New Defender's Study Bible Notes
27:2 Pontius Pilate the governor. The so-called “Pilate stone” was found in the remains of the amphitheater in Caesarea, naming Pilate as “the prefect” of Judaea at the time.
27:9 spoken by Jeremy the prophet. This event seems to be a partial fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 11:13, although the reference is only a general statement, rather than an actual quote. The main point of the reference is to explain the use of the money to buy the potter’s field, a fact not prophesied by Zechariah (see Matthew 27:6-8,10). Jeremiah, however, does mention buying a field for silver (Jeremiah 32:6-9), and Matthew conceivably could have had both passages in mind, giving Jeremiah priority for the general idea, since he was the major prophet of the two. Probably a better explanation, however, is to take literally the statement that this prophecy had been spoken (rather than written) by Jeremiah. Many years later, Zechariah could have adapted some of the same language, handed down from Jeremiah by oral transmission (both men were priests), into his own prophecy concerning the value of the payment price.
27:14 never a word. Again Jesus refused to reply to false witnesses (Matthew 26:63; Isaiah 53:7).
27:24 this just person. It is noteworthy that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, admitted he had betrayed “innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4); Pilate, who condemned Him to die, admitted he was condemning “this just person” (Matthew 27:24); and the centurion, who carried out the execution, admitted that Jesus was “the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). Christ was, indeed, the spotless “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
27:25 His blood be on us. This tragic invocation by those who were immediately responsible for contriving Jesus’ execution has been answered by God in full measure for almost two thousand years, with more yet to come. When they chose a seditionist, robber, and murderer over their own Messiah and Redeemer, they made a costly mistake.
27:33 Golgotha. Golgotha is the Aramaic word for “skull,” equivalent to the Latin-derived “Calvary.” The little hill still resembles a skull today.
27:34 vinegar to drink. This drink was a drugged wine, given to those being crucified to partially stupefy them and thereby reduce the excruciating pain.
27:35 cast lots. This unspeakable humiliation, stripping the Lord of His clothing, then gambling over His main garment, the last personal possession He owned, was in fulfillment of David’s graphic and detailed crucifixion psalm (Psalm 22; see especially verses 17-18). This specific event is one of the relatively few described in all four gospels.
27:36 watched him. These leering spectators are likened to ravenous beasts in Psalm 22:12-13, 16, 21. No doubt they will remember this scene forever in the fires of hell.
27:37 his accusation written. John adds the words “of Nazareth.” Although all four gospel writers mention this inscription, none give its complete form. By compiling the accounts, it may have been: “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (see John 19:19).
27:43 let him deliver him now. These religious leaders, mocking Him, were unwittingly fulfilling Psalm 22:8, which had predicted just such a reaction.
27:45 darkness. Jesus was “the light of the world” (John 8:12), but during these three hours of supernatural darkness (the time frame would not allow this to be explained by a solar eclipse!), the world’s light was extinguished, while He was being “made sin for us” (II Corinthians 5:21). This was the “night season” prophesied in Psalm 22:2. The gospels reveal nothing of what took place during those three hours of the darkness of hell itself. Christ, hanged on a tree, was being made the Curse for us (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23; Genesis 3:16-19). In order for Christ to suffer the full punishment for sin, He had to suffer the infinite agony equivalent to “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power” (II Thessalonians 1:8, 9).
27:46 the ninth hour. The “ninth hour” was the time of the evening oblation, the time of sacrifice and prayer. Elijah sacrificed and prayed against the prophets of Baal at this time (I Kings 18:29, 36). It was also when Daniel (Daniel 9:20-21) and Ezra (Ezra 9:4-5) prayed. Peter and John prayed at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1) and so did Cornelius (Acts 10:3-4). All were heard, and all their prayers marvelously answered, except that of Christ! God cannot “behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13).
27:46 why. There are seven “words from the cross,” three before this (Luke 23:34; John 19:26,27; Luke 23:43) and three after (John 19:28; John 19:30; Luke 23:46). This central word is the only one recorded by Matthew and Mark (15:34), and the middle word of this “central word” is “Why?” The answer as to why the only perfectly righteous Man should have to endure the very greatest sufferings can only be that He loved us. There was no other way to save us from our sins; any further meaning is hidden in “the mind of the Lord” (Romans 11:33-36) and “the ages to come” (Ephesians 2:7).
27:46 forsaken me. Because Christ was forsaken by His Father, God will never leave us or forsake us (Psalm 37:25; Hebrews 13:5).
27:50 a loud voice. The “loud voice” was undoubtedly the great victory cry: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He had not only suffered the terrible physical pain, but also the essence of hell itself. Thus, He could now merely commit His Spirit into the hands of His Father (Luke 23:46).
27:50 the ghost. The death of Christ was uniquely volitional. No other man or woman can simply decide to die and then yield up the ghost, but He did. “No man taketh it from me,” He said, “but I lay it down of myself” (John 10:18).
27:51 veil of the temple. This veil was a heavy curtain separating the Holy Place in the temple from the Holy of Holies, behind which the glory of God met with the high priest just once each year on the Day of Atonement. For it to be torn in two, especially from top to bottom, even in an earthquake, would seem to require a miracle, possibly by an unseen angelic hand. Symbolically, this tearing of the veil would mean that Christ had now opened the way for all to enter directly into the presence of God. We now may have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).
27:52 saints which slept arose. Not only had “the light of the world gone out” but also the earth’s great foundation Rock had been smitten (Exodus 17:6). The veil had been rent and the graves of the saints were opened. The saints whose bodies were raised could only have been the men and women who had died in faith before the first coming of Christ. Until Christ set them free, their souls had been resting in that division of Hades called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). However, when “He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive” after He had “descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:8-9).
27:53 after his resurrection. The Old Testament saints could only receive their glorified resurrection bodies after Christ had been raised, for Christ must “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (I Corinthians 15:20). Although this is apparently the only specific reference to the resurrection of these pre-Christian-era believers, no other interpretation seems plausible. Evidently their new bodies were seen by people on the earth during the brief period between Christ’s resurrection and His initial ascent to heaven (John 20:17).
27:60 his own new tomb. There is more here than meets the eye. Joseph was a rich man who lived in Arimathea, so why would he build a new tomb in Jerusalem, especially one in the rock on a hillside close to Golgotha, within easy earshot of the cries of crucified criminals? It could hardly have been planned for himself; all indications point to his having prepared it ahead of time to receive the body of Jesus. See also Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42.
27:66 the sepulchre sure. The chief priests and Pharisees evidently took the Lord’s promise to rise on the third day more seriously than His disciples (Matthew 27:63-64). However, they did not believe this was possible (especially the Sadducean priests), so they must have assumed the disciples would try to steal the body. Their paranoia, however, served only to strengthen the evidence for the resurrection, for their firm preparations to prevent the theft of the body merely eliminated that possibility as a plausible explanation for the empty tomb three days later!