Only Matthew tells us, once the leadership has Jesus in their hands, that they decided to kill him. Only Matthew tells us of Judas’ repentance, which, oddly enough, results in a burial place for non-Jews. Only Matthew tells us of Pilate’s wife, who proclaims Jesus innocent. It is only in Matthew that Pilate tells us Jesus’ death will be murder – the shedding of “innocent blood.,” and only Matthew tells us of the willingness of the people to be guilty of such atrocity, but to have their children be guilty too. And only Matthew tells us that those who determined to kill Jesus were so concerned that they were making a mistake, that they asked to post a guard so that Jesus could not come out of his tomb.
Of Matthew 27, one scholar writes: “There is terror in this text. The mocking and torture of the innocent and righteous son of God are not intended to make sense, but rather, to shatter sense, to portray the depths of irrational human depravity.” And as you become aware of Matthew’s focus, you see emphasized the injustice of it all.
And you have to wonder: “Where was Jesus’ father?” Where was God? The absence of divine action is underscored by the words of the crowd (also only in Matthew) “He trusts in God, let God deliver him now if he desires him, for he said: “I am the son of God.”
But God is not silent. At Jesus’ death the earth quakes, rocks split open, tombs are opened, and when Jesus is raised, so are many other people. The power of the resurrection is too great to be confined to just one person – even Jesus. Its blessing spills over into the lives of the holy.
The silence of God at times is beyond our understanding, beyond our sense of justice. But as Matthew indicates, it does not signal an unjust, uncaring, or impotent God, but a God whose response is likely to be life-changing.