Matthew 27:27-44 Part 3


Last Lord’s Day I promised you a look at the crowd that had gathered behind Jesus as He was being led to Golgotha.  Note of this crowd is mentioned by only one of the evangelists.  In Luke chapter twenty-three, at verses twenty-eight through thirty-one, we see that the Gospel writer to the Gentiles especially mentions the women – who were weeping and wailing.

Commentators, especially those of late who claim to be sensitive to “women’s issues”, have expounded “ad absurdum” on the women surrounding Jesus during His ministry.  And I need to say something about that.

Now, seeing that we need to stay close to the text, I don’t wish to carry this too far; but these people already have… way too far!  The points they make are obvious:  first, that women are nurturers and carers.  (These are not necessarily in any order, but you can see from this first one that the approach to the subject is based in psychology.)  But women are nurturers and carers; therefore they are more sensitive to pain and sorrow and heartache than men are.  Two, women are softer at heart; therefore they are more susceptible to the needs of Christ and His Church.  Three, social caring (for those such as the poor and the needy) is the realm of women; therefore the Gospel is obviously more “feminine” than masculine.  Four, Jesus was obviously in great pain, and the agony of crucifixion had more extensively touched the hearts of the women than the men.  Five, the Gospel writers place women in the forefront during critical events of the Gospel.  Therefore God has a special place in His heart for women.  And, therefore, women ought to take a more active role in the guidance and leadership of the Church.  Six, women have historically responded to the Gospel more than men.  This reflects Jesus’ “special” relationship to women – a relationship which was different and “emotionally far beyond” that developed with the men.  (And so on….)

Now, these rather “specious” observations of the texts of Scripture are (it is obvious to see) as a result of lifting “events” of the Gospel out of their contexts (like this one in the text).  They are “special interest” observations.  By that I mean that there are sexual, psychological and sociological “filters” in place – through which the Scriptures are run.  And the only thing that comes out the other side of those “filters” is that to which the observers are predisposed!

Now, as I said, my purpose here (in bringing all of this up) isn’t to deal with each of those observations… or even the dispositions which resulted in those observations.  (The purpose is for us to know the Gospel!)  But the facts are that, in the Gospel text of Luke, the crowd gathering as Jesus was led to His crucifixion contained some women.  And Luke does make special mention of them.  He, as I said, is the only one who mentions the crowd at all; and the objective purpose of his bringing it up seems to be the women.

He makes no mention at all about any of the twelve disciples being there.  In fact no men in particular were mentioned.  So the only reason the crowd was brought up at all in the text was to record the “weeping and wailing” of the women, and Jesus’ response to them.

And here’s what He said:


“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children.  For, lo, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.’  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’”


Now, I’m not going to take the time to read the Older Testament passages from which Jesus quotes here (all having to do with the “weeping” and the “wailing” of the women); but you may remember that we spent some time on the phrase “daughters of Jerusalem” at least once before.  And the passages we read all had to do with the terror of the siege of Jerusalem – which was so horrible that babies were used as food!... and many other horrific things.

As Jesus turned to the crowd (on the way to the cross), and as He spoke to the weeping and wailing “daughters of Jerusalem”, He made direct reference to those portions of the prophetic Scriptures having to do with the coming siege and destruction of Jerusalem!  In that situation, the wombs which never bore, and the paps that never gave suck, are the blessed ones… because the ones who did have babies had them snatched away, or they used them for food themselves!

Now, that’s altogether different from those who pick up the Scriptures and interpret them according to their own agendas, isn’t it?  Seeing the Bible as One Covenantal record of the unfolding Revelation of God; and seeing our Lord Jesus Christ as the “fullness” of the Word of God; and, therefore, looking for His direct quotes of the Older Revelation… we are forced to reject and confront all of these “agenda” type interpretations of the Gospel texts!  They reflect “prurient self-interests”, and they “turn upside down” the inspired Word of God no less than did the Pharisees.

Our Lord had no intention of “singling out the women” as somehow more “special” than the men… or more “tender” than the men (even if that is a proper observation of the psychological nature of women).  And He certainly did not have in mind the “psychological” and “sociological” differences between men and women as He was being led to His crucifixion.  That so perverts the Gospel of God, and it’s so offensive in its blatant disregard for the text, that we are tempted to just dismiss it offhand – without comment.

But the event on the way to Golgotha was recorded by Luke; and our purpose here is to “know”, and therefore “believe”, the Gospel.  And our Lord turned to the women in distress and directly applied to them the prophetic Word of God from the Old Testament.  He was about to die the death of the accursed; and He turned to them and spoke His Father’s Words to them!

Now.  Back to our own text.  Having reached Golgotha, the soldiers prepared to crucify Jesus (verse thirty-four).  And they gave Him a drink of wine mixed with gall (which was myrrh – a very bitter-tasting herb).  This mixture was for the purpose of “doping” the one to be crucified.  The brutal and savage procedure usually gave rise to great resistance.  And “doping” was the means used to control the condemned man while his body was being nailed to the wood.

The construction of the grammar indicates that they tried several times to get Him to drink.  But, having tasted it, and having discovered what it was, He refused to drink it.  If He had submitted to the temptation to lessen His pain and agony and willingly entered into a “doped up” or “stupefied” state, He wouldn’t have died the way He did; and He wouldn’t have suffered all the agony which was due to us.  Receiving the full wrath of God the Father was the critical issue in connection with the salvation of all His people and the establishment of His Kingdom.

So Jesus refused the “dope”; and He submitted, clear-headed, to the “stroke” which He was receiving from God.

Verse thirty-five:


“…And having crucified Him….”


One short statement from Matthew concerning the crucifixion.  The others do the same.  We remember one short statement with regard to the scourging, too.  And, as we will see, the same will be true concerning the resurrection!

Events so astounding… words so restrained!  It’s the evident intent of all the Gospel writers to omit a description of Jesus’ crucifixion!  Matthew proceeds in the third person plural… from the actions of the soldiers:


“And having crucified Him they divided among themselves His garments – casting a lot.”


They stripped Him; and they nailed Him to the crossbeam and lifted Him up to the upright stake; and they nailed His feet… and then they cast a lot for His clothes!

Although there is much more to come during the next six hours as He hangs from the cross, we are almost tempted to be “shocked” at the paucity of words here in describing the one event in all of history which frees us from the punishment for our own sin!

But then we remember that this is the Gospel!  There is so much more going on here than what a description of the routine and experienced motions of the soldiers going about their grizzly task would allow!  As a matter of fact, a detailed account of the process, with descriptions of the stakes and the nails and the conversations of the soldiers and the pain (and all the other things you might mention), would divert our attention from the Gospel.

All four evangelists write what is inspired by the Spirit – The Holy Spirit – which means that the Gospel has to do with the things of God – it is the Gospel of God!  And all things in His Gospel are the fullness of His Word, and His action, and His intent.  The written account isn’t there to satisfy the desires of men for interesting narrative, or revealing dialogue, or for historical record.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the crowning event, and the darkest event, in history – with respect to sin and the curse!  And His resurrection is the dawn of a New Day for mankind… for by it there is a resurrection to life for men.  A new humanity came up from death in the Person of Christ!!

And all of the events of history, and all of Theology, and all of the revealed Words and deeds of God run like hundreds of streams of rushing water… directly to the cross and to the resurrection.  All of the Father’s Revelation of His nature and His character… concerning His Being, and His Wisdom, and His Justice, and His holiness, and His Goodness, and His Truth… come crushing down on Jesus Christ as the atoning substitute for us.

So, you see, the attention of the apostle Matthew is not misplaced; and neither must we be shocked at how little we are caused to know about the details of the crucifixion (in this one, short statement)… for the “grand” design of Matthew’s Gospel is superior in every way to anything any man would ever have written – outside the inspiration of the Spirit!

So, someone might ask, why (after one short statement of the crucifixion) does Matthew write about the soldiers “dividing His garments – casting a lot?”  It seems that Matthew places the emphasis – not on the crucifixion details, but – on the dividing up of His clothes by lot, as if the emphasis is placed on a minor event!

Well, one of those many, rushing streams of the Revelation of God’s Person and character and intent in history, comes through the Psalmist in Psalm twenty-two.  In this mighty Psalm foreshadowing the agony of the Christ, verse eighteen reads:


“They part My garments among them, and on my vesture do they cast lots.”


Far more important to Matthew (and to the Spirit of inspiration) than the details of the crucifixion – with its excruciating torment – was the prophetic Word concerning His accursed abandonment!  The full vexation of the Christ (for the satisfaction of perfect justice) was the intent of the Father; and the apostle underscores the fulfillment of that Word by including the event – just as it was prophesied by the Psalmist.  They did divide His clothes by lot!

The Psalmist, also by inspiration, had included this “transaction” over the garments as intrinsic to the vexation and agony of the coming Messiah!

To the soldiers it was just one of the “perks” of being on the execution squad… they got the belongings!  But in the plan and intent of God, the stripping and dividing of the clothes was part of the humiliation and abandonment to death and hell.  The Accursed was purged of all His belongings (as if He were already dead) and He was left, naked, to be judged and condemned to hell by God.

And, as the Psalmist says, and as Matthew records, it was done by lot!  And the bitter taste of the gall inside, and His miserable rejected condition were made all the more intense by this means by which all His belongings were divided.  Everything written by Matthew is now for that purpose, isn’t it? … for from every direction comes affliction for Jesus Christ.

Why is the “lot” so important here?  Why is it included in the prophecies of the Psalmist?  Why has the Spirit inspired Matthew to include it in such a prominent place in the Gospel record?  And why is it such an affliction… adding greatly to the miseries of the condemned Christ?

Well, to answer those questions we begin by asking another one.  What does it mean that God is absolutely sovereign?  Should we go to the Scriptures in their entirety we would find that, without a doubt, sovereignty means that God rules the whole of the universe (His creation) and all of its parts.  His is a Providence which extends even to the most trivial occurrence; and the Scriptures reveal that with utmost precision and perspicuity.

And since it is the case that our Sovereign God directs and disposes the minutest events, by what reasoning shall it be proved that that sovereignty has no concern with lots!!  Proverbs sixteen, at verse three says that


“the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”


You see, if the casting of the lot is not under the absolute, sovereign rule of God, then every action and every individual is exempted from His rule!  If divine providence is not to be considered in the lot, why then is it to be considered in any other action?

And the sum of this argument is that there are no arguments against God’s Providential rule over the lot that don’t lead directly to atheism!

By the very nature of God, the lot is, in every form and on every occasion, an appeal to the Most High God as absolute Sovereign.  And the decision obtained by it must be regarded as His decision!  As the Proverb says, “… the whole disposing of it is of the Lord.”

There are a number of occasions in Scripture in which the lot was used – at least two of which had already been revealed in secret.  But the lot was cast, confirming the Revelation of God, and confirming the rule of God over the casting of the lot.

In all of the occasions in which the lot was cast (except the one in our text) there was worshipful acknowledgement of God’s Divine Providence; there was an intense desire and need to know the will of God; and there was no other way to decide the issue.

As an example, after the resurrection… seeing the need for the twelfth apostle (since the wisdom of God and the will of Jesus decreed twelve), the eleven had searched and chosen two who, in their estimation, were equally qualified.  But only one would make the perfect apostolic “twelve”!

So, in a most solemn occasion, all in acknowledgment of the Sovereign disposing of the lot, and all in perfect agreement to abiding by it, the lot was cast and Matthias was chosen.

Now, silly men and women debase and obscure and pervert the Scriptures by superstition.  But let it be said that when the lot is cast it is to be a most solemn and worshipful occasion!  And it is based on deep conviction (from Scripture) that it is a mode of manifesting the Divine Will.  The lot, in whatever form it takes, is always a direct appeal to the One True God; and therefore it is always an act of high worship!

First, the lot is a profession of faith that God is present and imminent and that He directs and disposes all His creation.

Secondly, after all our God-given, dominion resources are exhausted in the search of a solution to an important decision between men, then (and only then) may we proceed to the ultimate Tribunal by the lot!

We may not take up the lot in private; we may not trivialize the casting of a lot; we may not bypass the dominion-related, decision-making process by which we (as believers) are to “judge the earth”; and, as the apostles did before Matthias was chosen, we must go to God in prayer – acknowledging His sovereignty in all the affairs of men.

As Jesus looks at them from the cross, the soldiers of the Roman army are casting a lot for His clothes.  Regardless of the “gaming” approach to the ownership of His clothes, and regardless of the triviality of that pursuit, the Divine Will of the One Sovereign God was called upon in all His Being, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Truth!  The lot was cast for Him to make His Divine Will manifest!

And, again, who knows the agony that this brought to Christ Jesus as He hung abandoned on the cross?  Pagan Gentiles (even though they wouldn’t acknowledge it) appealed to God by lot for the clothes of God’s Messiah.  And even the disbursement of His clothes was decided by His Father!  The perfect Justice of God… who could ever know the depths of it….

Next Lord’s Day we’ll take up more about the lot.  There is so much more here.  It’s an important issue.  And we’ll ponder some more the agony and separation of the Christ as the Will of Almighty God is manifest against Him.