Read: Matthew 27
A: But Jesus remained silent.
B: The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the Living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. (Matthew 26:63-64a)
B’: Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
A’: When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. (Matthew 27:11-12)
In the overlap of chapters here, Matthew has constructed a chiasmus*.
Remember, the chapter divisions and verse numbering system was added over a millennium later, so it makes no difference that this literary feature should occur over a chapter boundary. The beginning and end of the X crossover literary shape are 26:62 where the high priest asks Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony?” and 27:13 where Pilate asks Jesus, “Don’t you hear this testimony?”
Throughout the chiasmus, different responses to Jesus, particularly to the identity claims of Jesus, are highlighted. Jesus is identified as “the Messiah, the Son of God” at the beginning and as “the king of the Jews” at the end of the chiasmus. Then, after dual mentions of death (26:66) / burial (27:7) and prophecies (26:64 and 27:9), there is a major contrast set up in two passages. Peter disowns Jesus and repents of his sin with weeping; Judas, who has betrayed Jesus, regrets his sin and commits suicide.
Finally, there is the centre of the chiasmus where the main idea is revealed and the crux of the rhetorical form displayed. 27:1 reveals the guilt of those who planned to kill Jesus, the Jewish leadership: “Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed.” They planned, they plotted. They deliberately determined to put Jesus Christ to death.
This chiasmus reveals that Jesus was the only innocent person present on that day. Jesus was not guilty of blasphemy, because Jesus really was the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus was not guilty of treason, because Jesus really was the king of the Jews. Jesus Christ was innocent, but those who put him to death were guilty of blasphemy and treason both.
Every person is guilty – only some are forgiven.
LORD God Almighty,
Thank you for forgiving my sin and thank you for the surprising pleasures you have given me today.
Thank you for the opportunity to pray for my friend as she enters her 36th week of pregnancy, after I saw her at the shops during my lunch hour.
Thank you for the chance to talk to my students about who I believe you are, for the chance to tell them that all people are sinners, but those who submit to Jesus as Boss and trust in him as Rescuer are forgiven sinners. Thank you that they raised the questions, so I was free to answer.
Thank you for the time to hold my daughter’s hand as I drove her home from the bus.
Thank you for the quiet conversation with my son in the car as we drove to the city.
Please help me to keep honouring you in my everyday ordinary.
* Rhetorical Ramble:
A chiasmus is my favourite literary structure. It is a rhetorical scheme “in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order.” It has its origin in the meaning “crosswise arrangement” from the Greek name of the letter chi, which looks a bit like the English letter X. (Oxford Dictionary of English)
John 1:1-2 is a short and sweet chiasmus :
A: In the beginning was the Word,
B: and the Word was with God
X: and the Word was God.
B’: He was with God
A’: in the beginning.
The centre of the chiasmus is the centre and most important point of the author’s argument. Hence, in John 1:1-2 above, John is using claims of Jesus’ eternal existence and presence with God to prove Jesus’ identity as God.
In the same way that a chiasmus is a crosswise arrangement of words or ideas used to highlight the central idea, this blog is about the crux: “the decisive or most important point at issue… the ‘cross’.” (Oxford Dictionary of English)
The crux of life at crux.live is Jesus Christ and the Cross, and the truths that I need Jesus, so I seek to know Jesus, so I may love Jesus and live in Jesus and live like Jesus.
(This rhetorical ramble was originally posted as part of Light.)