Matthew 27, Part 1

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Delivered to Pilate

Matthew 27:1–2 ESV
1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
The hasty gathering of the Sanhedrin recorded in 26:57–68 served only to bring the case to a preliminary decision. At this gathering was a fuller representation of the seventy members than they were able to gather on short notice the night before. This gathering broke their own law that required an intervening day before passing sentence.
Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin. They had met the evening before in a hastily called meeting to put Christ on trial for His life. They had secured the false witnesses and charges they sought. Now, in these verses, they are seen meeting to formulate the charges in such a way that the Romans would be forced to condemn Christ.
They hurriedly bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. The king experienced another in a series of betrayals—this time by the so-called spiritual leaders of his own people. Matthew made no mention throughout the entire Jewish trial process of the Pharisees or Sadducees. This was clearly a bipartisan effort. NOW, the leaders felt like it would be better to follow the “letter of the law”.
We then transition to Judas, as he approaches the chief priests and elders to bring back the blood money.

Judas Hangs Himself

Matthew 27:3–10 ESV
3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
Of the four Gospels, only Matthew includes this story in his Gospel, though a partial parallel appears in Acts 1:18–19.
Acts 1:18–19 ESV
18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
In addition to contrasting Judas with both Peter and Jesus, Matthew has created a triad of people who shed “innocent blood”—Judas, Pilate, and the Jewish crowds. This section also fills a conspicuous gap in Mark, who never narrates the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction of this traitor’s fate.
Judas did repent, but his repentance was a worldly repentance, not a godly repentance. Judas saw his sin; he saw Jesus condemned. Note the words, “When he saw that he [Christ] was condemned.” It was seeing Jesus so unjustly condemned that caused Judas to do what he now did. He knew Christ, how good Christ was. He did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, but he knew that Jesus was a tremendously good man, and he knew that it was because of his sin that Jesus was being condemned to death. He felt boiling up within him an intense remorse and grief, the sense of being all alone, even without God, and a sense of not knowing what to do. It was too much, more than he could bear. He felt he would explode if he did not get relief of soul and some deliverance.
(Note: Judas knew the religionists were seeking to kill Jesus. Apparently many knew of the plot (Jn. 5:18; 7:1, 19–20).
John 5:18 ESV
18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
John 7:1 ESV
1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.
John 7:19–20 ESV
19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”
This was the very reason Judas went to the authorities and betrayed Christ into their hands. Some say there is a possibility that he thought sufficient charges could never be formulated against Christ. However, this is not likely, and Scripture gives no hint of this possibility.)
Judas repented. However, he repented to the priests, not to God. Note the words “Judas … repented himself … to the chief priests and elders.” There is no mention of God at all. This was his mistake. Repentance means to change and to turn away from sin to God . Judas needed to change, to turn from his terrible sin. But he needed to turn to God, not to other men.
Judas made restitution. Judas did what God wants every man to do: make restitution for his sin. But he was too late. He should have made restitution while events could be changed. He should have shown a repentance to God and returned the money before Christ was condemned. It was too late now. Christ was already condemned and his life was doomed.
Going back to this morning, at the end of John 6 Jesus makes this statement: John 6:70
John 6:70 ESV
70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”
Jesus knew this must happen to fulfill the Will of God, and we should too. If it had not been Judas, it would have been someone else. Judas confessed, but he confessed to the priests not to God. Note Judas’ words, “I have sinned.” But he was speaking to the chief priests and elders, not to God. Note something important: Judas accepted personal responsibility for his sin; he blamed no one else. He said, “I have sinned.” His problem was that he went to men instead of going to God.
Judas was not helped, and he was left to himself. Judas felt guilt, for he had betrayed Christ. The religionists did not feel guilt for they saw Christ as a threat to their religion and nation. Therefore, in their minds, they were serving their religion (God) and their nation (God’s chosen people). If Judas were bothered with a guilty conscience, he was a fool. They had no time, especially right now in the busyness of the moment. They did not have time to be concerned with a guilt stricken fool who could not see the good he had done in helping his nation and religion. Note the words of the religionists to Judas, and keep in mind that Judas was a man who was desperately crying out for help: “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”
Judas threw the money at the feet of the priests. This was an act of frustration and anger, of hopelessness and helplessness. What could he do? The religionists were not going to change their verdict against Christ. Neither were they going to help him in his desperate need. In his mind, there was no one to help. He was stricken with guilt, standing all alone with no hand to help. Hopelessness and helplessness set in. In anger against the priests, he threw the blood money into the court at the feet of the priests and raced out of the temple into the streets of the city. He passed through the city gate into the country, seeking to escape his gnawing conscience, the glare of human eyes, and the haunting face of Him whom he had betrayed.
Judas fell into utter despair and hung himself. He was gripped by guilt, grief, despair, and helplessness. He was haunted and saw no hope. Left alone with his thoughts, he felt his sin was too terrible to be forgiven. He felt God could never forgive him for so great a sin. So he took his belt, and as Peter seems to indicate, tied it to an overhanging rock on a mountain precipice and hung himself. The belt broke and Judas fell headlong, bursting his body asunder (Ac. 1:18).
Note a significant fact: Judas’ sin was not unpardonable. He could have been forgiven.
These verses show just how the chief priests took their religion and twisted it to suit their own desires. The corruption of their lives and religion is clearly seen. They were inconsistent in both their behavior and their religious rules. They held the position of serving God, yet they sought false witnesses against an innocent man and condemned Him to death. They claimed to be the servants of God, yet they turned away from ministering to a man (Judas) in desperate need. Neither their behavior nor their religion matched their profession. Their corruption is also seen in their deception. They tried to hide their evil by public service. They took the blood-money of Judas and purchased land for a public cemetery. The purpose of the religionists seems clear. They had hoped that such a service to the public would help in quieting any grumbling over the death of Christ. But note: their scheme failed. The public, discovering through talk and rumor that the field had been purchased with the blood-money of Jesus’ betrayer, began to call the cemetery “the field of blood.”

Jesus Before Pilate

Matthew 27:11–14 ESV
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Pilate: the procurator of Judaea. He was directly responsible to the Emperor for the administrative and financial management of the country. A man had to work himself up through the political and military ranks to become a procurator. Pilate was, therefore, an able man, experienced in the affairs of politics and government as well as the military. He had held office for ten years, which shows that he was deeply trusted by the Roman government. However, the Jews despised Pilate, and Pilate despised the Jews; in particular, he despised their intense practice of religion. When Pilate became procurator of Judaea, he did two things that aroused the people’s bitter hatred against him forever. First, on his state visits to Jerusalem, he rode into the city with the Roman standard, an eagle sitting atop a pole. All previous governors had removed the standard because of the Jews’ opposition to idols. Second, Pilate launched the construction of a new water supply for Jerusalem. To finance the project, he took the money out of the temple treasury. The Jews never forgot nor forgave this act. They bitterly opposed Pilate all through his reign, and he treated them with equal contempt (see note—Mk. 15:9). On several occasions, Jewish leaders threatened to exercise their right to report Pilate to the emperor. This, of course, disturbed Pilate greatly, causing him to become even more bitter and contemptuous toward the Jews.
Pilate (the indecisive man) rejected the Lord’s clear confession. Paul refers to the Lord’s strong confession before Pilate: “Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession” (1 Ti. 6:13). Note the strength of that confession.
a. Jesus’ strong, straightforward claim: He is King. This is one of the charges brought against Christ, that He claimed to be a King.
Luke 23:2 ESV
2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
Pilate, somewhat surprised, reacted scornfully, asking Christ: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” Christ strongly claimed He was King: “Thou hast said”.
b. Jesus’ strong, controlled behavior: under severe accusation, Jesus was silent and purposed (see Is. 53:7).
Isaiah 53:7 ESV
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
The religionists, fitfully aroused, accused and accused Jesus, yet He remained silent. Note His control and nobility. (a) He knew there was no need to argue with a closed-minded person. He would not dignify their behavior by being drawn into argument with them. (b) He was purposed to do God’s will by dying for the sins of the world. His hour to die had come. There was no need to argue, no need to try to escape death by argument. The depth of man’s depravity was to be demonstrated for now. He would be noble: silent, purposed in His behavior.
c. Jesus’ strong, enduring purpose: under repeated questioning He endured. Apparently Pilate wished to release Jesus (see v.18). He knew Jesus was innocent and to release Him would be a way to get at these contemptible religionists. Thus Pilate tried to get Jesus to answer the charges. He did not understand why Jesus would not answer, what Jesus was doing. All Jesus did was stand there, silent, portraying an image of strength, of some enduring purpose. But Pilate was unable to grasp its meaning.
d. Jesus’ impact: Pilate was impressed, but still indecisive. He marvelled at Jesus’ claim to be King and at His silence. Yet he still lacked the courage to make the right decision. He still wavered under the pressure of the accusers and failed to release Jesus.
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