Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Jesus Led Away to Pilate
(Mt 27:1, 2).
For the exposition of this portion, see on
Remorse and Suicide of Judas
This portion is peculiar to Matthew. On the progress of guilt in the
traitor, see on
3. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was
condemned--The condemnation, even though not unexpected, might well
fill him with horror. But perhaps this unhappy man expected, that, while
he got the bribe, the Lord would miraculously escape, as He had once and
again done before, out of His enemies' power: and if so, his remorse
would come upon him with all the greater keenness.
repented himself--but, as the issue too sadly showed, it was "the
sorrow of the world, which worketh death"
and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and
elders--A remarkable illustration of the power of an awakened
conscience. A short time before, the promise of this sordid pelf was
temptation enough to his covetous heart to outweigh the most
overwhelming obligations of duty and love; now, the possession of it so
lashes him that he cannot use it, cannot even keep it!
4. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent
blood--What a testimony this to Jesus! Judas had been with Him in
all circumstances for three years; his post, as treasurer to Him and
gave him peculiar opportunity of watching the spirit, disposition, and
habits of his Master; while his covetous nature and thievish practices
would incline him to dark and suspicious, rather than frank and
generous, interpretations of all that He said and did. If, then, he
could have fastened on one questionable feature in all that he had so
long witnessed, we may be sure that no such speech as this would ever
have escaped his lips, nor would he have been so stung with remorse as
not to be able to keep the money and survive his crime.
And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that--"Guilty or
innocent is nothing to us: We have Him now--begone!" Was ever speech
more hellish uttered?
5. And he cast down the pieces of silver--The sarcastic, diabolical
reply which he had got, in place of the sympathy which perhaps he
expected, would deepen his remorse into an agony.
in the temple--the temple proper, commonly called "the sanctuary," or
"the holy place," into which only the priests might enter. How is this
to be explained? Perhaps he flung the money in after them. But thus were
fulfilled the words of the prophet--"I cast them to the potter in the
house of the Lord"
and departed, and went and hanged himself--For the details, see
6. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not
lawful for to put them into the treasury--"the Corban," or
chest containing the money dedicated to sacred purposes (see on
because it is the price of blood--How scrupulous now! But those
punctilious scruples made them unconsciously fulfil the Scripture.
9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet,
(Zec 11:12, 13).
Never was a complicated prophecy, otherwise hopelessly dark, more
marvellously fulfilled. Various conjectures have been formed to account
for Matthew's ascribing to Jeremiah a prophecy found in the book of
Zechariah. But since with this book he was plainly familiar, having
quoted one of its most remarkable prophecies of Christ but a few
(Mt 21:4, 5),
the question is one more of critical interest than real importance.
Perhaps the true explanation is the following, from LIGHTFOOT: "Jeremiah of old had the first place among the
prophets, and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest in
because he stood first in the volume of the prophets (as he proves from
the learned DAVID KIMCHI)
therefore he is first named. When, therefore, Matthew produceth a text
of Zechariah under the name of Jeremy, he only cites the words of the
volume of the prophets under his name who stood first in the volume of
the prophets. Of which sort is that also of our Saviour
'All things must be fulfilled which are written of Me in the Law, and
the Prophets, and the Psalms,' or the Book of Hagiographa, in which the
Psalms were placed first."
HIM BUT AT
For the exposition, see on
ENTREATED OF THE
Joh 19:2, 17).
For the exposition, see on
DEATH OF THE
For the exposition, see on
DEATH OF THE
DOWN FROM THE
The Veil Rent
51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top
to the bottom--This was the thick and gorgeously wrought veil which
was hung between the "holy place" and the "holiest of all," shutting out
all access to the presence of God as manifested "from above the mercy
seat and from between the cherubim"--"the Holy Ghost this signifying,
that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest"
Into this holiest of all none might enter, not even the high priest,
save once a year, on the great day of atonement, and then only with the
blood of atonement in his hands, which he sprinkled "upon and before
the mercy seat seven times"
--to signify that access for sinners to a holy God is only through
atoning blood. But as they had only the blood of bulls and of
goats, which could not take away sins
during all the long ages that preceded the death of Christ the thick
veil remained; the blood of bulls and of goats continued to be shed and
sprinkled; and once a year access to God through an atoning sacrifice
was vouchsafed--in a picture, or rather, was dramatically
represented, in those symbolical actions--nothing more. But
now, the one atoning Sacrifice being provided in the precious
blood of Christ, access to this holy God could no longer be denied; and
so the moment the Victim expired on the altar, that thick veil which
for so many ages had been the dread symbol of separation between God
and guilty men was, without a hand touching it, mysteriously "rent
in twain from top to bottom"--"the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the
way into the holiest of all was NOW made
manifest!" How emphatic the statement, from top to bottom; as if
to say, Come boldly now to the Throne of Grace; the veil is clean
gone; the mercy seat stands open to the gaze of sinners, and the
way to it is sprinkled with the blood of Him--"who through the eternal
Spirit hath offered Himself without spot to God!" Before, it was death
to go in, now it is death to stay out. See more on this
glorious subject on
Heb 10. 19-22.
An Earthquake--The Rocks Rent--The Graves Opened, that the Saints
Which Slept in Them Might Come Forth after Their Lord's
51. and the earth did quake--From what follows it would seem that
this earthquake was local, having for its object the rending of the
rocks and the opening of the graves.
and the rocks rent--"were rent"--the physical creation thus sublimely
proclaiming, at the bidding of its Maker, the concussion which at
that moment was taking place in the moral world at the most critical
moment of its history. Extraordinary rents and fissures have been
observed in the rocks near this spot.
52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which
slept arose--These sleeping saints (see on
were Old Testament believers, who--according to the usual punctuation
in our version--were quickened into resurrection life at the moment of
their Lord's death, but lay in their graves till His resurrection, when
they came forth. But it is far more natural, as we think, and consonant
with other Scriptures, to understand that only the graves were opened,
probably by the earthquake, at our Lord's death, and this only in
preparation for the subsequent exit of those who slept in them, when
the Spirit of life should enter into them from their risen Lord, and
along with Him they should come forth, trophies of His victory over the
grave. Thus, in the opening of the graves at the moment of the
Redeemer's expiring, there was a glorious symbolical proclamation that
the death which had just taken place had "swallowed up death in
victory"; and whereas the saints that slept in them were awakened only
by their risen Lord, to accompany Him out of the tomb, it was fitting
that "the Prince of Life . . . should be the First
that should rise from the dead"
1Co 15:20, 23;
and went into the holy city--that city where He, in virtue of whose
resurrection they were now alive, had been condemned.
and appeared unto many--that there might be undeniable evidence of
their own resurrection first, and through it of their Lord's. Thus,
while it was not deemed fitting that He Himself should appear again in
Jerusalem, save to the disciples, provision was made that the fact of
His resurrection should be left in no doubt. It must be observed,
however, that the resurrection of these sleeping saints was not like
those of the widow of Nain's son, of Jairus' daughter, of Lazarus, and
of the man who "revived and stood upon his feet," on his dead body
touching the bones of Elisha
--which were mere temporary recallings of the departed spirit to the
mortal body, to be followed by a final departure of it "till the
trumpet shall sound." But this was a resurrection once for all, to
life everlasting; and so there is no room to doubt that they went
to glory with their Lord, as bright trophies of His victory over
The Centurion's Testimony
54. Now when the centurion--the military superintendent of the
and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake--or
felt it and witnessed its effects.
and those things that were done--reflecting upon the entire
they feared greatly--convinced of the presence of a Divine Hand.
saying, Truly this was the Son of God--There cannot be a reasonable
doubt that this expression was used in the Jewish sense, and that it
points to the claim which Jesus made to be the Son of God, and on which
His condemnation expressly turned. The meaning, then, clearly is that He
must have been what He professed to be; in other words, that He was no
impostor. There was no medium between those two. See, on
the similar testimony of the penitent thief--"This man
hath done nothing
amiss"--Luke 23. 41.
The Galilean Women
(Mt 27:55, 56).
55. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed
Jesus--The sense here would be better brought out by the use of the
pluperfect, "which had followed Jesus."
from Galilee, ministering unto him--As these dear women had
ministered to Him during His glorious missionary tours in
Galilee (see on
so from this statement it should seem that they accompanied him and
ministered to His wants from Galilee on His final journey to
56. Among which was Mary Magdalene--(See on
and Mary the mother of James and Joses--the wife of Cleophas, or
rather Clopas, and sister of the Virgin
and the mother of Zebedee's children--that is, Salome: compare
All this about the women is mentioned for the sake of what is
afterwards to be related of their purchasing spices to anoint their
The Taking Down from the Cross and the Burial
For the exposition of this portion, see on
The Women Mark the Sacred Spot that They Might Recognize It on
Coming Thither to Anoint the Body
61. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary--"the mother of
James and Joses," mentioned before
sitting over against the sepulchre--(See on
The Sepulchre Guarded
62. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation--that
is, after six o'clock of our Saturday evening. The crucifixion took
place on the Friday and all was not over till shortly before sunset,
when the Jewish sabbath commenced; and "that sabbath day was an high
being the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. That day being
over at six on Saturday evening, they hastened to take their
63. Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver--Never, remarks
will you find the heads of the people calling Jesus by His own name. And
yet here there is betrayed a certain uneasiness, which one almost
fancies they only tried to stifle in their own minds, as well as crush
in Pilate's, in case he should have any lurking suspicion that he had
done wrong in yielding to them.
said, while he was yet alive--Important testimony this, from the lips
of His bitterest enemies, to the reality of Christ's death; the
corner-stone of the whole Christian religion.
After three days--which, according to the customary Jewish way of
reckoning, need signify no more than "after the commencement of the
I will rise again--"I rise," in the present tense, thus reporting not
only the fact that this prediction of His had reached their ears,
but that they understood Him to look forward confidently to its
occurring on the very day named.
64. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure--by a Roman
until the third day--after which, if He still lay in the grave, the
imposture of His claims would be manifest to all.
and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead--Did they really
so the last error shall be worse than the first--the imposture of His
pretended resurrection worse than that of His pretended Messiahship.
65. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch--The guards had already
acted under orders of the Sanhedrim, with Pilate's consent; but probably
they were not clear about employing them as a night watch without
Pilate's express authority.
go your way, make it as sure as ye can--as ye know how, or in the way
ye deem securest. Though there may be no irony in this speech, it
evidently insinuated that if the event should be contrary to their
wish, it would not be for want of sufficient human appliances to prevent
66. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone--which
says was "very great."
and setting a watch--to guard it. What more could man do? But while
they are trying to prevent the resurrection of the Prince of Life, God
makes use of their precautions for His own ends. Their stone-covered,
seal-secured sepulchre shall preserve the sleeping dust of the Son of
God free from all indignities, in undisturbed, sublime repose; while
their watch shall be His guard of honor until the angels shall come to
take their place.