Judas Hangs Himself
1 Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. 2 Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
Jesus, Judas confessed his sin. He knew he was wrong. He was convicted. Did he ever turn to You? Could he be saved? Could he be in heaven now? Whatever happened to him?
“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
Jesus, what happened to Judas? I understand despair, I’ve wanted to kill myself. I may again some day. How did he fall so far to commit this sin? Or was it really the same sin I commit day after day after day? I know I can want to die sometimes. Save me from Judas faith. He was Yours and fell away. I could fall away unless You hold on to me. I know I don’t deserve it, but please hold on to me. Keep me Jesus. Change me.
6 The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.”
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
10 and purchased the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.[c]”
Jesus, Your Word is amazing. Hundreds of years before it happened You told us all about it. You are obviously in total control! Everything works out just as You say. So why do I worry and struggle so much with life? Why do I lack faith, when it is so obvious that it is all in Your hands? Father, give me faith. Change me and fill me with Your love. Help me trust the author of all things with my short little life and the lives of those I love. Change me.
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
11 Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.
Silent. You are at the climax of Your life. You are the Son of God, the King of kings. They are lying about You and You know it will end in Your horrible death…and You are silent. I need to defend myself when people are justly criticizing me! I am always worrying and fretting around. I can never just keep my mouth shut. I refuse to be “walked on”.
Lord, change me so I accept Your will and have faith in Your control so I can just be silent. Let the world around me be in turmoil against me. I need to just be silent. Change me Lord. Help me to just be silent.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas.
19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
Lord, I can see myself as the crowd here. It doesn’t make any sense at all, but sin never does in the light of Your Word, but I choose the notorious sin over You all the time. I would have followed the crowd. I am so sorry. I know Your life in me has changed me, but I still make this terrible decision way too often. Help me Jesus. Change me.
And Jesus, I can see me as Barabbas too, of course. This one is so obvious. I should be hung on that cross. I have been a prisoner of sin. Out of the blue, for no reason I can understand, I am free. You suffer and die for me. Help me appreciate the severity of what You have done for me. Help me to mourn and weep over my sins and Your death. Help me to rejoice over the freedom You give me and Your resurrection.
24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
Jesus, there is no doubt I am responsible for Your death. I am so sorry, though not sorry enough. Help me to mourn my sins more deeply. I caused a crucifixion! You died in my place. How can I keep from crying.
26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
Jesus, You set Barabbas free. There is all is. Barabbas is guilty but goes free. You are innocent but go on to torture and death. Did Barabbas know what happened? Was he touched? Was he changed? Is he in heaven now? More important Lord: Do I know what happened? Am I touched? Am I changed? Am I going to heaven?
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters[f] and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Jesus, will I ever be a strong enough Christian that the world would mock me like they mocked You? There is the real truth. The world doesn’t treat me like that because there isn’t enough difference between me and them for them to be bothered! Just last night I was sad and turned to worldly things to ease my pain. Why didn’t I turn to You? I should have been on my knees, but I wasn’t. I am so sorry.
32 Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene,[g] and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.
Jesus, what is the cross I am to help You carry? I don’t really understand. Is Simon a figure of a life with You? If so, what does it mean? Does it mean that the world will force us to share in some small part of Your suffering if we are really going to follow You? That does make sense, but it doesn’t seem to catch all the meaning. Something is missing. Open my mind and heart Lord. Help me be Simon today.
33 And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 34 The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
Jesus, Your death was going to be so awful that even the cruel Roman soldiers offered You some alcohol to deaden Your senses, but You refused. Even in this awful situation You did not want to take any chance that You would not do everything Your Father wanted. You would feel the full measure of the pain my sins would cause.
I look for ways to escape my own small trials and sufferings. I do not show patience and endurance. I run from even small emotional problems. Lord, help me to be like You. Give me such a strong desire to bring You glory, that I do not try to avoid pain and suffering, but embrace it as You did.
35 After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
Jesus, the value of Your cloths meant more to them than the value of Your life. Yet I do the same thing all the time. I buy a new computer, which I don’t really NEED, while some child somewhere goes hungry. That child is You. There is no difference. Change me Lord.
39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
Jesus, we humans are capable of such cruelty. I am capable of such cruelty. At first I can’t imagine seeing the pitiful sight of You on that cross and not feeling pity, but then I remembered myself being happy about another person’s misfortune just a short time ago. In that moment, I mocked You on the cross.
You have changed me Jesus. I know I feel pity now much more than I once did. But I still have a long way to go. You can change me. You are changing me. There is hope for me. But Lord, please change me faster. Change my heart. Make me a new person.
41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.
Jesus, at the exact time You were saving us all from our sins, they mocked You regarding savings others. It is amazing how blind we can be. It is amazing how blind I am. They did not recognize the work You were doing. I so often do not see how You use suffering in my life to do some work. I often don’t see You in my life at all when You are really all over it. Open my eyes and ears and heart Lord to Your work.
Even the men dying with You mocked You. Wow, is that like us or what. I so often fail to see my own situation. I fail to see the awful state I am in. I fail to see how bad I messed up. And yet You are right there in the awful state with me, sharing my pain and misery and embarrassment. Open my eyes and ears and heart Lord to Your will in my life.
The Death of Jesus
45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[j] lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”[k]
Jesus, I find these words so fascinating. I can’t imagine You being abandoned by Your Father. I can’t imagine how awful this must have been for You to have called this out. Help me understand.
But I also know these are the first words of Psalm 22 (see below). I know that Psalm 22 would have been well known by those who stood around the cross, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees that put You do death. Psalm 22 is such a perfect description of Your death…written 700 years before You were born. I believe You were call Your murderers to believe in You so You could forgive them and be with them forever in paradise.
That is more amazing than any of Your miracles. It is more amazing than anything I can possibly imagine. Your ability to love and forgive are so far beyond my comprehension. It is what gives me hope. Help me to remember this line when I sin, so I know I can always return to You.
47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”
50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.
Jesus, You had total control of Your own death. You did not just finally die, but You released Your spirit. Such complete control, and yet You were there on that cross suffering incredibly…for me. It was all Your choice, everything, and You chose to die…for me. Change me Jesus, change me.
51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
Jesus, I know what this meant, and I thank you. This curtain separated the people from the “Holy of Holies” part of the temple which represented Your presence. The temple was made of cloth woven to literally be inches thick. Father, You tore that cloth (from top to bottom), no one else could. Jesus, when You died You finally ended the separation of man from God.
So why do I so seldom enter into Your presence? Why do I not live there all the time? I pray most mornings, but my day seems to then go on without much thought of You. Holy Spirit, guide me to walk past the torn curtain and live my life in Your presence.
The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
54 The Roman officer
Jesus, You finally are free from Your suffering, and recognized for who You are by the Roman soldiers who knew nothing of Jewish faith or the Messiah. It was just obvious to them. What fear must have struck their hearts and souls to think they had just crucified the Son of God. Yet it was my sins that truly crucified You. Why isn’t my soul struck with fear? Lord, help me to know and fear and change. Change me Jesus.
55 And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
Jesus, I can’t imagine the pain and hopelessness and helplessness these women must have felt. They had left their home and life behind to serve You, and now they were watching You die…and thee wasn’t a thing they could do. But in the midst of the total loss, You had a plan. These women would soon see the empty tomb with their own eyes. Lord, help me to look to You, in the midst of my despair and loss. Help me to depend on You and to stay with You, through the deaths of this life to the glorious resurrection into Your kingdom.
The Burial of Jesus
57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. 61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.
Jesus, the creator of all the universe, in a tomb. How empty and alone those women who were watching must have felt. All Your disciples must have felt the same loss. Jesus, help me to believe, when I am feeling alone and wondering where You are and what Your plan is. When I am in the tomb of my life, help me to know that there is a resurrection day and You will are always with me, no matter how I feel.
The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, on the Sabbath,[n] the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. 63 They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ 64 So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” 65 Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” 66 So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
- Matthew 27:6 Greek since it is the price for blood.
- Matthew 27:9 Or I took.
- Matthew 27:10 Greek as the Lord directed me. Zech 11:12-13; Jer 32:6-9.
- Matthew 27:16 Some manuscripts read Jesus Barabbas; also in 27:17.
- Matthew 27:25 Greek “His blood be on us and on our children.”
- Matthew 27:27 Or into the Praetorium.
- Matthew 27:32 Cyrene was a city in northern Africa.
- Matthew 27:35 Greek by casting lots. A few late manuscripts add This fulfilled the word of the prophet: “They divided my garments among themselves and cast lots for my robe.” See Ps 22:18.
- Matthew 27:38 Or criminals; also in 27:44.
- Matthew 27:46 Some manuscripts read Eloi, Eloi.
- Matthew 27:46 Ps 22:1.
- Matthew 27:49 Some manuscripts add And another took a spear and pierced his side, and out flowed water and blood. Compare John 19:34.
- Matthew 27:54 Greek The centurion.
- Matthew 27:62 Or On the next day, which is after the Preparation.
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Doe of the Dawn.”
1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. 3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
let the Lord rescue him!”
9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.
11 Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.
12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
13 Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.
14 My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice[a] for my clothing.
19 O Lord, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
20 Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
21 Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.
22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.[b]
I will praise you among your assembled people.
23 Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.
25 I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied.
All who seek the Lord will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
27 The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him.
All the families of the nations will bow down before him.
28 For royal power belongs to the Lord.
He rules all the nations.
29 Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
Bow before him, all who are mortal,
all whose lives will end as dust.
30 Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
They will hear about everything he has do