsworth observes: “All these things, done in mockery, were so ordered by God as to have a divine meaning. He (Christ) is clothed in scarlet and purple, for He is a military (?) conqueror and King; He is crowned with thorns, for He has a diadem won by suffering, the diadem of the world; He has a reed in His hand, for He wields a royal sceptre, earned by the weakness of humanity (see Philippians 2:8-11). The cross is laid on His shoulder, for this is the sign of the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, the trophy of His victory, by which He takes away sin and conquers Satan; His titles are inscribed upon the cross: ‘King of the Jews,’ for He is the sovereign Lord of Abraham and all his seed. In all these circumstances, as St. Hilary says, He is worshipped while He is mocked. The purple is the dress of royal honor; His crown of victory is woven with thorns. As St. Ambrose says (in Luke 23:31): ‘illudentes, adorant.’ ”—P. S.]

Matthew 27:30. And they spit upon Him.—Their cruelty, and the intoxication of wickedness, keep them from carrying out to the close the caricature exactly. The satanic mockery changes into brutal maltreatment.

Matthew 27:31. And after they had mocked Him.—And after the presentation to the people, John 19:5, had taken place,—Pilate’s last attempt to deliver Him. After the final decision, they clothed Jesus in His own garments, to lead Him away.


1. Jesus, the longed-for Messiah of the Jews, abandoned by His people to the detested Gentiles. Christ, the desire of the old world, driven out by that old world, as if He were the old arch-enemy. Or, the condemnation of the world converted through His victorious patience into the world’s redemption.

2. Christ before the judgment-seat of Pontius Pilate.—When He stood before the judgment-seat of Caiaphas, He pronounced in spirit judgment upon the hierarchy of the old world; but in that He Himself bore this condemnation, He atoned for us. So here, standing before Pilate, He represents the judgment of God upon the old world, its civilization and arts; but, on the other had, He takes upon Himself this judgment, and makes an atonement for that world. Here, too, He stood the real judge Himself: here, too, did He suffer Himself to be judged.

3. The hierarchy, the people’s uproar (revolution), the secular government, and the soldiery of the old world, are all involved in the common guilt of the maltreatment and execution of Christ, though the degree of their guilt diners.

4. Christ’s threefold silence, before Caiaphas, before Herod, and before Pilate, not a silence of contrition because of well-grounded accusations, but an atoning silence of majesty, because of the worthlessness of those courts, which had sunk into the very depths of guilt. In this light, the contrast between the moments of silence and of reply is most significant.

5. On one side, the testimony of Pilate’s wife to the Lord stands most closely connected with Pilate’s own; but, on the other, is strongly opposed. The pious spirit; the political time-server. “It is by no means unusual to see noble, pious women go along side by side with vain, worldly men, like anxious guardian angels, and in moments most fraught with danger, step in their way, and dissuade them from sin.” (From the author’s Leben Jesu, ii3, p1517.)

6. Persuaded the people ( Matthew 27:20).—The members of the Sanhedrin stirred up undoubtedly the fanaticism of the people. They would say, Jesus had been condemned by the orthodox court. Barabbas was, on the contrary, a champion of freedom; that Pilate wished to overthrow their right of choice, their civil rights, their spiritual authority, to persecute the friend of the people, etc. And so Barabbas would be gradually made to appear to the people by the statements of these demons of seduction as a Messiah, and the Messiah a Barabbas.

7. Crucify Him.—The State was here dethroned, and made subservient to the Church. Later, again, it became the slave of the heathen, Roman hierarchy, which hated and persecuted Christianity, till the days of Constantine. Again, the hierarchy of the Middle Ages ruled the State in the persecution of heretics. (Even the Emperor Frederic II.[FN37] pronounced sentence of outlawry upon all who were excommunicated from the Church, unless they speedily made their peace with her.) Finally, the reform-detesting hierarchy is seen again and again, in the histories of Roman Catholic states, overriding the civil power. Even at the present day, France, though revolutionized three times, will not suffer a person who has retired from the priesthood to marry. In Austria, a monk can obtain from the civil authorities no defence against a persecution by his superiors, as bitter as the Inquisition of the Middle Ages (at least, it was so till very recently).—The old wound will take long to heal.

8. The crowd of those who cried Hosanna, are driven into the background by the crowd crying: Crucify Him. Hence contradiction. And yet agreement. The same people. The weakest and most cowardly, who ever swim with the stream, allowed themselves to be borne along with both streams.

9. The self-imprecation of the Jewish people, a satanic prediction of the people of the prophets, which was the last evidence and extinction of their prophetic gift. The final prediction of Judaism was a cursing of themselves.

10. Pilate’s total want of character in contrast to the perfect character ( Hebrews 1:3, χαρακτήρ ).


The apparent reconciliation of the Jews and the Gentiles: 1. In its deformity: (a) the priests seducers of the worldlings, the Jews seducers of the Gentiles, who hate them; (b) the Roman State made to be the executioner of the decrees of that Judaism which it despises and humbles; (c) both combined against the king of humanity2. The awful results of this reconciliation: (a) the rejection of Christ; (b) the new separation, which appears even before the crucifixion, and culminates in the Jewish war; (c) the downfall of Judaism; (d) the heavy guilt and deep uneasiness of the Gentile world3. The significant signs in this apparent reconciliation: (a) a caricature; but also, (b) a presage, though not pattern, of the true reconciliation, which Christ instituted by His death, between Jews and Gentiles, Ephesians 2:14.—The judge of the world before the bar of the old world.—The courageous confession and witness of Christ before Pilate ( 1 Timothy 6:13; Revelation 1:5).—The calm consciousness of Christ in His last victorious moments (calm before Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate).—The threefold silence of Christ, a majestic testimony: 1. To the eternal discourse of His life; 2. to the emptiness of His enemies’ replies; 3. to His certainty of a different judgment from God.—What were the motives leading Christ one time to speak, again to keep silence, before the Judges 1. He speaks first to preserve His self-consciousness by confession; second, to save His enemies by a great, solemn warning2. He makes no reply to the futile, the ambiguous, the confused, which must overthrow itself, confute itself, and reveal its own falsity; above all, He is silent before the unworthy and mean, especially before Herod.—Christ, at the bar of the world, acquitted and yet condemned.—Christ was put to death, not so much in consequence of the condemnation of the civil authority, as in consequence of the hierarchical revolution.—And this revolution was the most disgraceful of all.—Yet was this first year of this disgrace of man made by God’s rule to be the first year of man’s salvation.—Christ and His surrounding company at His trial: 1. The accusers; 2. His partner in trial, Barabbas; 3. the witnesses (Pilate and his wife); 4. the judge.—Notwithstanding the greatest promise of His release, nothing in the world could save Him, because the world was to be saved through His death.—The three arch-enemies of Christ upon His trial, and His impotent friends: 1. Against Him: (a) the envy of the priests; (b) the ingratitude of the people; (c) the unbelief of Pilate2. For Him: (a) a witty comparison (with Barabbas); (b) a pious dream; (c) an ineffective ceremony (washing of the hands).—The full powers of bell, and God’s full power to decide and save, were at work in the death of Christ; and yet human freedom was in no respect affected.—The world’s judgment of rejection, as concerns Christ, and Christ’s judgment of salvation, as concerns the world.—Christ and His accusers, and Barabbas, and Pilate’s wife, and Pilate, and the people, and the men of war.—Pilate, the judge of Christ, fallen under judgment1. His picture: with full understanding of the circumstances, conscious, warned, anxious, and yet succumbing2. The lessons taught by the picture. So fell the ecclesiastical judges of Jesus before him; so will all fall after him who presume to judge the Lord.—Pilate knew that for envy, etc.—Envy, which stirred Cain up against pious Abel, reaches its maturity in Christ’s crucifixion.—The Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 : “Through envy of the devil came death into the world.”—The Spirit’s voice in the night-visions a witness from the Lord: 1. At the birth of Christ; 2. at his death.—The significance of the courtesies of hierarchical pride: 1. A sign that it seeks associates to carry out its enmity against Christ2. A mask. It appears friendly to government, and says: Christ stirs up the people; friendly to the people, and says: The government encroaches on the freedom of election, upon your rights; friendly to the world, and says: It is possible to live with Barabbas, but not with Christ.—Barabbas; or the people’s misguided selection.—The Hosanna and the Crucify Him: 1. The contrast: (a) the contrast of the two days; (b) the contrast of opinions; (c) the contrast of the criers2. The bond of unity: (a) Palm Sunday must lead to Good Friday; (b) enthusiasm for the Lord must excite hell’s opposition; (c) not the same persons, but the same people; and we may suppose some individuals had taken part in both.—Fickleness in the opinions of a people.—Revolution as an instrument used by cunning tyrants, and the powers of darkness.—The instigators of the people in hypocritical attire.—Pilate, frightened by the threat of an insurrection, becomes the murderer of Christ: a lesson to the world for all time.—Pilate washing his hands: 1. A testimony to the Lord; 2. a testimony against himself, against Rome, and against the old world.—His blood be on us! or, the impenitent make the blood of atonement their own condemnation.—The marks of the Jew ever more and more manifest in the Israelite, as he is putting his Christ to death.—The old curse and the eternal atonement.—The policy which would protect the Lord by evil means, only prepares for Him torment and shame without redress.—What means should Jesus, the world’s Saviour, employ, according to the world’s Wisdom of Solomon, to preserve His life? 1. An evil custom (the release of a criminal at the Passover); 2. a false title (as one whom the people had begged off and released); 3. an improper joke and comparison (being put side by side with Barabbas); 4. a futile ceremony on the part of the judge (to wash the hands, and, where needed, to lift them).—Pilate, the impotent saviour and deliverer: 1. In spite of his perception of what is justice, of the legions, of power, of policy, of haughty authority; 2. and exactly because he employed all these to wrest justice.—Then released he Barabbas, but Jesus he caused to be scourged: an old, but ever fresh, picture of the world.—Jesus scourged: 1. Who? The glorious body, the pure soul, the divine spirit2. By whom? By barbarism (barbarous, nameless soldiers); by worldly culture and civil power; by the sin of the world and all sinners.—The torture and its midnight history in the world and the Church.—The scourge (knout) is no standard of justice.—The twofold signification of the Lord’s scourging: 1. It was to have saved Him; 2. it was the introduction of His death, not only in a literal, but also spiritual sense.—Jesus given over to the wautonness of (the soldiery.—The repeated mutilation of the image of Christ in war, and by soldiers.—The mocking of the Lord in His Messianic royal character.—The brightness of heaven with which Christ emerges from all this world’s scorn.—The irony of the Spirit and of Divine Providence at the miserable mockery of this world, Psalm 2.—The view of Christ clothed in shame; the cure for all the vanity and pride of the world.—Christ, the true King in the realm of suffering.—So perfected as the King of glory.—Therefore hath God exalted Him, etc. At His name every knee shall bow, Philippians 2:9-10.—The patience of Christ triumphantly sustained: 1. Imperturbable, yet disturbing all; 2. paling all the world’s glory in its own glory; 3. supremely edifying, and yet awing.

Starke:—When we stand before godless Judges, we must nevertheless answer them and honor them, Romans 13:1.—He answered nothing. To atone for our loquacity, which led to the first sin.—The Patient One committed all to God, 1 Peter 2:23.—Hedinger: Blind judges in matters of faith are not worth answering, Matthew 7:6.—Christ, even in His silence, worthy of admiration, Isaiah 53:7.—Osiander: It is an ill-timed grace, when wicked persons are spared, in such a way that honest and quiet people are brought into danger.—Luther’s margin: They would sooner have asked the release of the devil, than they would have allowed God’s Son to have escaped. This is the case even now, and will ever be.—There are degrees in sinfulness as in holiness, John 19:11.—Canstein: Straightforwardness is best. When we seek to make the truth bend, it usually breaks.—Quesnel: More truth is at times found among civil magistrates, than among those persons from whom we had a right to expect more.—A pious heathen is often more compassionate toward a poor sufferer than depraved Christians and priests, Luke 10:32-33.—Christ was reckoned with the greatest transgressors, and we seek always to be reckoned among the best and most pious, Isaiah 53:12.—Pilate did not act like a wise diplomatist, who might have easily known how far envy will lead a man.—Canstein: The most implacable foe is envy, and especially among the members of the Song of Solomon -called “spiritual” profession, Ecclesiastes 4:4.—Quesnel: Many console themselves with the thought, that they appear to the world wholly de voted to the service of justice and truth; but if we watch them closely, we see they are slaves of injustice and envy.—Wives have nothing to do in official concerns, but they may and should warn their husbands.—God warns man before he falls.—Canstein: In a corrupted Church, the ministers are ever the most corrupted; and corruption issues forth from them, polluting others, Jeremiah 23:15.—Quesnel Faithless teachers seduce the people from Christ, and teach them to prefer Barabbas.—Cramer: Is that not the Antichrist, which can willingly endure brothels and usurers, etc, but which would expel the gospel, and purge their land from it by fire and sword?—Hedinger: The world has ever robbed Christ; it likes Him not.—Murderers, fornicators, adulterers, drunkards, can be tolerated; Christian teaching and living never, John 15:19.—Canstein: Carnal wisdom may lead a Prayer of Manasseh, when he despises conscience, departs from the right path, and betakes himself to by-paths, into such snares as he would have gladly shunned.—Ungrateful man wheels like a weathercock.—Conscience often struggles long, ere a man sins against his better knowledge; but the guilt is so much the greater.—The stubbornness of the wicked is more constant than an intention to act right (arising from worldly reasons).—Pilate’s testimony, the most glorious testimony to the innocence of Jesus: 1. Not from favor; 2. a judge’s testimony; 3. a testimony of Pilate against himself. His blood be on us. They act as if they had a good conscience: but it was mere false, assumed ease (impudence).—The Romans soon made them realize this curse: they still feel it. Yet it will one day cease.—Luther’s margin: Believers convert this curse into a blessing.—Zeisius: Accursed parents, who rashly precipitate their children with themselves into ruin!—The just for the unjust, 1 Peter 3:18.—Gaze on, O sinner, ecce homo!Zeisius and others against extravagance in dress.[FN38]—Christ has borne all manner of shame and contempt, that we may attain to the highest honor.

Gossner:[FN39]—Yes, they probably said, Barabbas is a villain, but he is no heretic. He destroyed only bodies, but Jesus of Nazareth destroys souls.—The devil may be sure of this, that the people will blind themselves by a fair show.—Whoso sitteth in an official chair must not regulate his conduct by the cries of the multitude.

Lisco:—Pilate, a natural man of the world: 1. Not insensible to divine influences; 2. but sunk down into the then existing scepticism of the world; 3. bound by worldly considerations of all sorts; 4. making his conscience a sacrifice to circumstances, which are his gods.

Gerlach:—Mocking, they made him king; but it was really by virtue of His humiliation that Jesus received His kingdom.

Heubner:—Christ retained His dignity even in the deepest humiliation, where His claims appeared as madness or fanaticism.—The custom of releasing one: injustice trying to support itself by injustice.—A Christian wife should be the guardian angel of her husband.—Dreams, too, often deserve attention.—How easily can the people he misled![FN40]—The placing of Jesus side by side with Barabbas is one of the mysteries of His humiliation. So is it often in the world: there, truth and falsehood, innocence and guilt, honor and dishonesty, worth and worthlessness, righteous leaders and seducers, the Prince of Peace and the great rebel, the fountain of life and the murderer, are often set side by side. The future will resolve all this confusion.—Innocence is dumb, guilt cries out.—The consequences of the choice: The Barabbas spirit, the devilish, the intoxicating passion for licentious freedom, entered like an evil spirit into the people, inflamed their hatred still more and more against the Romans, swept them with resistless sway beyond all prudence, and precipitated them at last into the pit of destruction. This spirit has entered into their posterity, leading them still to reject Jesus, and give heed to many false messiahs.—Jesus is our consolation, whenever in this world of imperfection the worthy and unworthy are classed together, yea, the former subordinated to the latter.—Such a choice as that of Barabbas is by no means uncommon: 1. In respect of faith; unbelief instead of belief in Jesus, etc2. In regard to our lives and acts; rather an unbridled, unfettered life, than a stern, moral regulation and life3. As regards civil government; rather obey demagogues than the soft words of Jesus.—What shall I do, etc.? Many know not what to do with Jesus.—Was the adage true here: vox populi, vox Dei?—In one sense do the people demand the crucifixion: God had decreed it in another.—The name of Pilate is preserved among the Christians, but as a name of disgrace: here, and in the Apostles’ Creed, it is the name of a coward, who wished to release Jesus, and yet surrendered Him,—who knew Him in some degree, and yet feared to confess Him.—His blood. Already we see the fruit of their choice of Barabbas: blind presumption, blasphemy, mockery of God’s justice.—If the Jews were not so blinded, they must see clearly that their fathers had committed a greater sin than had been ever perpetrated, when they had been punished before with a captivity of70 years, and are now enduring one of1800.—God has preserved them as a witness to the truth of the gospel.—As Christ’s high-priestly (prophetic) dignity had been mocked before the ecclesiastical tribunal, so was His kingly before the civil.

Rambach:—Thou must, my Redeemer, atone for the shame of my nakedness, and regain for me the robe of innocence which I had lost.—Consolation for derided saints.—Christ fled from a worldly crown; He took the thorny crown, to indicate that His kingdom was not of this world.—It is no true love, which is not willing to endure thorns.—The thorns of love are: hostile opposition, ingratitude, derision, insult.—The crown of thorns which we have plaited for ourselves: lusts, earthly cares, pangs of conscience. Christ has made atonement for this.—The rod with which Christ will feed His sheep (the rod of gentleness, the rod of affliction).—The court of justice, the liberty-hall of innocence, converted into a place of injustice.—This robing of Christ was full of shame and disgrace.

Braune:—The third hour was the hour at which the Roman judge took his seat in the place of judgment: on this occasion Pilate is forced to begin three hours earlier, in consequence of the wrath of the priests, and their feigned piety.—Barabbas: that is a horrifying deception, fearful, surpassing all others.—Pilate’s wife: no woman was found among Jesus’ enemies. The maid who forced Peter on to his denial stands alone there, in her forward character.—Peter’s sermon on this text, Acts 3:13-21.

Grammlich:—Daily is blessing or curse (Christ or Barabbas) set before thee, my soul!

F. W. Krummacher:—The crown of thorns calls for repentance, gratitude, submission.


Matthew 27:11-14. The silence of Christ is to be imitated when our reputation is concerned; the confession of Christ, when the glory of God and the interests of truth are at stake.—He knew that for envy they had delivered Him ( Matthew 27:18). As covetousness sold Christ, so envy delivered Him. Envy is a killing and murdering passion. Envy slayeth the silly one, Job 5:2.

Matthew 27:19. Several kinds of dreams, natural, moral, diabolical, and divine. That of the wife of Pilate was from God. When all Christ’s disciples were fled from Him, when none of His friends durst speak a word for Him, God raises up a woman, a stranger, a pagan, to give evidence of His innocency. At our Saviour’s trial, Pilate and his wife, though Gentiles, are the only ones who plead for Christ and pronounce Him righteous, whilst His own countrymen, the Jews, thirst after His innocent blood.—Hypocrites within the visible Church may be guilty of acts of wickedness which the conscience of pagans and infidels protests against.

Matthew 27:25. What the Jews with a wicked mind put up as a direful imprecation, we may with a pious mind offer up to God as an humble petition: Lord, let Thy Son’s blood, not in the guilt and punishment, but in the efficacy and merit of it, be upon us and upon our posterity after us, for evermore.—Thomas Scott:—If Christ were now to appear on earth in disguise, He would meet with no better treatment.—There are still enough of hypocritical Pharisees and high-priests, ungodly Pilates, unstable multitudes, and hardened scoffers, to persecute, mock, and crucify the Lord of glory.—Barabbas is preferred to Jesus whenever the offer of salvation is rejected.—We are all chargeable with the guilt of crucifixion, as “He was wounded for our transgressions.”—All who delight in anathemas and imprecations will find that they rebound upon themselves.—All which has been admired in the suffering and death of heroes and philosophers is no more comparable to the conduct of Christ, than the glimmering taper is to the clear light of day.—We are called to do good, and to suffer evil, in this present world, after the pattern of Christ.—All our sufferings are light and trivial compared with His.—Ph. Doddridge:—How wisely was it ordained by divine Providence that Pilate should be obliged thus to acquit Christ, even while he condemned Him; and to pronounce Him a righteous person in the sane breath with which he doomed Him to the death of a malefactor! And how lamentably does the power of worldly interest over conscience appear, when, after all the convictions of his own mind, as well as the admonitions of his wife, he yet gave Him up to popular fury! O Pilate, how ingloriously hast thou fallen in the defence of the Son of God! and how Justly did God afterward leave thee to perish by the resentment of that people whom thou wast now so studious to oblige!—P. S.]


FN#15 - Matthew 27:11.—Lachmann and Tischendorf read ἐστάθη [for ἔστη], according to B, C, L, [also Cod. Sinait, which generally agrees with Cod. Vaticanus. Meyer and Alford regard ἐστάθη as a correction to suit the sense better.—P. S.]

FN#16 - Matthew 27:11.—[Ἐπερώτησεν is “a part of the formal judicial inquisition;” hence, questioned.—P. S.]

FN#17 - Matthew 27:11.—[So Coverdale and Conant, who insert it. Others insert right or truly. Εύ λέλεις, like σὺ εἷ πας in Matthew 26:25, is a form of affirmative answer, common in Rabbinic writers (solennis affirmantium apud Judœos formula, as Schöttgen says); the object of the verb being implied.—P. S.]

FN#18 - Matthew 27:13.—[So Dr. Lange: welche Dinge. Also Dr. Conant, who refers the word πόσα, quantus, how great, not so much to the number of the offences charged upon Him, as to their magnitude; and in this sense the reader naturally understands the word what in this connection.—P. S.]

FN#19 - Matthew 27:14.—[Coverdale renders πρὸς οὐ δὲ ἓν ῥῆμα: not one word; Conant: not even to one word; Lange: nicht auf irgend ein Wort; Meyer: auf nicht einmal ein einziges Wort, i.e, not even to one inquisitorial question.— P. S.]

FN#20 - Ver15.—[At the feast, at every passover. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

FN#21 - Matthew 27:16.—[The word ἐπίσημος is here used in a bad sense, as in Joseph. Antiq. v7,1, and Euripides, Orest. 289; hence, notorious (Rhemish Version, Symonds, Norton), or famous (Wiclif, Campbell, Scrivener), or noted (Conant); in German: berüchtigt (de Wette, Lange, etc.). The term notable, which dates from Tyndale, and was retained by Cranmer, the Genevan, and the Authorized Version, is now generally employed in a good sense. The Latin Vulgate, however, translates: insignis, and Ewald: berühmt.—P. S.]

FN#22 - Matthew 27:16-17.—Fritzsche and Tischendorf read Ἰησοῦν Βαραββᾶν, following some cursive Codd, the Syriac and other versions, and Origen. Meyer thinks the sacred name was left out through reverence. De Wette supports this reading. [In his large critical edition of1859 Tischendorf omits Ἰησοῦμ, and defends the usual reading: see his critical note. So also Alford, who thinks that some ignorant scribe, unwilling to ascribe to Barabbas the epithet ἐπίσημος, wrote in the margin Ἰησοῦς. This is doubtful. The insertion cannot be satisfactorily explained, and I am disposed to agree with Meyer, that Ἰησοῦς is genuine. It makes the contrast still more striking.—P. S.]

FN#23 - Matthew 27:22.—The αὐτῷ of the Recepta, according to the best testimonies, is to be omitted.

FN#24 - Matthew 27:24.—[The older English Versions and Campbell take ὅτι οὐδ ἐνὠ φελεῖ personally. So also Alfora, the Latin Vulgate, the German Versions, Lange (dass er nichts ausrichte), and Meyer (dass er nichts nütze). But Beza, Ewald, Norton, and Conant translate it impersonally=οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖται, dass es nichts nütze, that it avails nothing.—P. S.]

FN#25 - Matthew 27:24.—The words τοῦδικαίου [before τούτου] are wanting in B, D. But Cod. A. reads: τούτου τοῦ δικαίου. Lachmann puts them in brackets, Tischendorf omits them [so also Alford]. The omission is more difficult to account for than the insertion. [Cod. Sinait. differs here from the Vatican Cod. and sustains the text. rec.: τοῦδικαίου τούτου.—P. S.]

FN#26 - Matthew 27:27.—[The scourging took place outside of the πραιτώριον, which is the official palace of the Roman Procurator, or the the governor’s house, as the margin of the Authorized Version explains. Comp. Mark 15:16 :ἕσω τῆς αὐλῆς.—P. S.]

FN#27 - Matthew 27:27.—[The interpolation: of soldiers, is a useless repetition. for ὅλης τήν σπεῖραν is meant the whole cohort (the tenth part of a legion) then on duty at the palace.—P. S.]

FN#28 - Matthew 27:28.—Several Codd, B, D, etc, read ἐν δύσαντες [having clothed Him, By ἐκ δύσαντες αὐτόν]. Lachmann adopts it, but regards this reading as an old writing error. [Lachmann’s object, it should be remembered, is not to establish the most correct, but the most ancient text attainable, as it stood in the fourth century. Tischendorf and Alford retain ἐκδύαντες. See the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

FN#29 - Matthew 27:29.—The best supported reading: ἐν τῇ δεξιῦͅ [for the lect. rec.: ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιάν, represents the conduct of Christ more passive, and is more suitable. [Cod. Sinait. reads ἐντῇ δεξιᾷ, and ἐπί τῆς κεφαλῆς for ἐπί τήν κεφαλήν.—P. S.]

FN#30 - In German: “Schliesslich eine höhnische Behandlung der Juden, die seine (viz, Pilate’s) Schmach verhüllen sollte.” Dr. Lange refers evidently to the mockery of the Jews by Pilate related in John 19:14-15; John 19:20; John 19:22. The Edinb. edition entirely misunderstands this sentence in translating: “The conclusion of all being the ironical conduct of the Jews, as if they wished to throw a cloak over His indignities.” Here the word Behandlung was probably mistaken for Handlung, and the subject changed.—P. S.]

FN#31 - The Edinb. translation reads: “This stood, unfortunately, upon a stone foundation.” It is as difficult to see the connection of the German üblicher Weise (usually) with unfortunately, as the connection of misfortune with a stone foundation, unless some one happens to fall on it. It is hardly conceivable that the translator should have derived so plain a word as üblich, customary, usual, from Uebel, evil, instead of üben, to practise.—P. S.]

FN#32 - Not: namely, as the Edinb. translation reads, which uniformly confounds namentlich (especially) with nämlich (namely), although in this case the preceding many (viels in German, for which the Edinb. trsl. substitutes some) should have prevented the mistake.—P. S.]

FN#33 - The verb φραγελλόω, which occurs twice in the N. T, here and Mark 15:15, and the noun φραγέλλιον, which occurs once, John 2:15, are Latin terms (flagello, flagellum), introduced into the later Greek for the more usual μαστίζω or μαστιλόω, and μάστιξ or ἱμάι (a whip, a scourge). Luke ( Matthew 23:16) uses in this connection the more general term παιδεύσας αὐτόν, having chastised Him, John ( Matthew 19:1), the more usual word ἐμαστίλωσεν, scourged Him.—P. S.]

FN#34 - Jerome says on Matthew 27:26 : “Sciendum est Romanis eum (Pilatum) legibus ministrasse, quibus sancitum Esther, ut qui crucifigitur, prius flagellis verberetur. Traditus est itaque Jesus militibus verberandus, et illud sacratissimum corpus pectusque Dei capaœ ftagella secuerunt,” etc. He then says this was done “that by His stripes we might be healed” ( Isaiah 53:5).—P. S.]

FN#35 - This sentence, as well as the whole quotation, and the following passage, is entirely mistranslated in the Edinb. edition: “and so he rejects the statement here contained as false.” De Wette (on Matthew 27:26) as here quoted by Lange (and correctly quoted), ascribes to Paulus of Heidelberg no denial of the fact of scourging asserted by Matthew, but a false interpretation of φραγελλώσας as expressing an action which occurred at a previous stage according to John 19:1. He says: “Paulus halt den Bericht des Johannes für maassgebend und erklärt daher unsere Stella (i.e, Matthew 27:26) falsch: nachdem er ihn vorher schon hatte geisseln lassen.” The words in italics are quoted from Paulus. Some commentators assume that Jesus was scourged twice: but this is improbable and unnecessary, as the chronological difficulty can be satisfactorily accounted for in the manner proposed by Dr. Lange in the text.—P. S.]

FN#36 - The Edinb. translation magnifies the company to4,606 men! The original has “4–600 Mann;” the dash being always employed in such cases for bis, to. The number of men constituting a Roman legion varied at different times and according to circumstances from3,000 to6,000 or more. Consequently a σπεῖρα (spira),or cohort, which was the tenth part of a legion, embraced from300 to600 men or more. In Joseph. Bell. Judges 3:4; Judges 3:2, of eighteen σπεῖραι five are said to contain each1,000 men, and the others600. But in Polybius σηεῖρα is only the third part of a cohort, a maniple, manipulns. Sec Classical Dictionaries.—P. S.]

FN#37 - Not: “Charles the Fifth,” as the Edinb. translation reads; for he belongs no more to the middle ages, but to the modern age, being a contemporary of the Reformation. Dr. Lange means Frederic II. German emperor of the famous house of Hohenstanfen in Würtemberg, who conquered Jerusalem, but quarrelled with Pope Gregory ix, was twice excommunicated by him, and deposed by the council of Lyons, and was supposed to be an unbeliever, although he died reconciled to the Church, A. D1250.—P. S.]

FN#38 - In the original: “wider die Kleiderpracht,” which the Edinb. edition turns into: “upon the clothing of Jesus.”—P. S.]

FN#39 - Gossner was originally a Roman Catholic priest, and suffered much persecution for his evangelical opinions.— P. S.]

FN#40 - In German: “Wie ist das volk so verführbar!” The Edinb. edition turns this again into the opposite meaning: “How misleading are the masses.” It probably confounded verführbar with verführerisch. But the connection plainly shows that the Jewish hierarchy are here meant as the Instigators and seducers who led the people astray. The masses never lead, but are generally under the control of a few, as the body is ruled by the head. Hence the vox populi is not always the vox Dei, but, when influenced by political demagogues or apostate priests, it is the vox Diaboli Witness the Crucify Him of the Jews, the popular outcry of the Athenians against Socrates, the mad fury of the French during the reign of terror, etc. Then the people are tamed into a lawless mob with which it would be vain to reason, although it can be intimidated by brute force. Yet even in such cases the voice of the people is overruled for good by an all-wise Providence. So the crucifixion of Jesus became the salvation of the world.—P. S.]

FN#41 - Matthew 27:32.—[This is the proper translation of the Greek verb ἀγγαρεύειν, which, like the noun ἄγγαρος a mounted, courier, is of Persian origin, and is a technical term for pressing horses or men into public service by authority Comp. Crit Note on Matthew 5:41, p118. The escort was under the command of a Roman officer who had official authority for this act according to Roman law. The Authorized Version makes the act falsely appear as an arbitrary assumption of power.—P. S.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

All night the Lord Jesus had been subjected to the persecution of the Jewish council. Now early in the morning, determined that He might be put to death as soon as possible, they bring Him bound to the Roman governor, Pilate. Roman law did not allow the Jews to pass a death sentence (John 19:6-7), so they were urgent in their demand that Pilate should take this responsibility.

It seems that Judas had thought that the Lord would have no difficulty in delivering Himself from the power of the Sanhedrin, whether by supernatural power (as in Luke 4:30) or by the fact that no charge of evil against Him could possibly be sustained. The unhappy man sees that Jesus is condemned, and power is all on the side of the chief priests and elders. He is smitten with remorse at the thought of how awful his guilt has been. Taking the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders, he confessed to them his sin in having betrayed innocent blood. But they show only contempt for him: they have used him: what do they care for him now ?

However, the despairing man shows no repentance of faith. He does not go to the Lord Himself, but evidently going unlawfully into the temple, he threw his money down, then went out to commit suicide by hanging. Peter adds to this (Acts 1:18) that he fell headlong and all his bowels gushed out. The rope by which he hung himself must have broken. Acts 1:25 further tells us, "Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place." Solemn end of one who chose to be a deceiver and traitor!

The chief priests, though in moral character unscrupulous, can be most scrupulous in regard to the use of this blood-money. They buy with it the potter's field in which to bury strangers. This refers no doubt to Gentile proselytes, whom the chief priests considered on a lower level than Jews, even though they compassed sea and land to make one proselyte (Ch.23:15). But there is a more ominous prophetic meaning here then they realize. Since that time the Gentile world itself has become a potter's field in which to bury Jews scattered as strangers to the ends of the earth. Jews themselves have virtually purchased it with the price of the blood of Christ. God is the great Potter, who is accomplishing His own work in His people by this means, Israel being figuratively dead and buried during the present age, yet in view of a national resurrection.

The field was then called "the field of blood," a solemn testimony to the blood-guiltiness of Israel in reference to their Messiah! As to this, Jeremiah's prophecy is said to be fulfilled, which speaks, not only of Judas, but of Israel estimating their Messiah's value at thirty pieces of silver. But in exchange they have themselves received the potter's field, the field of blood! This was by the appointment of Jehovah, in sovereign, righteous government.

Before the governor the Lord answers the question as to who He is, the King of the Jews; but to the many accusations of the chief priests and elders He answered nothing. There was no reason to do so, for they could sustain no charge, and Pilate himself recognized all their charges as not worth considering. Yet he does not understand the Lord's remaining silent, for he knew that the first natural impulse of men is to defend themselves. He cannot but be deeply impressed by the calm dignity of one so viciously accused: he marvelled greatly.

Thinking to find a way out, Pilate introduced another element at this point. The Romans had adopted a custom of releasing a prisoner of the people's choice at the Passover feast, no doubt with the object of currying the people's favour He proposes then a choice between Christ and a notorious prisoner named Barabbas, whom Mark says was a rebel and a murderer (Mark 15:7). The suggestion of course was unjust, for Christ should have been released apart from this.

Pilate was convinced in his own mind and conscience that the Jews demanded judgment against Jesus because of their own envy. Besides this, a most unlikely witness adds a solemn warning to Pilate. His own wife sends a message to him, urging him to refrain from having any part in judgment as regards "that just Man." God had sent her a deeply disturbing dream because of Him. Actually this only confirmed what he knew already. Why did he not then silence the unjust accusations of the Jews, and dismiss the case? The answer appears to be that he feared that his own position might be threatened if he did so (John 19:12-16).

The unprincipled chief priests and elders use their influence to persuade the crowd to ask for the release of a man who was a danger to all society and demand the death of One whose grace had been a marvellous blessing to their nation! No doubt Pilate was surprised at this grossly perverted sense of justice, and asked them what Jesus had done to call for His crucifixion. They have no answer to this, but cry our unreasoningly, clamouring for his blood.

Now the unjust judge, unable to control the tumult, washes his hands in water publicly, pronouncing himself to be innocent of the blood of the Man he acknowledges to be just. The people respond with an answer of terrible import, which has since haunted the nation for centuries: "His blood be upon us, and on our children."

Yet how can Pilate think this releases him from responsibility? Utterly weakened by the strength of popular opinion, he is guilty of passing the sentence of crucifixion. Can a man do evil and absolve himself by declaring that he does not accept the responsibility for doing it? He released Barabbas, but also added to his guilt in scourging Jesus before His crucifixion. This may have been an effort to satisfy the Jews without condemning Him to death (Cf. John 19:1-4), but Matthew only states the fact. Pilate's temporising only involved him in greater guilt.

However, we are now to see added to this the cold-hearted wickedness of the Roman soldiers (the whole band) venting its spite against their Creator. They would not have done the same to a guilty criminal, but One who is manifestly innocent and just they take advantage of in the most hateful way. This expresses just what is in the heart of man toward God.

In mockery they clothe Him as a king, but His crown woven of thorns, the symbol of the curse, little as they understood His own willing bearing of the curse of God on account of man's sins (Galatians 3:13). Their mockery too is accompanied by contempt, as they dare to spit upon the blessed Lord of glory; and violence also as they strike Him on the head. Can we imagine what dread dismay will be theirs when they see this same Man of sorrows sitting in judgment upon them?

Part of the way He had borne His own cross (John 19:17), but Simon, a man of Cyrene, was then commandeered to do so. Yet we must not trust the assumption of some who have imagined that Jesus fainted beneath the load: this is merely imagination. However, Simon illustrates the fact that there is a sense in which believers may bear the cross of Jesus. The world virtually forces it on us; for if we take our stand with Him, we shall feel the keen edge of the world's rejection (Galatians 2:20; Galatians 6:14).

At Golgotha, before raising Him up on the cross, they give Him vinegar to drink, but mingled with gall. He tasted it first before refusing it. Of course He know what it was before tasting it, but by tasting it He let His enemies know that He was not merely defiantly refusing something to drink, but was refusing it because of the stupefying gall added to it. He would bear His sufferings without this, and in full consciousness of all that was involved, not only in what men inflicted, but of the far deeper sufferings of being made a curse of God.

The soldiers crucify Him and part His garments among them by lottery. While the world hates Him personally, it will gladly make merchandise of His pure character and habits, of which His garments speak: indeed, most false religions do this. This fulfils Psalms 22:18.

Sitting down to gloat over their deed of horrible iniquity, they watch Him, taking morbid pleasure in His sufferings and no doubt hoping in vain to see some sign of moral weakening on the part of this unusually patient Sufferer.

The superscription over the cross was written by Pilate in Hebrew, Greek and Latin (John 19:19-21). The words are reported a little differently in each language, or it may be that each writer quoted only that part of the words that specially suited the theme of his Gospel. In this case the entire message would be, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." He is crucified between two guilty men, "numbered with the transgressors."

Not content with all that has been done to Him, the people add the venom of abusive tongues. At the very time they are destroying the temple of His body (John 2:19-21) they mock at this prophecy of His, though He would certainly raise it up in three days. If He had come down from the cross when they spoke, the prophecy could not have been fulfilled. Chief priests, scribes and elders continue their vicious abuse also. They do publicly admit, "He saved others," which was something they had not done, but they are totally blind to the fact of why He would not save Himself from dying.

Their mockery is directed against the two vital truths of His being King of Israel and Son of God. But because of these very facts, He was the only one who could, by His death of sacrifice, accomplish the redemption which Israel and all mankind needed. Giving Himself, in the greatest, most gracious sacrifice of love imaginable, He had no-one there to admire the wonder of His pure, amazing love, for even believers were only crushed and saddened by His sufferings and death, while unbelievers heaped upon Him mockery, scorn and contempt. The robbers crucified with him, in spite of their own imminent death, join the sour chorus. In Luke 23:1-56 we read that even here the grace of God intervened to awaken and lead one robber to repentance and faith, but Matthew does not record this.

From the sixth hour (noon) God brings darkness over all the land for three hours. It is reported that the Jews afterward smugly spoke of this as God's expressing His displeasure with Christ personally, thereby justifying their unholy rejection of Him. How far from the truth they were! Indeed, no-one, not even His most devoted disciples, understood what this awesome darkness involved. At the end of this, how piercing and heart-rending is His cry of utter abandonment, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In those hours of darkness He had borne in solitary anguish the full weight of the terrible wrath of God in judgment against sin and against our sins. This was for deeper, for greater than natural thought can estimate, for only this could atone for the awful scourge of sin and the guilt of men's sins. In lowly, wondrous submission He had gone to the cross, a willing sacrifice, moved by pure love and grace, yet understood by no-one at the time.

Likely it was Romans who thought He called for Elias (Elijah), for Jews would know their own language better then that. Neither Luke nor John mention His cry of abandonment, but John records His saying, "I thirst" (John 19:20), at which time the vinegar was given to Him, so that He must have said this immediately after His loud cry. After all His suffering they will still not give Him water, but the bitter vinegar. What they had witnessed already ought to have been enough to subdue men's hearts in wonder at the way in which He had borne their cruelty, and at His truth and grace so shining out at such a time.

Contrary to what might be expected from an exhausted victim of crucifixion, the Lord again cried out with a loud voice. John tells us His words at this time, "It is finished," which is said to be only one triumphant word in the Greek language His two loud cries were intended for all the universe to hear, the last declaring the perfect completion of His work of redeeming grace. He did not die of exhaustion therefore: He laid down His life. Luke tells us that He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," with which words He yielded up His spirit (Luke 23:46).

Immediately there are signs undeniably from God. The veil of the temple being torn in two from the top to the bottom is most significant. The veil is typical of "His flesh" (Hebrews 10:20). As soon as His flesh was rent in death, God bore witness of the value of this matchless death, the rending being from above. While still living, His flesh, as the veil, barred the way into the holiest for anyone else. Only His death could make the way into the holiest manifest. Through that veil, as being rent, believers are invited to enter with boldness today (Hebrews 10:19-20). Apart from its being rent, they could not dare to do this. Wonderful testimony to the ritualistic Jews!--for their ritual was certainly interrupted by this miraculous intervention of God. We are not told what the chief priests did about this.

A severe earthquake also caused rocks to be broken and graves to be opened. At the very time when the Lord's body was taken to be buried and sealed in a closed tomb, there were many graves that had been opened. Was this not a forewarning to the effect that the grave could not retain the body of the Lord? These graves remained open until the third day, when, after the Lord's resurrection many bodies of the saints a rose and came out of their graves, going into Jerusalem to appear to many. They must have been those of that present generation, who had been known, and therefore this was a striking testimony to the value of the death of Christ. His death and resurrection lays a foundation that assures the resurrection of all the dead, whether to eternal blessing or to eternal judgment. These raised at this time were saints, not unbelievers. They appeared unto many. What happened to them after that Is not stated, but the language does not sound as if they remained.

The earthquake and other occurrences so impress the centurion in charge of the execution, and others with him, that they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God." If this confession came from their hearts, then they will be welcomed in heaven by this same sufferers In spite of their involvement In His crucifixion.

Particularly mentioned by the Spirit of God here are the "many women" who come with Him from Galilee. Watching from a distance, whose devoted affections are no doubt precious to God, three of them specifically singled out.

God had already wrought in the heart of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, of whom we do not read before, to stir him to request the body of Jesus. Evidently the apostles were so stunned and weakened that the remained no energy of faith in them to do anything. The faith of Joseph is most refreshing, specially since we read in Mark and Luke that he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50), an honourable man who had not consented to the council's condemnation of Christ. Of course he would expose himself to the censure and contempt of the chief priests and elders, for this was a bold step to identify himself with Christ crucified, which would bring him into their permanent disfavour. Nicodemus, who came also, is mentioned only in John. The body, wrapped in a clean linen cloth, is laid in a new tomb prepared for Joseph himself, cut out in the rock. A great stone, evidently also previously prepared, was rolled over the entrance. No mention is made of any of the apostles being near, but two devoted women, both named Mary, were watching near by.

The day following the crucifixion the chief priests and Pharisees, remembering the Lord's words that He would rise again the third day, approached Pilate, urging that the grave should be sealed to prevent the disciples of the Lord Jesus from stealing His body and claiming that He was raised from the dead. This of course was the Sabbath, but they conveniently forget their zeal for keeping it holy. The Lord had told them that they would kill Him: that prophecy came true. He had also told them He would rise again the third day. They were afraid that prophecy also might come true, so they were determined to prevent it! As to the disciples' stealing His body away, they themselves had totally forgotten His words that He would rise again, and they had no slightest inclination to take away His body: they were at the time utterly weak and defeated.

Pilate tells the chief priests and elders to take care of the matter themselves. Is there not the ring of irony and doubt in his words when he tells them, "make it as sure as ye can?" For he had seen such spiritual power in the Lord Jesus in contrast to the chief priests that he evidently despised their precautions. They however seal the stone and set a watch, that is, four soldiers of the Sanhedrin in turn, around the clock. They defeat their own ends in doing so, for the watch was there to witness the startling events attending His resurrection.

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Christ at the Bar of Pilate.

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

We have here an account of what passed in Pilate's judgment-hall, when the blessed Jesus was brought thither betimes in the morning. Though it was no court-day, Pilate immediately took his case before him. We have there,

I. The trial Christ had before Pilate.

1. His arraignment Jesus stood before the governor, as the prisoner before the judge. We could not stand before God because of our sins, nor lift up our face in his presence, if Christ had not been thus made sin for us. He was arraigned that we might be discharged. Some think that this bespeaks his courage and boldness he stood undaunted, unmoved by all their rage. He thus stood in this judgment, that we might stand in God's judgment. He stood for a spectacle, as Naboth, when he was arraigned, was set on high among the people.

2. His indictment Art thou the king of the Jews? The Jews were now not only under the government, but under the very jealous inspection, of the Roman powers, which they were themselves to the highest degree disaffected to, and yet now pretended a concern for, to serve this turn accusing Jesus as an Enemy to Cæ sar (Luke 23:2), which they could produce no other proof of, than that he himself had newly owned he was the Christ. Now they thought that whoever was the Christ, must be the king of the Jews, and must deliver them from the Roman power, and restore to them a temporal dominion, and enable them to trample upon all their neighbours. According to this chimera of their own, they accused our Lord Jesus, as making himself king of the Jews, in opposition to the Roman yoke whereas, though he said that he was the Christ, he meant not such a Christ as this. Note, Many oppose Christ's holy religion, upon a mistake of the nature of it they dress it up in false colours, and then fight against it. They assuring the governor that, if he made himself Christ, he made himself king of the Jews, the governor takes it for granted, that he goes about to pervert the nation, and subvert the government. Art thou a king? It was plain that he was not so de facto--actually "But dost thou lay any claim to the government, or pretend a right to rule the Jews?" Note, It has often been the hard fate of Christ's holy religion, unjustly to fall under the suspicions of the civil powers, as if it were hurtful to kings and provinces, whereas it tends mightily to the benefit of both.

3. His plea Jesus said unto him, "Thou sayest. It is as thou sayest, though not as thou meanest I am a king, but not such a king as thou dost suspect me to be." Thus before Pilate he witnessed a good confession, and was not ashamed to own himself a king, though it looked ridiculous, nor afraid, though at this time it was dangerous.

4. The evidence (Matthew 27:12) He was accused of the chief priests. Pilate found no fault in him whatever was said, nothing was proved, and therefore what was wanting in matter they made up in noise and violence, and followed him with repeated accusations, the same as they had given in before but by the repetition they thought to force a belief from the governor. They had learned, not only calumniari--to calumniate, but fortiter calumniari--to calumniate stoutly. The best men have often been accused of the worst crimes.

5. The prisoner's silence as to the prosecutors' accusations He answered nothing, (1.) Because there was no occasion nothing was alleged but what carried its own confutation along with it. (2.) He was now taken up with the great concern that lay between him and his Father, to whom he was offering up himself a Sacrifice, to answer the demands of his justice, which he was so intent upon, that he minded not what they said against him. (3.) His hour was come, and he submitted to his Father's will Not as I will, but as thou wilt. He knew what his Father's will was, and therefore silently committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. We must not thus by our silence throw away our lives, because we are not lords of our lives, as Christ was of his nor can we know, as he did, when our hour is come. But hence we must learn, not to render railing for railing, 1 Peter 2:23.

Now, [1.] Pilate pressed him to make some reply (Matthew 27:13) Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? What these things were, may be gathered from Luke 23:3,5; John 19:7. Pilate, having no malice at all against him, was desirous he should clear himself, urges him to it, and believes he could do it Hearest thou not? Yes, he did hear and still he hears all that is witnessed unjustly against his truths and ways but he keeps silence, because it is the day of his patience, and doth not answer, as he will shortly, Psalm 50:3. [2.] He wondered at his silence which was not interpreted so much into a contempt of the court, as a contempt of himself. And therefore Pilate is not said to be angry at it, but to have marvelled greatly at it, as a thing very unusual. He believed him to be innocent, and had heard perhaps that never man spake like him and therefore he thought it strange that he had not one word to say for himself. We have,

II. The outrage and violence of the people, in pressing the governor to crucify Christ. The chief priests had a great interest in the people, they called them Rabbi, Rabbi, made idols of them, and oracles of all they said and they made use of this to incense them against him, and by the power of the mob gained the point which they could not otherwise carry. Now here are two instances of their outrage.

1. Their preferring Barabbas before him, and choosing to have him released rather than Jesus.

(1.) It seems it was grown into a custom with the Roman governors, for the honouring of the Jews, to grace the feast of the passover with the release of a prisoner, Matthew 27:15. This, they thought, did honour to the feast, and was agreeable to the commemoration of their deliverance but it was an invention of their own, and no divine institution though some think that it was ancient, and kept up by the Jewish princes, before they became a province of the empire. However, it was a bad custom, an obstruction to justice, and an encouragement to wickedness. But our gospel-passover is celebrated with the release of prisoners, by him who hath power on earth to forgive sins.

(2.) The prisoner put in competition with our Lord Jesus was Barabbas he is here called a notable prisoner (Matthew 27:16) either because by birth and breeding he was of some note and quality, or because he had signalized himself by something remarkable in his crimes whether he was so notable as to recommend himself the more to the favours of the people, and so the more likely to be interceded for, or whether so notable as to make himself more liable to their age, is uncertain. Some think the latter, and therefore Pilate mentioned him, as taking it for granted that they would have desired any one's release rather than his. Treason, murder, and felony, are the three most enormous crimes that are usually punished by the sword of justice and Barabbas was guilty of all three, Luke 23:19; John 18:40. A notable prisoner indeed, whose crimes were so complicated.

(3.) The proposal was made by Pilate the governor (Matthew 27:17) Whom will ye that I release unto you? It is probable that the judge had the nomination of two, one of which the people were to choose. Pilate proposed to them to have Jesus released he was convinced of his innocency, and that the prosecution was malicious yet had not the courage to acquit him, as he ought to have done, by his own power, but would have him released by the people's election, and so he hoped to satisfy both his own conscience, and the people too whereas, finding no fault in him, he ought not to have put him upon the country, or brought him into peril of his life. But such little tricks and artifices as these, to trim the matter, and to keep in with conscience and the world too, are the common practice of those that seek more to please men than God. What shall I do then, saith Pilate, with Jesus, who is called Christ? He puts the people in mind of this, that this Jesus, whose release he proposed, was looked upon by some among them as the Messiah, and had given pregnant proofs of his being so "Do not reject one of whom your nation has professed such an expectation."

The reason why Pilate laboured thus to get Jesus discharged was because he knew that for envy the chief priests had delivered him up (Matthew 27:18) that it was not his guilt, but his goodness, that they were provoked at and for this reason he hoped to bring him off by the people's act, and that they would be for his release. When David was envied by Saul, he was the darling of the people and any one that heard the hosannas with which Christ was but a few days ago brought into Jerusalem, would have thought that he had been so, and that Pilate might safely have referred this matter to the commonalty, especially when so notorious a rogue was set up as a rival with him for their favours. But it proved otherwise.

(4.) While Pilate was thus labouring the matter, he was confirmed in his unwillingness to condemn Jesus, by a message sent him from his wife (Matthew 27:19), by way of caution Have thou nothing to do with that just man (together with the reason), for I have suffered many things this day in a cream because of him. Probably, this message was delivered to Pilate publicly, in the hearing of all that were present, for it was intended to be a warning not to him only, but to the prosecutors. Observe,

[1.] The special providence of God, in sending this dream to Pilate's wife it is not likely that she had heard any thing, before, concerning Christ, at least not so as to occasion her dreaming of him, but it was immediately from God: perhaps she was one of the devout and honourable women, and had some sense of religion yet God revealed himself by dreams to some that had not, as to Nebuchadnezzar. She suffered many things in this dream whether she dreamed of the cruel usage of an innocent person, or of the judgments that would fall upon those that had any hand in his death, or both, it seems that it was a frightful dream, and her thoughts troubled her, as Daniel 2:1,4:5. Note, The Father of spirits has many ways of access to the spirits of men, and can seal their instruction in a dream, or vision of the night, Job 33:15,16. Yet to those who have the written word, God more ordinarily speaks by conscience on a waking bed, than by dreams, when deep sleep falls upon men.

[2.] The tenderness and care of Pilate's wife, in sending this caution, thereupon, to her husband Have nothing to do with that just man. First, This was an honourable testimony to our Lord Jesus, witnessing for him that he was a just man, even then when he was persecuted as the worst of malefactors: when his friends were afraid to appear in defence of him, God made even those that were strangers and enemies, to speak in his favour when Peter denied him, Judas confessed him when the chief priests pronounced him guilty of death, Pilate declared he found no fault in him when the women that loved him stood afar off, Pilate's wife, who knew little of him, showed a concern for him. Note, God will not leave himself without witnesses to the truth and equity of his cause, even when it seems to be most spitefully run down by its enemies, and most shamefully deserted by its friends. Secondly, It was a fair warning to Pilate Have nothing to do with him. Note, God has many ways of giving checks to sinners in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences it is also our great duty to hearken to them. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates, is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Pilate's lady sent him this warning, out of the love she had to him she feared not a rebuke from him for meddling with that which belonged not to her but, let him take it how he would, she would give him the caution. Note, It is an instance of true love to our friends and relations, to do what we can to keep them from sin and the nearer any are to us, and the greater affection we have for them, the more solicitous we should be not to suffer sin to come or lie upon them, Leviticus 19:17. The best friendship is friendship to the soul. We are not told how Pilate turned this off, probably with a jest but by his proceeding against the just man it appears that he did not regard it. Thus faithful admonitions are made light of, when they are given as warnings against sin, but will not be so easily made light of, when they shall be reflected upon as aggravations of sin.

(5.) The chief priests and the elders were busy, all this while, to influence the people in favour of Barabbas, Matthew 27:20. They persuaded the multitude, both by themselves and their emissaries, whom they sent abroad among them, that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus suggesting that this Jesus was a deceiver, in league with Satan, an enemy to their church and temple that, if he were let alone, the Romans would come, and take away their place and nation that Barabbas, though a bad man, yet, having not the interest that Jesus had, could not do so much mischief. Thus they managed the mob, who otherwise were well affected to Jesus, and, if they had not been so much at the beck of their priests, would never have done such a preposterous thing as to prefer Barabbas before Jesus. Here, [1.] We cannot but look upon these wicked priests with indignation by the law, in matters of controversy between blood and blood, the people were to be guided by the priests, and to do as they informed them, Deuteronomy 17:8,9. This great power put into their hands they wretchedly abused, and the leaders of the people caused them to err. [2.] We cannot but look upon the deluded people with pity I have compassion on the multitude, to see them hurried thus violently to so great wickedness, to see them thus priest-ridden, and falling in the ditch with their blind leaders.

(6.) Being thus over-ruled by the priests, at length they made their choice, Matthew 27:21. Whether of the twain (saith Pilate) will ye that I release unto you? He hoped that he had gained his point, to have Jesus released. But, to his great surprise, they said Barabbas as if his crimes were less, and therefore he less deserved to die or as if his merits were greater, and therefore he better deserved to live. The cry for Barabbas was so universal, one and all, that there was no colour to demand a poll between the candidates. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and, thou earth, be horribly afraid! Were ever men that pretended to reason or religion, guilty of such prodigious madness, such horrid wickedness! This was it that Peter charged so home upon them (Acts 3:14) Ye desired a murderer to be granted to you yet multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions.

2. Their pressing earnestly to have Jesus crucified, Matthew 27:22,23. Pilate, being amazed at their choice of Barabbas, was willing to hope that it was rather from a fondness for him than from an enmity to Jesus and therefore he puts it to them, "What shall I do then with Jesus? Shall I release him likewise, for the greater honour of your feast, or will you leave it to me?" No, they all said, Let him be crucified. That death they desired he might die, because it was looked upon as the most scandalous and ignominious and they hoped thereby to make his followers ashamed to own him, and their relation to him. It was absurd for them to prescribe to the judge what sentence he should pass but their malice and rage made them forget all rules of order and decency, and turned a court of justice into a riotous, tumultuous, and seditious assembly. Now was truth fallen in the street, and equity could not enter where one looked for judgment, behold, oppression, the worst kind of oppression for righteousness, behold, a cry, the worse cry that ever was, Crucify, crucify the Lord of glory. Though they that cried thus, perhaps, were not the same persons that the other day cried Hosanna, yet see what a change was made upon the mind of the populace in a little time: when he rode in triumph into Jerusalem, so general were the acclamations of praise, that one would have thought he had no enemies but now when he was led in triumph to Pilate's judgment-seat, so general were the outcries of enmity, that one would think he had no friends. Such revolutions are there in this changeable world, through which our way to heaven lies, as our Master's did, by honour and dishonour, by evil report, and good report, counter-changed (2 Corinthians 6:8) that we may not be lifted up by honour, as if, when we were applauded and caressed, we had made our nest among the stars, and should die in that nest nor yet be dejected or discouraged by dishonour, as if, when we were trodden to the lowest hell, from which there is no redemption. Bides tu istos qui te laudant omnes aut sunt hostes, aut (quod in æ quo est) esse possunt--You observe those who applaud you either they are all your enemies, or, which is equivalent, they may become so. Seneca de Vita Beat.

Now, as to this demand, we are further told,

(1.) How Pilate objected against it Why, what evil hath he done? A proper question to ask before we censure any in common discourse, much more for a judge to ask before he pass a sentence of death. Note, It is much for the honour of the Lord Jesus, that, though he suffered as an evil-doer, yet neither his judge nor his prosecutors could find that he had done any evil. Had he done any evil against God? No, he always did those things that pleased him. Had he done any evil against the civil government? No, as he did himself, so he taught others, to render to Cæ sar the things that were Cæ sar's. Had he done any evil against the public peace? No, he did not strive or cry, nor did his kingdom come with observation. Had he done any evil to particular persons? Whose ox had he taken, or whom had he defrauded? No, so far from that, that he went about doing good. This repeated assertion of his unspotted innocency, plainly intimates that he died to satisfy for the sins of others for if it had not been for our transgressions that he was thus wounded, and for our offences that he was delivered up, and that upon his own voluntary undertaking to atone for them, I see not how these extraordinary sufferings of a person that had never thought, said, or done, any thing amiss, could be reconciled with the justice and equity of that providence that governs the world, and at least permitted this to be done in it.

(2.) How they insisted upon it They cried out the more, Let him be crucified. They do not go about to show any evil he had done, but, right or wrong, he must be crucified. Quitting all pretensions to the proof of the premises, they resolve to hold the conclusion, and what was wanting in evidence to make up in clamour this unjust judge was wearied by importunity into an unjust sentence, as he in the parable into a just one (Luke 18:4,5), and the cause carried purely by noise.

III. Here is the devolving of the guilt of Christ's blood upon the people and priests.

1. Pilate endeavours to transfer it from himself, Matthew 27:24.

(1.) He sees it to no purpose to contend. What he said, [1.] Would do no good he could prevail nothing he could not convince them what an unjust unreasonable thing it was for him to condemn a man whom he believed innocent, and whom they could not prove guilty. See how strong the stream of lust and rage sometimes is neither authority nor reason will prevail to give check to it. Nay, [2.] It was more likely to do hurt he saw that rather a tumult was made. This rude and brutish people fell to high words, and began to threaten Pilate what they would do if he did not gratify them and how great a matter might this fire kindle, especially when the priests, those great incendiaries, blew the coals! Now this turbulent tumultuous temper of the Jews, by which Pilate was awed to condemn Christ against his conscience, contributed more than any thing to the ruin of that nation not long after for their frequent insurrections provoked the Romans to destroy them, though they had reduced them, and their inveterate quarrels among themselves made them an easy prey to the common enemy. Thus their sin was their ruin.

Observe how easily we may be mistaken in the inclination of the common people the priests were apprehensive that their endeavours to seize Christ would have caused an uproar, especially on the feast day but it proved that Pilate's endeavour to save him, caused an uproar, and that on the feast day so uncertain are the sentiments of the crowd.

(2.) This puts him into a great strait, betwixt the peace of his own mind, and the peace of the city he is loth to condemn an innocent man, and yet loth to disoblige the people, and raise a devil that would not be soon laid. Had he steadily and resolutely adhered to the sacred laws of justice, as a judge ought to do, he had not been in any perplexity the matter was plain and past dispute, that a man in whom was found no faulty, ought not to be crucified, upon any pretence whatsoever, nor must an unjust thing be done, to gratify any man or company of men in the world the cause is soon decided Let justice be done, though heaven and earth come together--Fiat justitia, ruat c&oelig lum. If wickedness proceed from the wicked, though they be priests, yet my hand shall not be upon him.

(3.) Pilate thinks to trim the matter, and to pacify both the people and his own conscience too, by doing it, and yet disowning it, acting the thing, and yet acquitting himself from it at the same time. Such absurdities and self-contradictions do they run upon, whose convictions are strong, but their corruptions stronger. Happy is he (saith the apostle, Romans 14:22) that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth or, which is all one, that allows not himself in that thing which he condemns.

Now Pilate endeavours to clear himself from the guilt,

[1.] By a sign He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude not as if he thought thereby to cleanse himself from any guilt contracted before God, but to acquit himself before the people, from so much as contracting any guilt in this matter as if he had said, "If it be done, bear witness that it is none of my doing." He borrowed the ceremony from that law which appointed it to be used for the clearing of the country from the guilt of an undiscovered murder (Deuteronomy 21:6,7) and he used it the more to affect the people with the conviction he was under of the prisoner's innocency and, probably, such was the noise of the rabble, that, if he had not used some such surprising sign, in the view of them all, he could not have been heard.

[2.] By a saying in which, First, He clears himself I am innocent of the blood of this just person. What nonsense was this, to condemn him, and yet protest that he was innocent of his blood! For men to protest against a thing, and yet to practise it, is only to proclaim that they sin against their consciences. Though Pilate professed his innocency, God charges him with guilt, Acts 4:27. Some think to justify themselves, by pleading that their hands were not in the sin but David kills by the sword of the children of Ammon, and Ahab by the elders of Jezreel. Pilate here thinks to justify himself, by pleading that his heart was not in the action but this is an averment which will never be admitted. Protestatio non valet contra factum--In vain does he protest against the deed which at the same time he perpetrates. Secondly, He casts it upon the priests and people "See ye to it if it must be done, I cannot help it, do you answer it before God and the world." Note, Sin is a brat that nobody is willing to own and many deceive themselves with this, that they shall bear no blame if they can but find any to lay the blame upon but it is not so easy a thing to transfer the guilt of sin as many think it is. The condition of him that is infected with the plague is not the less dangerous, either for his catching the infection from others, or his communicating the infection to others we may be tempted to sin, but cannot be forced. The priests threw it upon Judas See thou to it and now Pilate throws it upon them See ye to it for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you.

2. The priests and people consented to take the guilt upon themselves they all said, "His blood be on us, and one our children we are so well assured that there is neither sin nor danger in putting him to death, that we are willing to run the hazard of it " as if the guilt would do no harm to them or theirs. They saw that it was the dread of guilt that made Pilate hesitate, and that he was getting over this difficulty by a fancy of transferring it to prevent the return of his hesitation, and to confirm him in that fancy, they, in the heat of their rage, agreed to it, rather than lose the prey they had in their hands, and cried, His blood be upon us. Now,

(1.) By this they designed to indemnify Pilate, that is, to make him think himself indemnified, by becoming bound to divine justice, to save him harmless. But those that are themselves bankrupts and beggars will never be admitted security for others, nor taken as a bail for them. None could bear the sin of others, except him that had none of his own to answer for it is a bold undertaking, and too big for any creature, to become bound for a sinner to Almighty God.

(2.) But they did really imprecate wrath and vengeance upon themselves and their posterity. What a desperate word was this, and how little did they think what as the direful import of it, or to what an abyss of misery it would bring them and theirs! Christ had lately told them, that upon them would come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from that of the righteous Abel but as if that were too little, they here imprecate upon themselves the guilt of that blood which was more precious than all the rest, and the guilt of which would lie heavier. O the daring presumption of wilful sinners, that run upon God, upon his neck, and defy his justice! Job 15:25,26. Observe,

[1.] How cruel they were in their imprecation. They imprecated the punishment of this sin, not only upon themselves, but upon their children too, even those that were yet unborn, without so much as limiting the entail of the curse, as God himself had been pleased to limit it, to the third and fourth generation. It was madness to pull it upon themselves, but the height of barbarity to entail it on their posterity. Surely they were like the ostrich they were hardened against their young ones, as though they were not theirs. What a dreadful conveyance was this of guilt and wrath to them and their heirs for ever, and this delivered by joint consent, nemine contradicents--unanimously, as their own act and deed which certainly amounted to a forfeiture and defeasance of that ancient charter, I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed. Their entailing the curse of the Messiah's blood upon their nation, cut off the entail of the blessings of that blood from their families, that, according to another promise made to Abraham, in him all the families of the earth might be blessed. See what enemies wicked men are to their own children and families those that damn their own souls, care not how many they take to hell with them.

[2.] How righteous God was, in his retribution according to this imprecation they said, His blood be on us, and on our children and God said Amen to it, so shall thy doom be as they loved cursing, so it came upon them. The wretched remains of that abandoned people feel it to this day from the time they imprecated this blood upon them, they were followed with one judgment after another, till they were quite laid waste, and made an astonishment, a hissing, and a byword yet on some of them, and some of theirs, this blood came, not to condemn them, but to save them divine mercy, upon their repenting and believing, cut off this entail, and then the promise was again to them, and to their children. God is better to us and ours than we are.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!

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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Matthew 27:26".

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

The Chief Priest and Elders Bring about the Crucifixion of Jesus By Manipulation: The Remorse of Judas and The Trial of Jesus Before Pilate (27:1-26).

In this new subsection Matthew lays great stress on the part played by the Chief Priests and Elders in bringing about a verdict against Jesus, and emphasises their evil motive, their blood guilt and the blood guilt of the people of Jerusalem, in contrast with the total innocence of Jesus, using the account of Judas’ blood guilt and remorse, and Pilate’s washing of his hands to remove blood guilt, in order to bring both messages home. The result is that Jesus is delivered up to be crucified in spite of the acknowledgement by Pilate and his wife of His innocence. The emphases of the passage are on the behaviour and blood guilt of the Chief Priests and Elders in obtaining their political ends, something constantly emphasised throughout, and the continuing fact of the declaration of Jesus’ innocence. Note in the analysis the alternation of the guilt of the Chief Priests and Elders and the innocence of Jesus.

A further thing to note is the typical Matthaean ‘sandwich’. Judas’ declaration of Jesus’ innocence, and Pilate’s declaration of Jesus’ innocence, encompass the description of the trial of Jesus by Pilate (inasmuch as it can be said to be described, for the emphasis is mainly on the charge and Jesus’ reply to it), and his vain attempt to have Him released.

Analysis of Matthew 27:1-26.

a The Chief Priests and Elders of the people consult in order to have Jesus put to death (Matthew 27:1-2)

b Judas has shed innocent blood and has to ‘see to it’. He takes it on himself by suicide (Matthew 27:3-10).

c The Chief Priests and Elders seek to persuade Pilate to condemn Jesus (Matthew 27:11-14).

d Pilate seeks to have Jesus released by pairing Him with the notorious Barabbas in the choice for someone to receive an amnesty (Matthew 27:15-17).

e He knew that they (the Chief Priests and Elders) had delivered Jesus up out of envy (Matthew 27:18).

d Pilate’s wife seeks to have Jesus released because of a dream (Matthew 27:19).

c The Chief Priests and Elders persuade the people to demand the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27:20-23).

b Pilate claims to be free from innocent blood and tells the people to ‘see to it’. They take it on themselves (Matthew 27:24-25).

a Jesus is delivered to be crucified by Pilate as a result of the instigation of the people in response to the Chief Priests and Elders (Matthew 27:26).

Note that in ‘a’ the Chief Priests and Elders consult in order to have Jesus put to death, and in the parallel they succeed. In ‘b’ Judas has shed innocent blood and the Chief Priests tell him to ‘see to it’, trying thereby to disclaim responsibility, while in the parallel Pilate claims to be free from innocent blood and tells the people to ‘see to it’, and the people take it on themselves, (and on the Chief Priests and Elders). In ‘c’ the Chief Priests and Elders seek to persuade Pilate to condemn Jesus, and in the parallel they seek to persuade the people to have Jesus condemned. In ‘d’ Pilate seeks to have Jesus released and in the parallel his wife seeks to have Jesus released. Centrally in ‘e’ Pilate knows that the Chief Priests and Elders have delivered Him up for envy. Note the emphasis all the way through, firstly on the influence of the Chief Priests and Elders in bringing about Jesus’ death, and secondly on Jesus’ innocence.

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Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Pilate Tries The Way Of Compromise And Ends Up Having To Give Way By Washing His Hands Of The Whole Situation In Declaration Of Jesus’ Innocence (27:15-26).

Matthew now confirms that the Chief Priests and Elders are the main causes of Jesus’ death, in that, having delivered Jesus to Pilate with the aim of having Him executed, it is they who press the charges, and they who arouse the Jerusalemites to call for His crucifixion and release ‘Jesus Barabbas’ (a reading found in Theta and f1 and a few versions and confirmed as early by Origen). At the same time he reveals that both Pilate and his wife see Jesus as innocent, the latter in a way that suggests supernatural intervention. Central to the passage is the question, ‘what then shall I do with Jesus Who is called Messiah?’, a question which produces the response, ‘Let Him be crucified’. Jerusalem has given its verdict.


a Now at the feast the governor had the normal practise of releasing (was wont to release) to the crowd one prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas (Matthew 27:15-16).

b When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom will you that I release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him up (Matthew 27:17-18).

c And while he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Do not have anything to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19).

d Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds that they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus (Matthew 27:20).

e But the governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two will you that I release unto you?” And they said, “Barabbas” (Matthew 27:21).

f Pilate says to them, “What then shall I do to Jesus who is called Messiah?” They all say, “Let him be crucified.”

e And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they cried out exceedingly, saying, “Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22-23).

d So when Pilate saw that he prevailed nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising (Matthew 27:24 a)

c He took water, and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man. You see to it” (Matthew 27:24 b).

b And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25).

a Then he released Barabbas to them, but he scourged Jesus and delivered him to be crucified (Matthew 27:26).

Note that in ‘a’ Pilate was in the habit of releasing a prisoner in accordance with popular request, and in the parallel He releases Barabbas and not Jesus. In ‘b’ Pilate gives the choice to the crowd of either Barabbas or Jesus, and in the parallel the crowd take Jesus’ blood on their own heads. In ‘c’ his wife declares Jesus innocent before a ‘heavenly’ court, and in the parallel Pilate declares Jesus innocent before the representatives of the whole Jewish people. In ‘d’ the Chief Priests and Elders persuade the crowd, and in the parallel Pilate prevails nothing. In ‘e’ the crowds cry for the release of Barabbas in response to Pilate’s question, and in the parallel in response to Pilate’s question they cry for the crucifixion of Jesus. Centrally in ‘f they are faced up with what should be done with Jesus the Messiah, and they demand His crucifixion. Note also the repetition of ‘let Him be crucified’ in the second half of the chiasmus, a repetitive feature often found in the second part of Biblical chiasmi.

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Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” ’

For the idea here compare 2 Samuel 1:16; 2 Samuel 3:28. The people recognised quite clearly what Pilate was trying to do, and had been worked up into such a fever that they replied vociferously, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” They had recognised the symbol and were quite ready to take the blood guilt on themselves if it would frustrate Pilate. They treated the death of Jesus as lightly as the Chief Priests had treated Judas. But little were they aware of how literally God would take it, for within forty years their city would become a blood bath the like of which has rarely been seen since. Then they would bear their blood guilt indeed. We should note here how in Daniel 9:26 the ‘cutting off’ of the Anointed One (Messiah) is also connected with the destruction of Jerusalem.

‘All the people.’ Strictly this means ‘all who were present there’, that is, all the crowd as they bayed as one. They knew the pressure that unanimity could apply. Compare ‘all Jerusalem’ in Matthew 2:3. Once again the whole city was, as it were, aroused against Jesus. We should recognise that the idea is not that the whole Jewish nation will bear the guilt, and indeed many of that nation would come to Christ in the years that followed. It is rather that Jerusalem will bear the guilt, as indeed it did in a terrible way.

(As we have constantly stressed the guilt cannot be laid at the door of the Jewish nation as a whole, except in so far as it can be laid at the doors of all men. It is strange how people who would never take on themselves the guilt of a particular crime in which they were not directly involved, will nevertheless happily apply such guilt to others. I remember well how as a teacher in a school made up mainly of West Indians there were some who vociferously informed me that I wholly shared the guilt of the practise of slavery, while even the more well disposed still thought that there was some truth in it. And when I pointed out that I accepted no guilt at all for what others had done, and that I abhorred slavery, they yelled me down. Furthermore they would never admit that black tribes and Arabs were equally involved in the infamous trade, and therefore equally bore the blame. That would never do, for it might suggest that it was not white men who were totally to blame. And yet how quickly they would speak of it being unfair if a class was made to bear the guilt of a few (when it was often far more justified). It was a matter of ‘rules for some, and rules for others’. It is in a similar way that the Jews throughout history have often quite unfairly been made to bear the guilt of what happened here. But while certainly every Jew will have to give account for his failure to respond to Christ, as indeed will all who have so failed, it was only the minority, even in Jesus’ day, who were really responsible for it, and who can really be described as having been guilty of crucifying the Son of God).

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Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. Jesus before Pilate (Mark 15:1-15*, Luke 23:1-3; Luke 23:18-27).—Mt. follows Mk. closely, but has an additional source of information on which he draws for Pilate's wife's dream and Pilate's handwashing. This source may also be the origin of the reading "Jesus Barabbas" (Matthew 27:16, Syr. Sin. and Origen), a reading which gives point to Pilate's question in Matthew 27:17 (Jesus Barabbas or Jesus "Messiah"?). Such a name would be quite natural. In place of Mk.'s information about Barabbas, Mt. simply says he was "a notable prisoner"; he also makes Pilate anticipate the demand for a release.—Jesus who is called Christ (Matthew 27:17; Matthew 27:22) is a phrase which would be more natural on the lips of an early Christian than on Pilate's. The whole narrative intensifies the guilt of the Jews; there is little doubt that Matthew 27:25 has been largely responsible for the malignity with which "Christian" communities and individuals long pursued Jews.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


Mat . Tie governor asked him.—Pilate, true to the Roman sense of justice, refused merely to confirm the sentence of the Sanhedrin (Carr).

Mat . Barabbas.—"Son of Abba," i.e. Son of Father (so-and-so). The name would originally be given to one who was the son of some Rabbi who had been known in his locality as Father (so-and-so). Not unlikely Barabbas would thus be a person of respectable parentage, though for long he had gravitated toward the lowest stratum of society (Morison).

Mat . When he was set down.—While he was sitting (R.V.). His wife.—Claudia Procula or Procla. Traditions state that she was a proselyte of the gate, which is by no means unlikely, as many of the Jewish proselytes were women. By an imperial regulation provincial governors had been prohibited from taking their wives with them. But the rule gradually fell into disuse, and an attempt made in the Senate (A.D. 21) to revive it completely failed (Carr).

Mat . They said, Barabbas.—Pilate's expedient to avoid the necessity of pronouncing sentence is here set forth at length, probably because it brings into strong relief the absolute rejection of their Messiah alike by the rulers and by the people (Gibson).

Mat . Washed his hands.—See Deu 21:6. Cf. Psa 26:6. See ye to it.—"Ye shall see to it; I presume that ye take to yourselves the whole responsibility of the deed" (Morison).


The homage of power.—Jesus is now standing before the Roman governor (Mat ); in the presence, therefore, of the representative of the then highest power upon earth. To what conclusion does this Imperial delegate come about Him? And how far does he give evidence of the nature of his thoughts? A threefold answer seems discoverable in the passage before us. Notwithstanding the many accusations (Mat 27:12) to which he is listening, we find Pilate first suspecting, then convinced of, and finally proclaiming, the complete innocency of the Accused.

I. Suspecting the truth.—First, we may believe that the appearance of the Saviour Himself had not a little effect in this way. One of the accusations brought against the Saviour—even a leading one, it would seem (Luk ; Joh 19:12; Joh 19:15)—was that of (constructively) impairing the supreme authority of "Cæsar." No Roman governor could think lightly of such an accusation. No Roman emperor made more of it than the Roman emperor of that day. Many men of the highest rank were being put to death by him yearly on the mere suspicion of such a charge (see Tacitus). Naturally, therefore, when Pilate heard of it here, he would look with special closeness of attention on the Man charged with such guilt, and would expect to find something at least in Him to correspond with so very lofty an aim. There should be something Cæsar-like—palpably—in any one who thought, however distantly, of being in rivalry with him. It would appear from the story, however, that Pilate found nothing like it in the appearance of Christ; no marks of pride; no sign of ambition; nothing, in fact, to betoken a desire to be great upon earth, in the heavenly meekness of that sorrow-lined face. Hence the peculiar and marked emphasis of the question he asks (Mat 27:11), "Art Thou"—Thou, being such as Thou art—"the King of the Jews?" As much as to say, "Never yet did I see any one with less of earthly royalty in his look." The Saviour's demeanour, in the next place, seems to have confirmed this idea. How utterly unmoved He stands by the accusations He hears! How many these are! How silent Himself! Does He hear them, in fact (Mat 27:13)? And, if so, why is it that He takes no notice of them whatever? This does not look like guilt, or a fear of the consequences, or an anxiety to escape them (see Joh 19:10). At any rate, it is clear evidence that there is something strange indeed in this case (Mat 27:14). Lastly, we may well believe that there was something in the demeanour of the Saviour's accusers which added strength to this thought. Their accusations were such as could easily be accounted for without supposing them to be valid. There was that about their reproaches which showed how highly they valued the praises of men (cf. Mat 23:5-7; Luk 20:45-47), as also how greatly this meek Jesus of Nazareth had interfered with them in this matter. Pilate saw in this, therefore, what was the real root of all their clamour and hate (Mat 27:18; Mar 15:10), and so was struck, most probably, rather by the weakness than by the strength of their case. "Is this the worst that even such consummate ‘envy' can lay to His charge? If so, there cannot be much in Him that is worthy of death!"

II. Ascertaining the truth.—Two things especially seem to have brought this about. One was connected with a remarkable message which came to him at that time. During the previous night, or early that morning, his wife had dreamed about Christ. The details are not told us, but its effects speak for themselves. She has been so scared thereby that she sends her husband word of it, even while seated in court, and earnestly entreats him, in consequence, to beware how he allows himself to deal with Jesus as other than "just" (Mat ). A somewhat similar warning, in consequence of a dream, is said to have been sent to Julius Cæsar by his wife on the morning of his death. If Pilate was such a believer in dreams and omens as most Romans were in his day, the recollection of that dream would make this one seem to him a message from Heaven itself, and so would help to make him believe that what he had suspected before was nothing indeed but the truth. Another thing telling on him in the same direction was the behaviour of the "multitude" which, by this time, had collected together. Some time previously he had thought that he saw in their presence and apparent disposition a way of settling this case. With this idea he would take advantage of a custom they observed at that "feast" (Mat 27:15). He would give them the choice, in accordance with that custom, between this Man who seemed to be in favour with them (though not with the priests) and another man who was then in prison and notorious for his crimes (Mat 27:16; Joh 18:40). The result turned out exactly contrary to what he had expected and hoped. "Persuaded" by the "priests" (Mat 27:20), the "multitude" asked the release, not of Jesus, but of the other. Not only so, the more he pleads with them in opposition to this the worse they become. They ask now, not only that Jesus should not be released, but that He should die the death of the cross. And they ask it the more, the more he challenges them to give a reason for so doing. And this, in fact, is, so far, the end. He asks them to say, and they cannot say, "what evil" Jesus "hath done."

III. Proclaiming the truth.—Finding that all appeal is in vain, hearing nothing further in the way of testimony or evidence, and fearing that the only result of further effort to deliver Him would be a "tumult" for which he would have to answer at Rome, Pilate contents himself with openly declaring his own thoughts about Christ. This he does, first, in the most deliberate way—"taking water," and having it brought to him (as we may infer) for this end. Next, in a most public way, "before the multitude"—in their sight. Further, in the most significant way, viz., by using the water brought him for washing his hands. Once more, in the most explicit way, by explaining verbally what he meant by that sign (Mat ). And, lastly, in a way which the answer of the multitude (Mat 27:25) showed that they perfectly understood. Miserable, in short, as the effort was in the way of exonerating himself, it was trumpet-tongued and beyond capability of mistake in proclaiming the innocence of the Saviour!

This "proclamation" was specially important:—

1. Because of the character of the man.—As we learn from Luk and other sources, he was by no means unwilling to be a shedder of blood. Few Roman governors were. Pilate, probably, as little unwilling as any. How striking, therefore, in this case, to see him fighting against it so long, and doing all that he thought he could do, in order to avoid it! There must have been something in his eyes peculiarly dazzling in the lustrous innocence of this Jesus. He was prepared for anything, short of losing his life, rather than treat it as guilt.

2. Because of the nationality and rank of the man.—This Pilate was not only a Gentile, he was a representative Gentile as well. He spoke for Cæsar, who spoke in turn for the world. The whole, in short, of the world's non-Judaic faith may be said to have culminated then in Tiberius. This fact, therefore, gives to the proclamation in question a kind of "œcumenical" ring; the heathen world, as it were, following up the Jewish world in virtual vindication of Christ.

3. Because of the exceedingly critical character of the juncture.—This final vindication is uttered at the very moment of finally consigning Christ to the cross. Also by the very same lips. The very same power which says He is to die also says He ought not; and that in the very same breath. Thus at once acquitting Him and condemning itself. Thus at once, also, treating Him as guilty and pronouncing Him guiltless—the very marrow of the gospel of Christ!


Mat . The silence of Jesus at the bar of Pilate.—The predictions which we find in the Old Testament in relation to the Messiah seem to have been all fulfilled; and it is not easy to bring them and the life of Jesus Christ into juxtaposition, and resist the conclusion that He was the promised Saviour. It was predicted that toward the close of His beneficent career, He would not so much as open His mouth in certain circumstances, and this prediction, like all the rest, was literally verified. Before the Sanhedrin, before Herod, before Pilate, He "retired into the great empire of silence." Before Pilate He was not absolutely silent. He appears to have replied to most of Pilate's queries, and to have given him, in the capacity of judge, all the information that was really necessary to a right decision in the case; and the fact that He spoke when He conceived that there was occasion shows that His silence was not exactly premeditated. There was no obstinacy about it. In prospect of the trial He did not rashly or cunningly resolve that He would not in any way commit Himself by speaking. His silence was spontaneous, natural, and on that account all the more impressive and suggestive. In seeking to account for it, we would observe:—

I. That at those times when He became silent it was not necessary to speak.—After Pilate had heard all that the chief priests and elders had to say against Him, he felt constrained to acknowledge that they had not made good a solitary charge. He, as judge, declared that in his opinion there was no fault in Him, and with this view Herod coincided. Had they substantiated their charges, Jesus might have spoken. Since no tangible proof of political guilt was adduced, He stood before Pilate with sealed lips; and His silence was more condemnatory of His accusers than a score of speeches would have been. It frequently happens that silence is the best answer that can be given.

II. That it would have served no practical purpose for Christ to have spoken.—Suppose that Jesus had with the breath of His mouth blown away the accusations brought against Him by His enemies, as smoke is driven away by the wind, would Pilate have acquitted Him and not have delivered Him to the Jews? No. He had not the courage to set Jesus at liberty, and dare the Jews to lay a finger on Him. His silence did not make against Him, and He was certain that it would not. It may be asked, Was speech not needed for His vindication in the eyes of posterity? No. His silence notwithstanding, posterity has decided that Jesus was all that He professed to be; and this will become more and more its belief.

III. That Jesus came into the world expressly to die.—In the light of this fact, what is there in the silence of Christ to perplex us? Nothing whatever.


1. There was not in Jesus a morbid love of life.

2. The innocence of Christ.

3. In Jesus there was any amount of self-control.—G. Cron.

Mat . The dream of Pilate's wife.—We inquire reverentially:—

I. Why the dream in question was sent.—Among all the absurdities that have been uttered and believed about dreams, the following things seem quite clear, viz., that we cannot order our own dreams; that no other men can order them for us; that God sometimes does (or has, at the least); that no other beings ever have, that we know of, except Him; and, consequently, that however uninterpretable and unimportant such things in general are, those which have a special significance and bearing may be reasonably traced to God's hands. In the case of this dream, moreover, the fact of its relation by the Evangelist is an additional argument on this side. And if so, then the dream, in reality, was:

1. A Divine preaching of Christ to the mind of the sleeper. It had the effect of concentrating her waking attention, not only on Christ in His innocence, but on Christ in His death—that same marvellous combination which seems to have converted the penitent thief. Had she, therefore, thought of these things as he did; had she followed up these first truths, as she ought; had she inquired, and so heard of the wonders accompanying His crucifixion, and of the truth and glory of His resurrection; who can exaggerate the result? Her dream placed the key of heaven in her hands; something as was done for Cornelius by his own vision and that of Peter, and something as was done for Saul by the vision of Ananias.

2. Another merciful object was to warn another sinner of the extreme peril of his position at that particular time. Pilate, of himself, could know next to nothing of the unparalleled position he stood in. But to warn him of the excessive peril of his position was the purport of the dream and message of his wife. May we not consider that dream, then, a final warning to him to beware? This would be quite in keeping with God's dealings. Judas had received such a warning from Christ (Mat ) and had conveyed one to the priests (Mat 27:5). So did Pilate himself afterwards to the Jews at large (Mat 27:24). And if so, how affecting an illustration of 1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9, etc.!

II. Why the dream is related.—Partly, it is possible, as an illustration of God's power, mysteriously controlling even those innermost thoughts which are so uncontrollable by ourselves. Partly, too, by way of illustration of God's mercy, and as opening out, by the case of Pilate and Pilate's wife, an almost boundless prospect of the opportunities, strivings, and warnings vouchsafed to our race. But neither of these would appear to be the chief purpose of the history. The prosecution had broken down. In such a case, however, "not proven" is not enough. God would have the innocence of His Son beyond doubt. Two independent, consistent witnesses (as required by the law) "established" this great point—the false disciple and the judge, the unscrupulous and unpopular judge who would lose nothing and gain much (as he judged) by condemning, and the suspicious, yet intimate companion who would certainly have detected evil if there had been any to detect. Thus far the testimony of man. But in a case such as this, virtually tried in the presence of the universe, greater testimony still is required. This we have, therefore, in prophecy, in the subsequent inspired declarations of Apostles, in voices from heaven during life, and now, at last, just previous to death, in this mysterious dream. Thus strikingly, thus almost dramatically, at the very crisis of the Saviour's fate, is He declared without sin. The whole subject is a signal evidence of the importance attached to the Atonement. The perfect innocence of the Saviour is an essential feature in that doctrine. See how carefully, how profoundly, how anxiously, and so to speak, reconditely, the point is established.—Mathematicus in "Homilist."

Mat . Rejecting Christ.—One evening, at a small literary gathering at which Carlyle was present, a lady, who was somewhat noted for her "muslin theology," was bewailing the wickedness of the Jews in not receiving Christ, and ended her diatribe against them by expressing her regret that He had not appeared in our own time. "How delighted," said she, "we should all have been to throw our doors open to Him, and listen to His Divine precepts! Don't you think so, Mr. Carlyle?" Thus appealed to, Carlyle said, "No, madam, I don't. I think that, had He come very fashionably dressed, with plenty of money, and preaching doctrines palatable to the higher orders, I might have had the honour of receiving from you a card of invitation, on the back of which would be written, ‘To meet our Saviour'; but if He had come uttering His sublime precepts, and denouncing the Pharisees, and associating with the publicans and lower orders, as He did, you would have treated Him much as the Jews did, and have cried out, ‘Take Him to Newgate, and hang Him!'"—Tools for Teachers.

Mat . Christ before Pilate—Pilate before Christ.

I. Let us try to account for the hesitation of Pilate to give up the Lord, and then for his final yielding to the clamour of the people.—Wherefore this unwonted squeamishness of conscience? It was the result of a combination of particulars, each of which had a special force of its own, and the aggregate of which so wrought on his mind that he was brought thereby to a stand. There was

1. The peculiar character of the prisoner.

2. The singular message of his wife.

3. The fatality that there seemed about the case. He had tried to roll it over on Herod, but that wily monarch sent the prisoner back upon his hands. The deeper he went into the case he discovered only the more reason for resisting the importunity of the Jews, and however he looked at it, his plain duty was to set the prisoner free. Why, then, again we ask, was his perplexity? The answer is suggested by the taunt of the Jews, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Csar's friend." He foresaw that if he resisted the will of the rulers, he would make them his enemies, and so provoke them to complain of him to the emperor, who would then institute an inquiry into his administration of his office; and that he was not prepared to face. His past misdeeds had put him virtually into the power of those who were now so eager for the condemnation of the Christ. His guilty conscience made him a coward at the very time when most of all he wanted to be brave.

II. The question of the text is pre-eminently the question of the present age.

III. What is true of the age is true also of every individual to whom the gospel is proclaimed.—W. M. Taylor, D.D.

Christ still on His trial.—Jesus Christ is on His trial again before the research and culture of the nineteenth century. The controversies which once raged round His miracles have now gathered about His Person. For acute thinkers saw it was useless to deny the supernatural, so long as Jesus Christ Himself, the great central miracle in history, passed unchallenged. And now, in this age, thoughtful man must, sooner or later, ask himself the question which Pilate put to the Jews: "What shall I do, then?" etc. And from the motley crowd of Jews and Gentiles, of friends or foes, grouped round that calm, majestic Figure, come the three chief answers that the human heart can give.

I. The answer of rejection.—The fickle crowd cried, "Let Him be crucified." It was the cry of prejudice, of thoughtlessness, of conscious guilt. That cry finds an echo to-day. It is couched in less offensive language. It is clothed in the garb of poetry and philosophy, of the highest culture; the form is changed, the spirit is unaltered. It is still the answer of rejection.

II. From Pilate comes the answer of indifference.—He represented the Roman society of his age, which had lost faith in religion and morality, and yet was troubled by dreams; which was at once sceptical and superstitious; whose creed had been summed up by one of its own writers in a notable saying: "There is no certainty save that there is nothing certain, and there is nothing more wretched or more proud than man"—a nerveless, hopeless, sorrowful creed, the parent of apathy, cynicism, and unrest. Pilate is a picture of that vain and shallow indifference which is too weak to believe in the truth, and yet too fearful to deny it altogether.

III. The answer of faith.—There were some in that crowd insignificant in number, in wealth, in influence—often, alas! untrue to their own convictions—who could give a very different answer to Pilate's question. One of them the previous night had acted as the spokesman of his brethren, when he said, "Lord, I will follow Thee to prison and to death." They were brave words, the language of a faithful and loving heart—forgotten and broken at the first blush of trial, but nobly fulfilled in after years; and they are the answer of faith.—F. J. Chavasse, M.A.

Pilate's questions.—

I. In this day Jesus is on His trial, and it has reached the phase marked by the text. The question to-day is, "But if we accept this deliverance of science or that dictum of criticism, what shall we do, then, with Jesus which is called Christ? How shall we judge Him?" All great questions pass through, say, four stages, viz., neglect, opposition, attention, decision. The question of the Christ has in these days come to the last stage when it must be decided.

II. Some of the present forms of the phase of the trial of Jesus.—Take two—agnostic secularism and evolution.

III. The gravity of the present phase of the trial of Jesus.—To Pilate's question the answer came, "Let Him be crucified." The gravity lies here: the trial of Jesus in this day has developed to this crisis; we must either accept Him as the Christ, or deliver Him to be crucified. No middle course possible.—A. Goodrich, D.D.

Mat . Pilate.—The power of conscience in Pilate was strong enough to protest, but it was not strong enough to resist.

I. We are compelled to look into the man himself for the explanation of his conduct.—

1. He had, by his injustice and selfishness in the administration of his province, put himself already at the mercy of the Jews.

2. He had no sure moral standard for the regulation of his conduct.

3. He held low views of responsibility. Was there ever such a display of silliness as this washing of his hands before the people?

II. Practical lessons.—

1. Be on your guard against fettering yourself for the future by the conduct of the present.

2. Remember there is a higher rule of life than mere selfish expediency.

3. Learn that sin is a voluntary thing.

4. Do not forget that it is not the washing of hands in water, but the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Christ alone, that can take away guilt.—W. M. Taylor, D.D.

Pilate disclaiming responsibility.—"See ye to it." Pilate forgot that in things moral men cannot clear one another by a mere act of will. Still less can they, in their individual actions, be like the rowers in our British waters, who look one way and go another.—J. Morison, D.D.

Sinning in the light of the clearest evidence.—Pilate's conduct plainly shows that it is possible to sin against the conviction of our own mind. Learn:—

I. That guilt may be contracted through others.—Guilt is none the less our own because somebody else is implicated. This should be borne in mind when positions are offered us respecting which we have conscientious misgivings.

II. That guilt knowingly contracted admits of no honourable excuse.

III. That guilt may be contracted by not preventing evil, as well as by committing it.

IV. That guilt, however contracted, cannot be removed by any mere form or ceremony.—"Pilate washed his hands," etc. It was customary among the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews, to wash their hands in token of their innocency from any imputed guilt. But no ceremony can of itself cleanse away our guilt. "The blood of Jesus Christ," etc.—A. Hilittch.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

"And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. (12) And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. (13) Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? (14) And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. (15) Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. (16) And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. (17) Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? (18) For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. (19) When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. (20) But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. (21) The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. (22) Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. (23) And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. (24) When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (25) Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (26) Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."

We here enter upon the wonderful scene of Christ's trial. And here stands the Lord of life and glory, the judge both of quick and dead, before the unjust judge Pilate, to witness a good confession. 1 Timothy 6:13. Every incident is of the highest moment to be regarded, and may the Lord, the Holy Ghost, open to both Writer and Reader, the marvellous things which the Evangelist hath here recorded.

The court before which Jesus had stood the night before, was, or should have been, the Sanhedrim, that is, Seventy Elders of Israel; men in whom the spirit of God was, for so was the original appointment of this court. See Numbers 11:16-17. But in the time when Jesus stood before it, it appears that this court, was composed of Scribes and Pharisees, whom our Lord (who knew the heart of men) declared to be hypocrites. At the head of this council now presided as High Priest, Caiaphas. A man who had little of the fear of God before his eyes, that in order to curry favor with the Romans, to whom Judæa was at this time under tribute, he very freely gave counsel, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people: lest the Romans should come and take away both the place and nation. So that this time-serving man, made no scruple to say, that the life of any individual was of no consequence, if by the sacrifice, the peace of the Romans could be obtained! And though we perfectly well know, that it was God the Holy Ghost prompted this High Priest, as High Priest, to utter these words in a way of prophecy, and in a very different sense from what the unfeeling speaker meant (and a most blessed prophecy it became, for the joy and comfort of the Church in all ages); yet they serve to shew at once the awfulness of his character. See John 11:47-53. compared with Genesis 49:10.

But the power of the Sanhedrim was now, and for a considerable time before had been, abridged, (Josephus, the Jewish historian, saith, that Herod in the beginning of his reign had taken it away,) they were obliged to have recourse to the judgment seat of Pilate, for sentence of death upon the Lord Jesus; for as they told Pilate, it was not lawful for them to put any man to death. John 18:31. Pilate's conscience, as we perceive in the account here given by the Evangelist, was dreadfully alarmed, at this business. His wife also sent to tell him of her alarms. Luke in his relation of this history saith, that, in order to get rid of it, he sent Christ to Herod. Luke 23:6-7. And when the Lord was brought back to him again, Pilate tried and tampered with the Chief Priests and Elders all he could, to gain their favor, and yet be spared from the murder of Christ. And when nothing would do, but he must consent to the deed; with all the marks of horror, unable to conceal what passed within, he took water to wash his hands, as if to shew that he bore no part in the cruel transaction: and in the very moment he passed sentence of death on Jesus, proclaimed his innocence. Was there ever an instance in history of such conduct?

It is time, however, to leave the unjust judge, and the awful Sanhedrim to themselves. Our meditation should be wholly directed to the Lord, in those solemn seasons here recorded. For in the history of Jesus, in every minute transaction of his life and death, for the salvation of his people, there is enough to employ our thoughts until we behold him coming in the clouds to judgment. Revelation 1:7. But there is one thought which ariseth out of what is here said by the people, and which is so intimately connected with the view of Jesus, that I would beg the Reader's patience, while I detain him for offering it. When Pilate said, I am innocent of the blood of this just person, see ye to it: Then answered all the people and said: His blood be upon us and on our children. They said it, no doubt, in a way of defiance: but like the speech of Caiaphas, which the Lord over-ruled to a very different purpose; did not the Lord, here also, answer it in mercy? Are we not told that after the descent of the Holy Ghost, on the day of Pentecost, when Peter charged the men of Israel with having by wicked hands, crucified and slain him, whom God had made both Lord and Christ; they were pricked in the heart, and said unto Peter and unto the rest of the Apostles: men and brethren what shall we do? And do we not read, that a saving work of grace immediately passed upon some of them. And was not then the blood of Christ, though in a very different sense from what they meant, truly upon them? Yea, was not the very first prayer of Jesus on the cross to this purpose, when he said, Father! forgive them, for they know not what they do? And thus between the intercession of Christ and the gifts of God the Holy Ghost there is a beautiful and gracious correspondence. Reader! do not overlook these things. Even the Jerusalem sinners, who embrued their hands in the blood of Christ are made partakers in the blessedness of salvation in his blood. What a thought to encourage every poor conscious sinner. See those scriptures: John 6:37-64; Acts 2:22 to the end.

But while we look at the bright side of this cloud, it is proper to meditate a moment on the reverse. Is not the Jewish nation even at this hour, as a nation reeking under the awful imprecation: His blood be on us and on our children? Lord I would say! Look upon thine ancient people the Jews, and in mercy hasten that long promised day, when the Deliverer shall arise out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Romans 11:26.

We ought not to overlook the patience and silence of Jesus, under the various provocations shewn to his sacred person, during the process of this part of the trial we have read. In the after circumstances of the Lord's sufferings, to which these were but the prelude, much shall we have to observe on this account, but for the present, it should not be passed by unnoticed, how the Lamb of God stood surrounded by those wolves of the night, waiting to suck his blood; and yet stood silent and answered nothing. It was predicted of him, that he was oppressed and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth: he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. And what a correspondence between the prediction and the event? Isaiah 53:7.

But let us prosecute the solemn account. The cloud becomes more and more gloomy. When Pilate had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

People's New Testament

His blood be on us. That is, let us have the responsibility and suffer the punishment. A fearful legacy, and awfully inherited. The history of the Jews from that day on has been the darkest recorded in human annals.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Matthew 27:24-25. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing — That he could not convince them what an unjust, unreasonable thing it was for him to condemn a man whom he believed to be innocent, and whom they could not prove to be guilty; and that instead of doing any good by his opposition to their will, a tumult was made — Through their furious outcries; he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude — Pilate did this, says Origen, according to the custom of the Jews, being willing to assert Christ’s innocency to them, not in words only, but by deed. Thus, in the instance of a murder, committed by an unknown hand, the elders of the city nearest to the place where the dead body was found, were to wash their hands over a heifer slain by way of sacrifice to expiate the crime, and to say, Our hands have not shed this blood, Deuteronomy 21:6. Alluding to which ceremony, the psalmist, having renounced all confederacy with wicked and mischievous men, says, I will wash my hands in innocency. But as washing the hands in token of innocence was a rite frequently used. also by the Gentiles, it is much more probable that Pilate, who was a Gentile, did this in conformity to them. He thought, possibly, by this avowal of his resolution to have no hand in the death of Christ, to have terrified the populace; for one of his understanding and education could not but be sensible that all the water in the universe was not able to wash away the guilt of an unrighteous sentence. Saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it — Nevertheless, solemn as his declaration was, it had no effect; for the people continued inflexible, crying out with one consent, His blood be on us and on our children — That is, We are willing to take the guilt of his death upon ourselves. The governor, therefore, finding by the sound of the cry that it was general, and that the people were fixed in their choice of Barabbas, passed the sentence they desired. He released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired, but he delivered Jesus to their will, Luke 23:25. In this conduct, notwithstanding his efforts to save Jesus, he was utterly inexcusable, and the more so the more he was convinced of Christ’s innocence. He had an armed force under his command sufficient to have scattered this infamous mob, and to have enforced the execution of a righteous sentence. But if not, he ought himself rather to have suffered death than to have knowingly condemned the innocent. Accordingly, as the ancient Christians believed, great calamities afterward befell him and his family, as a token of the displeasure of God for his perversion of justice in this instance. According to Josephus, he was deposed from his government by Vitellius, and sent to Tiberius at Rome, who died before he arrived there. And we learn from Eusebius, that quickly after, having been banished to Vienne in Gaul, he laid violent hands upon himself, falling on his own sword. Agrippa, who was an eye-witness to many of his enormities, speaks of him, in his oration to Caius Cesar, as one who had been a man of the most infamous character.

As to the imprecation of the Jewish priests and people, His blood be on us and on our children, it is well known, that as it was dreadfully answered in the ruin so quickly brought on the Jewish nation, and the calamities which have since pursued that wretched people in almost all ages and countries; so it was particularly illustrated in the severity with which Titus, merciful as he naturally was, treated the Jews whom he took during the siege of Jerusalem; of whom Josephus himself writes, [Bell. Jud., 50. 5:11, (al. Matthew 6:12,) § 1,] that μαστιγουμενοι ανεσταυρουντο, having been scourged, and tortured in a very terrible manner, they were crucified in the view and near the walls of the city; perhaps, among other places, on mount Calvary; and it is very probable, this might be the fate of some of those very persons who now joined in this cry, as it undoubtedly was of many of their children. For Josephus, who was an eye-witness, expressly declares, “that the number of those thus crucified was so great that there was not room for the crosses to stand by each other; and that at last they had not wood enough to make crosses off.” A passage which, especially when compared with the verse before us, must impress and astonish the reader beyond any other in the whole story. If this were not the very finger of God, pointing out their crime in crucifying his Son, it is hard to say what could deserve to be called so. Elsner has abundantly shown, that among the Greeks, the persons on whose testimony others were put to death used, by a very solemn execration, to devote themselves to the divine vengeance, if the person so condemned were not really guilty. See Doddridge.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

His blood be upon us and upon our children (το αιμα αυτου και επι τα τεκνα ημωνto haima autou kai epi ta tekna hēmōn). These solemn words do show a consciousness that the Jewish people recognized their guilt and were even proud of it. But Pilate could not wash away his own guilt that easily. The water did not wash away the blood of Jesus from his hands any more than Lady Macbeth could wash away the blood-stains from her lily-white hands. One legend tells that in storms on Matthew Pilatus in Switzerland his ghost comes out and still washes his hands in the storm-clouds. There was guilt enough for Judas, for Caiaphas and for all the Sanhedrin both Sadducees and Pharisees, for the Jewish people as a whole (πας ο λαοςpas ho laos), and for Pilate. At bottom the sins of all of us nailed Jesus to the Cross. This language is no excuse for race hatred today, but it helps explain the sensitiveness between Jew and Christians on this subject. And Jews today approach the subject of the Cross with a certain amount of prejudice.

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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

J. C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

Now Jesus stood before the governor--and the governor asked him, saying, "Are you the King of the Jews?"

Jesus said to him, "Yes, it is as you say."

When he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then Pilate said to him, "Don't you hear how many things they testify against you?"

He gave him no answer, not even one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the multitude one prisoner, whom they desired. They had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ?" For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. But the governor answered them, "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?"

They said, "Barabbas!"

Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do to Jesus, who is called Christ?"

They all said to him, "Let him be crucified!"

But the governor said, "Why? What evil has he done?"

But they cried out exceedingly, saying, "Let him be crucified!"

So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it."

All the people answered, "May his blood be on us, and on our children!"

Then he released to them Barabbas, but Jesus he flogged and delivered to be crucified.

These verses describe our Lord's appearance before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. That sight must have been astonishing to the angels of God. He who will one day judge the world allowed himself to be judged and condemned, though "he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." (Isaiah 53:9.) He from whose lips Pilate and Caiaphas will one day receive their eternal sentence, suffered silently an unjust sentence to be passed upon him. Those silent sufferings fulfilled the words of Isaiah, "as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he opens not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7.) To those silent sufferings believers owe all their peace and hope. Through them they will have boldness in the day of judgment, who in themselves would have nothing to say.

Let us learn from the conduct of Pilate, how pitiful is the condition of an unprincipled great man.

Pilate appears to have been inwardly satisfied that our Lord had done nothing worthy of death. We are told distinctly, "that he knew that for ENVY they had delivered him." Left to the exercise of his own unbiased judgment, he would probably have dismissed the charges against our Lord, and let Him go free.

But Pilate was governor of a jealous and turbulent people. His great desire was to procure favor with them and please them. He cared little how much he sinned against God and conscience, so long as he had the praise of man. Though willing to save our Lord's life, he was afraid to do it, if it offended the Jews. And so, after a feeble attempt to divert the fury of the people from Jesus to Barabbas--and a feebler attempt to satisfy his own conscience, by washing his hands publicly before the people--he at last condemned one whom he himself called "a just person." He rejected the strange and mysterious warning which his wife sent to him after her dream. He stifled the remonstrances of his own conscience. He "delivered Jesus to be crucified."

Behold in this miserable man a lively emblem of many a ruler of this world! How many there are, who know well that their public acts are wrong, and yet have not the courage to act up to their knowledge. They fear the people! They dread being laughed at! They cannot bear being unpopular! Like dead fish, they float with the tide. The praise of man is the idol before which they bow down, and to that idol they sacrifice conscience, inward peace, and an immortal soul.

Whatever our position in life may be, let us seek to be guided by principle, and not by expediency. The praise of man is a poor, feeble, uncertain thing. It is here today, and gone tomorrow. Let us strive to please God, and then we may care little who else is pleased. Let us fear God, and then there is none else of whom we need be afraid.

Let us learn from the conduct of the Jews described in these verses, the desperate wickedness of human nature.

The behavior of Pilate afforded the chief priests and elders an occasion of reconsidering what they were about. The difficulties he raised about condemning our Lord, gave time for second thoughts. But there were no second thoughts in the minds of our Lord's enemies. They pressed on their wicked deed. They rejected the compromise that Pilate offered. They actually preferred having a wretched felon, named Barabbas, set at liberty rather than Jesus. They clamored loudly for our Lord's crucifixion. And they wound up all by recklessly taking on themselves all the guilt of our Lord's death, in words of portentous meaning, "His blood be on us and our children."

And what had our Lord done, that the Jews should hate Him so? He was no robber, or murderer. He was no blasphemer of their God, or reviler of their prophets. He was one whose life was love. He was one who "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil." (Acts 10:38.) He was innocent of any transgression against the law of God or man. And yet the Jews hated Him, and never rested until He was slain! They hated Him, because He told them the truth. They hated Him, because He testified of their works that they were evil. They hated the light, because it made their own darkness visible. In a word, they hated Christ, because He was righteous and they were wicked, because He was holy and they were unholy--because He testified against sin, and they were determined to keep their sins and not let them go.

Let us observe this. There are few things so little believed and realized as the corruption of human nature. Men imagine that if they saw a perfect person, they would love and admire him. They flatter themselves that it is the inconsistency of professing Christians which they dislike, and not their religion. They forget that when a really perfect man was on earth, in the person of the Son of God, He was hated and put to death. That single fact goes far to prove the truth of Edwards' remark--"unconverted men would kill God, if they could get at Him."

Let us never be surprised at the wickedness there is in the world. Let us mourn over it, and labor to make it less, but let us never be surprised at its extent. There is nothing which the heart of man is not capable of conceiving, or the hand of man of doing. As long as we live, let us mistrust our own hearts. Even when renewed by the Spirit, they are still "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." (Jeremiah 17:9.)

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Ryle, J. C. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "J. C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels".

Sermon Bible Commentary

Matthew 27:24-25

The Character of Pilate.

I. There is nothing in the Gospel account of Pilate which is repugnant to the representation of Philo and Josephus. A man of the world without principle is described in both. Nowhere can we fasten on Pilate one single conviction, whether moral or religious. When he came in contact with firm belief in others he was utterly perplexed. When the Jews had remonstrated against bringing the effigies of Cæsar into the city he threatened them with instant death; but the Jewish historian tells us that they bared their throats to the sword, saying, "Death is better than that our laws should be broken," and the weak spirit was overcome by a courage so unintelligible—how could men be willing to die upon a question of images?—and he laid his cruel threats aside, not without admiration, and carried back the obnoxious ensigns to Cæsarea. For ten years he managed to govern the most stubborn people of all the tributaries of the Empire, for a master hard to please. Perhaps from the Roman point of view he had merits as a governor. Where he saw his way clearly he was firm. His cruelty and harshness appeared, perhaps, the best means of restraining a most turbulent race, and so were adopted deliberately. Pilate was a man, then, devoted to his own profession, doing his best to satisfy the master whom he served, and hoping to be rewarded in time with a higher command. But the Jews knew well the weak point in his position, and the power which it gave them over him: "If thou let this man go thou art not Cæsar's friend."

II. Instead of thinking the Roman governor a monster without parallel, I am persuaded that characters of that type are the commonest that can be found. The man who, much occupied in his own worldly engagements, becomes convinced, by some means of God's sending, that Christ is truly the Son of God and our Redeemer, yet has not the moral courage to take that truth home to his heart, and let it fashion all his life without regard to what others may say of him, is that a character hard to discover? To say "I find no fault in him," to wash the hands from participation in His blood, to set up over Him "The King of the Jews," and refuse to take it down—such was the Christianity of Pilate; and I fear that many men go no farther. If, from the fear of being singular, we dare not follow Him whom we know to have the right to lead us, then Pilate's sin is repeating itself in us.

Archbishop Thomson, Lincoln's Inn Sermons, p. 47.

References: Matthew 27:24, Matthew 27:25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1648; H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 1st series, p. 92.

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Sermon Bible Commentary

Matthew 27:24-31

Behold the Man.

I. Behold the Man, and see who He is. We see that He is a real and actual man. Men had been on the outlook for that Son of God who should come down in the likeness of man. Perhaps no one expected that the Coming One would prove to be a real man; perhaps even the Jews, to whom pertained the oracles of God, rejected that idea as incongruous and mean, and thought that no hint could be found that Jehovah would ever dwell among them in the nature of such humanity as they could yet imagine; but all expected Him "in the likeness of man." At last He came. "Behold the Man."

II. Behold the Man, and see the tokens of His sorrow. (1) See in these tokens inflictions meant to express contemptuous rejection. (2) See in these sufferings, the tokens of which Christ bore upon Him, some of the sufferings that He volunteered to endure for us men, and for our salvation.

III. Behold the Man, and decide upon what you mean to do. Decide whether you will vote, or not vote, for his crucifixion, was Pilate's meaning. That question was settled instantly, but the words are used now to quicken your decision on questions of infinite moment still pending. (1) Behold Him, and say whether you will trust your souls with Him or not. Make sure against mistakes on a question so vital as this. Consult the book which is the only verbal authority on the question, the only ultimate standard by which you can decide all controversies in relation to it; resolve to act on what that book declares, and say, will you trust Jesus Christ only, or not? There is not a moment left for trying experiments or making delays. The present life is but "a comma in the endless volume of eternity," and to some of you but a fraction of this life remains. If there be any other foundation on which to build, build upon it; if there be any other name given under heaven, in which you may safely trust for your salvation, trust in that favourite name; if there be any other and any better refuge, fly to it; but if not, at once behold as your one undivided object of trust the Saviour whom we preach. (2) Behold Him, and settle whether you will take Him for your example or not. "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps."

C. Stanford, Evening of our Lord's Ministry, p. 289.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

The account of Matthew is least detailed, but contains two incidents (Matthew 27:19; Matthew 27:24) peculiar to itself. The Jews first attempted to obtain Pilate’s consent to the death of Jesus, without formal accusation (John 18:28-32). Failing in this they make the political charge (Luke 23:2). Then comes the question of Pilate (Matthew 27:11). Our Lord acknowledges His Messiahship, but first inquires in what sense Pilate puts the question (John 18:34). Before His Jewish accusers He was silent (Matthew 27:12-14). Pilate finds no fault in Him, but hearing He is a Galilean sends Him to Herod (Luke 23:4-12). On the return from Herod, Pilate offers them the choice between Jesus and Barabbas (Matthew 27:15-18), seeking to release Jesus (Luke 23:13-17); but the multitude, under the influence of the priests, ask that Barabbas be released and Jesus crucified (Matthew 27:20-23). Luke records three successive efforts of Pilate to release our Lord; Matthew three answers of the people (Matthew 27:21-23). Pilate was no doubt influenced also by the message of his wife (Matthew 27:19). Yet by having put Christ on a level with Barabbas he had already committed himself and gave way to avoid a tumult. After the significant hand washing and the awful response of the multitude (Matthew 27:24-25), Jesus was scourged (Matthew 27:26). Pilate may have hoped that this would satisfy the Jews; for, after the crown of thorns had been put upon Christ, Pilate exhibited Him to the multitude (John 19:1-4, ‘Ecce homo’). Between Matthew 27:30-31 we place a number of incidents mentioned by John (John 19:6-15): the new accusation on the part of the Jews, the subsequent interview of Pilate and Jesus, the threat of the Jews, the final decision of Pilate, his taunts calling forth the cry: ‘We have no king but Cesar.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 27:25. His blood, i.e., the guilt of the punishment, if He be innocent, be upon us. Pilate formally puts the responsibility upon them; but in a fanatical hate they assume it themselves, even adding, and on our children. Peculiar to Matthew, who wrote mainly for Jewish Christians. The imprecation has been a fearful legacy from that generation. But the curse will be turned to a blessing, and the blood of Christ be on that people in its cleansing, healing power (Romans 11:25-26). As the persecutions of the Jews have been mainly through unjust civil enactments, compare the last cry of the chief priests: ‘We have no king but Cesar’ (John 19:15).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Matthew 27:24-25. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

IT was appointed under the law, that the beasts offered in sacrifice should be without blemish: and, for ascertaining their fitness to be offered, the strictest scrutiny was made. In the various examinations which our blessed Lord underwent, there was an exact accomplishment of this type: and the testimonies given by all who were concerned in his death, seem to have been providentially appointed for the manifesting of his fitness for the great work he had undertaken, even the work of saving a ruined world by the sacrifice of himself. His hour was now come that he should be delivered up to death: and Pilate, who had investigated every charge that was brought against him, and had already a great many times attested his innocence, now in the most solemn manner entered his protest against the procedure of his blood-thirsty enemies, and declared, that in putting him to death they would murder a just and inoffensive man; of which atrocious act they, and they only, should bear the guilt. In reply to this, they said, that if he would only leave them to execute their purpose, they were willing to take all responsibility from him, and all consequences on themselves; “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Thus, even they, at the very time that they demanded his death, unwittingly acknowledged the truth of Pilate’s assertions, and set their seal to this blessed truth, that Jesus was “cut off, not for his own sins,” but for the sins of those whom he came to save.

Let us however take a nearer view of this subject; and distinctly consider,

I. Pilate’s vain protest—

In some respects Pilate may be considered as having acted a bold and honest part; for

This protest of his was very solemn—

[It should seem that the washing of the hands in token of innocence, was a custom not unknown to the Romans: and, among the Jews, it was prescribed by God himself; when murder had been committed by some unknown person, and those who, from their proximity to the spot, might be supposed to have had some knowledge of the transaction, were called to clear themselves [Note: Deuteronomy 21:6-7.]. By this significant action did Pilate proclaim his determination not to embrue his hands in innocent blood; accompanying it with a solemn testimony in favour of the person accused, and an admonition to his enemies that they, and they only, must be answerable for his death.

Thus far we approve, and applaud his protest.]

But it was vain—

[In some cases, such a protest would have really acquitted him in the sight both of God and man—

If the matter had been to be determined by a majority of voices, his conscience would have been clear. This was the case when Joseph, one of the Jewish council, was out-voted in the Sanhedrim; and God himself acquits him of any participation in their guilt [Note: Luke 23:51.].

If the act had not been in itself sinful; and circumstances had occurred that rendered that necessary, which, under other circumstances, would have been inexpedient and improper; then his protest would have cleared him, even though he had done the act against which he protested: for this was the case of Paul, when he was compelled by the intrigues of false teachers to confirm his apostolic authority by an appeal to visions, of which it would otherwise have been inexpedient for him to boast [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 12:11.].

But Pilate was a governor and a judge, whose duty it was, no less to protect the innocent, than to punish the guilty. He had no right to sacrifice the life of an innocent person to the clamours of a mob. He should have told them plainly, that he would rather sacrifice his situation, and even life itself, than be guilty of such horrible injustice. And, however menacing the rising tumult might appear, he should have adhered to the path of duty, and risked all consequences. In not doing this, he neglected his office; and, by consenting to their wickedness, made himself a partaker of it. It was to no purpose to enter a protest against the act, and then join in the commission of it. His saying, “I am innocent,” did not make him innocent: on the contrary, we are assured, on infallible authority, that in the sight of God he is considered as a confederate with the very people whom he thus professed to condemn [Note: Acts 4:27.].]

Nor less vain are many similar protests that are made amongst ourselves—

[What is more common than to reply, in justification of ourselves, ‘I must do so?’ One says, ‘I must be guilty of such and such frauds: it is not my fault, but the fault of the trade: one cannot carry on trade without it.’ Another, whilst he conforms to the sinful customs of the world, urges a similar excuse; ‘I must do so, else I shall incur the odium of singularity, and endanger both my reputation and interest. I acknowledge that the things are wrong; but I must do them.’ Know then, that, if you must do them, you must also answer for them at the tribunal of God: and that, in that day, “not he who acquitteth himself shall be approved, but he whom the Lord acquitteth [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:18.].”]

Let us now turn our attention to,

II. The people’s rash engagement—

The guilt and punishment of murder were, among the Jews, expressed by “the blood of the murdered person being upon them [Note: Matthew 23:35.].” By this imprecation, therefore, the people meant to relieve Pilate’s conscience, and to pacify his fears; engaging, that the crucifixion of Christ should never be considered as his act, but theirs; and that the consequences of it, if any, should come, not on him, but on them and their children. But,

What a rash engagement was this!

[What answer would it be to C ζsar, if, being summoned to give an account of the injustice committed, and the dishonour brought thereby upon the whole Roman empire, Pilate should say, ‘The people forced me to it?’ Were not the people his subjects? and had he not the Roman soldiers at his command, to keep them in awe? To what purpose was he entrusted with this power, if he did not exercise it? Would this promise, of taking the responsibility on themselves, remove it from him? Assuredly not: on him, and not on them, would C ζsar’s displeasure fall.

But, supposing they could protect him from C ζsar’s anger, could they heal the wound which this act would inflict upon his conscience? Would this stern monitor be silent at their bidding? No: its remonstrances would be heard in spite of them; and to his dying hour would the voice of innocent blood cry out against him.

Thus, as it respected him, their engagement was vain and nugatory; but not so as it respected themselves: God held them to it: and made them feel the fearful responsibility attaching to it. But a few days elapsed, before they expressed their fears lest their imprecations should be answered [Note: Acts 5:28.]: and before that generation passed away, the Divine judgments came upon them to the uttermost; insomuch that the Jewish historian, who was himself a spectator of the fact, declares, that such multitudes of the captive Jews were crucified during the siege of Jerusalem, that ‘there wanted room for the crosses to stand upon, and wood to make them of.’ Then was their request fulfilled: then was “the blood of Christ on them indeed, and on their children;” and, from that hour to the present moment, have they been “made an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations [Note: Jeremiah 25:9.].”]

And how much better are the engagements which many amongst us are ready to take upon themselves?

[When we endeavour to prevail on persons to act against the convictions of their conscience, we are ready to laugh at their scruples, and to ridicule their fears; and with great confidence to pledge our words, that their compliance with our advice will be attended with no bad consequence whatever. But, when we have prevailed over their credulity, can we fulfil our word? Can we in many cases avert even the temporal consequences of their conduct? How much less can we silence the clamours of their guilty consciences! — — — And least of all can we stand between God and their souls in the day of judgment — — —

But though we cannot fulfil our engagements to them, we must, together with them, answer for our conduct to God; and perish under the accumulated guilt of ruining their souls. “Their blood will be required at our hands” — — —]

Let us learn then from hence,

1. To discard the fear of man—

[You see how true is that declaration, that “the fear of man bringeth a snare [Note: Proverbs 29:25.].” Had Pilate in the first instance withstood, as he ought, the clamours of the people, he had never embrued his hands in the Saviour’s blood. He might have fallen a sacrifice to their rage, it is true; but he would have had reason to all eternity to rejoice that he had died in such a cause. And we would ask of you, What are your feelings now in reference to any sinful compliances you may have been drawn into, or any injuries you may have suffered in consequence of your non-compliance? Do you not even now see that it is better to regard God than man [Note: Acts 4:19.]? Then “fear not man, who can only kill the body; but God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell: yea, I say unto you, fear Him [Note: Luke 12:4-5.]” — — — Let the conduct of Levi be our pattern [Note: Deuteronomy 33:9.]—and the command of Jesus our rule [Note: Luke 14:26-27.]—.]

2. To maintain always a good conscience—

[God has given us a conscience, to be his vicegerent in the soul. It may be said, that Paul sinned in following his conscience [Note: Acts 26:9.]. We answer, that he sinned, not in following his conscience, but in having such a misguided conscience. We should by a constant study of the Scriptures, and by fervent prayer for the teachings of God’s Spirit, get our conscience enlightened and rectified. If we neglect to do this, we are answerable before God for all the errors we run into. But still we must follow the light we have. We must listen to the dictates of conscience at all times, and follow them without reserve. Every thing that it enjoins we must do [Note: James 4:17.], and nothing that it forbids [Note: Romans 14:22.]. If it even suggest a doubt, we must not proceed till that doubt be removed [Note: Romans 14:23.]. Nothing is more terrible than an accusing conscience [Note: Matthew 27:3-4.]; nothing more delightful than testimonies of its approbation [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:12.]. Labour therefore with all your might to acquire a good conscience, and “exercise yourselves night and day to maintain it [Note: Acts 24:16.].”]

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Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

We are now to read about our Lord before Pontius Pilate.

Matthew 27:15-30. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

Surely, mockery could have gone no further; we marvel at the boldness and ingenuity of their scorn. Oh, that we were half as earnest in seeking to honour him, — as careful to think of everything that might make our homage perfect. But we, alas! too often fail to give him due honour and glory, even when others are all aflame with zeal to insult him.

Matthew 27:31. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Perhaps they were afraid that he would die from sheer exhaustion and so, with a cruel mercy, they would keep him alive for the infliction of further tortures.

Matthew 27:32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

Any one of us might well have wished to have been Simon, yet we need not envy him.

There is a cross for every one who is a follower of the Crucified; may we have grace to carry it after him!

Matthew 27:33-34. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

He wholly abstained from that which might have lessened his pain. He came to suffer, and he intended to go through with all that he had undertaken. He would do nothing that would blunt the edge of the sacrificial knife. He forbids not the soothing draught to other sufferers who are in pain; but, as for himself, he will not partake of it.

Matthew 27:35-37. And they crucified him, and parted his garment, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there, and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

And so he is, and so he shall be, — King of the Jews even on that cross, and never so royal as when he had surrendered everything for love of those whom he came to redeem.

Matthew 27:38-43. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

What pain this taunt must have caused to the Saviour! Because he is so pure, and never yields to temptation, we are very apt to forget that temptation was really temptation even to him, and that it grieved his pure and holy Soul thus to be tempted to turn aside from the path of perfect trust in his Father, and complete obedience to him. No doubt the pain of temptation is in inverse ratio to our willingness to yield to it. When we yield to temptation, we feel a pleasure in it; but when we are horrified at it, and start back from it, then we feel the pain of it. Oh, for a mind and heart, so perfectly subject to the will of God, that we should feel such a temptation as this to be the very agony of grief to us, as it was to our Lord!

Matthew 27:44. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

Nobody seemed to look upon him with any desire to help him, but even the lowest of the low would contribute their portion of mockery to increase his misery.

Matthew 27:45-54. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost, and, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

John gives us some details of our Lord before Pilate which Matthew does not mention.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 27:15-54; and John 18:28-38.

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Our Lord was brought before the Roman governor Pilate. He was anxious to let Jesus go; but he was a weak-minded man, easily swayed by the noisy cry of the people, prompted by the chief priests and elders.

Matthew 27:22-23. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

A blind, unreasoning hate had taken possession of the people. They gave no answer to Pilate’s wondering enquiry, “Why, what evil hath he done?” for he had done nothing amiss; they only repeated the brutal demand, “Let him be crucified! Let him be crucified!” The world’s hatred of Christ is shown in similar fashion today. He has done no evil, no one has suffered harm at his hands, all unite to pronounce him innocent; and yet they practically say, “Away with him! Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Ah, Pilate, you cannot rid yourself of responsibility by that farce! He who has power to prevent a wrong is guilty of the act if he permits others to do it, even though be does not actually commit it himself. If you are placed in positions of power and responsibility, do not dream that you can escape from guilt by merely allowing other people to do what you would not do yourself.

Matthew 27:25. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

All the people willingly took upon themselves the guilt of the murder of our dear Lord: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” This fearful imprecation must have been remembered by many when the soldiers of Titus spared neither age nor sex, and the Jewish capital became the veritable Aceldama, the field of blood.

Matthew 27:26. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Why scourge him before delivering him up to be crucified? Surely this was a superfluity of cruelty. The Roman scourging was something which I scarcely care to describe, one of the most terrible punishments to which anyone could be subjected; yet Pilate first scourged Jesus, and then gave him up to die by crucifixion.

Matthew 27:27-28. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

Some old soldier’s coat, that they found lying about, they cast upon Christ in imitation of the royal robes of Caesar or Herod.

Matthew 27:29-31. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

By that fact, though they did not intend it, our Lord was recognized in the street as the same person who had been taken into the Praetorium by the soldiers. Had Jesus been brought forth in the scarlet robe, persons looking at him might not have known him to be the same man who wore the garment woven from the top throughout; but in his own seamless raiment, they readily recognized the Nazarene.

Matthew 27:32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

I wonder if he was a black man. There was a Simon in the early Church; and it certainly was the lot of the Ethiopian to bear the cross for many and many an age. This Simon was a stranger, anyhow, and a foreigner; truly honoured was he to be compelled to bear the cross after Christ.

Matthew 27:33. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,

From its shape. There appears to be to this day a hill still in the form of a human skull outside the gate of Jerusalem. When they came to that common place of execution, the Tyburn or Old Bailey of the city,

Matthew 27:34. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

A stupefying draught was given to the condemned that is the only mercy that there was about the whole thing. The Romans did give to the crucified a draught of myrrh to take away something of the agony of crucifixion; but our Lord came not to be stupefied, he came to suffer, therefore he would not take anything that would at all impair his faculties. He drank even to the dregs the bitter cup of grief and woe.

Matthew 27:35. And they crucified him,

Horrible scene, to see those blessed hands and feet pierced with nails, and fastened to the cross!

Matthew 27:35. And parted his garments, casting lots:

Rattling the dice-box at the foot of the cross! Gambling is the most hardening of all vices. I believe that crimes have been committed by persons, under the influence of gambling, which never could have been committed by them in any other condition of mind: “They parted his garments, casting lots.” See here, ye gamblers! With Christ’s blood bespattering them, these soldiers dared still to raffle for his robe.

Matthew 27:35-36. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there;

His enemies gloating their cruel eyes with the sight of his sufferings; his friends with many tears watching his amazing griefs. It is for us, tonight, with humble faith and grateful love, to mark the incidents connected with his painful death.

Matthew 27:37-38. And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

Giving him the place of honour, which means in this case the place of dishonour. He was the apex of that terrible triangle.

Matthew 27:39-40. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

This is the cry of the Socinians today, “Come down from the cross. Give up the atoning sacrifice, and we will be Christians.” But, by rejecting his vicarious atonement, they practically un-Christ the Christ, as those mockers at Golgotha did.

Matthew 27:41-42. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Just so. Get rid of a crucified Saviour, then they will believe in Him. Atonement, substitution, vicarious sacrifice, this staggers them. They will have Christ if they can have him without his cross.

Matthew 27:43-46. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Every word in this terrible cry from the cross is emphatic; every syllable cuts and pierces to the heart.

Matthew 27:47. Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

They knew better, yet they jested at the Saviour’s prayer.

Matthew 27:48. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge,

It always seems to me very remarkable that the spunge, which is the very lowest form of animal life, should have been brought into contact with Christ, who is at the top of all life. In his death, the whole circle of creation was completed.

Matthew 27:48-50. And filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Christ’s strength was not exhausted; his last word was uttered “with a loud voice”, like the shout of a conquering warrior. He need not have died on account of any infirmity in himself; but voluntarily, for your sake, for your sake and mine, he “yielded up the ghost.” Blessed be his holy name!

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 27:25". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Matthew 27:25

His blood be on us.

God taking self-cursers at their word

God said Amen to this woeful curse, which cleaves close to them and their posterity, as a girdle to their loins, soaking as oil into their bones to this very day. Thirty-eight years after this fearful imprecation, in the same place, and close by the same tribunal where they thus cried out, “His blood be on us and on our children,” historians tell us that Herod, wanting money, demanded of the Jews so much out of their treasury as would pay for the making of a water-course. But the Jews, supposing it a needless work, not only denied him, but gave him outrageous stud spiteful speeches, tumultuously flocked about him, and with great clamours pressed upon him, even as he was in his seat. Whereupon, to prevent mischief, he sent to his soldiers to apparel themselves like citizens, and under their gowns to bring with them a dagger or poniard, and mingle themselves amongst the multitude; which they did, observing who they were that made the greatest uproar. And when Herod gave the sign, they fell upon them, and slew a great multitude. Many also, for fear of loss or danger, killed themselves; besides others, which seeing this massacre, suspecting treason among themselves, fell one upon another. What a dispersed and despised people they are ever since 1 exiled, as it were, out of the world, by the common consent of all nations, for their inexpiable guilt. And beware by their example, of wishing evil to ourselves or others, as our desperate Goddamn-toe’s do at every third word almost, and God will undoubtedly take them at their words, as He did those wretches that wished they might die in the wilderness (Numbers 14:28). As He did John Peters, the cruel keeper of Newgate in Queen Mary’s days; who commonly, when he would affirm anything, were it true or false, used to say, “If it be not true, I pray God, I rot ere I die; “ and he had his desire. So had Sir Gervase Ellowais, lieutenant of the Tower, hanged in our remembrance on Tower-hill, for being accessory to the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury: who being upon the gallows, confessed it was just upon him, for that he had oft in his playing of cards and dice wished that he might be hanged if it were not so-and-so. In the year 1551, the devil in a visible shape lifted up a cursing woman into the air in Germany; and therehence threw her down in the view of many people, and brake her neck. Another brought her daughter to Luther, entreating his prayers for her, for that she was possessed by the devil, upon her cursing of her. For when she had said in a rage against her daughter, “The devil take thee,” he took possession of her accordingly. The same author relates a like sad story of a stubborn son, cursed by his father, who wished he might never stir alive from the place he stood in, and he stirred not for three years. Cursing men are cursed men. Seest thou another suffer shipwreck, look to thy tackling. (J. Trapp.)

His blood be on us and on our children

I. Consider the daring impiety and wickedness of thus calling down on themselves the blood of Christ.

II. Consider the heavy wrath of God which fell on them. In the destruction of Jerusalem.

1. We gather an awful warning from this history. The fulfilment in the Jew of God’s righteous anger.

2. It establishes the perfect innocence of the condemned Saviour. The destruction of the Jewish nation was God’s seal to the perfect righteousness of Him whom they put to death.

3. This fearful vengeance upon the Jewish nation stands also as an evidence of the truth of the gospel.

4. We have also a moral evidence of the truth of the scriptures in the whole Jewish nation. God hath kept them separate from the nations.

5. Learn to pity and pray for all who do not know the Lord Jesus. (J. Pratt.)

The responsibility of blood

Can we bring this blood upon ourselves? The murderers of Christ may be amongst ourselves. The means of blessing perverted into a curse. The means of blessing is the blood of Jesus Christ, prefigured by sacrifice. Blood provided must be blood imputed. His blood be on us-this is our salvation. Blood provided, imputed, accepted. It was sin that compassed His death. You then who knowingly continue in sin have identified yourselves with the enemies who killed our Lord. His blood is on you. (P. B. Power, M. A.)

The horrid imprecation of the Jews

I. The aggravating circumstances with which the imprecation was attended, and the solemnity, unanimity, and warmth with which it was expressed.

II. The wonderful manner with which it was accomplished, in the destruction of the city and nation of the Jews.

III. The justice of God vindicated, in respect to these sufferers. His wisdom, by making them, in their destruction, an irrefragable proof of our Saviour’s Divine mission; and in their dispersion, means of propagating those Divine oracles that foretold and described him.

IV. Inferences to be deduced-

1. To abstain from all rash and horrid imprecations, and to aim at simplicity of speech, as well as sincerity of heart, and integrity of manners.

2. TO admire the inscrutable methods of God’s providence, in bringing about the salvation of sinners; and making the scandal of the cross turn to its greatest advantage.

3. To attribute the infidelity of those men to a judicial blindness, who live where the gospel of Christ is professed, and yet shut their eyes against the light of it.

4. To be fearful of despising the mercies of God, and falling into that sin, by which God’s peculiar people forfeited His protection and favour. (F. Atterbury.)

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 27:25". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Matthew 27:25. His blood be on us, &c.— As this terrible imprecation was dreadfully answered in the ruin so quickly brought on the Jewish nation, and the calamities which have since pursued that wretched people, in almost all ages and countries; so it was peculiarly illustrated in the severity with which Titus, merciful as he naturally was, treated the Jews whom he took during the siege of Jerusalem; of whom Josephus himself writes, that μαστιγουμενοι ανεσταυρουντο, having been scourged, and tortured in a very terrible manner, they were crucified, in view and near the walls of this city, (perhaps, among other places, on mount Calvary; and it is probable that this might be the fate of some of those very persons who now joined in this cry, as it undoubtedly was of many of their children.) For Josephus, who was an eye-witness, expressly declares, "That the number of those thus crucified was so great that there was not room for the crosses to stand by each other, and that at last they had not wood enough to make crosses of:" a passage which, especially when compared with the verse before us, must impress and astonish the attentive reader beyond any other in the whole history. If this were not the very finger of God, pointing out their crime in crucifying his Son, it is hard to say what could deserve to be called so. Elsner has abundantly shewn, that among the Greeks, the persons on whose testimony others were put to death, used by a very solemn execration to devote themselves to the divine vengeance, if the persons so condemned were not really guilty. See his Observat. vol. 1: p. 123. Joseph. War, lib. 5. 100: 11 and Doddridge. Bishop Fleetwood observes, that the modern Jews are as virulent against the name of Jesus, as their fathers were against his power; so that they suffer as their fathers did, and for a like reason.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 27:25". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

Chapter 19

The Great Atonement Day - Matthew 26:1-75 - Matthew 27:1-56

WE enter now on the story of the last day of the mortal life of our Lord and Saviour. We have already noticed the large proportionate space given to the Passion Week; but still more remarkable is the concentration of interest on the Passion Day. The record of that single day is very nearly one-ninth of the whole book; and a similar proportion is observed by all the four Evangelists. This proportion of space is very striking even when we bear in mind that, properly speaking, the Gospels are not the record of thirty-three or thirty-four years, but only of three or four. Of the story of the years of the public ministry one-seventh part is given to the last day; and this, too, without the introduction of any lengthened discourse. If the discourse in the upper room and the intercessory prayer as recorded by St. John were added, it would be, not one-seventh, but almost one-fourth of the whole. Truly this must be the Day of days! Unspeakably sacred and precious as is the entire life of our Lord and Saviour, sacred above all and precious above all is His death of shame and agony. The same preeminence was evidently given to the dying of the Lord Jesus in the special revelation granted to St. Paul, as is evident from the fact that, in setting forth the gospel he had been commissioned to preach, he spoke of it as the gospel of "Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and put in the foreground, not the incarnate life, great as he recognised it to be, [1 Timothy 3:16] but the atoning death of Christ: "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Here, then, we have the very gospel of the grace of God. Here we enter the inner shrine of the Word, the Holy of Holies of the new covenant. Let us draw near with holy reverence and deep humility, yet with the eye of faith directed ever upwards in reliance on the grace of Him Who searcheth all things, even the deep things of God, and Whose work and joy it is to take of the things of Christ, even those that are among the deepest things of God, and show them unto us.

"AFTER TWO DAYS". [Matthew 26:1-19]

This passage does not strictly belong to the history of the one great day, but it is the approach to it. It opens with the solemn announcement "After two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified"; and without any record of the Saviour’s doings in the interval, it closes with the preparation for the keeping of the feast with His disciples, the directions for which are introduced by the pathetic words, "My time is at hand."

The incident at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13) seems to be introduced here in connection with the development of treason in the soul of Judas. This connection would not be so apparent were it not for the information given in St. John’s account of the feast, that it was Judas especially who objected to what he called "this waste" of the ointment, and that the reason why he was displeased at it was because "he had the bag, and bare what was put therein." With this in mind we can see how natural it was that, having had no occasion before to tell the story of the feast at Bethany, the Evangelist should be disposed to tell it now, as connected in his mind with the traitor’s selling of his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

The two days of interval would extend from the evening following the abandonment of the Temple to the evening of the Passover feast. It is important always, and especially in studying the days of the Passion week, to bear in mind that, according to the Jewish mode of reckoning, each new day began, not with the morning as with us, but with the evening. In this they followed a very ancient precedent: "The evening and the morning were the first day." The two days, then, would be from Tuesday evening till Thursday evening; so that with Thursday evening began the last day of our Lord’s Passion. There is no record at all of how He spent the Wednesday; in all probability it was in seclusion at Bethany. Nor have we any account of the doings of the Thursday save the directions given to prepare the Passover, the keeping of which was to be the first act of the last day.

We may think of these two days, then, as days of rest for our Lord, of holy calm and quietude-a sacred lull before the awful storm. What were His thoughts? what His feelings? What passages of Scripture were His solace? Would not the ninety-fourth psalm be one of them? If so, how fondly would He dwell upon that sentence of it, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul." If we only had a record of His prayers, how rich it would be! If we had the spiritual history of these two days it would no doubt be full of pleading as rich and precious as the prayer of intercession His disciple heard and one of them recorded for our sakes, and of yearning as tender and touching as His wail over Jerusalem. But the Spirit, Who takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us, does not invade the privacy of the Saviour’s hours of retirement. No diary is published; and beyond doubt it is better so. It may be that in the lives of the saints there has been too much of this-not too much of spiritual communing, but too much unveiling of it. It may be that there is a danger of leading us to seek after such "exercises" as an end in themselves, instead of as mere means to the end of holy and unselfish living. What the world should see is the life that is the outcome of those secret communings with God-it should see the life which was with the Father manifested in glowing word and self-forgetting deed. Why have we no need to see into that holy, loving heart during these two sacred days in Bethany? Because it is sufficiently revealed in the story of the day that followed it. Ah! the words, the deeds of that day-what revealings of heart, what manifestations of the life within are there!

The very silence of these two days is strikingly suggestive of repose. We are presently to hear of the awful agony in the Garden; but from the very way in which we shall hear of it we shall be strengthened in the impression, which no doubt is the true one, that the two days of interval were not days of agony, but days of soul rest; and in this we recognise a striking contrast to the restlessness of those who spent the time in plotting His destruction. Contrast, for example, the calm of our Lord’s announcement in the second verse, with the uneasy plotting in the palace of the high priest. Without agitation He faces the horror of great darkness before Him; without flinching He anticipates the very darkest of it all: "betrayed"-"crucified"; without a tremor on His lips He even specifies the time: "after two days." Now look at that company in the palace of the high priest, as with dark brows and troubled looks they consult how they may take Jesus by subtlety. Observe how in fear they put it off, -as not safe yet, not for nine days at least, till the crowds at the feast, so many of whom had so recently been shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David!" shall have gone home. "Not for nine days," so they resolve. "After two days," so He has said.

"Oh, but the counsel of the Lord Doth stand, for ever sure."

Christ knew far more about it than if there had’ been a spy in the palace of the high priest, reporting to Him. He was in communication with One Who doeth according to His will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. Caiaphas and his fellow-conspirators may plot what they please, it shall be done according to the counsel of the Lord; it shall be so done that an apostle shall be able afterwards with confidence to say: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken."

The means by which their counsels were overruled was the treason of Judas, into whose dark heart the Bethany incident will afford us a glimpse. Its interest turns upon the different values attached to a deed of love, by Judas on the one hand, and by Jesus on the other.

To Judas it meant waste. And such a waste!-three hundred pence thrown away. on the foolish luxury of a moment! "This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor." Be it remembered that there was a good deal to be said for this argument. It is very easy for us, who have the limelight of our Lord’s words on the whole scene, to see how paltry the objection was; but even yet, with this story now published, as our Lord said it would be, all over Christendom, how many arguments are heard of the very same description! It is hot so much to be wondered at that the objection of Judah found a good deal of favour with some of the disciples. They could not see the blackness of the heart out of which the suggestion came, nor could they see the beauty of the love which shed from’ Mary’s heart a perfume ‘far more precious than the odour of the ointment. Probably even Mary was startled; and, if her Lord had not at once taken her part, might not have had a word to say for herself.

"But Jesus, perceiving it, said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work on Me." He understood her-understood her perfectly, read at once the whole secret of her loving heart, explained her conduct better even than she understood it herself, as we shall presently see. He deals very tenderly with the disciples; for He understood them too, saw at once that there was no treason in their hearts, that though they took up the suggestion of the traitor it was in no sympathy with his spirit, but simply because of their want of insight and appreciation. He, however, does rebuke them-gently; and then He quietly opens their eyes to the surpassing beauty of the deed they had ventured to condemn. "She hath wrought a good work upon Me." The word translated "good" has prominent in it the thought of beauty. And since our Lord has set that deed of Mary in its true light, there is no one with any sense of beauty who fails to see how beautiful it is. The very impulsiveness of the act, the absence of all calculation, the simplicity and naturalness of it, the womanliness of it-all these add to its beauty as an outburst of love. We can well imagine that these words of Jesus may have furnished much of the inspiration which thrilled the soul of the apostle as he wrote to the Corinthians his noble eulogy of love. Certainly its pricelessness could not have been more notably or memorably taught. Three hundred pence to be weighed against a true woman’s love! "If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned."

We are led into still more sacred ground as we observe how highly the Saviour values Mary’s affection for Himself. "She hath wrought a good work upon Me"-"Me ye have not always"-"she did it for My burial." Who can reach the pathos of these sacred words? There is no doubt that amid the hate by which Jesus was surrounded, with His knowledge of the treason in the dark soul of Judas, and His keen sense of the want of sympathy on the part of the other disciples, His human heart was yearning for love, for sympathetic love. Oh, how He loved! and how that love of His was going out to all around Him throughout the Passion week-without return! We may well believe, then, that this outburst of love from the heart of Mary must have greatly cheered Him.

"She hath wrought a good work upon Me." With the ointment on His head, there had come a far sweeter balm to His wounded heart; for He saw that she was not wanting in sympathy-that she had some idea, however vague it might be, of the pathos of the time. She felt, if she did not quite see, the shadow of the grave. And this presentiment (shall we call it?) not as the result of any special thought about it, but in some dim way, had prompted her to choose this touching manner of showing her love: "In that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial." Verily, a true human heart beats here, welcoming, oh! so gladly, this woman’s loving sympathy.

But the Divine Spirit is here too, looking far beyond the needs of the moment or the burdens of the day. No one could more tenderly consider the poor; nothing was nearer to His heart than their necessities, -witness that wonderful parable of judgment with which He finished His public ministry; but He knew well that in that personal devotion which was shown in Mary’s loving act was to be found the mainspring of all benevolence, and not only so but of all that was good and gracious; therefore to discourage such personal affection would be to seal up the fount of generosity and goodness; and accordingly He not only commends it, but he lifts it up to its proper dignity, He gives it commendation beyond all other words of praise. He ever spoke; looking away down the ages, and out to the ends of the earth, and recognising that this love to Himself, this personal devotion to a dying Saviour, was to be the very central force of the gospel, and thus the hope of the world, He adds these memorable words: "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."

From "this that this woman hath done" the record passes at once to that which was done by the man who had dared to find fault with it. It also is told wherever the gospel is preached as a memorial of him. Behold, then, the two memorials side by side. Has not the Evangelist shown himself the true historian in bringing them together? The contrast intensifies the light that shines from the love of Mary, and deepens the darkness of the traitor’s sin. Besides, the story of the three hundred pence is a most fitting prelude to that of the thirty pieces of silver. At the same time, by suggesting the steps which led down to such an abyss of iniquity, it saves us from the error of supposing that the sin of Judas was so peculiar that no one now need be afraid of falling into it; for we are reminded in this way that it was at bottom the very sin which is the commonest of all, the very sin into which Christians of the present day are in greatest danger of falling.

What was it that made so great a gulf between Judas and all the rest? Not natural depravity; in this respect they were no doubt much alike. When the Twelve were chosen there was in all probability as good material, so to speak, in the man of Kerioth as in any of the men of Galilee. What, then, made the difference? Simply this, that his heart was never truly given to his Lord. He tried throughout to serve God and mammon; and if he had been able to combine the two services, if there had been any fair prospect of these thrones on which the Twelve were to sit, and the honours and emoluments of the kingdom with which his fancy had been dazzled, treason would never have entered his mind; but when not a throne but a cross began to loom before him, he found, as every one finds some time, that he must make his choice, and that choice was what it invariably is with those who try to serve the two masters. The god of this world had blinded him. He not only failed to see the beauty of Mary’s loving deed, as some of the other disciples did just at the first, but he had become quite incapable of any spiritual in. sight, quite incapable of seeing his Master’s glory, or recognising His claims. In a certain sense, then, even Judas himself was like the other murderers of Christ in not knowing what he did. Only he might have known, would have known, had not that accursed lust of gold been always in the way. And we may say of any ordinary worshipper of mammon of the present day, that if he had been in Judas’ place, with the prospects as dark as they were to him, with only the one course left, as it would seem to him, of extricating himself from a losing concern, he would be in the highest degree likely to do the very same thing.

As the two days draw to a close we see Judas seeking opportunity to betray his Master, and Jesus seeking opportunity to keep His last Passover with His disciples. Again, what a contrast! The traitor must lurk and lie in wait; the Master does not even remain in Bethany or seek some lonely house on the Mount of Olives, but sends His disciples right over into the city, and with the same readiness with which He had found the ass’s colt on which He rode into Jerusalem He finds a house in which to keep the feast.

I - THE EVENING. [Matthew 26:20-30]

The last day of our Lord’s Passion begins at eventide on Thursday with the Passover feast, at which "He sat down with the Twelve."

The entire feast would be closely associated in His mind with the dark event with which the day must close; for of all the types of the great sacrifice He was about to offer, the most significant was the paschal lamb. Most fitting, therefore, was it that towards the close of this feast, when its sacred importance was deepest in the disciples’ minds, their Master should institute the holy ordinance which was to be a lasting memorial of "Christ our Passover sacrificed for us." Of this feast, then, with its solemn and affecting close, the passage before us is the record.

It falls naturally into two parts, corresponding to the two great burdens on the Saviour’s heart as He looked forward to this feast-the Betrayal and the Crucifixion (see Matthew 26:2). The former is the burden of Matthew 26:21-25; the latter of Matthew 26:26-30. There was indeed very much besides to tell-the strife which grieved the Master’s heart as they took their places at the table, and His wise and kindly dealing with it; [Luke 22:24, seq.} the washing of the disciples’ feet; the farewell words of consolation; the prayer of intercession, {John 13:1-38; John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33; John 17:1-26] -but these are all omitted here, that thought may be concentrated on the two outstanding facts: the unmasking and dismissal of the traitor, and the committing to the faithful ones of the sacred charge, "This do in remembrance of Me."

1. It must have been sorrowful enough for the Master as He sat down with the Twelve to mark their unseemly strife, and sadder still to think that, though for the hour so closely gathered round Him, they would soon be scattered every man to his own and would leave Him alone; but He had the comfort of knowing that eleven were true at heart and foreseeing that after all wanderings and falls they would come back again. "He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust"; and therefore with the eye of divine compassion He could look beyond the temporary desertion, and find satisfaction in the fidelity that would triumph in the end over the weakness of the flesh. But there was one of them, for whom His heart was failing Him, in whose future He could see no gleam of light. All the guiding and counsel with which he had been favoured in common with the rest had been lost on him, - even the early word of special personal warning, [John 6:70] spoken that he might bethink himself ere it were too late, had failed to touch him. There is now only one opportunity left. It is the last night; and the last word must now be spoken. How tenderly and thoughtfully the difficult duty is done! "As they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that One of you shall betray Me." Imagine in what tones these words were spoken, what love and sorrow must have thrilled in them!

The kind intention evidently was to reach the heart of the one without attracting the attention of the rest. For there must have been a studied avoidance of any look or gesture that would have marked the traitor. This is manifest from the way in which the sad announcement is received. It comes, in fact, to all the eleven as a summons to great searchings of heart, a fitting preparation [1 Corinthians 11:28] for the new and sacred service to which they are soon to be invited; and truly there could have been no better sign than the passing from lip to lip, from heart to heart, of the anxious question, "Lord, is it I?" The remembrance of the strife at the beginning of the feast was too recent, the tone of the Master’s voice too penetrating, the glance of His eye too searching, to make self-confidence possible to them at that particular moment. Even the heart of the confident Peter seems to have been searched and humbled under that scrutinising look. If only he had retained the same spirit, what humiliation would have been spared him!

There was one who did not take up the question; but the others were all so occupied with self-scrutiny that no one seems to have observed his silence, and Jesus forbears to call attention to it. He will give him another opportunity to confess and repent, for so we understand the pathetic words which follow: "He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me." This was no mere outward sign for the purpose of denoting the traitor. It was a wail of sorrow, an echo of the old lament of the Psalmist: "Yea, mine ‘own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." How could the heart even of Judas resist so tender an appeal?

We shall understand the situation better if we suppose what is more than probable, that he was sitting very near to Jesus, perhaps next to Him on the one side, as John certainly was on the other. We cannot suppose, from what we know of the customs of the East, that Judas was the only one dipping with Him in the dish; nor would he be the only one to whom "the sop" was given. But if his position was as we have supposed, there was something in the vague words our Saviour used which tended to the singling of him out, and, though not the only one, he would naturally be the first to whom the sop was given, which would be a sufficient sign to John, who alone was taken into confidence at the time, {see John 13:25-26} without attracting in any special way the attention of the rest. Both in the words and in the action, then, we recognise the Saviour’s yearning over His lost disciple, as He makes a last attempt to melt his obdurate heart.

The same spirit is manifest in the words which follow. The thought of consequences to Himself gives Him no concern; "the Son of man goeth, even as it is written of Him"; it is the awful abyss into which His disciple is plunging that fills His soul with horror: "but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born." O Judas! Thy treachery is indeed a link in the chain of events by which the divine purpose is fulfilled; but it was not necessary that so it should be. In some other way the counsel of the Lord would have been accomplished, if thou hadst yielded to that last appeal. It was necessary that the Son of man should suffer and die for the world’s sin, but there was nothing to compel thee to have thy hand in it.

At last Judas speaks; but in no spirit of repentance. He takes up, it is true, the question, of the rest, but not in sincerity-only driven to it as the last refuge of hypocrisy. Moreover, he asks it in so low a tone, that neither it nor the answer to it appears to have been noticed by the general company. [John 13:29] And that there is no inclining of the heart to his Lord appears perhaps in the use of the formal title Rabbi, retained in the Revised Version: "Is it I, Rabbi?" Had he repented even at this late hour-had he thrown himself, humbled and contrite, at the Saviour’s feet, with the question "Lord, is it I?" struggling to find utterance, or better still, the heart-broken confession, "Lord, it is I"-it would not yet have been too late. He Who never turned a penitent away would have received even Judas back again and forgiven all his sin; and in lowliness of heart the repentant disciple might have received at his Master’s hands the symbols of that infinite sacrifice which was sufficient even for such as he. But his conscience is seared as with a hot iron, his heart is hard as the nether millstone, and accordingly without a word of confession, actually taking "the sop" without a sign even of shame, he gave himself up finally to the spirit of evil, and went immediately out-"and it was night". {see John 13:30} There remain now around the Master none but true disciples.

2. The Passover meal is drawing to a close; but ere it is ended the Head of the little family has quite transfigured it. When the traitor left the company we may suppose that the look of unutterable sadness would gradually pass from the Saviour’s countenance. Up to this time the darkness had been unrelieved. As he thought of the lost disciple’s fate, there was nothing but woe in the prospect; but when from that dark future he turned to His own, He saw, not the horror of the Cross alone, but "the joy set before Him"; and in view of it He was able with a heart full of thanks and praise to appoint for remembrance of the awful day a feast, to be kept like the Paschal feast by an ordinance for ever. {see Exodus 12:14}

The connection of the new feast with the old is closely maintained. It was "as they were eating" that the Saviour took bread, and from the way in which He is said to have taken "a cup" (R.V) it is plain that it was one of the cups it was customary to take at the Paschal feast. With this in mind we can more readily see the naturalness of the words of institution. They had been feasting on the body of the lamb; it is time that they should look directly at the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world; so, taking the new symbol and handing it to them, He says, "Take, eat; this is My body."

How strange that into words so simple there should have been imported anything so mysterious and unnatural as some of the doctrines around which controversy in the Church has raged for weary centuries-doctrines sadly at variance with "the simplicity that is in Christ.," At the first institution of the Passover the directions for eating it close with these words, "It is the Lord’s Passover." Does any one for a single moment suppose that in so putting it Moses meant to assert any mysterious identity of two things so diverse in their nature as the literal flesh of the lamb and the historical event known as the Lord’s Passover? Why, then, should any one for a moment suppose that when Jesus says, "This is My body," He had any thought of mysterious transference or confusion of identity? Moses meant that the one was the symbol of the other; and in the same way our Saviour meant that the bread was henceforth to be the symbol of His body. The same appropriateness, naturalness, and simplicity, are apparent in the words with which He hands the cup: "This is My blood of the covenant" (R.V) omits new, which throws the emphasis more distinctly on "which is shed"-not, like the blood of the lamb, for a little family group, but-"for many," not as a mere sign, {see Hebrews 10:1-39} but "unto remission of sins."

The new symbols were evidently much more suitable to the ordinance which was to be of world-wide application. Besides, it was no longer necessary that there should be further sacrifice of life. Christ our Passover was sacrificed once for all; and therefore there must be no thought of repetition of the sacrifice; it must be represented only; and. this is done both simply and impressively in the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine. Nothing could be more natural than the transition from the old to the new Passover feast.

Rising now above all matters of detail and questions of interpretation, let us try humbly and reverently to enter into the mind of Christ as He breaks the bread and pours the wine and institutes the feast of love. As in the earlier part of the evening we had in His dealings with the traitor a touching unveiling of His human heart, so now, while there is the same human tenderness, there is with it a reach of thought and range of vision which manifestly transcend all mortal powers.

Consider first how extraordinary it was that at such a time He should take pains to concentrate the thoughts of His disciples in all time to come upon His death. Even the bravest of those who had been with Him in all His temptations could not look at it now; and to His own human soul it must have seemed in the very last degree repulsive. To the disciples, to the world, it must have seemed defeat; yet He calmly provides for its perpetual celebration as a victory!

Think of the form the celebration takes. It is no mournful solemnity, with dirges and elegies for one about to die; but a Feast-a strange way of celebrating a death. It may be said that the Passover feast itself was a precedent; but in this respect there is no parallel. The Passover feast was no memorial of a death. If Moses had died that night, would it ever have occurred to the children of Israel to institute a feast for the purpose of keeping in memory so unutterable a calamity? But a greater than Moses is here, and is soon to die a cruel and shameful death. Is not that a calamity as much more dreadful than the other as Christ was greater than Moses?

Why, then, celebrate it by a feast? Because this death is no calamity. It is the means of life to a great multitude that no man can number, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. Therefore it is most fitly celebrated by a feast. It is a memorial; but it is far more. It is a feast, provided for the spiritual nourishment of the people of God through all their generations. Think what must have been in the Saviour’s mind when He said, "Take, eat"; how His soul must have been enlarged as He uttered the words "shed for many." Simple words, easily spoken; but before they came from these sacred lips there must have risen before His mind the vision of multitudes all through the ages, fed on the strangest food, refreshed by the strangest wine, that mortal man had ever heard of.

How marvellously the horizon widens round Him as the feast proceeds! At first He is wholly engaged with the little circle round the table. When He says, "One of you shall betray Me," when He takes the sop and hands it, when He pours out His last lament over the false disciple, He is the Man of Sorrows in the little upper chamber; but when He takes the bread and again the cup, the horizon widens, beyond the cross He sees the glory that shall follow, sees men of all nations and climes coming to the feast He is preparing for them, and before He closes He has reached the consummation in the heavenly kingdom: "I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My. Father’s kingdom." "Truly this was the Son of God."

Then hear Him singing at the close. How bewildered the disciples, how rapt the Master, must have been! What a scene for the painter, what a study of divine calm and human agitation! The "hymn" they sang was in all probability the latter part of the Great Hallel, which closes with Psalms 118:1-29. It is most interesting. as we read the psalm to think what depths of meaning, into which none of His disciples as yet could enter, there must have been to Him in almost every line.

II - THE NIGHT. [Matthew 26:31-75]

As the little company have lingered in the upper room evening has passed into night. The city is asleep, as Jesus leads the way along the silent streets, down the steep slope of Moriah, and across the Kedron, to the familiar place of resort on the mount of Olives. As they proceed in silence, a word of ancient prophecy lies heavy on His heart. It was from Zechariah, whose prophecy was often [Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 11:12; Zechariah 13:7] in his thoughts in the Passion week. "Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." It is the last part of it that troubles Him. For the smiting of the Shepherd He is well prepared; it is the scattering of the sheep that makes His heart so sore, and forces Him to break the silence with the sorrowful words, "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night." What pathos. in these words "because of Me": how it pained Him to think that what must come to Him should be so terrible to them! And is there not a touch of kind allowance in the words "this night"? "He that walketh in the night stumbleth," and how could they but stumble in such a night? Then the thought of the shepherd and the sheep which fills His mind and suggests the passage He quotes is full of tenderness without even a hint of reproach. Who will blame the sheep for scattering when the Shepherd is smitten? And how trustfully and withal how wistfully does He look forward to the reassembling, of the flock in the old home, the sacred region where they gathered first round the Shepherd: "After I am risen again, I will go before you as the shepherd goes before the flock into Galilee." Thus after all would be. fulfilled His prayer of intercession, so recently offered on their behalf: "Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one."

The silly sheep were not at all alarmed. This was altogether natural; for the danger was not yet within their sight. Nor was it really at all unnatural that the impulsive Peter should be now at the very opposite pole of feeling from where he stood an hour or two before. Then, sharing the general depression, he joined the rest in the anxious question, "Lord, is it I?" now, having been relieved from the anxiety which for the moment pressed upon him, and having been moreover raised into a glow of feeling and an assurance of faith by his Master’s tender and stirring words, and the prayer of intercession which so fitly closed them, he has passed from the-depths of self-distrust to the heights of self-confidence, so that he even dares to say, "Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will 1 never be offended."

Ah! Peter, you were safe when you were crying "Lord, is it I?"-you are very far from safe now, when you speak of yourself in so different a tone. Jesus sees it all, and gives him warning in the very plainest words. But Peter persists. He vainly imagines that his Master cannot know how strong he is, how burning his zeal, how warm his love, how steadfast his devotion. Of all this he is himself distinctly conscious. There is no mistake about it. Devotion thrills in every fibre of his being; and he knows, he feels it in his soul, that no torture, not death itself, could move him from his steadfastness: "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee."

"Likewise also said all the disciples." Quite natural too. For the moment Peter was the leader of the sheep. They all caught his enthusiasm, and were conscious of the same devotion: why, then, should they not acknowledge it as he had done? They had yet to learn the difference between a transient glow of feeling and abiding inward strength. Only by sad experience can they learn it now; so Jesus lets them have the last word.

And now Gethsemane is reached. The olive trees which in the daytime give a shadow from the heat will now afford seclusion, though the moon is at the full. Here, then, the Son of man will spend some time with God, alone, before He is betrayed into the hands of sinners; and yet, true Son of man as He is, He shrinks from being left alone in that dread hour, and clings to the love and sympathy of those who have been with Him in His temptations hitherto. So He leaves eight of the disciples at the entering in of the olive grove, and takes with Him into the darkness the three most in sympathy with Him-the same three who had been the sole witnesses of His power in raising from the dead the daughter of Jairus, and had alone seen His glory on the holy mount. But even these three cannot go with Him all the way. He will have them as near as possible; and yet He must be alone. Did He think of the passage, "I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me"?

That solitude may not be invaded. We can only, like the disciples of old, look reverently at it from afar. There are probably many true disciples who can get no nearer than the edge of the darkness; those who are closest in sympathy may be able to obtain a nearer view, but even those who like John have leant on His breast can know it only in part-in its depth it passeth knowledge. Jesus is alone in Gethsemane yet, and of the people there is none with Him.

"Ah! never, never can we know The depth of that mysterious woe."

While it is not possible for any of us to penetrate the deep recesses of Gethsemane, we have a key to let us in, and open to us something of its meaning. This help is found in that striking passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the experience of the Lord Jesus in the Garden is closely connected with His being "called of God a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec." It is true that at His baptism Jesus entered on His ministry in its largest sense, the Prophet, Priest, and King of men. But there is a sense in which later on, at successive stages, He was "called of God" to each of these offices in succession. At His baptism the voice from heaven was, "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." On the mount of Transfiguration there was this added, "Hear ye Him," and the withdrawal of Moses and Elias, leaving Jesus alone, indicated that henceforth Me was called of God to be the one prophet of humanity. Similarly, though from the beginning He was King, it was not till after He had overcome the sharpness of death that He was "called of God" to be King, to take His seat on the right hand of majesty in the heavens. At what period, then, in His ministry was it that He was called of God to be a high priest? To this natural question the passage m the Epistle to the Hebrews supplies the answer; and when we take the thought with us we see that it is indeed a torch to lighten for us just a little the darkness of the Garden’s gloom.

Is there not something in the very arrangement of the group which harmonises with the thought? Three days ago the Temple had been closed for ever to its Lord. Its shrine was empty now for evermore: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." But still there is to be a temple, in which shall minister a priest, not of the line of Aaron, rather after the older order of Melchisedec-a temple, not of stone, but of men-of believers, according to the later apostolic word: "Ye are the temple of the living God." Of that new and living temple we have a representation in Gethsemane. The eight disciples are its court; the three are in the holy place; into the holiest of all our great High Priest has gone-alone: for the veil is not yet rent in twain.

But why the agony? The difficulty has always been to account for the sudden change from the calmness of the Paschal feast to the awful struggle of Gethsemane. What had happened meanwhile to bring about so great a change? There was light in the upper chamber-it was dark in the Garden; but surely the darkness and the light were both alike to Him; or if to His human heart there was the difference we all are conscious of, it could not be that the mere withdrawal of the light destroyed His peace. It is altogether probable that both the previous nights had been spent on this same mount of Olives, and there is no hint of agony then. It is true that the prospect before Him was full of unutterable horror; but from the time He had set His face to go up to Jerusalem it had been always in His view, and though at times the thought of it would come over Him as a cold wave that made Him shudder for the moment, there had been up to this hour no agony like this, and not a trace of pleading that the cup might pass.

What, then, was the new element of woe that came upon Him in that hour? What was the cup now put for the first time to His sacred lips, from which He shrank as from nothing in all His sad experience before? Is not the answer to be found in the region of thought into which we are led in that great passage already referred to, which speaks of Him as then for the first time "called of God a High Priest," which represents Him, though He was a Son, learning His obedience (as a Priest) by the things which He suffered?

May we not, then, reverently conceive of Him as in that hour taking on Him the sin of the world, in a more intimate sense than He had ever done before? "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree." In a certain sense He had borne the burden all His life, for He had throughout endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself; but in some special sense manifestly He bore it on the tree. When did He in that special sense take the awful burden on Him? Was it not in the Garden of Gethsemane? If so, can we wonder that the Holy One shrank from it, as He never shrank from simple suffering? To be identified with sin-to be "made sin," as the apostle puts it-how His soul revolted from it! The cup of sorrow He could take without a murmur; but to take on Him the intolerable load of the world’s sin-from this He shrank with all the recoil of stainless purity, with all the horror of a heart that could not bear the very thought. It was not the weakness of His flesh, but the purity of His spirit, that made Him shrink, that wrung from Him once and again, and yet again, the cry, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." It was a new temptation, three times repeated, like that old one in the wilderness. That assault, as we found, was in close relation to His assumption at His baptism of His work of ministry; this conflict in the Garden was, we believe, as closely connected with His assuming His priestly work, undertaking to make atonement for sin by the sacrifice of Himself. As that followed His baptism, this followed His institution of the holy supper. In that ordinance He had prepared the minds of His disciples to turn from the Paschal lamb of the old covenant, to behold henceforth the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. From the feast He goes straightway to this lonely garden, and there begins His dread atoning work.

It must have been a great aggravation of His agony that even the three disciples could not enter into sympathy with Him, even so much as to hold their eyes waking. True, they were very weary, and it was most natural that they should be heavy with sleep; but had they had even a faint conception of what that agony of their Master meant they could not possibly have slept; and we can well fancy that in that hour of anguish the Saviour must have called to mind from the Book of Psalms, with which He was so perfectly familiar, the sad lament: "Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none."

But though He keenly feels His loneliness, His thoughts are far less of Himself than of them. Realising so vividly the horrors now so close at hand, He sees, from the very possibility of their sleeping, how utterly unprepared they are for what awaits them, so He summons them to "watch and pray," to be on the alert against sudden surprise, and to keep in constant touch with God, so that they may not find themselves confronted with temptation which, whatever the devotion of the spirit, may prove too much for the weakness of the flesh. Think of the tender consideration of this second warning, when the first had been so little heeded.