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Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible Kretzmann's Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Luke 23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ kpc/ luke-23.html. 1921-23.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Luke 23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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The Trial before Pilate.
v. 1. And the whole multitude of them arose, and led Him unto Pilate.
v. 2. And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a king.
v. 3. And Pilate asked Him, saying, Art Thou the king of the Jews? And He answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
v. 4. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this Man.
v. 5. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
The whole multitude of them arose; though it was so early in the morning, the members of the Sanhedrin had appeared practically in a body, most of them being pleased to a point where they could not have rested quietly. "At the morning meeting of the Sanhedrin it had doubtless been resolved to put the confession of Jesus that He was the Christ into a shape fit to be laid before Pilate, that is, to give it a political character, and charge Him with aspiring to be king. " Now they led Him to Pilate. Down through the courts of the Temple they took Him, out through one of the southern or western gates and to the other side of the Tyropeon Valley, where, according to the opinion of modern investigators, the Praetorium of Pilate was situated. And no sooner did Pilate appeal before them on the elevated pavement before the palace than they began to bring their accusations. By a skillful manipulation of the Lord's confession they attempted to put into it a political significance. They charged Him with perverting the nation, with stirring up the people to disaffection and rebellion, with doing His best to hinder them from paying tribute to Caesar, with saying that He was the Christ, a king. These charges were the foulest and basest slanders that could have been invented by them, telling in each case what the Jewish leaders had attempted to make Jesus do, what they had desired Him to do, in order that they might have reasons to bring Him before the procurator. The entire conduct of the Lord disproved the charges as malicious and unfounded accusations. Jesus had expressly taught and commanded that the constitutional taxes and obedience to a lawful prince must be paid; He had escaped when the people had planned to make Him a king, an earthly ruler. Pilate knew the accusations to be nothing but trumped-up charges, but now that he had Jesus before him, he determined to find out wherein His kingship consisted, what His kingdom really was. Upon the governor's question whether He was the king of the Jews, Jesus gave an affirmative answer. And, as John relates, He made some attempt to explain the matter to the heathen, but without avail. However, a mere glance at the accused had convinced Pilate that this was not a rebel or seditionist, and that His kingship certainly offered no dangers to the existence of the Roman Empire. He therefore told the high priests and the crowds outside, since by this time the rabble had gathered from every part of the city, that he found no kind of fault in this man. But the Jewish leaders had, in the meantime, not been idle, but had been busily engaged in stirring up the mob to lust for blood. In the face of the governor's finding, therefore, the chief priests kept insisting and contending most bitterly that they were right, that Jesus had stirred up the people to sedition, exciting them with His teaching, that He had done so in the entire country of Judea, having begun in Galilee and continued His rebellious work, spread His mischievous doctrine over the whole province even to this holy city. The chief priests were determined to have their will carried into execution at any cost, by fair means or foul, and one misrepresentation more or less did not seriously burden their consciences.
Jesus before Herod:
v. 6. When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the Man were a Galilean.
v. 7. And as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
v. 8. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he was desirous to see Him of a long season because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him.
v. 9. Then he questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing
v. 10. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.
v. 11. And Herod with his men of war set Him at naught, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him again to Pilate.
v. 12. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they were at enmity between themselves.
As soon as Pilate heard the word Galilee, he became intensely interested. Calm, judicious reasoning had told him from the start that Jesus was innocent, but his weak, vacillating nature feared an uprising of the Jews, which might have become a serious matter with the city full of pilgrims. Here was a chance to get rid of the entire unpleasant matter. At once he inquired and received the information that Jesus belonged to the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Without a moment's delay, the governor of Judea, to whose court the case had been brought and by whom it should be decided, sent the prisoner to Herod, who had also come up for the feast and resided in the fine palace of the Herodian family in the western part of the city. That was cowardice on the part of Pilate, combined with legal quibbling. He tried to evade the issue, to escape a disagreeable situation. He had not been so careful of jurisdiction when he had caused the Galileans to be killed in the Temple, Luke 13:1. If anyone holds an office, he should perform the work of that office, even though it occasionally be disagreeable. And, above all, everyone should be honest and true in his work. Herod was highly pleased when Jesus was brought before him. He had heard many things concerning Him even in Galilee, Luke 9:7-9, and had been anxious to see Him for a long time. He now had the opportunity without a special effort on his part. Here was a new amusement to keep him occupied, to provide an agreeable change in the monotony of life, for the prisoner might be able to delight him and his courtiers with some clever tricks or even perform a miracle for his special benefit. As soon as Jesus. was brought into his palace, therefore, he plied Him with questions of many kinds. But he. was sadly disappointed, for Jesus did not answer him with so much as a word. Herod had had opportunity enough to hear the truth, out of the mouth of that fearless witness, John the Baptist, but he had hardened his heart against the truth and had killed the preacher of righteousness. And even now it was not the desire for the preaching of salvation that was actuating him, but mere curiosity. That is a terrible punishment of God when He no longer addresses Himself to a person in His Gospel, but ignores him entirely. The chief priests and scribes, fearing that their case might take an unfavorable turn in their absence, had followed the soldiers with the prisoner to the palace of Herod and there renewed their vehement charges. But Herod paid no attention to their crying. His hope of amusement had been spoiled by the unwillingness of the prisoner to respond. He and the soldiers of his body-guard, therefore, treated Him with every sign of contempt, mocked Him, had Him clothed in a costly or shining robe, "probably a cast-off royal mantle of his own," and then sent Him back to Pilate. His action indicated that he considered Jesus a helpless, irresponsible fool, a mock king, a man to be laughed at, not to be feared or punished. Pilate and Herod had before this, probably due to the governor's cruel action, been on bad terms; there had been enmity between them. But now the disagreement was forgotten. Herod had had his sport, such as it was, but would not try the case, which he referred back to Pilate as the proper judge. Jesus was the plaything of unprincipled men. There is really no difference in kind, whether: the children of the world accuse Christ and the disciples of Christ as rebels and perverters of morals or despise them as innocuous fools. And where enmity toward Christ is concerned, former enemies become the best of friends.
Another subterfuge of Pilate's:
v. 13. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
v. 14. said unto them, Ye have brought this Man unto me as one that perverteth the people; and, behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this Man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him;
v. 15. no, nor yet Herod; for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto Him.
v. 16. I will therefore chastise Him, and release him.
v. 17. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)
v. 18. And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this Man, and release unto us Barabbas
v. 19 (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison).
One scheme of Pilate's, to place the responsibility on someone else, having failed, he hoped to have success along another line. The prisoner was once more before the court of Pilate, and so he formally called together the accusers, the chief priests and the leaders and also the people, whose number was growing with every minute. He assembled them in order to communicate to them the finding of Herod and also his own mind and will. He sums up his points. Their charge had been that Jesus was turning the people away from their allegiance to the Roman Emperor. Now he had made a careful inquiry into the matter, not only in a private hearing, John 18:33, but also in their presence. And not a single charge had been found to be substantiated by any reliable testimony or by the confession of the prisoner. Nor had the finding of Herod differed from his own. Jesus had been sent to the ruler of Galilee, and nothing worthy of death had been laid to His charge. But now Pilate made his first grievous public mistake in telling the people that he would scourge Jesus before giving Him His liberty. If Jesus was innocent, as the governor repeatedly affirmed, it was a crying injustice to cause Him to be whipped in the cruel manner which was then customary. He showed his weakness before the people by making this proposition, for he neither wanted to burden his conscience too heavily, nor did he want the Jews to go wholly unsatisfied. The illegal chastisement thus announced simultaneously with the intention to release the prisoner prepared the way for the violent opposition of the people, who were now lusting for blood and felt that the governor was in their power. His weak, futile policy results in a terrible crime. "Fanaticism grows by concession. " It was Pilate's custom to release some prisoner at the time of the Passover, and this former favor had grown into an expected duty. The necessity had devolved upon him to release one prisoner to them in connection with the feast. But before Pilate could so much as bring out his suggestion fully, with all the reasons why the people should prefer the release of Jesus to that of Barabbas, the mob began to clamor, not with single voices raised here and there, but in one immense shout rising from all those throats at once, with overpowering volume. They did not plead or beg, but they demanded with a threatening attitude: Take this One away: to punishment, to death with Him! But release to us Barabbas. That was the people's choice: a low and hideous criminal, a rebel and a murderer, who had been thrown into jail to await the sentence of death. It was a case of blindness and hardness of heart without parallel in history. And to think that many of these same people had probably been in the number of those that had called out in loud hosannas five days before, that for fear of them the chief priests had not dared to lay their hands on Jesus a scant three days ago! Note: If anyone is willing to honor Jesus as a great prophet, but refuses to repent and to believe in the Savior, to give Him his whole heart, he is in reality far from His grace and from true discipleship. With such people it takes very little to be drawn over into the ranks of the enemies.
The sentence of Pilate:
v. 20. Pilate, therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
v. 21. But they cried, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him!
v. 22. And he said unto them the third time, Why? What evil hath He done? I have found no cause of death in Him; I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.
v. 23. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that He might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
v. 24. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.
v. 25. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
When the first wrong step has been taken, a person is liable to be carried forward by his own impetus. Pilate was no longer in control of the situation. And he was not dealing with rational human beings, but with an infuriated mob, which now might have been quelled by only one method: ruthless violence. As well try to stop a tornado by raising your hand as to reason with a bloodthirsty mob. Pilate called to them, trying to make himself heard above the turmoil, for he wanted to release Jesus. But they shouted back, with ever-increasing strength, demanding that Jesus be crucified. For the third time Pilate tried to urge the fact of Christ's innocence, that he had found no reason to put Him to death, and that he would therefore chastise Him and release Him. But there was no staying the current. They were instant, urgent, with the full volume of their combined voices. Their shouts rolled and reverberated along the narrow streets until they broke into frightened echoes against the Temple walls, demanding that Christ be crucified. And the longer the governor hesitated, the more confidently their cries rang out, and the threatening tone grew from one minute to the next. At last weak Pilate, outgeneraled by the high priests, succumbed; he decided, he gave judgment according to the will of the people; for of right and justice not a vestige remained. Note the contrast brought out by Luke: Him who on account of rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison, the obstinate, wicked criminal, he released because they wanted it; but Jesus, the Savior of the world, who was even then suffering for the sins of the howling mob, he delivered to their will; he decided that He must die by crucifixion. Pilate is a type of the unjust judges of this world that do not follow righteousness and justice in the fulfillment of their duties, but far too often are tools of the enemies of the Church. And, like Pilate, many children of the world hesitate between truth and falsehood, between friendship and enmity for Christ, until in the crisis they are overcome by the evil, and openly persecute the cause of Christ.
The Crucifixion, Death, and Burial of Christ.
The sympathy of the women:
v. 26. And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
v. 27. And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him.
v. 28. But Jesus, turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
v. 29. For, behold, the 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.
v. 30. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
v. 31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
See Matthew 27:31-34; Mark 15:21. In accordance with the decision of Pilate, Jesus was led away from the Praetorium, out to a spot without the walls, where the malefactors were crucified. On the way, the cross of Jesus, which He was obliged to bear as a condemned criminal, became too heavy for Him. The great nervous strain of the last few days, the agony of the evening before, the vigil of the night, the indignities that He had been obliged to endure, all these combined to bring upon Him a weakness of the body which could not sustain the weight of the cross. The soldiers, therefore, laid hold upon, drafted into service, one Simon of Cyrene, a city on the northern coast of Africa. He was a Jew of the so-called diaspora, and had come to Jerusalem for the feast. He probably was later, and may have been at that time, a disciple of Jesus, Romans 16:13. And so this man had the honor of bearing the cross of Christ for Him, to partake of some of the sufferings intended for the Savior. While the soldiers, with Christ and the two malefactors, were slowly making their way out through the narrow streets towards the open space before the walls, there was a great number of people and also of women that followed after. Some of these people may have been present at the governor's palace, others may have joined the procession from curiosity, but the women were interested out of sincere compassion according to the sympathy of men. Their feeling would probably have been the same in the case of any other person. They beat their breasts and lamented Him; they showed every indication of deep grief. These actions prompted Jesus to turn to them and address an appealing admonition to them. He calls them daughters of Jerusalem; they represented the city, probably many of them had grown up in the very shadow of the great Temple; they should be familiar with the words of the prophets. Not over Him and on His account should they weep and lament, but for themselves and for their children. He hinted with some definiteness at the fate of the city which they loved, and whose final destruction was but a matter of a few years, in accordance with prophecy. In times of great tribulation and punishment it is the mothers that suffer most heavily. The time will come when the sterile and childless women will be happy and fortunate above the others, Luke 21:23. For so horrible will the affliction of those days be that people will not know where to stay for the greatness of the terror upon them. They will call upon the mountains and hills to fall upon them and cover them from the wrath of the almighty God, Hosea 10:8; Isaiah 2:19. For if even the just and holy Son of God must suffer so terribly under the weight of God's judgment, what will happen to such as are all as all unclean thing and all their righteousnesses as filthy rags? Note: The Lord here indicates that His suffering is the result of sin, which He, the Holy One of God, has taken upon Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Also: The words of Jesus show wherein true sympathy with the suffering of Christ consists, namely, not in mere external emotion, in tears and wringing of hands, but in true repentance. "Such admonition we should accept as addressed to us. For we must all confess that we, on account of sins, are like an unfruitful, dry tree, in which there is nothing good, nor can any good come out there from. What will it, then, behoove us to do? Nothing but to weep and to cry to God for forgiveness, and to resist the evil, sinful nature earnestly, and not to give it free rein. For there the sentence stands: Since the fruitful tree is thus treated and God permits such severe sufferings to come upon His dear Son, we should certainly not feel secure, but acknowledge our sin, fear the wrath of God, and pray for forgiveness."
v. 32. And there were also two other, malefactors, led with Him to be put to death.
v. 33. And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
v. 34. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment and cast lots.
At the same time that Jesus was led out of the city to be crucified, and in accordance with the word of prophecy, two other men were taken to the same place. But these men were really malefactors, they had done something wicked, which merited death. They were to be lifted up at the same time with Him, they were also to suffer death by crucifixion. Jesus was placed on the same level with them, Isaiah 53:12. They came to the place which was called Calvary, the place of the skull, very probably from the shape of the hill, which resembled the upper part of a skull. There they crucified the Lord in the midst between the two malefactors; they stretched out His arms on the cross-pieces, pierced His hands and feet with nails to hold His body in place. Thus did Christ suffer the punishment for our sins, thus did He bear our sins in His own body on the cross, 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5. The cross was a wood of cursing and shame, Hebrews 12:2; Galatians 3:13. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, Isaiah 53:5. And still, there was no bitterness, no resentment in the heart of Jesus, not even against those that were carrying out the sentence, none too gently, if the usual cruelty was practiced. With His Savior's heart going out to them in the blindness of their crime, Jesus calls out over the heads of His tormentors: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing! He prayed for the criminals, for His enemies that caused His death. They did not know the Lord of Glory, for His glory was hidden under the guise of a lowly servant. But they did it in ignorance, Acts 3:17. And therefore the Lord prayed for them all here, and He had patience with them once more afterwards. He had His apostles go and preach the Gospel of His resurrection to them. And it was only after they had rejected this Gospel absolutely and finally that He carried into execution upon them the sentence of destruction. This first word of Christ from the cross is full of comfort for all sinners. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, Ephesians 1:7. But of all these wonderful facts the Roman soldiers at that moment knew nothing. For them such occurrences were all in the day's work. They calmly sat down under the cross, where some of them remained as guards, and divided the Lord's garments by casting lots; they passed the time away in gambling. In the same way the children of the world, that are daily crucifying Christ anew, sit in the shadow of Christian churches, and play and gamble away the time of grace until, in many cases, it is too late for repentance.
The mocking of the people:
v. 35. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the Chosen of God.
v. 36. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar,
v. 37. and saying, If Thou be the king of the Jews, save Thyself.
v. 38. And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew, this is the King of the Jews.
The anticlimax of the people's frenzy had now been reached. Their bloodthirstiness had been satisfied, and it was only their curiosity that kept them at Calvary. They watched the soldiers in their gruesome work until the crucifixion had been completed. Then, however, they did not remain idle. No other distraction offering itself, they joined the rulers. For these worthies, who would at any other time have felt it a disgrace to mingle with the vulgar crowd, could not deny themselves the joy of coming out from the city and expressing their satisfaction over the success of their plan. They turned up their noses in token of utter contempt of the Lord, and sneeringly remarked: Others He saved; let Him save Himself, if this be indeed the Christ of God, the Chosen One. What they had formerly denied with all the bitterness of their envious hearts they now confessed, showing that they were hypocrites and rotten to the core. They had seen and heard a large enough number of evidences of His Godhead to satisfy any ordinary person, but here they again cast doubt upon the entire matter by challenging Him to come down from the cross to save Himself. See Psalms 22:6-8; Psalms 22:17. But the Lord did not return the insults in kind. When He was Revelation led, He Revelation led not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, 1 Peter 2:23. The soldiers also, tiring of their game of dice, joined in the mockery, making fun especially of the appellation "King of the Jews. " That seemed to them the height of ridiculousness, that this man should have aspired to be the ruler of the despised Israelites. The occasion for using just this name was given by the fact that Pilate had had a superscription placed over the head of Jesus, at the top of the cross, naming the cause or reason for His condemnation: The king of the Jews is this man, or, as it read literally: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. In Greek, the language commonly spoken on the street and in business, in Latin, the official language of the Romans, and in Hebrew, or Aramaic, the home language of the majority of the Jews, the superscription had been written out. Note: Jesus here became, as Luther says, the rock of offense before the whole world, every class of people and the most representative languages of the world being here represented. Also: Pilate undoubtedly wanted to express his contempt both for the Jews and for Jesus by choosing the superscription in that form. But his words were actually true and should be a comfort to this day to all that are children of Abraham in the real, the spiritual sense. The King of Grace, the King of Glory, that is the Savior in whom we place our trust.
The penitent malefactor:
v. 39. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us.
v. 40. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
v. 41. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man hath done nothing amiss.
v. 42. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.
v. 43. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.
During the first hour of the excruciating agony of the crucifixion, both malefactors had joined the surging throngs in Revelation ling and cursing and mocking the man hanging in the middle between them, Matthew 27:44. But the example of wonderful patience, together with the words which fell from the lips of the Sufferer, gradually caused one of the criminals to become silent. His heart was pierced by thoughts of sorrow and repentance, he acknowledged Jesus as his Savior. When, therefore, the other malefactor continued his objurgations, sneeringly asking Jesus to save Himself and them also, the man on the right hand rebuked him. It is difficult to say in just what way he brought out the emphasis, but he probably meant to express: Isn't there even fear of the holy, just God in thy heart, not to speak of any other feeling of commiseration and sympathy! He reminded the other that they both were suffering justly, receiving payment in full for the sins which they had committed, exactly what their deeds were worth. But they were the only ones in that class; for this Man, this Jesus, had done nothing out of place, nothing wrong, nothing wicked. So this malefactor acknowledged his great guilt before God and accepted his punishment as a just payment of divine wrath. He was heartily sorry for his sins. And this sorrow was supplemented and completed by faith. Turning to Jesus, he begged Him: Remember me when Thou enterest into Thy kingdom. The Lord should in grace and mercy think of him and receive him into His kingdom, at the time when the Messiah would return in glory. The poor outcast thus made a splendid confession of Christ; he recognized in Him the King of heaven. He knows that he is not worthy of the mercy of this King, but upon this very mercy he relies, his trust in that gives him the strength to make his petition. This faith was a miracle of divine grace. It is always a triumph of grace if God gives to a poor criminal and outcast of human society who has served sin all his life, grace unto repentance in the very last hour of his earthly existence. And Jesus bestowed upon this malefactor the very fullness of His divine pardon. He gave him the assurance, with solemn emphasis, that he would be with Him in paradise that very day. There was no waiting for a future glory necessary, neither was there a purgatory for him to pass through, but the glory, the happiness of paradise would be his as soon as he had closed his eyes in death. For all sinners in the whole world the Lord has opened the doors of paradise by His life, suffering, and death, and whosoever believeth on Him has complete salvation as soon as he dies. That is the glorious fruit of the Passion of Christ: forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
The death of Jesus:
v. 44. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
v. 45. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was rent in the midst.
v. 46. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.
v. 47. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous Man.
v. 48. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts and returned.
v. 49. And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
It was the sixth hour according to Jewish, high noon according to modern reckoning, when the miracle here narrated came to pass. See Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41. Suddenly, not only in Judea, but over the whole earth that was just then enjoying the blessing of sunlight, an abnormal, inexplicable darkness fell, one that was mentioned even by heathen writers. The sun simply failed the people of the world; his light was shut off. All nature was mourning at the climax of the suffering of Jesus. This darkness was a picture of the greater, deeper darkness that had fallen into the soul of the Redeemer. He was literally forsaken by God, given over into the power of the spirits of darkness, to suffer the indescribable agonies of hell. Christ, in these three hours, had to bear and feel the full strength, the full terror of the divine wrath over the sins of the world. He was in prison and judgment, He poured out His soul in death, He endured the agonies of hell. What an incomprehensible humiliation! The eternal Son of God in the depths of eternal death! But this also was for our salvation, in order that we might be delivered from the pain of death and hell. For delivered we are, since Jesus in the midst of the agony of hell clung to His heavenly Father and conquered wrath, hell, and damnation. But when these terrible hours were over, the victory was gained. Not as one that was expiring in weakness, but as one that proclaimed Himself the Conqueror over all the foes of mankind, Jesus committed His soul into the hands of His heavenly Father. Thus He fulfilled the great work of atonement for the sins of the whole world, thus He died for us. It was a true death. The band which united soul and body was severed. But His death was His own voluntary deed. In His own power He laid down His life, John 10:18. He sacrificed Himself unto God. In dying, He, as the Stronger, vanquished death and took it captive forever. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, He was delivered for our offenses, Ephesians 5:2; Romans 4:25. By His death He destroyed him that had the power of death, the devil, and delivered us from death and the devil, Hebrews 2:14-15.
But no sooner had He closed His eyes in death than all nature seemed to rise in a sudden uproar to avenge this crime committed upon the person of the Holy One of God. The wonderful veil, or curtain, which hung before the Most Holy Place in the Temple was torn down through the midst, and other great signs and wonders occurred which filled the people with dread. The centurion, the captain of the guard at the cross, was moved to give glory to God; he was convinced that Jesus was truly the Son of God, righteous in the absolute sense. And likewise all those that had come together near the place of the crucifixion and had remained to see this climax of the work of Christ, beat upon their breasts and turned to go back home, moved in a way which they could hardly explain to themselves. God had spoken, and men were filled with dread. The acquaintances of Jesus also stood at some distance, among them the women whom Luke had mentioned in a commending tone before, Luke 8:2-3. They saw everything that happened, and their hearts may well have been strengthened at such an exhibition of divine power. They remained even after the death of their Master and after all these great signs had come to pass; it was hard for them to leave the beloved body of their Lord.
The burial of Jesus:
v. 50. And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just.
v. 51. (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them.) He was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews; who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
v. 52. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
v. 53. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
v. 54. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.
v. 55. And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how His body was laid.
v. 56. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath-day according to the commandment.
See Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47. The hearts of the apostles failed them in this great emergency; they were hidden away behind locked doors. But other men that had been timid heretofore, boldly came to the front. One of these was Joseph of Arimathea, the home of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:1-19. He was a counselor, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, a noble and just man, possessing all the virtues which commended him to the confidence of his fellow citizens. Luke hastens to add that this counselor had not assented to the counsel and deed of the Sanhedrin in condemning Jesus to death, either by refusing to appear at the mockery which they called a trial, or by withholding his vote at the time when the rest clamored for the condemnation. He was a disciple of Jesus, waiting for the revelation of the Kingdom of Glory which Jesus had promised to those that believed on Him. He went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And having obtained permission, he returned to Calvary, took down the body, wrapped it in a linen burial cloth, and placed it into a grave hewn out of stone which was his property and was located nearby. Haste was essential. since this was Friday, the day of preparation for the weekly Sabbath. which was about to dawn, since the day of the Jews was reckoned from evening to evening. The grave was new, no body having ever been placed there, and its nearness and accessibility were additional factors to recommend it. Meanwhile the women that had kept silent watch on Calvary under the cross of their Friend followed the little procession to the grave. The location of the grave and the manner in which the body was laid they impressed upon their memory by carefully observing the men at their sad task. And then they quickly returned to the city to prepare whatever spices and ointments they could before the beginning of the Sabbath, for as loyal members of the Jewish Church they observed all the precepts of their church-law they respected the Sabbath law as commonly understood. Note: Jesus received an honorable burial. He rested in His grave, and thereby, consecrated our graves as couches of rest. And therefore we need fear neither death nor grave, Those that fall asleep in Christ sleep in their graves, calmly and safely, until the great day of the eternal Easter dawns.
Summary. Jesus is arraigned before Pilate, sent by him to Herod, and returned to the court of Pilate, is rejected by the people, who prefer to have Barabbas released, is condemned to death by crucifixion. gently rebukes the weeping women of Jerusalem, is crucified. endures the mockery of all classes of people, accepts the penitent malefactor, dies on the cross, and is buried by Joseph of Arimathea.