Thursday, December 29, 2011

Matthew, Chapter 27: Spoiler alert! The guy on the cross dies

The political and religious leaders decide to put Jesus to death, which this book has only been foreshadowing for the last, oh, 26 chapters or so. So they tie him up and take him to Pointus Pilate.

Judas sees all this and feels bad. He tries to return the 30 pieces of silver, but the leaders aren't interested. So he hangs himself. The priest picks up the money and says it can't be put back in the treasury, so they use it to buy a field to bury foreigners in. Supposedly this fulfills a prophesy from Jeremiah. Or possibly Zechariah.

Back to Jesus, who is now at Pilate's house. Pilate asks him if he's the king of Jews. Jesus only answers Thou sayest. (v. 11) Then he refuses to speak again for the rest of the trial.

It's the feast day, and in the holiday spirit, Pilate agrees to release one prisoner. There happens to be a famous guy there called Barrabas. His wife thinks it should be Jesus, because he's giving her creepy dreams, which, she won't be the last. But the elders persuade the people to vote for Barabbas. When he asks what they want him to do with Jesus, they say crucify him. When he points out that Jesus is innocent, they say it again, louder this time. Which should tell you something about how beloved he really was.

Pilate washes his hands symbolically and tells the crowd His blood be on us, and on our children. (v. 25) He releases Barabbas and Jesus is flogged, dressed in a red robe, and led into the public hall. They put thorns on his head and a reed in his hand and say Hail, King of the Jews! (v. 29) Then they beat him again, take his clothes off, dress him in his old robe, and lead him out to Golgotha. Someone called Simon carries his cross. They give him a glass of vinegar and gall, which apparently means anything bitter, which he refuses.

They hang him up there and quite possibly remove his clothes. At any rate, the soldiers gamble for them. They hang a sign over his head that reads THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. (v. 37) Two thieves are also crucified, but we don't know their names. People make fun of him as they pass. Even the thieves get in on the act, which, come to think of it, you're just hanging there dying for a few days, you might as well pass them making fun of each other.

At some point, it all goes dark for 3 hours, and Jesus wails My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (v. 46) Some people standing around at the bottom try to give him some vinegar to drink, but he dies. Then there are some weird things that aren't recorded anywhere else: the veil in the temple splits, there's an earthquake, some zombies wander around the streets.

There are a few women around, most of them named Mary, and a rich man named Joseph who bribes Pilate for the body and buries it in a cloth in his own tomb. He rolls a rock over the door. The Marys come and sit outside. The city fathers remember the prophesy that Jesus will arise after three days and ask Pilate to set a watch over the tomb, but he tells them to pay for it themselves.

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