Matthew 27:3-5 Judas...when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself
When the scripture says that Judas 'repented himself', it means that he was sorry for what he had done-not that repentance was possible for him. Just as the murderer's remorse does nothing to bring the dead back to life, Judas' pathetic attempts to undo what was done were too little, too late. For a son of perdition, 'there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come' (DC 76:34). Mormon's commentary about Korihor applies so well to Judas, 'and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell' (Alma 30:60).
Orson F. Whitney
"One can almost hear the shouts of 'Crucify him! crucify him!' swelling up from their maddened throats. Here and there amid the mighty throng may be picked out faces...with haughtiness of men and malignant triumph stamped upon every feature...But there is one face, in all that motley throng, upon which it is fearful to gaze...so hideous of aspect as to send a shudder through the soul of the spectator, what shall I say, what can I say of the countenance of Judas the accursed? Half hidden by the crowd, yet plainly conspicuous from the position he holds, not daring to see or be seen by Him whom his polluting kiss betrayed, wishful to fly yet powerless to move, and feeling, notwithstanding his concealment, that the all-searching eye of the Master is even now reading the secret thoughts of his heart, he stands as if riveted to the spot by the conscious horror of his crime...quailing like a coward before some invisible foe, endeavoring in vain to quiet the pangs of conscience which are darting like poisoned arrows through his soul.
"It is indeed a fearful sight. The quintessence of horror and remorse! Perdition personified! Hell in one human countenance! Awful even to gaze at, what must it have been to endure!...for Judas, the apostate, the betrayer of his brethren, the shedder of innocent blood, the wilful sinner against light and knowledge-what remaineth for him? Alas! nothing-nothing but that 'certain looking for of judgment and fiery indignation' that shall devour the adversary and his dupes. Go thy way, thou doomed and desolate soul! Hide thy visage in the tomb, where sleep forever all hopes of thy redemption. Thou hast betrayed the innocent blood, thou hast sold the Lord of life unto death, and written in a hand of fire damnation upon every lineament of thy existence. Go thy way thou scorched and blasted being, but think not to escape thy visitation, for though thy body turn to dust, and earth that shall curse thy name would fain repudiate thy memory, yet thy spirit shall live on-live on in endless torment, where the worm that dieth not and the fire that cannot be quenched shall inflict upon thee the terrors of that dreadful but for thee merited punishment, the end of which no man knoweth." (Contributor, vol. 4 (October 1882-September 1883), Vol. Iv. February, 1883. No. 5. 179.)
Matthew 27:5 he...departed and went and hanged himself
At first glance, the Matthew version of Judas' suicide differs from the Acts version which records, 'falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out' (Acts 1:18). The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies the discrepancy, saying that he 'hanged himself on a tree. And straightway he fell down, and his bowels gushed out, and he died.' (JST Matt 27:6)
Matthew 27:6 It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood
"They had no qualms about bribing a man to betray his master. They had no qualms about an illegal conspiracy to kill the Savior. But when they received money they viewed as spiritually tainted, they were horrified at the thought of putting it into the temple treasury, because it was blood money." (Gerald N. Lund, Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series, 175.)
Matthew 27:9 fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet
Our version of Jeremiah does not include this prophecy. Matthew may have been referencing Zech. 11:12-13.
Matthew 27:11 the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews?
Bruce R. McConkie
"Caiaphas and his conspiring confederates...raised the cry of sedition and treason...'We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.'
"As to any perverting of the nation, Pilate could not care less; the Jews were already a benighted mob of religious fanatics in his view-let them be what they were. As to giving tribute to Caesar, that charge was idle rhetoric; grasping publicans and Roman steel saw to the taxes of the day. But a would-be king, that was another matter." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4: 174.)
Matthew 27:11 And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest
Christ's response in the vernacular of today is, 'you said it, not me.' But why didn't Jesus just say "yes, I am the King of kings and Lord of lords, of whom Isaiah spoke when he said, 'the government shall be upon his shoulder: and...Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David' (Isa. 9:6-7)"?
The Savior was always careful not to declare his own Messiahship. He had no need to declare himself as Savior or king. On the contrary, he had previously declared, 'If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true...the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me' (Jn 5:31-36). But Pilate pressed the issue, asking again, 'Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth' (Jn. 18:37).
Matthew 27:14 he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly
Marvin J. Ashton
"For many years I have had a very vivid picture in my mind of Jesus Christ standing before Pilate. While Jesus stood in front of an angry mob, who sneered and condemned, Pilate tried to get Him to respond and retaliate. He tried to get Him to declare Himself a king. Jesus was silent. His life was His sermon. He was perfect in character, a worthy son, the Only Begotten of the Father. His [spiritual] maturity, if you please, would speak for itself." (Be of Good Cheer, 72.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"To be wisely silent when we so much wish to be heard is a triumph of meekness over eagerness. Meek Jesus taught us, too, by His sermons of silence." (That Ye May Believe, 132.)
Matthew 27:19 his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man
No man in the history of the world has ever received a message from his wife which was as important as this one from Pilate's wife. 'Have thou nothing to do with that just man,' turned out to be prophetically wise advice. Why the Lord gave her such a premonition, we do not know. The nature of her dream, we can only speculate. One thing is likely, when Pilate returned home to explain Christ's fate, he must have been met with disappointment. His hand washing exercise would have scarcely satisfied his wife's plagued conscience. Little did Pilate know at the time but his name would go down in history-not for any other single act he had done-but for this, the sentence he passed on a seemingly insignificant Nazarene named Jesus!
Bruce R. McConkie
"There are times-not a few in the course of a life-when men would do well to give heed to the wise counsel of their wives. If ever there was such a time in the life of Pilate, this was it. The Lord in his goodness to her-and also, for his own purposes, that another witness might be borne of his Son-had revealed to this woman that Jesus was Lord of all and that calamity and sorrow awaited those who opposed him. Nor was Pilate unsympathetic to her message; in reality it but confirmed his own feelings and desires." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4: 185.)
Matthew 27:21 Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas
Jeffrey R. Holland
Ecclesiastical and political rejection became more personal when the citizenry in the street turned against Jesus as well. It is one of the ironies of history that sitting with Jesus in prison was a real blasphemer, a murderer and revolutionary known as Barabbas, a name or title in Aramaic meaning "son of the father." Free to release one prisoner in the spirit of the Passover tradition, Pilate asked the people, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" They said, "Barabbas." So one godless "son of the father" was set free while a truly divine Son of His Heavenly Father moved on to crucifixion. ("None Were with Him" Ensign, May 2009, 86)
Matthew 27:22 What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?
Gordon B. Hinckley
"I ask anew the question offered by Pilate two thousand years ago, 'What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?' (Matt. 27:22.) Indeed, we need continually to ask ourselves, What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ? What shall we do with his teachings, and how can we make them an inseparable part of our lives?
"...What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ? Learn of him. Search the scriptures for they are they which testify of him. Ponder the miracle of his life and mission. Try a little more diligently to follow his example and observe his teachings." ("What Shall I Do Then with Jesus Which Is Called Christ?" Ensign, Dec. 1983, 3)
Carlos E. Asay
"Included in the New Testament are three questions of vital importance. The first was posed by Jesus on the coasts of Caesarea Philippi when he said to his disciples, 'Whom do men say that I ... am?' (Matt. 16:13.) Question two, Jesus asked the Pharisees: 'What think ye of Christ?' (Matt. 22:42.) The third was voiced by Pilate: 'What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?' (Matt. 27:22.)
"Few, if any, questions are more important than these three because what we say, think, and do with Jesus the Christ will have bearing upon our lives, both here and hereafter." ("Three Questions," Ensign, Jan. 1984, 71)
Matthew 27:24 Pilate...washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person
Spencer W. Kimball
"Pilate attempted to wash from his hands the responsibility of defending the Christ or at least of insuring justice. He had said to the clamoring mob, 'I find in him no fault at all.' Yet he had the Master scourged and permitted the soldiers to injure the Lord with the crown of plaited thorns, ridicule him, place on him a purple robe, and strike him and taunt him. Of what avail was the water in the basin? How could Pilate cleanse himself of responsibility of the crucifixion by publicly washing his hands or by announcing: 'I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.'? (Matt. 27:24.)
"Likewise the Church member who has the attitude of leaving it to others will have much to answer for." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 100)
Spencer J. Condie
"The washing of his hands after delivering the Savior to the mob is an example of what President Marion G. Romney describes as 'serving the Lord in such a way as not to offend the devil.'"(Your Agency, Handle with Care, 60.)
Matthew 27:25 His blood be on us, and on our children
No phrase of New Testament scripture is as despised by the Jewish nation as is Matthew's quote, 'his blood be on us, and on our children.' While acknowledging Jesus as a prophet, most religious Jews deny that the Jewish people were responsible for Christ's death. Some pageants, performed by Christians in the Holy Land to commemorate Christ's crucifixion, have been required to strike this very phrase from the script. But why would this phrase be so inflammatory? Where does the blame lie for the death of Jesus Christ? We can blame the chief priests and elders; we can blame Judas; we can blame Pilate; we can blame the Roman soldiers. But the only group who was willing to take responsibility-to have their garments stained with that precious blood-was the Jewish people themselves. Such was the claim, not of a select few, but of 'all the people.' Jewish history, from the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD to the political problems of today's Israel, to a thousand persecutions in between, testifies that the Lord did indeed require His blood at their hands.
"Has not His blood been on them, and on their children? Has it not fallen most of all on those most nearly concerned in that deep tragedy? Before the dread sacrifice was consummated, Judas died in the horrors of a loathsome suicide. Caiaphas was deposed the year following. Herod died in infamy and exile. Stripped of his Procuratorship very shortly afterwards, on the very charges he had tried by a wicked concession to avoid, Pilate, wearied out with misfortunes, died in suicide and banishment, leaving behind him an execrated name. The house of Annas was destroyed a generation later by an infuriated mob, and his son was dragged through the streets, and scourged and beaten to his place of murder. Some of those who had shared in and witnessed the scenes of that day-and thousands of their children-also shared in and witnessed the long horrors of that siege of Jerusalem which stands unparalleled in history for its unutterable fearfulness. 'It seems,' says Renan, 'as though the whole race had appointed a rendezvous for extermination.' They had shouted, 'We have no king but Caesar!' and they had no king but Caesar; and leaving only for a time the fantastic shadow of a local and contemptible royalty, Caesar after Caesar outraged, and tyrannized, and pillaged, and oppressed them, till at last they rose in wild revolt against the Caesar whom they had claimed, and a Caesar slaked in the blood of its best defenders the red ashes of their burnt and desecrated Temple. They had forced the Romans to crucify their Christ, and though they regarded this punishment with especial horror, they and their children were themselves crucified in myriads by the Romans outside their own walls, till room was wanting and wood failed, and the soldiers had to ransack a fertile inventiveness of cruelty for fresh methods of inflicting this insulting form of death. They had given thirty pieces of silver for their Saviour's blood, and they were themselves sold in thousands for yet smaller sums." (Farrar, Frederic, Life of Christ, chap. LX)
Matthew 27:26 when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified
Bruce R. McConkie
"This brutal practice, a preliminary to crucifixion, consisted of stripping the victim of clothes, strapping him to a pillar or frame, and beating him with a scourge made of leather straps weighted with sharp pieces of lead and bone. It left the tortured sufferer bleeding, weak, and sometimes dead. Pilate tried in vain to create compassion for Jesus as a result of the scourging. Teaching the need to bear chastisement, Paul, looking back on the scene, wrote: 'Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.' (Heb. 12:6.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 807.)
Matthew 27:29 a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head
James E. Faust
"Perhaps this cruel act was a perverse attempt to mimic the placing of an emperor's laurel upon his head. Thus, there was pressed down upon him a crown of thorns. He accepted the pain as part of the great gift he had promised to make. How poignant this was, considering that thorns signified God's displeasure as he cursed the ground for Adam's sake that henceforth it would bring forth thorns. But by wearing the crown, Jesus transformed thorns into a symbol of his glory." (Finding Light in a Dark World, 20.)
Matthew 27:30 they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head
"Nephi made a significant point related to the idea of the condescension of the Son of God. In "1 Ne. 19:71 Nephi 19:7 he talked about the people trampling under their feet the very God of Israel, and in verse nine he added, 'The world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught.' Think of the irony of that! That statement is incredible-the world would judge the Creator of all the universe to be something insignificant, a nothing. Nephi continued: 'Wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.' (1 Ne. 19:9.)
"Think of the time when the men mocked him in the palace of Caiaphas where the trial took place. They put a blindfold on him. They slapped him across the face and said, 'Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?' (Matt. 26:68.) All he had to do was raise one finger, and the entire city of Jerusalem could have been obliterated. When they stepped forward and spat in his face (see Matt. 26:67), all he had to do was to speak a word, and the entire solar system could have been annihilated. This is the Man they were dealing with: the Creator of the universe, a member of the Godhead. When the Roman soldiers jammed the crown of thorns onto his head and lashed his back, he stood patiently, and, as Nephi said, 'he suffereth it.' Yet he could have spoken but a word and destroyed them all.
"Why? Why would he endure such degradation? Why suffer it all when he could so easily have stopped it? 'Because of his loving kindness . . . towards the children of men.' Surely this gives added meaning to the angel's question, 'Knowest thou the condescension of God?' (Gerald N. Lund, Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 38.)
Matthew 27:35 they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots
Dallin H. Oaks
"The Roman soldiers of Pilate provided an unforgettable illustration of the different perspectives of the carnal mind and the spiritual mind. During a tragic but glorious afternoon on Calvary, a handful of soldiers waited at the foot of a cross. One of the supreme events in all eternity was taking place on the cross above their heads. Oblivious to that fact, they occupied themselves by casting lots to divide the earthly property of the dying Son of God (see Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:34: John 19:24). Their example reminds each of us that we should not be casting our lots for the things of the world while the things of eternity, including our families and the work of the Lord, suffer for our lack of attention." (Pure in Heart, 116.)
Matthew 27:40 If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross
Christ's ministry began and ended with the same temptation from Satan. He who so badly wanted to be the chosen one always demanded proof from Jehovah that the Father had really picked Him first (see Abr. 3:27).
Howard W. Hunter
"There is, of course, running through all of these temptations, Satan's insidious suggestion that Jesus was not the Son of God, the doubt implied in the tempter's repeated use of the word if. 'If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.' (Matt. 4:3.) 'If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down.' (Matt. 4:6.) These, of course, foreshadowed that final, desperate temptation which would come three years later: 'If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.' (Matt. 27:40.) But Jesus patiently withstood that ploy also, knowing that in due time every knee would bow and every tongue confess.
"It was not necessary then, or ever, for Jesus to satisfy the curiosity of men, least of all unholy men. As victory in every encounter came to Jesus, so the pathos and tragedy of Lucifer's life is even more obvious: first, bold and taunting and tempting; then pleading and weak and desperate; and finally-ultimately-simply banished.
"The question for us now is, Will we succeed? Will we resist? Will we wear the victor's crown? Satan may have lost Jesus, but he does not believe he has lost us. He continues to tempt, taunt, and plead for our loyalty. We should take strength for this battle from the fact that Christ was victorious not as a God but as a man.
"It is important to remember that Jesus was capable of sinning, that he could have succumbed, that the plan of life and salvation could have been foiled, but that he remained true. Had there been no possibility of his yielding to the enticement of Satan, there would have been no real test, no genuine victory in the result. If he had been stripped of the faculty to sin, he would have been stripped of his very agency. It was he who had come to safeguard and ensure the agency of man. He had to retain the capacity and ability to sin had he willed so to do." (That We Might Have Joy, 35-36.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Note the dagger of doubt, 'If thou be the Son of God,' that Satan hurled at Jesus, seeking to strike at the Savior's identity. The same dagger was flung both on the Mount of Temptation and at Calvary. 'He saved others, let him save himself.' 'Save thyself,' they said mockingly. 'If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.' All this was said while legions of angels were at hand! But Jesus knew who He was, and He did not doubt nor retreat from the reality of His role.
"Those daggers of doubt will be flung at us. Though far, far less precious prey, we are still fair game. Satan will strike at our identity as disciples of Jesus, appealing to our doubts and misusing our modesty. He will try to transform uncertainty about our adequacy into uncertainty about our callings." (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward, 25.)
Matthew 27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him
Melvin J. Ballard
"I ask you, what father and mother could stand by and listen to the cry of their children in distress . . . and not render assistance? I have heard of mothers throwing themselves into raging streams when they could not swim a stroke to save their drowning children, [I have heard of fathers] rushing into burning buildings [at the peril of their own lives] to rescue those whom they loved.
"We cannot stand by and listen to those cries without it touching our hearts. . . . He had the power to save and He loved His Son, and He could have saved Him. He might have rescued Him from the insult of the crowds. He might have rescued Him when the crown of thorns was placed upon His head. He might have rescued Him when the Son, hanging between two thieves, was mocked with, 'Save thyself, and come down from the cross. He saved others; himself he cannot save.' He listened to all this. He saw that Son condemned; He saw Him drag the cross through the streets of Jerusalem and faint under its load. He saw the Son finally upon Calvary; He saw His body stretched out upon the wooden cross; He saw the cruel nails driven through hands and feet, and the blows that broke the skin, tore the flesh, and let out the life's blood of His [Only Begotten] Son. . . .
"[He] looked on [all that] with great grief and agony over His Beloved [Child], until there seems to have come a moment when even our Saviour cried out in despair: 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.'
"In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles, . . . His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His Son. Oh, in that moment when He might have saved His Son, I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us. . . . I rejoice that He did not interfere, and that His love for us made it possible for Him to endure to look upon the sufferings of His [Only Begotten] and give Him finally to us, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Without Him, without His sacrifice, we would have remained, and we would never have come glorified into His presence. . .
"This is what it cost, in part, for our Father in heaven to give the gift of His Son unto men. . . .
"Our God is a jealous God-jealous lest we should [ever] ignore or forget and slight his greatest gift unto us." (Melvin J. Ballard, Crusader for Righteousness, pp. 136-38 as taken from Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven, 212.)
Matthew 27:45 from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour
"Christ hung upon the cross for a period of about six hours, from approximately 9:00 A.M. until 3:00 p.m. It was during the last three hours that darkness covered the land, as apparently the agonies of Gethsemane returned (see Jesus the Christ, p. 661; Mortal Messiah 4:224-26). Of this period Elder Bruce R. McConkie writes: 'He will continue to suffer the curses of crucifixion for another three hours, until around 3:00 P.M. when he voluntarily gives up the ghost. Of these coming hours, Matthew and Mark say only that it was a period when there was darkness over all the land; Luke extends this turning of day into night over a greater area. 'There was a darkness over all the earth,' he says, 'and the sun was darkened.'...That this darkness did cover the whole earth we surmise from the Book of Mormon account. The Nephite prophets had spoken, Messianically, of three days of darkness that would be a sign unto them of the crucifixion of Christ. At that time the rocks would rend and there would be such upheavals in nature that those on the isles of the sea would say, 'The God of nature suffers.' (1 Nephi 19:10-12; Helaman 14:20-24.)" (Mortal Messiah 4:224-25)" (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4: 38.)
Matthew 27:46 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
"Is it possible that the Heavenly Father had really forsaken him? Could God have abandoned him in this most sacred and terrible hour? Yes, indeed. For Christ had become guilty of the sins of the world, guilty in our place. What happens to the rest of us when we are guilty of sin? The Spirit of God withdraws from us, the heavens turn to brass, and we are left alone to stew in our guilt until we repent. In Gethsemane the best among us vicariously became the worst among us and suffered the very depths of hell. And as one who was guilty, the Savior experienced for the first time in his life the loss of the Spirit of God and of communion with his Father." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News, 119.)
James E. Talmage
"What mind of man can fathom the significance of that awful cry? It seems, that in addition to the fearful suffering incident to crucifixion, the agony of Gethsemane had recurred, intensified beyond human power to endure. In that bitterest hour the dying Christ was alone, alone in most terrible reality. That the supreme sacrifice of the Son might be consummated in all its fulness, the Father seems to have withdrawn the support of His immediate Presence, leaving to the Savior of men the glory of complete victory over the forces of sin and death." (Jesus the Christ, 612)
Jeffrey R. Holland
Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually-that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)
The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, "Behold, the hour . . . is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me" and "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him"? (John 16:32; 8:29)
With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ's mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required; indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind-us, all of us-would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.
But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us. When the uttermost farthing had then been paid, when Christ's determination to be faithful was as obvious as it was utterly invincible, finally and mercifully, it was "finished." ("None Were with Him" Ensign, May 2009, 86)
Matthew 27:47 Some of them...said, This man calleth for Elias
Like so many utterances of the Savior, this too was misunderstood. A generation which pretended to be so religious did not know the difference between Elohim and Elijah. Even more significantly, they missed the message of those four Aramaic words, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.' Not only was this a heartbreaking plea to his Father, Jesus was also referencing the 22nd psalm by invoking the first line of the chapter. Had those present understood the reference, they could have opened their scriptures (so to speak) and read the Messianic psalm which graphically paints the scene of Christ's crucifixion as foreseen by the prophet-king David. Consider this clear reference to Christ's crucifixion:
'They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.' (Ps 22:1-18)
Matthew 27:51 the veil of the temple was rent in twain
Bruce R. McConkie
"Christ is now sacrificed; the law is fulfilled; the Mosaic dispensation is dead; the fulness of the gospel has come with all its light and power; and so-to dramatize, in a way which all Jewry would recognize, that the kingdom had been taken from them and given to others-Deity rent the veil of the temple 'from the top to the bottom.' The Holy of Holies is now open to all, and all, through the atoning blood of the Lamb, can now enter into the highest and holiest of all places, that kingdom where eternal life is found. Paul, in expressive language (Heb. 9 and 10), shows how the ordinances performed through the veil of the ancient temple were in similitude of what Christ was to do, which he now having done, all men become eligible to pass through the veil into the presence of the Lord to inherit full exaltation." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:830.)
Matthew 27:51 the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose
How grateful are we to Matthew for including this important detail? Mark makes no mention of the resurrection of the saints. Luke says nothing. John is silent. Nephi is chastised for forgetting to record it (see 3 Ne. 23:7-13). Matthew's careful attention to detail underscores the importance of the resurrection, not just of the Master, but of all the saints. But who were these saints?
While Christ's earthly disciples mourned his crucifixion, his heavenly disciples anxiously awaited his visit to Spirit Paradise. On the cross, Christ was enclosed by 'the assembly of the wicked' (Ps. 22:16). Meanwhile, another great gathering commenced. It included Adam, Eve, with many of her faithful daughters, Abel, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elias, Malachi, Elijah, the Nephite prophets-'All these and many more' (DC 138:38-49). What was the cause of such an important conference? They were all awaiting their glorious resurrection. Joseph F. Smith records the scene:
These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father's kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life.' (DC 138:12-18, 50-51)
Bruce R. McConkie
"What is the reward and status of those who were with Christ in his resurrection? 'They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.' (Mosiah 15:20-23.) Theirs is a state of glory and exaltation. Three of them-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-are singled out by name and made patterns for all the rest. Of these three the Lord says: 'They have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.' (D&C 132:29, 37.) These are they who were with Christ in his resurrection, who, as Matthew says, 'came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.' (Matt. 27:53.) These are they whom the Lord Jesus will bring with him in the clouds of glory when he comes to rule and reign among men for a thousand years." (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 632.)
Matthew 27:54 Truly this was the Son of God
Bruce R. McConkie
"Never was there such a crucifixion as this one. Scourging was always or often a prelude to the cross. Nails had been pounded into hands and feet by the thousands. To insult and demean dying sufferers was the common sport of the coarse ruffians who gaped on the mangled bodies. Perhaps others had been crowned with plaited thorns. But whenever did the rocks rend, and the earth shake, and a dire and deep darkness envelop the whole land for three long hours? And when else did the dying one, yet having strength and vigor in his whipped and beaten body, shout with a loud voice and seem to end his mortality of his own will and in full control of his faculties?
"To all this the centurion and his soldiers were witnesses, and when they saw it all, they greatly feared and said: 'Truly this was the Son of God.' And the centurion himself glorified God-perhaps in praise and prayer-and said: 'Certainly this was a righteous man.' (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4: 234.)
Matthew 27:57-58 a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph...went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus
Howard W. Hunter
"We acquire more regard for Joseph of Arimathea as we continue to read. Although he was 'a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear . . .' (Jn. 19:38) and although he was one who 'waited for the kingdom of God,' yet he was finally moved to action. The account continues:
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 sepulchre, and departed.' (Matt. 27:58-60.)
"I wonder if there was not a tear in Joseph's eye as he placed the body of Jesus in the tomb. Surely he thought of the events which had taken place earlier on that day, when as a member of the [Sanhedrin] Council he had failed to come to the defense of the Master. Should we not search our own souls and inquire of ourselves if we are loyal? Are we, too, only secret disciples of Christ?" (Conference Report, October 1960, Afternoon Meeting 109.)
Matthew 27:63-64 After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure
To his closest disciples, the Savior spoke plainly about his death, but to the chief priests and Pharisees he never clearly stated that he would rise again from the dead. Rather he prophesied, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up' (Jn. 2:19), and 'there shall be no sign be given to [this generation], but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.' (Matt 12:39-40).
Apparently, they understood these references. We know they understood Christ's meaning when he told them the parable of the wicked husbandmen, 'when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them' (Matt 21:45). Such understanding only deepened their wickedness.
And so they "make sure" the sepulcher with a few soldiers. But again, they don't know who they are dealing with. What if they had sent an entire garrison, could they secure the sepulcher? Could all the soldiers in the entire Roman empire seal the tomb so that Christ could not come forth? Was the Master to be contained by their wicked plan? Indeed, though the garden tomb was covered with a mountain or filled in with cement, nothing would have worked. Their powers to seal a tomb were pitiful compared to Christ's power to come forth and seal us to Him (see Mosiah 5:15).