I might say that I am 'passionate' about Passion Sunday, not only to be funny, but to say that there are some significant differences within the three most similar gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that are worth investigating a bit more.
This is the Sunday where, in some churches, the whole of Jesus' passion is read, his last few days before his death. This is the year we are looking at the Gospel according to Matthew, and so, from the end of Jesus' last sermon to when he is put into the grave, all of Matthew 26 and 27, is to be read.
Obviously there is a lot of similar material in the three similar accounts--often called 'synoptic', because of their similar views. But this is a Sunday where the particular uniqueness of an account will be somewhat obvious. (You can imagine that there is a special word for this as well, and this time it's a German one, 'sondergut'.)
The most unique thing within those 141 verses (75 in chapter 26, and 66 in chapter 27) is the story of what happened to Judas. To be helpful, and since most people are extremely unfamiliar with this, I have it here in the English Standard Version (ESV):
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.' They said, 'What is that to us? See to it yourself.' And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, and said, 'It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.' So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 'And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me (Matthew 27:3-10).'
There is literally an awful lot I could talk about here. And a lot of it is extremely good (especially when keeping into account, not the fact that Judas killed himself, but that the word 'sondergut' means, in a way, something especially good)!
I have been interested in the structure of the Gospel according to Matthew for many years now, and I would like to try to support the writer for what I consider to be a masterpiece of Hebrew-based literature--even if it was written originally in Greek. (For those who are unfamiliar with this issue, a man named Papias, who lived right after the apostles, wrote that Matthew was written in a Hebrew 'dialect', and that word could be translated as 'language', but it could be also translated as the word 'style', and that is the way I am understanding the word. There is no hard evidence that this gospel account of Matthew is a Greek translation of an originally Hebrew text.)
This Hebrew style can be seen in many parts throughout the Old Testament, but it is especially in a book such as Jeremiah, and, interestingly enough, only in the Hebrew version. There it has, in the middle, what is called a 'Book of Comfort' (chapters 30-33). What is even more interesting is that, in the Greek translation of that book, the parts are arranged in a different way, more chronological.
So, back to the Matthew text, some people have pointed out that it seems like Matthew made a mistake. The Old Testament quote from the text above comes more from Zechariah (11:13) than Jeremiah (32:6-9). But I would like to say, in defense of Matthew, that this is a great literary tool. All through this gospel account, there have been various emphases that have been in the middle of a section. That is what could be understood as a Hebrew style. The middle use of the word 'Father' in the Sermon on the Mount, for example, is the 'Our Father' in the Lord's Prayer.
If one adds the last 20 verses of chapter 28 to the 141 verses of the previous two chapters, the middle of the entire end of this gospel account is this text about Judas, the one containing Matthew's so-called 'mistake'. So if you go through this whole account, always looking for what is in the middle, you could miss the most important thing at the end, the one who died and rose for you.
And there are a few people today who are looking at the scriptures but, unfortunately, missing its center.