Matthew 27 – The Death of Judas Iscariot & The Location of Jesus’ Tomb

I wonder how many people would like to see Jesus’ tomb?  I know I would.  I would like to see anything that pertained to Him.

It’s okay to admire a person for the deeds that they have done, but don’t admire the person as though they are something.

For example (people you may admire for what they have done), Johnny Cash, General George Patton, President Thomas Jefferson, Joan of Arch, Anne Frank, Ingrid Bergman, etc.

Or it’s okay to admire Moses, the Prophet Elijah or John the Baptist because we know enough of what they did.  But don’t worship anyone, and that includes Jesus’ mother Mary or Mary Magdalene. 

Oh sure, Mary gave birth to Jesus, but that isn’t something she controlled and all Mary Magdalene did was be present when Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead.  Who wouldn’t want to be there?

Now, if you admire people like Warren Beatty, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, that would be the same as admiring Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, President Bush and his clan or the Obamas.

There’s nothing they have done worth admiring so there you would be admiring the person which is the same as worshiping them and that is idolatry.  That would be the same as what the devil said to Jesus:

“And saith unto him, All these things will I gie thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me (Matt 4:9).

As I had said, I would love to see Jesus’ tomb, where He lived, everything about Him.  But why?  I don’t know, that’s just human nature, that’s the way You made us.  We like to see great things and there is nothing greater, more fantastic than Your Son.

Tomorrow we’re going take a look at…

Matthew 27
The Death of Judas Iscariot

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:

Pontius Pilatus known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from 26–36 A.D.

He is best known as the judge at the trial of Jesus and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus. As prefect, he served under Emperor Tiberius.

“When the morning was come” – the Sanhedrin couldn’t have a legal session at night, so at daybreak a special meeting was held to make the death sentence (26:66) official.

2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

“Delivered him to Pontius Pilate” – the Sanhedrin had been deprived by the Roman government of the right to carry out capital punishment, except in the case of a foreigner who invaded the sacred precincts of the temple.  So Jesus had to be handed over to Pilate for execution. 

3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.

5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.

Jer 7:31-34 and Jer 19:1-15 are talking about the Valley of Hinnom, which is the same place as the potter’s field, which is also where Judas was thrown.

Basically the 30 pieces purchased the field, but also purchased the curse on that land. Judas was a partial fulfillment of that curse (the firstfruit) where 70 A.D. was its fulfillment.

Just so you know the Zech reference says the money was to go to the potter in the house of the Lord (i.e. the person in charge of making ceremonial pottery for the temple). All misshapen pottery was to be thrown out as unclean and broken. It was to be thrown into the Valley of Hinnom.

7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.

8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

“The field of blood” – cf. “the valley of slaughter” in Jer 19:6.

9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.

13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?

14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.

15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.

Potter’s field today in Jerusalem

“Barabbas” – he had rebelled against the Roman’s so he would have been a folk hero among the Jews.

17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

This incident is eerie and brings us back to the 15th verse of yesterday’s discussion – did Judas betrayed Jesus or was he following orders.

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

In Aramaic, the language which most Jews spoke in the early first century, hagel dema means “field of blood.” This picture depicts the Greek-Orthodox monastery of St. Onophrius and the remains of a building called Akeldama (Aceldama), which was used as a burial place for foreigners (and non-Jews) until the early part of the nineteenth century.

Some scholars believe this is the “potter’s field” which the authorities purchased with the “blood money” Judas gave back after he was filled with remorse for betraying Jesus.

23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

“Scourged” – Roman floggings were so brutal that sometimes the victim died before crucifixion – the movie Passion of Christ is a good example of that.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.

“the common hall” – the  praetorium was the governor’s official residence in Jerusalem.

28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

Romans spent a lot of me outdoors, so they needed apparel that protected them from the elements. To this end, they wore a variety of capes, cloaks, and ponchos. It is hard to determine which is which from a monochrome relief sculpture or even from a colorful mosaic, since they were so similar.

“Scarlet robe’ – the outer cloak of a Roman soldier.

29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

“Cyrene” – a city in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea about 700 miles west of Jerusalem.

33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,

“Golgotha” – it may have been a small hill (though the Gospels say nothing of a hill) that looked like a skull, or it may have been so named because of the many executions that took place there.

34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

“Mingled with gall” – tradition says that the women of Jerusalem customarily furnished this pain-killing narcotic to prisoners who were crucified.  Jesus refused to drink it because He wanted to be fully conscious until His death.

Cyrene is an ancient Greek city founded in 630 B.C. by Battus I. It is present day Shahhat, Libya and it is also the important and oldest among the other five Greek cities of this region. The Cyrene city is also the home for Cyrenaics, a philosophy school founded by Aristippus around 3rd century B.C.

Cyrene was founded in the year 630 and it became of the one of the major cities in ancient Libya. The city prospered during the reign of Emperor Battus IV and in 460 B.C. the city became a Republic.

Around 96 BC the Romans took control over the city and served as the main state for the Romans for about 18 years.

The city also prospered for some years but in the year 115 A.D. a major part of the city was destroyed as a part of Jewish revolt. The city again prospered during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, but in the 365 AD an earthquake struck the city destroying temples and buildings.

35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36 And sitting down they watched him there;

37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

“Two thieves” – according to Roman law, robbery was not a capital offense. 

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Golgotha – The hill just above Jeremiah’s Grotto, is possibly the true site of Calvary (Calvary is the English-language name for Golgotha). Jesus was crucified outside the city gate (Hebrews 13:12). Golgotha overlooks the ancient main road that led to Jericho and Damascus in New Testament times.

“From the sixth hour…unto the ninth hour” – from noon until 3:00 p.m.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

“Eli, Eli, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” – a mixture of Aramaic and Hebrew, one of the languages commonly spoken in the Holy Land in Jesus’ time.  They reveal how deeply Jesus felt His abandonment by God as He bore the sins of mankind.

For Jesus to quote the initial verse of Psalm 22 was to declare its fulfillment in His own life.

47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

The bystanders mistook the  first words of Jesus’ cry (“Eloi, Eloi”) to be a cry for Elijah.  It was commonly believed that Elijah would come in times of critical need to protect the innocent and rescue the righteous  (Mk 15:36).

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

“Vail” – the inner curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place.  The tearing of the curtain signified Christ’s making it possible for believers to go directly into God’s presence (see Heb 9L1-14, 10:14-22).

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

27:52-53 – an incident found only in Matthew’s Gospel.  These rose after Christ did.  Jesus was “the first fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor 15:20).  They were a witness to Christ’s victory over death.

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

“Son of God” – it cannot be determined whether the centurion made a fully Christian confession, or was only acknowledging that, since the gods had so obviously acted to vindicate this judicial victim, Jesus must be one especially favored by them (the Greek can also be translated “a son”).

But in view of the ridicule voiced by “those passing by” (vv. 39-40), it seems probably that Matthew intended the former. 

55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:

58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

Jesus cleansed Mary Magdalene of “seven demons” (Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2), sometimes interpreted as referring to complex illnesses. But still, she was nothing more than a sinner like everybody else.

Of course, the Catholics have put her on a pedestal because she was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And therefore they think she is the second-most important woman in the New Testament.

60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.

61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher.

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

“The next day, that followed the day of the preparation” – Saturday, the Sabbath.  Friday was the preparation day for the Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday).

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

“The last error shall be worse than

the first” – the first would be that Jesus was the Messiah, the second that he had risen as the Son of God.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

The Location of Jesus’ Tomb

According to the New Testament, Jesus was buried in a new tomb hewn out of rock in a garden near the crucifixion site just outside the city.  In addition, the entrance was low and sealed with a stone and on the right side it was possible to sit where the body of Jesus had lain.

The Garden Tomb located in Jerusalem, outside the city walls and close to the Damascus Gate, is a rock-cut tomb which was unearthed in 1867 and has subsequently been considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-nineteenth century has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha (it is also known as Skull Hill and Gordon’s Calvary).

In contradistinction to this modern identification the traditional site where the death and resurrection of Christ are believed to have occurred has been the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at least since the fourth century. Since 1894 the Garden Tomb and its surrounding gardens have been maintained as a place of Christian worship and reflection by a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom named The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association

Based upon the Biblical description and upon other known 1st century tombs, the tomb of Jesus can be reconstructed as having had a small forecourt, a low entry passage and a burial chamber with benches, or “couches,” on three sides for the placement of the deceased.

There are two main contenders for the location of Jesus’ tomb in the Old City of Jerusalem: the Garden Tomb, 275 yards north of the Damascus Gate, and the Church the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter. 

The Garden Tomb, however, has no authentic ancient tradition associated with it. It was suggested as the site of Jesus’ burial after the renowned British military hero Charles Gordon, while visiting Jerusalem in 1883, suggested that Calvary would have been located on a nearby hill.

His identification was based a fanciful interpretation of ancient Jerusalem as being in the shape of a skeleton, with the skull (i.e., Golgotha) positioned at a hill north of the Damascus Gate. This led to the identification of a tomb on the western side of the hill as Jesus’ burial place, once referred to as Gordon’s Tomb.

Modern investigations of the Garden Tomb and others in the vicinity, however, indicate that they were part of a cemetery dating to the divided monarchy period rather than to the 1st  century A.D.

The Christian quarter in the north-west section of the Old City comprises some 4,900 people. Most of the Christian institutions are clustered around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This church is built over the remains of Golgatha where Christ was crucified and the tomb where he was buried and rose.The first Christian community held liturgical clebrations here until 66 AD. The emperor Hadrian in 135 built a pagan shrine over the spot. Constantine built a hugh Church of the Resurrection in the 300s. This is the most sacred place for Christians in Jerusalem.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher location, on the other hand, has a tradition going to early Christian times. When the Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem in 130/131 A.D., he constructed a temple to Jupiter and Venus over the site of the present Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

In 325 A.D. Constantine ordered the removal of Hadrian’s temple. Local Christian tradition had claimed this to be the site of Jesus’ tomb, and, remarkably, when Hadrian’s temple was cleared away, a tomb area was indeed discovered beneath it.

Constantine had a church constructed on the site and built a small structure, or edicule, within the building to enclose the tomb itself. The present Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the continuation of Constantine’s church.

In favor of the authenticity of this location is the fact that there was a continuous Christian presence in Jerusalem from Jesus’ death until Constantine uncovered the tomb.

This Christian community doubtless would have venerated the site of Jesus’ burial, preserving the memory of the location of his tomb. Also, the site of the church was an old quarry during the time of Jesus, although at least part of it had been made into a garden (Jn 19:41).

The fact that the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher had been a quarry implies that it was outside the walls of the city (it is today inside the Old City). This agrees with the fact that Jesus was crucified outside the walls.

The Garden Tomb (also known as Gordon’s Calvary), located in Jerusalem, outside the city walls and close to the Damascus Gate, is a rock-cut tomb considered by some to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus, and to be adjacent to Golgotha, in contradistinction to the traditional site for these—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There is no mention of the Garden Tomb as the place of Jesus’ burial before the 19th century.

Within this area at least four tombs cut into the western rock face have been discovered, only one of which corresponds to the type in which Jesus was buried.

The church was destroyed in 614 and rebuilt in 626.The edicule (a small shrine) was destroyed in 1009 by the Egyptian caliph al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah. Contemporary accounts suggest that the southern wall, the burial couch and part of the northern wall survived this destruction.

The rebuilt edicule has suffered damage and neglect over the centuries since that time, so that today it is a hodgepodge of reconstructions and repairs. Although absolute certainty is impossible, the evidence points to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as being the actual site of Jesus’ tomb.

…the soldiers that guarded Jesus’ tomb.