November 16: Matthew Chapter Twenty-Seven by Day Williams

 
MATTHEW CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
When it was early in the morning, all
The chief priests and the elders of the people
Decided that they would have Jesus put

To death. They marched him off, hands tied, and turned
Him over to the governor, named Pilate.
About then Judas, who’d betrayed him, saw

That Jesus was condemned, became remorseful,
And he returned the thirty silver coins
To the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned,”

He said, “for I have betrayed a blameless man.”
“What’s that to us?” they answered. “That’s your
Problem.” So Judas threw the silver coins

Upon the temple floor and left, and went
And hanged himself. The chief priests picked the coins
Up, saying, “It’s against the law to put

This money in the Temple treasury,
Since it’s blood money.” So they talked about
It and decided they would use the money

To buy the potter’s field and make it as
A cemetery for the foreigners.
That’s why it has been called the Field of Blood

Down to this day. Then what was spoken by
The prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“They took the thirty silver coins, the price

Set on him by the Israelites, and they
Used them to buy the potter’s field, just as
The Lord commanded me.” As Jesus stood

Before the governor, the governor
Asked him, “Are you the Jewish king?” “Yes, it’s
As you say,” Jesus answered. When he was

Accused by the chief priests and elders,
He did not answer. Pilate then asked him,
“Can you not hear the testimony they

Have brought against you?” Jesus still made no
Reply, not even to a single charge−
This to the governor’s surprise. Now at

The Feast the custom of the governor
Was to release a prisoner the crowd
Had chosen. It so happened at this time

They had in prison a notorious
Man called Barabbas. When the crowd had gathered,
Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me

To free to you: Barabbas, or this Jesus
Who is called Christ?” For he knew it was from
Envy that they had handed Jesus over

To him. While seated on the judge’s bench,
Pilate received a message from his wife
Which said: “Do not have anything to do

With that unprejudiced and blameless man,
For I have suffered greatly in a dream
Today because of him.” But the chief priests

And elders coaxed the crowd to ask him for
Barabbas and have Jesus put to death.
“Which of the two do you want me to free

To you?” the governor inquired again.
“Barabbas,” they replied. “What shall I do,
Then, with this Jesus who’s called Christ?” inquired

Pilate, and they all answered, “Crucify
Him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked
Pilate, and yet they shouted all the louder,

“Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he
Was getting nowhere, and a riot was
Beginning, he took water and he washed

His hands before the crowd. “I’m innocent
Of this man’s blood,” he said. “You’ll have to see
To that yourselves!” To this the people said,

“Allow his blood to be on us and on
Our children!” Then he let Barabbas go
To them. But he had Jesus flogged, and gave

Him over to be crucified. And then
The soldiers for the governor took Jesus
In the Praetorium and gathered all

The soldiers in the company around
Him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe
On him, then wound a crown of thorns together

And placed it on his head. They put a staff
In his right hand and knelt in front of him
And mocked him. “Hail, O Jewish King!” they screamed.

They spit on him, and took the staff and struck
Him on the head repeatedly. Once they
Had mocked him, they took off the robe and put

His own clothes back on him, then led him off
To crucify him, and as they went out,
They came on a Cyrenian named Simon,

And ordered him to bear the cross. They came
Out to a place known as Golgotha (which
Means Skull Hill). There they offered Jesus wine

To drink, mingled with gall; but after he
Had tasted it, he would not drink it. They
Crucified him and divided his clothes

By casting lots. And sitting down, they kept
Watch over him there, and above his head
They placed the written charge against him: THIS

IS JESUS, KING OF JEWS. Two robbers were
Crucified with him, one upon his right
And one upon his left. Those who passed by

Hurled insults at him, shook their heads and said,
“You can destroy the temple and rebuild
It in three days, so save yourself! Get off

The cross, if you’re the Son of God!” So too
The chief priests, scribes and elders mocked him. “He
Saved others,” they said, “but can’t save himself!

He is the King of Israel! Let him
Come down now from the cross, and we’ll believe
In him. He trusts in God. Let God deliver

Him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I’m
The Son of God.’ ” So too the robbers who
Were crucified with him heaped insults on

Him, and from the sixth hour until the ninth
Hour darkness covered all the land. About
The ninth hour Jesus cried out loudly, “Eloi,

Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means,
“My God, my God, why did you leave me?” When
Some of those standing there heard this, they said,

“He’s calling to Elijah.” Instantly
One of them ran and got a sponge. He filled
It with wine vinegar, put it upon

A stick, and offered it to Jesus for
A drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone.
Let us see if Elijah comes to save

Him;” and when Jesus had cried out again
Loudly, he let his spirit go. At that
Moment the temple curtain tore in two

From top to bottom: the earth shook; rocks split;
Graves opened: many godly people who
Had died were raised to life. They came out of

The tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection
They left the cemetery, went into
The holy city and appeared to many

People. When the centurion and those
With him who guarded Jesus saw the earthquake
And all that had occurred, they were afraid,

And said, “He surely was the Son of God!”
And many women who had followed Jesus
From Galilee to minister to him

Were watching from afar, among whom were
Mary Magdalene, Mary, James and Joses’
Mother, and Zebedee’s sons’ mother. As

Evening approached, a man named Joseph came.
A wealthy man from Arimathea,
He had himself become a follower

Of Jesus. Joseph went to Pilate and
He asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate ordered
That it be given him. Then Joseph took

The body, wrapped it in a spotless linen
Cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb
That he had cut out of the rock. He rolled

A giant stone before the entrance to
The tomb and left, while sitting on the side
Facing the tomb were Mary Magdalene

And th’other Mary. The next day, the one
Which followed Preparation Day, chief priests
And Pharisees came up to Pilate. “Sir,”

They told him, “we remember while he was
Living, that liar said, ‘I’ll rise again
After three days.’ ” So give the order for

The tomb to be secured until the third
Day. Otherwise, his followers may steal
The body, then inform the people he

Has been raised from the dead. This last deceit
Will be worse than the first.” “Go get a guard,”
Pilate replied, “and make the tomb secure

As you know how.” And so they went and made
The tomb secure by sealing up the stone
And posting lookouts to patrol the zone.

–From New Testament in Blank Verse by Day Williams