Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 27

Matthew 27


-Judas feels remorse and tries to give back the blood money given to him for the betrayal of Jesus Christ, but that is rejected by the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people. Judas dumps the money in the Temple sanctuary and departed to kill himself by hanging. The priests bought a Potter’s Field with the blood money as a place to bury strangers. This fulfilled an obscure prophecy Matthew attributes to Jeremiah even though the clearest reading of it comes in the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13 (It could have been taken from Jeremiah 17:2-3; 18:1-4; 19:1-11; or 32:6-15, In the OT Jeremiah was considered the collector of some of the prophets’ writings, so perhaps this is why his name is cited). *Application* Judas, rather than turning back to the Savior for forgiveness like Peter eventually did, takes matters into his own hands and commits suicide. He opted for a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Don’t let Satan tell you that God can’t forgive. The truth is that He can and will if we will come back to Him in repentance and for forgiveness through the price that Christ paid. You’re never too far gone!

-Now the trial before Pilate takes center stage in the narrative. Christ’s serene calmness and quiet spirit astounds the Roman governor to the point that he was seemingly convinced of the Lord’s innocence, because he knew that it was out of envy Jesus had been handed over to him for punishment. Pilate’s wife warns him not to have anything to do with this righteous Man for she had been tormented in her sleep (apparently by the Holy Spirit in a dream). However, the persuasiveness of the religious leaders won the day as the crowds were stirred up to a riot-like frenzy of evil group-think and wanted the Christ to be crucified. Pilate tried to release Him, but Barabbas was chosen over Him, which led to Pilate’s hand washing symbolizing his desire to be innocent in the condemnation of Christ Jesus (even though he was simply a people pleaser going along with the mood of the moment). Pilate did release Barabbas for them as they requested, had Jesus’ scourged (whipped mercilessly), and handed Him over to be crucified with a death sentence to avoid a riot in the crowd. The people who were there accepted full responsibility for their actions with the words, “His (Jesus’) blood shall be on us and on our children (Matthew 27:25)!” *Application* We know that we are all guilty and responsible for the Christ having to die for the sins of mankind. Instead of trying to wash our hands of the guilt, it is better to accept the fact that we are the one’s responsible for our Savior’s death on the cross. The fact is, Christ laid it down on His own will by submitting to the Father’s desires. Our sin is the reason He had to perform this love sacrifice on our behalf. Simply enjoy the fact that God cares for you this much and receive His forgiveness, which He lavishes upon us in agape.

-Jesus was flogged in the back, beaten with a reed on His head, spit upon, crowned with thorns twisted together and crushed down on His head, and was arrayed in a purple robe to be mocked as a defeated king by the Roman soldiers. He suffered immense verbal and physical torture as He went to His sacrificial death for the sins of mankind. Satan filled these mockers and they acted out in brutality against the King of kings and Lord of lords. *Application* This scene makes most, if not all, of our persecution that we receive pale in comparison to the torment that Jesus endured on our behalf. We should notice His response to every insult and blow. He returned blessing and love for every evil thing done against Him (Luke 23:34). This is the Law of Christ that we love our enemies and bless those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, 35, Romans 12:14).

-Jesus is led out to be crucified with a procession of followers mourning and lamenting His plight. Some were hurling insults and mockery at Him and were pleased to see the Son of Man dying in front of their very eyes. Simon of Cyrene is an interesting aside to the crucifixion drama as he is compelled to carry the cross of the Lord for what was probably a good distance more than likely because Jesus was too weak to go on with this load. Mark’s gospel even includes the names of Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). From this we may infer that at some point Simon became a believer and in some way gave testimony to the crucifixion accounts for its written account by the gospel writers. *Application* Simon of Cyrene was an illustration to us as believers of Christ’s command to pick up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). This is a load to bear, but it is worth it to know that we are in partnership with the Lord in doing His will His way. Die to yourself and follow the Master wherever He leads.

-Jesus was taken outside the city gates to a place called Golgotha, which means “Place of the Skull (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, John 19:17).” Some time later Jerome, translating the Scriptures into Latin, used the term which we now translate as Calvary for the Skull (Latin for skull is calvaria).

-Along this Via Dolorosa (the way of suffering, or grief) He told the women who followed and were lamenting and mourning not to do that over Him, but for themselves and their children (Luke 23:27-28). He foresaw terrible times coming upon His people prophetically, which is taken up in more detail other passages of Scripture (Zechariah 12:10-14, Matthew 24:15-22, Luke 23:28-31, Revelation 6:16-17). There are two sites held by tradition to be the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. The traditional site is west of the Antonia Fortress, built by Herod to oversee the Temple Mount area. It is a steep journey up a mountain; an arduous task for a man who has been beaten and abused such as Christ was. This journey ends at what is now known as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The other site is known as the “Garden Tomb” and is north of the city outside the ancient gates. This place would have been a high traffic area, was in a garden area near the tomb, had a rock formation cut out of the side of the mountain that looked like a skull (this is from the building projects quarried by Herod’s administration). There are convincing proofs that this could very well be the location of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, but the exact location is unknown and inconclusive.

-Christ’s inscription read that He was the King of the Jews from Nazareth, written by Pilate (John 19:19). The Jewish leaders were upset with this, but Pilate would not change his sign. This may have been a form of mockery, and it was certainly used as a deterrent to further insurrections by the populace as a sign of Roman domination and authority. The Lord, in His Providence, allowed this appropriate message to be displayed as He died for the sins of mankind upon the wooden cross.

-*Application* Again we are brought to the point of decision when we read accounts of the Lord’s suffering and pain on our behalf. If you never have, receive the Lord’s sacrificial death for the atonement of your personal sins and be set free from the guilt and penalty of separation from God. Trust in Him and His work on the cross for forgiveness.

- Crucifixion was widely practiced by the Roman Empire during this era of human history, mostly for the purpose of exposing and ridiculing those who rebelled against their authority. There were stories of Roman soldiers’ exploits of cruelty in different postures and tactics for crucified victims (see Josephus, Jewish War 5.449-551). The use of nails and a crossbar appear to have been common. Modern medical explanations for cause of death by the cross conclude that asphyxiation or shock is the determining factor in killing a hanging victim in this manner. This was widely believed to be the most painful form of death execution style due to the excruciating pain and the public shame it caused. Hanging suspended by one’s arms eventually caused great difficulty in breathing, which could only be alleviated by pushing up with one’s feet to take the weight off of the arms. But that motion itself would cause severe pain in the nailed feet and hands, arms, legs, and back, causing the exhausted victim to slump down again and again unable to breathe in a slow and agonizing death. Eventually, the crucified would succumb to suffocation if the physical trauma hadn’t already killed them. *Application* Magnify the Name of Christ Jesus who suffered a tremendous amount of pain to purchase the believers’ salvation! By His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

-For what seems to be an unimportant side note to the biblical writers in the area of the soldiers obtaining Christ’s clothes, we should notice that every single gospel writer includes this part of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24). This casting of lots for Jesus’ clothes is a fulfillment of the great crucifixion prophecy of David in Psalms 22 around a thousand years before the time of Christ Jesus. This dividing up of the garments is prophesied in Psalms 22:18, and is one of the many exact fulfillments that Christ providentially achieved under the sovereignty of God’s plan. *Application* Things like this help our faith when we realize that such coordination is impossible without the mighty Hand of God in these Divine circumstances. God is at work to fulfill His overarching will and plan in this world. Praise the LORD who works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

-Jesus is derided and rudely mocked while dying on the wooden cross by passersby coming in and out of Jerusalem, the religious leaders led by the chief priests, and by Roman soldiers who participating in the ridicule of the Lord of lords. Amazingly, Christ took all the bad mouthing and making fun of without responding or getting angry with revenge. He focused on the mission to save the world in love and did not stray off His course set by the Father in Heaven.

-Some of the remarks reveal what these people thought of Him. They took Him to be a blasphemer who made bold claims about destroying and rebuilding the Temple physically. They misinterpreted the significance of the New Covenant and the Spirit-filled age, which was about to be initiated for the spreading of the gospel unto the whole world for the salvation of many lives that were separated from the knowledge and love of the Lord. They scoffed at His claims that He could save, and wanted to see a sign of Him saving Himself as proof of His Divinity. This was a trap and temptation of Satan to get Christ off His mission of an atoning sacrifice, but it didn’t work. Jesus endured and overcame despite every effort to thwart Him. These mockers clearly heard His message that He claimed to be the Son of God, but they were unwilling to accept this message because it seemed so absurd to them. In their minds the Messiah could never humble Himself enough to take this abuse and suffering. They didn’t see Him as the suffering Servant, but the mighty King who would change their own nation for selfish motivations and with self-indulging signs and wonders. They totally missed the point of the Messiah’s first incarnation. The blinders remained on and the ears were still deaf. For the Roman soldiers, their arrogance in imperialistic power kept them from realizing that God had visited them. They thought it to be foolishness that a King would be defeated by a humiliating death on a cross (1 Corinthians 1:21-25). Even the thieves on the cross hurled taunts at the Savior, though one would come around and fear the Lord receiving salvation in the end.

-*Application* Don’t take lightly the abuse of the Lord’s Name. This is the third commandment given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and it is sometimes an easy temptation to fall into. These people we have studied today had no clue what they were actually doing and saying about the King of the universe. We also will face temptations to go along with the crowd and deny the Name of the Lord and His power in our lives. This is dangerous and will lead us into unbelief if we are not careful. The world still thinks little of the Lord Jesus Christ and will try to pull you away from Him and His humble wisdom. Don’t succumb to peer pressure and deceit. Seek His truth and live.

-This darkness that enveloped the area for three hours from about 12:00pm to 3:00pm would be presumed to be a solar eclipse, but this is not possible since the Passover only occurred during a full moon and a solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon phase. Rather, this was a supernatural act of the Sovereign LORD having a physical manifestation (the sun’s light failed) with spiritual implications for us to consider. Darkness in Scripture represents lament (deep, agonizing sorrow, Amos 8:9-10) and Divine judgment (Exodus 10:21-23, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6, 13). It is often the sign of an eschatological (last things) event taking place (Isaiah 60:2, Joel 2:1-2, 31, Amos 5:18-20, Zephaniah 1:15). These literal events had spiritual implications figuratively representing the fact that Jesus was bearing God’s wrath for His people, and it was also expressive of the LORD’s displeasure for crucifying His One and Only Begotten Son when we think about it. *Application* While there was darkness in the death of the Christ, we see the end result as His children who have received His grace. This vibrant biblical theme comes alive in us as we realize that in Him we step into marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9, John 12:46, 1 John 1:5; 2:8). He overcomes the darkness of wrath and sin to give us victory and eternal life! Jesus has overcome the grave, which is awesome news for us. He gives us His Spirit to light and illuminate our way (Daniel 2:22, Matthew 5:16, John 1:9; 14:16-18; 16:13), and His Word as a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).

-Jesus now cries out to the Father because He has been forsaken. God could not look upon the sin, which Jesus was taking on in the spiritual realm, and this separation (which was momentary) frazzled (exhausted and in a very confused or irritable state) the Lord to the point of desperation. This was understandable under His mental and physical duress. We also must consider that this was a new, and undeserved, sensation as He had always been One with God the Father, and now was experiencing, in some way, disunion as a sacrifice for all of mankind. He was taking the penalty as the Just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).

-The observers were confused themselves over the words of Christ Jesus, which were probably moaned in His agony and pain. They thought that He may have been calling on Elijah and wanted to see if he would come in a supernatural event. Someone offered Him sour wine as He thirsted (John 19:28), and Jesus offered up His Spirit proclaiming that “Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit (Luke 23:46),” and “It is finished (John 19:30)!”

-*Application* It is finished! Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross covers our every sin when we accept His great salvation through repentance and faith. Jesus, through taking on the sinfulness of man, has given us all the unique opportunity to reconnect to the Father and His amazing grace, which gives us all of His benefits in earth and eternity! He has taken pity on us and considered our depraved state and actually done something in love to correct it. Praise the LORD for His compassion and receive His bountiful and abundant gift!

-The Scriptures describe Jesus’ final few moments in great detail before He gave up His Spirit and returned to the Father victorious without sin or blemish in His earthly mission to rescue and save mankind. He received the sour wine (John 19:30), uttered a loud cry, claimed “It is finished,” said “Father into Your Hands I commit My Spirit (Luke 23:46),” bowed His head, and gave up His Spirit (Matthew 27:50).

-The centurion who had been taking care of the crucifixion process, much like the penitent thief, turned in his demeanor and attitude based on Luke’s testimony (Luke 23:47). He praised God and claimed Jesus’ innocence, which was a drastic turn from the mockery he inflicted, or at least allowed under his command as a Roman authority. For this to have happened we must conclude that the supernatural events that were taking place (earthquake, darkness, Temple veil torn, graves opening, etc.) and Jesus’ calm and steadfast Spirit as a testimony must have won him over to see what he hadn’t seen before. He had an up close and personal vantage point of all these incredible events, and it radically changed him it appears by his confession that this truly was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39)!

-The crowds who had come together for this, as the Bible describes, spectacle returned home beating their breasts (Luke 23:48, cross reference Luke 18:13) as a demonstration of possible grief and repentance. As Jesus had stated, they knew not what they did, and it was now too late at least in their finite-natural minds (Luke 23:34). Perhaps this was a realization of the truth and deep Godly sorrow. Christ had come in peace and they violently put Him to a horrific death on the excruciating cross. He had gone innocently as the Lamb of God to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7) and now these people may have felt deep regret for their actions. His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching all these things (Luke 23:49).

-*Application* The death of our Lord and Savior should have the same impact on us as it did for those who stood by witnessing the scene in all its terror, sadness, and ultimate glory unto God. We should reflect deeply on the cost of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the opportunity it gives us to have new life in Him abundant and free. By His wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24)! Glory unto our Great and Awesome King forever!

-At the moment of Christ’s departure, some supernatural events took place that the gospel writers included in their biographies. The earth shook violently (earthquakes are common in this region, but the timing of God was impeccable here as to only be of Him). The veil of Temple tore in two from top to bottom at this time, which was very thick. In fact it was too thick to even be separated by an earthquake or the falling of the lintel (for more precise commentary on the veil a great source is:,%20etc.htm). *Application* This event has incredible theological implications as the legalistic dispensation is concluded and the age of the indwelling Holy Spirit is in many ways initiated by the access to the Holy of Holies, which Jesus’ death provided. We cannot minimize the significance of this moment. Jesus had claimed that He would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it (John 2:19-22). This tearing of the veil from top to bottom was God’s opening up of Himself to every nation and tribe for the spreading of His glory. He would be concealed no longer. His death made a way for the simple plan of salvation to be disseminated across the globe. This was only the beginning. This visible manifestation to the religious leaders would have and should have been a real wakeup call that Jesus was who He claimed to be. The sad thing is even this could not awaken the faith of many of these hard hearted religious stalwarts of tradition.

-We also see the dead resurrected in part and coming into the Holy City being seen by many witnesses after the resurrection of Christ on the third day, Sunday (Matthew 27:53). This is a mystifying and perplexing event that only one biblical author describes in only two verses of Scripture. There is no other biblical or historical account of this event, and Matthew treats it topically out of the order of events here for a theological purpose of emphasizing the resurrection in the midst of the crucifixion. These individuals were no doubt Old Testament believers who had looked forward to the Messiah and His promise and were now resurrected along with the risen Savior (Matthew 27:52 uses the term “raised” to indicate a difference from resuscitations like with Lazarus in John 11:44). We may have some other Scriptural evidence and some shedding of light on this occurrence in Isaiah 26:19, Ezekiel 37, and 1 Peter 3:18-21; 4:6. These resurrected bodies that appeared to many in Jerusalem from their tombs more than likely ascended to Heaven near the time of Christ’s ascension if not simultaneously. Of course this is conjecture because it is not clear in the biblical account. *Application* This resurrection account provides the biblical motif for our own resurrection in Christ, which is best delineated in 1 Corinthians 15. Christ Jesus is the first fruits of the eternal life we can all have in Him by placing our faith in His gracious work on the cross (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:20, James 1:18). This is what makes the gospel so impactful for us concerning the hope of glory. This theme is also foreshadowed in the Old Testament by Moses (Exodus 23:16-19; 34:22-26) and other prophets (Nehemiah 10:35, Ezekiel 44:30). (For more on this topic see:

-The veracity of Jesus’ burial is important for us to consider, because if there is no physical death the resurrection could be considered a hoax. The details of the entombment of the Lord are chronicled by all four gospel writers as witnesses to the fact that Christ was officially declared dead and a genuine burial was indeed conducted. Here we summarize the specifics given as to where, when, and how Jesus was laid to rest in His deceased state.

-First, we see the intriguing figure of Joseph of Arimathea (a small Jewish village thought to be 20 miles or so northwest from Jerusalem). He was a rich man, who fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9. He was described as a good and righteous member of the Sanhedrin council (Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50). He was a secret disciple of Jesus who did not consent with the religious leaders decision and action with the Lord, and he was looking for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 27:57, Luke 23:51, John 19:38). He was rightfully sacred for fear of the Jews, but he took courage by the will of God and asked Pilate’s permission to bury Jesus in his newly hewn tomb in which no one had ever been laid (Matthew 27:60, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:53). He and Nicodemus anointed the Lord for His burial and wrapped Him in a clean linen shroud and placed Him in the tomb quickly because it was the day of Preparation for the Sabbath. Nicodemus was also a ruler of the Jews in the Sanhedrin, and he was the one who came to Jesus seeking how to be saved in John 3 (John 19:39). Here we see evidence of his trusting in Jesus and the coming Kingdom that was not of this world.

-In addition, Pilate, we see from the Scriptures, is surprised that Jesus was already dead in a matter of hours. With all the events of the day, which he more than likely witnessed, including the time of darkness, the earthquake, and the torn veil, he was probably wondering how they could have so quickly carried out an execution. Mark is the gospel writer who gives us the perplexity of Pilate when asked for permission for the body of Jesus. This gospel writer states how Pilate even questioned the centurion as to the genuineness of Christ’s death, which is even more proof of the physical passing of Christ from this earth.

-Jesus was laid in the garden tomb, which was very close in proximity to the place where He was crucified again for the reason of expediency due to the coming Sabbath (John 19:42). The stone was rolled to cover the grave to complete the process. This whole sequence was orchestrated and carried out ultimately by the Hand of God in amazing fashion to fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures prophetically. It is as if God had seen the whole drama play out beforehand (which He actually did). Here we see the transcendent nature of the LORD at this pivotal time in human history. God, who is outside of time, works in our earthly order to bring about His plans and purposes for salvation. The fulfillment of these prophecies to the exact degree gives us reliable reason to have faith and trust in His authority over all things. *Application* When we actually sit and contemplate how amazing all this is, we should be astonished and amazed with a heart of worship for this incomparable God of glory.

-The women, particularly Mary Magdalene and Mary (the mother of James and John), were watching to see where they laid the Savior. They along with other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee had been watching the whole scene at a distance and returned to prepare spices and ointments for His deceased body. They rested on the Sabbath and would return on the first day of the week to find the most incredible event of history! *Application* Consider the facts of Christ’s actual death today and believe in the supernatural. This was the power of God to save the world and we must believe in His work.

-The religious leaders, the chief priests and Pharisees, went on the Sabbath to Pilate with concerns about the disciples stealing the body of Jesus due to His claims that He would rise in three days. From this statement we can see that the message Christ gave before His death on resurrection was clear, even to the pompous and arrogant leaders of the Jewish manmade traditional system of the time. Jesus had effectively and accurately perpetuated His true gospel so that there was no doubt as to what He had said and what He meant. Christ’s ultimate sign was obvious (Matthew 12:38-42, Luke 11:16-32, John 2:18-21) and these doubting men wanted to make every effort to avoid heresy and fraud by what they thought to be an impostor, which is understandable.

-Pilate gave them a group of guard soldiers, presumably the same military guard assigned to oversee the temple area security, to make the tomb as secure as possible. So they went and sealed the stone over the grave of the Lord and set guards over it (Matthew 27:66; 28:4). After the resurrection, these men were paid off to keep the raising of Jesus a secret, which was widely reported in the region (Matthew 28:11-15).

-*Application* The incident with the guards is yet another opportunity missed to receive the truth of the gospel for the religious leadership. It is kicking against the pricks and foolish to be faced with such an obvious truth, yet reject it. We should not have stubborn hearts in pride that are hard and inflexible. When God reveals Himself to you, don’t rationalize and talk yourself out of His miracles. It is easier to do than we think. Receive all His Spirit has for you and accept His Word spoken over you for fullness of joy. Don’t be like these religious leaders who never could understand the ways of the Lord and made excuses until it was too late.

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