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Matthew 27-28

July 24th, 2011 by Vic

“Final Promise”

Matthew 27-28

July 24, 2011

 

We looked at the crucifixion and resurrection a little on Easter Sunday.  I want to point out some additional events that may fill in some gaps.

 

During about a 5 hour period after Jesus’ arrest in the Garden there were 6 trials or interviews of Jesus: three were Jewish and three Roman.  John 18:12 says he was interviewed by Annas the former high priest.  Matthew 26 mentions a brief interview with Caiaphas, the current high priest.  Then the Sanhedrin interviews Him.  John 18:28 tells us of His interview with Pilate.  Luke tells us about His interview with Herod.  All 4 gospels mention the final interview with Pilate.

 

Matt 27:1-10

Jesus is turned over to the Romans because the Jews no longer had “the power of the scepter”.  Genesis 49:10 says, “The scepter will not depart from Judah… until He comes to whom it belongs.”  One commentator I read this week said that in A.D. 12 the Romans took the right of capital punishment away from the Jews.  Do you remember what happened when Jesus was 12 years old?

The OT prophets had talked of the curse of being hung on a tree.  They assumed that meant a rope hanging.  Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 60 B.C. because the earth was considered sacred to their god, Ormuzd, so the criminal was lifted up from the earth so he would not defile it.  In North Africa Rome learned about it and used it for the lowest type of criminal because it was so cruel.

 

Pilate, the governor, was in trouble.  When he was appointed governor he rode into Jerusalem on his first visit with eagles and the image of the Roman emperor on the flag poles.  A complaint was immediately sent to Rome.  Recently he decided that Jerusalem needed a better water supply so he constructed a new aqueduct with money from the Temple treasury.  Another complaint was sent to Rome.  One more valid complaint and he would be removed.  Early historians portray Pilate as a cruel, insensitive leader who hated the Jews.  We may see Pilate as weak, but he has just been rebuked for the aqueduct fiasco.  Rather than being ‘for’ Jesus he was definitely against the Jews.

 

Judas had a high degree of remorse and regret, but not repentance.  He went to the wrong people for forgiveness.  When we sin we break the heart of God.  We can pity Judas, but we cannot make a hero out of him.  Peter sinned and immediately sought forgiveness and found hope in his failure.

 

The Jewish leaders refuse to take responsibility for Judas’ sin.  They knew the money was contaminated and abhorrent to God, but they did not see themselves being like their money.

 

Verse 9 says this prophecy is from Jeremiah, but it is really from Zechariah 11.  Jeremiah was the major prophet who first spoke figuratively of the potter and the clay.  The Jews assumed Zechariah was quoting Jeremiah so to say Jeremiah prophesied this was not a contradiction to the Jew.

 

Matt 27:11-26

Jesus was asked by Pilate if He was the king of the Jews.  That is probably how the Jewish leaders had expressed the charge to Pilate.  Again Jesus answers, “Sort of” but did not explain himself further.  In fact Pilate recognized a dignity in His silence (Is 53:5-7).  Pilate knew what was right, but chose to please people rather than do what was right.

 

Barabbas is described as a notorious prisoner (16) and Jesus is described as that righteous man (19).  To be condemned to crucifixion meant that Barabbas was more dangerous than a thief or violent robber.  He was guilty of a capital offense like insurrection or rebellion.  He was probably scheduled for the middle cross.  He was called Jesus Barabbas.  Barabbas means the son of a father, probably the son of a famous rabbi.

 

Jesus Christ (Messiah) was probably also being accused of being a charlatan, blasphemer, and one who misleads the people to rebellion.

 

Pilate saw through the smoke screen but wanted to avoid another complaint.  He washed his hands to declare that he did not believe that Jesus had done anything deserving death.  Like the Jewish leaders (4) he refused to take responsibility (24).  His job description was to protect the innocent.  He got trapped in his divided loyalties and bungled compromises.  A mob mentality took control.  You can rationalize immorality in a big crowd.  You can smash windows and rob stores when the gang does.

 

Pilate asks (23), “What bad thing has He done?”  They couldn’t answer so they shouted.  The irony of this is that the very blood that they were asking for was the blood that could forgive them of the sin they were committing.  Sin sent Jesus to the cross.  Sin is forbidden because it is bad.  It is not bad because it is forbidden.

 

Matt 27:27-31

The irony here is that what the soldiers said was true.  These soldiers were Pilate’s bodyguard who had come with him from Caesarea.  They were fulfilling Scripture and did not know it.  Matthew points out that even these insignificant events were under God’s authority.

 

They were just doing their job.  They did not know that one day they would kneel before Jesus and confess Him as Lord.  I have a lot of sympathy for the soldiers.  They had to stay till everyone was dead.  Only they and the women stayed through it all.

 

The soldiers did not want to know who Jesus was.  It was easier to sleep at night if you were not personally involved with those who died.  Their crass humor was a defense mechanism.  They did not like themselves very much.

 

Normally a prisoner went naked to his place of execution, but maybe with so many families in town they did not want to offend Jewish sensibilities.

 

Matt 27:32-44

Matthew does not dwell on the details of the crucifixion, but on the activity of the soldiers.  There is no mention of a hill.  Crucifixion usually occurred along a main road.

 

Ironically the soldiers have no idea who Jesus really is.  There seems to be an assumption that something so unspeakable could never happen to one whom God loved.  Those who really trust in God, God will deliver them.  That is what the Scriptures say.  How could this man be the Messiah?

 

The point is not that Jesus could not come down from the cross but that he would not because he had chosen to do His Father’s will.

 

These events surrounding the cross were foretold by the prophets.

 

Matt 27:45-56

The world was dark from noon to 3 p.m.  This was not a normal crucifixion.  Darkness was a sign of judgment or displeasure of the gods for both the Jews and the Romans.

 

Jesus quotes the first verse of Psalm 22.  It was customary when a Rabbi quoted the 1st verse of a Psalm, the students would finish quoting that Psalm.  Psalm 22:6 mentions a tola worm.

The tola worm is quite rare and is normally only found in Israel and the surrounding areas.  In ancient and Old Testament times, the worm was actually harvested and used to dye the elaborate garments prescribed by God and worn by the Israelite priests, royal garments, and other temple decorations.

When several thousand of these grubs were mature; fully grown, then they were crushed to death.  Out of the crushed bodies of those grubs would flow a deep red blood, which was used for a dye.  When cloth or clothes were washed in this dye, they would be dyed a beautiful crimson red.  This lovely color never faded, and could never be washed out or removed.

The tola, like many insects, is a larvae first but in order to reproduce climbs onto a tree and attaches itself there.  In Israel, you will most commonly find them on the Israeli Oak trees.  The tola attaches itself and remains there until death whereby it leaves a scarlet stain on the tree.  But perhaps it’s biggest purpose on the tree is to lay it’s eggs.  As the tola dies, its sticky blood covers and incubates the eggs.  As the babies are hatched, the mature tola is there for the babies to eat.  All that remains is the scarlet, crimson stain on the tree.  Are you ready for the best part?

After 3 days, the scarlet stain dries and turns white and flakes off the tree like snow!

Isaiah 1:18-

“…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

This is why Jesus began quoting Psalm 22.

 

The death of Jesus signaled the ripping of the Temple veil and opened up a fresh access to God.  The Temple separation and secrecy was now obsolete.  We can now see the real love of God.  Jesus has established the new covenant.  It is interesting that during the early morning trial the high priest had ripped his robe as a sign of disgust at Jesus’ perceived blasphemy.  Now God rips the Temple curtain because of the blasphemy of the priests.

 

When Jesus died, the earth and soldiers were shaken.  There is both irony and tragedy in the statement made by Roman soldiers.   This is what the religious leaders should have been confessing.

 

Matt 27:57-66

Bodies were often left on the crosses until the birds had finished with them.

 

Jesus was crucified as a criminal but given an honorable burial.  One legend says that Joseph of Arimathea was Mary’s uncle and actually exercised a relative’s right to claim the body.  Another legend says that Joseph took possession of the cup of the last supper and carried it with him when he did missionary work in England.  We refer to it as the Holy Grail.

 

It is remarkable that Jesus’ opponents remember the prediction of Jesus’ resurrection.  None of these Jews believed that Jesus would really rise from the dead, but they wanted to prevent the disciples from stealing His body.  They were ticked off that Pilate had let someone have the body and give it an honorable burial.  Maybe they knew it was Joseph.  They did not trust him either.

 

They were afraid of fraud.  They judge others by their motives.  They underestimated the power of God in Jesus.  They overestimated the disciples who were not thinking about a resurrection.  The disciples had no frame of reference capable of integrating a dying and rising Messiah into their own messianic expectations. They were surprised when they heard the news of His resurrection.

 

Ironically the Jews invent the very story that they were trying to prevent.  The Jewish leaders thought they were protecting themselves and the people from deception and yet they were deceiving themselves and the people.

 

Pilate said, “You were afraid of this man when he was alive; now he is dead, and you are still afraid!  By all means secure the tomb as tightly as possible, if you think that will help, but use your own police.”

 

Matt 28:1-10

The word ‘Sabbath’ is actually plural.  “After the Sabbaths the 2 Mary’s went to the tomb.”  When the holiday was over they went to the tomb.  Leviticus 23:7 says on the first day of Passover hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  Leviticus 23:8 says on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  Now those Sabbaths are over.  The women are coming to see the tomb.

 

An angel came and moved the stone from here to there.  It does not say he rolled it.  He apparently took it and then sat on it as if to say, “Don’t mess with me.”  The guards were so afraid of him (4) they fainted.

 

As the women were looking over the situation the angel said don’t be afraid.  I put the stone here so you could look in the tomb and see that Jesus is not there.  He has risen.  He now has a resurrected body and He’s planning to meet you in Galilee where He said He would.

 

The women were filled with joy.  Why?  Because they had been seeking Jesus.  The disciples did not have joy.  They were not seeking Jesus.  They had locked themselves in a room.

 

While the women were running to share the good news, Jesus met them and greeted them personally.  The word He used to greet them was ‘rejoice’ or be happy.  Thus the first command we are given after the resurrection is to rejoice.

 

28:11-15

At the same time the guards at the tomb had recovered and ran to report to the chief priest about the big man on the rock.  “You won’t believe what this guy did!”

 

28:16-20

Jesus uses the promise of His presence to commission His disciples to spread the gospel.  The chief priests used bribe money to commission the soldiers to spread lies.  The gospel ends with the promise of His presence.

 

If Jesus is with us always, is He pleased where we take Him?  If Jesus is with us and He is Lord of All, it is stupid not to want to please Him.  He died that we might have a forgiven heart that desires to please Him.  God can cleanse your heart from sin.  Another way of saying that is that we receive spiritual life or we receive a heart transplant.  We can ask for and receive a heart of love.

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