Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.
“Matthew 27” pp. 691-732.
At the start of Matthew 27, the chief priests turn Jesus over to the Roman officials to accomplish their goal of execution. Morris observes that not only did Jewish law require a verdict during daylight, but the Romans routinely did their business early in the morning (Morris 1992, 691). Morris gives a brief survey of what we may know of Pilate (Morris 1992, 692).
In verses 3-10 Matthew returns to discuss Judas. Morris considers that Matthew would address Judas’ remorse in contrast to Jesus’ condemnation, which has already happened (Morris 1992, 694). Judas’ confession of sin leads to no help at all from the Jewish leaders (Morris 1992, 695). Morris contrasts Judas’ remorse with Peter’s repentance. Judas found no forgiveness, while Peter did (Morris 1992, 695). Matthew’s fulfillment quote from Zechariah, which he attributes to Jeremiah, could be explained in several ways. Morris indicates the real emphasis is on the fact that the deeds of Judas fulfill prophecy (Morris 1992, 697).
Jesus’ trial before Pilate is taken up in verses 11-26. Matthew emphasizes Pilate’s failed attempts to have Jesus released, but the difficult situation which prevailed (Morris 1992, 698). Jesus’ answer to the charge of being a king “means that he was indeed a king, but not in the sense that Pilate used the term” (Morris 1992, 700).Because the questions which followed had little to do with Jesus’ mission, Morris says, Jesus refrained from answering the charges (Morris 1992, 701). Pilate offered the crowd an option to release a prisoner, but the crowd chose Barabbas, not Jesus (Morris 1992 702). Matthew adds an interaction between Pilate and his wife in which Pilate’s desire to release Jesus was increased (Morris 1992, 704). Pilate’s attempts to turn the public opinion were finally exhausted and he conceded (Morris 1992, 706). Morris notes of the torture and death of Jesus that the biblical authors do not dwell on the actions but on the important meaning tied up in Jesus’ death for sinners (Morris 1992. 708).
Matthew’s account of the crucifixion is divided roughly into his mockery, his hanging, and his burial (Morris 1992, 709). In verses 27-31 the legionaries mock Jesus based on his alleged kingship (Morris 1992, 711). Verses 32-56 describe the crucifixion itself. The soldiers on this detail led Jesus out but made an unusual move by having someone else carry his cross (Morris 1992, 713). Morris points out the vague reference to the place of execution, noting that there is no reason to think it is a hill at all (Morris 1992, 714). The actual crucifixion in the text is very understated compared with the continued mocking of Jesus, all of which Matthew points out as fulfillment of prophecy (Morris 1992, 715). Morris goes on to describe the specific mockery and the Scriptures fulfilled by the actions. Of note is the darkness recorded in verse 45. Morris points out that this could not be an eclipse as that is impossible in the full moon of Passover. Rather, it must refer to a sign of impending judgment (Morris 1992, 720). Morris also considers the words of verse 46, a quote from Psalm 22, carefully (Morris 1992, 720). The shocking statement from God the Son that he is abandoned by God the Father is a challenge. Significantly, even as he states that he is forsaken, Jesus refers to the Father as “My” God (Morris 1992, 722). In the end, Jesus cries out loudly and dies, an action which Morris sees as an indicator that he was not dying due to exhaustion and suffocation (Morris 1992, 723). Matthew then notes some supernatural signs which accompanied Jesus’ death, not mentioned elsewhere (Morris 1992, 724-725). Matthew finally addresses the burial of Jesus in verses 57-66. The burial was hasty due to the coming of sunset and the start of a Sabbath (Morris 1992, 728). Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple, comes to light here for the first time (Morris 1992, 728). He is apparently important, as he has access to Pilate. The burial is hasty but is witnessed by women and a guard is assigned to the tomb (Morris 1992, 729). This action not only verifies that the tomb is in a known place but makes the Jewish assertion that the disciples stole the body of Jesus quite unlikely (Morris 1992, 732).