Matthew 27:1-2 – When morning came the Sanhedrin gathered again to pretend that they were reaching a decision in the day, which was legal. According to law the Sanhedrin had to wait 3 days before carrying out the sentence and in the intervening time they were to fast. This would give more time to allow any more evidence to be brought forward. Illegally the Sanhedrin pushed the matter ahead and turned him over to the Romans who had the power to execute.
Matthew 27:3-5 – Pilate’s headquarters were in Caesarea, the city Herod built on the Mediterranean in honor of Caesar Augustus. He had a palace in Jerusalem and was in the city at Passover, because of the huge crowds and the potential for trouble it required him to be present. Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea (usually referred to as procurator). He was appointed by Tiberius in A.D. 26.
He was in charge of the army of occupation, and his main responsibility was to keep the taxes flowing to Rome. Pilate had power of life and death over his subjects, he also had the responsibility of appointing the high priests. Some have tried to make Judas a hero, saying that he deliberately sold Jesus to make sure the prophecies would be fulfilled, or that he was trying to force the hand of Jesus to reveal Himself as the King of Israel and take his throne.
Jesus made it clear that Judas was no hero, but a devil (John 6:70), and that, though the prophecies would be fulfilled, Judas would still be guilty of deliberate sin (Matthew 26:24). His love of money (and probably selfish desire to be a leader in an earthly kingdom) kept him in the band of disciples, but his heart was never with Jesus. He said, “I have sinned” (Matthew 27:4) because he had been caught in the act, but there was no evidence of sincere repentance.
(2 Corinthians 7:10 NASB) For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. He had rejected the truth and believed a lie, and Satan had taken possession of him (John 13:3, 27).
Judas took his own life because Satan is a murderer (John 8:44). But note that Judas had to confess that Christ was innocent (Matthew 27:4). He would not call Him “Lord”, but one day he will be forced to call Him Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). The purchase of the “Potter’s Field” fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 11:13.
Jeremiah 18-19 also has to do with a potter’s field; so it is possible that Jeremiah spoke the prophecy in his time but that it was written by Zechariah later on. Christ’s death purchased the redemption of the world; Judas’ death purchased a cemetery for strangers!
Matthew 27:6-10 The purchase of the “Potter’s Field” fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 11:13. Jeremiah 18-19 also has to do with a potter’s field; so it is possible that Jeremiah spoke the prophecy in his time but that it was written by Zechariah later on. Christ’s death purchased the redemption of the world; Judas’ death purchased a cemetery for strangers!
The potters field was likely a field that used for the harvesting of clay for the production of pottery. Possibly the clay was depleted which made the land available at the cost of 30 pieces of silver. While initially the field was known as the Potters field, over time it became know as the “Field of Blood”. This served as a continual reminder of the death of the innocent One in Israel.
Matthew 27:11-12 – Jesus was led into the praetorium which was in the fortess of Antonia that abutted the Temple. This was the residence of Pilate, praetorium also served as a hall of judgment where matters of this kind where brought. From Matthew 27:1 we know that this was early in the morning. The timing for such a trial had to be inopportune for Pilate.
Because the Law required it, all Jews were in Jerusalem, Messianic fever was at a high pitch, and the threat of Zealot riots always was a worry with such crowds present. In John 18:29, For the first time a request is made according to Jewish law that there be an indictment, and this from a pagan Gentile ruler!
The Gospel accounts describe Pilate as being filled with restlessness and indecision. Time after time he went out to the crowd probably to discern their mood, then came in to question Jesus, all the while seeking some way to avoid making a decision. But no man can avoid making a decision about Christ! Pilate was aware of who Jesus was, and the controvery he posed to the religious leadership.
In John 18:30-31 we learn that Pilate not wanting to get involved in a religious issue on Passover with the Jewish leaders, he gives them permission to administer their own justice. They then claim that they were not permitted to put anyone to death. Yet in myriads of other instances this law of the Romans did not deter them. There was not hesitation to put Stephen to death, or to attempt to put Paul to death.
By having the Romans do their dirty work they could distance themselves from the reaction of the people who loved Jesus. Interestingly enough if Jesus died at the hands of the Jewish leaders he would have been stoned and not crucified as the prophets had predicted. Pilate then asked Jesus if He was King of the Jews as He was being accused.
In John 18:34ff we see how John saw things unfold. Matthew simply tells us that Jesus tells Pilate he is correct in his statement concerning him, while John makes the distinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Rome.
Matthew 27:13-14 Pilate was hoping that Jesus would come to his own defense and expose what he knew to be lies concerning the accusations of the Priests. But Jesus made no answer. Pilate was amazed at the silence of Jesus, he was used to accused people talking like crazy to try and get themselves free, even making accusations at their accusers, but never silence.
He knew Jesus was innocent and did not wish to be involved in this injustice thrust upon him. He knew he was being used by the Jewish leadership and probably despised the prospect of being their pawn. On the other hand Pilate did not want to offend the Jewish leadership. He was already on thin ice as their governor because of a number of miscalculations he made in his rule over them.
He blatantly put idolatrous figures in Jerusalem, which nearly sparked a riot. The Orthodox Jews forced him to remove them, by willing to passively lay down their lives to have them removed. Then in order to fund the building of a needed aqueduct he forcibly took money from the Temple. When there was an insurrection he disguised soldiers as civilians and they merciless killed hundreds.
Luke likely was referring to this in (Luke 13:1 NASB) Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. One more insurrection and he would likely be sent back to Rome.
Luke tells us that with the persistent cries against Jesus by the leadership they accused of his treason beginning in Galilee and continuing to here in Jerusalem. At last Pilate thought he had a way of avoiding this by referring the issue to Herod who was responsible for matters in Galilee. The reprieve would be temporary.
Pilate was warned by his wife and his own conscience, yet he deliberately gave Christ over to be crucified. True, this was the plan of God (Acts 2:23), but Pilate was not held guiltless. Acts 3:13 puts much of the blame on the Jews themselves. God’s eternal plan never denies man’s freedom of choice or subsequent guilt.
Pilate thought the crowd would call for Jesus, not Barabbas, but he was mistaken. Jesus is not “The People’s Choice.” Men will always ask for the sinner, not the Savior. They rejected the Son of God for a murderer! Note that Pilate, like Judas, testified that Christ was innocent (Matthew 27:24). It was customary for the convicted criminal to bear his own cross as a testimony of guilt (John 19:17); but along the way, the soldiers “drafted” Simon to bear it for Him.
Matthew 27:15-17 Knowing that Jesus is innocent and not wanting to convict Him, Pilate now offers to fulfill a long standing custom to release a prisoner on Passover. Perhaps this was initiated as a gesture to compensate for his poor treatment in the past. It certainly was appropriate considering the nature of Passover being the celebration from bondage to freedom. Pilate thought the crowd would call for Jesus, not Barabbas, but he was mistaken.
Jesus was not “The People’s Choice.” Men will always ask for the sinner, not the Savior. They rejected the Son of God for a murderer! Note that Pilate, like Judas, testified that Jesus was innocent (Matthew 27:24).
From John 18:40 we know that Barabbas was a thief. It would seem that Barabbas was not a Zealot seeking the overthrow of Rome for religious reasons, but one who utilized the unrest to murder and steal. He was likely scheduled to be executed on that day. On the 10th of the month the multitudes were singing hosannas to Jesus, Pilate thought when he offered to release either Barabbas or Jesus, the choice would be Jesus. He had sought to place the people against their leaders by offering this choice.
Matthew 27:18-23 – Just after making this offer, Pilate was warned by his wife to have nothing to do with this man. For her to interrupt the proceedings of an official judgment in the Praetorium, meant that this must have been an important matter to her. During this brief conference with his wife the Jewish leaders must have stirred up the crowds so that when he returned to them asking for their response to his offer of Jesus. Pilate thought the crowd would call for Jesus, not Barabbas, but he was mistaken.
Jesus is not “The People’s Choice.” Men will always ask for the sinner, not the Savior. They rejected the Son of God for a murderer! Note that Pilate, like Judas, testified that Christ was innocent (Matthew 27:24). With the release of Barabbas, Jesus also should have been released since He was found to be innocent.
He then poses the question that must be asked of us, “What shall I do with Jesus?” There are really only two choices, acknowledge His innocence and accept Him as Lord and Messiah, or call for and be responsible for His crucifixion. In essence these are the words of Paul to those of us who would prepare to receive communion without allowing Jesus to be Lord and Messiah of our lives. (1 Corinthians 11:27 NASB) Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
Matthew 27:24-26 – Pilate saw that rather than reasonably acknowledge the innocence of Jesus, the crowds were becoming whipped up into what appeared to be the early stages of a riot. The Jewish leadership had done an excellent job of convincing the multitude to cry for the death of Jesus. In at least 5 different occasions Pilate acknowledged the innocence of Jesus.
In the sight of everybody he ordered water and a bowl to be brought before him, and symbolically washes his hands declaring that he is innocent of the blood of this man. The Jewish people were very familiar with what he was doing for this was part of the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 21:6-7).
By his disclaimer to his association with the blood of this innocent man he does not relieve himself of guilt. It is only through his consent that Jesus in fact can be crucified. With Pilate’s claim of being innocent of the blood of Jesus, the Jewish people present invite the guilt of shedding His blood to be upon them and their children. This cannot be interpreted that all Jews from then on are liable for the blood of Jesus.
The fact is that Jesus shed His blood for everyone’s sin. It is a fact that they were not held blameless for allowing and calling for His death. This is evident in the statements of the Apostles later (Acts 2:36; 4:10) This action ended Israel from being in the Olive Tree, described in Romans 11, but it did not cause Israel to forever cast off Israel. Jesus was then flogged and handed over to be crucified. The Roman whip consisted of a short wooden handle to which several leather thongs were attached.
On the end of the leather thongs were attached pointed pieces of bones, along with weights of brass or lead. The flogging was at times so fierce that victims died before being executed. The flogging generally would expose veins and even vital organs as it tore the skin off the back. It is for this reason that Jesus was unable to carry His cross. One could see this as another demonstration of the innocent of Jesus, since He was not forced to carry the cross.