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MATTHEW - Chapter 27

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Matthew 27

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  THE PASSION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION  26-28 (continued)

2.  The Passion and Death of Jesus  26, 36 -- 27, 66 (continued)

26, 69 -- 27, 2:  Peter's Denial (continued).    27, 1.  The official meeting of the Sanhedrin at dawn.  Parallels in Mark 15, 1a and Luke 22, 66a.  They took counsel together concerning the charges against Jesus that they would present to Pilate; but the original phrase here may mean simply, "They held a council."  In any case it was at this meeting that Jesus was formally condemned to death by the Sanhedrin.    2.  Jesus is delivered to Pilate.  Parallels in Mark 15, 1b; Luke 23, 1; and John 18, 28.  The Romans allowed the Sanhedrin the right to condemn a man to death, but required that the sentence be ratified by the procurator; if he thought that there was a miscarriage of justice he could review the case himself (cf. John 18, 31).  The Jewish penalty for blasphemy was stoning (cf. Lev. 24, 23), and apparently the Jews at the time of Christ inflicted this penalty without taking the trouble to consult the procurator (cf. John 8, 5 ff.59; Acts 7, 58).  But the Sanhedrin preferred to have Jesus condemned by the Roman authorities on a civil charge and executed by the Roman punishment of crucifixion, in order to discredit His followers all the more.

27, 3-10:  The End of Judas.  Only in Matthew; but cf. Acts 1, 18 f.    3.  Either Judas had not expected Jesus to be condemned, or after the betrayal his feelings towards Jesus had changed.  He repented in the sense of "suffered remorse"; his repentance was not "according to God" (cf. 2 Cor. 7, 10).    5.  Temple: the Greek word signifies the temple-building proper, not the courts of the temple.  Hanged himself: see foot-note to Acts 1, 18.    7.  The potter's field: a field which was worthless for agriculture, either because the potter had dug his clay there, or because he used it as a dump for his broken pots.    8.  Haceldama is an Aramaic word.  According to Matthew this field received its name because it was bought at the price of blood.  According to Acts it was called "the Field of Blood" because the blood of Judas was shed there.  These two explanations of its name are not mutually exclusive and undoubtedly both are correct.    9 f.  This quotation is a somewhat free translation of Zach. 11, 12 f.  The word Jeremias may have been in the original Aramaic Gospel of St. Matthew or it may have been added by the Greek translator or some early copyist, the purpose being perhaps to call the reader's attention to somewhat similar passages in Jer. 18, 2 ff; 32, 6 ff.

27, 11-25:  Jesus before Pilate.    11-14.  The first hearing before Pilate.  Parallels in Mark 15, 2-5; Luke 23, 2-4; John 18, 29-38.  The Jews at first try to have Pilate ratify their sentence without investigating the case (John 18, 29-32).  Failing in this, they enter the formal charge of sedition against the Roman authorities (Luke 23, 2).    11.  Christ answers affirmatively only in regard to His spiritual kingdom (cf. John 18, 33-38).    12-14.  Only Matthew and Mark record that, when the Jews repeated these accusations, Jesus remained silent; but John 19, 9 records Christ's later silence before Pilate.  This first part of the Roman trial ends by Pilate declaring Jesus innocent of these false charges of sedition (Luke 23, 4; John 18, 38b).  In order to evade the persistence of the Jews, Pilate tries in vain to pass on to Herod the responsibility for Christ's execution (Luke 23, 5-15).

15-18.20-21.  Christ and Barabbas: parallels in Mark 15, 6-11; Luke 23, 17-19; John 18, 39 f.    15.  The custom of releasing prisoners at great national holidays was common in many countries.    16.  Barabbas was a notorious prisoner, not only because he "was a robber" (John) but also because he "had committed murder in a riot" (Mark and Luke); the word for "riot" signifies properly an "insurrection" against the authorities.  In one group of Greek manuscripts in Matthew he is called Jesus Barabbas."  This is possibly correct, for Barabbas was really his "last name" (literally, "son of Abbas") and this explains the contrast with Jesus who is called Christ (17).    17.  When they had gathered together: at the beginning of the trial before Pilate only the chief priests and elders (12), i.e., Christ's enemies in the Sanhedrin, had been present; now the people assembled for the purpose of demanding the release of some prisoner (cf. Mark).  The initiative in general therefore came from the people, but it is not likely that they took the initiative in demanding Barabbas.  Apparently Pilate was free to offer them only a limited choice.  He thought of Barabbas as the least welcome alternative to Christ.    18.  Knowing that Jesus was innocent and that it was purely out of spite that the chief priests demanded His death, Pilate relied on the more generous nature of the common people to effect the release of our Lord.

19.  Matthew alone mentions this incident of Pilate's wife.  Nothing else is known of either her or the rest of Pilate's family, but this verse has offered the dramatizers of the story of Christ's Passion a rich field for speculation.  Apparently Pilate received this message while he was waiting for the people to make up their mind about the release of Barabbas or Jesus.  Have nothing to do with: i.e., do nothing against.  I have suffered many things: whatever the nature of this dream, it must have greatly frightened her.  No doubt this dream was caused by God as a special grace to save Pilate from committing this sin against Christ.

20.  The crowds here were probably the rabble of Jerusalem who had their own reasons for disliking this Prophet from Nazareth.  They acted mostly through ignorance (cf. Acts 3, 17).  In any case, they could not speak in the name of the whole Jewish nation.  The latter rejected Jesus when the majority of the Jews throughout the world rejected the later preaching of the Apostles.    21.  Although the people now express their clear preference for Barabbas, still Pilate apparently did not release him until the end of Christ's trial (cf. Luke 23, 25).

22 f.  The mob clamors for the crucifixion of Jesus.  Parallels in Mark 15, 12-14; Luke 23, 20-23a.  A similar scene is recorded in John 19, 6.15 as taking place somewhat later in the trial, but no doubt these cries for Christ's crucifixion were repeated at every attempt that Pilate made to save Jesus.  Pilate irritates them, perhaps intentionally, by repeatedly referring to Jesus as "He who is called the Christ."  If the proposal to release Barabbas, considering him as a popular leader, had originated with the people and not with Pilate (Mark seems to suggest this, although the contrary opinion is expressed above), the procurator's repeated attempts to substitute Jesus for Barabbas must have infuriated the crowd all the more against our Lord.

24 f.  Only Matthew records Pilate's handwashing and the self-curse of the people.  This scene probably took place immediately before Pilate passed sentence on Jesus and is therefore to be connected with John 19, 13-15.    24.  A riot was breaking out: it would have been fatal for Pilate if the report reached Tiberius that he had caused a riot by opposing the Jews precisely in a matter where they appeared to be more anxious to preserve the Roman dominion in Palestine than he himself was (cf. John 19, 12).  Pilate finally had to choose between justice for Jesus or his own personal interests.  He chose the latter.  The symbolic act of washing one's hands in public, to signify that they were morally clean in some affair where innocent blood was shed, was a Jewish custom (cf. Deut. 21, 1-9) which Pilate made use of here, apparently in order to accommodate himself to the native customs.    25.  By these words the people probably merely wished to say that they would assume responsibility before Caesar for this act.  But since neither they nor Pilate could avoid the moral responsibility before God for the murder of Jesus, their words are at least implicitly a curse upon themselves.  This curse was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem.  But it is unfair to lay this curse upon the whole Jewish race.

27, 26-30:  The Scourging and Crowning.  Parallels in Mark 15, 15-19 and John 19, 1-3.  Luke omits this scene, probably because it seemed too repulsive, but he agrees with John 19, 4 f that Pilate had tried to appease the Jews by this half-way measure (cf. Luke 23, 16.22).    26.  Matthew and Mark seem to speak as if Christ were scourged after sentence of death had been passed on Him.  Scourging was the normal preliminary of the Roman punishment of crucifixion, and for this reason the first two Gospels bring Christ's scourging in closer proximity to His crucifixion.  There is no reason for thinking that this cruel punishment was inflicted twice upon our Lord.  The victim of a Roman scourging was stripped of his clothes, bound to a pillar and beaten with a whip, usually consisting of a couple of leather lashes, the ends of which were weighted with small leaden balls.    27.  The praetorium was the Roman name for the soldiers' barracks.  Its mention here gives probability to the opinion that the trial before Pilate took place at the fortress of Antonia,  just north of the temple, rather than at the palace built by Herod the Great, at the western wall of the city, where the procurators usually resided while in Jerusalem.  Christ was mocked in "the courtyard of the praetorium" (Mark).  Note that he is brought in here only after the scourging.  According to the Roman custom scourging took place in some public place.  The whole cohort signifies "the whole band of soldiers that was stationed here."  This was Pilate's bodyguard and almost certainly did not consist of a full cohort of a thousand men.  The Greek word is often used in the general sense of any military unit (cf. John 18, 3).    28.  Since Matthew had not mentioned the stripping which preceded the scourging, he now mentions it, in order to show that the scarlet cloak was placed directly upon the bruised back of Jesus.  There is no need to suppose that after the scourging our Lord was first clothed with His own garments and then immediately stripped again.  The Greek word that is here translated as scarlet cloak signifies the cloak or large cape worn by the soldiers.  It was ordinarily of a scarlet color.  Here it is put on our Lord as a ridiculous substitute for the crimson garments of royalty.  The crown of thorns and the reed for a scepter were also intended as the mock-emblems of royalty.  Their words are a parody on the customary greeting to the emperor, Ave Caesar.  The soldiers no doubt indulged in this rough horse-play on their own initiative.  For them Jesus was just a common rebel against the great power of Rome.    30.  The reed was a sort of bamboo cane and blows with it upon Christ's thorn-crowned head must have been extremely painful.

27, 31-33:  The Way of the Cross.  Parallels in Mark 15, 20-22; Luke 23, 26-32; John 19, 16 f.  For the events between the mockery and the sentence of crucifixion read John 19, 4-15.    31.  His own garments: this is given special mention, because according to the Roman custom the condemned man was not clothed after the scourging but driven naked with whips to the place of execution, his arms tied to the cross-beam upon which he was to hang.  The clothing of Christ before going to Calvary was probably a concession to the better sense of decency among the Jews.    32.  At first Jesus Himself carried His own cross (John).  No doubt it was because of His extreme weakness that it was laid upon Simon.  There is good foundation therefore in the Gospels for the tradition that Jesus fell several times on the way to Golgotha.  The Evangelists no doubt could have told us many more incidents of this sorrowful journey, but their very constraint adds all the more to the pathos of their narrative.  Cyrene was at this time a flourishing city in the Roman province of Libya (west of Egypt); there was a colony of Jews there (cf. Acts 2, 10).  Simon, however, was probably a resident at Jerusalem at this time, for Mark and Luke add that he was "coming from the country," i.e., coming in from the fields, from his farm.  Apparently he was coming home from work.  If so, we have here a strong confirmation even in the Synoptics that this was the eve and not the day itself of the Passover.  The Cyrenian Jews had a synagogue in Jerusalem (Acts 6, 9).  Forced, literally "pressed into public service," does not necessarily imply that Simon performed this act of charity unwillingly.  He took up the whole burden for Christ, not merely assisting Christ to carry the cross with Him.  But whether this was the entire cross or only its horizontal beam is uncertain.    33.  Golgotha, the word in the local Aramaic dialect for Skull; in good Aramaic really "Gulgoltha."  From the Latin word for skull, calvaria, we have the name "Calvary."  It was probably a small hill which in some way resembled a skull.  It was outside the walls (Heb. 13, 12) but "near the city" (John 19, 20), at the side of the highway (30).  The traditional site, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is certainly the true one.

27, 34-44:  The Crucifixion.  Parallels in Mark 15, 23-32; Luke 23, 33-43; John 19, 18-24.    34.  Before executing a criminal the Jews were accustomed to give him a drugged drink which would deaden his nerves and thereby lessen his sufferings.  For this purpose they used wine mixed with incense or myrrh, which would not be unpleasant to drink.  According to Mark the wine that was offered to Jesus was "mixed with myrrh."  Possibly this was prepared by the pious women who followed Christ and ministered to His needs (cf. 55) for the Jews generally left this charitable office to women.  But according to Matthew this wine was mixed with gall, which is extremely bitter.  There can hardly be any doubt that both Evangelists are referring to the same wine.  Probably Christ's enemies intentionally added the gall to the prepared drink in order to torment Him the more.  The gall recalls Ps. 68, 22.  Jesus tasted it, perhaps to suffer in His sense of taste, or to show His gratitude to those who had meant well in offering the drugged drink.  But he would not drink it, because He wished to remain fully conscious to the end.  "This was not the chalice which He had promised His Father to drink" (Lagrange).    35.  Jesus was then stripped of His garments.  According to the Roman custom, at least outside of Palestine, a crucified criminal was completely naked; but it seems probable that in Palestine, out of regard for the Jews' sense of decency, the victim was permitted a loincloth.  On the division of Christ's garments, see Commentary on John 19, 23 f.  The reference to the prophecy of Ps. 21, 19 is not found in the best manuscripts of the First Gospel; it was taken over into Matthew's Gospel from the Fourth Gospel where all the manuscripts have it.  After the stripping Jesus was crucified.  If done according to custom, His arms were first fastened to the horizontal beam that He had carried to the place of execution; this was then attached to the vertical beam or large stake which stood permanently on the site.  There was usually a sort of projecting horn which served as a seat to support the weight of the body.  It is certain that Jesus was nailed through His hands and feet to the cross, and not merely fastened with ropes (cf. Luke 24, 39 f; John 20, 20.25.27).    36.  The soldiers who carried out a sentence of crucifixion were obliged to see to it that no one rescued the victim but that he died on the cross.  The crucifixion of our Lord was entrusted to four soldiers (cf. John 19, 23) under the command of a centurion (cf. 54).    37.  That this placard was put above his head shows that the cross on which Jesus died had four extremities, i.e., the form in which it is traditionally represented, although other forms and shapes of crosses were used for crucifixions.  The four Evangelists agree in substance but differ in details on the exact words of this inscription.  The full inscription seems to have been, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews"; for it was customary to give both the name of the criminal and the crime for which he was being executed.  Perhaps the inscription differed slightly in each of the tree languages (cf. John) in which it was written.  Only John mentions the dispute between the chief priests and Pilate about this inscription.  The latter could not have worded the charge other than he did, for Jesus was executed by the Romans not for pretending to be, but for actually being, the King of the Jews.

38.  Robbers: more exactly, "brigands, highwaymen."  Jesus is put in the prominent place between them, as if He were their leader.  Mark alone mentions the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa. 53, 12 in this.    39 f.  The mockery by the passers-by: only in Matthew and Mark.  These people were either strangers who were arriving at Jerusalem for the feast or the natives of the city who were coming or going on business.  Perhaps they were not greatly interested in the execution but asked about it and were told the worst: that Jesus had threatened the temple and had blasphemed by saying He was the Son of God; such crimes would have seemed outrageous to any good Jew, so these people joined in mocking Christ.    41-43.  The mockery by the chief priests and their adherents: in all three Synoptics.  This consisted principally in ridiculing our Lord's miracles and His claim to be the Messias.    43.  Only in Matthew.  Cf. Ps. 21, 9; Wisd. 2, 13.18.  These men, no doubt unwillingly, used the words of this Psalm which certainly refers to the Passion of Christ: cf. also 8 of this Psalm.    44.  It seems fairly certain that at first both of the robbers reproached Jesus, although it is possible that Matthew and Mark use the plural merely in the sense of "one of the robbers"; at least later on one of them defends Jesus, expresses his belief in His Messiasship, and gains Paradise (cf. Luke 23, 39-43).

27, 45-56:  The Death of Jesus.  Parallels in Mark 15, 33-41; Luke 23, 44-49; John 19, 25-30.    45.  From the sixth hour . . . until the ninth hour: i.e., from twelve noon until three in the afternoon, when the sun would normally be at its brightest.  We need not, however, understand this as meaning exactly three hours to the minute.  The darkness apparently began after the Lord had been on the cross for some time; according to Mark 15, 25 the crucifixion began somewhat before noon.  But it was evidently not long after three o'clock when our Lord died.  The darkness was certainly not due to an eclipse, for the Passover always occurs at the period of full moon when an eclipse of the sun would be impossible; therefore this darkness was miraculous, however it may have been brought about.  We need not understand the whole land to mean "the whole earth"; it is sufficient to understand the Evangelists to mean "the whole land of Palestine" or even only "the whole region around Jerusalem."    46.  This is the only one of the "Seven Words" of Christ on the Cross which Matthew and Mark record.  This cry of our Lord is the beginning of Ps. 21.  In both Gospels these words are given in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, but in a different mixture in each.  Our Lord would probably quote this prayer in the sacred language in which it was originally written, and it seems that He really did so, for He must have said Eli rather than Elohi if the bystanders understood, or pretended to understand, this as "Elias" (in Hebrew Eliyah).  In the Psalm these words meant merely, "Why hast thou left me to the fury of my enemies?"  Our Lord probably meant them in the same sense.  They are a prayer for help, coming from the human soul of Christ.  Far from containing the slightest hint of despair, they are expressive of loving confidence in God.    47.  The bystanders who said this must have been Jews; otherwise they would not have known of Elias.    48.  This drink was offered to Jesus in answer to His cry, "I thirst" (cf. John 19, 28 f).  Since this common wine, which resembled vinegar (cf. Ps. 68, 22), was the ordinary drink of the Roman soldiers, it was probably one of the soldiers who gave our Lord this drink.  No doubt he acted out of genuine kindness.  Luke 23, 36 probably refers to some previous mockery.    49.  The rest who tried to prevent this charitable deed were most likely Jews (cf. the reference again to Elias).    50.  This loud cry at the very moment of death is generally taken to prove that Jesus died of His own free will (cf. John 10, 18); but this might be wrongly understood in a sense resembling suicide.  Christ's death was voluntary in the sense that He did not shirk the responsibilities which ultimately led to His crucifixion.  But He died from the tortures inflicted on Him just as any one else would have died under the same circumstances.  However, since this loud cry was no inarticulate shout but identical with the prayer recorded in Luke 23, 46, we may at least conclude from it that our Lord was conscious to the very end.

51-56.  Various witnesses to the death of our Savior.  Only 51b-53 are peculiar to Matthew: nature itself is a witness to the death of the God-man.    51.  It is not certain whether this curtain of the temple was the "first curtain" at the entrance to the Holy Place (so St. Jerome), or the "second curtain" (cf. Heb. 9, 3) which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies; nor are Catholic interpreters agreed about the significance of this rending of the curtain: some see in it the visible token of God's displeasure with Judaism, the abolition of the temple as God's special abode (cf. 23, 38), etc.; others prefer to understand this as a sign that God then took away the barrier between Jew and Gentile (cf. Eph. 2, 14), that all men are admitted to the worship of the true God (cf. Heb. 6, 19 f; 9, 8; 10, 19 f), etc.    52 f.  The tombs were opened at the moment of Christ's death, by the shock of the earthquake; but it seems that the saints who had fallen asleep, i.e., the holy persons who had died before this time, did not rise until Christ Himself arose from the dead.  This event is to be connected with our Lord's descent into limbo (cf. 1 Pet. 3, 19; 4, 6).  But this passage is somewhat obscure: some interpreters hold that these saints rose in their glorified bodies and ascended with Christ into heaven; others think that they appeared in the manner of ghosts and then returned to their tombs (so Lagrange); for the rest of the New Testament seems to imply that Christ alone is "the firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1, 18) and that no one has risen or will rise in a glorified body before the Last Day (excepting, of course, our blessed Lady's Assumption into heaven).    54.  They were very much afraid: i.e., they were overwhelmed with awe at the terrible portents in nature, the darkness, the earthquake, etc.  Their words need not be understood as a confession of the divinity of Christ; it is sufficient to understand them in the sense given in Luke, "Truly this was a just man."  According to Mark the centurion said this because he had seen how Jesus had died and had heard His last words.  Now from Luke 23, 46 we know what His last words were; therefore it seems that it was the sight of the great moral courage that Jesus had shown in His death and of the confidence that He had shown in calling God His "Father" even as He expired, that made the centurion exclaim, "Truly this man was the Son of God."    55 f.  All three Synoptic Gospels refer to these holy women as being eye-witnesses of our Lord's death.  No doubt these women together with St. John were the original source whence the Synoptics drew their information of what happened on Golgotha.    55.  Among the many women was also the Mother of Christ (cf. John 19, 25).  Looking on from a distance: the Synoptic account indeed seems to be based on the reports of persons who had viewed the scene from a distance; cf. e.g., the "loud cry" of Jesus which Matthew and Mark mention without apparently knowing what words were said.  Who had followed Jesus . . . : cf. Luke 8, 1-3.    56.  Mary Magdalene: i.e., Mary of Magdala, a town in Genesareth; she is most probably to be distinguished both from Mary of Bethany and the Penitent Woman of Luke 7, 36 ff (see Commentary there).  The mother of the sons of Zebedee is apparently the same as "Salome" in the parallel passage of Mark (cf. 20, 20).

27, 57-61:  The Burial.  Parallels in Mark 15, 42-47; Luke 23, 50-56; John 19, 38-42.    57.  When it was evening: i.e., towards evening, the latter part of the afternoon.  Jesus had died about three in the afternoon.  Some time after this His side was pierced with a lance (John).  Only then did Joseph of Arimathea go to Pilate to ask permission to take away the body of Jesus (cf. John 19, 38).  More time was consumed by Pilate's investigation (Mark), Joseph's purchase of the linen cloth, etc., so that it must have been near sunset before they were ready to bury our Lord.  But since at sunset the Sabbath began, when no work could be done, this burial was necessarily of a rather hurried and provisional nature; cf. Mark 16, 1.  A certain rich man: Mark and Luke tell us that he was also "a councillor," i.e., "a member of the Sanhedrin"; and for this reason, lest the reader might think that he was one of Christ's enemies, all the Evangelists are careful to point out that he was also a disciple of Jesus.    58.  He asked for the body of Jesus, because according to Jewish Law the bodies of persons who had been condemned to death by the Sanhedrin were not to be given honorable burial but were to be thrown in a special tomb reserved for them.  The Sanhedrists had already asked Pilate for this (cf. John 19, 31), but the procurator was only too glad to offend them by granting Joseph his request.    59.  According to the burial customs of that time a corpse was placed on a winding-sheet or shroud, here called a linen cloth, which was then folded over it.  This was a new and clean linen cloth, for Joseph had just bought it (cf. Mark).  When John 19, 40 speaks of "linen cloths" in the plural (but a different word), either merely this shroud of the Synoptics is meant or this with other minor cloths for some other special purposes; but there is no foundation for the assertion that this passage in John means the our Lord's body was swathed in bandages.  The identification of the Holy Shroud which is now venerated in Turin with the linen cloth in which our Lord was buried has strong arguments in its favor.    60.  His new tomb: no one had ever been buried in it (Luke and John); it was near the place of the Crucifixion (John).  Matthew alone mentions that this tomb belonged to Joseph.  From the sepulchres of that period which are still preserved around Jerusalem, it seems that the tomb where Christ's body was laid was in the form of a cave; a large stone, resembling a millstone standing on its edge, was rolled in a slot that was left for this purpose in the hewn rock at the entrance.    61.  The holy women apparently did nothing at the burial of Jesus except to watch what was being done.  The Evangelists refer to them as witnesses in proof of the fact that our Lord's body was laid in the same tomb which was found empty two days later.  The prominent mention of Mary Magdalene by all the Evangelists shows that she played an important role in these events.  The other Mary was the mother of James and Joseph (cf. 56).

27, 62-66:  Precautions of the Chief Priests.  Only in Matthew.  The First Gospel alone makes mention of the guard at Christ's tomb, not only here but also in 28, 4.11-15.  For this reason most of the rationalist critics reject this part of the Resurrection story as a later legend.  But these men overlook the fact that it was only the First Gospel, the Gospel written for the Christians of Palestine, that had the necessity of explaining and refuting the lying report that was spread among the Jews of Palestine by the chief priests (cf. 28, 13.15).    62.  The Preparation, i.e., for the Sabbath, was the ordinary name for Friday among the Jews.  The corresponding Greek word, Parasceve, is still the regular name for Friday in the Greek Church, but in the Latin Church this name is now limited to Good Friday.  The day after the Preparation is a rather remarkable way of saying simply "the Sabbath," but Matthew wishes at the same time to point out that Christ died on Friday, the "Preparation Day," a fact which all the other Evangelists had already mentioned in connection with the death or burial of Jesus (cf. Mark 15, 42; Luke 23, 54; John 19, 31.42).  The Sanhedrists sought authorization from Pilate, for they themselves really had no right to interfere with a man's private tomb in this way.    63.  That deceiver: not only the Master but also His disciples are given the same opprobrious name (cf. 2 Cor. 6, 8).  Christ had foretold His resurrection on the third day to His enemies as well as to His disciples (cf. 12, 40; John 2, 19).  The critics object that, if the disciples themselves did not understand Christ's prediction (cf. Mark 9, 31; Luke 18, 34; John 2, 22), the chief priests would not have understood it.  But the latter could have understood Christ's words just enough to make them forestall any false claims of the fulfillment of this prediction; they were taking no chances.    64.  The last imposture: the first deception, according to these men, was when "that deceiver" said that He was the Messias and the Son of God.  This last claim would be worse: they foresaw in a dim way the importance of the Resurrection.    65.  You have a guard: Pilate does not give them the use of any Roman soldiers, but permits them to use the Jewish temple-police (see Commentary on 26, 47).  As well as you know how: the sense is, "Do with your own guard whatever you want."  Pilate is tired of the whole sorry affair and does not want to become involved any further in it.    66.  Cf. Dan. 6, 17.  Probably clay or wax, impressed with a special seal, was put between the stone and the tomb.  This was an additional precaution, to prevent even the guard from conniving at any one opening the tomb.


Confraternity Bible:

1 Now when morning came all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel together against Jesus in order to put him to death.  2* And they bound him and led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the procurator.

The End of Judas  3 Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood."  But they said, "What is that to us?  See to it thyself."  5 And he flung the pieces of silver into the temple, and withdrew; and went away and hanged himself with a halter.

6 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver, and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, seeing that it is the price of blood."  7 And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter's field, as a burial place for strangers.  8 For this reason that field has been called even to this day, Haceldama, that is, the Field of Blood.  9* Then what was spoken through Jeremias the prophet was fulfilled,
"And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him who was priced, upon whom the children of Israel set a price;

10* And they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me."
Jesus before Pilate  11 Now Jesus stood before the procurator; and the procurator asked him, saying, "Art thou the king of the Jews?"  Jesus said to him, "Thou sayest it"  12 And when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he made no answer.  13 Then Pilate said to him, "Dost thou not hear how many things they prefer against thee?"  14 But he did not answer him a single word, so that the procurator wondered exceedingly.

15 Now at festival time the procurator used to release to the crowd a prisoner, whomever they would.  16 Now he had at that time a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.  17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said, "Whom do you wish that I release to you?  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"  18 For he knew that they had delivered him up out of envy.  19 Now, as he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things in a dream today because of him."  20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to destroy Jesus. 21 But the procurator addressed them, and said to them, "Which of the two do you wish that I release to you?"  And they said, "Barabbas."  22 Pilate said to them, "What then am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?"  They all said, "Let him be crucified!"  23 The procurator said to them, "Why, what evil has he done?"  But they kept crying out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified."

24 Now Pilate, seeing that he was doing no good, but rather that a riot was breaking out, took water and washed his hands in sight of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see to it yourselves."  25 And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children."

The Scourging and Crowning  26 Then he released to them Barabbas; but Jesus he scourged and delivered to them to be crucified.  27 Then the soldiers of the procurator took Jesus into the praetorium, and gathered together about him the whole cohort.  28 And they stripped him and put on him a scarlet cloak; 29 and plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed into his right hand; and bending the knee before him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  30 And they spat on him, and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.

The Way of the Cross  31 And when they had mocked him, they took the cloak off him and put his own garments on him, and led him away to crucify him.  32 Now as they went out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon; him they forced to take up his cross.  33 And they came to the place called Golgotha, that is, the Place of the Skull.

The Crucifixion  34 And they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall; but when he had tasted it, he would not drink.  35* And after they had crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots, [to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet,
"They divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots."] 
36 And sitting down they kept watch over him.  37 And they put above his head the charge against him, written,
"This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."
38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right hand and one on his left.  39 Now the passers-by were jeering at him, shaking their heads, 40 and saying, "Thou who destroyest the temple, and in three days buildest it up again, save thyself!  If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross!"  41 In like manner, the chief priests with the Scribes and the elders, mocking, said, 42 "He saved others, himself he cannot save!  If he is the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him.  43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he wants him; for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"  44 And the robbers also, who were crucified with him, reproached him in the same way.

The Death of Jesus  45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  46* But about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani," that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  47 And some of the bystanders on hearing this said, "This man is calling Elias."  48 And immediately one of them ran and, taking a sponge, soaked it in common wine, put it on a reed and offered it to him to drink.  49 But the rest said, "Wait, let us see whether Elias is coming to save him."  50 But Jesus again cried out with a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent, 52 and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep arose; 53 and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection, they came into the holy city, and appeared to many.  54 Now when the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, they were very much afraid, and they said, "Truly he was the Son of God."  55 And many women were there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.  56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

The Burial  57 Now when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, Joseph by name, who was himself a disciple of Jesus.  58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then Pilate ordered the body to be given up.  59 And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock.  Then he rolled a large stone to the entrance of the tomb, and departed.  61 But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.

Precautions of the Chief Priests  62* And the next day, which was the one after the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees went in a body to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we have remembered how that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, 'After three days I will rise again.'  64 Give orders, therefore, that the sepulchre be guarded until the third day, or else his disciples may come and steal him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead'; and the last imposture will be worse than the first."  65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, guard it as well as you know how."  66 So they went and made the sepulchre secure, sealing the stone, and setting the guard.
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*

2: Upon the deposition of Archelaus in 6 A.D., Judea became a Roman province and was governed by a procurator.  Pontius Pilate was procurator from 26 to 36 A.D.

9-10: Zach. 11, 12.

35: Ps. 21, 19.

46: The words of our Lord were a quotation of Ps. 21, 2.  Taken in their context they do not express anything like despair.  They do, however, express a poignant sense of dereliction.

62: Preparation for the Sabbath.