Harmony of Matthew 27:1-31 with the other three Gospel records
Thematic summaries of the Gospel narratives from Jesus’ sentencing to physical death
   1. Times
   2. The seven sayings of the cross
   3. Psalm 22
Harmony of Matthew 27:32-56 with the other three Gospel records
Harmony of Matthew 28:1-15 with the other three Gospel records

I’ve already included the first chart which appears here on a previous web page which began the section with which it deals. It seemed best to duplicate it here also to have one specific place where my chronology of the last hours of Jesus’ life could be checked out by readers. The last of the tables here appears on the web page which deals with Mtw 28:1-10.

Harmony of Matthew 27:1-31 with the other three Gospel records

With only a few explanatory comments, the chronology of the time Jesus spent in Jerusalem from the time of the Triumphal entry to this point has been fairly straightforward. From the end of that event, however, there are a multiplicity of witnesses that need some attempt at reconciliation that the reader might have in his own mind a framework in which they might be understood.

Here, we’ll look at the chronology of Mtw 27:1-31 which deals with the time from early morning to the point at which Jesus is taken out from the Antonia Fortress to be crucified and attempt a harmonisation with the other three Gospel narratives.

  Matthew Mark Luke John
1 - The morning trial 27:1-2 15:1 22:66-71  
2 - Judas' remorse 27:3-10      
3 - The first hearing and accusation before Pilate 27:11-14 15:1-5 23:1-5 18:28-32
4 - Herod     23:6-12  
5 - Pilate calls together the Jewish leaders     23:13-17  
6 - The first private trial before Pilate       18:33-38
7 - Barabbas 27:15-23 15:6-14 23:18-23 18:38-40
8* - The scourging 27:26 15:15   19:1
9† - The first mocking       19:2-3
10 - Pilate and the crowd       19:4-7
11 - The second private trial before Pilate       19:8-11
12 - Pilate washes his hands 27:24-25      
13 - Pilate's decision 27:26 15:15 23:24-25 19:12-16
14† - The second mocking 27:27-31 15:16-20    

* Scourging took place during the trial, Matthew and Mark including it in the narrative after the trial, however. Johnmor quoting Lenski notes that ‘...Jesus was not scourged in order to be crucified but in order to escape crucifixion’. The scourging could only have taken place once due to its severity and was one of Pilate’s efforts to have Christ released.

† The mocking took place in two parts, one during the trial and the other before crucifixion, as the end verses of each event show the impossibility of a harmonisation of the records being a reference to one and the same event.

Thematic summaries of the Gospel narratives from Jesus’ sentencing to physical death

1. Times

Mark 15:25 - The crucifixion took place at the 3rd hour
Mtw 27:45 - There was darkness between the 6th and 9th hours
Mark 15:34 - The cry ‘Eloi, Eloi...’ took place at the 9th hour

2. The seven sayings of the cross

1 - Luke 23:34a - Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do
2 - John 19:26-27 - Behold your mother/Behold your son
3 - Luke 23:43 - Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise
4 - Mtw 27:46-47 - My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
5 - John 19:28 - I thirst
6 - John 19:28 - It is finished
7 - Luke 23:46 - Father, into Your hands, I commit My spirit

Notice here the three sayings numbered 1-4-7 for they show Jesus addressing God as, firstly and lastly, ‘Father’ but, in the midst, impersonally as ‘My God’, taken to be indicative of the separation of Jesus from the presence of God on the cross (saying 4) but of His reunion with Him before His physical death (saying 7).

Also to be noted are sayings numbered 4-6 which are the first and last lines respectively of Psalm 22 (verses 1 and 31). In this manner, the significance of that psalm in summarising the cross should be noted and there are good grounds for the assertion that the entire psalm should be thought of as a prophetic record of what was to transpire in the future.

3. Psalm 22

As noted, Psalm 22 represents a possible full prophetic description of the cross. Clear parallels and fulfilments of this OT passage are as follows. There are also many more inferences from the OT psalm and, upon careful reading, the allusions and parallels can be noted.

v.1 - Mtw 27:46
v.6-8 - Mtw 27:39-44 esp v.43
v.14 - the act of crucifixion
v.15 - John 19:28
v.16 - pierced hands and feet
v.18 - Mtw 27:35
v.31 - John 19:30

Harmony of Matthew 27:32-56 with the other three Gospel records

We deal with the time from the going out of Jesus into the streets of Jerusalem towards the cross to the moment when Jesus breathed His last and attempt a harmonisation with the other three Gospel narratives. The reader should note here that some of these events are simply parallels brought together rather than harmonisations and I have, on one or two occasions, chosen to keep an event as happening in the text when it’s related to a statement even though, when my notes are consulted, it will be seen that part of the section must have taken place at an earlier time.

Mtw 27:32-56 Mark 15:21-41 Luke 23:26-49 John 19:17-30 OT
v.32 - Simon of Cyrene v.21 v.26    
    v.27-31 - On the way to the cross    
    v.32 - Two led away with Him    
v.33 - Came to Golgotha v.22 v.33a v.17  
v.34 - Wine mixed with myrrh v.23     Ps 69:21a
v.35a - Crucified with Him v.24a v.33b v.23a Ps 22:14,16
    v.34a - Father, forgive them    
v.35b-36 - Divided garments v.24b v.34b v.23b-25a Ps 22:18
  v.25 - Crucified third hour      
v.37 - This is the King of the Jews v.26 v.38 v.19-22  
v.38 - Two robbers with Him v.27 (v.32) v.18 Is 53:9a,12
      v.26-27 - Behold, your mother  
v.39-44 - Revilings v.29-32 v.35-37   Mtw 27:39 - Ps 22:7. Mtw 27:43 - Ps 22:8,12-13 also Ps 42:3,10
    v.38-43 - One robber repents    
v.45 - Sixth hour to ninth hour there was darkness v.33 v.44-45a    
v.46-47 - Eloi, Eloi... v.34-35     Ps 22:1, 42:9
v.48 - Vinegar on the sponge v.36a   v.28-29 - I thirst Ps 69:21b, 22:15
v.49 - Elijah v.36b      
v.50 - Cried with a loud voice v.37   v.29 - It is finished Ps 22:31
    v.46 - Into Thy hands   Ps 31:5
v.51-53 - Occurences upon death v.38 v.45b    
v.54 - Centurion v.39 v.47    
    v.48 - Conviction upon crowds    
v.55-56 - Women looking on v.40-41 v.49 (v.25b)  

Harmony of Matthew 28:1-15 with the other three Gospel records

The incident of the going of the religious leaders to Pilate in order for the body to be secured took place on the sabbath (Mtw 27:62-66) and, as it’s the only event which is recorded as having taken place on that Saturday (apart from Luke 23:56b), it doesn’t need to be harmonised with any of the other Gospel narratives.

But the accounts of what transpired shortly before dawn on the Sunday morning through to mid to late morning has drawn the attention of many commentators who have needed to bring the very different records together into some sort of harmony.

Although far from certain, the Gospels seem to indicate the following timetable of what transpired that morning, so that Paul’s list of Jesus’ appearances in I Cor 15:3-8 must be taken as by no means exhaustive.

There are notes below this chart relating to some of the events for a few of the statements need explaining.

  Event Matthew Mark Luke John
1 The women set out while it was still dark/dusk 28:1 16:1,3 24:1 20:1
2 While the women were on their way, at first light Jesus rose from the grave 28:2-4      
3 The women arrived also at first light   16:2    
4 When Mary Magdalene saw that the stone had been rolled away, she ran to Peter and John*   (16:4) (24:2) 20:2a
5 The remaining women are spoken to by two angels within the tomb - one who speaks and another who seems to remain silent** 28:5-7 16:4-7 24:2-8  
6 Mary Magdalene tells John and Peter what she thought had happened       20:2b
7 The remaining women leave the tomb 28:8a 16:8a 24:9a  
8 John and Peter arrive at the tomb, look around and return home       20:3-10
9 Mary Magdalene arrives once more at the tomb. This time she looks in and Jesus appears to her   16:9   20:11-17
10 The other women, returning from the tomb, have Jesus appear to them 28:9-10      
11 The Roman guard enter the city and meet with the Jewish leaders 28:11-15      
12 All the women become witnesses of the resurrection though they seem to withhold some of the 'supernatural' events concerning the angels† 28:8b 16:8b,10-11 24:9b-11 20:18

*John 20:2a clearly notes that Mary Magdalene rushed back to tell the disciples that the body of Jesus appeared to have been moved and, although John appears to relate that she’d journeyed to the tomb alone, John 20:2b records her words upon her return (my italics) as
‘...we do not know where they have laid Him’
implying a group of women had been initially present. It seems fair, therefore, to see Mary’s immediate return back into the city while the remaining women continue on to the tomb after initially observing that the stone had been rolled away.
I’ve noted on a previous web page that one of the women may also have announced that the body had gone when they first looked in and that this prompted her to return with all speed to the disciples in the city while the other women went on to investigate the scene further.

**Matthew causes the reader to think that the women were spoken to by an angel who was sat on top of the sealing stone (Mtw 28:2) but this is mentioned as part of the details of the resurrection which had taken place before the women arrived so that Mark 16:5 and Luke 24:4 should be taken as placing the angel which spoke to them within the tomb. Luke’s record notes the existence of two angels but this isn’t a problem for the first two writers seem to record the existence only of the one which spoke to them rather than the sum total of those present.

†This is the most puzzling of the details in the four Gospels. John 20:18 specifically relates Mary’s witness to the resurrection (she was the first one to see the risen Jesus) but she wouldn’t have been able to give the disciples the details concerning the angels which had appeared to the others as she’d returned at a time prior to the women entering the tomb (in my chronology of the events).
Luke 24:9-11 refers to all the women being witnesses of the things which had just happened though Mary Magdalene’s inclusion here has to be taken to relate to the rolled away stone and her personal witnessing of Jesus risen from the dead.
Mark 15:10-11 confirms the witnessing of Mary Magdalene but Mark 15:8 records concerning the women who remained at the tomb and who saw the two angels inside the tomb that
‘...they said nothing to any one for they were afraid’
while Mtw 28:8 speaks about them making haste
‘ tell His disciples’
but doesn’t record them actually doing so - the inference by comparing Mtw 28:7,10 with Mtw 28:16, however, is that they may have done just that. While they’re returning from the tomb, Jesus appears to them (Mtw 28:9-10) and it’s only if Mary Magdalene wasn’t with them at this point that the personal appearance of Jesus makes sense but, even so, His appearing to them isn’t first chronologically (Mark 15:9) and Mary Magdalene presumably arrived at the tomb while they were returning.
But what of the women’s silence recorded solely by Mark but seemingly refuted by Matthew and Luke? The only explanation that seems possible here is that the returning band of women (save Mary Magdalene) did indeed remain silent initially which is what Mark is recording but that, hearing Mary announce what she’d seen, they began to confirm parts of the story which substantiated her testimony. Even so, in the chart I’ve noted that they may have kept quiet concerning some of the events until much later.