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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 27

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-2



Harmony, pages 186-196 and Matthew 26:47-75; Matthew 26:59-75; Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 14:48-15:1; Luke 22:47-23:1; John 18:2-28.

In the last chapter we considered the sorrow of Christ in Gethsemane, and dipped somewhat into the account of the betrayal of our Lord. Just here we call attention particularly to the supplemental testimony of John’s Gospel that the Roman band or cohort, under its own prefect or miltary tribune, or chiliarch, was present when Jesus was arrested, and participated therein, indeed, themselves arresting, binding, and conducting Jesus to the Jewish authorities. This is a little difficult to understand, but we find no difficulty in the presence of the Temple guard, under the leadership of the Sanhedrin, and the mixed multitude irregularly armed, that came out for the purpose of arresting Jesus. Our trouble is to account for so strong a Roman force, under a high Roman officer, and the part they played in the matter, inasmuch as it was not an arrest for violating a Roman law, nor did they deliver the prisoner to Pilate, but to Annas and Caiaphas. From this supplemental story of John (John 18:2-14), certain facts are evidenced:

Judas, the betrayer of Christ, and who guided the arresting party, "received the Roman cohort," usually about 600 men, under its own commanding officers. This could not have been without the consent of Pilate.

They evidently did not go out to make an ordinary arrest under Roman law, else would the prisoner have been delivered to Pilate. Yet the facts show that they did seize and bind Jesus and deliver him to Annas, one of the acting high priests, and thence to Caiaphas. As it was not customary for Roman legionaries in conquered states to act as a constabulary force for local municipal authorities in making an arrest touching matters not concerning the Empire, and as it is evident there were present an ample force of the Jewish Temple guard, besides an irregularly armed Jewish multitude subordinate to the Sanhedrin, then why the presence of this Roman force at all, and more particularly, why their participation in the arrest? The answer is as follows:

First, both the Sanhedrin and Pilate feared tumults at the crowded feasts when the city swarmed with fiery, turbulent Jews gathered from all the lands of the dispersion. Doubtless the Sanhedrin had represented to Pilate the presence in the city of a dangerous character, as they would charge, yet one so popular with the masses they dare not attempt to arrest him in the daytime, and even feared a mob rising in the night.

Second, their presence and intervention was necessary to protect the prisoner himself from assassination or lynch law. When they came to the garden and found Jesus there with a following of at least eleven men disposed to resist the arrest, and when they saw the whole Jewish guard fall before the outshining majesty of the face of Jesus as if stricken by lightning, and when they saw at least one swordstroke delivered in behalf of Jesus, then only, it became proper for the Roman guard to intervene. This necessity might arise from the fact that they could not trust the turbulent Jews with the management of this case. "We will arrest this man and protect him from their violence until delivered to their authorities to be tried for whatever offense with which he may be charged under their laws." Indeed, humanly speaking, if that Roman cohort had not been present, he would have been mobbed before he reached any kind of a trial. The case of Paul (Acts 21:30), and the intervention of Lysias, the chiliarch, illustrates the grounds of Roman intervention. It must be borne in mind that the Romans were silent, and did nothing until they saw the Temple guard unable to face the dignity of Jesus, and that a commencement, at least, of the struggle had been made by Peter to resist arrest.

As we are now coming to the climax of our Lord’s earth life, his betrayal, his trials, condemnation, execution, and resurrection, the literature becomes the richest in the world, and the bibliography most important. Particularly do we here find a unique and most powerful literature from the viewpoint of lawyers. They do not intrude into the theological realm to discuss the trial of Jesus as the sinner’s substitute before the court of God on the charge of sin, with the penalty of spiritual death, nor the trial of Jesus as the sinner’s substitute before the court of Satan on the charge of sin, with the penalty of physical death, but they discuss the legal aspects of his trial before the Jewish supreme court, the Sanhedrin, on the charge of blasphemy) with the penalty of stoning, and the trials of Jesus before the Roman courts of Pilate and Herod on the charges of treason and sedition. They answer the question: Under the Jewish law, which was not only civil and criminal, but ecclesiastical, was Jesus legally arrested, legally prosecuted, and fairly condemned, or was the whole case, as tried by the Sanhedrin, a case of malice, violating all the rights of the accused, and culminating in legal murder? In the same way these great lawyers and jurists expound the case before the Roman courts of Pilate and Herod, and from a lawyer’s viewpoint pronounce upon the Judgment of these cases under a judicial construction of the Roman law.

Under this first head of bibliography I give a list of these books by the great lawyers, every one of which ought to be in every preacher’s library. Do not waste money on inconsequential and misleading books. Do not fill your libraries with rubbish. Have fewer and greater books, and study them profoundly.

The Testimony of the Evangelists, by Dr. Simon Greenleaf. He was a law partner of Chief Justice Story, was for quite a while professor of law in Harvard University, and the author of that noted book, The Law of Evidence, which has been accepted in two continents as the highest and safest authority OD this great theme. Indeed, when we consider this splendid contribution by Dr. Greenleaf, we may almost forgive Harvard for its erratic infidel president emeritus, Dr. Charles v. Eliot, and many of its radical critic professors. This book of Greenleaf’s, over 600 pages, is divided into the following distinct parts:

The legal credibility of the history of the facts of the case, as given by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, of which there are no known existing autographs, but only copies. The question he raises is from the lawyer’s standpoint: "Before a human court, could these confessed copies be accepted as legal evidence of the history of the case?" That part of the case he demonstrates affirmatively in the first fifty-four pages.

Then he gives a harmony of these histories, pages 55-503, in order to compare the several histories on each fact given, not only of our Lord’s life and death, but of his resurrection and appearances. The point of this section is to show that the books, having been accepted as legal evidence, then these are a legal harmony of the testimony of the books.

He gives on pages 504-549 Tischendorf’s discussion of the various versions or translations of these histories, with notes of variations from the King James Version, to show that the legal harmony is not disturbed.

Having thus shown the legal credibility of the histories, and their legal harmony as witnesses, he applies the case by giving his account of the trial of Jesus before these three earthly courts, demonstrating that it was a case of legal murder, pages 550-566.

Then on pages 567-574 he gives an account of the trial of Jesus from a Jewish viewpoint. Mr. Joseph Salvador, a physician and a learned Jew, published at Paris a work entitled A History of the Institutions of Moses and of the Jewish People, in which, among other things, he gives an account of the course of criminal procedure in a chapter on the administration of justice, which he illustrates in a succeeding chapter by an account of the trial of Jesus, which he declares to be the most memorable trial in history. This last is the chapter Mr. Greenleaf publishes. Mr. Salvador ventures to say that he shall draw all of his facts from the evangelists themselves, without inquiring whether their history was developed after the event, to serve as a form of new doctrine, or an old one which had received fresh impulse. This was a daring venture on the part of Mr. Salvador. Relying upon these historians – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – for the facts, he contends that Jesus was legally arrested, legally tried, according to all the forms of Jewish law, and legally condemned.

The rest of Mr. Greenleaf’s book, pages 575-603, he gives to a reply to Salvador by the very distinguished French advocate and doctor of laws, M. Dupin, which is a most overwhelming demonstration of the fallacy of Mr. Salvador’s argument. This sixth section of Mr. Greenleaf’s Kook makes it invaluable to a biblical student.

The late Judge Gaynor, a jurist, and who later became mayor of New York City, delivered a legal exposition on the trial of Jesus Christ, purely from a lawyer’s standpoint. His conclusions are in harmony with Dr. Greenleaf and Dr. Dupin.

In two octavo volumes Walter M. Chandler, of the New York bar, has written perhaps the most critical examination of the whole subject from a lawyer’s standpoint. He devotes his first volume to the Jewish trial, and his second volume to the trials before the courts of Herod and Pilate. On all substantial points, and after a most exhaustive investigation of the legal points involved, he agrees substantially with Dr. Greenleaf, Dr. Dupin, and Judge Gaynor.

In only one point would the author think it necessary to criticize this great book by Mr. Chandler, and that does not touch the merits of the law of the case he discusses. I refer to that part of his second volume where, after bearing his most generous testimony to the many excellencies of the Jewish character and its many illustrious men and women in history, whether as prime ministers, financiers, philanthropists, or as contributors to special forms of literature, and after denouncing the persecution to which the Jewish people have been subjected by all nations, except the United States, he then seems to deny national responsibility to God and, particularly, any connection of the worldwide sufferings of the Jews with their national sin of rejecting the Messiah.

All my life shows my abhorrence of the persecutions of Jews and my admiration for their great men and women who have conferred lasting benefits on the race. The only point upon which I would raise a criticism is that he does not write as a lawyer when he seems to deny that nations, like individuals, are under responsibility to God for what is done by them, and through their acknowledged leaders. That part of his book cannot be sustained in either nature, law, or revelation. To sustain his contention on this point he must repudiate the univocal testimony of the entire Jewish Bible, whether law, prophets, or psalms, as well as the entire New Testament, Christ and the apostles, universal history, and nature as interpreted by true science.

Among the general works on the trial of Jesus (i.e., not confined to the legal phases of the case), I commend Edersheim’s Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, a part of Farrar’s Story of a Beautiful Life, with Broadus’ Commentary on Matthew. It would cover the limits of a whole chapter to even name the books on the cross.

It was a strange episode of the young man in the linen garment: "And a certain young man followed with him, having a linen cloth cast about him, over his naked body: and they lay hold on him; but he left the linen cloth and fled naked" (Mark 14:51-52). Commentators have supposed that this young man was John Mark, who alone recounts the fact. They account for his presence and state thus: The upper room in which the Lord’s Supper was established was the house of his mother. When Judas gathered his arresting force he could not yet know that Jesus had left that room, and so first, he led his armed force to that house. This aroused the house, and Mark, himself a Christian, threw a linen robe about him and followed to Gethesame and so was present at the arrest of Jesus.

It is at least worthy of notice, that Melville, a great Scotch preacher, preached a sermon on the passage (Mark 14:51 f), contending that the young man in the linen robe was the antitype of the scapegoat (Lev. 16). The sermon is a classical model in diction and homiletics, but is absolutely visionary. There is not a hint anywhere in the New Testament that his conjecture is at all tenable. I cite this fact to show you that preachers, in their anxiety to select texts that have the suggestion of novelty in them, will sometimes preach a sermon that will be sensational in its novelty, and yet altogether unscriptural in its matter, and to warn you against the selection of texts of that kind.

The next thought is the manner in which Judas identified the person of Christ, that he might be arrested. They were sure that some of the disciples would be with him, and they wanted to get the right man. So Judas gave this sign: "When we get to them I will step out and kiss the One that we want to arrest: that will be the sign to you. When you see me step out from you and kiss a certain Man in the group, that is the Man you want." Christ submitted passively to the kissing of Judas, but said to Judas, "Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" And that has gone down into history. Traitors betray with a kiss. It is to that incident Patrick Henry refers in his famous speech before the House of Burgesses in Virginia, when he said to them, "Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss," that the English government would furnish bouquets in compliments, while mobilizing armies and fleets for conquest.

The incident of the sword. Some-find, it difficult to reconcile Luke 22:22 with Matthew 26:51-55; Luke 22:51; John 18:10-11; John 18:24. The explanation seems to be simple. In his charge (Matt. 10), while he was alive and they were in his service, they must depend upon him for defense and support. But while he was dead they must defend and support themselves. This, of course, could apply only after his death and until his resurrection. Peter was both too soon to fight, for he was not yet dead, and too late to go back to his fishing, for Christ was then risen.

Only those preachers whose Christ is dead should use the sword or resume self-support.

When Christ was arrested, all the disciples, without any exception (and there were eleven of them), forsook him and fled, and now at midnight he is led through the silent streets of Jerusalem, hemmed in by a cohort of Roman soldiers, who are attended by officers of the Sanhedrin and their servants. They bring him, strange to say, first to the house of Annas. This man Annas is one of the most remarkable men in Jewish history. He had himself been high priest; his son-in-law, Caiaphas, is high priest at this time; six of his sons became high priests. It made no difference to him who was official priest, he, through sons and sons-in-law, was the power behind the throne. He was very wealthy, lived in a palatial home, and was a Sadducee, like Dr. Eliot, and believed in neither angel, spirit, nor resurrection of the dead. He believed also in turning everything over to the Romans. That is, he aligned himself with what is called the "Herod party," or "Roman party." The patriot Jews hated him. Josephus draws an awful picture of him.

Mr. Salvador, in alleging that Christ was tried according to the forms of Jewish law, forgets that the Jewish law forbade the employment of spies in their criminal trials, and yet they brought Judas. He forgets that Jewish law forbade a man’s being arrested at night – that it forbade any trial of the accused person at night. He forgets that an accused person should be tried only before a regular court. And yet the first thing they did was to bring Jesus to the house of Annas for a private examination, while the guard waited outside at the door till Annas got through with him. On page 190 of the Harmony we have an account of what took place in the house of Annas. The high priest catechised Jesus. Annas is called the high priest as well as Caiaphas. He asked Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrines. Jesus said, "I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in synagogues, and in the Temple, where all of the Jews came together; and in secret spake I nothing. Why asketh thou me? Ask them that have heard me." So to conduct an examination of that kind at all; to conduct it at night; to conduct it not in the presence of a full court; to allow the prisoner to be struck, were all violations of the Jewish law concerning the administration of justice.

Notice what the Jewish trial is. Dr. Broadus shows the preliminary examination before Annas; second, the trial before the Sanhedrin that night, in the house of Caiaphas; third, the meeting of the Sanhedrin the next morning. It was not proper that a man should be tried except in the place of meeting, the Sanhedrin, and in this they violated the law. It was not proper that he should be tried at night, as Jesus is tried this night in the house of Caiaphas.

Let us now see what were the developments that night at the house of Caiaphas. "Annas therefore sent him bound unto Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together" (John 18:24; Matthew 26:57). That constituted the Sanhedrin – chief priests, elders, and scribes. The chief priests were Sadducees; the scribes were Pharisees. The Sanhedrin, according to a Jewish account, consisted of seventy-two – twenty-four chief priests, twenty-four elders, and twenty-four scribes. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court in matters ecclesiastical and criminal. They had some lower courts that were appointed by the Sanhedrin. Any town of just 100 or 200 population had a court of three. If it was a larger population it had a court of twenty-three, but the Sanhedrin was the high or supreme court in all matters ecclesiastical and criminal. When the Romans conquered Judea, as was usual with the Romans, they took away from the people the right of putting anybody to death by a sentence of their own courts. They refer to this, saying, "We are not allowed by the Romans to put a man to death under sentence of our law." That is, when Pilate had said to them, "Why do you not try him before your own law?" they said, "We are not permitted to put a man to death under our law." That night there were assembled the Sanhedrin, as the record says: "Now the Sanhedrin was seeking [imperfect tense, denoting continued action, not only sought, but were seeking] false witnesses against Jesus." They were seeking these witnesses with a view to putting him to death. They had previously decreed his death; and now they were simply trying to find somebody that would swear enough to justify them. Not even that Sanhedrin, when they heard the multitude of these false witnesses, could find two of them agreed upon any one point. And the Mosaic law solemnly declared that there must be two witnesses to every fact. But at last there came two false witnesses, and here is what they testified: "We heard him say, ’I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’ "

That is the sum of the evidence, and all the other testimony was thrown out as incompetent. Both these men lied. He never said that, but away back in his early ministry, when he first cleansed the Temple, and when he first came into conflict with these people, he had said these words: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again." He was speaking of the temple of his body, but he never said that he would destroy that Temple (of Jerusalem) and in three days build another.

But they were not satisfied with that, so the high priest violated the law by asking Jesus to speak. It was a principle of the Jewish law that one should not be forced to testify against himself. A man might testify for himself) but he is protected by the judge who sits on the bench from giving evidence against himself. Jesus knew all that, so he paid no attention. So the chief priest had to get at that matter in another way He did have a right in certain cases, to put a man on oath before God, and this is what he did: "I adjure thee [which means to swear by the living God, the highest and most solemn form of the judicial oath – put thee on thy oath] before the living God that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." To that Jesus responded.

Under the solemn oath before God he swore that he was the Messiah, and that hereafter that very crowd of people would see him sitting at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven.

I preached a sermon once from this text: "I adjure thee by the living God." A young lawyer was present. He had never heard such a thing before. In the sermon I presented the character of Christ, against whom no man could prove an accusation; the devil himself found nothing in him; all the enemies of the great doctrines of the New Testament admitted the spotless character of Jesus of Nazareth. And yet this Man swore by the living God that he was the Messiah. All of the latent infidelity in the lawyer disappeared under that sermon. To this day he will testify that there got on his mind in the discussion of that single fact that Jesus was the Son of God. Would such a man swear to a false-hood? Is it credible that he would? He knew what "Messiah" meant – that it meant he was the God-anointed One, to be the Prophet, the Sacrifice, the Priest, and the King, and he swore that he was. After his oath they should have tried his claims by the law, the prophets, and the facts of his life.

When he had given that testimony under oath the high priest rent his robe. The law required that whenever they heard a blasphemy they were to rend their clothes, and unless Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God; unless God was his Father, while Mary was his mother; unless he was the God-anointed Prophet, Sacrifice, Priest, and King, then it was blasphemy. And therefore Mr. Greenleaf, who is the author of The Law of Evidence, a law book which passes current in all the law books on this continent and in Europe, in mentioning the trial of Jesus Christ, says, No lawyer of any reputation, with the facts set forth in the Gospels, would have attempted to defend Jesus Christ, except on the assumption that he was the Messiah and divine, because all through the Book that is his claim. If he was not divine, he did blaspheme. Therefore when he took that oath, that court should have investigated the character of his claim as the Messiah, but instead of that they assumed the thing that they should have investigated and called it blasphemy.

Another great violation of the law takes place: "What further need of witnesses have we? We have heard the blasphemy; what think ye?" And now they vote that he is worthy of death; they condemned him to be worthy of death. Their law declared that a vote of condemnation should never be taken the day of the trial. There had to be at least three intervening days, and here at night they pass sentence on no evidence but the oath of Jesus Christ, and that without investigating the matter involved. Then they allowed the following indignities: They spat in his face and buffeted him; they smote him with the palms of their hands after they had blindfolded him. Then one would slip up and slap him, saying, "Prophesy who hit you."

I shall omit in my discussion here all this testimony concerning the denial of Peter, because I want to bring all of the history of Peter together. I pass that point for the present. I merely remark that the case of Judas and the case of Peter, connected with the arrest and the trial of Jesus Christ, have an immensity of pathos in the tragedy of the twelve – the first one and the last one on the list.

That is the Jewish trial except this one additional fact: When it was morning, or as soon as it was day, they held their final meeting, and confirmed their night decision. They had a law that the Sanhedrin must come together for a final meeting in a case of this kind, and that if anybody had voted to acquit in the first meeting he could not change his vote, but if anybody had voted to condemn in this meeting he might ratify or he might change his vote and acquit. There were to be three days between these meetings. Having thus finished the Jewish trial, which was in violation of all the forms of the law, as soon as daylight comes they carry Jesus to Pilate.

The first trial of Jesus, then, was before the Jewish Sanhedrin; the accusation against him was blasphemy; the penalty under that law was to be put to death by stoning, but they had not the power to put to death. So now they must bring the case before the court of Pilate. And here Mr. Salvador says that the Jewish Sanhedrin’s condemnation of Jesus Christ on the charge of blasphemy was confirmed by Pilate. There never was a statement more untrue. Pilate declined to take into consideration anything that touched that Jewish law. When he tried him he tried him ab initio, that is, "from the beginning," and he did not consider any charge that did not come under the Roman law. Therefore, we see this people, when they bring the case before Pilate, present three new charges. The other case was not touched on at all, but the new charges presented were as follows: First, "he says that he himself is King"; the second is, "he teaches that Jews should not pay tribute to Caesar"; and third, "he stirreth up the people," which was one of the things that the Roman was always quick to put down anywhere in the wide realm of the Roman world. A man who stirred up the people should be dealt with in a speedy manner. Treason was a capital offense. So they come before Pilate and try him in this court on the threefold charge, viz.: "He says he is King; he forbids this people to pay tribute to Caesar," interrupting the revenue coming into Rome, which was false, for he taught to the contrary; and "he stirreth up the people." We have had, then, the history of his case, so far as his trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin is concerned. In the next chapter we will take up his first trial before the court of Pilate.

1. What two facts concerning the arrest of Christ are evident from John’s supplemental story?

2. Why the presence of the Roman legionaries and their participation in the arrest of Jesus?

3. What illustration in Acts of the intervention of the chiliarch to protect a prisoner?

4. What unique and powerful literature on the trials of Jesus is mentioned?

5. What question do they answer?

6. What three books from the viewpoint of the lawyer commended?

7. What are the six distinct parts of Greenleaf’s Testimony of the Evangelists?

8. On what one point does the author dissent from Mr. Chandler?

9. What general works on the trials of Jesus commended?

10. Who was the young man spoken of in Mark 14:51-52, and how do the commentators account for his presence and state on this occasion?

11. What noted Scotch preacher preached a sermon on this incident, what was his interpretation of this young man and what the lesson here for the preacher?

12. How did Judas identify Christ as the one to be arrested, what saying originated from this incident and what reference to it in the early history of our country?

13. How do you reconcile Luke 22:22 with Matthew 26:51-55; Luke 22:51; John 18:10-11; John 18:24?

14. Upon Christ’s arrest what prophecy of his was fulfilled?

15. After his arrest where did they lead him, why to him, and what were the characteristics of this man?

16. Of what did the Jewish trial consist?

17. Give an account of what took place at the house of Annas.

18. Where did they take Jesus when they left the house of Annas, by what body was he tried there, of what was that body composed, and what were the limitations of its power under the Roman government?

19. Describe the trial of Jesus before this court.

20. What was the testimony of Jesus under oath, what should have been their course after his oath, what charge did they bring instead, and under what circumstances would their charge have been sustained?

21. What indignities did Jesus suffer in this trial?

22. What two pathetic cases connected with the arrest and trial of Jesus?

23. What the last act of the Jewish trial?

24. After the Jewish trial where did they lead Jesus, how did Pilate try him, what the threefold charge brought by the Jews against Jesus, and what the legal name of these offenses?

25. In what great particulars did the Jews violate their own law in the arrest and trial of Jesus as defined by Mr. Salvador?

Verses 3-30



Harmony, pages 196-206 and Matthew 27:3-30; Acts 1:18-19; Mark 15:1-19; Luke 23:2-25; John 18:28-19:16.

You will understand that our Lord was tried before the Sanhedrin, as we saw in the last chapter, on the charge of blasphemy, penalty for which was stoning. We will find in this discussion that Jesus is first tried before the court of Pilate on the charge of treason, and then differently charged with sedition, the penalty of these two charges being crucifixion, and on the same two charges he was tried before the Galilean court of Herod. We have yet to consider his trial before the court of God on the charge of sin, with the penalty of physical and spiritual death, and finally, we will consider his trial before the court of hell on the charge of sin, with the penalty of passing under the power of the devil.

So that this discussion commences at the last verse on page 196 of the Harmony, Matthew 27:2, "And they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pilate, the governor"; or, as Mark puts it, Mark 15:1-2, "They bound Jesus and carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate"; or, as Luke expresses it, Luke 23:1, "And the whole company of them rose up, and brought him before Pilate"; or, as John has it, John 18:28, "They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the palace; and it was early."

We have seen in the preceding discussion that Jesus was tried before the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court, on the charge of blasphemy, and condemned. We have seen that in every step of the proceedings they violated their own criminal law. Just now the important thing to note is that they also violate the Roman law. In this particular they had no right to even try a capital offense. Of course, we know that a capital offense is one of which the penalty is death. That is, capital offense comes from the word caput (root, "cap," connected withkephala), meaning "the head." And capital offense is one in which one loses his head. The right to-try-such an-offense Rome never granted to the conquered provinces. The position is untenable that any conquered province might try and condemn, but the Roman representative had to execute.

On this point Mr. Greenleaf says, "If they (the Sanhedrin) had condemned him, they had not the power to pass sentence, this being a right which passed from the Jews by conquest of their country, and really belonged to’ the Romans alone. They were merely citizens of the Roman province; they were left in the enjoyment of their civil laws, the public exercises of their religion, and many other things relating to their police and municipal regulations." They had not the power of life and death. This was a principal attribute of sovereignty which the Romans took care to reserve to themselves always, whatever else might be neglected. Tacitus says that the imperial right among the Romans was incapable of being transmitted or delegated, and that right was the jurisdiction of capital cases, belonging ordinarily to the Roman governor or general. The word is praeses, answering to our word president, or governor of the province, the procurator, having for his principal duties charge of the annual revenue and the cognizance of capital cases. Some procurators, like Pontius Pilate, had the jurisdiction of life and death, but it could not be expected that Pilate would trouble himself with the cognizance of any matter not pertaining to the Roman law, which consists of an alleged offense against the God of the Jews, and was neither acknowledged nor even respected by the Romans. Of this the chief priests and elders were well aware.

To show that Mr. Greenleaf is right in that contention, I will give three instances from the New Testament upon that point. The first is Acts 18, in the city of Corinth, and under the Roman governor Gallic. When Paul was accused under him, and brought before the judgment seat, Gallic says: "If indeed, it were a matter of wrong or of wicked villainy, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you, but if they are questions about words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; I am not minded to be a judge of these matters." So a little later, when the mob treated the chief of the synagogue with indignities, it is said, "But Gallic cared for none of these things," i.e., as a Roman officer he had nothing to do with them. So it was impossible for Pilate to take cognizance of anything brought against any matter of the Jewish religion, such as the accusation of blasphemy.

The next case that I cite is in Acts 23, where the chiliarch, or military tribune, called Claudius Lysias, writes a letter to Felix, who at that time was governor (Acts 23:27) : "This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be slain of them, when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. And desiring to know the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him down into their council; whom I found to be accused about questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds."

The next case that I cite is from Acts 25) when Festus was governor in place of Felix. So we see we have Pilate, Felix, Festus, and Gallic, all testifying upon the point to which I am now speaking. Festus cited Paul’s case to King Agrippa (Acts 25:14): "There is a certain man left prisoner by Felix, about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for sentence against him. To whom I answered, that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up any man, before that the accused have the accusers face to face, and have had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter laid against him. When, therefore, they were come together here, I made no delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought. Con-erning whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge of such evil things as I supposed: but had certain questions against him of their own religion." And he declined to take any jurisdiction of such a question.

Further upon this point, I now give what the great French lawyer, Dupin, says: Let us distinctly establish this point; for here I entirely differ in opinion from Mr. Salvador. According to him (p. 88), "the Jews had reserved the power of trying, according to their law; but it was in the hands of the procurator alone that the executive power was invested; every culprit must be put to death by his consent, in order that the senate should not have the means of reaching persons that were sold to foreigners." No; the Jews had not reserved the right of passing sentence of death. This right had been transferred to the Romans by the very act of the conquest; and this was not merely that the senate should not have the means of reaching persons who were sold to foreign countries; but it was done, in order that the conqueror might be able to reach those individuals who should become impatient of the yoke. It was, in short, for the equal protection of all, as all had become Roman subjects; and to Rome alone belonged the highest judicial power, which is the principal attribute of sovereignty. Pilate, as the representative of Caesar in Judea, was not merely an agent of the executive authority, which would have left the judiciary and legislative power in the hands of the conquered people – he was not simply an officer appointed to give an exequatur or mere approval (visa) to sentences passed by another authority, the authority of the Jews. When the matter in question was a capital case, the Roman authorities not only ordered the execution of a sentence, but also took cognizance (coynito) of the crime; it had the right of jurisdiction a pnon, and that of passing judgment in the last resort. If Pilate himself had not had this power by special delegation, vice praesdis, it was vested in the governor, within whose territorial jurisdiction the case occurred; but in any event we hold it to be clear that the Jews had lost the right of condemning to death any person whatsoever, not only so far as respects the execution, but the passing of the sentence. – M. DUPIN, Testimony of the Evangelists, pages 601-602.

We must not forget that Judea was a conquered country, and to the Roman governor belonged the right of taking cognizance of capital cases. What then was the right of the Jewish authorities in regard to Jesus? The Jews had not the right reserved of passing sentence of death. This right had been transferred to the Romans by the very act of conquest; and this was not merely that the Roman senate should not have the means of reaching persons who were sold to foreign countries, but that Rome might have charge of all cases of life and death. Pilate, as the representative of Caesar in Judea, was not merely an agent of the executive authority, he having left the judiciary in the hands of the Jews; not simply an officer appointed to execute a Jewish sentence passed by any authority, but when the matter in question was a capital case the Roman authorities could not only order the execution of the sentences, but they also claimed the right of passing upon the crime itself, with the right of jurisdiction over the question, and of passing judgment in the last resort. The Jews had lost the right to try a man for a capital offense, or to condemn to death any person whatever. This is one of the best settled points in the provincial law of the Romans.

If the Jews had the right of trial in capital cases, and the Roman power was exercised merely to execute a Jewish sentence, then when the accusation was brought before Pilate the proceedings would have been after this fashion: "Jesus has violated the Jewish law of blasphemy, and we have condemned him to death, and do bring him to you that you may approve and execute the sentence." But what are the facts? When they bring Jesus before Pilate they say not one word about the offense of blasphemy, but bring a new charge. Pilate puts the question, "What accusation bring you against this man?" And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a King."

That is the charge they prefer against him before the Roman Court. That is the new case. And Pilate examines whether Jesus Christ was guilty of treason against the Roman governor in claiming to be a king. So he examines the case by asking questions of Jesus himself: "Art thou the King of the Jews?" And after Pilate had finished his investigation he brought in his verdict of the case before him. He has heard the people and he has heard Jesus, and now here is his sentence: "And Pilate said unto the chief priests and the multitudes, I find no fault in this man." (Top of page 200 in the Harmony.) That is the decision.

The decision having been rendered upon that charge of treason, they bring another charge (Luke 23:5, Harmony page 200) : "But they were the more urgent, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, and beginning from Galilee even unto this place." This is what we call sedition, that is, stirring up a tumult; so they changed the accusation. When they bring that charge against him before Pilate he merely notes the fact that they have spoken of Galilee, and as Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, happened to be in Jerusalem at this time, and as the offense, according to this charge, commenced in Herod’s territory, Pilate wishing to avoid the responsibility of deciding the case, refers it to Herod.

We will see how it goes before Herod. On page 201 of the Harmony we find that Herod, after maltreating him, sends him back to Pilate. Page 203 shows that Pilate announces Herod’s verdict: "I, having examined him before you, found no fault in this man touching those things whereof you accused Him; no, nor yet Herod: for he sent Him back unto us; and behold, nothing worthy of death hath been done by Him." So there we have a double verdict, that under the second charge Herod finds no offense against the Roman law, and Pilate says the same thing – that he hath done nothing worthy of death. No fault in him under either of the accusations. So that is the third verdict of equivalence that has been pronounced – twice by Pilate and once by Herod.

Pilate now wishes to smooth things, for he knew that the Jews were very turbulent, and that the position of the Roman officer in Judea was always a hazardous one, since accusations could be made against him to Rome. Pilate had been moved by a message from his wife. She had had a dream. So she sends to Pilate while on his judgment throne, and says, "Have thou nothing to do with this man." Now, the Jews were urging Pilate on from one side, and his wife restraining him on the other. Burns, in "Tam O’Shanter," says, about the attitude of men toward the good counsel of their wives: Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet To think how many counsels sweet, How many lengthened, sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises!

Therefore, Pilate proposes an expedient. He says, "There is a custom among you that at feast time some guilty man shall be pardoned. Now, you have a man here, a murderer and a robber, whose name is Barabbas, and it is within my province to pardon a man. Suppose you let me pardon Jesus, or, would you prefer that I pardon Barabbas?" It is a strange thing to the lover of justice that after Pilate had twice acquitted this Man he now proposes to pardon him. He could not pardon a man that had been acquitted. The Jews make their choice; they say: "Not this man, but Barabbas; release that robber to us; don’t you release this man." Pilate then has Jesus crowned with thorns to show his contempt for their accusation that he would be a king, and invests him with purple, and brings him before the Jews, and exclaims (in words, that, put together, make a great text for a sermon: "Ecce homo"; "Behold the man!" "Ecce Rex!" "Behold the King!" When the Jews persisted that they preferred that Barabbas should be released to them, then Pilate put this question, which has been the theme of many sermons, "What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?"

Very many years ago at a meeting of the old General Association, Dr. A. E. Clemmons, pastor at Marshall, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, preached a sermon from that text, and made this stirring application: This question comes to every man. Every man is under obligation to accept Jesus Christ as King, and if he rejects Christ then the question arises, "What shall I do with Jesus? He is in the world; he is preached in ten thousand pulpits; I cannot ignore him; I must make some disposition of him; what shall I do with him? Shall I count him as an impostor, or shall I accept him as my Saviour?"

Having made that point clear, Dr. Clemmons then passed to his last question: "In not trying to dispose of Jesus Christ you reject him. Then later the question will come to you in this form, ’What will Jesus, who is called the Christ, do with me?’ " Showing that there would come a time when the despised Nazarene would occupy the throne of eternal judgment, and according to the manner in which you disposed of him when the question was up to you, so will he dispose of you when the question is up to him.

Their answer to the question was, "Crucify him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate says, "Why don*t you take him and crucify him yourselves?" Then they said, "We have no jurisdiction; we have not this power of life and death; you have. We bring the case to you, and we tell you now that we charge him with being an enemy of Caesar, claiming himself to be a King; and if you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend." It was a favorite custom of the Jews to prefer charges against the governors of Judea before the Roman court at Rome itself, and many a governor of Judea was recalled on charges preferred against him at Rome. When Pilate heard that, he was terrified. He knew that it was an easy thing to shake the confidence of Caesar in any of his subordinates, and he was afraid. He therefore fell upon another expedient. He washed his hands, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this man; I wanted to let him go; you forced me to put him to death; you are responsible." Then they said, "His blood be on us and on our children."

When you see Pilate go through that form of washing his hands, as if by washing his hands he could divest himself of the responsibility to render just judgment, you are reminded of the incident in the play of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which Lady Macbeth, having instigated the death of the king, Duncan, and stirred up her husband to usurp that king’s throne, her conscience and her imagination were always washing off the blood spots on her hands. The great author relates how she became insane; and she was all the time going to the basin and washing her hands, then looking at them and saying, "This blood on my hands would make the sea red; all of the ocean cannot wash it – the stain of blood on this lily-white hand."

Pilate never recovered from his cowardly betrayal of his trust. History and tradition both tell us that he was pursued by undying remorse, and there is a tradition that when he was banished to the foot of the Alps, every time a storm was about to come a dark mist would gather over a mountain named after Pilate. There is a very thrilling reference to that in one of Scott’s novels. Whenever the people looked up and saw Mount Pilatus wrapped in mist they would cross themselves and say, "Avoid thee, Satan." So tradition and history have tied the name of Pilate to that cloud-covered mountain.

And Pilate finally signs the death warrant of Jesus of Nazareth, whom he had twice acquitted, and concerning whom he had said, "I find no fault in him; he is guilty of no crime." On page 206 of the Harmony we have an account of the indignities Christ suffered at the hands of the soldiers. Let the reader study that for himself.

1. Who brought the case of Jesus before Pilate and what great illconsistency in the Jews manifested at the palace?

2. In what particular did they violate the Roman law in the trial of Jesus?

3. What was the testimony of Tacitus on this point?

4. Was it the province of Pilate under Roman law to merely execute a sentence of the Sanhedrin concerning an offense against Jewish law or must he assume original and complete jurisdiction and try the case brought before him solely in view of an offense against Roman law?

5. What three special cases in the Acts illustrate this fact and what the point in each case?

6. What was the testimony of Dupin?

7. If the Jews had the right in capital cases, and the Roman power was exercised merely to execute a Jewish sentence, then when the accusation was brought before Pilate, what would have been the proceedings?

8. But what are the facts in the case?

9. What, therefore, was Pilate’s first demand and what was their answer?

10. What was Pilate’s second demand and their reply?

11. Would he have counted within his jurisdiction a charge of blasphemy against the Jewish God?

12. What threefold accusation against Roman law, therefore, did the Sanhedrin substitute for the charge of blasphemy and wherein consisted the atrocious malice of their accusation?

13. What one word covers all these accusations?

14. Was this threefold charge within Pilate’s jurisdiction?

15. What question, therefore, did Pilate ask Jesus, what was his answer, then what question did he ask Pilate and why?

16. What explanation did Christ here make to Pilate as to the nature of his kingdom and what was Pilate’s first verdict in the case?

17. What new charge did his accusers now prefer against him?

18. What was the legal term of this offense, was it a punishable offense against Roman law and was it within Pilate’s jurisdiction?

19. What circumstance in the new charge enabled Pilate to evade trying the case by referring it to another tribunal?

20. In referring a case from one Roman court to another, was it customary and necessary to make a formal statement of the case? (See Acts 23:26-30; Acts 25:25-27.)

21. Would such a statement in this case include the charge of treason, of which Pilate himself had acquitted Jesus, as well as the new charge of sedition and why?

22. How did Herod receive Christ, what interest did he manifest in our Lord, what was the procedure of the trial before Herod and how did this incident affect the relation of Herod and Pilate?

23. Under Roman law in this case would Herod announce his verdict directly to the Sanhedrin or would he send it through Pilate, and why?

24. What was Herod’s verdict on both counts as announced through Pilate?

25. What was Pilate’s verdict on the new charge?

26. What is now the legal status of the case?

27. What was, therefore, Pilate’s plain duty?

28. What Latin proverb of law would now be violated if the defendant’s life is again placed in jeopardy on either of these adjudicated cases?

29. Why, then, does Pilate hesitate and parley with the accusers?

30. What admonition came to Pilate on the judgment seat?

31. Cite the reference in Burns’ "Tarn O’Shanter" to a husband’s disregard of wifely admonitions.

32. What expedient does Pilate now suggest in order to save the life of Jesus and vet placate his proud accusers?

33. What was the infamy of this proposal?

34. Under Pilate’s proposal what deliberate choice did the Sanhedrin make?

35. How do the apostles subsequently bring home to them with terrific effect this unholy and malicious choice? (See Acts 3:14-15.)

36. How did Pilate again seek to appease their wrath?

37. What text for a sermon cited, what is the application and what was their answer to Pilate’s question?

38. How does the Sanhedrin now confess their mere pretense in making charges against Roman law and terrify Pilate by stating the case under Jewish law?

39. What were the circumstances of Pilate’s reopening of the case, what examination followed, what effort did Pilate again make and what was the result?

40. Why could not Pilate render a formal verdict on this count?

41. To what old charge do the Jews recur and thereby bully the cowardly Pilate into once more occupying the judgment seat, thereby reopening the case under Roman law?

42. What time in the day was it now, reconciling John’s sixth hour with the time in the other Gospels?

43. Why does Pilate now say, "Shall I crucify your king"?

44. By what dramatic form does Pilate now seek to divest himself of responsibility and guilt in the judicial murder of one whom he still declares innocent, but condemns, what incident in the classics referred to, and what the tradition concerning Pilate?

45. In what awful words do the bolder Jews assume the responsibility for Christ’s death?

46. To what indignities was Jesus then subjected?

Verses 31-44



Harmony, pages 207-212 and Matthew 27:31-44; Mark 15:20-22; Luke 23:26-43; John 19:16-27.

Upon the execution of Jesus by crucifixion I have one general remark. Far back yonder in Old Testament history, in the days of Moses, is this saying, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." The one hanged on a tree was lifted up. See particularly the expiatory case of hanging up the sons of Saul. Hence also the typical act of Moses in lifting up the brazen serpent, and our Lord’s application to his own case as antitypical: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" – a type that the Saviour of the world was to die by crucifixion. Jesus explained in his lifetime that by being lifted up signified the manner of his death.

The question comes up, Why was Jesus crucified, since the Jewish penalty was death by stoning? They did not crucify – they stoned other people. How mighty the spirit of prophecy, so far back in history, to foretell a method of punishing not known to the prophet in his age!

Now we commence on page 207 of the Harmony. I will give first the events leading to the place of crucifixion, and what transpired there. The incidents, in their order, as we see on page 207, are as follows: The first incident is expressed near the top in John’s column: "They took Jesus, therefore; and he went out bearing the cross for himself." In view of the next incident, it is quite probable that in his fasting and weakness, and his lack of sleep, he was physically unable to carry that cross from the judgment seat to the place of crucifixion, and fainted under it. Hence we come to the second incident, recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke: "And as they came out they found a man of Cyrene, Simon, by name: him they compelled to go with them, that he might bear his cross." So Christ bore his own cross until they got out of the city, and being unable to carry it longer, the crucifiers took a man that they met coming into the city and compelled him to bear the cross. There is a song we all have heard: Must Jesus bear the cross alone, And all the world go free; No, there’s a cross for every one, And there’s a cross for me. Judge Andrew Broadus, who was once president of the old Baptist State Convention of Texas, once said that when this song was first written, or certainly as they used to sing it in old Virginia, it read thus: Must Simon bear the cross alone, And all the world go free; No, there’s a cross for every one, And there’s a cross for me.

The newspapers reported that when the Pan-Episcopal Council was held in the City of London (the Pan-Council is an all-the-world council) Dean Stanley, dean of the ceremonies, put up to preach in Westminster Abbey a coal black Negro, Bishop of Haiti; and when that Negro got up to preach in the presence of royalty, nobility, and the professors of the great colleges or universities of Oxford and Cambridge, surrounded by "storied urn and animated bust," he read the scripture about the two sons of Zebedee being presented by their mother for the positions on the right hand and on the left hand in the kingdom of Jesus; and he fashioned his text this way: "Lord, let my son John have the place on thy right hand in thy kingdom, and let my son James have the place on thy left hand in thy kingdom." Then the Negro said, "Let us pray," and offered this prayer: O God, who hast fashioned all of our hearts like, and hast made of one blood all the nations of men that inhabit the earth, we pray thee that the sons of Shem who betrayed the Lord may have the place on thy right hand, and the sons of Japheth who crucified the Saviour may have the place on thy left hand; but let the sons of Simon of Cyrene, the African, who bore thy cross, have the place at the outer gate, where some of the sweetness of the song from within, and something of the light of the glory of God in heaven may fall upon them, but where, looking earthward, they may see Ethiopia stretching out her dusky hands to God and hear the footfalls of the sons of Gush coming home to heaven.

That Negro preacher based his thought upon the geography of Simon the Cyrenian. Cyrene is a province of northern Africa, but it does not follow that because he was from Cyrene he was a Negro, and this Simon certainly was not. He was rather the father of Alexander and Rufus, well-known Jews. But, anyhow, that Negro’s prayer, in my judgment, was the most eloquent language ever spoken in Westminster Abbey.

I call attention to a singular sermon. At a meeting of Waco Association many years ago, held with the East Waco church, Rev. C. E. Stephen preached the annual sermon from this text: "Him they compelled to bear his cross," referring to Simon. Simon, the Cyrenian, him they (the enemies of Christ) compelled to bear the cross of Christ. It certainly was a singular sermon. His thought was this: That if a man professes to be a Christian and will not voluntarily take up the cross of his Lord and Master, the outside world will compel him to bear that cross, or they will advertise him well abroad. "Compelling a Christian to bear the cross," was his theme. For instance, it is reported that in the days of demoniacal possession Satan took possession of a Christian, and when he was summoned before a saint with power to cast out demons, and asked how he dared to enter into a Christian he said, with much extenuation, "I did not go to the church after him; he came into my territory. I found him in the ballroom and in the saloon, and I took possession of him." Whenever, therefore, a Christian departs from true cross-bearing; when he leaves the narrow way by a little stile and goes over into the territory of Giant Despair, he is soon locked up in Doubting Castle until he is compelled to bear his cross.

The next incident related is that a great multitude followed. And a great multitude will follow a show, parade, even a band of music, or a hanging of any kind. I once saw 7,000 people assembled to see a man hanged, and since I saw it, I was there myself. Now, here was a man to be hanged on a tree, and a great multitude followed from various motives. In this multitude were a great many women who bewailed and lamented. They followed from no principle of curiosity, no desire to see a show, but with intense sympathy they looked upon him when he fainted under the burden of the cross that he was carrying – his own cross. The women wept, and right at that point the great artists of the world with matchless skill have taken that scene for a painting, and we have a great masterpiece of Christ sinking under the cross and a woman reaching out her hands and weeping and crying, dragging up Simon the Cyrenian to make him take the cross.

The next incident is that of the two malefactors also condemned to crucifixion, walking along with him. They had their crosses, and Jesus had his cross with the malefactors. And another incident is that they came to the place of crucifixion, which is, in the Hebrew, or Aramaic, called Golgotha, and in the Latin version it is called Calvary. Golgotha and Calvary mean exactly the same thing, "a skull." Dr. Broadus rightly says that this was a place where a projection of the hill or mountainside assumes the shape of a skull. You can see a picture of it in any of the books illustrative of the travels in the Holy Land; and there that rocky skull seems to stand out now. That is the place where Jesus was crucified. If you were to go there they would tell you he was crucified where the holy sepulcher is situated; they would show you a piece of the "true cross" if you wanted to see it. They have disposed of enough of the pieces of the "true cross" to make a forest.

Just as they came to the place of crucifixion, Golgotha, they made a mixture of wine and gall. The object of that was to stupefy him so as to deaden the pain that would follow when they began to drive the nails in his hands, just as a doctor would administer ether, laudanum, or chloroform, and Jesus, knowing what it was, refused to drink it. He looked at what was before him, and he wanted to get to it with clear eyes and with a clear brain. Some men seek stupefication of drugs, and others that of spirits, such as alcohol, suggested by still lower spirits of another kind; and they drug themselves in order that they may sustain the terrible ordeal they are to undergo. Christ refused to drink. These are the incidents on the way and at the place.

Now they have gotten to the place, and it is said, "They crucified him." The word "crucify" comes from crux, meaning "a cross," that is, they put him on a cross. There are three kinds of crosses. One looks like X, or the multiplication sign; that is called St. Andrew’s cross; another was like a T. This probably was the oldest form. The third form is like a + with the upright stroke extending above the crossbar. This is the most usual form, and is the real form of the cross on which Christ was crucified. Except the cross had been made in this last fashion, there could not have been put over his head the accusation that we will look at directly. The tall beam was lying on the ground, Christ was laid on it, and a hole was dug as a socket into which the lower end of it could be placed after he was fastened on it. Then he was stretched out so that his hands, with palms upward, would come on that crosspiece, and with huge spikes through each hand he was nailed to that crosspiece. Then his feet were placed over each other with the instep up, and a longer spike was driven through the two feet into the centerpiece. When he was thus nailed, they lifted that cross up just as they do these big telegraph poles. They lifted up that cross with him on it and dropped it into its socket in the ground. You can imagine the tearing of his hands and of his feet; but he said nothing.

When they had crucified him, the record says, "And sitting down they watched him there." When I was a young preacher, in 1869, I was invited to preach a commencement sermon at Waco University, afterward consolidated with and known as Baylor University. So I came up to preach this commencement sermon, and my text was, "Sitting down, they watched him there," explaining who "they" were; the different people that watched him, and the different emotions excited in their minds as they watched him; the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the elders, the Romans, the curious crowd – they watched him, and they watched him there on the cross. Many years afterward, George v. Truett came to my house one day and said, "I would like to see a sermon you preached when a young man." So I gave him that sermon to look at. He sat there and read it with tears in his eyes, and said, finally, "You can’t beat it now."

The next thought is: What time of day was it? The record says that it was the third hour, which means, counting from sunup of our time, nine o’clock exactly, when the cross was dropped into the socket. And now is presented the thought that the two malefactors – the thieves, or robbers, along with him – were crucified, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. He was crucified between two thieves, and what a proverb that has become -0- "crucified between two thieves!" The sinless man and only holy man by nature and perfect obedience that ever lived – crucified as a sinner and between two evildoers. How dramatic – how pathetic!

Now for the first time Jesus speaks. On the way to the cross he had spoken just once. He had said to those weeping women: "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me: weep for yourselves and for your children." And then he tells them of the awful doom coming on that city and on that nation, because of their rejection of Christ. He never opened his mouth again until in this first voice, hanging there between those two thieves, and looking at his executioners, he says, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Whoever, under such circumstances, prayed such a prayer? The martyrs oftentimes afterward, when they were bound to the stake and burned and the flames would begin to rise, and the Spirit of Christ would come on them, would stretch out their hands through the fire and say, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." That is voice one.

The next incident is that there were right under the cross the four soldiers – four were detached at each cross, according to the Roman custom, the executioners – who were entitled to the effects of the victim. And they had taken off all his outer garments before they crucified him. Now these four men take various articles of his apparel and divide them: "Now, you take the girdle and I’ll take the turban"; "I will take the inner coat," and so on. But they came to the outer coat, a seamless coat, and being without a seam, how could they divide that? So they agreed to gamble for it. And there, with Christ, hanging on the cross and dying, the men that impaled him there gamble for his clothes. And the record says that two scriptures were fulfilled thereby. One scripture says, "They parted my garments [vestments] among them, and for my garment did they cast lots."

In order to see the dramatic effect on many painters, of Christ on the way to the cross, of Christ on the cross, and of Christ being let down from the cross, just go into a good and great picture gallery in Europe, or into a real good one in the United States. There will be seen the great master-paintings of Christ before Pilate, the Lord’s Supper, Christ sinking under the burden of the cross, Christ nailed to the cross, Christ hanging on the cross, or Christ taken down from the cross. Picture after picture comes up before you from the brushes of the great master painters of the world.

The next incident recorded is: They nailed up above his head a wide board on which the accusation against him was written. That was in accordance with the law that if a man be put to death, a violent death, over his head, where everybody could see it, could be read the charge against him. Now, I will reconcile the different statements of that accusation. Mark says, "The King of the Jews"; Luke says, "This is the King of the Jews"; Matthew says, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews"; John says, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

So we see that Luke prefixes two words, Matthew puts in the word "Jesus," and John adds the other two words "of Nazareth." So we take the simple statement first and go to the most complex, the four statements given by the historians, just as it is given above. All tradition is agreed as to "The King of the Jews," and each one of the historians adds some other thought. As I said in a previous discussion, that accusation was written in Hebrew, or Aramaic, in Greek, and in Latin, and this will account for some variations in the form of the statement. Suppose, for instance, in Aramaic it was: "This is the King of the Jews"; in Latin, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews"; in Greek, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews"; you can see how each one could have written just exactly as he should read it; and everybody that passed by, seeing a man hanging on the cross would look up and say, "What has he done, this King of the Jews? What has this Jesus, the King of the Jews done? What has Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, done?"

So Pilate wrote on that board that went over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." He had not been able to try him on any other offense than that. When the Jews saw that sign they said to Pilate, "Do not put it, ’This is the King of the Jews,’ but write it that he said he was the King of the Jews." Pilate then was petulant and said to them, "What I have written, I have written. You charge him with being King of the Jews, and I write that over his head on the cross."

I heard Dr. Burleson preach thirteen times on what Pilate said, "What I have written, I have written." He makes this application of it: "You cannot get away from anything that you have signed your name to: ’What I have written, I have written,’ " that you can ofttimes evade a word you have spoken, though the Arabs have a proverb that "the word spoken" is master. Lawyers will tell you: "Say what you please, but don’t write anything; curse a man if you want to, knock him down if you want to, kill him if you want to, but don’t write anything. Whatever you write is evidence, and that is against you; but so long as you don’t write anything we can defend you and get you off under some technicality of the law." As a famous baron of England once said to a young man he encouraged: "Whisper any sort of nonsense you please in the ear of the girl, but don’t write a letter; that letter can be brought up in evidence against you." Now we can see how Dr. Burleson made the application in that sermon, "What I have written, I have written."

Pilate was determined that everybody should see and be able to read it; and so he wrote it in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. They were the three languages of the world, and therefore when Conybeare and Howson began to write their Life of Paul, the motto of the first chapter is, "And the title was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin": in Hebrew, that every Jew might be able to read it; in Greek that every scholar might be able to read it; in Latin that every Roman might be able to read it. Hebrew, Greek, and Latin were the reigning languages of the world, and through the world in the three regnant languages there went this statement of Pilate: To the Jew, who said in his own language, "This crucified man is Jesus, the King of the Jews." To every Roman it went, being written in Latin, "This crucified man is Jesus, the King of the Jews." To every Greek it went in his language, "This crucified man is Jesus, the King of the Jews."

The second voice is the next thought for consideration. You are not to suppose that he was up very high, but so that his feet were two or three feet above the ground. Then he had to be up there where everybody could see his face, and as they were watching him he was looking at his mother. In the Temple when he was presented, Simeon, whom God had declared should live until Christ came, turning to the mother, said, "This child is set for the falling and rising of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against; yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul." And the sword comes.

The Romanists have a very beautiful tract called the "Sorrows of Mary." I have a copy of it, but it is in Portuguese. The seven sorrows of Mary answer to the sword piercing her heart, and one of them was when Christ fell down under the cross, and another was when she saw him hanging on the cross. Now, he is looking at his mother. Joseph, her husband, has long since died. They were very poor when Joseph lived. As you know, they could offer only a pair of turtle doves when they presented him in the Temple. They were not able to offer even a kid or a lamb, they were so poor. And Jesus had no home – nowhere to lay his head – and his mother and his younger half-brothers would go around with him wherever he went. "Now you take care of the mother, the brokenhearted mother," he said, as he looked down from the cross upon John. This next voice comes, then, as he speaks for his mother. John is seen as he looks down. So he says, "Mother, behold thy son!" And then he looks at John (who is now talking to his mother), and says, "Son, behold thy mother!" He meant for John to provide for her. Her own sons had no abiding place, no home. John was well-to-do – the richest one of the apostles. So he charges John to take care of his mother, and from that hour John took her to his home. Now the Romanists say that this proves that these others were not half-brothers of Jesus – that Mary never had but one child. They say, "If her own sons were living, why did Jesus give her over to John, her kinsman?" And the answer is that they had no home. John was rich; he had a home. John was nearer to Jesus than these half-brothers, and John was nearer to Mary than they were. The voices of Jesus, thus far, as he spoke from the cross: first, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"; second, "Woman, behold thy son; Son, behold thy mother." We will now consider the mocking that took place. Let us see who did that mocking.

First class: They that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads and saying, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself: if thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross." Thus spake the passer-by.

Second class: "In like manner also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save. He is the king of Israel; let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on him. He trusteth on God; let him deliver him now, if he desireth him," and they belonged to the Sanhedrin. How sarcastic and cutting they were!

Third class: "And the robbers also that were crucified with him cast upon him the same reproach." The passer-by; the priests, scribes, and elders and his fellow sufferers, all mock him.

But Luke tells us a different story about one of these men hanging there. In other words, at first both of them mocked him, but one of them, looking at him, reflected about his case, became penitent, and he turned around then, and said to the other, "Dost thou not even fear God, seeing that thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due rewards of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss." He rebukes himself and the other malefactor, dying there by the side of Christ. Penitence strikes him when he looks upon the matchless dignity, patience, and glory of Jesus. Twisting his head around toward Christ, he said, "Jesus, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom," as a hymn so sweetly puts it: Jesus, thou art the sinner’s friend, As such I look to thee; Now in the fulness of thy love, O Lord, remember me.

I heard that hymn sung in a camp meeting when one thousand people wept and hundreds of lips spoke out and said, “O, Lord, remember me."

We now come to the third voice of Jesus. "Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." "You ask me to remember you when I come to my kingdom. I answer not hereafter, but right now. To-day you and I will enter Paradise together." What a salvation! No wonder everybody wants to preach on the penitent thief. How gracious to see a man who had been a criminal, his hands stained with blood, being led out to execution, strange to say, being executed by the side of the Saviour, and there, instead of an ignominious death, the thought awaited him of the Paradise of the world to come!

The question arises: Where is Paradise? This question we will discuss in the next chapter (Matthew 27:45-56).

1. What was the general remark on the crucifixion of Christ?

2. What was the first incident cited leading to the crucifixion?

3. What was the second incident, the hymn based thereon and, according to Andrew Broadus, what is the original text of the first stanza?

4. What was the incident of the Pan-Episcopal Council, based on this bearing of Christ’s cross?

5. What singular sermon cited and what is the application?

6. Who followed him to the place of crucifixion, what pathetic incident on the way, and what is the meaning and application of Christ’s little parable in Luke 23:31?

7. Where was Christ crucified, what is the description of the place and what is the story of the auctioneer illustrating the traditions of sacred places and things?

8. What anesthetic was offered Christ at the place of crucifixion and why did he not take it?

9. What is the meaning of "crucify," what are the different kinds of crosses used and upon which kind was Christ crucified?

10. Describe the awful scene of nailing Christ to the cross and the erection of it.

11. Who "watched him there" and what was the effect on each class? (See sermon in the author’s first volume of sermons.)

12. At what hour of the day was the cross erected, and what makes this scene peculiarly dramatic and pathetic?

13. What was the first voice from the cross and how unlike any other saying ever uttered before?

14. What incident at the cross especially emphasizes the depravity of the human heart?

15. What was the dramatic effect of the crucifixion on the world’s artists?

16. What custom prevailed among the Romans in regard to an accusation under which a man was crucified?

17. What were the words so written, as given by the four historians, commencing with the briefest form and going in order to the longest, showing why there is no contradiction?

18. Why would not Pilate change the form of the accusation at the request of the Jews?

19. According to this accusation, under which of the three charges was Jesus executed – blasphemy, treason, or sedition?

20. What great preacher preached many times on Pilate’s reply to the Jews and what was the application?

21. In what three languages was Christ’s accusation written, and why?

22. What was the second voice from the cross and why did Jesus commit the care of his mother to John?

23. Who mocked Jesus on the cross and what did each class of mockers say?

24. What was the case of the two thieves, what led to the repentance of one of them, what was his prayer and what hymn is based upon it?

25. What was the third voice from the cross, what was its meaning and what was the significance of the three crosses?

Verses 45-56



Harmony, pages 212-214 and Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30.

The last chapter closed as we were discussing Christ’s third voice from the cross, saying to the penitential thief, "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." And the discussion closed with this question: Where is Paradise? Upon this subject two views prevail: One is that between death and the final resurrection the souls of disembodied saints go to an intermediate place; the other view is that there is no intermediate place. And it is the second view that the author firmly holds. In Dr. J. R. Graves’ book The Middle Life he takes the position that Paradise is a half-way station; that Hades is divided into two compartments, one called Paradise, in which the saints lodge, and the other called Tartarus, in which the souls of the wicked lodge. That neither the wicked nor the righteous immediately upon death go to their heaven or hell, is the "intermediate place" theory. It is also connected with an additional theory that when Christ died his soul went to that intermediate place, and while there preached to the spirits that were imprisoned there. The author does not subscribe to that at all.

In determining where Paradise is, we consult, not the Greek classics (as Dr. Graves does), but the New Testament usage. This usage makes Paradise the antitype of the earthly garden of Eden, which has its tree of life. The antitype of that is the true Paradise. We have these instances of the use of the word in the New Testament: In Luke 18 the first use of it. It is not mentioned again in the Gospels, but we come to it in 2 Corinthians 12. There Paul tells us how he knew such an one about fourteen years ago, whether in the body or out of the body, he could not tell, but he knew such an one caught up to the third heaven and into the Paradise of God. There is nothing in that passage to make Paradise an intermediate place. Both the other two instances are in Revelation. In the letter to the churches Jesus says to one of them, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." Then by turning to the last chapter of Revelation you find where that tree of life is: it is in the midst of the Paradise of God. But where is that? The chapter commences: "I saw a pure river of water of life, coming out from the throne of (Sod and of the Lamb, and on either side of it was the tree of life." Then in the same last chapter, it says, "Blessed are they that wash their robes . . . that they may have the right to the tree of life," or, as it is expressed in an earlier passage in Revelation, "These are they who have washed their robes and made them white . . . that they may have a right to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

These are the instances of the usage of the word in the New Testament, abundantly settling where Paradise is. There are other passages you may use in making it certain. For instance, in the letter to the Hebrews, Paul tells us where are the spirits of the Just made perfect. He says, "You are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of Just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel." So that wherever God is, and the heavenly Jerusalem, and the true Mount Zion is, and where the angels are, there are the disembodied spirits of the saints – and this is no half-way house.

Look at it by this kind of proof: Who will deny that after the resurrection of Christ he ascended into the highest heavens? That is abundantly taught. Stephen, when he was dying, saw him there. And Paul says, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." Where the Lord is, there Paul’s soul would go, as soon as he died. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:1, "We know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." So, I do not believe that there is any stopping place for any saint or sinner immediately upon the death of the body, but his soul goes to its final place. We can get at it in this way: when Lazarus died the poor man was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom. Where is Abraham? Jesus says, "Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." This is no half-way place. So Paradise is a place. Jesus also said, "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. . . . In my Father’s house are many mansions, etc."

We are now on page 212 of the Harmony. It is the sixth hour, which is twelve o’clock. There was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. That darkness lasted three hours. And the word "land" means the whole of this earth. It does not mean a little section of it, either. Every one of the three Gospel writers uses a particular word which means the whole of the earth. It could not be over all the earth and be an eclipse; for an eclipse is not seen at the same time from all points of the compass. Then, again, no total eclipse ever lasted three hours. I witnessed a total eclipse once, and there were a few minutes when the shadow of the moon covered the sun completely, but in a very few minutes a little rim of light was shown, and it kept slightly passing. More and more of the sun appeared until directly all the darkness was gone. I have a full discussion of these three hours of darkness in my sermon on "The Three Hours of Darkness."

For three hours that darkness lasted; and there was death silence. About the ninth hour, which would be three o’clock, the silence was broken, and we have the fourth voice of Jesus: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. So just before that darkness passed away, closing the ninth hour, Christ died the spiritual death. Right on the very verge of that deeper darkness came another voice. His words were, "I thirst." This shows that his soul was undergoing the pangs of hell, Just as the rich man lifted up his eyes in hell, being in torment, and said, "I pray thee, Father Abraham, send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." This anguish was not from loss of blood, as in the case of a bleeding soldier. Any old soldier – and I am one – can testify that the fiercest pang which comes to the wounded is thirst. The flow of the blood from the open wound causes extreme anguish of thirst in a most harrowing sense. On battlefields, where the wounded fall in the range fire of both armies, a wounded man cannot get away, and nobody can go to him, and all through the night the wounded cry out, "Water, water, water!" After I myself was shot down on the battlefield – it was two miles to where any water could be obtained, I had to be carried that distance, and the thirst was unspeakable. How much more the anguish of Christ enduring the torment of hell for a lost world!

The next voice is inarticulate, and that means that he had no joined words. We say a woman shrieks: that is inarticulate; but if she clothes her feelings in words, that is articulate. The record says, "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, It is finished." So there is a cry from Jesus which had no words. "It is finished," that is, the work of expiation of sin, toward God; and the work of deliverance from the power of Satan is accomplished. All of the animals that were slaughtered upon the Jewish altars as types are found there in the Antitype, "It is finished." The Old Testament is finished ; the old ceremonial, sacrificial law is nailed to the cross of Christ. Paul says, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances against us, he nailed them to his cross." On the cross he triumphed over Satan. "It is finished." Because it is finished, Paul also says, "Let no man judge if you should eat anything that would be unclean according to the Mosaic law; that is nailed to the cross." The Mosaic law forbade the eating of swine. But now you can eat swine if you want to. [It is far better, however, to eat fruits and vegetables than flesh foods of any kind. – Editor.] "Let no man judge you in meat or drink." And then he mentions the weekly sabbath, Saturday, and the lunar sabbath. The whole sabbatic cycle is nailed to the cross of Christ. If the Jew, then, after the death of Christ comes and says you must be circumcised according to the ordinances of Moses, you tell him that the handwriting of the ordinances of the Mosaic law were blotted out and nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ. You do not have to be circumcised in order to become a Christian. If he tells you that you should offer up sacrifices of lambs, or goats, or bullocks, you tell him, "No, that is nailed to the cross of Christ." "Sacrifice and offerings thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast prepared for me"; and "through the eternal Spirit he made one offering once for all."

"It is finished." Whenever you preach on that and tell exactly what was finished, you have finished a great sermon. Expiation for sin was made; the penal demands of the law were satisfied; the vicarious Substitute for sinners died in their behalf; and the claims of the law on the sinner that believes in Jesus Christ were fully met. Therefore, no man can "lay any charge to God’s elect." The debt, all of it, has been Paid.

His last voice on the cross was, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," that is, as soon as he died, his spirit went immediately to the Father, and not to that half-way place you have heard about. There can be no more important thing than this: Where was Christ’s soul between the death of his body and the resurrection of it, and why did he go to that place? Christ’s soul was-with the Father immediately upon his death. As quick as lightning his soul was with God. Now, why did he go there? The answer to this question will come in after the completion of our study on the resurrection. Remember we want to know why Christ’s soul, just as soon as he died, went to heaven.

He went to heaven as High Priest to offer on the mercy seat, in the holy of holies, his blood which was shed upon the earth – on the altar on earth – in order that on the basis of that blood he might make atonement for his people.

That is one reason. In Leviticus 16 we have the whole thing presented to us in type. The goat that was offered was slain, and just as soon as it was slain the high priest caught the blood in the basin he had, just as it flowed from the riven heart of the sacrifice. He then hastened with it, without delay, behind the veil into the holy of holies, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat to make atonement, based upon the sacrifice made upon the altar. There was no moment of delay.

Now, when the true Lamb of God came and was slain, he being both High Priest and Sacrifice, he must immediately go into the presence of God in the true holy of holies, and sprinkle that blood upon the mercy seat. Therefore, Paul says, "When you come to the heavenly Jerusalem, Mount Zion, to God, and to angels, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, you also come to the blood of sprinkling," there in the holy of holies, where Christ sprinkled that blood.

How long did Christ’s spirit stay up there? Three days – the interval between his death and his resurrection. Why did he come back? He came back first to assume his resurrection body. He came back after his body. Second, in that risen body he received the homage of all the angels: "And when God bringeth again into the world his only begotten Son, he said, Let all the angels of God worship him." He is the Son of God by the resurrection, as Psalm 2 declares: "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Paul quotes that to show that it is applied to the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. The angels worshiped Jesus in his eternal divinity, and they recognized him in his humanity. But there was a special reason why every angel of God should be called upon to worship the glorified Jesus – Jesus in his risen and glorified body. So that is certainly one reason why he returned.

Another reason was to further instruct his people – to clarify and confirm their faith, which he did. And the fourth reason was that he might, with all authority in heaven and on earth, commission them to do their work. I will show in subsequent discussions that he did that when he came back. If you do not know why Jesus came to the earth; if you do not know why he died; if you do not know where his spirit was between his death and resurrection, and why that spirit went to that place; if you do not know when he returned, why he returned, and how long he stayed after he returned; when he ascended into heaven; what he is doing in heaven in his risen body, and how long he will stay up there in his risen body, then you have not yet got at the gospel, and you do not know how to preach.

Still another reason why Jesus came back was to breathe on his apostles, that is, to inspire them, which means "to breathe," to give inspiration to them, and to commission them. How long did he stay? Forty days. In that forty days he finished his instruction upon every point. Then when he went back he did not go as a disembodied soul. He went reunited, soul and body. And why? To be made King of kings and Lord of lords.

Another reason: As the High Priest of his people to ever live and make intercession for them in heaven; to receive from the Father the Holy Spirit, that he might send him down upon the earth to baptize his church. In other words, the old Temple was ended, its veil was rent in twain from top to bottom, and the new Temple, his church, set up, and as the old Temple had been anointed, the new Temple was to be anointed. All of which I discuss particularly in Acts of this INTERPRETATION.

How long will he stay up there? He will stay as long as his vicar, the Holy Spirit, works on earth; until all of his enemies have been put under his feet; until the times of the restitution of all things; until after the millennium, when Satan is loosed, and the man of sin is revealed, who is to be destroyed by the breath of the Lord when he comes. He will stay up there until he comes; until the salvation of the last of his people, and no more people are to be saved. As we learn from 2 Peter, he will stay up there until he comes to raise the dead, be married to his people, to raise the wicked dead, to judge the world in righteousness, and then to turn the kingdom over to the Father. You must know that Christ died with a view of taking the place of the sinner, in his stead, the iniquities of the sinner being put on him. He who knew no sin is made sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. By his death he comes in the sinner’s place to satisfy the penal claims of the law, and to propitiate God. That is the Godward side of his death. What is the devilward side of his death? The devilward side is fully presented in the sermon on "The Three Hours of Darkness." He died that by his death he might destroy the devil – that he might overcome him.

So we have gotten to the last voice, and Jesus is dead. The very moment that he died the whole earth shook; it quaked; there was an earthquake; the rocks were rent, the graves were opened, and the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from top to bottom. We are told by some writers that this veil of the Temple was seventy feet long, thirty feet wide, and four inches thick, closely woven, hard woven. Two yoke of oxen could not tear it, and yet the very minute that Christ died, commencing at the top, it split wide open, clear to the bottom, thus signifying that the way into the most holy is open for everybody.

So you see that is the one reason why he went to heaven between his death and his resurrection – to open up a new and living way for his saints to follow him where he has forerun – has already passed.

The rending of the veil of the Temple signifies that the old Temple is now empty. They can go on if they want to, but they do not offer sacrifices any longer, and if they did God would not recognize them; and in future years it will be destroyed utterly. In A.D. 70 it was destroyed, and there has been none since, and no Jew today ever offers a lamb or a sheep upon any altar. There is an abrogation utterly of the Old Testament economy, i.e., all of the ceremonial part of it.

Among the things that Jesus came back to earth for was to provide a new sabbath for his people. The Mosaic sabbath commemorated the creation – the Christian sabbath commemorates redemption, and as God on the seventh day rested from his work of creation, Christ on the first day of the week rested from the work of redemption. His body came out of the grave, and from that time on it was the day upon which his people met to celebrate his resurrection – the first day of the week. He himself met them several times upon the first day of the week, during those forty days. On the first day of the week he poured out the Holy Spirit. He ordered that collections be taken – that money be laid aside for collection on the first day of the week. We learn that the Lord’s Supper was observed at Troas on the first day of the week; that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, which is the first day of the week. So he comes to provide a new sabbath for his people. But we will discuss all this later.

While the graves were opened in that earthquake, the bodies lay exposed. Many of the saints whose bodies were lying there came to life, that is, after the resurrection. They lay there exposed three days, but after his resurrection, after he became "the first fruits of them that slept," these bodies came to life and went into the city and were recognized. Then Jerusalem waked up and looked right into the face of their dead that had been buried but a short time before. Here is what the record says: "And the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many."

These voices, that darkness) that earthquake, that veilrending, that grave-opening, made a profound impression upon those who were there. The centurion, the captain of the hundred, who was conducting a section of the army – the officer in charge) whose business it was to see that he was crucified – said) "Truly this was the Son of God." That is the impression it made upon his mind. No such things happened on the death of any other human being; therefore, one of the great French infidels said that Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ died like a god. The effect upon the women is thus described – and here are the very women who organized that first Ladies’ Aid Society: "And there were also women beholding from afar, among them were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome: who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him: and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem." How were the people affected? "And all the multitudes that came together to this sight, when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts."

Now he is dead, and the next event to notice is, Why he did not hang on the cross longer? This is the explanation, Harmony page 215: "The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath (for the day of that sabbath was a high day) asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." A sabbath did not necessarily mean the seventh day. Any high day could be a sabbath, and the Jews wanted those who were crucified to die soon. A crucified man might linger several days. So Pilate, out of deference to the Jewish law, commanded their legs to be broken, so as to bring about an earlier death. Now, when they came to break the legs of Jesus, to their surprise, he was already dead. There was nothing in the mere physical anguish in the crucifixion to bring about the death of Jesus Christ. He died under the hand of God. He died by the stroke of the sword of the law: "Awake, O sword, against the Shepherd: let him be smitten and let the flock be scattered." He died of a broken heart, evidenced by the fact that when the soldiers, to make sure that he was dead, ran a spear in his side, behold, water gushed out, an indication, physicians say, of death from heartbreaking. N

ow, while he is hanging there, Joseph of Arimathaea, a member of the Sanhedrin, and Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin, who came to Christ by night, obtained permission to take his body down and bury it. They had become disciples. It is a very precious thought to me that that same Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, and was so puzzled about regeneration, has at last been born again, and become a disciple of Jesus Christ. They had not consented to what the others did in condemning Jesus, so they take him down and wrap his body with spices in a fine linen shroud and put him in a new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathaea; in which no other one has ever lain, and shut him up in a big stone vault. This stone was hewn out like the vaults you see in New Orleans, and some in Waco. It was not a burial by the piling of dirt on him, but it was the placing of him in a rock vault.

1. What was the third voice from the cross?

2. What two views prevail on the location of Paradise and to which one does the author hold?

3. What other theory closely connected with "intermediate place" theory?

4. What are the uses of the word "Paradise" in the New Testament?

5. Where is Paradise and how do you prove it from these scriptures and others cited?

6. How long was the darkness over all the land at the crucifixion, and what is the meaning of the word "land" in this connection?

7. How do you prove that this darkness was not an eclipse of the sun?

8. Has the earth ever known such another period of darkness?

9. When and what was the fourth voice from the cross and what was its meaning?

10. What is meant by death, both physical and spiritual?

11. What was the fifth voice and its meaning? Illustrate.

12. What was the sixth voice and what its significance?

13. What was the seventh voice and what its meaning and broad application?

14. What was the last voice from the cross and what was its significance?

15. Briefly, why did Christ’s spirit go immediately to heaven when he died and of what was this act of Christ the antitype?

16. What does Paul say about this?

17. How long was Jesus up there and why did he return?

18. How long did he stay here after his return, and what was he doing while here?

19. Why then did he go back to the right hand of the Father?

20. How long will he stay there and for what will he come back?

21. What great supernatural events attended the death of Christ?

22. Describe the veil of the Temple which was rent in twain at his death and what is the special significance of this great event?

23. Explain the opening of the graves and the coming forth of the saints.

24. Who were present at the crucifixion and what was the effect on each class?

25. Why did not Christ hang on the cross longer, what caused his early death and what the proof?

26. Who took Jesus down from the cross, where did they bury him and what the manner of his burial?

Verses 57-66



Harmony, pages 215-217 and Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42.

We have How come to the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The theme of this discussion is "The Resurrection of Jesus." This doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is fundamental and vital in the Christian system, and absolutely essential to its integrity – so much so, that if a man denies the resurrection of the body, he denies the whole Bible; for, if the foundation be removed the whole superstructure falls.

The New Testament teaches both a spiritual and a bodily resurrection (John 5:25-29): "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself." That refers to the resurrection of the soul, or spirit. Then he adds: "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation."

That shows two resurrections – the resurrection of the spirit, and that of the body. The body resurrection is literal; the spirit resurrection is figurative. The spirit resurrection is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in regeneration, that is, the soul, dead in trespasses and in sins, is made alive. That is soul resurrection. Whenever one is regenerated, he is made alive, as Paul says in Ephesians: "You hath he quickened [or made alive, that is, the soul is made alive], who were dead in trespasses and in sins." The same matter is fully discussed in Ezekiel 36:24-27; Ezekiel 37:1-15; and Ephesians 2:1-6. There, under the image of the body resurrection, the spirit resurrection of Israel is signified. It refers to the coming kingdom, the future salvation of the dispersed Jews; but it is presented under the image of the body resurrection. Both the literal and the figurative resurrection call for the exercise of supernatural, omnipotent energy, that is, it takes the Spirit of God to quicken a soul dead in trespasses and in sins; it takes the Spirit of God to quicken a dead body – to make it alive.

But this discussion is limited to the resurrection of the body. By resurrection of the body is meant more than a resuscitation of the corpse to resume its mortal existence, as in the case of the daughter of Jairus, the widow’s son at Nain, and Lazarus. These all died again. It means to make alive, the body to die no more; in the case of the Christian, mortality puts on immortality; corruption puts on incorruption; weakness puts on strength; dishonor puts on honor; the natural body becomes a spiritual body; the image of the first Adam, who was the natural man, becomes the image of the Second Adam, who is the spiritual man, and Lord of glory – 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. Now we see the difference between the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus, and the resurrection of Christ’s body and our bodies.

But, while all these marvelous changes take place, the identity of the body raised is never lost. The body that dies and lies buried is the body that is raised, but it is changed to suit its new life. Yet, whatever the change, it is recognizable as the very body that died.

Even in the creation of man, God purposed the immortality of the body and provided the means in the fruit of life, but his access to that tree was forfeited by the sin of the first Adam; and so death reigned over the body. So access to immortality of the body was restored through Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, as Paul puts it: "Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel"; life to the soul; immortality to the body. But this, Jesus did not, and could not do, unless he himself rose from the dead.

All Christianity is an imposture, a fraud, unless Jesus himself rose from the dead.

The relation of the Lord’s resurrection to ourselves, and its relation to all his claims and to all of our hopes, is thus expressed by Paul: "Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you – except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared tome also" (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). "Now, if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up if so be that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised; and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the first fruits of them that are asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).

It is evident from that statement of Paul that everything in the whole Bible is dependent upon one single fact: the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Let us now carefully consider in order the following facts:

1. Jesus repeatedly in his lifetime predicted that he must suffer death and that he would rise again on the third day: "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said" (John 2:18-22). "For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered up into the hand of men, and they shall kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he shall rise again. But they understood not the saying, and were afraid to ask him" (Mark 9:31-32).

I say that he did that repeatedly. In his early ministry in Judea, we read (Harmony page 20, John 2:18-22, quoted above), this one: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." That is the sign. "When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake this; and they believed the scripture." It is in his early ministry that he makes that statement.

Notice on page 91 of the Harmony (this is immediately after the great confession at Caesarea Philippi): "From that time began Jesus to show unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up" (Matthew 16:21). Take a still later occasion (page 110 of the Harmony) where he is discussing the Good Shepherd, John 10:17-18: "Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." But we come to a still later instance (Harmony page 135, Matthew 20:17-19: "And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples apart, and on the way he said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him unto the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify: and the third day he shall be raised up." Notice another (Harmony, page 145) the time when the Greeks wanted to see him: "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it dies, it beareth much fruit. He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will the Father honor. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour! But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name" (John 12:23-28). The statement of the fact just cited is, that this first fact Jesus repeatedly predicted in his lifetime – that he must suffer death and would rise again the third day. I have given some proof of it, spoken at different times in his earthly ministry.

2. Let us take up the next fact. He made his resurrection the sign and proof of all his claims. See page 59 of Harmony, Matthew 12:38-40: "Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee [You come claiming to be the Son of God; now give us a sign]. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

3. And thus we come to the third fact. Jesus instituted two perpetual ordinances, one to commemorate his death, and the other to commemorate his burial and resurrection. On this I cite just two passages of Scripture. I could cite a great many, but two will be enough: "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after Supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come" (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The other passage is from Romans 6:3-5: "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." We thus see what his ordinance commemorates; and it is the third fact in the order.

4. The fourth fact is that while only Mary, the sister of Lazarus, of all his disciples, understood the teachings concerning his death and resurrection at this time (Matthew 26:12), yet his enemies distinctly understood what he meant. Let us see the proof. While he was hanging on the cross, Matthew 27:39-42: "They that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildeth it in three days, save thyself: if thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross," that is, "Try to prove you are alive after we kill you." "In like manner also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save."

5. The next fact is, they so understood his teaching that they took all necessary precautions to guard against the theft of his body, until after the third day, and thereby hedged against any false claim of his resurrection. I give the proof (Harmony page 217) Matthew 27:62-66: "Now on the morrow, which is the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest haply his disciples come and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: and the last error will be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a guard: go, make it sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, the guard being with them." That shows they understood his teaching better than the disciples did.

I have thus given five facts in their order:

1. Jesus repeatedly predicted in his lifetime that he must suffer death, and rise again the third day, though his disciples did not understand it.

2. He made his resurrection the sign and proof of all his claims.

3. He instituted two perpetual ordinances, one to commemorate his death, the other his burial and resurrection.

4. While only Mary of Bethany, of all of his own disciples, understood his teachings, yet his enemies distinctly understood them.

5. They so understood that they took all necessary precautions to guard against the theft of his body until after the third day, and so to hedge against a false claim of his resurrection.

Never was an issue more openly joined and understood. He risked all his claims and all Christianity on one fact – his resurrection on the third day. His enemies accepted the challenge openly, and safeguarded against any fraud or delusion.

Let us now consider in order another relation of facts, answering this question: Did Jesus actually die, or was it only a case of swoon, trance, or other kind of suspended animation from which he subsequently revived?

The first fact is, as the record says, "He died," that is, the body and soul were separated. All the historians say, "He yielded up his spirit."

The second fact: To make sure that he was actually dead, one of the executioners pierced his heart with a spear, from which flowed water and blood, an unmistakable evidence of death – John 19:33-37.

The third fact: The centurion in charge, officially certified his death to Pilate (Mark 15:44-45). If a sheriff hangs a man now, the law requires that he make due report of the fact, and that is recorded as the act of the court executed; then the appointed officer signs it, then he goes and makes his first report that he has executed the man, and he is certified to be dead. So the record says, "And behold, a man named Joseph, who was a councillor, a good man and a righteous (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), a man of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was looking for the kingdom of God: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus" (Luke 23:50-52). "And Pilate marveled if he were already dead; and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he learned it of the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph" (Mark 15:44-45).

The fourth fact: He was actually embalmed and buried, and the mouth of the tomb was barred with a great stone (John 19:38-42): "Joseph of Arimathaea, . . . came therefore, and took away his body. And there came also Nicodemus, he who at the first came to him by night, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. So they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now, in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb wherein was never man yet laid. There then because of the Jews’ preparation (for the tomb was nigh at hand) they laid Jesus." Now you see that the dead body was taken down and that a hundred pounds of embalming spices, a long linen cloth was brought, and myrrh was spread on that cloth, which they wrapped around, and rolled and swathed about the body. If you find a mummy of the Egyptian days now, it has still that linen robe, buried over one thousand years ago, and shows that these spices preserve the body. There was Jesus, proved to be dead, embalmed as they would have him, in many folds of linen, and buried.

The fifth fact is that a very great stone was placed at the door of the tomb to bar it – a stone so great that when the women came they did not know how they could get that stone rolled away. It was so big that a man on the inside could not have pushed it away.

The sixth fact: This stone entrance was sealed with the Roman seal, and to break that seal was death.

The seventh fact is that a guard was stationed to watch the sepulcher and protect it day and night from interference, until the third day had passed (Matthew 27:62-66). The eighth fact: On the third day came an angel of the Lord and with a great earthquake rolled away that stone, while the guard fell as dead men (Matthew 28:2-4). As we want the facts all in order, let us see the proof of this (Matthew 28:1 ff, Harmony page 218): “Now late on the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men."

The ninth fact is that the guard faithfully reported the facts to the Sanhedrin, and with a large sum of money were bribed to say that his body was stolen by his disciples while they (the guards) slept. A protection from Pilate was promised, if the matter came to his ears. Let us see the proof on this point (Matthew 28:11-15): "Some of the guard came into the city, and told unto the chief priests all the things that were come to pass. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and rid you of care. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continueth until this day."

The tenth fact is that the angel told his disciples that he was risen, according to his promise, and reminded them to meet him at the previously appointed place in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7). Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell that. And the eleventh fact is that the disciples themselves saw that the tomb was empty.

We are now ready to discuss his resurrection. I have led up to it in an orderly way, proving that he said he would suffer death; that he would rise on the third day; that while his disciples did not understand that, his enemies did; that he made that the sign of all his claims; that he did die; that he was embalmed and buried; that his tomb was guarded; that at the appointed time an angel came and rolled away the stone, and the guard fell as dead; that the guard faithfully reported the facts; that they were then bribed to say that his disciples stole him while they slept; that the angel told his disciples that Jesus was risen, and reminded them of the appointment that he had made with them, both the women and the men, and we will see about that appointment a little later.

Now we have come to the place where the tomb is found empty, and there are just two reports about that empty tomb. Nobody disputes any fact thus far, not even an infidel or Jew. The report prevails that his disciples stole his body, and reported that he was raised from the dead, and the other fact is that Jesus rose from the dead.

How do we account for the tomb being empty in which Jesus was buried? Some of the guard testified that the body was stolen by the disciples while they (the guard) slept. The objections to this testimony are manifold: (1) It contradicts their original testimony. They told the facts to the chief priests and elders. That was their testimony. (2) Their second testimony was the result of bribery, and therefore should have been thrown out of court. (3) It was false on its face, since they could not know that it was stolen, or who had stolen it, as on their own story it had disappeared while they slept; and since it was contradictory to all history that a whole Roman guard slept while on the post of duty, and equally contradictory that such a capital offense against military law should be passed over without even a reprimand. (4) It was contradictory to the state of the minds of the disciples, who counted all lost by his death and were in terror for their lives; who did not believe at this time in his resurrection, and who had not the faith and courage to preach what they knew was false; and it is contradictory to the simplicity of their character, and their own natural, unbounded surprise when apprised that the tomb was empty and to their slowness to believe in the resurrection. In a word, they had no use for a dead body. And it is contradictory to their subsequent lives and sacrifices. (5) It leaves unexplained the resurrection and appearances of the saints who were recognized by many in Jerusalem. No court in the world would accept that testimony, and no jury in the world would believe it.

Now, on the other hand, the angel testified that Jesus was risen according to his promise and prediction. But the disciples were unable to accept the angel’s testimony. They must see him for themselves; or, as John puts it, they must see him with their eyes, hear him with their ears, and handle him with their hands. As Luke has it, they must recognize him with the inner spiritual sense as he talked with them, so that their hearts would burn within them, and they must note his old-time mannerism as in "the breaking of bread." The proof of identity must be repeated often, and for many days, and under varied circumstances, and at different places, and to different groups, so as to be absolutely infallible and all-convincing. His mother must recognize him; his unbelieving brothers must recognize him; his friends and companions for years must recognize him. In other words, just what Acts 1:3 declares: "To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them by the space of forty days, etc."

1. What is the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection?

2. What two kinds of resurrection taught in the Bible?

3. Cite one Old Testament and one New Testament proof that the restoration of a people may be called a resurrection.

4. Cite one New Testament proof that regeneration may be so called.

5. Cite a New Testament proof that a revival of the martyr spirit may be so called.

6. In the resurrection of the body, what four things are involved?

7. What is the glorification of the body?

8. What are the five characteristics of a natural body?

9. What are the five characteristics of a spiritual body?

10. Does the change from a natural to a spiritual body destroy its identity?

11. How was provision first made for the immortality of the body, how did man forfeit that right, and how was it regained?

12. Show the relation of Christ’s resurrection to ourselves, and how Paul makes it fundamental in Christianity.

13. Cite orderly and connected proof from the Gospels that Jesus, from the beginning and repeatedly, foretold his death and resurrection.

14. Prove that he made his resurrection on the third day the supreme sign and test of his divinity and messiahship.

15. What perpetual ordinance did Christ institute to commemorate his death?

16. What other to commemorate his burial and resurrection?

17. Cite the proof that the enemies of Christ understood the test he submitted of his claims.

18. What precaution did his enemies take to guard against any false claim of his resurrection?

19. Restate the five facts concerning his resurrection in order.

20. What seven facts prove that Jesus was dead?

21. What three facts bear on his resurrection?

22. Give a summary of the discussion leading up to the resurrection.

23. What two reports concerning the empty tomb?

24. What were the objections to the report that the disciples came and stole him while the guard slept?

25. What four earth senses were employed in recognizing the identity?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 27". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/matthew-27.html.
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