Text:            Matthew 26:14-27:66 (emphasis on verses 27:15-26)

Date:   March 24, 2002




Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance
A.             Comparison of English or other published translations

·        Verse 19 – “innocent man” (NRSV, NIV) vs. “righteous man” (NASB) vs. “just man” (KJV) vs. “upright man” (New Jerusalem)

·        Verse 23 – “crime” (NIV, NLT) vs. “evil” (NRSV, KJV) vs. “harm” (New Jerusalem)

B.             Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

·        Verses 27:16 and 17 – “Barabbas” vs. “Jesus Barabbas”

·        Origen’s disapproval

·        No sinner called Jesus

·        Verse 17 – word “Jesus” added /deleted because “to you” present before it

·        Majority opinion includes double name

·        Deliberate suppression as reverential consideration

·        Enclose in brackets? 

·        Verse 24 – “of this man”

·        Accretion

·        Accentuates Pilate’s protest

·        Jesus’ innocence


C.                 One's Own Rough Translation

·        “Now at a feast was accustomed the governor to release one to the crowd prisoner whom they wished.  And they had then prisoner a notable one named Barabbas.  Therefore having assembled them said to them Pilate: whom do you wish I may release to you, Barabbas or Jesus the Christ?  For he knew that because of envy they delivered him.  Sitting now him on the tribunal sent to him the wife of him, saying: Nothing to you and just man to that; for many things I suffered today in a dream because of him.  But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds that they should ask Barabbas and Jesus should destroy.  So answering the governor said to them: which do you wish from the two I may release to you?  And they said Barabbas.  Says to them Pilate: what then may I do to Jesus called Christ?  They say all: let him be crucified.  But he said: why what evil did he?  But they more cried out saying: Let him be crucified.  And seeing Pilate that nothing is gained but rather an uproar occurs, taking water he washed the his hands in front of the crowd saying: Innocent I am from the blood of this man; you will see to it.  And answering all the people said: The blood of him on us and on the children of us.  Then he released to them Barabbas but Jesus having scourged he delivered that he might be crucified.

Step II - Disposition
A.        Genre - How the text says what it says

·        Three episode scene

·        Jesus’ confession

·        People’s choice

·        Choose Barabbas

·        Reject Jesus

·        Pilate’s proclamation


B.            Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

·        Crowds in Matthew

·        What role do they play?

·        Are they simply pawns in a larger game

·        Manipulated by other evil schemers

·        Are they responsible for their actions

·        And for Jesus’ death?

·        Moving from the Palm Sunday lection to the Passion lection

·        How do the crowds change

·        How does Jesus change, if at all

·        How quickly things change

·        Cheers turn to boos


C.                 Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

·        Some elements located in Palm Sunday lection (Matthew 21:1-11)

·        People’s choice contains the significant elements of change

·        Opportunity to free Jesus lost


Step III - Composition
A.             Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

·        Follows Jesus’ betrayal, desertion; account of Judas’ death

·        Further follows Jesus’ triumphal entry in chapter 21

·        Precedes Jesus’ crucifixion


B.                 Organization of the Compositional Whole

·        Follows Mark’s account

·        Adds elements that emphasize the crowd’s decision and Jewish responsibility


C.                 Issues of Authorship

·        Matthew’s concern for Jewish audience vs. Matthew’s experiences

·        Matthew’s experience one of Jewish rejection of Christian message

·        Tension between Roman innocence and Jewish guilt

·        Heightened by Matthew’s description of Pilate’s absolution

·        Only in Matthew

·        Not Roman symbolism, but biblical


Step IV - Context
A.             Primitive Christianity

·        No evidence of annual custom of prisoner release (v. 15)

·        Luke omits

·        Luke probably more sophisticated and/or familiar with Roman ways

·        Used to heighten contrast between sons

·        Jesus Barabbas – son of father

·        Jesus Christ – Son of Father


B.                 Old Testament and Judaism

·        Absolution – washing of blood

·        Deuteronomy 21:1-9

·        Isaiah 1:15-16

·        Crowd accepts guilt

·        Leviticus 20:9-16

·        2 Samuel 1:16


C.                 Hellenistic World

·        Confrontation between two kingdoms

·        Not Rome vs. God’s kingdom

·        Confrontation is between power expressed through violence (both Gentile and Jewish rulers) and power expressed through meekness (Jesus)


Step V - Distillation
A.             Summary of Salient Features

·        Jesus identifies himself

·        Confession

·        Silence

·        People choose

·        Perhaps manipulated, perhaps not

·        Crowd as potential disciples

·        “all” the people – Matthean addition

·        Pilate’s absolution

·        Miscalculation

·        Expected people to overrule those who have plotted against Jesus


B.                 Smooth Translation


C.                 Hermeneutical Bridge

·        How quickly things change

·        In our personal lives

·        Traffic death

·        In our world

·        September 11, 2001

·        In our life of faith?

·        How do we respond to changing world?

·        Back to confrontation of two kingdoms

·        Respond with power through violence

·        Respond with meekness through belief?

·        Jesus as model

·        Responds to thief with compassion

·        Takes on human suffering

·        Responds to God with obedience

·        Takes on self-worship; self-reliance


Step VI - Contemporary Address
A.             Description of Audience

·        United Methodist congregation

·        Medium size, mostly rural

·        Palm Sunday

·        Many people won’t be back before Easter Sunday

·        Won’t hear Holy Thursday, Good Friday stories

·        Need to bridge gap between triumph of Palms and resurrection of Easter


B.                 Intended Goals for the Address

·        Lift up change

·        Happens quickly

·        Lift up choice

·        Response to changing world

·        Lift up Christ

·        Model for dealing with dramatic/traumatic change


C.                 Address