The text Mt 27:32-54 relate to the crucifixion and death of Jesus otherwise regarded as the passion of Christ. The text provides insight regarding the manner in which the book of Matthew presents the historical events leading the crucifixion of Jesus. It offers an exceptional guidance aspect of the Holy Spirit in the inspired writing that depicts the mission of God in the world. Jesus’s and by extension the God’s saving act, as presented in the passion of Christ assumes and goes beyond mere human history (Lazareth 36).
The passion of Jesus was sometime during the turbulent period around year 30 A.D. Jesus was a persuasive religious teacher and healer. The consequences of the events leading to his execution begin with the Passover Feast which marked the Jewish commemoration of God’s deliverance of Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. Following the Last Supper, Jesus together with the disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray because he knew that his persecution and death was near. Judas led the resting officers to the place where they arrested Jesus (Clarke 219).
Realizing that he has committed a sin by conspiring with the chief priests and elders to delivery Jesus to the priests, Judas hanged himself. Jesus was taken before elders and the chief priests. The chief priests and elders accused and condemned Jesus of blasphemy. He was then brought before the governor, Pontius Pilate, for sentencing. The trial of Jesus before the Pontius Pilate ensured that Jesus would experience suffering just like the suffering that ordinary humans undergo in the hands of authorities (202).
The conduct of Jews before the arrest of Jesus, during his trial, suffering, and crucifixion show that Jews rejected Jesus as their messiah. The rejection was because Jesus failed to prove destroy their enemies whom the Jews considered to be evil. Jesus was a Galilean Jew who lived during the period of apocalyptic and messianic expectations (220). The trial, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus followed the perception of the Jewish high priests and elders who considered Jesus a threat to their influence. They interpreted Jesus’ claims as the King of Jews, his empowerment of the poor and non-violent resistance to be an affront against the authority of Jews and elders (Theissen 5).
The historical context of the text depicts the manner in which public trials were presided over by governors. Political captives such as Jesus and persons who were accused of grave crimes were tried, sentenced, and executed publicly. This is evidenced by the trial of Jesus and Barabbas. The fact that Pontus Pirate sentenced Jesus to be crucified together with two thieves is evidence that the normal process of execution in the Roman ancient world entailed torture and crucifixion. Further, the context illustrates that in the Roman Judea, the governors had the authority to impose crucifixion penalties as depicted by the Pontius Pilate as he authorized the crucifixion (Clarke 202).
The events that preceded the arrest of Jesus namely: the occasions during the Last Supper and the distress in Gethsemane are such that they reflect the fact that Jesus followed the path of his death deliberately. The Last Supper was symbolic in that it represented the totality of the life of Jesus and service for others. He did not choose to die but was only following the will of God. This reflects that Jesus did not have a choice. His mission had to be accomplished through suffering and death (Lazareth 35).
Clarke, Howard. The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First
Gospel. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2003, p. 202. Print. Lazareth William Henry. Reading the Bible in Faith: Theological Voices from the Pastorate.
Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001, P. 36, Print.
Theissen Gerd and Merz Annette. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press, 1998.