WHAT DID JESUS REALLY SAY

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

Part IV

One early church bishop and theologian gives us his assessment on all that transpired with Judas Iscariot and how it could be spiritually understood. He writes: “This field then is this entire world, in which we who have been dispersed and scattered bear the fruit of good work for the Lord. Yet perhaps you might ask me if the field is the world, who the potter is who could have the ownership of the world. Unless I am mistaken, the potter is the one who made the vessels of our body from clay. Scripture says of Him, ‘Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust from the earth.’1 The potter is the One who, with the warmth of His own breath, made alive the slimy clay of our flesh and with fiery heat put together the fluid and earthly matter of our bodies.”2

The bishop’s sermon was entitled, “The Potter’s Field.” Let’s see where he takes his listeners: “The potter, I say, is the one who brought us into existence with His own hands and who is refashioning us for His glory through Christ. The apostle says, ‘We are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another.’3 That is to say, we who from our previous condition have broken to pieces because of our own misdeeds are restored in a second birth through the loving kindness of this same Potter. We who have been struck by death because of Adam’s transgression rise anew through the grace of the Savior. Clearly, this Potter is the one of whom the blessed apostle says, ‘What will that being molded say to its molder?’ And again, ‘Has the potter no right over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for common use?”45

Then the bishop concludes: “The field of this potter, then, was bought with Christ’s blood for travelers. For travelers, I say, who were without home or country and were cast about as exiles throughout the earth, rest is provided by the blood of Christ so that those who have no possession in the world might have a burial place in Christ. Who do we say that these travelers are if not very devout Christians who, renouncing the world and possessing nothing in the world, rest in the blood of Christ? For the Christian who does not possess the world utterly possesses the Savior. Christ’s burial place then is promised to travelers so that the one who preserves himself from fleshly vices like a traveler and stranger may merit Christ’s rest. For what is Christ’s burial place if not the Christian’s rest? We, therefore, are travelers, in this world, and we sojourn in this life as passersby, as the apostle says: ‘While we are in this body we are away from the Lord.’6 We are travelers, I say, and a burial place has been bought for us at the price of the Savior’s blood. ‘We have been buried with Him,’ the apostle says, ‘through baptism in His death.’7 Baptism, therefore, is Christ’s burial place for us, in which we die to sins, are buried to evil deeds and are restored to a renewed infancy, the conscience of the old person having been dissolved in us for the sake of another birth.8

What the bishop does not say at this point is the role this potter’s field, as he describes it here, in Judas Iscariot’s painful and unnecessary death. Could it be, that in his mind the reason Judas does not have the hope that he describes for all believers who also die and are buried in the field, is because even though he went there repentant, he tried to pay the price for his own sin? Had he gone there to pray and ask God for forgiveness, then perhaps he too could have arisen as a new creature in Christ Jesus.

Verse 11: Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor, who asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “What you say is true.”

When it comes to how a trial is conducted, the Rabbis state explicitly: “Those who are subject to trial must stand when they receive the judgment pertaining to them.9 And they go on to say: “The judges seat themselves, and the litigants remain standing before them.10 Thus, while Pilate was sitting, as was the custom, we notice that Jesus was standing.

This also fits the procedural policies of the Jewish tribunal system. It says: “The witnesses have to stand when they give testimony, [since it is said, ‘And the two parties to the dispute shall stand before the Lord.”11 No wonder we read in John’s Apocalypse: “And I saw those who had died, great and small, standing before the throne. Some books were opened. And another book was opened—the book of life. The people were judged by what they had done, which is written in the books.”12

Early church scholar Origen has this to say about Pilate’s question: “Truly Jesus ‘did not consider equality with God something to be grasped13 and not once but often humbled Himself on behalf of humanity. See now, ‘having been made the judge of every creature14 by the Father, the King of kings and Lord of lords, to what extent He humbled Himself. He compliantly stood before the governor of the land of Judea, who asked Him perhaps deridingly or doubtingly, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus thought this question was proper, and He replied, ‘It is as you say.’ Before that, having been entreated by the chief priest to say whether He was the Christ, the Son of God, He answered, ‘You have said it yourself.’15 Notice the two questions. The first one, ‘If you are the Christ the Son of God,’ was germane to Christ as a Jew. The Roman governor did not state his question by saying, ‘Are you the Christ?’ but rather, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?‘”16

Then early church preacher Chrysostom asks: “What is Christ’s answer to Pilate’s question? ‘You have said so.’ He confessed that He was [indeed] a king, but a heavenly king. This would be made clearer elsewhere when He replied more specifically to Pilate, ‘My kingship is not of this world.’17 He gives a reason that cannot be doubted: ‘If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over.’18 There was, of course, no excuse for even making such accusations, either from the governor or priests. For in order to refute this suspicion, He paid a tax and taught others to pay it.19 And when others wanted to make Him a king, He fled.’2021

Verse 12: But then, when the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders made their accusations against Jesus, He said nothing.

Yet, while standing there quietly, once again Jesus chooses not to refute the charges being made against Him. This brings up a very important principle in logic. Is it necessary to answer yes or no to an absurd question, or defend oneself against ridiculous charges? Sometimes it is proper in order for the truth to be told, and once it is revealed then it is up to the accuser to disprove it. At other times, when the question or accusation is posed in such a way that any response would show doubt or uncertainty, then use their own words against them. In other words, Jesus was open to answering proper questions, but He was silent in reaction to false accusations. There was no need for Him to become defensive. The only One He had anything to prove to was His Father in Heaven. Then the Father’s judgment would prove Him right or wrong.

1 Genesis 2:7

2 Maximus of Turin: Sermons 59:3-4

3 2 Corinthians 3:18

4 Romans 9:20-21

5 Maximus of Turin: ibid

6 2 Corinthians 5:6

7 Romans 6:4

8 Maximus of Turin: ibid

9 Jerusalem Talmud, op. cit. Second Division: Tractate Yoma, Ch. 6:1, [I:1 V]

10 Ibid. Fourth Division: Tractate Sanhedrin, Ch. 3:8 [I:2 b]

11 Deuteronomy 19:17

12 Revelation 20:12

13 Philippians 2:6

14 Acts 10:42

15 Matthew 26:64

16 Origen: Commentary on Matthew 118

17 See John 18:36

18 Ibid.

19 Matthew 22:17

20 John 6:15

21 Chrysostom: Matthew, Homily 86.1

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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