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Bible Commentaries
John 19

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. As a compromise, he had offered before to commit this less injustice on the person of the prisoner, in hope of that contenting them. (See page 465, first column, second paragraph, and second column, third paragraph.) But this victim of conflicting emotions is now resigning himself to the fiendish clamours of a Jewish mob, set on by sacerdotal hypocrites. This scourging, says Philo Judoeus, was what was inflicted on the worst criminals. The next step was the following, recorded in Matthew 27:27; and Mark 15:16: "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall ('the Praetorium'), and gathered unto him the whole band (of soldiers)" - the body of the military cohort stationed there, to take part in the mock-coronation now to be enacted.

Verse 2

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head - in mockery of a regal crown,

And they put on him a purple robe - in mockery of the imperial purple; first "stripping Him" of His own outer garment (Matthew 27:28). It is possible that this was the "gorgeous" robe in which Herod arrayed and sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:11); but it may have been one of the military cloaks worn by the Roman officers. In Matthew (27:29 ) we have the following addition: "they put a reed in his right hand" - in mockery of the regal sceptre - "and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him."

Verse 3

And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.

And said, Hail, King of the Jews! - doing Him derisive homage in the form used on approaching the emperors (see also, on the same derisive epithet, page 472).

And they smote him with their hands. Matthew says "they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head" (see Micah 5:1). The best comment on these affecting details is to cover the face.

Verse 4

Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.

Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring (or 'am bringing') him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him - ` and by scourging and allowing the soldiers to make sport of him, have gone as far to meet your exasperation as can he expected from a judge.'

Verse 5

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! - There is no reason to think that contempt dictated this memorable speech. There was clearly a struggle in the breast of this wretched man. Not only was he reluctant to surrender to mere clamour an innocent person, but a feeling of anxiety about His mysterious claims, as is plain from what follows, was beginning to rack his breast, and the object of his exclamation seems to have been to move their pity. But, be his meaning what it may, those three words have been eagerly appropriated by all Christendom, and enshrined for ever in its heart, as a sublime expression of its calm, rapt admiration of its suffering Lord.

Verse 6

When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.

When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

(See page 465, second column, third paragraph.)

Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him - as if that would relieve him of the responsibility, who, by surrendering him to an unrighteous death, incurred it all!

Verse 7

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. Their criminal charges having come to nothing, they give that up, and as Pilate was throwing the whole responsibility upon them, they retreat into their own Jewish law, by which, as claiming equality with God (see the notes at John 5:18; John 8:58-59), He ought to die; insinuating that it was Pilate's duty, even as civil governor, to protect their law from such insult.

Verse 8

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

When Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid - the name "SON OF GOD," the lofty sense evidently attached to it by His Jewish accusers, the dialogue he had already held with Him, and the dream of his wife (Matthew 27:19), all working together in the breast of the unhappy man.

Verse 9

And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

And went again into the judgment hall ('the Praetorium,') and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? - a question relating, beyond all doubt, not to His mission, but to His personal origin.

But Jesus gave him no answer. He had said enough; the time for answering such a question was past; the weak and wavering governor is already on the point of giving way.

Verse 10

Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? The "me" is the emphatic word in the question. He falls back upon the pride of office, which doubtless tended to check the workings of his conscience.

Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? - said to work upon the silent Prisoner at once by fear and by hope.

Verse 11

Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

Jesus answered, Thou couldest, [ ouk (G3756) eiches (G2192) rather, 'Thou shouldest'] have no power at all against me-neither to crucify, nor to release, nor to do anything whatever against Me, as Bengel expresses it,

Except it were ('unless it had been') given thee from above. - q.d., 'Thou thinkest too much of thy power, Pilate: against Me that power is none, except what is meted out to thee by special divine appointment, for a special end.'

Therefore he that delivered me unto thee - to wit, Caiaphas; but he only as representing the Jewish authorities as a body,

Hath the greater sin - as having better opportunities and more knowledge of such matters.

Verse 12

And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

And from thenceforth - particularly this speech, which seems to have filled him with awe, and redoubled his anxiety,

Pilate sought to release him - that is, to gain their consent to it; for he could have done it at once on his own authority.

But the Jews cried - seeing their advantage, and not slow to profit by it,

If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cesar. 'This,' as Webster and Wilkinson observe, 'was equivalent to a threat of impeachment, which we know was much dreaded by such officers as the procurators, especially of the character of Pilate or Felix. It also consummates the treachery and disgrace of the Jewish rulers, who were willing, for the purpose of destroying Jesus, to affect a zeal for the supremacy of a foreign prince.' The reader will do well also to observe how they go backwards and forwards in their charges. Failing in obtaining a condemnation on the ground of treason, they had just before this fallen back in despair on the charge of blasphemy. But as they could not but see how weak that was as an argument with a mere civil governor, they avail themselves of Pilate's manifest embarrassment and vacillation to re-urge the charge of treason, but in the form of a threat against Pilate himself, if he should dismiss the Prisoner.

Verse 13

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

When Pilate heard that saying - or, according to the preferable reading, 'these sayings,'

He brought Jesus forth, and sat down in ('upon,') the judgment seat - that he might pronounce sentence against the Prisoner, on this charge, the more solemnly,

In a place that is called the Pavement [ Lithostrooton (G3038 )], but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha, [Gabaataa'] - either from a word signifying to be 'high,' referring to the raised platform on which the judgment seat was placed; or from one signifying the 'back,' from its arched form. As the Greek word denotes, it was a tesselated pavement; much used by the Romans. There is a minute topographical accuracy in the use of this word which a learned defender of the authenticity of the Gospel History has not failed to notice. 'Jesus,' says Hug, 'is led out to receive His sentence, and Pilate sat in a place called the Lithostrooton (G3038) to pass judgment (John 19:13). The transaction is represented as if this place was in front of the Praetor's house, or at least at no great distance from it. And there is, in fact, such a place, which has been formerly overlooked, in the outworks of the Temple. Mention is made of it in an assault which the Romans made upon the Temple, on the side of the tower Antonia (Josephus, Jewish Wars, 6: 6 and 7). Here is the Lithostrooton (G3038), and the house of the Praetor must have been opposite to this place. Now he lived, as appears from some incidental passages in Philo (compare Leg. ad Caium with Josephus, Ant. 18: 4), in Herod's palace, which was certainly in this quarter and neighbourhood, northwest of the tower Antonia and the Temple: so that the proximity of the Lithostroton to the palace, which is implied in John's narrative, is strictly accurate.'

Verse 14

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

And (or, 'Now') it was the preparation of the Passover. This is another of the passages from which it has been concluded that the regular Passover had not up to that time been kept, and consequently that our Lord, in celebrating it with His disciples the previous evening, had anticipated the proper day for its observance. To this question we have adverted pretty fully-at Luke 22:7-30, page 324; on Luke 22:1; and on Luke 18:28. As to the present passage, there is no evidence that "the preparation of the Passover" means the preparation for it. The day before every sabbath was called "the preparation" (Mark 15:42), from the preparations for its proper observance which were made on the previous day; insomuch that in enumerating the days of the week the Friday would be named 'Preparation' (day). But this was no ordinary 'preparation day.' It was 'the Passover preparation,' as the words of our Evangelist may be rendered; by which we understand that it was not only the Preparation Friday, but the Friday of the Paschal feast. Accordingly, it is called, in John 19:31 "an high day."

And about the sixth hour. As it cannot be conceived that our Evangelist meant to say here that it was already noon, according to Jewish reckoning-for Mark says (Mark 15:25) that the crucifixion itself took place at the third hour (nine o'clock, of our reckoning), and that is what we should naturally conclude from the progress of the events-two expedients have been resorted to for clearing up the difficulty, neither of which appears to us quite satisfactory. The one is to adopt the reading "third" instead of "sixth" hour, as Bengel, Robinson, Webster and Wilkinson do, and as Alford half inclines to do. But the evidence for this reading is so weak that it seems like a tampering with the sacred text to adopt it. The other way of solving the difficulty is to suppose that our Evangelist here adopts the Roman method of computation, and means that it was about six o clock, according to our reckoning. So Olshausen, Tholuck, Hug, etc. But as there is no ground to suppose that in other cases our Evangelist adopts the Roman divisions of time, so the hour which that reckoning brings out here can hardly be the right one; for it must have been considerably later than six in the morning when that took place which is here related. It remains then to understand the Evangelist to refer to the two broad divisions of the day, so familiar to the Jews, the third and the sixth hours; and to suppose that as the event occurred between the two, the one Evangelist specified the hither terminus, while the other takes the further one. So Ellicott and others.

And he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! Having now made up his mind to yield to them, he takes a sort of quiet revenge on them by this irony, which he knew would sting them. This only re-awakens their cry to despatch His.

Verse 15

But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Some of those who thus cried died miserably in rebellion against Caesar 40 years afterward, as Alford remarks. But it suited their present purpose.

Verse 16

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified - against all justice, against his own conscience, against his solemnly and repeatedly pronounced judicial decision that He was innocent whom he now gave up.

And they took Jesus, and led him away. And so, amidst the conflict of human passions and the advancing tide of crime, the Scripture was fulfilled which said, "He is led as a lamb to the slaughter."


(1) If the complicated details of the ecclesiastical trial of our Lord bear such indubitable marks of truth as we have seen that they do (see the notes at Mark 14:53-72, Remark 9 at the close of that section, pages 210,

211), surely those of the political trial which followed are not less self-evidencing. Think first of the dark consistency with which His accusers held to their point of obtaining a condemnation from Pilate; the facility with which they oscillated between two kinds of charges-of treason against Caesar and treason against God-just as the chances of success by urging the one or the other of these charges seemed to preponderate for the moment; the ingenuity with which they set on the mob to shout for His crucifixion, and the fiendish violence with which, when Pilate wavered at the very last, they bore him down, and by insinuating the disloyalty of sparing the Prisoner, at length extorted compliance.

Think, next, of that extraordinary conflict of emotions which agitated the breast of Pilate-such as we may safely say no literary ingenuity could have invented, and so artlessly managed as we have it told in the Evangelical Narratives. Think, finally, of the placid dignity of the Sufferer, in all these scenes-the dignity with which He speaks, when alone with Pilate, and what is even more remarkable, the dignity of His silence before the multitude and in the presence of Herod. Whether we look at each of these features of the political trial by itself, or at all of them as composing one whole-their originality, their consistency, their wonderful verisimilitude, must strike every intelligent and impartial reader. Can we be surprised that such a History makes way for itself throughout the world without the need of laboured books of evidence, and is rejected or suspected only by perverted ingenuity? Similar remarks are applicable even to the minor details of this section, such as what is said of Barabbas; but the reader can follow this out for himself.

(2) As the subjects of Christ's Kingdom are at the same time under the Civil Government of the country in which they reside, and may be helped or hindered by it in their Christian duties according to the procedure of that government toward them, it is plainly both the right and the duty of Christians to procure such civil arrangements as shall be most for the advantage of religion in the land. What these ought to be is a question on which Christians are not agreed, and on which they may reasonably differ; and, indeed, the varying conditions of civil society may render the policy which would be proper or warrantable in one case neither right nor practicable in another. But since Civil Government never will nor can nor ought to be altogether indifferent to Religion, it is the duty of Christians to endeavour that at least nothing injurious to Religion be enacted and enforced. But the Christian world has grievously erred on this subject. Since the days of Constantine, when the Roman Empire became externally Christian, the desire to turn civil government to the advantage of Christianity has led to the incorporation of such a multitude of civil elements with the government of the Church, that the lines of essential distinction between the political and the religious have been obliterated, not only under Romanism, but even in the constitution of Church and State in the countries of the Reformation; insomuch that the explicit declaration of our Lord to Pilate - "My Kingdom is not of this world" - would scarcely have satisfied the Roman Governor that His master's interests were unaffected by such a kingdom, if explained according to some modern principles of ecclesiastical government. Let Christians but interpret our Lord's explanation of the nature of His kingdom honestly and in all its latitude, and their differences on this subject, if they do not melt away, will become small and unimportant.

(3) If in the suffering and death of Christ we have the substitution of the Innocent for the guilty, we have a kind of visible exhibition of this in the choice of Barabbas, which was the escape of the guilty in virtue of the condemnation of the Innocent.

(4) Often as we have had occasion to notice in this History the consistency of the divine determinations with the liberty of human actions, nowhere is it more conspicuous than in this section. Observe how our Lord meets the threat of Pilate, when he asked Him if He knew not that the power of life and death was in his hands. 'No, Pilate, it is not in thine hands, but in Hands which thine only obey; therefore is the guilty man who delivered Me unto thee, the more guilty.' But "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong."

No sooner do those envenomed enemies of the Lord Jesus get Him again into their hands, than they renew their mockeries, as we learn from the first two Gospels.


(Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:20)

"And after they had mocked Him, they took the (purple) robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to be crucified."

The next two steps possess the deepest interest.

And he bearing his cross went forth - that is, without the city; a most significant circumstance in relation to a provision of the Levitical law. "For," says the apostle, "the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp: Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate" (Hebrews 13:11-12). None of the Evangelists but John mentions the important fact that Christ was made to bear His own cross; although we might have presumed as imposed upon criminals condemned to be crucified the burden of bearing their own cross, as Plutarch expressly states, and from our Lord's injunctions to his followers to bear their cross after Him (see the note at Matthew 10:38). But soon, it would appear, it became necessary to lay this burden upon some one else if He was not to sink under it. How this was done our Evangelist does not say, nor that it was done at all. But it had been related by all the three preceding Evangelists.

Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26: "And as they came out," says Matthew, "they found a man of Cyrene," in Libya, on the north coast of Africa, "Simon by name," "who passed (or 'was passing') by," says Mark. He was not, then, one of the crowd that had come out of the city to witness the execution; and Mark adds that he was "coming out of the country," probably into the city, all ignorant, perhaps, of what was going on; and was "the father of Alexander and Rufus." This stranger, then, "they compelled to bear His cross." Jesus, it would appear, was no longer able to bear it. And when we think of the Agony through which He passed during the previous night, not to speak of other causes of exhaustion, under which the three disciples were unable to keep awake in the garden; if we think of the night He passed with Annas, and the early morn before the Sanhedrim, with all its indignities; of the subsequent scenes before Pilate first, then Herod, and then Pilate again; of the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the other cruelties before He was led forth to execution-can we wonder that it soon appeared necessary, if He was not to sink under this burden, that they should find another to bear it? For we must remember that "He was crucified through weakness" [ ex (G1537) astheneias (G769)], 2 Corinthians 13:4. (See on the "loud voice" which He emitted on the cross as He expired, page 474.)

It will be observed that his Simon the Cyrenian is said to be "the father of Alexandere and Rufus" (Mark 15:21). From this we naturally conclude that when Mark wrote his Gospel these two persons-Alexander and Rufus-were only Christians, but well known as such among those by whom he expected his Gospel to be first read. Accordingly, when we turn to Romans 16:13, we find these words, "Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord-that is, 'the choice one' or 'precious one in the Lord', and his mother and mine." That this is the same Rufus as Mark supposes his readers would at once recognize, there can hardly be a doubt. And when the apostle calls Rufus' mother 'his own mother,' in grateful acknowledgment of her motherly attentions to himself for the love she bore to his Master, does it not seem that Simon the Cyrenian's conversion dated from that memorable day when, 'passing casually by as he came from the country,' they "compelled him to bear" the Saviour's cross Sweet compulsion, and noble pay for the enforced service to Jesus then rendered, if the spectacle which his eyes then beheld issued in his voluntarily taking up his own cross! Through him it is natural to suppose that his wife would be brought in, and that this believing couple, now "heirs together of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7), as they told their two sons, Alexander and Rufus, what honour had been put upon their father all unwittingly, at that hour of deepest and dearest interest to all Christians, might be blessed to the fetching in of both those sons. By the time that Paul wrote to the Romans, the older of the two may have gone to reside in some other place place, or departed to be with Christ, which was far better; and Rufus being left alone with his mother, they only were mentioned by the apostle.


For this we are indebted exclusively to the third Gospel.

Luke 23:27-32: Luke 23:27. "And there followed Him a great company (or 'multitude') of people, and of women, which also" - that is, the women [ hai (G3588)] - "bewailed and lamented Him." These women are not to be confounded with those precious Galilean women afterward expressly mentioned. Our Lord's reply shows that they were merely a miscellaneous collection of females, whose sympathies for the Sufferer-of whom some would know more and some less-drew forth tears and lamentations. "But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." Noble spirit of compassion, rising above His own dread endurances in tender commiseration of sufferings yet in the distance and far lighter, but without His supports and consolations! "For, behold the days (or 'days' ) are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us." These words, taken from Hosea 10:8, are a lively way of expressing the feelings of persons flying here and there despairingly for shelter. The more immediate reference of them is to the sufferings which awaited them during the approaching siege of Jerusalem; but they are a premonition of cries of another and more awful kind (Revelation 6:16-17; and compare, for the language, Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21). "For if they do these things in a green tree" - that naturally resists the fire - "what shall be done in the dry," that attracts the flames, being their proper fuel. The proverb plainly means: 'If such sufferings alight upon the innocent One, the very Lamb of God, what must be in store for those who are provoking the flames?'

Our Evangelist only brings us to Calvary. For the rest we are indebted to the first two Gospels.

Verse 17

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

He went forth into a place called the place of a skull - or 'unto the place called Skull-place,'

Which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha, [ Gulgaaltaa' (H1538), softened into Golgotha (G1115)]. 'Roll-formed' or 'roll-shaped,' is the idea of the word. But whether this refer to the round shape of the skulls of criminals executed there, which has hitherto been the prevailing opinion, or to the shape of the ground-a round hill or knoll there-as others think, is not agreed. That a hill of that form lay to the north of the city seems true enough; but as this would place the spot outside the city, it is at least inconsistent with what is now shown as the place where our Lord suffered, which is within the city, and must have been so then, as Dr. Robinson contends-though Mr. Williams, who has examined the ground with equal care, endeavours to disprove his positions.

Matthew 27:33-34; Mark 15:22-23: "And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, A place of a skull, they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall;" using the words of the prophetic Psalm (Psalms 69:21), "They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." But Mark, no doubt, gives the precise mixture: "They gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh." This potion was stupefying, and given to criminals just before execution, to deaden the sense of pain.

`Fill high the bowl, and spice it well, and pour The dews oblivious; for the Cross is sharp,

The Cross is sharp, and He Is tenderer than a lamb.'

But our Lord would die with every faculty clear, and in full sensibility to all His sufferings. `Thou wilt feel all, that thou may'st pity all; And rather would'st Thou wrestle with strong pain Than overcloud Thy soul,

So clear in agony, Or lose one glimpse of heaven before the time. O most entire and perfect sacrifice,

Renewed in every pulse,' etc. - KEBLE

Verse 18

Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

Where they crucified him. Four soldiers were employed in this operation, which was done by fastening the body-after being stripped of all clothing except a broad belt round the loins-by nails or bolts driven through the hands to the transverse part of the cross. The feet, though not always nailed, but simply bound, to the upright beam, were almost certainly so in this case (Psalms 22:16). The body was supported by a piece of wood passing between the legs. The excruciating agony of this kind of death is universally attested, and may easily be supposed. But the shame of it was equal to the torture.

And two others with him. In Luke these are called by the general name of "malefactors," or 'evil-doers' [ kakourgous (G2557)]; in Matthew and Mark "thieves," or rather 'robbers' [ leestas (G3027)].

On either side one, and Jesus in the midst - a hellish expedient to hold him up as the worst of the three. But in this, as in many other of their doings, "the Scripture was fulfilled-which saith (Isaiah 53:12), And He was numbered with the transgressors," as it is in Mark 15:28 - though the prophecy reaches deeper than that outside fulfillment. [This entire verse, however (Mark 15:28), is of extremely doubtful genuineness. Lachmann inserts it, no doubt on the strength of the ancient versions; but the manuscript evidence against it is very strong, and while Tregelles brackets it, Tischendorf excludes it altogether. It seems to have come in from Luke 22:37, where we have the same words from our Lord's own mouth.]


Of these Seven Sayings-embalmed forever in the hearts of believers-one is recorded by Matthew, three by Luke, and three by John. This first one is recorded in the third Gospel only.

Luke 23:34: "Then said Jesus."

First Saying:

"FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO." [Lachmann unhappily brackets this most precious verse as of doubtful authority. But the evidence for it, external as well as internal, is most decisive; and both Tischendorf and Tregelles print it as it stands in the received text.]

The Evangelist seems to intimate that this was said as the executioners were doing, or just as they finished, their dread task. But we must not limit the prayer to them. Beyond doubt, it embraced all who had any hand, directly or indirectly, in the death of Him who offered that prayer-of all of whom, even the most enlightened, the apostle could with truth say, that, "had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8: see also Acts 3:17; Acts 13:27; and compare 1 Timothy 1:13). In a wider and deeper sense still, that prayer fulfilled the great Messianic prediction, "And He made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12) - extending to all whose sins He bore in His own body on the tree. In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord says, "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44); and here, as in so many other cases, we find Him the first to fulfill His own precept-thus furnishing the right interpretation and the perfect model of the duty enjoined. And how quickly was it seen in "His martyr Stephen," that though He had left the earth in Person, His spirit remained behind, and Himself could, in some of His brightest lineaments, be reproduced in His disciples! (See the note at Acts 7:60.) And what does the world in every age owe to these few words, spoken where and as they were spoken!

Verse 19

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Verse 20

This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

This title then read many of the Jews; for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew - that is, Syro-Chaldaic; the language of the country,

And Greek - the current language,

And Latin - the official language. These were then the chief languages of the earth, and this secured that all spectators should be able to read it. Stung by this, the Jewish ecclesiastics entreat that it may be so altered as to express, not His regal dignity, but His false claim to it.

Verse 21

Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. But Pilate thought he had yielded quite enough to them; and having intended expressly to spite and insult them by this title, for having gotten him to act against his own sense of justice, he peremptorily refused them.

Verse 22

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. And thus, amidst the conflicting passions of men, was proclaimed, in the chief tongues of mankind, from the Cross itself, and in circumstances which threw upon it a lurid yet grand light, the truth which drew the Magi to His manger, and will yet be owned by all the world!

Verse 23

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part - of the four soldiers who were the executioners, and whose perquisite they were.

And also his coat, [ ton (G3588) chitoona (G5509)] - the Roman tunic, or close-fitting vest.

Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. Perhaps, say Webster and Wilkinson, denoting considerable skill and labour, as necessary to produce such a garment-the work, probably, of one or more of the women who ministered in such things unto Him (Luke 8:3).

Verse 24

They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith (Psalms 22:18 ), They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. That a prediction so exceedingly specific-distinguishing one piece of dress from others, and announcing that while those should be parted among several, that should be given by lot to one person-that such a prediction should not only be fulfilled to the letter, but by a party of pagan military, without interference from either the friends or the enemies of the Crucified One, is surely eminently worthy to be ranked among the wonders of this all-wonderful scene. Now come the mockeries, which are passed by in silence by our Evangelist, as sufficiently recorded in the first three Gospels. These mockeries came from four distinct quarters.


For this particular we are indebted to the first two Gospels.

Matthew 27:39-40; Mark 15:29-30: "And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads" - in ridicule: see Psalms 22:7; Psalms 109:25; and compare Job 16:4; Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 18:16; Lamentations 2:15 - "and saying," "Ah!" [ Oua (G3758)] an exclamation here of derision. "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself" - "and come down from the cross." If one wonders that in seeking for evidence against our Lord at His trial, His enemies should be obliged to fall back upon a few words uttered by Him at the very outset of his ministry, and after having to distort even these, in order to give them even the appearance of indictable matter, that the charge should break down so completely that the high priest felt he had no pretext for condemning Him unless He could draw something worthy of death from Himself on the spot; much more may one wonder that the same distorted words which had failed at the most solemn moment should now be brought up afresh and east in the teeth of the blessed One, as He hung upon the cross, even by the passers-by. (See the notes at Mark 14:58; Mark 14:58.) One thing it would seem to show, that the prosecutors in this case had had to send here and there for witnesses against our Lord, and collect from all quarters whatever might seem to tell against Him; that in this way the more it came to be seen that the materials were few and trivial, the more stress would need to be laid upon the little they had to rest on; that thus it had come to be understood that if all failed, this speech at least would suffice to condemn Him; and as the ecclesiastical prosecutors were not likely to proclaim how signally they had failed in making out this charge, and too little time had elapsed between the Trial and the Execution for the proceedings of the Sanhedrim to get abroad, these "passers-by" had cast the saying in our Lord's teeth in their reckless simplicity, taking it for granted that He was now suffering for that speech as for other misdeeds. And yet that memorable speech in its true sense was now receiving the first part of its fulfillment - "Destroy ye this Temple;" as in His resurrection it was speedily to be fulfilled in the second part of it - "In three days I will raise it up." See John 2:22.


We have this in the first three Gospels, but most fully-as might be expected-in the first, the peculiarly Jewish We have this in the first three Gospels, but most fully-as might be expected-in the first, the peculiarly Jewish Gospel.

Matthew 27:41-43; Mark 15:31-32; Luke 23:35: "Likewise also the chief priests, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save." In this, as in other taunts (such as Luke 15:2), there was a deep truth. Both things He could not do; for He had come to give His life a ransom for many. No doubt this added a sting to the reproach, unknown at that moment except to Himself. But the taunt of the rulers ends not here. "If He be the King of Israel (they add), let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him." No, they would not; for those who resisted the evidence from the resurrection of Lazarus, and afterward resisted the evidence of His own resurrection, were beyond the reach of any amount of merely external evidence. But they go on to say, "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him [ ei (G1487) thelei (G2309) auton (G846)], answering to "seeing He delighted in Him" [ chaapeets (H2654) bow (H871a); hoti (G3754) thelei (G2309) auton (G846)]. These are the words of the Messianic Psalm, Psalms 22:8. The last words of their taunt are, "for He said, I am the Son of God." We thank you, O ye chief priests, scribes, and elders, for this triple testimony, unconsciously borne by you, to our Christ: first to His habitual trust in God, as a feature in His character so marked and palpable that even ye found upon it your impotent taunt; next, to His identity with the Sufferer of Psalms 22:1-31, whose very words ye unwittingly appropriate, thus serving yourselves heirs to the dark office and impotent malignity of Messiah's enemies; and again, to the true sense of that august title which He took to Himself, "THE SON OF GOD," which ye rightly interpreted at the very first (see the note at John 5:18), as a claim to that oneness of nature with Him, and dearness to Him, which a son has to his father.


We have this in the third Gospel only.

Luke 23:36-37: "And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself." They insultingly offer to share with Him their own vinegar, or sour wine, the usual drink of Roman soldiers, it being about the time of their mid-day meal. In the taunt of the soldiers we have one of those casual touches which so strikingly verify these historical records. While the ecclesiastics deride Him for calling Himself "the Christ, the King of Israel, the Chosen, the Son of God," the soldiers, to whom all such phraseology was mere Jewish jargon, make sport of Him as a pretender to royalty - "KING of the Jews" - an office and dignity which they would think it belonged to them to comprehend.


This is the only one of the four cases of mockery which is recorded by all the first three Evangelists; but the inestimable details are given only by Luke.

Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32; Luke 23:39-43: "The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth." So also Mark. But from Luke-the precision and fullness of whose narrative must rule the sense of the few brief words of the other two-we learn that the taunt came only from one of the thieves, whom the other in a wonderful style rebuked: "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him" - this is His

Second Saying:


For the exposition of this grand episode, see the notes at Luke 23:39-43, pages 337-339.

But we are new at length brought back to our Fourth Gospel.

Verse 25

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

Now there stood, [ eisteekeisan (G2476 ), or 'were standing'] by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas. This should be read, as in the margin, Clopas; the same person, as would seem, with "Alpheus": see the note at Matthew 10:3. The "Cleopas" of Luke 24:18 was a different person.

And Mary Magdalene. These dear women clustered around the cross; and where else should one expect them? The male disciples might be consulting for their own safety (though John was not); but those precious women would have died sooner than be absent from this scene.

Verse 26

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother,

Third Saying:


Verse 27

Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Then saith he to the disciple,


What forgetfulness of self, and what filial love, at such a moment! And what a parting word to both "mother and son"!

And from that hour that ('the') disciple took her to his own [home] - that is, home with him; for his father, Zebedee, and his mother, Salome, were both alive, and the latter was here present (Mark 15:40).


For this deeply significant stage of our Lord's Sufferings on the cross, we have the testimony of the first two Evangelists, and partially of the third. The beloved disciple accordingly passes it by, as sufficiently recorded.

Matthew 27:45-49; Mark 15:33-38; Luke 23:44-45: "Now from the sixth hour" - the hour of noon - "there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour" - the hour of the evening sacrifice. No ordinary eclipse of the sun could have occurred at this time, it being then full moon, and this obscuration lasted about twelve times the length of any ordinary eclipse. (Compare Exodus 10:21-23.) Beyond doubt, the divine intention of the portent was to invest this darkest of all tragedies with a gloom expressive of its real character. "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice" (Psalms 22:1),

Fourth Saying:


There is something deeply instructive in this cry being uttered, not in the tongue which our Lord, we believe, usually employed-the current Greek-but in that of the psalm from which it is quoted; and yet, not as it stands in the Hebrew original of that psalm [ `ªzabtaaniy (H5800)], but in the native Chaldee [shªbaqtaaniy], or Syriac form [ Elooi (G1682)], the Syriac form of [ 'Eeliy (H410)] - as if at that awful moment not only would no other words express His mind but those which had been prophetically prepared for that hour, but, as in the Agony in the Garden (see page 332, second column), that the mother-tongue came to Him spontaneously, as most natively and freely giving forth the deep cry. As the darkness commenced at the hour of noon, the second of the Jewish hours of prayer, and continued until the hour of the evening sacrifice, it probably increased in depth, and reached its deepest gloom at the moment of this mysterious cry-when the flame of the one great "Evening Sacrifice" was burning fiercest.

The words, as we have said, were made ready to His hand, being the opening words of that psalm which is most full of the last "Sufferings of Christ and the glories which followed them" [ tas (G3588) meta (G3326) tauta (G5023) doxas (G1391), 1 Peter 1:11 ]. "FATHER," was the cry in the first prayer which He uttered on the cross; for matters had not then come to their worst; "FATHER" was the cry of His last prayer; for matters had then passed their worst. But at this crisis of His sufferings, "Father" does not issue from His lips, for the light of a Father's countenance was then mysteriously eclipsed. He falls back, however, on a title expressive of His official relation, which, though more distant in itself, yet when grasped in pure and naked faith, was mighty in its claims, and rich in psalmodic associations - "MY GOD." And what deep earnestness is conveyed by the redoubling of this title! But as for the cry itself, it will never be fully comprehended.

An absolute desertion is not indeed to be thought of; but a total eclipse of the felt sense of God's presence it certainly expresses. It expresses surprise, as under the experience of something not only never before known but inexplicable on the footing which had until then subsisted between Him and God. It is a question which the lost cannot utter. They are forsaken, but they know why. Jesus is forsaken, but does not know, and asks to know why. It is thus the cry of conscious innocence, but of innocence unavailing to draw down at that moment the least token of approval from the unseen Judge-innocence whose only recognition at that moment lay in the thick surrounding gloom which but reflected the horror of great darkness that invested His own spirit. There was indeed a cause for it, and He knew it too-the "why" must not be pressed so far as to exclude this. He must taste this bitterest of the wages of sin "Who did no sin." But that is not the point now.

In Him there was no cause at all (John 14:30), and He takes refuge in the glorious fact. When no ray from above shines in upon Him, He strikes a light out of His own breast. If God will not own Him, He shall own Himself. On the rock of His unsullied allegiance to Heaven He will stand, until the light of Heaven return to His spirit. And it is near to come. While He is yet speaking the fierceness of the flame is beginning to abate. One incident and insult more, and the experience of one other predicted element of suffering, and the victory is His. "Some of them that stood there, when they heard that" - the cry just mentioned - "said, This man calleth for Elias" (Matthew 27:47). That in this they simply misunderstood the meaning of His cry - "Eli, Eli" - there can be no reasonable doubt; especially if, as is probable, this remark was made by Hellenistic spectators, or the Greek-speaking Jews from the provinces who had come up to worship at the feast.

Verse 28

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled (Psalms 69:21), "saith" -

Fifth Saying:

"I THRIST." The meaning is, that perceiving that all prophetic Scripture regarding Him was accomplished, up to the very article of Death, except that one in Psalms 69:21, and that the moment had now arrived for the fulfillment of that final one, in consequence of the burning thirst which the fevered state of His frame occasioned (see Psalms 22:15) - He uttered this cry in order that of their own accord they might fulfill their prophetic destiny in fulfilling His.

Verse 29

Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and, put it to his mouth. The offer of the soldiers' vinegar, on His arriving at Golgotha, might seem to have sufficiently fulfilled the Scripture prediction on this subject already. But our Lord only regards this as properly done when done by "His own," who "received Him not." But in this case it is probable, as in the former, that "when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink it." Though a stalk of hyssop does not exceed 18 inches in length, it would suffice, as the feet of crucified persons were not raised higher. At this time, some said, "Let alone" [ afete (G863)] - that is, probably, 'Stand off,' 'Stop that officious service' - "let us see whether Elias will come to take him down." This was the last cruelty which He was to suffer, and it was one of the most unfeeling.


It is remarkable that while we have this glorious Saying only in the fourth Gospel, we have the manner in which it was uttered in the first three, and not in the fourth.

Verse 30

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said - or, as in all the first three Gospels, " He cried with a loud voice" --

Sixth Saying:

"IT IS FINISHED." [Tetelestai (G5055 )] In this one astonishing word believers will find the foundation of all their safety and bliss throughout eternal ages. The "loud voice" does not imply, as some able interpreters contend, that our Lord's strength was so far from being exhausted that He needed not to die then, and surrendered up His life sooner than nature required, merely because it was the appointed time. It was indeed the appointed time, but time that He should be crucified through weakness (2 Corinthians 13:4), and nature was now reaching its utmost exhaustion. But just as even His own dying saints, particularly the martyrs of Jesus, have sometimes had such gleams of coming glory immediately before breathing their last as to impart to them a strength to utter their feelings which has amazed the by-standers, so this mighty voice of the expiring Redeemer was nothing else but the exultant spirit of the Dying Victor, perceiving the fruit of His travail just about to be embraced, and nerving the organs of utterance to an ecstatic expression of its sublime feelings in the one word, "It is finished." What is finished? The Law is fulfilled as never before, and never since, in His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. Messianic prophecy is accomplished; Redemption is completed: "He hath finished the transgression, and made an end of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and sealed up the vision and prophecy, and anointed a holy of holies.' The scaffolding of the ancient economy is taken down: He has inaugurated the kingdom of God, and given birth to a new world.


This Saying is given only by the third Evangelist.

Luke 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said (Psalms 31:5) -

Seventh Saying:


Yes, the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. His soul has emerged from its mysterious horrors; "My God is heard no more, but in unclouded light He yields sublime into His Father's hands the infinitely precious spirit-using here also, with His last breath, the words of those Psalms which were ever on His lips.

And - "having said this" (Luke 23:46 ), he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.


(1) When we read that Jesus "bearing His cross, went forth," and thus "suffered without the gate," can we wonder at the apostle's call to his fellow-believers of the house of Israel, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp"? (Hebrews 13:13). For what was city, temple, or camp, after THE LORD of it had been judicially rejected, contemptuously led forth from it, and without the gate, as one accursed, put to the death of the cross? Behold, their house was left unto them desolate: the Glory was departed: and now, as never before, might be heard, by those who still came to tread those once hallowed courts a Voice saying unto them, "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yes, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood" (Isaiah 1:13-15). Judaism had virtually ceased to exist, and all the grace and glory which it contained-all that "Salvation" which "was of the Jews" - had taken up its abode with the handful of disciples, from whom, as soon as the Holy Spirit should descend upon them at Pentecost, was to emerge the one living Church and Kingdom of God upon earth. Severe, doubtless, would be the wrench to many a Jew which severed him forever from ecclesiastical connection with that fondly loved, time-honoured temple, and all its beautiful solemnities. One consideration only could reconcile him to it, but that one to the believer would be irresistible: his Lord was not there, and, what was worse, all that he saw there was associated with the dishonour and the death of his Lord; while in the assemblies of the disciples with whom he had now cast in his lot-all mean to the outward eye, and small in numbers, though they might be-Jesus Himself, now in glory, made His presence felt, Whom having not seen, all loved, in Whom, though now they saw Him not, yet believing, they rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.

And has not the Lord been judicially cast out and "crucified" afresh "in the street of" another "great city" (Revelation 11:8), regarding which the word is, "Come out of her my people"? (Revelation 18:4). Trying to flesh and blood once was that wrench too, and others similar which the faithful witnesses for the truth have been called to suffer. But as where Jesus is not, the most gorgeous temples are but splendid desolation to the soul that lives and is ready to die for Him, so the rudest barns are beautiful temples when irradiated with the glory of His presence and perfumed with the incense of His grace.

(2) The case of Simon the Cyrenian, won to Jesus by being "compelled" to bear His cross, has had its bright parallels in not a few who have been made to take part in the last suffer ings of His martyrs. In one of the Homilies. for example, of the Greek Father, Basil the Great (316 AD - 379 AD), preached at the anniversary of the erection of the 'church of the Thirty Martyrs' at Cesarea, he tells us that when thirty of the noblest youths of the Roman army were to suffer for confessing Christ, by being condemned to freeze to death standing naked in cold lake in the depth of winter, and one of them, after mortification had begun, had been tempted by the offer of hot baths to as many of them as would deny their Lord, and had plunged into a bath-only thereby to hasten his death-while the rest were mourning the breach in their number, one of the lictors, won by what he saw and heard from those servants of Jesus, gave away his badge of office, and exclaimed, "I am a Christian," stripped himself naked, and taking his place beside the rest, said, 'Now are your ranks filled up,' and nobly died with them for the name of Jesus. Analogous cases of various kinds will readily occur to those to whom such victories of the cross are a study; nor is such a bearing in the followers of Christ as Simon the Cyrenian beheld in Him who went as a Lamb to the slaughter perhaps ever in vain.

(3) Even natural sympathy, in those who are strangers to what is peculiarly Christian, is beautiful, and to the Christian sufferer grateful. The blessed One was touched by the tears of the daughters of Jerusalem. To the Redeemer's heart they were a grateful contrast to the savage cruelty of the rulers and the rudeness of the unfeeling crowd, and they drew from Him a tender though sad reply. Christians do wrong when they think so exclusively of the absence of grace in any as to overlook or depreciate in them those natural excellences which attracted the love even of the Lord Jesus. (See the note at Luke 18:21, and Remark 3 at the close of that section.)

(4) The four quarters whence proceeded the mockeries of Jesus, as He hung on the accursed tree, seem designed to represent the contempt of all the classes into which men can be divided with reference to religion. As the "passers-by" cover the whole region of religious indifference, so "the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders" fitly represent religious hypocrisy: and while in "the soldiers" we recognize the mere underlings of secular authority, whose religion lies all in slavish obedience to their superiors, the "malefactors" represent the notoriously wicked. From all these quarters, in quick succession, the Lord of glory experienced bitter revilings. But "when reviled, He reviled not again." When He did break silence, it was in blessing, and from His Lips salvation flowed. (5) There is something very striking, surely, in the fact that cur Lord uttered on the cross precisely Seven Sayings-that number which all Scripture teaches us to regard as sacred and complete; and when we observe that of the Four Evangelists no one reports them all, while each gives some of them, we cannot but look upon them-with Bengel-as four voices which together make up one grand Symphony. 'The suffering Lord,' says Stier very beautifully, 'hanging upon the cross, broke the silence and opened His lips seven times: these words are to us as the bright lights of heaven shining at intervals through the darkness, or as the loud thunder-tones from above and from within, which interpret the cross, and in which it receives, so to speak, another collective superscription.' Observe now the varied notes of this grand seven-toned symphony. The first, as a prayer for the forgiveness of those who were nailing Him to the tree, proclaims at the very outset the object of His whole mission, the essential character of His work: The second opens the kingdom of heaven even to the vilest true penitent that believes in Him: The third assures His desolate ones of all needful care and provision here below: The mouth, revealing to us the depths of penal darkness to which the Redeemer descended, assures us both that He was made a curse for us and that in our seasons of deepest spiritual darkness we have One who is experimentally acquainted with it, and is able to disperse it: The fifth, completing the circle of all previous fulfillments of Scripture in the intense sensation of thirst, and showing thereby that the fevered frame was almost at the extremity of its power of endurance, assures His acutely suffering people of the precious sympathy of Him:

`Who not in vain Experienced every human pain:'

The sixth is the briefest, brightest, richest proclamation of the glad tidings of great joy for all time, stretching into eternity itself: The seventh and last is an exalted Directory for dying believers of every age and in all circumstances-not only providing them with the language of serene assurance in the rendering up of the departing spirit into their Father's hands, but impregnating it with the strength and perfuming it with the odour of "the Firstborn among many brethren." Thus are we "complete in Him."

These remarkable circumstances are recorded by our Evangelist alone.

Verse 31

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

The Jews therefore - meaning, as usual in this Gospel, the riders of the Jews,

Because it was the preparation - that is, "the day before the Sabbath" (Mark 15:42), or our Friday,

That the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day - which, beginning at six in the evening, must have been close at hand. Indeed, Luke (Luke 23:54) says, "the Sabbath drew on" [ epefoosken (G2020)] - literally, 'was dawning,' like the morning. There was a remarkable command of the Mosaic law, which required that the body of one hanged on a tree for any sin worthy of death should not remain all night upon the tree, but should in any wise be buried that day; "(for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled" (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). These punctilious rulers were afraid of the land being defiled by the body of the Holy One of God being allowed to remain over night upon the cross; but they had no sense of that deeper defilement which they had already contracted by having His blood upon themselves.

(For that sabbath day was an high day), [ megalee (G3173)] - or 'a great day;' as being the first Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the most sacred season of the whole Jewish ecclesiastical year. This made those hypocrites the more afraid lest the Sabbath hour should arrive before the bodies were removed.

Besought Pilate that their legs might be broken - to hasten their death. It was usually done with clubs.

And that they might be taken away - that is, taken down from the cross and removed.

Verse 32

Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

Crucifixion being a very lingering death, the life of the criminals was still in them, and was thus barbarously extinguished.

Verse 33

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already - for there were in His case elements of suffering unknown to the criminals, which would naturally hasten His death, not to speak of His exhaustion from previous care and suffering, all the more telling on the frame now, from its having been endured in silence.

They brake not his legs - a fact of vast importance, as showing that the reality of His death was visible to those whose business it was to see to it. The other divine purpose served by it will appear presently.

Verse 34

But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

But one of the soldiers - to make assurance of the fact doubly sure But one of the soldiers - to make assurance of the fact doubly sure,

With a spear pierced his side - making a wound deep and wide, as indeed is plain from John 20:27-29. Had life still remained it must have fled now.

And forthwith came thereout blood and water. 'It is now well known,' to use the words of Webster and Wilkinson, 'that the effect of long-continued and intense agony is frequently to produce a secretion of a colourless lymph within the pericardium (the membrane enveloping the heart), amounting in many cases to a very considerable quantity.

Verse 35

And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

And he that saw it bare ('hath borne') record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe - `that ye also may believe,' is clearly the true reading [ kai (G2532) humeis (G5210) - so Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles]; that is, that all who read this Gospel may, along with the writer of it, believe. The use of the third person in this statement, instead of the first, gives solemnity to it, as Alford remarks. This solemn way of referring to his own testimony in this matter was at least intended to call attention both to the fulfillment of Scripture in these particulars, and to the undeniable evidence he was thus furnishing of the reality of Christ's death, and consequently of His resurrection; perhaps also to meet the growing tendency, in the Asiatic churches, to deny the reality of our Lord's body, or that "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (1 John 4:1-3). But was this all? Some of the ablest critics think so. But if we give due weight to the words of this same beloved disciple in his First Epistle - "This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; net by water only, but by water and blood (1 John 5:6) - it is difficult to avoid thinking that he must have seen in the "blood and water" which flowed from that wounded side a symbolical exhibition of the "blood" of atonement and the "water" of sanctification, according to ceremonial language, which undoubtedly flow from the pierced Redeemer. Certainly the instincts of the Church have from age to age stamped this sense upon the fact recorded, and when the poet cries:

`Rock of Ages! cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee: Let the water and the blood From Thy wounded side which flow'd Be of sin the double cure; Cleanse me from its guilt and power'


He does but nobly interpret our Evangelist's words to the heart of the living and dying Christian.

Verse 36

For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

The Scripture referred to can be no other than the stringent and remarkable ordinance regarding the Paschal Lamb, that a bone of it should not be broken (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). And if so, we have this apostle as well as Paul (1 Corinthians 5:7), holding forth the Paschal Lamb as a typical foreshadowing of "the Lamb of God." There indeed in Psalms 34:1-22 a verse which some-regarding it as Messianic-have thought to the passage referred to by the Evangelist: "He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken" (Psalms 34:20). But that is rather a definite way of expressing the minute care with which God watches over His people in the body; and the right view of its bearing on Christ is to mark how congruous it was that that should be literally realized in Him which was designed but generally to express the safety of all His saints. But we shall miss one of the most august designs of God in the suffer ings of His Son if we rest here. Up to the moment of His death, every imaginable indignity had been permitted to be done to the sacred body of the Lord Jesus-as if, so long as the Sacrifice was incomplete, the Lord, who had laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, would not interpose. But no sooner has He "finished" the work given Him to do than an Unseen Hand is found to have provided against the clubs of the rude soldiers coming in contact with that Temple of the Godhead. Very different from such violence was that spear-thrust, for which not only doubting Thomas would thank the soldier, but intelligent believers in every age, to whom the certainty of their Lord's death and resurrection is the life of their whole Christianity.

Verse 37

And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

And again another scripture saith (Zechariah 12:10 ), They shall look on him whom they pierced. This quotation is not taken, as usual, from the Septuagint-the current Greek version-which here is all wrong, but direct from the Hebrew. And there is a remarkable nicety in the choice of the words employed both by the prophet and the evangelist for "piercing." The word in Zechariah [ daaqaaruw (H1856)] means to thrust through with spear, javelin, sword, or any such weapon. In that sense it is used in all the ten places, besides this, where it is found. How suitable this was to express the action of the Roman soldier is manifest; and our Evangelist uses the exactly corresponding word [ exekenteesan (G1574)], while the word used by the Septuagint [katoorcheesanto] signifies simply to 'insult' or 'triumph over.' There is a quite different word, which also signifies to 'pierce,' used in Psalms 22:16, "They pierced my hands and my feet" [ kaa'ªriy (H3738), in the Qeriy]. This word signifies to bore as with an awl or hammer-just as was done in fastening our Lord to the cross. How exceedingly striking are these small niceties and precisions!

Verse 38

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

And after this, Joseph of Arimathea - a place which cannot now be identified. Matthew (Matthew 27:57) says he was "a rich man" thus fulfilling the prediction that Messiah should be "with the rich in his death" (Isaiah 53:9). Mark (Mark 15:43) says he was "an honourable counselor" [ euscheemoon (G2158) bouleutees (G1010)] - or a member of the Sanhedrim and of superior position - "which also waited for the kingdom of God," or was a devout expectant of Messiah's kingdom. Luke (Luke 23:50-51) says further of him, "he was a good man and a just; the same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them" - or had not been a consenting party to the condemnation and death of Jesus. Perhaps, however, this does not mean that he openly dissented and protested against the decision and subsequent proceedings of the Council of which he was a member; but simply that he had avoided taking any active part in them, by absenting himself from their meetings. Finally, to complete our knowledge of this important person, forever dear to the Christian Church for what is about to be related, our Evangelist adds,

Being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews. No wonder that he and Nicodemus are classed together. But if before, they were noted for timid discipleship, they are now signally one in courageous discipleship.

Besought Pilate that he might [be permitted to] take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave.

Our Evangelist merely says, Joseph "besought Pilate that he might [be permitted to] take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave." But Mark, in the following passage, notices the courage which this required, and gives some other particulars of the deepest interest.

Mark 15:43-45: "Joseph ... went in boldly" [ tolmeesas (G5111) eiseelthen (G1525)] - or 'had the courage to go in,' "and craved the body of Jesus." That act would without doubt identify him for the first time with the disciples of Christ. Marvellous it certainly is, that one who while Jesus was yet alive merely refrained from condemning Him-not having the courage to espouse His cause by one positive act-should, now that He was dead, and His cause apparently dead with Him, summon up courage to go in personally to the Roman Governor and ask permission to take down and inter the body. But if this be the first instance, it is not the last, that a seemingly dead Christ has wakened a sympathy which a living one had failed to evoke. The heroism of faith is usually kindled by desperate circumstances, and is not seldom displayed by those who before were the most timid, and scarce known as disciples at all. "And Pilate marveled if he were already dead" [ei non tethneeken] - or rather, 'wondered that he was dead already' - "and calling the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while (or 'long') dead." Pilate could hardly credit what Joseph had told him, that He had been dead 'some time,' and before giving up the body to His friends, would learn how the fact stood from the centurion, whose business it was to oversee the execution. "And when he knew it of the centurion," that it was as Joseph had said, "he gave" [ edooreesato (G1433)] - or rather, 'made a gift of' "the body to Joseph;" struck, possibly, with the rank of the petitioner and the dignified boldness of the petition, in contrast with the spirit of the other party and the low rank to which he had been led to believe all the followers of Christ belonged.

Nor would he be unwilling to show that he was not going to carry this scandalous proceeding any further. But whatever were Pilate's motives, two most blessed objects were thus secured: First, The reality of our Lord's death was attested by the party of all others most competent to decide on it, and certainly free from all bias-the officer in attendance-in full reliance on whose testimony Pilate surrendered the body. Second, The dead Redeemer, thus delivered out of the hands of His enemies, and committed by the supreme political authority to the care of His friends, was thereby protected from all further indignities; a thing most befitting indeed, now that His work was done, but not to have been expected if His enemies had been at liberty to do with Him as they pleased. How wonderful are even the minutest features of this matchless History! He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

Verse 39

And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

And there came also Nicodemus, (which at the first came to Jesus by night). It is manifestly the Evangelist's design to direct his readers' attention to the timidity of both these friends of Jesus in their attachment to Him, when he says that the one was for fear of the Jews only a secret disciple, and reminds us that the visit of the other to Jesus at the outset of His ministry was made by night.

And brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight - an immense quantity, betokening the greatness of their love, but part of it probably intended, as Meyer says, as a layer for the spot on which the body was to lie. (See 2 Chronicles 16:14.)

Verse 40

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury - the mixed and pulverized myrrh and aloes shaken into the folds, and the entire body, thus swathed, wrapt in an outer covering of "clean linen cloth" (Matthew 27:59). Had the Lord's own friends had the least reason to think that the spark of life was still in Him, would they have done this? But even if one could conceive them mistaken, could anyone have lain thus enveloped for the period during which He was in the grave, and life still remained? Impossible. When, therefore, He walked forth from the tomb, we can say with the most absolute certainty, "Now is Christ risen forth the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept"! (1 Corinthians 15:20). No wonder that the learned and the barbarians alike were prepared to die for the name of the Lord Jesus; for such evidence was to the unprejudiced resistless. No mention is made of anointing in this operation. No doubt it was a hurried proceeding, for fear of interruption, and because it was close on the Sabbath. The women seem to have set the doing of this more perfectly as their proper task "as soon as the Sabbath should be past" (Mark 16:1). But as the Lord graciously held it as undesignedly anticipated by Mary at Bethany (Mark 14:8), so this was probably all the anointing, in the strict sense of it, which He received.

Verse 41

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. The choice of this tomb was, on their part, dictated by the double circumstance that it was so near at hand, and its belonging to a friend of the Lord; and as there was need of haste, even they would be struck with the providence which thus supplied it.

Verse 42

There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. There was however one recommendation of it which probably would not strike them; but God had it in view. This was not its being "hewn out of a rock" (Mark 15:46), accessible only at the entrance, though this doubtless would impress even themselves with its security and suitableness; but its being "a new sepulchre" (John 19:41), "wherein never man before was laid" (Luke 23:53); and in Matthew 27:60 it is said that Joseph laid Him "in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock" - doubtless for his own use and without any other design in it-but the Lord needed it. Thus, as he rode into Jerusalem on an donkey "whereon never man before had sat," so now He shall lie in a tomb wherein never man before had lain, that from these specimens, it might be seen that in all things He was "SEPARATE FROM SINNERS."

For remarks on the Burial of Christ, in connection with His Death and Resurrection, see the notes at Matthew 27:51-56, Remarks 4-8 at the close of that section; and those at John 28:1-15 , at the close of that section.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/john-19.html. 1871-8.
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