What does Matthew 27:36 mean?
ESV: Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
NIV: And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
NASB: And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.
CSB: Then they sat down and were guarding him there.
NLT: Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.
KJV: And sitting down they watched him there;
NKJV: Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.
Verse Commentary:
That the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross are assigned to "keep watch" is not an unusual part of the process. In fact, this is a necessary aspect of crucifixion. This method of execution was meant to stretch an agonizing death over a long period of time. Crucifixion nails were applied to deliberately avoid major blood vessels, so the victim would suffer filthy, bleeding wounds, but not a quick death. A person taken off the cross not long after being nailed could survive if they were able to fight off infection. Historical records report a rare fraction of victims surviving crucifixion in this way, as difficult as that is to imagine.

This meant that a crucified person, left unattended, could possibly be rescued by friends or family. Matthew adds this detail to counter those who might question the validity of Jesus' death or resurrection. The suggestion that He did not actually die, but was taken down and later appeared, cannot withstand reason. He was under watchful guard all the way through to His final breath. He was never alone or unattended while still alive. John, who was very close to the cross at the moment of Jesus' death (John 19:25–27), witnessed further details confirming this fact (John 19:31–37).
Verse Context:
Matthew 27:32–44 describes Jesus' march to the cross, aided by a man named Simon of Cyrene. Jesus is offered a numbing, bitter wine, but refuses it, and is nailed to the cross. Soldiers gamble for His clothes. A somewhat sarcastic sign above Him reads "the King of the Jews." Observers, including several Jewish religious leaders, mock Jesus for not being able to save Himself. Even the criminals being executed on either side of Jesus insult Him. Mark 15:20–32, Luke 23:36–43, and John 19:16–27 cover this same process.
Chapter Summary:
When Judas learns Jesus has been condemned, he regrets betraying the Lord. He throws down his ill-gotten money and hangs himself. Jesus is taken to Pilate, who finds nothing to charge Him with. Given the choice, the people shout for the release of a convicted murderer and insist on Jesus' death. Jesus is mocked by a battalion of soldiers and then taken to be crucified. On the cross, He is mocked for not being able to save Himself. After three hours of darkness, Jesus dies. He is buried by a rich follower in a new tomb. This location is tightly guarded to prevent anyone from stealing the body.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 27 begins with an official meeting of the Jewish ruling council. They affirm Jesus' condemnation from the previous night, described in chapter 26. Judas confesses his betrayal and hangs himself. Pilate tries to release Jesus, but the mob shouts for Jesus to be crucified. Jesus is humiliated by Roman soldiers and marched to be executed. On the cross, He is mocked by Jewish religious leaders and others. He dies and is buried in a never-used tomb. Extensive efforts to secure His body from being stolen only serve to prove the miraculous nature of His resurrection, which is detailed in chapter 28.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/27/2024 12:27:58 PM
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