Matthew 27MATTHEW CHAPTER 27 Verses 1,2. Jesus is brought before Pilate. See also Mk 15:1, Lk 23:1, Jn 18:28, etc. Verse 1. When the morning was come. This was not long after he had been condemned by the sanhedrim. Peter's last denial was probably not far from three o'clock, or near the break of day. As soon as it was light, they consulted together for the purpose of taking his life. The sun rose at that season of the year, in Judea, not far from five o'clock; and the time when they assembled was not long after Peter's denial. The Chief Priests--took counsel. They had agreed that he deserved to die, on a charge of blasphemy. Yet they did not dare to put him to death by stoning, as they did afterwards Stephen, Acts 7:1 and as the law commanded in case of blasphemy, for they feared the people. They therefore consulted, or took counsel together, to determine on what pretence they could deliver him to the Roman emperor, or to fix some charge of a civil nature, by which Pilate might be induced to condemn him. The charge which they fixed on was not that on which they had tried him, and on which they had determined he ought to die, Mt 26:66; but that of "perverting the nation," and of "forbidding to give tribute to Caesar," Lk 23:2. On this accusation, if made out, they supposed Pilate could be induced to condemn Jesus. On a charge of blasphemy they knew he could not, as that was not an offence against the Roman laws, and over which, therefore, Pilate claimed no jurisdiction. To put him to death. To devise some way by which he might be put to death under the authority of the Roman governor. (m) "counsel" Ps 2:2 Verse 2. And when they had bound him. He was bound when they took him in the garden, Jn 18:12. Probably when he was tried before the sanhedrim, in the palace of Caiaphas, he had been loosed from his bonds--being there surrounded by multitudes, and supposed to be safe. As they were about to lead him to another part of the city now, they again bound him. The binding consisted, probably, in nothing more than tying his hands. Pontius Pilate the governor. The governor, appointed by the Romans, over Judea. The governor commonly resided at Caesarea; but he came up to Jerusalem usually at the great feasts, when most of the Jews were assembled, to administer justice, and to suppress tumults, if any should arise. The title which Pilate received was that of governor, or procurator. The duties of the office were chiefly to collect the revenues due to the Roman emperor, and, in certain cases, to administer justice. Pilate was appointed governor of Judea by Tiberius, then emperor of Rome. John says Jn 18:28 that they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment--that is, to the part of the praetorium, or governor's palace, where justice was administered. The Jews did not, however, enter in themselves, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover. In Nu 19:22, it is said, that whosoever touched an unclean thing should be unclean, For this reason they would not enter into the house of a heathen, lest they should contract some defilement that would render them unfit to keep the passover. (n) "him to" Mt 20:19 Verse 3. Then Judas--when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself. This shows that Judas did not suppose that the affair would have results in this calamitous manner. He probably expected that Jesus would have worked a miracle to deliver himself, and not have suffered this condemnation to come upon him. When he saw him taken, bound, tried, and condemned; when he saw that all probability that he would deliver himself was taken away, he was overwhelmed with disappointment, sorrow, and remorse of conscience. The word rendered repented himself, it has been observed, does not of necessity denote a change for the better, but any change of views and feelings. Here it evidently means no other change than that produced by the horrors of a guilty conscience, and by deep remorse, for crime at its unexpected results. It was not saving repentance; that leads to a holy life: this led to an increase of crime in his own death. True repentance leads the sinner to the Saviour: this led away from the Saviour to the gallows. Judas, if he had been a true penitent, would have come then to Jesus, confessed his crime at his feet, and sought for pardon there. But, overwhelmed with remorse, and the conviction of vast guilt, he was not willing to come into his presence, and added to the crime of a traitor that of self-murder. Assuredly, such a man could not be a true penitent. Verse 4. I have sinned, I have been guilty. I have done wrong. In that I have betrayed the innocent blood. That is, in betraying an innocent being to death. Blood is put here for life, or for the man. The meaning is, that he knew and felt that Jesus was innocent. This confession is a remarkable proof that Jesus was innocent. Judas had been with him three years, he had seen him in public and private; he had heard his public teaching and his private views; he had seen him in all circumstances; and if he had done anything evil, or advanced anything against the Roman emperor, Judas was competent to testify it. Had he known any such thing, he would have stated it. He would have appeared to vindicate himself. His testimony, being a disciple of Jesus, would have been, to the chief priests, far more-valuable than that of any other man; and he might not only have escaped the horrors of a troubled conscience, and an awful death, but have looked for an ample reward. That he did not make such a charge--that he fully and frankly confessed that Jesus was innocent--and that he gave up the ill-gotten price of treason--is full proof that, in the belief of Judas, the Saviour was free from crime, and even the suspicion of crime. What is that to us? This form of speaking denoted that they had nothing to do with his remorse of conscience, and his belief that Jesus was innocent. They had secured what they wanted, the person of Jesus, and they cared little now for the feelings of the traitor, So all wicked men, who make use of the agency of others for the accomplishment of crime, or the gratification of passion, will care little for the effect on the instrument. They will soon cast him off and despise him; and, in thousands of instances, them instruments of villainy, and the panders to the pleasures of others, are abandoned to remorse, wretchedness, crime, and death. (o) "innocent blood" 2Kgs 24:4 Verse 5. And he cast down, etc, This was an evidence of his remorse of conscience for his crime. His ill-gotten gain now did him no good. It would not produce relief to his agonized mind. He attempted, therefore, to obtain relief by throwing back the price of treason. But he attempted it in vain. The consciousness of guilt was fastened to his soul; and Judas found, as all win find, that to cast away or abandon ill-gotten wealth will not alleviate the guilty conscience. In the temple, It is not quite certain what part of the temple is here meant. Some have thought it was the place where the sanhedrim was accustomed to sit; others, the treasury; others, the part where the priests offered sacrifice. It is probable that Judas cared little, or thought little, to what particular part of the temple he went. In his deep remorse he hurried to the temple, and probably cast the money down in the most convenient place, and fled to some situation where he might take his life. And went and hanged himself. The word used in the original, here, has given rise to much discussion, whether it means that he was suffocated or strangled by his great grief, or whether he took his life by suspending himself. It is acknowledged on all hands, however, that the latter is its most usual meaning, and it is certainly the most obvious meaning. Peter says, in giving an account of the death of Jesus, Acts 1:18 that Judas, "falling headlong, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." There has been supposed to be some difficulty in reconciling these two accounts, but there is really no necessary difference. Both accounts are true. Matthew records the mode in which Judas attempted his death by hanging. Peter speaks of the result. Judas probably passed out of the temple in great haste and perturbation of mind. He sought a place where he might perpetrate this crime. He would not, probably, be very careful about the fitness of the means he used. In his anguish, his haste, his desire to die, he seized upon a rope and suspended himself; and it is not at all remarkable, or indeed unusual, that the rope might prove too weak, and break. Falling headlong--that is, on his, face--he burst asunder, and in awful horrors died--a double death, with double pains and double horrors--the reward of his aggravated guilt. Verse 6. It is not lawful, etc. It was forbidden De 18:18 to take what was esteemed as an abomination, and to offer it to God. The price of blood--that is, of the life of a man--they justly considered as an improper and unlawful offering. The treasury. The treasury was kept in the court of the women. See plan of the temple, Mt 21:12. It was composed of a number of small chests placed in different parts of the courts to receive the voluntary offerings of the people, as well as the half-shekel required of every Jew. The original word, here rendered treasury, contains the notion of an offering to God. What was given there was considered as an offering made to Him. The price of blood. The life is in the blood. The word blood, here, means the same as life. The price of blood, means the price by which the life of a man has been purchased. This was an acknowledgment that in their view Jesus was innocent. They had bought him, not condemned him justly. It is remarkable that they were so scrupulous now about so small a matter comparatively as putting this money in the treasury, when they had no remorse about murdering an innocent being, and crucifying him who had given full evidence that he was the Messiah. Men are often very scrupulous in small matters, who stick not at great crimes. Verse 7. And they took counsel, etc. They consulted among themselves about the proper way to dispose of this money. And bought with them. In Acts 1:18, it is said of Judas that he "purchased a field with the reward of iniquity." By the passage in the Acts is meant no more than that he furnished the means, or was the occasion of purchasing the field. It is not of necessity implied that Judas actually made the contract, and paid down the money to buy a field to bury strangers in--a thing which would be in itself very improbable; but that it was by his means that the field was purchased. It is very frequent in the Scriptures, as well as in other writings, to represent a man as doing that which he is only the cause or occasion of another's doing. See Acts 2:23, Jn 19:1, Mt 27:59,60. The potter's field. Probably this was some, field well known by that name, which was used for the purpose of making earthen vessels. The price paid for a field so near Jerusalem may appear to be very small; but it is not improbable that it had been worked till the clay was exhausted, and was neither fit for that business nor for tillage, and was therefore considered as of little value. To bury strangers in. Jews, who came up from other parts of the world to attend the great feasts at Jerusalem. The high priests, who regarded the Gentiles as abominable, would not be inclined to provide a burial-place for them. Verse 8. The field of blood. The field purchased by the price of blood. The name by which this field was called was Aceldama, Acts 1:19. It was just without the walls of Jerusalem, on the south of Mount Zion. It is now used as a burying-place by the Armenian Christians in Jerusalem, who have a magnificent convent on Mount Zion. Miss. Herald, 1824, p. 66. See the map of Jerusalem, and ch. ii. 1. Unto this day. That is, to the day when Matthew wrote this gospel, about thirty years after the field was purchased. Verse 9. Spoken by Jeremy the prophet. The words quoted here are not to be found in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Words similar to these are recorded in Zech 11:12,13, and from that place this quotation has been doubtless made. Much difficulty has been experienced in explaining this quotation. Anciently, according to the Jewish writers, Jeremiah was reckoned the first of the prophets, and was placed first in the Book of the Prophets: thus Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve minor prophets. Some have thought that Matthew, quoting this place, quoted the Book of the Prophets under the name of that which had the first place in the book--i, e., Jeremiah; and though the words are those of Zechariah, yet they are quoted correctly as the words of the Book of the Prophets, the first of which was Jeremiah. Others have thought that there was a mistake made by ancient transcribers, writing the name Jeremiah instead of Zechariah; and it is observed that this might be done by the change of only a single letter. It was often the custom to abridge words in writing them, Thus, instead of writing the name of Jeremiah in full, it would be written in Greek Iriou. So Zechariah would be written Zriou. By the mere change of Z into I, therefore, the mistake might easily be made. Probably this is the correct explanation. Others have supposed that the words were spoken by Jeremiah, and that Zechariah recorded them; and that Matthew quoted them as they were, the words of Jeremiah. The passage is not quoted literally; and by its being fulfilled is meant, probably, that the language used by Zechariah on a similar occasion would express also this event. It was language appropriate to this occasion. The price of him that was valued. That is, the price of him on whom a value was set. The word rendered "valued," here, does not, as often in our language, mean to esteem, but to estimate; not to love, approve, or regard, but to fix a price on, to estimate the value of. This they considered to be thirty pieces of silver, the common price of a slave. They of the children of Israel did value. Some of the Jews, the leaders or priests, acting in the name of the nation. Did value. Did estimate, or fix a price on. (q) "spoken" Zech 11:12,13 (1) "valued" or, "whom they bought of the children of Israel." Verse 10. And gave them. In Zechariah it is I gave them. Here it is represented as being given by the priests. The meaning is not, however, different. It is, that this price was given for the potter's field. As the Lord appointed me. That is, commanded me. The meaning of the place in Zechariah is this: He was directed to go to the Jews as a prophet--a pastor of the people. They treated him, as they had done others, with great contempt. He asks them to give him his price-- i.e., the price which they thought he and his pastoral labours were worth, or to show their estimate of his office. If they thought it of value, they were to pay him accordingly; if not, they were to "forbear"-- that is, to give nothing. To show their great contempt of him and his office, and of God who had sent him, they gave him thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. This God commanded, or appointed him to give to the potter, or to throw into the pottery--to throw away. So in the time of Jesus the same thing was substantially repeated. Jesus came as the Messiah. They hated and rejected him. To show their contempt of him and his cause, they valued him at the price of a slave. This was thrown down in the temple, taken by the priests, and appropriated to the purchase of a field owned by a potter, worn out, and of little or no value; all showing at how low a price, through the whole transaction, the Son of God was estimated. Though the words quoted here are not precisely like those in Zechariah, yet the sense and general structure are the same. Verse 11. And Jesus stood before the governor. Many things are omitted by Matthew in the account of this trial, which are recorded by the other evangelists. A much more full account is found in Jn 18:28-40. And the governor asked him, etc. This question was asked on account of the charge which the Jews brought against Jesus, of "perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar," Lk 23:2. It was on this charge that, after consultation, they had agreed to arraign him before Pilate. They had condemned him for blasphemy; but they well knew that Pilate would altogether disregard an accusation of that kind. They therefore attempted to substitute a totally different accusation from that on which they had professed to find him guilty; to excite the jealousy of the Roman governor, and to procure his death on a false charge of treason against the Roman emperor. Thou sayest. That is, thou sayest right, or thou sayest the truth. We may wonder why the Jews, if they heard this confession, did not press it upon the attention of Pilate as a full confession of his guilt. It was what they had accused him of. But it might be doubtful whether, in the confusion, they heard the confession; or, if they did, Jesus took away all occasion of triumph by explaining to Pilate the nature of his kingdom, Jn 18:36. Though he acknowledged that he was a king, yet he stated fully that his kingdom was not of this world, and that therefore it could not be alleged against him as treason against the Roman emperor. This was done in the palace, apart from the Jews; and fully satisfied Pilate of his innocence, Jn 18:38. Verse 12. When he was accused, etc. To wit, of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, Lk 23:2,5. Probably this was done in a tumultuous manner, and in every variety of form. He answered nothing. He was conscious of his innocence. He knew that they could not prove these charges. They offered no testimony to prove them; and, in conscious innocence, he was silent. (r) "answered nothing" Mt 26:63 Verse 13. They witness against thee. This means, rather, that they accused him. They were not witnesses, but accusers. These accusations were repeated and pressed. They charged him with exciting the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem, and exciting them to sedition, Lk 23:6. Verse 14. To never a word. That is, not at all. He said nothing. This is a way of speaking, denoting that it was remarkable. It is an emphatic way of saying that he answered nothing. There was no need of his replying. He was innocent, and they offered no proof of guilt. Besides, his appearance was full evidence in his favour. He was poor, unarmed, without powerful friends, and alone. His life had been public, and his sentiments were well known; and the charge had on the face of it the aspect of absurdity. It deserved, therefore, no answer. Marvelled greatly. Wondered exceedingly, or was much surprised. He was probably more surprised that he bore this so meekly, and did not return railing for railing, than that he did not set up a defence. The latter was unnecessary. The former was unusual. The governor was not accustomed to see it, and was therefore greatly amazed. It was at this time that Pilate, having heard them speak of Galilee, Lk 23:5 asked if he was a Galilean. Having ascertained that he was, and probably desirous of freeing himself from any farther trouble in the affair, under pretence that he belonged to Herod's Jurisdiction, he sent Jesus to Herod, who was then at Jerusalem, attending the feast of the Passover, Lk 23:6-12. Herod having examined him, and finding no cause of death in him, sent him back to Pilate. Pleased with the respect which had been shown him, Herod laid aside his enmity against Pilate, and they became friends. The cause of their friendship does not appear to be at all that they were united in opposing the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah, but the respect which Pilate had shown in sending Jesus to him. Verses 15-23. See also the parallel places in Mk 15:6-14, Lk 23:17-23 Jn 18:39,40. Verse 15. At that feast. The feast of the passover. The governor was wont to release, etc. Was accustomed to release. From what this custom arose, or by whom it was introduced, is not known. It was probably adopted to secure popularity among the Jews, and to render the government of the Romans less odious. Any little indulgence granted to the Jews, during the heavy oppression of the Romans, would serve to conciliate their favour, and to keep the nation from sedition. It might happen often, that when persons were arraigned before the Romans, on charge of sedition, some peculiar favourite of the people, or some leader, might be among the number. It is evident that if they had the privilege of recovering such a person, it would serve much to allay their feelings, and make tolerable the yoke under which they groaned. (s) "Now at that feast" Mk 15:6, Lk 23:17, Jn 18:39 Verse 16. A notable prisoner. The word notable means one that is distinguished in any way, either for great virtues, or great crimes. In this place, it evidently means the latter. He was perhaps a leader of a band who had been guilty of sedition, and had committed murder in an insurrection, Lk 23:19. Verse 17. Whom will ye that I release, etc. Pilate was satisfied of the innocence of Jesus, Lk 23:13-16 he was therefore desirous of releasing him. He expected to release one to the people. He knew that Jesus, though condemned by the chief priests, was yet popular among the people. He therefore attempted in this manner to rescue him from the hands of the priests, and expected that the people would prefer him to an odious and infamous robber and murderer. Had the people been left to themselves, it would probably have been done. Jesus which is called Christ. That is, Jesus who claims to be the Messiah. Pilate probably did not believe it, or care much for it. He used the name which Jesus had acquired among the people. Perhaps, also, he thought that they would be more likely to ask him to be released, if he was presented to them as the Messiah. Mark Mk 15:9 adds, that he asked them whether they would that he should release "the King of the Jews?" It is probable that he asked the question in both ways. Perhaps it was several times repeated; and Matthew has recorded one way in which it was asked, and Mark another. He asked them whether they would demand him who was called the Christ--expecting that they would be moved by the claims of the Messiah, claims which, when he entered Jerusalem in triumph, and in the temple, they had acknowledged. He asked them whether they would have the King of the Jews--probably to ridicule the priests who had delivered him on that charge. He did it to show the people how absurd the accusation was. There he stood, apparently a poor, inoffensive, unarmed, and despised man. Herod set him at naught, and scourged him, and sent him back. The charge, therefore, of the priests, that he was a king opposed to the Roman emperor, was supremely ridiculous; and Pilate expecting the people would see it so, hoped also that they would ask him to be released. Verse 18. For he knew that for envy, etc. This was envy at his popularity. He drew away the people from them. This Pilate understood probably from his knowledge of the pride and ambition of the rulers, and from the fact that no danger could arise from a person that appeared like Jesus. If Pilate knew this, he was bound to release him himself. As a governor and judge, he was bound to protect the innocent, and should, in spite of all the opposition of the Jews, at once have set him at liberty. But the Scriptures could not then have been fulfilled. It was necessary, in order that an atonement should be made, that Jesus should be condemned to die. At the same time, it shows the wisdom of the overruling providence of God, that he was condemned by a man who was satisfied of his innocence, and who proclaimed before his accusers his full belief that there was no fault in him. (t) "envy" Prov 27:4, Eccl 4:4 Verse 19. Have thou nothing to do, etc. That is, do not condemn him. Perhaps she was afraid that the vengeance of heaven would follow her husband and family, if he condemned the innocent. That just man. The word just here has the sense of innocent; or not guilty. She might have been satisfied of his innocence from other sources, as well as from the dream. It is possible that the woman might have been a worshipper of the true God, and that she might therefore have desired that the Messiah should be released. I have suffered many things, etc. Dreams were occasionally considered as indications of the Divine will; and, among the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, great reliance was placed on them. Her mind-- probably agitated with the subject; satisfied of the innocence of Jesus; and knowing that the Jews would make every effort to secure his condemnation--was also excited during her sleep, perhaps with a frightful prospect of the judgments that would descend on the family of Pilate if Jesus was condemned. She therefore sent to him to secure if possible his release. (u) "that just man" Isa 53:11, Zech 9:9, Lk 23:47, 1Pet 2:22, 1Jn 2:1 Verse 20. Persuaded the multitude. The release of a prisoner was to be to the people, not to the rulers. The rulers therefore, in order to secure the condemnation of Jesus, urged on the people to demand Barabbas. The people were greatly under the influence of the priests. Galileans among the citizens of Jerusalem were held in contempt. The priests turned the pretensions of Jesus into ridicule. Hence in a popular tumult, among a flexible and changing multitude, they easily excited them, who but a little before had cried hosanna, to cry crucify him. (v) "Barabbas" Acts 3:14 Verse 21. Whether of the twain? Which of the two, Jesus or Barabbas? Verse 22. Mt 27:15 Verse 23. And the governor said, Why? Luke informs us that Pilate put this question to them three times, so anxious was he to release him. He affirmed that he had found no cause of death in him. He said, therefore, that he would chastise him, and let him go. He expected probably, by causing him to be publicly whipped, to excite their compassion, to satisfy them, and thus to evade the demands of the priests, and to set him at liberty with the consent of the people. So weak and irresolute was this Roman governor! Satisfied of his innocence, he should at once have preferred justice to popularity, and acted as became a magistrate in acquitting the innocent. Let him be crucified. Mt 27:39. Luke says they were instant with loud voices demanding this. They urged it. They demanded it with a popular clamour. (w) "Let him be crucified" Mt 21:38,39 Verse 24. He took water, etc. The Jews were accustomed to wash their hands when they wished to show that they were innocent of a crime committed by others. See De 21:6, Ps 26:6. They often used signs to represent their meaning. Pilate, in doing this, meant to denote that they were guilty of his death, but that he was innocent. But the mere washing of his hands did not free him from guilt, he was bound as a magistrate to free an innocent man; and whatever might be the clamour of the Jews, he was guilty at the bar of God for suffering the holy Saviour to be led to execution, to gratify the malice of enraged priests, and the clamours of a tumultuous populace. See ye to it. That is, take it upon yourselves. Ye are responsible for it, if ye put him to death. (x) "his hands" De 21:6 Verse 25. His blood be on us, etc. That is, let the guilt of putting him to death, if there be any, be on us and our children. We will be answerable for it, and will consent to bear the punishment for it. It is remarked by writers, that among the Athenians, if any one accused another of a capital crime, he devoted himself and children to the same punishment, if the accused was afterwards found innocent. So in all countries the conduct of the parent involves also the children in the consequences of his conduct, The Jews had no right to call down this vengeance on their children, but in the righteous judgment of God it has come upon them. In less than forty years their city and temple were overthrown and destroyed. More than a million of people perished in the siege. Thousands died by famine; thousands by disease; thousands by the sword; and their blood ran down the streets like water, so that, Josephus says, it extinguished things that were burning in the city, Thousands were crucified-- suffering the same punishment that they had inflicted on the Messiah. So great was the number of those who were crucified, that, Josephus says, they were obliged to cease from it, "room being wanting for the crosses, and crosses for the men." To this day, also, the curse has remained. They have been a nation scattered and peeled; persecuted almost everywhere, and a hissing and a by-word among men. No single nation probably has suffered so much; and yet they have been preserved. All classes of men; all the governments of the earth, have conspired to overwhelm them with calamity, and yet they still live as monuments of the justice of God, and as proofs, going down from age to age, that the Christian religion is true-- standing demonstrations of the crime of their fathers in putting the Messiah to death, and in calling down vengeance on their heads. Verse 26. And when he had scourged Jesus. Mt 10:17. Among the Romans, it was customary to scourge, or whip, a slave before he was crucified. This was done to inflict a greater suffering than crucifixion would be alone; and to add to the horrors of the punishment. Our Lord, being about to be put to death, after the manner of a slave, was also treated as a slave; as one of the lowest and most despised of mankind, He delivered him, etc. Not merely he gave him up to them to crucify him, as if they only were answerable, but he gave him up as a judge when he ought to have saved his life, and might have done it. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment; it was performed by Roman soldiers; Pilate pronounced the sentence from the tribunal, and Pilate affixed the title to the cross. Pilate, therefore, as well as the Jews, was answerable to God for the death of the Saviour of the world. (z) "scourged Jesus" Isa 53:5, Lk 18:33 Verses 27-31. See also Mk 15:15-20, Jn 19:1-3. Verse 27. Into the common hall. Tho original word here means, rather, the governor's palace, or dwelling. The trial of Jesus had taken place out of the palace. The Jews would not enter in; and it is probable that courts were held often in a larger and more public place than would be a room in his dwelling. Jesus, being condemned, was led by the soldiers away from the Jews, within this palace, and subjected to their profane mockery and sport. The whole band. The band or cohort was a tenth part of a Roman legion, and consisted of from four hundred to six hundred men, according to the size of the legion. (1) "common hall" or, "governor's house" Verse 28. And they stripped him. That is, they either took off all his upper garments, or removed all his clothing, probably the former. A scarlet robe. Mark says they clothed him in purple. The scarlet colour was obtained from a species of fruit; purple from shell-fish. The ancients gave the name purple to any colour that had a mixture of red in it, and consequently these different colours might be some- times called by the same name. The robe here used was the kind worn by Roman generals, and other distinguished officers of the Roman army, and also by the Roman governors. It was made so as to be placed on the shoulders, and was bound around the body so as to leave the right arm at liberty. As we cannot suppose that Pilate would array him in a new and splendid robe, we must suppose that this was one which had been worn and cast off as useless, and was now used to array the Son of God as an object of ridicule and scorn! Verse 29. Had platted. The word platted here means woven together, or having made a wreath of a thorn-bush. A crown. Or perhaps, rather, a wreath. A crown was worn by kings, commonly made of gold, and precious stones. To ridicule the pretensions of Jesus, that he was a king, they probably plucked up a thorn-bush growing near, made it into something resembling, in shape, a royal crown, so as to correspond with the old purple, and to complete the mockery. Of thorns. What is the precise species of shrub denoted here is not certainly known. It was, however, doubtless one of that species that has sharp points of very hard wood. They could therefore be easily pressed into the skin, and cause considerable pain. Probably they seized upon the first thing in their way that could be made into a crown, and this happened to be a thorn: thus increasing the sufferings of the meek Redeemer. And a reed in his right hand. A reed is a straight slender herb, growing in marshy places, and abundant on the banks of the Jordan. It was often used for the purpose of making staves for walking; and it is not improbable that this was such a staff in the possession of some person present. The word is several times thus used. See 2Kgs 18:21; Isa 36:6, Eze 29:6. Kings commonly carried a sceptre, made of ivory or gold, as a sign of their office or rank, Est 4:11, 8:4. This reed or staff they put in his hand, in imitation of a sceptre, to deride also his pretensions of being a king. And they bowed the knee. This was done for mockery. It was an act of pretended homage. It was to ridicule his saying that he was a king. The common mode of showing respect or homage for kings was by kneeling or prostration. It shows amazing forbearance on the part of Jesus, that he thus consented to be ridiculed, and set at naught. No mere human being would have borne it. None but Him who loved us unto death, and who saw the grand results that would come from this scene of sufferings, could have endured such cruel mockery. Hail, king of the Jews! The term hail was a common mode of salutation to a king, or even to a friend. It implies, commonly, the highest respect for office, as well as the person, and is an invocation of blessings on the person. Here it was used to carry on what they thought to be the farce of his being a king; to ridicule in every possible way the pretensions of a poor, unattended, unarmed man of Nazareth, as if he had been a weak impostor, or had been deranged. (a) "mocked him" Ps 69:19,20 Verse 30. And they spit upon him. This was a token of the deepest contempt and insult. Mt 26:67. And took the reed. The cane, probably so large as to inflict a heavy blow. And smote him on the head. Not merely to injure him by the force of the blow, but to press the thorns into his head, and thus to add cruelty to insult. (b) "spit" Is 49:7, 50:6, 53:3,7 Verses 31,32. As they came out. That is, out of the governor's palace, where he had been treated with such cruelty and contempt, or out of the gates of the city, to crucify him. A man of Cyrene. Cyrene was a city of Libya, in Africa, lying west of Egypt. There were many Jews there, and they were in the habit, like others, of going frequently to Jerusalem. Him they compelled to bear his cross. John says, Jn 19:17 that Jesus went forth "bearing his cross." Luke says, Lk 23:26, that they laid the cross on Simon, that he might bear it after Jesus. There is no contradiction in these accounts. It was a part of the usual punishment of those who were crucified, that they should bear their own cross to the place of execution. It was accordingly laid at first on Jesus, and he went forth, as John says, bearing it. Weak, however, and exhausted by suffering and watchfulness, he probably sunk under,the heavy burden, and they laid hold of Simon that he might bear one end of the cross, as Luke says, after Jesus. The cross was composed of two pieces of wood, one of which was placed upright in the earth, and the other crossed it, after the form of the figure t. The upright part was commonly so high that the feet of the person crucified were two or three feet from the ground. On the middle of that upright part there was a projection, or seat, on which the person crucified sat, or, as it were, rode. This was necessary, as the hands were not alone strong enough to bear the weight of the body; as the body was left exposed often many days, and not unfrequently suffered to remain till the flesh had been devoured by vultures, or putrefied in the sun. The feet were fastened to this upright piece, either by nailing them with large spikes driven through the tender part, or by being lashed by cords. To the cross-piece at the top, the hands, being extended, were also fastened, either by spikes or by cords, or perhaps in some cases by both. The hands and feet of our Saviour were both fastened by spikes. Crosses were also sometimes made in the form of the letter X, the limbs of the person crucified being extended to the four parts, and he suffered to die a lingering death in this cruel manner. The cross used in the crucifixion of Christ appears to have been the former. The mention of the cross often occurs in the New Testament. It was the instrument on which the Saviour made atonement for the sins of the world. The whole of the Christian's hope of heaven, and all his peace and consolation in trial and in death, depend on the sacrifice there made for sin, and on just views and feelings in regard to the fact and the design of the Redeemer's death. The following cuts are, therefore, inserted as an illustration of the usual form of the cross, and common method of crucifixion. The annexed cut shows the simplest form of the cross. the usual mode of crucifixion is illustrated by the first cut :-- Other modes of crucifixion are illustrated by the second cut. It was in one of these modes, probably, that Peter was crucified. Jn 21:18. (c) "led him" Nu 15:35, 1Kgs 21:10,13, Acts 7:58, Heb 13:12 Verse 32. Mt 27:27 Verse 33. Golgotha. This is the Hebrew word signifying the place of a skull, This is the word which in Luke is called Calvary. In the original, there also, it is a skull. The word calvary is a Latin word meaning skull, or place of skulls. It is not known certainly why this name was given to this place. Some have supposed that it was because the mount resembled in shape a human skull. The most probable opinion, however, is that it was a place of execution; that malefactors were beheaded there, or otherwise put to death, and that their bones remained unburied or unburned. Mount Calvary was a small eminence, usually supposed to have been on the northwest of Jerusalem, without the walls of the city, but at a short distance. Jesus was put to death out of the city, because capital punishments were not allowed within the walls. See Nu 15:35,36, 1Kgs 21:13. This was a law among the Romans, as well as the Jews. He also died there, because the bodies of the beasts slain in sacrifice, as typical of him, were burned without the camp. He also, as the antitype, suffered without the gate, Heb 13:11,12. The place which is shown as Calvary now is within the city, and must also have been within the ancient walls; and there is no reason to suppose that it is the place where the Saviour was put to death. Verse 34. They gave him vinegar, etc. Mark says that "they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh." The two evangelists mean the same thing. Vinegar was made of light wine rendered acid, and was the common drink of the Roman soldiers; and this might be called either vinegar or wine, in common language. Myrrh is a bitter substance, produced in Arabia, but is used often to denote anything bitter. The meaning of the name is bitterness. Mt 2:11. Gall is, properly, a bitter secretion from the liver; but the word is also used to denote anything exceedingly bitter, as wormwood, etc. The drink, therefore, was vinegar or wine, rendered bitter by the infusion of wormwood, or some other very bitter substance. The effect of this, it is said, was to stupify the senses. It was often given to those crucified, to render them insensible to the pains of death. Our Lord knowing this, when he had tasted it, refused to drink, he was unwilling to blunt the pains of dying. The cup which his Father gave him he rather chose to drink, He came to suffer. His sorrows were necessary for the work of the atonement; and he gave himself up to the unmitigated sufferings of the cross. This was presented to him in the early part of his sufferings, or when he was about to be suspended on the cross. Afterward, when he was on the cross, and just before his death, vinegar was offered to him without the myrrh --the vinegar which the soldiers usually drank--and of this he received. See Mt 27:49, Jn 19:28-30. Where Matthew and Mark say that he "would not drink," they refer to a different thing and a different time from John, and there is no contradiction. (d) "gall" Ps 69:21 Verse 35. And they crucified him. To crucify, means to put to death on a cross. The cross has been described at Mt 27:32. The manner of the crucifixion was as follows: After the criminal had carried the cross, attended with every possible jibe and insult, to the place of execution, a hole was dug in the earth to receive the foot of it. The cross was laid on the ground; the person condemned to suffer was stripped, and was extended on it, and the soldiers fastened the hands and feet either by nails or thongs. After they had fixed the nails deeply in the wood, they elevated the cross with the agonizing sufferer on it; and, in order to fix it more firmly in the earth, they let it fall violently into the hole which they had dug to receive it; This sudden fall must have given to the person that was nailed to it a most violent and convulsive shock, and greatly increased his sufferings. The crucified person was then suffered to hang, commonly, till pain, exhaustion, thirst, and hunger ended his life. Sometimes the sufferings continued for days; and when friendly death terminated the life, the body was often suffered to remain--a loathsome object, putrefying in the sun, or devoured by the birds. This punishment was deemed the most disgraceful and ignominious that was practised among the Romans. It was the way in which slaves, robbers, and the most notorious and abandoned wretches, were commonly put to death. It was this, among other things, that exposed those who preached the gospel to so much shame and contempt among the Greeks and Romans. They despised everything that was connected with the death of one who had died as a slave and an outlaw. As it was the most ignominious punishment known, so it was the most painful. The following circumstances make it a death of peculiar pain: (1.) The position of the arms and the body was unnatural, the arms being extended back and almost immovable. The least motion gave violent pain in the hands and feet, and in the back, which was lacerated with stripes. (2.) The nails, being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound with nerves and tendons, created the most exquisite anguish. (3.) The exposure of so many wounds to the air brought on a violent inflammation, which greatly increased the poignancy of the suffering. (4.) The free circulation of the blood was prevented. More blood was carried out in the arteries than could be returned by the veins. The consequence was, that there was a great increase in the veins of the head, producing an intense pressure and violent pain. The same was true of other parts of the body. This intense pressure in the blood vessels was the source of inexpressible misery. (5.) The pain gradually increased. There was no relaxation, and no rest. There was no prospect but death. The sufferer was commonly able to endure it till the third, and sometimes even to the seventh day. The intense sufferings of the Saviour, however, were sooner terminated. This was caused perhaps, in some measure, by his previous fatigue and exhaustion, but still more by the intense sufferings of His soul, his bearing our griefs, and carrying our sorrows; in making an atonement for the sins of the world. Mk 15:44. And parted his garments. It was customary to crucify a person naked. The clothes of the sufferer belonged to those who were executioners. John says Jn 19:23 that they divided his garments into four parts, to each soldier a part; but for his coat they cast lots. Jnn 19:23. When Matthew says, therefore, that they parted his garments, casting lots, it is to be understood that they divided one part of them, and for the other part of them they cast lots. That it might be fulfilled, etc. The words here quoted are found in Ps 22:18. The whole psalm is usually referred to Christ, and is a most striking description of his sufferings and death. (e) "crucified" Ps 22:16, Mk 15:24, Lk 23:34, Jn 19:24 (f) "spoken by the prophets" Ps 22:18 Verse 36. They watched him there. That is, the four soldiers who had crucified him. They watched him lest his friends should come and release him. Verse 37. And set up over his head. John says Jn 19:19 that Pilate wrote the title, and put it upon the cross. Probably Pilate wrote it, or caused it to be written, and directed the soldiers to set it up. A man is often said to do what he directs others to do. It was customary to set up over the heads of persons crucified, the crime for which they suffered, and the name of the sufferer. The accusation on which Jesus had been condemned by Pilate, was his claiming to be the King of the Jews. This is Jesus the King of the Jews. The evangelists differ in the account of this title. Mark Mk 15:26 says it was "the King of the Jews." Luke says, Lk 23:38 this is the King of the Jews." John, Jn 19:19, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews." But the difficulty may be easily removed. John says, that the title was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. It is not at all improbable that the inscription varied in these languages. One evangelist may have translated it from the Hebrew; another from the Greek; a third from the Latin; and a fourth have translated one of the inscriptions a little differently from another. Besides, the evangelists all agree, in the main point of the inscription, viz., that he was the King of the Jews. Verse 38. Two thieves crucified, etc. Rather, two robbers. Pilate did not reside in Jerusalem, When he came there on the great feasts, or at other times, it was, in part, to hold courts for the trial of criminals. These robbers had been probably condemned at that time; and to show greater contempt for Jesus, he was crucified between men of that abandoned character, and on a cross that should have been occupied by their companion and leader, Barabbas. (g) "crucified" Isa 53:12 Verse 39. Wagging their heads. In token of derision and insult. See Job 16:4, Ps 109:25. (h) "wagging" Ps 22:7, 109:25 Verse 40. Thou that destroyest the temple, etc. Meaning, thou that didst boast that thou couldest do it. This was one of the things that had been falsely charged on him. It was intended for painful sarcasm and derision. If he could destroy the temple, they thought he might easily come down from the cross. Verse 41. (i) "mocking him" Job 13:9, Ps 35:16, Is 28:22, Lk 18:32 Verses 42,43. He saved others. It does not seem probable that they meant to admit that he had actually saved others, but only that he pretended to save them from death by miracles, or that he claimed to be the Messiah and thus affirmed that he could save them. This is therefore, cutting irony. If he be the King of Israel etc. It may seem strange to some that Jesus did not vindicate by a great miracle his claims to be the Messiah, and come down from the cross. But the time had come for him to make atonement. He had given full and sufficient proof that he was the Christ. The people would have been as little satisfied that he was, if he had come down from the cross. They said this for the purpose of insult; and Jesus chose rather to suffer though his character was assailed, than to work a new miracle for their gratification. He had foretold his death, and the time had come; and now, amidst revilings, and jibes, and curses, and the severe sarcasms of an angry and apparently triumphant priesthood, he chose to die for the sins of the world. To this they added insult to God, profanely calling upon him to interpose by miracle, and save him, if he was his friend. And all this, when their prophets had foretold this very scene, and when they were fulfilling the predictions of their own Scriptures. So wonderful is the way by which God causes his word to be fulfilled. (k) "let him" Ps 3:2, 22:8, 42:10, 71:11 (l) "he said I" Jn 5:17,18, 10:30,36 Verse 43. Mt 27:42 (k) "let him" Ps 3:2, 22:8, 42:10, 71:11 (l) "he said I" Jn 5:17,18, 10:30,36 Verse 44. The thieves also. The robbers, or highwaymen. Luke says Lk 23:39 that one of them aid it, and that the other reproved him and was penitent. The account in Luke may, however, easily be reconciled with that in Matthew, by supposing that, at first, both of them reviled the Saviour, and that it is of this fact that Matthew speaks. Afterwards one of them relented, and became penitent-- perhaps from witnessing the patient sufferings of Christ. It is of this particularly that Luke speaks. Or it may be, that what is true of one of the malefactors, is by Matthew attributed to both. The evangelists, when for the sake of brevity they avoid particularizing, often attribute to many what is said or done by single persons, meaning no more than that it was done by some one or more of them, without specifying the one. Compare Mk 7:17, with Mt 15:15; Mk 5:31, with Lk 8:45; Lk 9:13, with Jn 6:8,9. Cast the same in his teeth. This is a most unhappy translation. It means in the original, simply, they upbraided him, or reproached him in the same manner. Verse 45. Now from the sixth hour. That is, from our twelve o'clock. The Jews divided their day into twelve hours, beginning to count at sunrise. There was darkness. This could not have been an eclipse of the sun, for the passover was celebrated at the time of the full moon, when the moon is opposite to the sun. Luke says, Lk 23:45, that "the sun was darkened;" but it was not by an eclipse, but, perhaps, by the vapours and clouds that preceded the earthquake. The only cause of this was the interposing power of God--furnishing testimony to the dignity of the Sufferer, and causing the elements to sympathize with the pains of his dying Son. It was also peculiarly proper to furnish this testimony when the Sun of Righteousness was withdrawing his beams for a time, and the Redeemer of men was expiring. A dark, thick cloud, shutting out the light of day, and clothing every object with the darkness of midnight, was the appropriate drapery with which the world should be clad when the Son of God expired, This darkness was noticed by one at least of the pagan writers. Phlegon, a Roman astronomer, speaking of the fourteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, which is supposed to be that in which our Saviour died, says, that "the greatest eclipse of the sun that was ever known happened then, for the day was so turned into night that the stars appeared." Over all the land, That is, probably over the whole land of Judea, and perhaps some of the adjacent countries. The extent of the darkness is not known. The ninth hour. Till about three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time the Saviour is supposed to have died. (m) "darkness" Amos 8:9 Verse 46. Eli, Eli, etc. This language is not pure Hebrew, nor Syriac, but a mixture of both, called commonly Syro-Chaldaic. This was probably the language which he commonly spoke. The words are taken from Ps 22:1. My God, my God, etc. This expression is one denoting intense suffering. It has been difficult to understand in what sense he was forsaken by God. It is certain that God approved his work. It is certain that Jesus was innocent. He had done nothing to forfeit the favour of God. As his own Son: holy, harmless, undefiled, and obedient-- God still loved him. In either of these senses, God could not have forsaken him. But the expression was probably used in reference to the following circumstances, viz.: (1.) His great bodily sufferings on the cross, greatly aggravated by his previous scourging, and by the want of sympathy, and by the revilings of his enemies on the cross. A person suffering thus, might address God as if he was forsaken, or given up to extreme anguish, (2.) He himself said that this was "the power of darkness," Lk 22:53. The time when his enemies, including the Jews and Satan, were suffered to do their utmost. It was said of the serpent, that he should bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, Gen 3:15. By that has been commonly understood to be meant, that though the Messiah should finally crush and destroy the power of Satan, yet he should himself suffer through the power of the devil. When he was tempted, Lk 4:1 it was said that the tempter "departed from him for a season." There is no improbability in supposing that he might be permitted to return at the time of his death, and exercise his power in increasing the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. In what way this might be done, can be only conjectured. It might be by horrid thoughts; by temptation to despair, or to distrust God, who thus permitted his innocent Son to suffer; or by an increased horror of the pains of dying. (3.) There might have been withheld from the Saviour those strong religious consolations; those clear views of the justice and goodness of God, which would have blunted his pains, and soothed his agonies. Martyrs, under the influence of strong religious feeling have gone triumphantly to the stake; but it is possible that those views might have been withheld from the Redeemer when he came to die. His sufferings were accumulated sufferings: and the design of the atonement seemed to require that he should suffer all that human nature could be made to endure in so short a time. Yet, (4.) we have reason to think that there was still something more than all this that produced this exclamation. Had there been no deeper and more awful sufferings, it would be difficult to see why Jesus should have shrunk from these sorrows, and used such a remarkable expression. Isaiah tells us, Isa 53:4,5 "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal 3:13 he was made a sin-offering, 2Cor 5:21 he died in our place, on our account, that he might bring us near to God. It was this, doubtless, which caused his intense sufferings. It was the manifestation of God's hatred of sin to his soul, in some way which he has not explained, that he experienced in that dread hour. It was suffering, endured by him, that was due to us; and suffering by which, and by which alone, we can be saved from eternal death. (n) "to say" Ps 22:1, Isa 53:10, Lam 1:12 Verse 47. This man calleth for Elias. This was done purposely to deride him and his pretentions to be the Messiah. The words Eli, Eli, they might easily pretend that they understood to mean Elias, or so pervert them. The taunt would be more cutting, because it was the universal belief of the Jews, as well as the doctrine of Christ, that Elias would come before the Messiah. They derided him now, as calling upon Elias, when God would not help him; still keeping up the pretensions to being the Messiah, and invoking Elijah to come from the dead to aid him. Or it is possible that this might have been said by some bystanders, who did not understand the language in which he spoke, or who might not have been near enough to hear him distinctly. Verse 48. One of them ran. John Jn 19:28 says, that this was in consequence of Jesus saying, "I thirst." One of the effects of crucifixion was excessive thirst. Took a spunge. A sponge is a well-known porous substance, that easily absorbs water. It was used in this case because, Jesus being elevated, it was difficult to convey a cup to his lips. Filled it with vinegar. This was the common drink of Roman soldiers. It was a light wine, turned sour, and mixed with water. John says, Jn 19:29 there was a vessel set full of vinegar, probably for the use of the soldiers who watched his crucifixion. And put it on a reed. John says, it was put upon hyssop. The hyssop was a shrub, growing so large sometimes as to be called a tree, 1Kgs 4:33. The stalk of this was what Matthew calls a reed. The sponge fastened to this could easily be extended to reach the mouth of Jesus. This vinegar Jesus drank, for it was not intended to stupify him, or blunt his sense of pain like the wine and myrrh. (o) "with vinegar" Ps 69:21 Verse 49. The rest said, etc. Still deriding his sufferings, and refusing to allow even the poor consolation of a drink, to assuage the thirst of the Saviour of the world in his dying agonies. Verse 50. Cried again with a loud voice. He cried, "It is finished," Jn 19:30. It was in the height of his agony, probably attended with deep groaning, and uttered amidst sorrows which were never else experienced in our world. It finished the work of atonement; made the way of salvation possible; rolled away the curse from guilty men; and opened the kingdom of heaven to all true believers. Yielded up the ghost. This, though a literal translation, is unhappy. It means, resigned his spirit, or expired. The same phrase is used by the Seventy in describing the death of Rachel, Gen 35:18. Verse 51. The veil of the temple. This was doubtless the veil, curiously wrought, which separated the holy from the most holy place, dividing the temple into two apartments, Ex 26:31-33. In twain. In two pieces, or parts. This was the time of day when the priest was burning incense in the holy place, and it is probable that he witnessed it. The most holy place has been usually considered as a type of heaven, and the rending of the veil to signify that the way to heaven was now open to all-- the great high Priest, the Lord Jesus, being about to enter in as the Forerunner of his people. However, about the design of the rending of the veil the Scriptures are silent, and conjecture is useless. And the earth did quake. Or shook, Earthquakes are violent convulsions of the ground, caused commonly by confined and rarefied air. This was probably, however, a miraculous convulsion of the earth, in attestation of the truth that the Sufferer was the Messiah, the Son of God; and as an exhibition of his wrath at the crimes of those who put him to death. It was not confined to Judea, but was felt in other countries. It is mentioned by Roman writers. The rocks rent. That is, were torn asunder. Rocks are still seen at Mount Calvary thus rent asunder, which are said to be the ones that were convulsed when the Saviour died. (p) "veil" Ex 26:31, Lev 16:2,15, 21:23, 2Chr 3:14 (q) "rent in twain" Isa 25:7 Verse 52. And the graves were opened. Graves, or sepulchres, were most commonly made, among the Jews, in solid rocks, or in caves of rocks. The rending of the rocks, therefore, would lay them open. The graves were opened by this earthquake, but the dead in them did not rise till after his resurrection. And many bodies of the saints--arose. Of course it is not known who these were, nor what became of them. It is probable that they were persons who had recently died, and they appear to have been known in Jerusalem. At least, had the ancient saints risen, they would not have been known, and would not so soon have been credited as those who had recently died. Which slept. Which had died. The death of saints is often called sleep, Dan 12:2, 1Cor 15:18, 1Thes 4:15. (r) "And the graves" Isa 25:8, 26:19, Hoss 13:14, Jn 5:25,28 (s) "which slept" Dan 12:2, 1Thes 4:14 Verse 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection. The narrative of Matthew does not determine whether they came to life before Jesus rose, and remained in the tombs, or came to life after he died. The latter is the probable opinion. There is nothing said of the reason why they were raised. It is not improbable to suppose that it was, amidst the other wonders attending the death of Jesus, to convince the Jews that he was the Messiah. Perhaps some who had been his open friends were raised up now as an attestation, that he in whom they had believed was the Christ. What became of them after they had entered into the city--whether they again died, or ascended to heaven--is not revealed, and conjecture is vain. The holy city. Jerusalem, called holy because the temple was there; because it was devoted to God, and was the place of their religious solemnities. (t) "the graves" 1Cor 15:20 Verse 54. Now when the centurion, etc. Centurion, a captain of a hundred soldiers. He was here placed over the band that attended the crucifixion. They feared greatly. They regarded these things as proof that God was angry, and they were terrified at the prospect that vengeance was coming on them. Truly this was the Son of God. They had heard, probably, that before Pilate he professed to be the Son of God. Seeing these wonders, they believed that he was true, and that God was now attesting the truth of his professions. The centurion was a heathen, and had probably no very distinct notions of the phrase the Son of God; perhaps understanding by it only that he was like the heathen heroes who had been deified; but he certainly regarded these wonders as proof that he was what he professed to be. In the original it is, "A son of a god;" an expression perfectly suitable to a polytheist, who believed in the existence of many gods. Mk 15:39 says, that they affirmed that "this man was the Son of God." Luke, Lk 23:47 that they said, "Certainly this was a righteous man." These things were said by different persons, or at different periods of his sufferings--one evangelist having recorded one saying, and another another. (u) "Now when" Mk 15:39, Lk 23:47 Verse 55. Beholding afar off. They were probably not suffered to come near the cross, because it was surrounded by soldiers. They witnessed, with intense feelings, his sufferings from some convenient place as near as they could approach. Ministering unto him. Attending him, and providing for his wants. While multitudes of men joined in the cry, Crucify him, and forsook him in his trying moments, it does not appear that any of his female followers were thus unfaithful. In the midst of all his trials, and all the contempt poured upon him, they adhered to their Redeemer. Never did female constancy shine more brightly, and never was a happier example set for all who should afterwards believe on him. (v) "which followed" Lk 8:2,3 Verse 56. Mary Magdalene. Mary of Magdala. She had peculiar cause of attachment to the Saviour, having been relieved by him of a most dreadful calamity, and restored to her right mind, after being possessed by seven devils, Mk 16:9. And the mother of Zebedee's children. That is, of James and John, Mt 10:2. Her name was Salome, Mk 15:40. Verse 57. When the even was come. That is, some time after three o'clock in the afternoon. Before this, the Jews had besought Pilate that the legs of those who were crucified might be broken, and the bodies be taken down, that they might not remain on the cross during the sabbath. The soldiers coming to Jesus, for that purpose, found that he was already dead, contrary to their expectation. A soldier, however, thrust a spear into his side, and there was furnished the fullest proof that he had expired. Jn 19:31 through verse 37. A rich man of Arimathaea. It is uncertain where Arimathaea was. There were several cities of that name in Judea. It is commonly supposed to be the same as Rama. Mt 2:18. Luke says that this was a" city of the Jews ;" and it is probable, therefore, that it was in the tribe of Benjamin, and but a short distance from Jerusalem. This man sustained a high character. He was an "honourable counsellor," Mr 15:43; he "waited for the kingdom of God;" he was "a good man, and a just;" he had nobly set himself against the wicked purposes of the sanhedrim, Lk 23:51; he was a disciple of Jesus, though he was not openly his follower, because he feared the Jews, Jn 19:38. (w) "When the even" Mk 15:42, Lk 23:50, Jn 19:38 Verse 58. He went to Pilate. Because no one had a right to remove the body but the magistrate, he was condemned to be crucified--usually a long and most bitter death; and, in common cases, it would have been unlawful to have removed the body so soon. Verse 59. He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. John adds, that this was done with spices, Jn 19:40. The Jews were accustomed to use myrrh, aloes, and other aromatics, in large quantities, when they buried their dead. When they were not regularly embalmed, which was a long and tedious process, they enclosed the spices in the folds of the linen, or wrapped the body in it. Spices were sometimes used in such quantities as to form a heap or bed, on which the dead body was laid. Thus it is said of Asa, (2Chr 16:14,) they "laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and spices," etc. There not being time properly to embalm the body of Jesus, he was buried in this manner. The women who attended him, either not being aware of this or desirous of showing a farther regard for him, returned from the sepulchre on the first day of the week, and prepared other spices with which to embalm him, Lk 23:56, 24:1. Verse 60. In his own new tomb. John says, (Jn 19:41), that this was in a garden that was in or near the place where he was crucified. This tomb Joseph had prepared for himself, as was not uncommon among the Jews. In this tomb Luke and John inform us that no man had been laid. This was so ordered in the providence of God, doubtless, that there might be no suspicion about his identity when he rose; that it might not be alleged that another person had risen; or that he was raised by touching the bones of some prophet, as happened to the corpse that touched the bones of Elisha, 2Kgs 13:21. Farther, by being buried here, an important prophecy was remarkably fulfilled, (Isa 53:9) "he made his grave--with the rich in his death." The fulfillment of this is the more remarkable, because during his life he associated with the poor, and was himself poor. Which he had hewn out in the rock. This was a common way of constructing tombs in Judea. Mt 8:28. Being cut out of a rock, there was no way by which the disciples could have access to it but by the entrance, at which the guard was placed, and consequently it was impossible for them to steal him away. The sepulchre, thus secure, was rendered more so by rolling a great stone at its entrance; all possible precautions thus being used, in the providence of God, against imposition and deceit. (x) "and laid" Isa 53:9 Verse 62. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation. The first day of the feast of the passover was called the day of preparation, because all things were on that day got in readiness for the observances of the paschal week. The Jewish day closed at sunset, and the sabbath at that time commenced. The next day mentioned here does not mean the following day in our acceptation of the word, or the following morning, but the next day in the Jewish way of speaking; that is, after the next day had commenced, or after sundown. To suppose them to have waited till the next morning would be absurd; as the disciples would be as likely to steal him away the first night as the second. Verse 63. We remember. They had either heard him say this, or, more probably, had understood that this was one of his doctrines. That deceiver. One of the charges against him was, that he deceived the people. By this title they still chose to designate him, thinking that his death had fully confirmed the truth of the charges against him. (y) "deceiver" Jn 7:12,47, 2Cor 6:8 (z) "After three" Mt 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, Lk 24:6,7, Jn 2:19 Verse 64. Until the third day. That is, during two nights and the intervening day. This proves, that when the Jews spoke of three days, they did not of necessity mean three whole days, but parts of three days, as was the case in our Saviour's lying in the grave. The last error shall be worse than the first. That is, the last deception, or taking him from the tomb, pretending that he rose, shall have a wider influence among the people than the first, or his pretending to be the Messiah. (a) "steal" Mt 28:13 Verse 65. Ye have a watch. The Jews had a guard or watch of Roman soldiers, who kept watch in the tower of Antonia, on the north-west of the temple. Pilate either referred to these, or to the watch that attended the crucifixion: the whole band that had been appointed for that. As the torments of crucifixion sometimes lasted many days, the band had been probably granted to them during that time, and they were, therefore, still at the direction of the chief priests. Verse 66. Sealing the stone. The sepulchre was made sure, by affixing the large stone to the entrance in such a way that it could not be removed without detection. It was sealed. In what way this was done cannot now be certainly told. The cave in which Daniel was cast was fastened in the same manner, and sealed with the king's signet, (Dan 6:17) perhaps by fastening the stone in its place with cords, and bringing them together and uniting them with wax, and impressing on that the seal of the king. In this way letters and books were anciently sealed. Possibly on the sepulchre of Jesus was impressed in this manner the seal of Pilate--the seal of office-- making it doubly sure. Or it may be, that the stone was fitted into the tomb with clay or cement, and on that was impressed the seal of Pilate. Setting a watch. That is, as large a number of soldiers as they judged necessary to secure the tomb. We cannot but be struck with the wisdom of God, in ordering the circumstances of the Saviour's burial in such a manner as to avoid the possibility of deception. Had all this been done by his friends, it might have been said that they only pretended to secure the tomb, and only pretended that he was dead. But he was adjudged to be dead by the Jews themselves; Pilate was satisfied that that was the fact they had their own way about his burial; he was buried alone; the place of his sepulchre was made sure--expressly to prevent his being removed; and they placed around him a guard, in their own judgment, large enough to prevent his being taken away by force or strength. His very enemies, therefore, took every possible precaution to place his resurrection beyond the possibility of suspicion of fraud and imposture, and were the very means of furnishing the most striking proof that his death, burial, and resurrection were not impositions, but most affecting, awful, and yet cheering realities. (b) "sealing" Dan 6:27
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