Matthew 27:27-44 Part 4


For some weeks now (even months) we have been witnessing the ultimate affliction of Jesus Christ – the Suffering Servant of God.  In His Gospel, Matthew focuses the weight of the text on the events which potentiated His misery.  This isn’t a history… or a narrative/story; this is the Gospel of the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Like a “sheep led to its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth”… as He was visited upon with every humiliation.  Abandoned and accursed, He was caused to languish in desolation.  “He drained the cup of misery to the dregs,” as one has put it.

Disinherited, “cut off”, lost, made most wretched of all men… He received the stroke of God for us who deserved it all for our sin against God.

And that which we need to recognized from Matthew’s text is that the manifestation of the wrath of God is the primary feature of each event recorded by the apostle.  And the agony of the forsaken Christ is intensified at every turn as He is vexed and mortified to the extreme.

Angels had to strengthen Him in the Garden (in order to hold Him together) as God began to abandon Him and “deliver Him over”.  And every subsequent word, and action, and event (all recorded by Matthew) seems to “herald” the anguish of the Christ!

We’ve been driven (verse by verse in the preaching of the text) to open our hearts and our minds to the extent of the grief to which our Lord was subjected.  Of all men He was most miserable and wretched – as a substitute for us… for all our sin was attributed to Him!

And as each of these occurrences has come up in the text, we’ve been able, at least to some extent, to direct our attention to the root cause of His awful agony.

Just a couple of brief examples:  Jesus Christ, God’s strong “right hand” and His Righteous King, was judged and mocked by king Herod Antipas, who was the offspring of Esau – the rejected and reprobated son of Isaac.  That was NOT a coincidence… but an incremental extension of the awful suffering of the Christ!

Another….  All things deemed to be “accursed of God” were taken outside the gates of the city and disposed of.  And neither was it coincidental, or natural, that Jesus Christ (the accursed of God) was taken outside the city, hung on a tree, and left to the disposal of God Almighty!  The city of God, the location of the temple of God, the place of “grace and mercy”, rid itself of this “accursed thing”; and they put it in a place where passersby could see it and “hiss” and “wag the tongue” and “shake the head” at this “abominable thing”!  He was cast outside of the city as dung.

These are just two of the many things in Matthew’s text – focusing on the agony of the Christ as He is singled out to be the “lone recipient” of God’s just punishment.

This morning we spend a second hour on another of these events… this one coming at such a crucial time – right after Jesus is nailed up on the stake.

Having spent no time describing the crucifixion (none of the evangelists do), Matthew (as we’ve seen him do time after time) now turns his inspired, Gospel attention to another occurrence in which God has put Him to grief… the dividing of Jesus’ garments by lot.

And having seen this pattern from Matthew’s Gospel, and knowing, therefore, that the anguish and affliction of Messiah is of primary import here, what is there about the “dividing-of-His-garments-by-lot” that is so agonizing to the Lamb of God?

We saw a few things about this last Lord’s Day; but there is so much here that more needs to be done; and I want to continue it this morning.

We already said that God is absolutely sovereign.  Should we go to the Scriptures in their entirety we would find that 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.

Now, some can conceive of a Providence that made the worlds, and keeps them in their spheres, and legislates from the universe.  Some even assume that God made things in such a way that the creation could evolve from simple life to more complex forms.

And still others even attribute (because of its importance) the direct creation of man to Divine Providence!  But it is, at the same time, irrational to many that the Government of God should extend to the disposition of common, everyday things!

It is, then, a “transcendent” (only) god who flung the worlds into being and leaves them to their natural outcome.  Or it is an “imminent” (only) god of whom they conceive.  This one is concerned with the heart only (and not much else).

These (they think) are worthy ideas… conceptions of god… worthy of the majesty of a god; they judge it “beneath his dignity” and his “majesty” to attend to the common incidents of human life.

But, you see, this is atheism under the false cloak of reverence for God.  (Now, we can’t assert that all who hold these things can be judged as atheists; but that the doctrine itself is atheist there can be no doubt!!)  It makes a distinction between a general Providence and a particular Providence – admitting the former and denying the latter.

So we are to believe from them that God rules the whole of His universe, but not its parts!  Or that He has fixed certain laws by which its operations go on independently of His Providence.

But, as I stated last week, the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God (both transcendent and imminent) pervades the whole system of Revelation; and is stated in the Scriptures with the utmost precision!


“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil.  I Jahveh do all these things” (Isaiah forty-five, verse seven).

“Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they (the young animals) are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth” (Psalm one hundred four, verse thirty).

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?  And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father; and the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew ten, verses twenty-nine and thirty).


There are literally hundreds of places to go in the Scriptures in which they are clear (perspicuous) as to the Sovereign Government of God over all His creation.

I intended to give you some of the examples of the folly and futility of objecting to His absolute rule and disposition of even the minutest detail; but we just can’t spend another hour on this.

Suffice it to say, then, that when we read Proverbs sixteen, at verse three, we must hear it and understand it in all its glory”


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


By the very nature of God, and because of His Sovereign Government of all His creation, there are no arguments against God’s Providential disposing of the lot that don’t lead directly to atheism!

So, by the nature of God, the “lot” is, in every form and on every occasion, an appeal to the Most High God as absolute Ruler in the holy disposition of His Own creation!  And therefore it is always an act of high worship!  The lot is a profession of faith that the Transcendent God is Present and imminent, and that He directs and disposes His entire creation.

I briefly mentioned in the second hour last Lord’s Day that there are a number of examples of the use of the “lot” in Scripture.  One of those occurred after Samuel had received Revelation from God as to the choice of Saul to be Israel’s king.  Having received that Revelation (and knowing who it was that God had chosen), Samuel confidently went to the tribes of Israel… and for the purpose of uniting them under God’s king, he had them cast a lot to determine who their king was.

Knowing that they would grumble and rebel if a king was chosen for them by Samuel; and knowing that the lot was a direct appeal to the Sovereign God, and that the people knew that; Samuel had them cast a lot.  And God wholly directed the disposition of that lot to Saul – His chosen king.  And thereby the people receive him as from God!

On another occasion Canaan was divided to the tribes by lot – even though much of it had already been revealed by prophecy!  In an act of high worship, the tribes of Israel acknowledged God’s absolute sovereignty over their respective places.  There was no other way, without bloodshed, to divide up the promised land.  And when the lot was cast, they went to their respective places!  Not as incidental thing; not a chance thing.  Their places belonged to them!

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, it was seen by the disciples to be of great importance to select another apostle.  God’s number for Israel was twelve; and Christ had selected twelve (the son of perdition now being dead).

The apostles, using all their dominion-related abilities and wisdom, selected two men of equal qualifications.  Having done all they could, with prayer and high worship they cast a lot before the Almighty Tribunal – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The lot fell on Matthias; and without any grumbling or discontent from the other man or from the apostles, Matthias was the apostle.

What we learn, them, from the clear teaching of Scripture is that the lot is always a direct appeal to God in worship!  And that after all our God-given dominion resources are exhausted in the search of a solution between men, then, and only then, may we proceed, in prayer, to the ultimate Tribunal by the lot!

The lot bears witness to a particular Providence; and, in every case, it was used to determine questions between men.  As John Mason (a minister of the last century) said, “Like the oath, the lot is a last resort.”  In an oath before God, He is asked to witness the sincerity of our declarations and promises.  In the lot He is asked to direct our choice.

Both acknowledge His Divine Government, and both are acceptable worship, and the effect is the same – to put an end to controversy!  Hebrews chapter six, at verse sixteen says,


“An oath (for confirmation) is an end of all strife.”  And Proverbs eighteen, verse eighteen says, “The lot causes contentions to cease, and parts (or divides) between the mighty.”


Both of these are ordinances of God established by Him for His people; both are a last resort direct appeal to God, by Name, as Governor of this world; and both are acts of high and acceptable worship… when used on proper occasions and in a proper manner.

And what has God said about calling on His Name?


“You shall not take the Name of Yahveh (the Lord) your God in vain (or in an empty or worthless way); for Yahveh will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain.”


Now, since the Scriptures are precise and clear about the uses of the lot; and since God has revealed His displeasure with all occasions in which He is called upon in an empty way; what do we say about all unnecessary, careless, light, or frivolous uses of the lot?

The only conclusion to be drawn by right-thinking believers is this:  All uses of the lot – in whatever form (as well as the oath), other than those that are holy, reverent, and warranted by Scripture, are sinful; and they are profanations of the Divine Name of God –breaking the third Commandment (written by the very hand of God).  And the promise attached to the Commandment is very strong… that God “will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain”.

Consider the power of the words here.  Since our Lord Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for the sin of His people; and since His blood covers our transgressions; we who are “in Him” stand guiltless before God.  BUT, God will not hold guiltless the one Who takes His holy Name in vain!  Let’s all be sure we understand what those words mean.

Now, there are many (maybe some of you) who would not allow the personal Name of God to slip, frivolously, from their lips; or to utter a curse with God’s Name attached….  But, at the same time, may be misapplying or misusing the lot without any scruples whatever.  The reason for doing that has to be found in the lack of instruction and the lack of reflection in righteousness.  Therefore it is of ignorance.

And ignorance, although less culpable than outright rebellion, is no excuse for sinning against God!  Sinning in ignorance is still sin!  Having now heard the call to “consider your ways”, you may not use ignorance as an excuse any longer.  The unBiblical use of the lot, as in “gaming”, is a profanation of the Name of God.  It is a profane appeal to the Divine Throne and a wanton prostitution of a Divine Ordinance which is established by God in His Word.

And should you now continue in a frivolous use of the lot, you do so – not over my objections, but – against the precise and perspicuous Word of God (and that, of course, is the nature of rebellion).

And now there should be no objections to this doctrine; and there should be no convoluted reasoning that gaming is lawful for us because of our understanding of God’s Sovereignty!  If that were the case then we could also make illegal oaths before God because we acknowledge His sovereignty!

The issue here is not how it might be possible to “reason” our way out of the Biblical illegality of gaming; but it ought to be how fast I can repent, receive forgiveness, and mortify my lusts of the flesh!  When a man turns from his vanities to serve the Living God; when he ceases to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; when his delights are those things which are excellent and pure and holy; when his mind is in the heavenlies where Christ is… he’ll put away the vulgarities (profane use of God’s Name).  And his worship will be in Spirit and in Truth.

The lot cast by these pagan soldiers was to divide Jesus’ clothing.  Pagan Gentiles, although they had no thought of acknowledging it, were appealing to God by lot, for the clothes of God’s Messiah!

The very One Who was clothed upon with glory in the heavenlies is now stripped, in humiliation, of even His earthly garments.  And a direct appeal to the Most High God is made in the lot… an appeal for God the Father to decide the disposition of His Son’s clothes!

The Perfect Justice of God.  The manifestation of the wrath of God.  Every sin of His elect people was to be punished in its fullness… to perfection… in complete holiness.  Every stroke; every grief; every sorrow….  Heaping up every accursed sin; punishing it in anger.  Renouncing the Christ… abandoning the Christ… forsaking the Christ!

Even to deciding the disposition of His clothes, which were divided between pagan Roman soldiers.  Gaming for them!

And Jesus sees the soldiers place that decision before His Father in a frivolous instance of gaming.  They call upon the Name of God in an empty way!  It is profanity!  The Divine Throne of God is called upon by men – gaming for Messiah’s clothes!  And Christ Jesus watches as God the Father disposes the issue – exhibits the Divine Will.  And how much that added to His anguish?  Of course no one will ever be able to calculate that.