John 19Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him.
Observe here, 1. That as the death of the cross was a Roman punishment, so it was the manner of the Romans to whip their malefactors' before they crucified them.
Accordingly Pilate took Jesus, and scourged.
O! amazing sight, the great God of heaven and earth is lashed and scourged like a base slave. Behold, hard-hearted sinner! the lashes wherewith thy Redeemer is cruelly tormented, were to preserve thee from the severer lashes of thine own accursing and condemning conscience, and to save thee from being lashed by the rage and fury of devils to all eternity.
Observe, 2. How unwilling how very unwilling, Pilate was to be the instrument of our Saviour's death; it is very evident that he had a mind to release him; and it is concluded, that Pilate was thus forward to scourge Christ, hoping that the Jews would have been stisfied with this lighter punishment, and so have dismissed him.
From this instance we may gather, that hypocrities within the pale of the visible church, may be guilty of such tremendous acts of wickedness, as the conscience of an infidel and pagan may boggle at and protest against.
Pilate, a pagan, absolves Christ, and seeks to release him, whilst the hypocritical Jews, who had heard his doctrine, and saw his miracles, condemn him.
Observe, 3. How wretchedly Pilate suffers hmself to be overcome with the Jews' importunity, and, contrary to the light of his own reason and conscience, delivers the holy and innocent Jesus, first to be scourged, and then crucified.
Learn thence, That it is a vain apology for sin, when persons pretend that it was not committed with their own consent, but at the instigation and importunity of others: for such is the frame and constitution of man's soul, that none can make him either wicked or miserable, without his own consent: Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him.
Behold here. 1. The crown which they have prepared for him, a crown of thorns; and with great cruelty they press it closely to his sacred temples, whilst those sharp-pointed briars, piercing those tender parts, let out that blood, which in a short time was to be more freely poured forth for the redemption of captive souls.
The next part of our Saviour's sufferings consisted of cruel mockings: Christ had owned himself to be the King of the Jews; that is, a spiritual king, in and over his church. But the Jews expecting that the Messiah should have appeared in the pomp of an earthly prince, and finding it to be quite otherwise in our Saviour, they look upon him as a deceiver and impostor, and accordingly treat him as a mocking, with all the marks of derision and scorn: for first they put a crown upon his head; but a very ignominious and painful one; a crown of thorns. They put a sceptre in his hand, but it was that of a reed; a robe of scarlet or purple upon his body; and then bowed their knees unto him, as they were wont to do before their princes, crying, Hail, King!
Thus were all the marks of scorn imaginable put upon our dear Redeemer: yet what they did in jest, God permitted to be done in earnest; for all these things were ensigns and marks of sovereignty, and Almighty God caused the royal dignity of his Son to shine forth, even in the midst of his greatest abasement.
Whence was all this jeering and sport, but to flout majesty? And why did the Son of God undergo all this igniminy, disgrace, and shame, but to show what was due unto us, for our sins; as also to give us an example, to bear all the scorn, reproach, and shame imaginable, for the sake of him who, for the joy that was set before him, despised the shame, as well as endured the cross?
Verily, nothing was omitted that either the malice of men, or the rage of devils could possibly invent, either to torment or reproach him.
But with what a lamb-like meekness, with what an astonishing patience, did he undergo all these trials, both for our good and in our stead!
Observe here, 1. The great variety of our Saviour's sufferings: he is made the foot-ball of all cruelty and scorn; his sacred body is stript of his garments, and his back disguised with purple robes; his tender temples wounded with a thorny crown; his face spit upon, his cheeks buffeted, his head smitten, his hand sceptred with a reed. By his wearing a crown of thorns, he took away the bitterness of that curse which our sins brought upon the earth. Thorns and briars shall it bring forth. Gen 3:18. Christ by his bitter and bloody suffering, has turned all the curses of his people into crowns and blessings.
Observe, 2. The noble testimony given of Christ's innocency, by the mouth of Pilate: I find in him no fault at all. He doth not say, I find him not guilty of what is laid to his charge; but gives and universal testimony of our Lord's innocency: I find no fault at all in him. In spite of all malice, innocency shall find some friends and abetors. Rather than Christ shall want witnesses, Pilate's mouth was open for his justification: how fain would he have freed Jesus, whom he found fautless! Our Lord found more compassion from Pilate, a heathen, than he did from them of his own nation. Pilate would have saved him, but they cry out for his blood. Hypocrites within the visible church may be guilty of such monstrous acts of wickedness, as the consciences of heathens without the church may boggle at, and protest against. Pilate, a pagan, pronounces Christ innocent; whilst the hypocritical Jews, who had heard his doctrine and seen his miracles, do condemn him.
Observe, 3. Who influenced the main body of the Jews to desire Pilate to put Jesus to death; it was the chief priests and elders: They persuaded the multitude. Woe be to the common people, when their guides and leaders are corrupt; and woe be unto them much more, if they follow their wicked and pernicious counsels. The Jews here followed their guides, the chief priests; but it was their own destruction, as well as their leaders: when the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch.
Observe here, 1. How ambitious the chief priests were that Christ should die under a colour of law: We have a law, and by our law he ought to die. The law which they allude to, is the law for putting false prophets and blasphemers to death; of which number they conclude Christ to be, because he made himself the Son of God; whereas he did not make himself so, or only pretend to be so, but really and indeed was so; to wit, the eternal Son of God. Such as are indeed blasphemers, and do arrogate to themselves what is proper to God only, by the law of God they ought to be put to death: but Christ was not guilty of the violation of that law; for he was indeed the Son of God, and did not make himself so.
Observe, 2. How full of fear the conscience of Pilate was, when the Jews told him that Jesus made himself the Son of God: he was afraid to condemn him, no knowing but that he might be some divine and extraordinary person, and consequently might draw down divine vengeance on his own head.
Learn hence, That serious thoughts of a deity will strike terror even into a natural conscience, especially when the sinner is following a course which his own judgment cannot approve; when Pilate heard of Christ's being the Son of God, he was afraid, knowing what he had done to him was against his own conscience.
Observe, 3. The question Pilate puts to Christ upon this occasion, Whence art thou? that is, What is thy original or parentage? Art thou a divine person or not?
Our blessed Saviour being unwilling to obstruct his own sufferings, or to discover any thing that might hinder Pilate from proceeding against him, would give him no answer, having before made a reasonable and sufficient defence.
O how ready Christ was to lay down his life for sinners, and how willing to pay that ransom for his people which the justice of God required!
Observe here, 1. How offended Pilate was at Christ's silence, and how unreasonably he boasts of his power and authority: Have not I power to crucify thee, and power to release thee? It is the great sin and snare of men in power, to forget from whom they derive their power, and to think that they may employ their power as they please.
Observe, 2. The piety and meekness of our Saviour's answer: Thou couldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above.
That is, thou hast no power over me, nor couldest thou inflict any punishment upon me, were it not that my Father hath in his wisdom, divine counsel, and for glorious ends, permitted it so to be.
Learn, that Christ's being under the power of any man, how great and eminent soever, did flow from the peculiar dispensation of God, who in his wise and wonderful counsel so ordered it, and ordained it for the redemption, and salvation of his people; he was above all human power as God, and no ways obnoxious to Pilate's power, being a perfect innocent man.
Observe, 3. How Christ charges his death more upon Judas and the Jews, than upon Pilate and the Gentiles: He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. Not that Pilate was excused from sin, in delivering Christ to be crucified: he sinned heinously in abusing his power; but Judas sinned more in delivering him up to the chief priests, and the chief priests in delivering him up to Pilate, than Pilate himself, whom they made a tool to serve their malice and revenge: they had better means of knowing than he; and so sinned against more light than he; and consequently their guilt was greater, and their condemnation heavier, than his.
Learn thence, that the greater means of light and knowledge persons sin against, the more aggravated is their guilt, and the more heightened will be their condemnation: He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Still observe, how unwilling Pilate was to put Christ to death; conscience bids him spare, popularity bids him kill: how frequently and how fervently did he contend with the Jews, till they make it a state case, and tacitly accuse him for a traitor to the Roman emperor, if he released him: If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend. When Pilate heard that, he delivers up the innocent Jesus to be crucified.
Hence learn, that the natural consciences of men, and the innate notions of good and evil, may carry men on a great way in opposing that which is bare-faced iniquity; but at last, either fear or shame will overrule, if there be not a superior and more noble principle. Though Pilate's conscience acquitted Christ, and his mouth had declared that he had found no fault at all in him, yet fear of Cesar's displeasure causes him to deliver to death the holiest and best of men, against his judgment and his conscience: When Pilate heard that, he brought Jesus forth unto them.
Observe here, how careful the Holy Ghost is to record and set down the time when Pilate gave sentence against Christ.
In general, it was on the day of the preparation for the passover; that is, the day immediately before it, when they prepared everything needful for the solemnization: and, in particular, it was about the sixth hour of that day.
St. Mark calls it the third hour, St. John the sixth; but this is easily reconciled thus: the Jews divided the day into four quarters, which they called hours; the first was called the third hour, which answers to our ninth; the second, called the sixth hour, answering to our twelfth: the third, called the ninth hour, answering our three in the afternoon: the fourth, called the twelfth hour, which was the time of their retirement from labour, and beginning of the first night watch.
Now the whole time from the third hour to the sixth, that is, from nine to twelve, was called the third hour; and the whole intervening time from the sixth to the ninth, that is from twelve to three, is called the sixth hour; and so of the rest.
Now when St. John says, it was about the sixth hour when Christ was condemned by Pilate, and led away to be crucified, and St. Mark says it was the third hour, we are to understand, that St. Mark takes in the whole time of the third hour, from nine to twelve: and St. John saying it was about the sixth hour, implies that it was near twelve; so that between the hours of nine and twelve our Lord was sentenced, and led away to his cross; about twelve, fastened to his cross, upon which he hung till the ninth hour, that is, till about three in the afternoon; during which time there was such an eclipse of the sun, as did occasion darkness over all the earth.
Learn hence, the great love and condescension of Christ, in stooping so low, to have his sufferings lengthened out upon our accounts, to expiate our guilt, which deserveth eternal sufferings: that he might, by his example, warn us to prepare for trials of long continuance, and sanctify a state of continual affliction to us. Behold the Son of God harassed all night before he suffered, hurried from place to place, posted backward and forward, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod to Pilate, wearied, scourged, buffeted, crowned with thorns, at last nailed to his cross, and hanging thereupon from about twelve to three, in exquisite torture of body, and under the sense of his Father's wrath in his soul.
O Lord! thy kindness towards us in matchless an inimitable; never was love like thine.
Observe here, 1. That it was a custom among the Romans to cause the person condemned to crucifying, to carry his own cross; accordingly our Saviour bare his own cross part of the way, till fainting under the burden of it they laid it upon another, not out of mercy, but malice, reserving him for a more public death; they were loath he should go away in a fainting fit. But why could not Christ bear his own cross, who was able to bear the sins of the whole world, when hanging upon the cross?
Answer, 1. Probably the Jews' malice provided him a cross of an extraordinary greatness, proportionable to the crimes they charged him with.
2. He was much debilitated and weakened with his long watching and sweating the night before.
3. The sharp edges of the cross grating his late whipped and galled shoulders, might occasion the fresh bleeding of his wounds, and his weakening thereby.
4. Hereby he gave the world a demonstration of the truth of his humanity, that he was in all things like unto us, with respect to his human nature and the common infirmities of that nature.
Herein, like Isaac, Christ cheerfully carried the wood on which he was to be offered up a sacrifice to divine justice.
Observe, 2. The infamous company which our holy Lord suffered with, two thieves; on either side one, and himself in the midst: it had been a sufficient disparagement to our blessed Redeemer, to be sorted with the best of men; but to be numbered with the scum of mankind, is such an indignity as confounds our thoughts. This was designed by the Jews to dishonour and disgrace our Saviour the more, and to persuade the world that he was the greatest of offenders. But God overruled this, for fulfilling an ancient prophecy concerning the Messias, And he was numbered with the transgressors. Isa 53:12
Observe here, 1. The inscription wrote by Pilate over our suffering Saviour: This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. It was the manner of the Romans, when they crucified a malefactor, to publish the cause of his death in capital letters over his head, that so the equity of their proceedings might more clearly appear to the people.
Now it is observable how wonderfully the wisdom of God overruled the heart and pen of Pilate to draw this title, which was truly honourable, and fix it to his cross. Pilate, who before was his judge, and pronounced him innocent, is now his herald to proclaim his glory.
Learn hence, that the regal dignity of Christ was openly proclaimed by an enemy, and that in the time of his greatest reproaches and sufferings. Pilate, without his own knowledge, did our Saviour an eminent piece of service; he did that for Christ, which none of his own disciples durst do: not designedly, but from the special overruling providence of God. No thanks to Pilate for all this; because the highest services performed to Christ undesignedly, shall neither be accepted nor rewarded by God.
Observe, 2. How the Jews endeavour to alter this: Write not, the king of the Jews: but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. The Jews thought it would be a disgrace to them, that Christ should be reported abroad to have been their king, therefore they desire an alteration of the writing. But Pilate, that wrote in honour of Christ, stiffly defends what he had done: to all their importunity he returns this resolute answer, what I have written, I have written.
Surely the constancy of Pilate, at this time, must be attributed to special divine providence. How wonderful was it, that he who before was as inconstant as a reed, should now be fixed as a pillar of brass!
Whence is this, but from the God of spirits moving upon his spirit to write, and to defend what was written! The providence of God hath a prospect beyond the understanding of all creatures.
Here we have recorded our Saviour's sufferings from the soldiers; they stript him of his garments, before they fastened him to his cross, and divided those garments which could be parted amongst them, and cast lots on his woven coat which could not be divided. Little did these vile soldiers think that they were now fulfilling a scripture prophecy; yet so it was, this action of theirs being foretold, Ps 22:18 They part my garments, among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Not that the prophecy made them do it, but was fulfilled by their doing of it.
From hence we may gather, that Christ suffered naked upon the cross, as naked, some say, as he came into the world. We had made ourselves naked to our shame, and Christ bacame naked to cover our shame. If, sensible of our own nakedness and shame, we flee unto him by faith, we shall be clothed with robes of righteousness, and garments of everlasting praise.
These words contain our Saviour's affectionate recommendation of his distressed mother to the care of a dear disciple. It was an argument of Christ's wonderful love to her, that when he was nailed to the cross, and ready to die, he was more concerned for his mother's sorrows than for his own sufferings.
Now was Simeon's prophecy fulfilled, A sword shall pass through thine own soul also. Luke 2:35 Her soul was pierced for him, both as his natural mother, and also as a mystical member of him her head; therefore Christ applies these comfortable words as a salve to her wounds, even whilst his own were bleeding unto death. Woman, behold thy son.
Where note, he calls her Woman, and not mother; he doth not say, Mother, behold thy Son; but, Woman, behold him. Not that Christ was ashamed of, or unwilling to own her as his mother; but either,
1. Fearing that calling her by that name should augment and increase her grief and trouble.
Or else, 2. To intimate his change of state and condition, that being ready to die and return to his Father in heaven, he was above all earthly relations, and knew no one after the flesh, no, not his very mother; yet, see at the same time, when he was above her, and about to leave her, how his care manifested itself for her, when his soul and body were full of anguish to the very brim; yet all this makes him not in the least unmindful of so dear a relation.
Thence learn, that Christ's tender care of his mother, even in the time of his greatest distress, is an excellent pattern for all children to imitate and follow to the end of the world.
St. John here obeyed Christ's command, and imitated his example: he took her to his own home; that is, he treated her with all that dutiful regard which a tender and indulgent mother challenges from a pious and obedient son.
No personal trial or trouble upon ourselves doth exempt us from the performance of our duty towards others, especially towards our near and dear relations; Christ, in the extremity of his sufferings, accounted it his duty to take care of and provide for his dear mother; teaching us by his example that children ought to evidence that they honour their parents, by taking care of them in their decayed and desolate condition.
Again, inasmuch as St. John took care of the holy mother after her dear son's death; that disciple took her to his own home; we learn, that the Lord never removes one comfort, and takes away the means of subsistence from his people, but he raises up another in the room of it.
It is very probable that Joseph her husband was before this time dead, and Jesus her son was now dying; but still God provides; he raises up St. John to take care of her; he takes her to his own home, and looks upon her as one of his family.
But how comes St. John above the rest to have this honourable service put upon him, and this high trust reposed in him?
Answer, the text tells us he was the disciple whom Jesus loved; that is, in a more particular manner, treating him with greater freedom and familiarity than the rest; he also evidenced more love unto, and more courage and resolution for, Christ, than the rest of the disciples, he standing by the cross, when they got afar off, Mr 15:40.
Thence we learn, that such as are beloved of Christ, as do keep close unto him, and express most zeal and resolution for him, shall be peculiarly honoured by him, and be employed in the highest services for him.
Observe here, 1. The affliction or suffering which our Saviour complained of, and that is, thirst; there are two sorts of thirst, the one natural and proper, the other spiritual and figurative; Christ felt both at this time. His body thirsted by reason of those agonies which it laboured under. His soul thirsted in vehement desires, and fervent longings, to accomplish that great and difficult work he was now about.
2. The design and end of our Lord's complaint; that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said, I thirst. Our Savour finding that all was accomplished, which he was to do before his death, but only the fulfilling of that one scripture, They gave me vinegar to drink; Ps 69:21 he, for the accomplishment thereof, said, I thirst.
Whence note, that such were the agonies and extreme sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, that they drank up his very spirits, and made him cry, I thirst.
2. That when Christ cried out, I thirst, it was to show, that whatever was foretold by the prophets concerning him, was exactly accomplished, and even to a circumstance fulfilled in him: That the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus saith, I thirst.
Observe here, 1. Our Lord's last words, It is finished.
2. His last act, He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
As to the former, his last words, It is finished, this might be the probable intendment of it:
1. It is finished; that is, now is my Father's eternal counsel concerning me accomplished, and now is the promise that he made of my becoming a sacrifice for sin fulfilled; both my Father's purpose and my Father's promise are now receiving their final accomplishment.
2. It is finished; that is, the scriptures are now fulfilled; all the types that did prefigure me, all the prophetical predictions that were made of me, all the Jewish sacrifices that pointed at me, have now received their final accomplishment in me, and are abolished in my death.
3. It is finshed; that is, my sufferings are now ended, my race is run, my work is done, I am now putting my last hand to it, my death is before me, I have finished the work, the whole work, which I came into the world for, doing as well as dying; all is upon the matter completed, it is just finishing, it will be instantly finished.
Again, 4. It is finished: that is, the fury and malice, the rage and revenge of my enemies, is now ended, they have done their worst; the chief priests an soldiers, the judges and witnesses, the executioners and tormentors, have all tired out themselves with the exercise of their own malice; but now their spite and spleen, their envy and enmity, is ended, and the Son of God is at rest.
5. It is finished: that is, the glorious work of man's redemption and salvation is perfected and performed, consummated and completed, the price is paid, satisfaction is given, redemption is purchased, and salvation insured to a miserable world.
Woe unto us, if Christ had left but one farthing of our debt to the justice of God unpaid; we must have lain in hell to all eternity, as being insolvent; but Chrst has by one offering for ever perfected them that are sanctified.
Learn hence, that Jesus Christ hath perfected and completely finished, the great work of redemption, committed to him by God the Father.
Observe, 2. Our Saviour's last act: He bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
Whence learn, the spontaneity and voluntariness of Christ's sufferings, how freely he surrendered to death; his soul was not rent from him, but yielded up to God by him; Christ was a volunteer in dying; though his death was a violent death; yet it was a voluntary sacrifice; He bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
These verses contain several remarkable passages tending to the confirmation of our faith, in the belief of the certainty and reality of our Saviour's death: in which the Jews, the soldiers, and St. John, do all five their several and sufficient evidences.
Observe, 1. The Jews' part in clearing up his truth: they desire Pilate (who had power alone to dispose of the dead bodies of condemned persons) that the legs of the crucified persons might be broken to hasten their death, that so they might be taken away, and buried; because according to the law, ( Deut 21:22,23) the land was defiled with those that were hanged, if not timely buried: and they judged if the bodies of these persons did remain on the cross all that night, and the next sabbath-day, which was an high day, (the ordinary-sabbath, and the first day of the passover, or feast of unleavened bread, meeting together,) it might pollute both them and their feast.
Whence note, the cursed hypocrisy of these Jews; they look upon themselves as strictly bound to observe an outward ceremony, but their consciences never scruple to violate the most weighty precepts of the moral law; they strictly observe the ceremonial precept, that the dead bodies should not remain upn the cross, but they scruple not to crucify the Son of God, and to use him with the utmost rigour, desiring his bones may be broken.
Observe, 2. The soldiers' part contributed to clear the truth of Christ's death: they execute what the Jews had desired, and Pilate granted, breaking the legs of the two thieves, but not of Jesus, because he was already dead; but one of, the soldiers resolving to make sure work, thrusts a spear into his side, and there came out straightway blood and water, proving that he was really dead.
All which points out to us, that it is he who came by water and blood, 1John 5:6 and that from the merit and efficacy of his death, there floweth out blood for the obtaining remission of sin, and water to regenerate and wash us from our uncleanness.
From the barbarous soldier's piercing of Christ's side after he was dead, we learn, that no cruelty was omitted to Christ either dead or alive, which might testify the great desert of our sin, nor was there any needful evidence wanting which might make clear the truth of his death; the soldier's piercing of our Saviour's side was at once an exercise of their cruelty, and an evidence of the certainty of Christ's death.
Observe, 3. St. John's part in this evidence: he avouches, that Christ really died, and expressly affirms that he saw it with his own eyes, for the confirmation of our faith: He that saw it bare record, and his record is true. And farther shows that by these actions of the soldiers, that was done by which several scripture prophecies were fulfilled, and received their accomplishment; particularly, that of Exod 12:46, concerning the paschal lamb, which was a type of Christ, That a bone of it should not be broken; and that prediction, They shall look on him whom they have pierced Zech 12:10.
Learn hence, that Christ is the truth and substance of that type, the paschal lamb, mentioned, Exod 12:46 and the true passover sacrificed for us; therefore what was ordained concerning the paschal lamb, is applied here to Christ, as the substance of that type: A bone of him shall not be broken.
This last paragraph of the chapter gives us an account of our Lord's honourable burial: such a funeral as never was since graves were first digged.
Where observe, 1. Our Lord's body must be begged before it could be buried, the dead bodies of malefactors being in the power and at the disposal of the judge: Pilate grants it; and accordingly the dead body is taken dead, wrapped in fine linen, and prepared for the sepulchre.
Observe, 2. The persons who bestowed this honourable burial upon Christ: Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus; the one provided fine linen, and the other fine spices, and they jointly wound and embalmed his body after the Jewish manner; both of them worthy, though close, disciples; grace doth not always make a public and open show where it is; but as there is much secret treasure unseen in the bowels of the earth, so is there much grace in the hearts of some saints, which the world takes little notice of. We read of none of the apostles at Christ's funeral; fear had put them to flight; but Joseph and Nicodemus appeared boldly. If God strengthen the weak, and leave the strong to the prevalency of their own fears, the weak shall be as David, and the strong as tow.
Observe, 3. The grave or sepulchre in which our Lord was buried: it was a sepulchre in a garden, to expiate Adam's sin committed in a garden: as by the sin of the first Adam we were driven out of paradise, the garden of pleasure; so by the sufferings of a second Adam, who lay buried in a garden, we may hope for entrance into the heavenly paradise. And it was in a new sepulchre, wherein never any man was laid, lest his adversaries should say, it was another that was risen, who was buried there before; or, that he arose, as one of the old prophets did, by touching the bones of some other dead person.
Observe, 4. The manner of our Lord's funeral; it was hasty, public, and decent. It was hasty, by reason of the straitness of time; the sabbath was approaching, and all business is laid aside to prepare for that.
Teaching us, how much it is our duty to despatch our worldly business early on the eve of the Lord's day; that we may be the better prepared to sanctify that day.
Again, our Lord's funeral was public, and open; all persons that would, might be spectators, to cut off occasion from any to object, that there was deceit and fraud used in or about our Lord's burial; yet was he also interred decently, his holy body being wrapt in fine linen, and perfumed with spices, according to the Jewish custom.
Observe, 5. The reasons why our Lord was thus buried, seeing he was to rise again in as short a time as other men lie by the walls: doubtless it was to declare the certainty of his death, and the reality of his resurrection, to fulfil the types and prophecies which went before of him; as Jonah being three days and three nights in the whale's belly. He was also buried to complete his humiliation, this being the lowest state to which he could descend in his abased state. Finally, he went into the grave, that he might conquer death in its own territories.
Observe lastly, of what use our Lord's burial is to us his followers. It shews us the amazing depth of his humiliations, from what and to what his love brought him, even from the bosom of his Father to the bosom of the grave. It may also comfort us against the fears of death; the grave could not long keep Christ, it shall not always keep us; it was a loathsome prison before, it is a perfumed bed now: he whose head is in heaven, need not fear to put his feet into the grave. Awake, and sing, thou that dwellest in the dust, for the enmity of the grave is slain by Christ.
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