As part of the conspiracy to kill Jesus Christ, the Jewish leaders brought Him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate delivered Jesus to be scourged and crucified. Jesus submitted to suffering and death to fulfill the will of His Father.
If you could be an eyewitness to one scriptural event, which event would you choose? Why?
During this lesson you will study one of the most significant events in the history of the world. As you study, imagine being an eyewitness to what took place.
In Mathew 26 we read that Jesus was arrested and unjustly tried and condemned by the leaders of the Jews. Under Roman rule, the Jews had no power to put someone to death. Therefore, the Jewish leaders sought to find an offense under Roman law by which Jesus would be punished by death.
In Matthew 27:1–10 we learn that Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. When Judas saw this, he regretted his choice to betray Jesus, sought to return the money he had received from the Jewish leaders, and then ended his own life. The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that Judas “hanged himself on a tree. And straightway he fell down, and his bowels gushed out, and he died” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 27:6 [in Matthew 27:5, footnote a]).
Because the silver pieces were “the price of blood” (Matthew 27:6) and therefore not lawful to add to the treasury, the Jewish leaders used the money to purchase the potter’s field, where strangers (or foreigners) were to be buried. Matthew cited this event as a fulfillment of a prophecy (see Zechariah 11:12–13).
Because of pressure from the Jews and fear of losing control of the people, Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified (see Matthew 27:11–26). (You will have a chance to study these events in more detail in the lesson for John 18–19.)
Before sending Jesus to be crucified, Pilate had Him scourged (see Matthew 27:26). To be scourged means to be hit repeatedly with a whip that had objects such as sharp rocks or pieces of bone woven into several of the strands. This kind of punishment was typically reserved for those who were servants, while persons of noble blood or freemen of Rome were beaten with rods. Many people did not survive being scourged because of the severe bodily trauma it caused.
Read Matthew 27:27–32, looking for what the Roman soldiers did to Jesus.
Why do you think the soldiers found someone else to carry Jesus’s cross?
Imagine that you were in the position of Simon of Cyrene. What would you have thought or felt if you were among the multitude and had been forced to carry Jesus’s cross? Write your answer in your scripture study journal.
Matthew 27:33 records that Jesus was taken to “a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull.”
Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the name of the place: “The name may have been applied with reference to topographical features, as we speak of the brow of a hill; or, if the spot was the usual place of execution, it may have been so called as expressive of death, just as we call a skull a death’s head” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 667).
Matthew 27:34–45 records that Jesus refused a drink that usually was offered to those who were crucified to dull the pain. Others watching the Crucifixion sought to mock and tempt Jesus.
Read Matthew 27:46, looking for what Jesus said while on the cross. You may want to mark what you find.
To better understand what happened in this moment, read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ [Matthew 27:46; emphasis added]. …
“With all the conviction of my soul I testify that … a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, … the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence” (“None Were with Him,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 87–88).
Why do you think Heavenly Father withdrew His Spirit from Jesus at this moment?
Read the remainder of Elder Holland’s statement, and mark what he said that explains why Jesus Christ experienced a withdrawal of the Spirit: “It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone” (“None Were with Him,” 88).
From Matthew 27:46 and Elder Holland’s statement, we can learn that as part of the Atonement, Jesus Christ felt the withdrawal of Heavenly Father’s Spirit.
When we sin we experience spiritual death—the withdrawal of Heavenly Father’s Spirit. Because Jesus Christ experienced spiritual death on the cross, He can help us when we are separated from Heavenly Father’s Spirit because of our poor choices. He can also help us when we feel alone.
Read Matthew 27:50. The Joseph Smith Translation states, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 27:54 [in Matthew 27:50, footnote a]).
According to the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse, Jesus Christ suffered to fulfill the will of Heavenly Father.
As you studied Matthew 26 in the previous lesson, you learned about the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane and His willingness to submit His will to the Father’s will. You may want to write Matthew 26:39 as a cross-reference in your scriptures next to Matthew 27:50 to help you remember that Jesus did what He promised to do.
Read Matthew 27:51, looking for what happened in the temple when Jesus died.
During the time of Jesus, the temple had two rooms—the holy place and the Holy of Holies. These two rooms were separated by a veil, or curtain. “The Holy of Holies was the most sacred room in the ancient temple; it symbolized the presence of God. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest passed through the veil of the temple and entered into the Holy of Holies, where he sprinkled the blood of a sin offering to atone for the sins of all the congregation of Israel (see Leviticus 16). When the veil of the temple was “rent in twain” (torn in two) at the death of Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:51), it was a dramatic symbol that the Savior, the Great High Priest, had passed through the veil of death and would shortly enter into the presence of God [the Father]” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 94).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about what the veil of the temple being torn meant: “Christ is now sacrificed; the law is fulfilled; the Mosaic dispensation is dead; the fulness of the gospel has come with all its light and power; and so—to dramatize, in a way which all Jewry would recognize, that the kingdom had been taken from them and given to others—Deity rent the veil of the temple ‘from the top to the bottom.’ The Holy of Holies is now open to all, and all, through the atoning blood of the Lamb, can now enter into the highest and holiest of all places, that kingdom where eternal life is found. … The ordinances performed through the veil of the ancient temple were in similitude of what Christ was to do, which he now having done, all men become eligible to pass through the veil into the presence of the Lord to inherit full exaltation” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:830; italics added).
From the tearing of the veil of the temple at Christ’s death, we can learn that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can all enter the presence of God if we repent and keep our covenants.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How does the Atonement of Jesus Christ make it possible for us to return to the presence of God?
What must we do to be worthy to dwell with Heavenly Father eternally?
Matthew 27:52–66 gives more information about what happened after Jesus’s death. Note that Matthew recorded that it was “after [Jesus’s] resurrection” (Matthew 27:53; italics added) that many righteous people who had died were also resurrected and appeared to many people in Jerusalem (see also D&C 133:54–56).
After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy disciple, “begged [asked for] the body of Jesus” (Matthew 27:58; see also John 19:39). The Savior’s body was wrapped in a clean cloth and placed in a tomb that Joseph of Arimathea owned, and the entrance was covered with a large stone. At the urging of some of the chief priests and Pharisees, Pilate ordered that guards be placed to watch the tomb, and the stone was sealed. According to Matthew 27:63–64, why did the chief priests and Pharisees desire this?
According to Matthew 28:1–5, early on the first day of the week, or Sunday, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary went to the tomb. Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 28:2 states that there they saw two angels (see Matthew 28:2, footnote a).
After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the members of the Church observed and kept holy the first day of the week as the Sabbath day, and eventually the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath was discontinued. The change from observing the last day of the week to the first day of the week is not as important as the concept and principle of the Sabbath.
Read Matthew 28:6–7, looking for what the angels told the women.
In Matthew 28:8–10, 16–18, we read that the women went to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. On the way, Jesus appeared to them, and the women “held him by the feet and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9). Later, when the disciples had obeyed the words of the women and traveled to Galilee, the Savior appeared to them also. To learn about other appearances of Jesus before His Ascension, see the Harmony of the Gospels.
One principle we can learn from the Savior’s charge to His Apostles is that as we gain a testimony of Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to testify of Him to others.
Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
List at least three ways we can testify of Jesus Christ to others. Then select one of the ways on your list, and write a goal regarding how you will seek to testify of Jesus Christ to others.
Answer the following question: Considering what the Savior said in Matthew 28:19–20, what could you do to prepare to serve a mission?
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Matthew 27–28 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: