This chapter to packed! Jesus is brought before Pilate (vv. 1-2, 11-26); Judas commits suicide out of despair for his betrayal of Jesus (vv. 3-10); Jesus is scourged, mocked and crucified (vv. 27-44); he dies (vv. 45-56); is buried (vv. 57-61); and his tomb is guarded (vv. 62-69).
Ok, a lot goin’ on here! Let’s look at just a few details.
1. Some have often drawn a comparison between Judas and Peter. You remember that Peter denies Jesus three times during his phony-baloney trial. Judas, perhaps a greater sin, betrayed Jesus. Peter repents at the very end of Chapter 26 and later would be reconciled with the Lord. Judas, on the other hand, does not. He falls into despair. At the bottom of which is his escape from the reality he participated in creating, his self-inflicted death.
2. Jesus obviously silence during his trial is interesting. Do two things here. First: remember that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Second: go back, and real quick, read the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah (It’s short; and quite beautifully written).
3. Pilate hands a sign over Jesus while on the Cross: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” Pilate, perhaps inadvertently, is the first to make this definitive proclamation. It turns out Providence is not without a sense of irony.
4. Jesus’s body is removed from the Cross by Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a burial clothe and placed in a tomb. The detail in the Gospel is that it was a linen cloth (v. 59). We can assume that it was white in color. When we are baptized, we too are wrapped in a white clothe; and when our casket is brought into church upon our death, before they celebrate the funeral Mass, our casket is draped in a white clothe called a pall. There is special meaning behind the white clothe. But that meaning is wrapped not the clothe (pardon the pun), it’s wrapped in the both the Baptism and Death of Jesus. Our Baptism and our Death have meaning because of Jesus’s Baptism and Death.
Finally, there are guards posted at the tomb. Why this detail? Could is be that Matthew is preparing us for something in the future? Are the guards going to see something? Are the Pharisees still afraid that even a dead Jesus is not without power and influence?
We’ll just have to wait and see.
Point for Prayer
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world. Lord, I stand at the foot of the Cross. In it’s shadow I look at your broken body without breathe. May I accompany you through the value of death and darkness as you accompany me. We are together, you and I, in life and death. And, praise God, in the life to come. Amen.