Matthew 27

Chapter 27

Jesus Is Handed Over to Pilate.[a] 1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in council to decide how to put him to death. 2 They bound him and led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Judas Hangs Himself.[b] 3 When Judas discovered that Jesus, whom he betrayed, had been condemned he was seized with a sense of remorse, and he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” They replied, “Of what importance is that to us? That is your responsibility.” 5 Flinging the silver pieces into the temple, he departed. Then he went off and hanged himself.

6 The chief priests retrieved the silver coins and said, “It is not lawful for us to deposit this into the temple treasury, for it is blood money.” 7 They conferred together, and then used it to purchase the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 This is the reason why that field to this very day is called the Field of Blood.

9 Thus was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:[c]

“And they took the thirty pieces of silver,
the price set on his head by the people of Israel,
10 and they used them to purchase the potter’s field
as the Lord had commanded me.”

11 Jesus Is Questioned by Pilate.[d]Meanwhile, Jesus was brought into the presence of the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said so.”[e] 12 And when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he offered no reply. 13 Pilate then said to him, “Have you not heard how many charges they have brought against you?” 14 But he did not offer a single word in response, much to the governor’s amazement.[f]

15 Jesus Is Sentenced to Death. Now on the occasion of the feast, the governor’s custom was to release to the people one prisoner whom they had designated. 16 At that particular time, they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. 17 Therefore, after the people had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which man do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed him over.

19 While he was still seated on the judge’s bench, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man. I have been greatly troubled today by a dream that I had about him.”[g]

20 Meanwhile, the chief priests and the elders had persuaded the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 Therefore, when the governor asked them, “Which of the two men do you want me to release to you?” they shouted, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate asked them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them shouted, “Let him be crucified!” 23 He asked, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they only screamed all the louder, “Let him be crucified!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was about to occur, he took some water and washed his hands[h] in full view of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility.” 25 With one voice the entire crowd cried out, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”[i] 26 He then released Barabbas to them, and after Jesus had been scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

27 Jesus Is Crowned with Thorns.[j] Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they placed it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. Then, bending the knee before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They also spat upon him and, taking the reed, used it to strike him on the head. 31 And when they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of the robe, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him away to crucify him.

32 The Way of the Cross. As they went out, they encountered a man from Cyrene,[k] named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

33 Jesus Is Crucified on Calvary. When they came to a place called Golgotha, which means the Place of the Skull,[l] 34 they offered him some wine to drink that had been mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink the mixture.[m] 35 And after they had crucified him,[n] they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down there to keep guard over him. 37 Above his head was inscribed the charge against him: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Two thieves were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left.[o]

39 Those people who passed by jeered at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who claimed you could destroy the temple and rebuild it within three days, save yourself! If you truly are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

41 In much the same way, the chief priests, together with the scribes and the elders, joined in the mockery, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself. If he is the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusted in God; now let God deliver him if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 The thieves who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

45 Jesus Dies on the Cross.[p] Beginning at midday, there was darkness over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock[q] Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47 On hearing this, some of the bystanders said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 One of them immediately ran off to get a sponge, which he soaked in vinegar, put on a stick, and gave to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait! Let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 Then Jesus again cried out in a loud voice and gave up his spirit.

51 And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and rocks were split apart. 52 The tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.[r] 54 Now when the centurion and those who were keeping watch over Jesus with him witnessed the earthquake and all that was happening, they were terrified, and they said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

55 Many women were also present, looking on from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered to him. 56 Among these were Mary Magdalene,[s] Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57 Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb.[t] When evening came, there arrived a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus. So Pilate ordered that it be handed over to him.

59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb that he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled an immense stone against the entrance of the tomb and departed. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.

62 The Guard at the Tomb. The next day, on the morning after the preparation day,[u] the chief priests and the Pharisees came to Pilate in a group 63 and said to him, “Your Excellency, we recall that while he was still alive, this impostor said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ 64 Therefore, issue orders that the tomb be kept under surveillance until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may go there and steal his body, and then tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This final deception would be worse than the first.”

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go and make the grave as secure as you can.” 66 And so they went forth and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and posting a guard.

Footnotes

  1. Matthew 27:1 According to Matthew and Mark, the members of the Sanhedrin came together officially for a second time in the morning to pronounce the sentence of condemnation. In the light of a different scenario found in Luke and John, scholars believe it is more probable that during the night Jesus appeared before Annas for a private interrogation and then was brought to Caiaphas. In the morning he appeared before the Sanhedrin, where he was declared deserving of death. The Jewish tribunal did not have the power over life and death. Therefore, Jesus was led before Pontius Pilate, who from A.D. 26 to 36 was the governor (procurator) in Judea, which passed into the direct dominion of Rome in A.D. 6.
  2. Matthew 27:3 This story is typical of Matthew’s style; the sad incident suggests to him various references to the Scriptures (Zec 11:12-13; Jer 18:2-3; 32:6-15). The memory of Judas was a burden to the early Christians (see Acts 1:16-20).
  3. Matthew 27:9 Spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: the statement actually comes from Zec 11:12, 13. However, the Hebrew canon of Scripture was divided into three sections: The Law, The Writings, and The Prophets (see Lk 24:44). Since Jeremiah came first in the order of the Prophetic Books, the Prophets were at times collectively referred to by his name.
  4. Matthew 27:11 For a second time (the wise men were the first to use the title, Mt 2:1-12), Jesus is called “King of the Jews,” and once again it is a pagan who gives him the title. The governor says he is convinced of the innocence of Jesus (see Deut 21:6), but he yields to the insistence of the Jewish authorities.
  5. Matthew 27:11 The members of the Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus because of his claim to be a transcendent and superhuman Messiah. Now before Pilate, they cleverly laicize the accusation, portraying Jesus as a dangerous political instigator opposed to the Roman domination. The whole trial is begun on the alleged kingship of Jesus.
  6. Matthew 27:14 The silence of Jesus recalls the attitude of the Servant of the Lord, who like a lamb does not open his mouth in the face of those who shear him (Isa 53:7).
  7. Matthew 27:19 A Gentile woman declares Jesus’ innocence. By a dream: for Matthew, dreams are the means of communication from God (1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22).
  8. Matthew 27:24 Washed his hands: this gesture of Pilate was in use among the Jews (see Deut 21:6) and among other peoples. However, this symbolic action does not exempt the Roman procurator of his responsibility. He has acknowledged the innocence of the accused yet has condemned him.
  9. Matthew 27:25 The nation accepts the responsibility for Jesus’ death. The Second Vatican Council has declared that the guilt for Jesus’ death is not attributable to all the Jews of his day or to any Jews of later times. We are responsible for Jesus’ death. He died for our sins.
  10. Matthew 27:27 Jesus is delivered up to suffering, misunderstanding, ridicule. “He was despised and shunned by others, a man of sorrows, who was no stranger to suffering”; “I did not shield my face from insults and spitting” (Isa 53:3; 50:6). The praetorium was the residence of the Roman governor.
  11. Matthew 27:32 Cyrene: a Greek colony on the Libyan coast; a large Jewish community lived there. See note on Mk 15:21.
  12. Matthew 27:33 Skull (Latin: calvaria): a rounded, rocky elevation, about fifteen feet high. It was a former quarry that functioned as a garbage dump.
  13. Matthew 27:34 The wine mixed with gall was meant to alleviate suffering.
  14. Matthew 27:35 Crucified him: crucifixion was an excruciating means of execution that the Romans had borrowed from Persians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians. The victims were nailed to a cross by means of heavy wrought-iron nails driven through their wrists and heels. Most hung on the cross for days before dying of suffocation (when the legs were no longer able to support the body, the diaphragm was constricted and breathing became impossible). Although the pain would be unbearable as the hours dragged on, some did linger and had to have their legs broken to hasten death (see Jn 19:33). The recent discovery of the bones of a crucified man, near Jerusalem, dating between A.D. 7 and 66, sheds light on the position of those nailed to the cross. A few late manuscripts add here: “lots,” so that the word spoken by the Prophet might be fulfilled: ‘They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots’ ” (Ps 22:19).
  15. Matthew 27:38 The crucifixion between two thieves recalls the prophecy of Isa 53:12: “He was counted among the transgressors.”
  16. Matthew 27:45 Everything proclaims that the Son of God, dying on the cross, is triumphant over the forces of the world and of death; the old covenant is finished, and the time is coming when the kingdom will be open to all human beings (see Heb 9:12; 10:20; Ezek 37; Dan 12:2; Rev 21).
  17. Matthew 27:46 Midday . . . three o’clock: literally, “the sixth hour” . . . “the ninth hour.” Psalm 22, whose first verse is here invoked by Jesus, recapitulates all the sufferings of the just people in the Old Testament. It clearly expresses their extreme anguish but also their certainty of final vindication.
  18. Matthew 27:53 The phenomena that accompany the death of Jesus evoke the apocalyptic literary genre of the Day of the Lord. In fact, according to the evangelists, that day corresponds with the day of the death of Jesus, which signals the beginning of the new era. Because of the obscurity of this language it is difficult to determine the historicity of the resurrection of some dead people mentioned here. Some Fathers of the Church and exegetes believe this passage refers to the liberation from limbo of the just of the Old Testament, who then enter with Jesus into the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem.
  19. Matthew 27:56 Magdalene: “Of Magdala,” a place on the west side of Lake Tiberias, near Capernaum.
  20. Matthew 27:57 The story of the burial provided by a rich man certainly recalls Isaiah’s prophecy of the Servant (53:9 LXX). See also note on Mk 15:42-47.
  21. Matthew 27:62 Preparation day: this was Friday, the day on which the meal was prepared for the Sabbath, which was a day of complete rest.

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