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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at sacred-texts.com


Matthew Chapter 27

Matthew 27:1

mat 27:1

Jesus is brought before Pilate - See also Mar 16:1; Luk 23:1; Joh 18:28.

When the morning was come - This was not long after Jesus had been condemned by the Sanhedrin.

Peter's last denial was probably not far from three o'clock a. m., or near the break of day. As soon as it was light, the Jews consulted together for the purpose of taking his life. The sun rose at that season of the year in Judea not far from five o'clock a. m., and the time when they assembled, therefore, was not long after Peter's denial.

The chief priests and elders of the people took counsel - They ned on his trial Mat 26:65-66 agreed that he deserved to die, "on a charge of blasphemy;" yet they did not dare to put him to death by stoning, as they did afterward Stephen Acts 7, and as the law commanded in case of blasphemy, for they feared the people. They therefore "consulted," or took counsel together, to determine on what pretence they could deliver him to the Roman emperor, or to fix some charge of a civil nature by which Pilate might be induced to condemn him. The charge which they fixed on was not that on which they had tried him, and on which they had determined he ought to die, but "that of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar," Luk 23:2. On this accusation, if made out, they supposed Pilate could be induced to condemn Jesus. On a charge of "blasphemy" they knew he could not, as that was not an offence against the Roman laws, and over which, therefore, Pilate claimed no jurisdiction.

To put him to death - To devise some way by which he might be put to death under the authority of the Roman governor.

Matthew 27:2

mat 27:2

And when they had bound him - He was "bound" when they took him in the garden, Joh 18:12. Probably when he was tried before the Sanhedrin in the palace of Caiaphas, he had been loosed from his bonds, being there surrounded by multitudes, and supposed to be safe. As they were about to lead him to another part of the city now, they again bound him. The binding consisted, probably, in nothing more than tying his hands.

Pontius Pilate, the governor - The governor appointed by the Romans over Judea. The governor commonly resided at Caesarea; but he came up to Jerusalem usually at the great feasts, when great numbers of the Jews were assembled, to administer justice, and to suppress tumults if any should arise. The "title" which Pilate received was that of "governor or procurator." The duties of the office were, chiefly, to collect the revenues due to the Roman emperor, and in certain cases to administer justice. Pilate was appointed governor of Judea by Tiberius, then Emperor of Rome. John says Joh 18:28 that they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment - that is, to the part of the "praetorium," or governor's palace, where justice was administered. The Jews did not, however, enter in themselves, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. In Num 19:22 it is said that whosoever touched an unclean thing should be unclean. For this reason they would not enter into the house of a pagan, lest they should contract some defilement that would render them unfit to keep the Passover.

Matthew 27:3

mat 27:3

Then Judas, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself - This shows that Judas did not suppose that the affair would have resulted in this calamitous manner. He probably expected that Jesus would work a miracle to deliver himself, and not suffer this condemnation to come upon him. When he saw him taken, bound, tried, and condemned - when he saw that all probability that he would deliver himself was taken away - he was overwhelmed with disappointment, sorrow, and remorse. The word rendered "repented himself," it has been observed, does not of necessity denote a change "for the better," but "any" change of views and feelings. Here it evidently means no other change than that produced by the horrors of a guilty conscience, and by deep remorse for crime at its unexpected results. It was not saving repentance. That leads to a holy life this led to an increase of crime in his own death. True repentance leads the sinner to the Saviour. This led away from the Saviour to the gallows. Judas, if he had been a true penitent, would have come then to Jesus; would have confessed his crime at his feet, and sought for pardon there. But, overwhelmed with remorse and the conviction of vast guilt, he was not willing to come into his presence, and added to the crime of treason that of self-murder. Assuredly such a man could not be a true penitent.

Matthew 27:4

mat 27:4

I have sinned - I have been guilty. I have done wrong.

In that I have betrayed the innocent blood - That is, in betraying an innocent being to death. Blood is put here for "life," or for the "man." The meaning is, that he knew and felt that Jesus was innocent. This confession is a remarkable proof that Jesus was innocent. Judas had been with him for three years. He had seen him in public and private; he had heard his public teaching and his private views; he had seen him in all circumstances; and if he had done anything evil, or advanced anything against the Roman emperor, Judas was competent to testify it. Had he known any such thing he would have stated it. His testimony, being a disciple of Jesus, would have been to the chief priests far more valuable than that of any other man; and he might not only have escaped the horrors of a troubled conscience and an awful death, but have looked for an ample reward. That he did not make such a charge that he fully and frankly confessed that Jesus was innocent - and that he gave up the ill-gotten price of treason, is full proof that, in the belief of Judas, the Saviour was free from crime, and even the suspicion of crime.

What is that to us? - This form of speaking denoted that they had nothing to do with his remorse of conscience, and his belief that Jesus was innocent. They had secured what they wanted - the person of Jesus - and they cared little now for the feelings of the traitor. So all wicked men who make use of the agency of others for the accomplishment of crime or the gratification of passion care little for the effect on the instrument. They will soon cast him off and despise him, and in thousands of instances the instruments of villainy and the panders to the pleasures of others are abandoned to remorse, wretchedness, crime, and death.

Matthew 27:5

mat 27:5

And he cast down ... - This was an evidence of his remorse of conscience for his crime. His ill-gotten gain now did him no good. It would not produce relief to his agonized mind. He "attempted," therefore, to obtain relief by throwing back the price of treason; but he attempted it in vain. The consciousness of guilt was fastened to his soul; and Judas found, as all will find, that to cast away or abandon ill-gotten wealth will not alleviate a guilty conscience.

In the temple - It is not quite certain what part of the temple is here meant. Some have thought that it was the place where the Sanhedrin were accustomed to sit; others, the treasury; others, the part where the priests offered sacrifice. It is probable that Judas cared little or thought little to what particular part of the temple he went. In his deep remorse he hurried to the temple, and probably cast the money down in the most convenient spot, and fled to some place where he might take his life.

And went and hanged himself - The word used in the original, here, has given rise to much discussion, whether it means that he was suffocated or strangled by his great grief, or whether he took his life by suspending himself. It is acknowledged on all hands, however, that the latter is its most usual meaning, and it is certainly the most obvious meaning. Peter says, in giving an account of the death of Jesus Act 1:18, that Judas, "falling headlong, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." There has been supposed to be some difficulty in reconciling these two accounts, but there is really no necessary difference. Both accounts are true. Matthew records the mode in which Judas attempted his death by hanging. Peter speaks of the result. Judas probably passed out of the temple in great haste and perturbation of mind. He sought a place where he might perpetrate this crime.

He would not, probably, be very careful about the fitness or the means he used. In his anguish, his haste, his desire to die, he seized upon a rope and suspended himself; and it is not at all remarkable, or indeed unusual, that the rope might prove too weak and break. Falling headlong - that is, on his face - he burst asunder, and in awful horrors died - a double death, with double pains and double horrors - the reward of his aggravated guilt. The explanation here suggested will be rendered more probable if it be supposed that he hung himself near some precipitous valley. "Interpreters have suggested," says Professor Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, pp. 275, 276), "that Judas may have hung himself on a tree near a precipice over the valley of Hinnom, and that, the limb or rope breaking, he fell to the bottom, and was dashed to pieces by the fall. For myself, I felt, as I stood in this valley and looked up to the rocky terraces which hang over it, that the proposed explanation was a perfectly natural one. I was more than ever satisfied with it. I measured the precipitous, almost perpendicular walls in different places, and found the height to be, variously, 40, 36, 33, 30, and 25 feet. Trees still grow quite near the edge of these rocks, and, no doubt, in former times were still more numerous in the same place. A rocky pavement exists, also, at the bottom of the ledges, and hence on that account, too, a person who should fall from above would be liable to be crushed and mangled as well as killed. The traitor may have struck, in his fall, upon some pointed rock, which entered the body and caused 'his bowels to gush out.'"

Matthew 27:6

mat 27:6

It is not lawful ... - It was forbidden Deu 23:18 to take what was esteemed as an abomination and to offer it to God. The price of blood - that is, of the life of a man - they justly considered as an improper and unlawful offering.

The treasury - The "treasury" was kept in the court of the women. See plan of the temple, Mat 21:12. It was composed of a number of small "chests" placed in different parts of the "courts" to receive the voluntary offerings of the people, as well as the half shekel required of every Jew. The original word rendered here as "treasury" contains the notion of an "offering to God." What was given there was considered as an offering made to him.

The price of blood - The life is in the "blood." See the notes at Rom 3:25. The word "blood" here means the same as "life." The price of blood means the price by which the life of a man has been purchased. This was an acknowledgment that in their view Jesus was innocent. They had bought him, not condemned him justly. It is remarkable that they were so scrupulous now about so small a matter, comparatively, as putting this money in the treasury, when they had no remorse about "murdering an innocent" man, and crucifying him who had given full evidence that he was the Messiah. People are often very scrupulous in "small" matters, who stick not at great crimes.

Matthew 27:7

mat 27:7

And they took counsel ... - They consulted among themselves about the proper way to dispose of this money.

And bought with them - In Act 1:18, it is said of Judas that "he purchased a field with the reward of his iniquity." By the passage in the Acts is meant no more than that he "furnished the means" or "was the occasion" of purchasing the field. It is not of necessity implied that Judas actually made the contract and paid down the money to buy a field to bury strangers in - a thing which would be in itself very improbable, but that it was "by his means" that the field was purchased. It is very frequent in the Scriptures, as well as in other writings, to represent a man as doing that which he is only the cause or occasion of another's doing. See Act 2:23; Joh 19:1; Mat 27:59-60.

The potter's field - Probably this was some field well known by that name, which was used for the purpose of making earthen vessels. The price paid for a field so near Jerusalem may appear to be very small; but it is not improbable that it had been worked until the clay was exhausted, and was neither suitable for that business nor for tillage, and was therefore considered as of little value.

To bury strangers in - Jews, who came up from other parts of the world to attend the great feasts at Jerusalem. The high priests, who regarded the "Gentiles" as abominable, would not be inclined to provide a burial-place for them.

Matthew 27:8

mat 27:8

The field of blood - The field purchased by the price of blood. The name by which this field was called was "Aceldama," Act 1:19. It was just without the walls of Jerusalem, on the south of Mount Zion. It is now used as a burying-place by the Armenian Christians in Jerusalem, who have a magnificent convent on Mount Zion - Missionary Herald, 1824, p. 66. See the plan of Jerusalem.

To this day - That is, to the day when Matthew wrote this gospel, about 30 years after the field was purchased.

Matthew 27:9

mat 27:9

Spoken by Jeremy the prophet - The words quoted here are not to be found in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Words similar to these are recorded in Zac 11:12-13, and from that place this quotation has been doubtless made. Much difficulty has been experienced in explaining this quotation. In ancient times, according to the Jewish writers; "Jeremiah" was reckoned the first of the prophets, and was placed first in the "Book of the Prophets," thus: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve minor prophets. Some have thought that Matthew, quoting this place, quoted the Book of the Prophets under the name of that which had the "first" place in the book, that is, Jeremiah; and though the words are those of Zechariah, yet they are quoted correctly as the words of the Book of the Prophets, the first of which was Jeremiah. Others have thought that there was a mistake made by ancient transcribers, writing the name Jeremiah instead of Zechariah; and it is observed that this might be done by the change of only a single letter. It was often the custom to abridge words in writing them. Thus, instead of writing the name of Jeremiah in full, it would be written in Greek, "Iriou." So Zechariah would be written "Zion." By the mere change of Zinto I, therefore, the mistake might easily be made. Probably this is the correct explanation. Others have supposed that the words were "spoken by Jeremiah," and that "Zechariah" recorded them, and that Matthew quoted them as they were - the words of Jeremiah. The passage is not quoted literally; and by its being "fulfilled" is meant, probably, that the language used by Zechariah on a similar occasion would express also this event. See the notes at Mat 1:22-23. It was language appropriate to this occasion.

The price of him that was valued - That is, the price of him on whom a value was set. The word rendered "valued," here, does not, as often in our language, mean to "esteem," but to "estimate;" not to love, approve, or regard, but to fix a price on, to estimate the value of. This they considered to be thirty pieces of silver, "the common price of a slave."

They of the children of Israel did value - Some of the Jews, the leaders or priests, acting in the name of the nation.

Did value - Did estimate, or fix a price on.

Matthew 27:10

mat 27:10

And gave them - In Zechariah it is, I gave them. Here it is represented as being given by the priests. The meaning is not, however, different. It is, that this price "was given" for the potter's field.

As the Lord appointed me - That is, "commanded" me. The meaning of the place in Zechariah is this: He was directed to go to the Jews as a prophet - a pastor of the people. They treated him, as they had done others, with great contempt. He asks them to give him "his price" - that is, the price which they thought he and his pastoral labors were worth, or to show their estimate of his office. If they thought it of value, they were to pay him accordingly; if not, they were to "forbear" - that is, to give nothing. To show their "great contempt" of him and his office, and of God who had sent him, they gave him thirty pieces of silver - "the price of a slave." This God commanded or "appointed him" to give to the potter, or to throw into the pottery to throw away. So in the time of Jesus the same thing was substantially repeated. Jesus came as the Messiah. They hated and rejected him. To show their contempt of him and his cause, they valued him "at the price of a slave." This was thrown down in the temple, taken by the priests, and appropriated to the purchase of a field owned by a "potter" - worn-out land of little or no value; all showing at how low a price, through the whole transaction, the Son of God was estimated. Though the words quoted here are not precisely like those in Zechariah, yet the sense and general structure are the same.

Matthew 27:11

mat 27:11

And Jesus stood before the governor - Many things are omitted by Matthew, in the account of this trial, which are recorded by the other evangelists. A much more full account is found in Joh 18:28-40.

And the governor asked him ... - This question was asked On account of the "charge" which the Jews brought against Jesus, "of perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar," Luk 23:2. It was on this charge that, after consultation, they had agreed to arraign him before Pilate. See the notes at Mat 27:1. "They" had condemned him for "blasphemy," but they well knew that Pilate would altogether disregard an accusation of that kind. They therefore attempted to substitute a totally different accusation from that on which they had professed to find him guilty, to excite the jealousy of the Roman governor, and to procure his death on a charge of treason against the Roman emperor.

Thou sayest - That is, thou sayest right, or thou sayest the truth. We may wonder why the Jews, if they heard this confession, did not press it upon the attention of Pilate as a full confession of his guilt. It was what they had accused him of. But it might be doubtful whether, in the confusion, they heard the confession; or, if they did, Jesus took away all occasion of triumph by explaining to Pilate the "nature" of his kingdom, Joh 18:36. Though he acknowledged that he was a king, yet he stated fully that "his kingdom was not of this world," and that therefore it could not be alleged against him as treason against the Roman emperor. This was done "in the palace," apart from the Jews, and fully satisfied Pilate of his innocence, Joh 18:23.

Matthew 27:12

mat 27:12

When he was accused ... - To wit, of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, Luk 23:2, Luk 23:5. Probably this was done in a tumultuous manner and in every variety of form.

He answered nothing - He was conscious of his innocence. He knew that they could not prove these charges. They offered no testimony to prove them, and, in conscious innocence, he was silent.

Matthew 27:13

mat 27:13

They witness against thee - This means, rather, that they accused him. They were not "witnesses," but accusers. These accusations were repeated and pressed. They charged him with exciting the people, teaching throughout, all Judea from Galilee to Jerusalem, and exciting the nation to sedition, Luk 23:5.

Matthew 27:14

mat 27:14

To never a word - That is, not at all. He said nothing. This is, an emphatic way of saying that he answered nothing. There was no need of his replying. He was innocent, and they offered no proof of guilt. Besides, his appearance was full evidence in his favor. He was poor, unarmed, without powerful friends, and alone. His life had been public, and his sentiments were well known, and the charge had on the face of it the aspect of absurdity. It deserved, therefore, no answer.

Marvelled greatly - Wondered exceedingly, or was much surprised. He was probably more surprised that he bore this so meekly, and did not return railing for railing, than that he did not set up a defense. The latter was unnecessary - the former was unusual. The governor was not accustomed to see it, and was therefore greatly amazed.

It was at this time that Pilate, having heard them speak of Galilee Luk 23:5, asked if he was a Galilean. Having ascertained that he was, and being probably desirous of freeing himself from any further trouble in the affair, under pretence that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Jesus to Herod, who was then at Jerusalem attending the feast of the Passover, Luk 23:6-12. Herod, having examined him, and finding no cause of death in him, sent him back to Pilate. Pleased with the respect which had been shown him, Herod laid aside his enmity against Pilate, and they became friends. The cause of their friendship does not appear to be at all that they were united in opposing the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah, but the respect which Pilate had shown in sending Jesus to him.

Matthew 27:15

mat 27:15

See also the parallel places in Mar 15:6-14; Luk 23:17-23; Joh 18:39-40.

Mat 27:15

At that feast - The feast of the Passover.

The governor was wont to release ... - that is, was "accustomed" to release.

From what this custom arose, or by whom it was introduced, is not known. It was probably adopted to secure popularity among the Jews, and to render the government of the Romans less odious. Any little indulgence granted to the Jews during the heavy oppression of the Romans would serve to conciliate their favor, and to keep the nation from sedition. It might happen often that when persons were arraigned before the Romans on charge of sedition, some special favorite of the people, or some leader, might be among the number. It is evident that if they had the privilege of recovering such a person, it would serve much to allay their feelings, and make tolerable the yoke under which they groaned.

Mat 27:16

A notable prisoner - The word "notable" means one that is "distinguished" in any way either for great virtues or great crimes.

In this place it evidently means the latter He was perhaps the leader of a band who had been guilty of sedition, and had committed murder in an insurrection, Luk 23:19.

Mat 27:17

Whom will ye that I release ... - Pilate was satisfied of the innocence of Jesus, Luk 23:13-16

He was therefore desirous of releasing him. He expected to release one to the people. He knew that Jesus, though condemned by the chief priests, was yet popular among the people He therefore attempted in this manner to rescue him from the hands of the priests, and expected that the people would prefer Him to an odious and infamous robber and murderer. Had the people been left to themselves it would probably have been done.

Jesus, which is called Christ - That is, Jesus, who claims to be the Messiah. Pilate probably did not believe it, or care much for it. He used the name which Jesus had acquired among the people. Perhaps, also, he thought that they would be more likely to ask him to be released if he was presented to them as the Messiah. Mark Mar 15:9 adds that he asked them whether they would that he should release "the King of the Jews?" It is probable that he asked the question in both ways. Perhaps it was several times repeated, and Matthew has recorded one way in which it was asked, and Mark another. He asked them whether they would demand him who "was called the Christ," expecting that they would be moved by the claims of the Messiah - claims which, when he entered Jerusalem in triumph, and in the temple, they had acknowledged. He asked them whether they would have the "King of the Jews" probably to ridicule the priests who had delivered him on that charge. He did it to show the people how absurd the accusation was. There Jesus stood, apparently a poor, inoffensive, unarmed, and despised man. Herod had set him at naught and scourged him, and sent him back. The charge, therefore, of the priests, that he was a "king" opposed to the Roman emperor, was supremely ridiculous; and Pilate, expecting that the people would see it so, hoped also that they would ask that he might be released.

Mat 27:18

For he knew that for envy ... - This was envy at his popularity.

He drew away the people from them. This Pilate understood, probably, from his knowledge of the pride and ambition of the rulers, and from the fact that no danger could arise from a person that appeared like Jesus. If Pilate knew this, he was bound to release him himself. As a governor and judge, he was under obligation to protect the innocent, and should, in spite of all the opposition of the Jews, at once have set him at liberty. But the Scriptures could not then have been fulfilled. It was necessary, in order that an atonement should be made. that Jesus should be condemned to die. At the same time. it shows the wisdom of the overruling providence of God, that he was condemned by a man who was satisfied of his innocence, and who proclaimed before his accusers his "full belief" that there was no fault in him.

Mat 27:19

When he was set down on the judgment-seat - Literally, "While he was sitting." This message was probably received when he had resumed his place on the judgment-seat, after Jesus had been sent to Herod.

See the notes at Mat 27:14.

His wife sent unto him - The reason why she sent to him is immediately stated - that she had a dream respecting him. We know nothing more of her. We do not know whether she had ever seen the Saviour herself, but it would seem that she was apprised of what was taking place, and probably anticipated that the affair-would involve her husband in trouble.

Have thou nothing to do ... - That is, do not condemn him. Perhaps she was afraid that the vengeance of heaven would follow her husband and family if he condemned the innocent.

That just man - The word "just," here, has the sense of "innocent," or not guilty. She might have been satisfied of his innocence from other sources as well as from the dream.

I have suffered many things ... - Dreams were considered as indications of the divine will, and among the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, great reliance was placed on them. Her mind was probably agitated with the subject. She was satisfied of the innocence of Jesus; and, knowing that the Jews would make every effort to secure his condemnation, it was not unnatural that her mind should be excited during her sleep, perhaps with a frightful prospect of the judgments that would descend on the family of Pilate if Jesus was condemned. She therefore sent to him to secure, if possible, his release.

This day - It was now early in the morning. The Jewish "day" began at sunset, and she employed the usual language of the Jews respecting time. The dream was, in fact, in the night.

Mat 27:20

Persuaded the multitude - The release of a prisoner was to be to the people, not to the rulers.

The rulers, therefore, in order to secure the condemnation of Jesus, urged on the people to demand Barabbas. The people were greatly under the influence of the priests. Galileans among the citizens of Jerusalem were held in contempt. The priests turned the pretensions of Jesus into ridicule. Hence, in a popular tumult, among a flexible and changing multitude, they easily excited those who, but a little before, had cried Hosanna, to cry, Crucify him.

Mat 27:21

Whether of the twain? - Which of the two, Jesus or Barabbas?

Mat 27:23

And the governor said, Why? - Luke informs us that Pilate put this question to them "three times," so anxious was he to release him.

He affirmed that he had found no cause of death in him. He said, therefore, that he would chastise him and let him go. He expected, probably, by causing him to be publicly whipped, to excite their compassion, to satisfy "them," and thus to evade the demands of the priests, and to set him at liberty with the consent of the people. So weak and irresolute was this Roman governor! Satisfied of his innocence, he should at once have preferred "justice to popularity," and acted as became a magistrate in acquitting the innocent.

Let him be crucified - See the notes at Mat 27:39. Luke says they were instant with loud voices demanding this. They urged it. They demanded it with a popular clamor.

Matthew 27:24

mat 27:24

He took water ... - The Jews were accustomed to wash their hands when they wished to show that they were innocent of a crime committed by others. See Deu 21:6; Psa 26:6. Pilate, in doing this, meant to denote that they were guilty of his death, but that he was innocent. But the mere washing of his hands did not free him from guilt. He was "bound" as a magistrate to free an innocent man; and whatever might be the clamour of the Jews, "he" was guilty at the bar of God for suffering the holy Saviour to be led to execution, in order to gratify the malice of enraged priests and the clamors of a tumultuous populace.

See ye to it - That is, take it upon yourselves. You are responsible for it, if you put him to death.

Matthew 27:25

mat 27:25

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 Matt. 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.

Matthew 27:26

mat 27:26

And when he had scourged Jesus - See the notes at Mat 10:17. Among the Romans it was customary to scourge or whip a "slave" before he was crucified. This was done to inflict greater suffering. than crucifixion would be alone, and to add to the horrors of the punishment. Our Lord, being about to be put to death after the manner of a slave, was also treated as a slave as one of the lowest and most despised of mankind.

He delivered him to be crucified - Not merely gave him up to them to crucify him, as if they only were answerable, but he gave him up as a judge, when he ought to have saved his life and might have done it. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment; it was performed by Roman soldiers; Pilate pronounced the sentence from a Roman tribunal, and Pilate affixed the title to the cross. Pilate, therefore, as well as the Jews, was answerable to God for the death of the Savior of the world.

Matthew 27:27

mat 27:27

See also Mar 15:15-20; Joh 19:1-3.

Mat 27:27

Into the common hall - The original word here means, rather, the governor's palace or dwelling.

The trial of Jesus had taken place outside of the palace. The Jews would not enter in Joh 18:28, and it is probable that courts were held often in a larger and more public place than would be a room in his dwelling. Jesus, being condemned, was led by the soldiers away from the Jews "within" the palace, and subjected there to their profane mockery and sport.

The whole band - The "band" or cohort was a tenth part of a Roman legion, and consisted of from 400 to 600 men, according to the size of the legion. Compare the notes at Mat 8:29.

Mat 27:28

And they stripped him - That is, they either took off all his upper garments or removed all his clothing, probably the former.

A scarlet robe - Mark says they clothed him in "purple." The "scarlet" color was obtained from a species of fruit; "purple" from shell-fish.

See the notes at Isa 1:18. The ancients gave the name "purple" to any color that had a mixture of "red" in it, and consequently these different colors might be sometimes called by the same name. The "robe" used here was the same kind worn by Roman generals and other distinguished officers of the Roman army, and also by the Roman governors. It was made so as to be placed on the shoulders, and was bound around the body so as to leave the right arm at liberty. As we cannot suppose that Pilate would array him in a new and splendid robe, we must suppose that this was one which had been worn and cast off as useless, and was now used to array the Son of God as an object of ridicule and scorn.

Mat 27:29

Had platted - The word "platted" here means "woven together." They made a "wreath" of a thorn-bush.

A crown - Or perhaps, rather, a wreath.

A crown was worn by kings, commonly made of gold and precious stones. To ridicule the pretensions of Jesus that he was a king, they probably plucked up a thornbush growing near, made it into something resembling in shape a royal crown, so as to correspond with the old purple robe, and to complete the mockery.

Of thorns - What was the precise species of shrub denoted here is not certainly known. It was, however, doubtless, one of that species that has sharp points of very hard wood. They could therefore be easily pressed into the slain and cause considerable pain. Probably they seized upon the first thing in their way that could be made into a crown, and this happened to be a "thorn," thus increasing the sufferings of the Redeemer. Palestine abounds with thorny shrubs and plants. "The traveler finds them in his path, go where he may. Many of them are small, but some grow as high as a man's head. The Rabbinical writers say that there are no less than 22 words in the Hebrew Bible denoting thorny and prickly plants." Professor's Hackett's Illustrations of Scripture, p. 135. Compare Pro 24:30-31; Pro 15:19; Jer 4:3.

And a reed in his right hand - A reed is a straight, slender herb, growing in marshy places, and abundant on the banks of the Jordan. It was often used for the purpose of making staves for walking, and it is not improbable that this was such a staff in the possession of some person present. The word is several times thus used. See Kg2 18:21; Isa 36:6; Eze 29:6. Kings commonly carried a "sceptre," made of ivory or gold, as a sign of their office or rank, Est 4:11; Est 8:4. This "reed" or "staff" they put in his hand, in imitation of a "sceptre," to deride, also, his pretensions of being a king.

And they bowed the knee - This was done for mockery. It was an act of pretended homage. It was to ridicule his saying that he was a king. The common mode of showing respect or homage for kings was by kneeling or prostration. It shows amazing forbearance on the part of Jesus that he thus consented to be ridiculed and set at naught. No mere human being would have borne it. None but he who loved us unto death, and who saw the grand results that would come from this scene of sufferings, could have endured such mockery.

Hail, King of the Jews! - The term "hail" was a common mode of salutation to a king, or even to a friend. It implies, commonly, the highest respect for office as well as the person, and is an invocation of blessings. Here it was used to carry on what they thought to be the farce of his being a king; to ridicule in every possible way the pretensions of a poor, unattended, unarmed man of Nazareth, as if he was a weak impostor or was deranged.

Mat 27:30

And they spit upon him - This was a token of the deepest contempt and insult.

See the notes at Mat 26:67.

And took the reed - The cane, probably so large as to inflict a heavy blow.

And smote him on the head - Not merely to injure him by the force of the blow, but to press the "thorns" into his head, and thus to add cruelty to insult.

Matthew 27:31

mat 27:31

As they came out - That is, either out of the governor's palace where he had been treated with such cruelty and contempt, or out of the gates of the city, to crucify him.

A man of Cyrene - Cyrene was a city of Libya, in Africa, lying west of Egypt. There were many Jews there, and they were in the habit, like others, of going frequently to Jerusalem.

Him they compelled go bear his cross - John says Joh 19:17 that Jesus went forth "bearing his cross." Luke says Luk 23:26 that they laid the cross on Simon, that he might bear it after Jesus. There is no contradiction in these accounts. It was a part of the usual punishment of those who were crucified that they should bear their own cross to the place of execution. Accordingly, it was laid at first on Jesus, and he went forth, as John says, bearing it. Weak, however, and exhausted by suffering and watchfulness, he probably sunk under the heavy burden, and they laid hold of Simon that he might bear "one end" of the cross, as Luke says, "after Jesus." The cross was composed of two pieces of wood, one of which was placed upright in the earth, and the other crossed it after the form of the figure of a cross. The upright part was commonly so high that the feet of the person crucified were 2 or 3 feet from the ground.

On the middle of that upright part there was usually a projection or seat on which the person crucified sat, or, as it were, "rode." This was necessary, as the hands were not alone strong enough to bear the weight of the body; as the body was left exposed often many days, and not unfrequently suffered to remain till the flesh had been devoured by vultures or putrefied in the sun. The feet were fastened to this upright piece either by nailing them with large spikes driven through the tender part, or by being lashed by cords. To the cross-piece at the top, the hands, being extended, were also fastened, either by spikes or by cords, or perhaps, in some cases, by both. The hands and feet of our Saviour were both fastened by spikes. Crosses were also sometimes made in the form of the letter X, the limbs of the person crucified being extended to the four parts, and he suffered to die a lingering death in this cruel manner. The cross used in the Crucifixion of Christ appears to have been the former. The mention of the cross often occurs in the New Testament. It was the instrument on which the Saviour made atonement for the sins of the world. The whole of the Christian's hope of heaven, and all his peace and consolation in trial and in death, depend on the sacrifice there made for sin, and on just views and feelings in regard to the fact and the design of the Redeemer's death. See the notes at Joh 21:18.

Matthew 27:33

mat 27:33

Golgotha - This is a Hebrew word, signifying the place of a skull. This is the word which in Luke is called "Calvary." The original Greek, there, also means a skull. The word "calvary" is a Latin word meaning "skull," or place of "skulls." It is not known certainly why this name was given to this place. Some have supposed that it was because the mount resembled in shape a human skull. The most probable opinion, however, is that it was a place of execution; that malefactors were beheaded there or otherwise put to death, and that their bones remained unburied or unburned. Golgotha, or Calvary, was probably a small eminence on the northwest of Jerusalem, without the walls of the city, but at a short distance. Jesus was put to death out of the city, because capital punishments were not allowed within the walls. See Num 15:35; Kg1 21:13. This was a law among the Romans as well as the Jews. He also died there, because the bodies of the beasts slain in sacrifice as typical of him were "burned without the camp." He also, as the antitype, suffered "without the gate," Heb 13:11-12. The place which is shown as Calvary now is within the city, and must also have been within the ancient walls, and there is no reason to suppose that it is the place where the Saviour was put to death.

Matthew 27:34

mat 27:34

They gave him vinegar ... - Mark says that, "they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh." The two evangelists mean the same thing. Vinegar was made of light wine rendered acid, and was the common drink of the Roman soldiers, and this might be called either vinegar or wine in common language. "Myrrh" is a bitter substance produced in Arabia, but is used often to denote anything bitter. The meaning of the name is "bitterness." See the notes at Mat 2:11. "Gall" is properly a bitter secretion from the liver, but the word is also used to denote anything exceedingly "bitter," as wormwood, etc. The drink, therefore, was vinegar or sour wine, rendered "bitter" by the infusion of wormwood or some other very bitter substance. The effect of this, it is said, was to stupefy the senses. It was often given to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to the pains of death. Our Lord, knowing this, when he bad tasted it refused to drink. He was unwilling to blunt the pains of dying. The "cup" which his "Father" gave him he rather chose to drink. He came to suffer. His sorrows were necessary for the work of the atonement, and he gave himself up to the unmitigated sufferings of the cross. This was presented to him in the early part of his sufferings, or when he was about to be suspended on the cross. "Afterward," when he was on the cross and just before his death, vinegar was offered to him "without the myrrh" - the vinegar which the soldiers usually drank - and of this he drank. See Mat 27:49, and Joh 19:28-30. When Matthew and Mark say that he "would not drink," they refer to a different thing and a different time from John, and there is no contradiction.

Matthew 27:35

mat 27:35

And they crucified him - To "crucify" means to put to death on a cross. The "cross" has been described at Mat 27:32. The usual manner of the crucifixion was as follows: After the criminal had carried the cross, attended with every possible gibe and insult, to the place of execution, a hole was dug in the earth to receive the foot of it. The cross was laid on the ground; the person condemned to suffer was stripped and was extended on it, and the soldiers fastened the hands and feet either by nails or thongs. After they had driven the nails deeply in the wood, they elevated the cross with the agonizing sufferer on it, and, in order to fix it more firmly in the earth, they let it fall violently into the hole which they had dug to receive it. This sudden fall gave to the person that was nailed to it a violent and convulsive shock, and greatly increased his sufferings. The crucified person was then suffered to hang, commonly, until pain, exhaustion, thirst, and hunger ended his life. Sometimes the sufferings continued for days; and when friendly death terminated the life, the body was often suffered to remain - a loathsome object, putrefying in the sun or devoured by birds.

This punishment was deemed the most disgraceful and ignominious that was practiced among the Romans. It was the way in which slaves, robbers, and the most notorious and abandoned wretches were commonly put to death. It was this, among other things, that exposed those who preached the gospel to so much shame and contempt among the Greeks and Romans. They despised everything that was connected with the death of one who had been put to death as a slave and an outlaw.

Since it was the most ignominious punishment known, so it was the most painful. The following circumstances made it a death of special pain:

1. The position of the arms and the body was unnatural, the arms being extended back and almost immovable. The least motion gave violent pain in the hands and feet, and in the back, which was lacerated with stripes.

2. The nails, being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound with "nerves," created the most exquisite anguish.

3. The exposure of so many wounds to the air brought on a violent inflammation, which greatly increased the poignancy of the suffering.

4. The free circulation of the blood was prevented. More blood was carried out in the arteries than could be returned by the veins. The consequence was, that there was a great increase of blood in the veins of the head, producing an intense pressure and violent pain. The same was true of other parts of the body. This intense pressure in the blood-vessels was the source of inexpressible misery.

5. The pain gradually increased. There was no relaxation and no rest. There was no prospect but death. The sufferer was commonly able to endure it until the third, and sometimes even to the seventh day. The intense sufferings of the Saviour, however, were sooner terminated. This was caused, perhaps, in some measure, by his previous fatigue and exhaustion, but still more by the intense sufferings of his soul in bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows in making an atonement for the sins of the world.

And parted his garments - It was customary to crucify a person naked. The clothes of the sufferer belonged to those who were executioners. John says (Joh 19:23) that they divided his garments into four parts, to each soldier a part, but for his coat they cast lots. See the notes at the place. When Matthew says, therefore, that they parted his garments, casting lots, it is to be understood that they "divided" one part of them, and for the other part of them they cast lots.

That it might be fulfilled ... - The words here quoted are found in Psa 22:18. The whole psalm is usually referred to Christ, and is a most striking description of his sufferings and death.

Matthew 27:36

mat 27:36

They watched him there - That is, the four soldiers who had crucified him. They watched him lest his friends should come and release him.

Matthew 27:37

mat 27:37

And set up over his head - John says Joh 19:19 that Pilate wrote the title and put it upon the cross. Probably Pilate wrote it or caused it to be written, and directed the soldiers to set it up. A man is often said to do what he directs others to do. It was customary to set up over the heads of persons crucified the crime for which they suffered, and the name of the sufferer The accusation on which Jesus had been condemned by Pilate was his claiming to be the King of the Jews.

This is Jesus, the King of the Jews - The evangelists differ in the account of this title. Mark Mar 15:26 says it was, "The King of the Jews." Luke Luk 23:38, "This is the King of the Jews." John Joh 19:19, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." But the difficulty may be easily removed. John says that the title was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. It is not at all improbable that the inscription "varied" in these languages. One evangelist may have translated it from the Hebrew, another from the Greek, a third from the Latin, and a fourth may have translated one of the inscriptions a little differently from another. Besides, the evangelists all agree in the main point of the inscription, namely, that he was the King of the Jews.