SUNDAY OF THE PASSION
PALM SUNDAY | March 16, 2008
Matthew 21:1-11 Procession with Palms
Psalm 31:9-16 (5)
Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54
MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK
March 17 2008 / Saint Patrick, Ireland
Psalm 36:5-11 (7)
TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
March 18, 2008
Psalm 71:1-14 (6)
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
March 19, 2008
Psalm 70 (1)
JOSEPH, GUARDIAN OF JESUS
March 19, 2008
2 Samuel 7:4, 8-16 Psalm 89:1-29 (2)
Romans 4:13-18 Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a Color: White
1a. CONTEXT - Matthew 27:1-54
This is the greatest opportunity of the year to reach people with the
Passion story; the Good Friday congregation may be smaller. The gospel
essentially proclaims itself, most effectively if parts are taken by
individual members and the congregation. The homily may be brief and
confined to one or two points.
Matthew derived his basic narrative from Mark and embellished it,
mainly with legendary details, but also to bring out Jesus' royal glory.
Formerly, it was believed that Mark took his story from a basic Passion
source, but redaction critics argue that his theology has permeated it
throughout. The main story line of the trial before Pilate and the
Crucifixion must have been traditional, but details have been added from
the Psalms and the Servant Songs of Second Isaiah. Some of the alleged
additions may have actually been historical, especially Jesus' cry from the
Cross (27:46), which Luke and John omit. The O.T. could then have been
drawn on for other motifs. Thus Matthew speaks of gall (vs. 34; Ps. 69:21)
in place of Mark's "myrrh." Certainly Matthew has made the narrative more
miraculous, and while some of the additions heighten the drama--the
death of Judas, the dream of Pilate's wife, and the saints risen from their
graves--they are open to historical question.
Today's business, however, is proclamation of the message of
salvation through the Cross: Jesus' obedience to his Father's will, his
dignity in facing rejection and torture, and the centurion's confession that
he is Son of God. Mark's insight, still visible in Matthew, is that the full
meaning of "Son of God" is shown when Jesus has finally suffered as Son of
Man. (Matt. 17:21).
1b. TEXT - Matthew 27:1-54 (ESV)
Jesus Delivered to Pilate
27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
Judas Hangs Himself
3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus  was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me.”
Jesus Before Pilate
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
The Crowd Chooses Barabbas
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood;  see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged  Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Jesus Is Mocked
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters,  and they gathered the whole battalion  before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is 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 deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
The Death of Jesus
45 Now from the sixth hour  there was darkness over all the land  until the ninth hour.  46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son  of God!”
 27:3 Greek he
 27:24 Some manuscripts this righteous blood, or this righteous man's blood
 27:26 A Roman judicial penalty, consisting of a severe beating with a multi-lashed whip containing imbedded pieces of bone and metal
 27:27 Greek the praetorium
 27:27 Greek cohort; a tenth of a Roman legion, usually about 600 men
 27:45 That is, noon
 27:45 Or earth
 27:45 That is, 3 p.m.
 27:54 Or a son
1πρωιας δε γενομενης συμβουλιον ελαβον παντες οι αρχιερεις και οι πρεσβυτεροι του λαου κατα του ιησου ωστε θανατωσαι αυτον: 2και δησαντες αυτον απηγαγον και παρεδωκαν πιλατω τω ηγεμονι. 3τοτε ιδων ιουδας ο παραδιδους αυτον οτι κατεκριθη μεταμεληθεις εστρεψεν τα τριακοντα αργυρια τοις αρχιερευσιν και πρεσβυτεροις 4λεγων, ημαρτον παραδους αιμα αθωον. οι δε ειπαν, τι προς ημας; συ οψη. 5και ριψας τα αργυρια εις τον ναον ανεχωρησεν, και απελθων απηγξατο. 6οι δε αρχιερεις λαβοντες τα αργυρια ειπαν, ουκ εξεστιν βαλειν αυτα εις τον κορβαναν, επει τιμη αιματος εστιν. 7συμβουλιον δε λαβοντες ηγορασαν εξ αυτων τον αγρον του κεραμεως εις ταφην τοις ξενοις. 8διο εκληθη ο αγρος εκεινος αγρος αιματος εως της σημερον. 9τοτε επληρωθη το ρηθεν δια ιερεμιου του προφητου λεγοντος, και ελαβον τα τριακοντα αργυρια, την τιμην του τετιμημενου ον ετιμησαντο απο υιων ισραηλ, 10και εδωκαν αυτα εις τον αγρον του κεραμεως, καθα συνεταξεν μοι κυριος. 11ο δε ιησους εσταθη εμπροσθεν του ηγεμονος: και επηρωτησεν αυτον ο ηγεμων λεγων, συ ει ο βασιλευς των ιουδαιων; ο δε ιησους εφη, συ λεγεις. 12και εν τω κατηγορεισθαι αυτον υπο των αρχιερεων και πρεσβυτερων ουδεν απεκρινατο. 13τοτε λεγει αυτω ο πιλατος, ουκ ακουεις ποσα σου καταμαρτυρουσιν; 14και ουκ απεκριθη αυτω προς ουδε εν ρημα, ωστε θαυμαζειν τον ηγεμονα λιαν. 15κατα δε εορτην ειωθει ο ηγεμων απολυειν ενα τω οχλω δεσμιον ον ηθελον. 16ειχον δε τοτε δεσμιον επισημον λεγομενον [ιησουν] βαραββαν. 17συνηγμενων ουν αυτων ειπεν αυτοις ο πιλατος, τινα θελετε απολυσω υμιν, [ιησουν τον] βαραββαν η ιησουν τον λεγομενον χριστον; 18ηδει γαρ οτι δια φθονον παρεδωκαν αυτον. 19καθημενου δε αυτου επι του βηματος απεστειλεν προς αυτον η γυνη αυτου λεγουσα, μηδεν σοι και τω δικαιω εκεινω, πολλα γαρ επαθον σημερον κατ οναρ δι αυτον. 20οι δε αρχιερεις και οι πρεσβυτεροι επεισαν τους οχλους ινα αιτησωνται τον βαραββαν τον δε ιησουν απολεσωσιν. 21αποκριθεις δε ο ηγεμων ειπεν αυτοις, τινα θελετε απο των δυο απολυσω υμιν; οι δε ειπαν, τον βαραββαν. 22λεγει αυτοις ο πιλατος, τι ουν ποιησω ιησουν τον λεγομενον χριστον; λεγουσιν παντες, σταυρωθητω. 23ο δε εφη, τι γαρ κακον εποιησεν; οι δε περισσως εκραζον λεγοντες, σταυρωθητω. 24ιδων δε ο πιλατος οτι ουδεν ωφελει αλλα μαλλον θορυβος γινεται, λαβων υδωρ απενιψατο τας χειρας απεναντι του οχλου, λεγων, αθωος ειμι απο του αιματος τουτου: υμεις οψεσθε. 25και αποκριθεις πας ο λαος ειπεν, το αιμα αυτου εφ ημας και επι τα τεκνα ημων. 26τοτε απελυσεν αυτοις τον βαραββαν, τον δε ιησουν φραγελλωσας παρεδωκεν ινα σταυρωθη. 27τοτε οι στρατιωται του ηγεμονος παραλαβοντες τον ιησουν εις το πραιτωριον συνηγαγον επ αυτον ολην την σπειραν. 28και εκδυσαντες αυτον χλαμυδα κοκκινην περιεθηκαν αυτω, 29και πλεξαντες στεφανον εξ ακανθων επεθηκαν επι της κεφαλης αυτου και καλαμον εν τη δεξια αυτου, και γονυπετησαντες εμπροσθεν αυτου ενεπαιξαν αυτω λεγοντες, χαιρε, βασιλευ των ιουδαιων, 30και εμπτυσαντες εις αυτον ελαβον τον καλαμον και ετυπτον εις την κεφαλην αυτου. 31και οτε ενεπαιξαν αυτω, εξεδυσαν αυτον την χλαμυδα και ενεδυσαν αυτον τα ιματια αυτου, και απηγαγον αυτον εις το σταυρωσαι. 32εξερχομενοι δε ευρον ανθρωπον κυρηναιον ονοματι σιμωνα: τουτον ηγγαρευσαν ινα αρη τον σταυρον αυτου. 33και ελθοντες εις τοπον λεγομενον γολγοθα, ο εστιν κρανιου τοπος λεγομενος, 34εδωκαν αυτω πιειν οινον μετα χολης μεμιγμενον: και γευσαμενος ουκ ηθελησεν πιειν. 35σταυρωσαντες δε αυτον διεμερισαντο τα ιματια αυτου βαλλοντες κληρον, 36και καθημενοι ετηρουν αυτον εκει. 37και επεθηκαν επανω της κεφαλης αυτου την αιτιαν αυτου γεγραμμενην: ουτος εστιν ιησους ο βασιλευς των ιουδαιων. 38τοτε σταυρουνται συν αυτω δυο λησται, εις εκ δεξιων και εις εξ ευωνυμων. 39οι δε παραπορευομενοι εβλασφημουν αυτον κινουντες τας κεφαλας αυτων 40και λεγοντες, ο καταλυων τον ναον και εν τρισιν ημεραις οικοδομων, σωσον σεαυτον, ει υιος ει του θεου, [και] καταβηθι απο του σταυρου. 41ομοιως και οι αρχιερεις εμπαιζοντες μετα των γραμματεων και πρεσβυτερων ελεγον, 42αλλους εσωσεν, εαυτον ου δυναται σωσαι: βασιλευς ισραηλ εστιν, καταβατω νυν απο του σταυρου και πιστευσομεν επ αυτον. 43πεποιθεν επι τον θεον, ρυσασθω νυν ει θελει αυτον: ειπεν γαρ οτι θεου ειμι υιος. 44το δ αυτο και οι λησται οι συσταυρωθεντες συν αυτω ωνειδιζον αυτον. 45απο δε εκτης ωρας σκοτος εγενετο επι πασαν την γην εως ωρας ενατης. 46περι δε την ενατην ωραν ανεβοησεν ο ιησους φωνη μεγαλη λεγων, ηλι ηλι λεμα σαβαχθανι; τουτ εστιν, θεε μου θεε μου, ινατι με εγκατελιπες; 47τινες δε των εκει εστηκοτων ακουσαντες ελεγον οτι ηλιαν φωνει ουτος. 48και ευθεως δραμων εις εξ αυτων και λαβων σπογγον πλησας τε οξους και περιθεις καλαμω εποτιζεν αυτον. 49οι δε λοιποι ελεγον, αφες ιδωμεν ει ερχεται ηλιας σωσων αυτον. 50ο δε ιησους παλιν κραξας φωνη μεγαλη αφηκεν το πνευμα. 51και ιδου το καταπετασμα του ναου εσχισθη απ ανωθεν εως κατω εις δυο, και η γη εσεισθη, και αι πετραι εσχισθησαν, 52και τα μνημεια ανεωχθησαν και πολλα σωματα των κεκοιμημενων αγιων ηγερθησαν, 53και εξελθοντες εκ των μνημειων μετα την εγερσιν αυτου εισηλθον εις την αγιαν πολιν και ενεφανισθησαν πολλοις. 54ο δε εκατονταρχος και οι μετ αυτου τηρουντες τον ιησουν ιδοντες τον σεισμον και τα γενομενα εφοβηθησαν σφοδρα, λεγοντες, αληθως θεου υιος ην ουτος.
2. ANALYSIS - Matthew 27:1-54
Matt. 27:9-10 - The quotation has influenced the account of Judas' betrayal
and death. It is introduced by one of Matthew's special formulas. It
contains only a few words from Jeremiah and is based mainly on Zech.
11:12f. "Treasury" and "potter" are similar in Hebrew, hence the "potter's
field." "As the Lord commanded me" may come from Exodus 9:12.
27:11 - King of the Jews--this was the title of Herod the Great and
denoted political monarchy. Jesus was condemned on the charge of such a
pretension (vs. 37). su legeis --possible "Yes, you have said it;" more
probably ambiguous, "The words are yours."
27:17 - There is no clear evidence elsewhere that a prisoner was released
at festival time in Judaea, though the custom occurred elsewhere.
Barabbas was evidently a revolutionist (Mark 15:7). A few important MSS.
give him the name Jesus Barabbas; this may be an actual tradition, and it
heightens the pathos of the story.
27:19 - Julius Caesar's wife Calpurnia had a portentous dream before his
murder. Matthew speaks elsewhere of revelation through dreams (1:20;
27:24-25 - Pilate alone had the power to condemn Jesus, but the gospel
writers try to excuse him so far as possible (Mark 15:14; Luke 23:13-25).
John 19:12 suggests that Pilate was threatened with a report to the
emperor that he has released a man guilty of high treason.
27:30 - Cf. Isa. 50:6 - "I gave my back to the smiters. . . I hid not my face
from shame and spitting."
27:32 -ton stauron - not the entire cross, but the cross beam which was to
be nailed to a pole or tree; see "Crucifixion, Method of," IDB, p. 199f.
27:34 - choles- gall, perhaps a reminiscence of Ps. 69:21, where the
Hebrew word means "poison."
27:35 - Cf. Ps. 22:18.
27:39 - Cf. Ps. 22:7.
27:42 - King of Israel (not King of the Jews), a title of honor, suggesting
the eschatological restoration of the nation. The taunt is that he should
come down from the Cross and be victorious, but only his death can
establish the true Israel.
27:43 - Cf. Ps. 22:8.
27:46 - Eli eli lema sabachthani- Aramaic, except that Matthew has
changed (Greek) to the Heb. form. If Jesus spoke these words, he was
quoting Ps. 22:1; it is either a cry of despair or an expression of hope; the
Psalm ends in confidence.
27:47 - The thought that Jesus was calling for Elijah, the rescuer of Israel
and precursor of the Messiah, is more understandable if Jesus said,
27:51 - naou- not the Holy of Holies but the entire Temple enclosure. All
of it is now obsolete (cf. Heb. 10:19 f.; there is now a new Temple and a
27:52-53 - These portents suggest that the old age is past and a new era
27:54 - In Mark 15:39, it is only the centurion who says this. The
confession reinforces Matthew's constant teaching that Jesus is Son of
3. STRATEGY: Matthew 27: 1-54
Matthew's basic Christology sees Jesus as the royal Messiah, Son of
David who is even more, the Son of God. The Cross is paradoxical--"He
saved others, himself he cannot save"--but faith in him is proved true
through his obedience, his dignity in suffering, and his identification with
sinners--crucified between two bandits, he was "reckoned with
transgressors" (Luke 22:37; Isa. 53:12). This is glory, because he is the
Son of God, and this means that God sides with sinners and justifies them.
The centurion's affirmation is more important than the earthquake.
If any of the words from the Cross is historical, it is 27:46, and
this might be the text of a homily. Another possibility is Phil. 2:5-11, the
second lesson for the day, especially vss. 8-11, which sum up the message
of the Cross.
One could, of course, mention the political situation. This was a
judicial murder in which the authorities, Pilate and the high priestly gang,
were trying to protect their power and prestige.
This is not a time for mentioning (technical) textual difficulties, but if any problem is to be
dealt with, one should say that even if the mob actually said, "His blood be
on us and on our children," these people could not speak for the Jewish
people as a whole. Paul was right when he said that "the rulers of this
aeon" had "crucified the Lord of glory" (I Cor. 2:8). Every killing of
innocent people is a sign of spiritual evil in the body politic, and righteous
sufferers are treated as Jesus was.
Fuller, R.H. PREACHING THE NEW LECTIONARY, p. l64 f. Collegeville,
Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1974.
Johnson, S.E. THE YEAR OF THE LORD'S FAVOR, pp. 102-104, 107-111. New
York: Seabury Press, 1983.
Sloyan, G.S. JESUS IN FOCUS, Chap. 19. Mystic, Conn.: Twenty-Third
Strange, J.F. "Crucifixion, Method of," THE INTERPRETER'S DICTIONARY OF
THE BIBLE, Suppl. Vol, p. 199f. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976.
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS
The Passion Chorale is included in LBW (116,117) and in the
Episcopal Hymnal (168).
Other useful hymns are:
"O Holy Jesus" (Herzliebster Jesu), LBW 123, HB 158;
"Were You There When They Crucified my Lord," LBW 92, HB172;
and "O Sorrow Deep" (O Traurigkeit), HB173.
For other music there is another better than Bach's "St. Matthew Passion,"
whose libretto combines the gospel message with profound personal piety.
Exegete: Sherman E. Johnson (†)
Editor's Note: Lest the reader of this and Good Friday's exegesis papers
suspect a pro-Bach conspiracy is afoot among the authors of LEXEGETE,
please note that we were unaware of Dr. Johnson's praise for the Saint
Matthew-Passion prior to writing the exegesis for Good Friday.
In fact, we can think of no better preparation for Holy Week than to spend
at least some time this week with J.S.B. in meditation.
Some of the most poignant and soul-rending themes of all time are found
within the St. Matthew Passion, not only in terms of the main theme
(O Sacred Head) repeated in several variations, but also in sub-themes,
Pare-toi, mon coeur, pour lui;
Tu vas etre le sepulcre ou Jesus dort et repose,
Car c'est en toi desormais,
C'est en toi qu'il veut faire sa demeure;
Monde, adieu, descends en moi,
O Jesus, descends en moi!
In some peculiar way, this passage (Aria Nr. 75) touches me because it is so reminiscent of the prayer my Großmutter Anna Weiß taught me and which her great-grandchildren pray:
Ich bin klein, mein Herz ist rein, niemand darf im wohnen, als Jesus allein. AMEN.
LEXEGETE © 2008