THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
Chapters 26-28: Introduction
Having said that the story of the Passion and Resurrection is one story, 26,1-28,15, we can note that this story is framed by two scenes addressed to all nations which show Christ in majesty, 25,31-46 and 28,16-20.
I suggested when we read 25,31-46 that this great scene anticipates the great commission, 28,16-20. Only Matthew has set the story of the passion and resurrection story against this background of future glory.
THE PASSION: Overview, chapters 26 and 27
We need to see how we will divide the two chapters for our reading. The different scenes with different characters involved follow quite clearly step by step from Jesus' announcement in 26,2.
The opening, 26,1-16, includes three scenes: there is the setting given in two parts in 26, 1-5. Then there is the anointing at Bethany, 26,6-13 and this is followed by the betrayal of Judas, 26,14-16. Thus an act of love is followed by an act of betrayal. When we read we will look more closely just how these sixteen verses go together.
The Passover Meal: 26,17-29
These verses describe the preparation and events of the passover meal. The meal is announced in verse 17 and ends in verse 29 because there is a change of place in verse 30.
The Mount of Olives: 26,30-56
/we are told in verse 30 that Jesus and his disciples go to the Mount of Olives. It is there that Jesus predicts Peter's denials (26,31-35). The agony in Gethsemane (26,36-46) follows and then the arrest of Jesus (26,47-56).
The Sanhedrin Trial: 26,57-75
These verses tell of the Jewish trial of Jesus (26,57-67) and the denial of Peter (26,69-75). This all takes place at the house of Caiaphas (26, 57-58 and 69).
The Chief Priests and Elders: 27,1-10
At the beginning of chapter 27 the Jewish setting continues. The chief priests and elders of the people are the active agents in 27,1-10 (verses 1,3,6) as they first bring Jesus to Pilate (27,1-2) and then deal with Judas (27,3-10). Pilate is just mentioned.
The Roman Trial and Condemnation: 27,11-26
Only in 27,11 does the governor take over from the Jewish leaders. These verses recount Jesus' trial and sentencing before the governor; so Pilate now has the prominent role.
The Soldiers and Execution: 27,27-44
These verses first describe the mock coronation of Jesus (27, 27-31) by the soldiers before they lead him out to his crucifxion (27,32-37). The mockery of Jesus on the cross then follows (27,38-44).
The Death and Burial of Jesus: 27,45-66
Our reading now links the death and burial of Jesus together through the two references to time. The dying and death of Jesus is marked by the time from the sixth to the ninth hour in 27,45-46. There is then another mention of the time, that it was evening, in 27,57 before the burial is described.
The tomb, the women and the guard from 27,57 onwards all provide continuity with chapter 28. We will explore this further when we come to that chapter.
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The Passion in Matthew and Mark
Matthew's principal additions to Mark's Passion story are the death of Judas (27,3-10) and the appointing of the guard (27,62-66). You may have picked up on your first read that Matthew stressed several times the role of Judas and his betrayal. Betrayal is a prominent theme in his passion story.
Matthew's passion story is preceeded by his fifth discourse, which is much longer than chapter 13 of Mark's Gospel which also considers the signs of the end. Mark's Passion story is separated from this discourse with a new beginning in 14,1.
Matthew however in 26,1 (to which we will come back) links the passion with the preceeding discourse. As we already noted, the last part of this discourse is the great story of the Son of Man sitting in judgement (Mt 25,31-46).
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