Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


It Is Your Responsibility

Matthew 27:1-65

The latest answer when you are caught making a mistake, doing something wrong - even breaking the law is: There was an error in judgment. Not, I goofed, or I'm guilty - but an error in judgment was made. That goes right along with this one: "I assume responsibility for all of my actions, except the ones that aren't my fault." We expend a lot of time and energy trying not to be the blame for things. The trouble is - that's often the worst thing we can do when it comes to our relationship with God - and the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ is surely a great example of that.

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.

This would be a meeting of the entire Sanhedrin. The group of chief priests had already decided to condemn Jesus, but they couldn't by law do that at night - so they met in the daytime to legitimize their decision.

It's amazing how far people will go to make their actions seem appropriate, not matter how ugly they really are. God was not fooled by the fact that they met during the day - what mattered was what they did.

So too with us - we can't gussy up our attitudes or actions to make them seem righteous on the outside and think that we are pleasing God. It's much better to be transparent and let God deal with you, than try to hide sin under a pretty blanket.

2 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Jesus was bound as a common criminal. The reason they had to go to Pilate, the Roman governor, was that the Romans had taken away the Jews ability to carry out capital punishment. The Jewish leaders knew Rome would throw out their charge of Blaspheme, so they invented a charge of treason - namely that Jesus claimed to be king, so that they could get Rome to kill him and they would escape blame.

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."
"What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

I don't know what Judas thought he was doing - it says he "regretted" - some versions say "repented" but it means: to be sorry afterwards.

Contrast the response of Judas with that of Peter. Peter showed the weakness of humanity when he denied Jesus. Judas showed guilt and spiritual consequences of rejecting Jesus. Judas reacted by committing suicide. Peter reacted by weeping bitterly. Both had "remorse" but "remorse" and "repentance" are not necessarily the same thing. You can be sorry you got busted, but to be sorry for what you've done and want to turn around is what repentance is about. Judas should have sought forgiveness from Jesus and His disciples - you can ask forgiveness of all kinds of people, but only God through Jesus can offer real forgiveness to a life that 1. confesses guilt, and 2. turns over their life.

Peter too was very sad about what he'd done - but he didn't commit suicide. Judas apparently thought he had no options - sometimes we are brought into situations where we think all is lost, there is no way out.

Friend - know this, that with God all things are possible. There is always a way out - the problem is 1. you can't see it so 2. you've got to trust God to do it for you. But suicide is never a way out. As much as the enemy would like to make us believe, it doesn't allow us to escape any of the pain, it's just that those who are successful can't come back to warn us against it.

6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."
The Pharisees have no trouble paying Judas to betray Jesus and commit murder - but they balk at taking the money back because it is now "unclean." Go figure. The "Potter's Field" was known as that probably because of it's high clay content. This was prophesied in Jeremiah and Zechariah and most likely refers to property in the Hinnom Valley - to the south of the walls of Jerusalem. That location was known for human sacrifice and was an unclean place - which worked for burying non-Jews. So now the scene shifts back to Pilate.

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

Pilate's chief duty as governor of the little dusty backwater of Palestine was to keep the peace. He had already been warned by his superiors about uprisings so the last thing he needed was a riot when the city was full of visitors for Passover. The Chief Priests had accused Jesus of treason, so Pilate asks Him directly - "Are you the king of the Jews." Jesus answered him directly, but Pilate was no idiot - Jesus was not a revolutionary - so he let's the drama play out.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge-to the great amazement of the governor.

Why didn't Jesus defend Himself? Why should he? This was Jesus' time to die - there was no point in defending Himself. It's interesting to note that amidst all the scheming and fuming by the Jewish religious leaders, and all the thinking by Pilate, Jesus was still in complete control.

When we are doing what God calls us to do, we too don't need to worry and fret or second guess ourselves at every turn. Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

15 Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

This was Pilate's way out of taking personal responsibility for Jesus' life. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded Pilate's yearly practice of setting a prisoner free in his writings. Mark tells us that Barabbas was an accomplice to murder and was guilty of the exact sin that Jesus was accused of.

Apparently the crowd - made up of nationalists or supporters of the chief priests - had their mind made up. So different from just a few days earlier when they welcomed Jesus into the city, now they want to take Him out of the city and kill Him. That's why exuberance when not accompanied by commitment and faith can turn from support to denial very quickly.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."

This is pretty amazing, isn't it? Here's Pilate, the governor, holding court - and in rushes his wife "Um, Mr. Governor, your wife on line 2." And she says she's had a dream - a troubling dream about Jesus. Did she even know about Jesus?

It brings up a good point - sometimes as God works on hearts and they become curious about the gospel, it is the unsettling part of dealing with sin and its consequences that get their attention. That is not a bad thing at all.

Pilate doesn't listen to her - but instead to the Jewish elders.

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor.
"Barabbas," they answered.
22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.
They all answered, "Crucify him!"
23 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.

You can see that Pilate still things Jesus is innocent.

But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"

As I mentioned before - riots were things the Romans didn't like. And for Pilate, already in trouble with Rome, this would have been a deciding factor. So he takes water and does this ritual kind of show putting the responsibility on the people. This act did not remove Pilate's responsibility, but points up the people's part in the crucifixion. Sometimes we know the right thing, but do the wrong thing because of public or political pressure.

25 All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"

This is an Old Testament idiom that means the crowd as a whole takes responsibility - not just the leaders.

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The flogging was part of the Roman penal code and was used to weaken the prisoner so they would die more quickly. Their back was bared and they were whipped with a three strand whip impeded with bone and bits of metal. It was gruesome.

27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

This kind of mocking - probably by all of the 200 men who had accompanied Pilate from Caesarea was common - it was especially cruel given the purposeful mocking of Jesus as King of the Jews. To me it shows the real contempt the enemy Satan has for Jesus.

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).

The cross beam weighed about 100 pounds and was put on the shoulders of the condemned to further break their will to live. It's thought that four soldiers and a centurion accompanied Jesus to the place outside the city where they did crucifixions. Since Jesus was already weak, the soldiers ordered Simon, who was from north Africa, to carry it. There are indications that Simon became a believer after this incident. Wouldn't you?

34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

There is speculation as to just what it was they gave Jesus - but it's likely that it contained some sort of anesthetic, to deaden the pain. Jesus refused it - He would go to death fully conscious to feel the pain totally.

35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.

This was prophesied in Psalm 22. By the way, Jesus was crucified naked.

37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

We know, that one of the robbers had a change of heart - realizing Jesus innocence, and pledging his allegiance to the King. It's a picture that at death you have two choices - rail on the King and die, or relinquish your life to the King and live.

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus went on the cross at 9am, three hours later the area grew dark. This was not an eclipse because Passover took place at a full moon. This was actually prophesied in Amos chapter 8, verse 9.

This is where we see Jesus drink the cup - separation from God. He quotes the first verse of Psalm 22 - good reading to understand the agony of the Messiah. God cannot look at sin - so He turned His back on the Son, not for Jesus' sin, but yours. This is where the judgment you should receive falls on Him. The physical suffering was terrible - but pales in comparison with the spiritual suffering.

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."

A common Jewish practice - Elijah was known as the rescuer of those in torment.

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Jesus' crucifixion was very unusual. Normally the person would lapse into a comma and die of suffocation. Jesus remained fully conscious and alert, feeling the experience completely, and remaining in total control until He was ready to go. This amazed those who witnessed it.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

We don't know if this centurion was saying Jesus was God or a god but it surely had an impact. And, in fact, many centurions came to Jesus and were friends of the church.

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

What a horrible thing to have to witness. Notice that the men more or less deserted Jesus, except the Apostle John. But the women stuck it through. Don't ever let anyone tell you that women lack courage.

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

This too fulfilled prophecy - Isaiah 53:9 "He was assigned a grave with the rich in his death." Notice too that this was all handled discretely - no big fanfare. Sometimes what we do for the Lord is that way - visiting someone in the hospital or doing some good deed for them - not to be noticed, but just to bless them.

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
65 "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

It's interesting to note that after the resurrection, the chief priests told the guards to say this exact story. Notice to what lengths the Pharisees went to - they would do everything in their power to keep Jesus from coming to life again. How backwards that is. Sometimes we do everything we can to avoid having to confront Jesus. We put up walls intellectually, we immerse ourselves in sin so we drown out God's voice - we put Him in a place that contains Him, then seal it up so we don't have to deal with it any more. But as we'll see, Jesus won't stay in that grave - and He can't be relegated to some dark corner of your life.

I challenge you, if you don't know Him, to go back to that place and reexamine and reconsider Jesus. If the story ended here, then all the philosophies and religions in the world would be on equal footing. But if what happens next actually took place - Jesus rising up as a new creation, conquering both sin and death - then He is someone to reckon with.

You can't avoid dealing with Jesus
1. Even as both the Pharisees and the Pilate declared: "It is your responsibility." What will you do with Jesus? You can't shirk that responsibility, you can't blame anyone else, you can't avoid it. Why not really consider Him and decide for yourself - are you pure enough to stand before God - did Jesus really die - and did He do it for you - how will you respond to His call?

You don't need to avoid thinking about the cross
2. (vs 34) Jesus felt the pain of the cross without a narcotic. This was your pain and my pain - He does feel what we go through, and has born the consequences for our actions on His own body. The next time you're suffering, remember that He's right there suffering with you - but with hope.

You can rejoice in suffering, even when others make fun
3. Those that gathered around on that day poked fun at Jesus. They claimed that God had abandoned Him - well, God had, but it was for a reason. And ultimately, God came through and raised Jesus for the dead. When you suffer, and other people make fun and claim God must not love you - know that He will ultimately come through for you too. Just trust Him, no matter what.

>>Show/Hide Comments<<


Visit us on social media