The final chapters of Mathew’s Gospel record Matthew’s account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The people of Israel long awaited a deliverer like David who would rescue them from their enemies. But the advent of Jesus’ reign did not yield political deliverance or national supremacy as many thought it would. Rather Jesus announced that He, the King, was going to be crucified (Matt 16:21-23; 17:22-23; 20:17-19) and that His followers should expect similar treatment (Matt 16:24-28). Though Jesus’ ministry was marked by suffering, He displayed divine power even over death itself (Matt 17:23; 20:19). Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfilled themes that permeated Matthew’s Gospel and fulfilled the prophetic narrative of the Old Testament.
(1) In Matt 26:31, Jesus employed Zech 13:7 to reinforce His prophecy that He would be arrested, and the disciples would flee from the threat of danger. Zechariah pictured God’s judgement coming upon His shepherd with the result that the sheep of Israel would be scattered, and thus refined. Jesus took up Zechariah’s prophecy and applied it to the situation of the disciples on the eve of His crucifixion; when He was made weak, they lost all of their power (Matt 26:31//Mark 14:27). Jesus’ point was made obvious when, in the garden of Gethsemane, the eleven could not stay awake for a short time to pray against the temptation that would come (Matt 26:36-46//Mark 14:32-42//Luke 22:39-46//John 18:1).
(2) During Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus quoted from Ps 110:1 in combination with Dan 7:13 to exclaim His deity (Matt 26:64). Psalm 110 is the most frequently cited passage of the Old Testament in the New Testament. The Psalmist described God’s favor upon Israel’s king as he ruled God’s people and crushed Israel’s enemies. Israel’s king enjoyed the position of power at God’s right hand (Ps 110:1). Before Jesus was arrested, He told the twelve that one day the Son of Man would return to judge the nations (Matt 25:31-32). Jesus’ language reflected Daniel’s description of the day when the Son of Man would rule for God on earth (Dan 7:13-14). Jesus was thus an active participant in His crucifixion. In His trial before the Sanhedrin, when He was placed under oath and asked if He was the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus boldly confessed that it was so (Matt 26:64//Mark 14:62//Luke 22:69-70). Jesus’ words display that He was not trying to evade crucifixion: He claimed the sovereignty accorded the Messiah of the Old Testament.
(3) In Matt 27:9, Matthew noted that when the chief priests purchased a burial field with the money Judas returned to them, they fulfilled Jer 32:6-9. In Jeremiah 32, Jeremiah purchased a piece of property as a sign that though Jerusalem was under siege from the Babylonians, a day was coming when God would graciously restore His people and they would dwell in Jerusalem again. The property that Jeremiah purchased would be his only after blood was shed in Jerusalem as the Babylonians attacked the city. Matthew saw in Jeremiah’s land purchase a precedent for associating blood and money. For Matthew, Jesus’ blood was the purchase price of the field where foreigners would be buried.
(4) In Matt 27:46, Jesus cried out the words of Ps 22:1 as He was dying on the cross. In Psalm 22, the psalmist’s suffering prefigured Jesus’ suffering in His trial and crucifixion. The psalmist said that his enemies cast lots for his clothing (Ps 22:18) just as the soldiers did for Jesus’ clothes (Matt 27:35//Mark 15:24). The psalmist watched as onlookers shook their heads and scoffed at him in his suffering (Ps 22:7) just as those who saw Jesus on the cross mocked and sneered at Him (Matt 27:39//Mark 15:29). Those who mocked the psalmist urged him to trust in God for deliverance (Ps 22:8). Similarly, the chief priests, scribes, and elders chided Jesus, saying, “He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now—if He wants Him!” (Matt 27:43). It is fitting that as Jesus was dying on the cross (Matt 27:46//Mark 15:34), He would quote the psalmist who said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1).