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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

Luke 23

Verse 1


CXXVIII.
THIRD STAGE OF JEWISH TRIAL. JESUS FORMALLY
CONDEMNED BY THE SANHEDRIN AND LED TO PILATE.
(Jerusalem. Friday after dawn.)
aMATT. XXVII. 1, 2; bMARK XV. 1; cLUKE XXII. 66-23:1; dJOHN XVIII. 28.

a1 Now when morning was come, c66 And as soon as it was day, bstraightway cthe assembly of the [702] elders of the people was gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away into their council, aall the chief priests and {bwith} the elders aof the people band scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation, and atook counsel against Jesus to put him to death [Since blasphemy was by no means a criminal offense among the Romans, the Sanhedrin consulted together and sought for some charge of which the Romans would take notice. As we follow their course it will become evident to us that they found no new ground of accusation against Jesus, and, failing to do so, they decided to make use of our Lord’s claim to be the Christ by so perverting it as to make him seem to assert an intention to rebel against the authority of Rome]: csaying, 67 If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe [as experience had already proven-- John 8:59, John 10:31]: 68 and if I ask you, ye will not answer. [Thus Jesus protests against the violence and injustice of his trial. His judges were asking him whether he was the Christ without any intention of investigating the truth of his claim, but merely for the purpose of condemning him by unwarrantedly assuming that he was not the Christ. They therefore asked in an unlawful spirit as well as in an unlawful manner. Jesus had a good right to ask them questions tending to confirm his Christhood by the Scripture, but had he done so they would not have answered-- Matthew 22:41-45. Jesus appeals to them to try the question as to who he was, but they insist on confining the inquiry as to who he claimed to be, assuming that the claim was false.] 69 But from henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God. [See p. 698.] 70 And they all said, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. [The Hebrew mode of expression, equivalent to "Ye say it, because I am."] 71 And they said, What further need have we of witness? for we ourselves have heard from his own mouth. [Thus they unconsciously admit their lack of evidence against Jesus.] [703] 1 And the whole company of them rose up, a2 and they bound bJesus, and carried {aled} him away, d28 They lead Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium: cand brought him before Pilate. band delivered him up to Pilate. athe governor. dand it was early; [The Sanhedrin could try and could condemn, but could not put to death without the concurring sentence of the Roman governor. To obtain this sentence, they now lead Jesus before Pilate in the early dawn, having made good use of their time.]

[FFG 702-704]

Verses 2-5


CXXIX.
FIRST STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. JESUS
BEFORE PILATE FOR THE FIRST TIME.
(Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.)
aMATT. XXVII. 11-14; bMARK XV. 2-5; cLUKE XXIII. 2-5; dJOHN XVIII. 28-38.

dand they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover. [See John 12:33, John 12:34), but he also gave the details of his trial-- Matthew 20:18, Matthew 20:19, Mark 10:33, Mark 10:34.] c2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king. [The Jews now profess to change their verdict into a charge, they themselves becoming witnesses as to the truth of the matter charged. They say "We found," thereby asserting that the things which they stated to Pilate were the things for which they had condemned Jesus. Their assertion was utterly false, for the three things which they now mentioned had formed no part whatever of the evidence against Jesus in their trial of him. The first charge, that Jesus was a perverter or seducer of the people, was extremely vague. The second, that he taught to withhold tribute from Cæsar, was a deliberate falsehood. See John 6:15.] d33 Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and called Jesus, a11 Now Jesus stood before the governor [Jesus is called from the guards who have him in custody and stands alone before Pilate that the governor may investigate his case privately]: b2 And Pilate athe governor [705] asked him, dand said unto him, {asaying,} Art thou the King of the Jews? [The Gospels are unanimous in giving this question as the first words addressed by Pilate to Jesus. The question expresses surprise. There was nothing in the manner or attire of Jesus to suggest a royal claimant. The question was designed to draw Jesus out should he chance to be a fanatical or an unbalanced enthusiast.] And Jesus banswering saith {canswered him and said,} bunto him, Thou sayest. dSayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee concerning me? [Using the Hebrew form of affirmative reply (see John 12:19). They objected to his kingly claims ( Matthew 21:15, Matthew 21:16, Luke 19:38, Luke 19:39), but Jesus shows Pilate that these kingly claims, however distasteful to the Jews, were no offense to or menace against the authority of Rome. Further than this, Jesus did not define his kingdom, for Pilate had no concern in it beyond this. It was sufficient to inform him that it made no use of physical power even for purposes of defense. Such a kingdom could cause no trouble to Rome, and the bare fact stated by Jesus proved that it was indeed such a kingdom.] 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. [See John 19:7, John 19:8.] 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? [This question has been regarded as an earnest inquiry (Chrysostom), the inquiry of one who despaired (Olshausen), a scoffing question (Alford), etc. But it is evident that Pilate asked it intending to investigate the case of Jesus further, but, suddenly concluding that he already knew enough to answer his purpose as a judge, he stifles his curiosity as a human being and proceeds with the trial of Jesus, leaving the question unanswered.] And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, cunto the chief priests and the multitudes, I find no fault in this man. dno crime in [707] him. [The pronoun "I" is emphatic; as if Pilate said, "You, prejudiced fanatics, demand his death, but I, the calm judge, pronounce him innocent."] b3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. a12 And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. [When Pilate left the Prætorium to speak with the Jewish rulers, it is evident that Jesus was led out with him, and so stood there in the presence of his accusers.] b4 And a13 Then bPilate again asked him, {asaith unto him,} bsaying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of. aHearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? b5 But Jesus no more answered anything; a14 And he gave him no answer, not even to one word: binsomuch that Pilate athe governor bmarvelled. agreatly. [Pilate was irritated that Jesus did not speak in his own defense. He had already seen enough of our Lord’s wisdom to assure him that it would be an easy matter for him to expose the malicious emptiness of these charges--charges which Pilate himself knew to be false, but about which he had to keep silent, for, being judge, he could not become our Lord’s advocate. Our Lord’s silence was a matter of prophecy ( Isaiah 53:7). Jesus kept still because to have successfully defended himself would have been to frustrate the purpose for which he came into the world-- John 12:23-28.] c5 But they were the more urgent, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judaea, and beginning from Galilee even unto this place. [The Jews cling to their general accusation of sedition, and seek to make the largeness of the territory where Jesus operated overshadow and conceal the smallness of their testimony as to what his operations were.] [708]

[FFG 704-708]

Verses 6-12


CXXX.
SECOND STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL.
JESUS BEFORE HEROD ANTIPAS.
(Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.)
cLUKE XXIII. 6-12.

c6 But when Pilate heard it [when he heard that Jesus had begun his operations in Galilee], he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And when he knew that he was of Herod’s jurisdiction [Herod was tetrarch of Galilee-- Luke 3:1], he sent him unto Herod, who himself also ["also" includes both Pilate and Herod, neither of whom lived at Jerusalem] was at Jerusalem in these days. ["These days" refers to the passover season. Pilate had come up from his residence at Cæsarea to keep order during the passover, and Herod had come from Tiberias to keep in favor with the Jews by showing his respect to their festival. Hearing that Jesus was a citizen of Herod’s province, Pilate saw an opportunity to do two things: first, by sending Jesus to Herod he would either shift or divide the grave responsibility in which he was placed; second, he would show a courtesy to Herod which might help to remove Herod’s enmity toward him, a courtesy which perhaps might be the reverse of the discourtesy which likely caused the enmity-- Luke xiii. 1.] 8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was of a long time desirous to see him, because he had heard concerning him; and he hoped to see some miracle done by him. [As to Herod’s previous knowledge of Christ, see Luke ix. 7-9.] 9 And he questioned him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and the scribes stood, vehemently accusing him. [The rulers felt that their case had well-nigh failed before Pilate, so they became the more urgent in the presence of Herod, since Herod had less reason to fear them than Pilate. In the midst of this, Jesus stood silent, answering [709] neither question nor accusation. Herod, as sated ruler, adulterer, and murderer, wished Jesus to turn juggler for his amusement; but the Son of God had nothing but silence for such a creature. The only contemptuous word which Jesus is recorded to have spoken had reference to this ruler-- Luke xiii. 31, 32.] 11 And Herod with his soldiers set him at nought, and mocked him, and arraying him in gorgeous apparel sent him back to Pilate. [Herod took vengeance upon the silence of Christ by treating him with abusive contempt. But finding nothing in Jesus worthy of condemnation, he returned him to Pilate.] 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day: for before they were at enmity between themselves. [Thus Pilate gained but half his desire: Herod was now his friend, but the case of Jesus was still on his hands.]

[FFG 709-710]

Verses 13-25


CXXXI.
THIRD STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. PILATE
RELUCTANTLY SENTENCES HIM TO CRUCIFIXION.
(Friday. Toward sunrise.)
aMATT. XXVII. 15-30; bMARK XV. 6-19; cLUKE XXIII. 13-25; dJOHN XVIII. 39-XIX 16.

a15 Now at the feast [the passover and unleavened bread] the governor was wont {bused to} release unto them athe multitude one prisoner, whom they would. {bwhom they asked of him.} [No one knows when or by whom this custom was introduced, but similar customs were not unknown elsewhere, both the Greeks and Romans being wont to bestow special honor upon certain occasions by releasing prisoners.] a16 And they had then b7 And there was aa notable prisoner, bone called Barabbas, lying bound with them that had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder. [710] [Josephus tells us that there had been an insurrection against Pilate’s government about that time caused by his taking money from the temple treasury for the construction of an aqueduct. This may have been the affair here referred to, for in it many lost their lives.] 8 And the multitude went up and began to ask him to do as he was wont to do unto them. [It was still early in the morning, and the vast majority of the city of Jerusalem did not know what was transpiring at Pilate’s palace. But they came thither in throngs, demanding their annual gift of a prisoner. Pilate welcomed the demand as a possible escape from his difficulties.] c13 And Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people [He did not wish to seem to take advantage of our Lord’s accusers by releasing him during their absence. Possibly he knew of the triumphal entry the Sunday previous, and thought that the popularity of Jesus would be such that his release would be overwhelmingly demanded, and so called the rulers that they might see that he had released Jesus in answer to popular clamor. If he had such expectations, they were misplaced], b9 And a17 When therefore they were gathered together, bPilate answered them, saying, {c14 and said} unto them, bWill ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? cYe brought unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people: and behold, I having examined him before you, found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 no, nor yet Herod: for he sent him back unto us; and behold, nothing worthy of death hath been done by him. d39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: c16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. dWill ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? aWhom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? 18 For he knew {bperceived} athat for envy they bthe chief priests had delivered him up. [Though Jesus had been declared innocent on the joint finding of himself and Herod, [711] Pilate did not have the courage to deliberately release him. He sought to please the rulers by scourging him, and the multitude by delivering him to them as a popular favorite, and himself by an adroit escape from an unpleasant situation. But he pleased nobody.] c18 But they cried out all together, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:-- 19 one who for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison. [We see from Matthew’s account that though the people had a right to name their prisoner, Pilate took upon himself the liberty of choosing which one of two it should be. By doing so he complicated matters for the Jewish rulers, asking them to choose between Jesus, who was held on an unfounded charge of insurrection, and Barabbas, who was notoriously an insurrectionist and a murderer and a robber as well. But the rulers were not to be caught in so flimsy a net. Without regard to consistency, they raised their voice in full chorus for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus.] a19 And while he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. [This message of Pilate’s wife suggests that the name and face of Jesus were not unknown to Pilate’s household. Pilate would be much influenced by such a message. The Romans generally were influenced by all presages, and Suetonius tells us that both Julius and Augustus Cæsar attached much importance to dreams.] b11 But a20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded {bstirred up} the multitude, {amultitudes} bthat he should rather release Barabbas unto them. athat they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 But the governor answered and said unto them, Which of the two will ye that I release unto you? And they said, Barabbas. d40 They cried out therefore again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber. c20 And Pilate spake unto them again, desiring to release Jesus; [712] b12 And Pilate again answered and said {asaith} unto them, What then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ? bhim whom ye call the King of the Jews? c21 but {b13 and} they cried out {cshouted} bagain, csaying, Crucify, crucify him. aThey all say, Let him be crucified. b14 And Pilate said unto them, cthe third time, Why, what evil hath this man {ahe} done? cI have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him and release him. aBut they cried out exceedingly, saying, bCrucify him. aLet him be be crucified. [Finding the mob cruelly persistent, Pilate boldly declines to do its will and turns back into the Prætorium declaring his intention to release Jesus. But he retires with the demands of the multitude ringing in his ears.] d1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. [Carrying out the program which he proposed, Pilate had Jesus removed from the Prætorium to the place of scourging, and inflicted that punishment upon him. We learn from Josephus and others that the law required that those about to be crucified should first be scourged. But Pilate hoped that scourging would suffice. He believed that the more moderate would take pity upon Jesus when they viewed his scourged body, for scourging was so cruel a punishment that the condemned person often died under its infliction. The scourge was made of thongs loaded at the extremity with pieces of bone or metal. The condemned person was stripped and fastened to a low post, this bending the back so as to stretch the skin. Blood spurted at the first blow.] 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple garment; 3 and they came unto him, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they struck him with their hands. [The soldiers had no special malice against Jesus, but the Roman military system made men hard of heart. The occasion gave to these foreign legionaries a much-enjoyed opportunity to show their contempt for the Jews by mocking Jesus as their King. It is not known which one of the many thorny plants of Palestine [713] was used to form the Lord’s crown. See Acts 22:24). If Pilate had found Jesus guilty, he would have condemned him at once. As it was, he sought to return Jesus to the Sanhedrin as having committed no crime of which the Roman law could take note.] 5 Jesus therefore came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold, the man! [It was Pilate’s original proposition to scourge Jesus and let him go ( Luke 23:16). Having already scourged him, he now hoped to effect his release. Presenting our Lord in this state of abject humiliation, he feels that he has removed him from every suspicion of royalty. He speaks of Jesus as no longer a king, but a mere man. Pilate’s words, however, have a prophetic color, somewhat like those uttered by Caiaphas. All those of subsequent ages have looked and must continue to look to Jesus as the ideal of manhood. The "Ecce Homo" of Pilate is in some sense an echo of the words of the Father when he said, "This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him." In Jesus we behold the true man, the second Adam.] 6 When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him! [Thus Pilate’s expectation came to naught, for not one of the Jewish rulers ever wavered in their demand for crucifixion.] Pilate saith unto them, Take him yourselves, and crucify him: for I find no [714] crime in him. [In this sentence, "ye" and "I" are both emphatic; for Pilate wishes to draw a contrast between himself and the Jewish rulers. His words are not a permission to crucify, but a bit of taunting irony, as if he said: "I the judge have found him innocent, but ye seem to lack the wit to see that the case is ended. If ye are so much superior to the judge that ye can ignore his decision, proceed without him; crucify him yourselves."] 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. [Perceiving that Pilate was taunting them, and practically accusing them of attempting to put an innocent man to death, they defended themselves by revealing the fact that in addition to the charges that they had preferred against Jesus, they had found him clearly guilty and worthy of death on another charge; viz.: that of blasphemy ( Leviticus 24:16). They had made no mention of this fact because Pilate was under no obligation to enforce their law; but they mentioned it now to justify their course. They probably felt sure that Jesus himself would convince Pilate of the truth of this latter accusation if Pilate questioned him.] 8 When Pilate therefore heard this saying, he was the more afraid [The words of Jesus at John xviii. 37 (see John 18:2, John 18:5 (the same word being translated both "betrayed" and "delivered"), but Judas did not deliver to Pilate, so Caiaphas as the representative of the Sanhedrin is here meant; and Pilate’s sin is contrasted with that of the rulers. Both of them sinned in abusing their office (the power derived from above-- Psalms 75:6, Psalms 75:7, Isaiah 44:28, Romans 13:1); but Pilate’s sin stopped here. He had no acquaintance with Jesus to give him the possibility of other powers--those of love or hatred, worship or rejection. The members of the Sanhedrin had these powers which arose from a personal knowledge of Jesus, and they abused them by hating and rejecting him, thereby adding to their guilt. Pilate condemned the innocent when brought before him, but the Sanhedrin searched out and arrested the innocent that they might enjoy condemning him.] 12 Upon this Pilate sought to release him [As we have seen, Pilate had before this tried to win the consent of the rulers that Jesus be released, but that which John here indicates was probably an actual attempt to set Jesus free. He may have begun by unloosing the hands of Jesus, or some such demonstration]: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend: every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. [716] [Whatever Pilate’s demonstration was it was immediately met by a counter one on the part of the rulers. They raise a cry which the politic Pilate can not ignore. Taking up the political accusation (which they had never abandoned), they give it a new turn by prompting Pilate to view it from Cæsar’s standpoint. Knowing the unreasoning jealousy, suspicion and cruelty of the emperor, Pilate saw at once that these unscrupulous Jews could make out of the present occasion a charge against him which would cost him his position, if not his life.] 13 When Pilate therefore heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment-seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. [Pilate had already again and again declared Jesus innocent. He now mounts the judgment-seat that he may formally reverse himself and condemn him. The apostle as an eye-witness fixes by its two names the exact spot where this awful decision was rendered.] 14 Now it was the Preparation of the passover [see 1 Samuel 12:12), their faithful prophet, Samuel, warned them what the king of their choice would do, and what they should suffer under him. Thus Jesus also foretold what this Cæsar of their choice would do to them ( Luke 19:41-44, Luke 23:27-31). They committed themselves to the [717] tender mercies of Rome, and one generation later Rome trod them in the wine-press of her wrath.] c23 But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified. And their voices prevailed. [They overcame Pilate’s weak resistance by their clamor.] a24 So when Pilate saw that he prevailed nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; see ye to it. 25 And all the people answered and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. [Pilate’s act was symbolic, intended to show that he regarded the crucifixion of Jesus as a murder, and therefore meant to wash his hands of the guilt thereof. The Jewish law made the act perfectly familiar to the Jews ( Deuteronomy 21:1-9). Had the Jewish rulers not been frenzied by hatred, the sight of Pilate washing his hands would have checked them; but in their rage they take upon themselves and their children all the responsibility. At the siege of Jerusalem they answer in part for the blood of Christ, but God alone determines the extent of their responsibility, and he alone can say when their punishment shall end. But we know that it ends for all when they repentantly seek his forgiveness. The punishments of God are not vindictive, they are the awards of Justice meted out by a merciful hand.] b15 And Pilate, wishing to content the multitude, cgave sentence that what they asked for should be done. a26 Then released he unto them Barabbas; chim that for insurrection and murder had been cast into prison, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will. d16 Then therefore bJesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified [Mark mentions the scourging to show that it preceded the crucifixion, but we see from John’s account that the scourging took place somewhat earlier in the proceeding], bhe delivered him unto them to be crucified. [Pilate delivered Jesus to their punishment, but not into their hands; he was led forth and crucified by Pilate’s soldiers, who first mocked him, as the next paragraph shows.] b16 And [718] a27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus, bled him away within {ainto} the court, which is the Praetorium; and they called together aand gathered unto him the whole band. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. b17 And they clothe him with purple, a29 And they platted {bplatting} a crown of thorns, [and] they put it on him; aupon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, b18 and they began to salute him, asaying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spat upon him, and took the reed b19 And they smote his head {aand smote him on the head.} bwith a reed, and spat upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. [After the sentence of death the soldiers take Jesus back into the Prætorium, and renew the mockeries and indignities which had been interrupted that Pilate might exhibit Jesus to the people, as John shows us. Moreover, the whole band, or cohort, are now gathered, where at first but a few took part. It is likely that the mock robe and crown were removed when Jesus was brought before Pilate to be sentenced, for it is highly improbable that a Roman judge would pronounce the death sentence while the prisoner was clothed in such a manner.]

[FFG 710-719]


Verses 26-33


CXXXIII.
THE CRUCIFIXION.
Subdivision A.
ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS.
(Within and without Jerusalem. Friday morning.)
aMATT. XXVII. 31-34; bMARK XV. 20-23; cLUKE XXIII. 26-33; dJOHN XIX. 17.

a31 And when they had mocked him, they took off from him the bpurple, arobe, and put on him his garments [This ended the mockery, which seems to have been begun in a state of levity, but which ended in gross indecency and violence. When we think of him who endured it all, we can not contemplate the scene without a shudder. Who can measure the grace of God or the depravity of man?], d17 They took Jesus therefore: bAnd they lead him out to crucify him. aand led [722] him away to crucify him. dand he went out, bearing the cross for himself, a32 And as they came out, cwhen they led him away, athey found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: bone passing by, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, ahim they claid hold upon {bcompel acompelled} to go with them, that he might bear his cross. cand laid on him the cross, to bear it after Jesus. [Cyrene was a flourishing city in the north of Africa, having in it a large Jewish population, and Simon shows by his name that he was a Jew. The Cyreneans had one or more synagogues in Jerusalem ( Acts 2:10, Acts 6:9, Acts 11:20). There were many Cyreneans afterwards engaged in spreading the gospel ( Acts 13:1), and since the sons of this man are spoken of as well known to Mark’s readers it is altogether likely that Simon was one of them. This Rufus may be the one mentioned by Paul ( Romans 16:13). The Roman soldiers found Simon entering the city, and because he was a stranger and they needed a man just then, they impressed him after the manner mentioned on Luke 19:43, Matthew 24:15), Jesus refers to the sorrows which the Romans were to bring upon the Jews, and the meaning may be, If the fiery persecution of Rome is so consuming that my innocence, though again and again pronounced by the governor himself, is no protection against it, what will that fire do when it envelopes the dry, guilty, rebellious city of Jerusalem? Or we may make the present and the future grief of the women the point of comparison, and interpret thus: If they cause such sorrow to the women while the city is like a green tree, how much more when, like a dry, dead tree, it is about to fall.] 32 And there were also two others, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. b22 And they bring him unto the place dwhich is called in Hebrew, Golgotha: bwhich is, being interpreted, {athat is to say,} The place of a skull [Where this place was, or why it was so called, are matters of conjecture. All that we know certainly is that it was outside of, yet near, the city-- Hebrews 13:12, John 19:20], c33 And when they came unto the place which is called The skull, a34 they gave {boffered} him wine ato drink mingled with gall: {bmyrrh:} but {aand} when he had tasted it, he would not drink. bhe received it not. [This mixture of sour wine mingled with gall and myrrh was intended to dull the sense of pain of those being crucified or otherwise severely punished. The custom is said to have originated with the Jews and not with the Romans. Jesus declined it because it was the Father’s will that he should suffer. He would not go upon the cross in a drugged, semi-conscious condition.] [724]

[FFG 722-724]

Verses 34-43


CXXXIII.
THE CRUCIFIXION.
Subdivision B.
JESUS CRUCIFIED AND REVILED. HIS THREE
SAYINGS DURING FIRST THREE HOURS.

(Friday morning from 9 o’clock till noon.)
aMATT. XXVII. 35-44; bMARK XV. 24-32; cLUKE XXIII. 33-43; dJOHN XIX. 18-27.

b25 And it was the third hour, and cthere {d18 where} cthey crucified him. b27 And a38 Then are there crucified {bthey crucify} awith him dtwo others, cthe malefactors, arobbers, one on the right hand, and one {cthe other} on the {bhis} left. don either side one, and Jesus in the midst. [These were doubtless robbers of the class of Barabbas. They were those who, led on by fanatical patriotism, had become insurrectionists and then outlaws. Large numbers of them were crucified during the Jewish wars (Jos. Wars, xiii. 2. 3). These two may have been crucified at this time for convenience’ sake, but the fact that Jesus was placed between them suggests that they were crucified with him to heighten his shame and indignity. For, though Pilate had no personal ill will toward Jesus, he wished to show contempt for Judah’s King.] c34 And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. [Our Lord’s prayer here reminds us of the word at Isaiah 53:12. It accords with his own teachings ( Matthew 5:44), and it was echoed by Stephen ( Acts 7:59, Acts 7:60). Peter and Paul both speak of the Jewish ignorance ( Acts 3:17, 1 Corinthians 2:8). Ignorance mitigates, but does not excuse, crime.] b24 And they crucify him, d23 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part [A quaternion or band of four soldiers did the work of the actual crucifixion. The Roman law awarded them the garments of the condemned as their perquisites]; band part {aparted cparting} bhis garments among them, casting {cthey cast} lots. [725] bupon them, what each should take. [The sandals, girdle, outer robe, head-dress, etc., of Jesus were divided into four parts and lots were cast of the parts.] dand also the coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. [This was the tunic or undergarment. It reached from the shoulders to the knees. Ordinarily it was in two pieces, which were fastened at the shoulders by clasps; but Josephus tells us that the tunic of the high priest was an exception to this rule, being woven without seam (Ant. iii. 7. 4). Thus in dividing the Lord’s garments, they found a suggestion of his high priesthood.] 24 They said therefore one to another, 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 garments among them, And upon my vesture did they cast lots. [See Psalms 22:18.] 25 These things therefore the soldiers did. [Even their small part was the subject of minute prophecy.] a36 and they sat and watched him there. [They were on guard to prevent any attempt at rescue.] d19 And Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross. cover him, a37 And they set up over his head bthe {ca} superscription bof his accusation written, aAnd there was written, cTHIS IS aJESUS dOF NAZARETH, bTHE KING OF THE JEWS. [It was a well-established Roman custom to thus place a writing above the heads of the crucified to indicate the cause for which they died. Pilate writes the accusation so as to clear his own skirts before Cæsar and so as to show his contempt for the Jewish people. They had forced him to crucify an innocent man, and he retaliates by giving to that man the title which his enemies accused him of professing.] d20 This title therefore read many of the Jews, for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city; and it was written in Hebrew, and in Latin, and in Greek. [These three languages were respectively those of religion, law and philosophy; but Pilate made use of them because all three were spoken by people then in Jerusalem.] 21 The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to [726] Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. [The rulers smarted under this title which Pilate had tauntingly written. They had insisted that Jesus’ kingship was dangerous enough to justify his crucifixion; but now (if politically and temporally interpreted) they admit that his kingship was an idle claim, a mere matter of words.] c35 And the people stood beholding. [The scene had an awful fascination which they could not resist.] a39 And they that passed by [Jesus was evidently crucified near the highway] railed on him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, bHa! Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 save thyself, aif thou art the Son of God, band come down from the cross. 31 In like manner also the chief priests cAnd the rulers also scoffed at him, bmocking him among themselves with the scribes aand elders, said, {csaying,} He saved others; bhimself he cannot save. clet him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen. aHe is the King of Israel; let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on him. b32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, that we may see and believe. a43 He trusteth on God; let him deliver him now, if he desireth him: for he said, I am the Son of God. c36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, If thou art the King of the Jews, save thyself. [Thus one and all unite in mocking Jesus, using both word and gesture. They bring forth echoes from the trial of Jesus and take other incidents from his life, little dreaming the deep significance of what they utter. They reminded Jesus of his words about destroying the temple, when they were committing that very act. They speak of his building it again when Jesus was about to die that he might rise. They taunt him with saving others, yet being unable to save himself, which is the great truth of the atonement which the Lord [727] was then making. They promised to believe if he will come down from the cross, yet his being lifted upon the cross was the very act which would convince them-- John 8:28.] a44 And the robbers also that were crucified with him breproached him. acast upon him the same reproach. c39 And one of the malefactors that were hanged railed on him, saying, Art not thou the Christ? save thyself and us. 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said, Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. 43 And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. [It seems that at first both robbers reviled Christ, but one repenting spoke in his favor and prayed to him. It is not likely that this robber had any conception of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus, but he somehow arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah, and would come into his kingdom despite his crucifixion. Jesus answered his prayer by a solemn promise that they would, that day, be together in that portion of the invisible world where those who are accepted of God await the resurrection. Many thoughtlessly make this dying robber the model of death-bed repentance, arguing that others may also be saved in this irregular manner. But Christ had not yet died, and the new testament or covenant was not sealed. Jesus then could change its terms to suit the occasion. It is therefore no evidence whatever that after his death and in his present glorified state our Lord will in any way change the covenant so as to do away with a single one of the terms required for obtaining remission of sins ( Hebrews 9:15-18). Moreover, the example of the penitent robber is a difficult one to follow; he professed faith in Christ and his kingdom when there was no other voice in the whole wide world willing to do such a thing. Any one having such a faith in Christ will not put off his confession until the hour of [728] death.] dBut there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. [For comment on these four women, see note on John 2:4). Thus he cut her off from all parental authority over him. In this last hour our Lord bestows upon his helpless mother the disciple whom he loved, who was then in the flower of his manhood. All of Christ’s disciples are thus appointed by him protectors of the helpless, but few recognize the behest as John did.]

[FFG 725-729]

Verses 44-49


CXXXIII.
THE CRUCIFIXION.
Subdivision C.
DARKNESS THREE HOURS. AFTER FOUR MORE SAYINGS,
JESUS EXPIRES. STRANGE EVENTS ATTENDING HIS DEATH.

aMATT. XXVII. 45-56; bMARK XV. 33-41; cLUKE XXIII. 44-49; dJOHN XIX. 28-30.

c44 And it was now about the sixth hour, b33 And a45 Now bwhen the sixth hour was come, there was ca darkness came aover all bthe whole land afrom the sixth hour buntil the ninth hour. c45 the sun’s light failing [The darkness lasted from noon until three o’clock. It could not have been an eclipse, for the moon was always full on the first day of the passover. Whether the darkness was over the whole world, or simply all of Palestine, is uncertain, as, according to the usage of Bible language, the words would be the same]: b34 And at {aabout} the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli {bEloi, Eloi,} lama sabachthani? which is, {athat is,} [729] bbeing interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [We can imagine what it would mean to a righteous man to feel that he was forsaken of God. But the more we feel and enjoy the love of another, the greater our sense of loss at being deprived of it. Considering, therefore, the near and dear relationship between the Son and Father, it is evident that we can never know or fathom the depth of anguish which this cry expressed. Suffice it to say, that this was without doubt the most excruciating of all Christ’s sufferings, and it, too, was a suffering in our stead. The words of the cry are found at Psalms 22:1. Eli is Hebrew, Eloi Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic for "My God." The former would be used by Jesus if he quoted the Scripture, the latter if he spoke the language of the people.] 35 And some of them that stood by, {athis man} when they heard it, said, bBehold, he {athis man} calleth Elijah. d28 After this Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, that the scripture might be accomplished, saith, I thirst. 29 There was set there a vessel full of vinegar: a48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with {band filling a sponge full of} vinegar, aand put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. dso they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop, and brought it to his mouth. bsaying, {a49 And the rest said,} Let be; let us see whether Elijah cometh bto take him down. ato save him. [Jesus had now been upon the cross for six hours, and fever and loss of blood and the strain upon the muscles of his chest had rendered his articulation difficult and indistinct. For this reason some of those who stood by, though perfectly familiar with the language, misunderstood him and thought that he called upon Elijah. Immediately afterwards Jesus speaks of his thirst, and vinegar is given to him to remove the dryness from his throat. Those who give the vinegar and those who stand by, unite in saying "Let be." This phrase has no reference to the vinegar; it is a general expression, meaning, "Let us do nothing to prevent him from calling upon Elijah, or to prevent Elijah from [730] coming."] b37 And d30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, aJesus cried again with {buttered} a loud voice, dhe said, It is finished [He had come, had ministered, had suffered, and had conquered. There now remained but the simple act of taking possession of the citadel of the grave, and the overthrowing of death. By his righteousness Jesus had triumphed in man’s behalf and the mighty task was accomplished]: c46 And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [ Psalms 31:5]: and having said this, dhe bowed his head, and gave up {ayielded up} bthe ghost. ahis spirit. [None of the Evangelists speaks of Jesus as dying; for he yielded up his spirit voluntarily-- John 10:18.] 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two cin the midst. bfrom the top to the bottom. [The veil was the heavy curtain which hung between the holy and the most holy places in the sanctuary. By shutting out from the most holy place all persons except the high priest, who alone was permitted to pass through it, and this only once in the year, it signified that the way into the holiest--that is, into heaven--was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing ( Hebrews 9:7, Hebrews 9:8). But the moment that Jesus died, thus making the way manifest, the veil was appropriately rent in twain from top to bottom, disclosing the most holy place to the priests who were at that time offering the evening incense in the holy place.] aand the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; 52 and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many. [The earthquake, the rending of the rocks, and the consequent opening of the graves, occurred at the moment Jesus died, while the resurrection and visible appearance in the city of the bodies of the saints occurred "after his resurrection," for Jesus himself was the "first-born from the dead" ( Colossians 1:18). Matthew chooses to mention the last event here because of its association with the rending of [731] the rocks, which opened the rock-hewn sepulchres in which the saints had slept. There has been much speculation as to what became of these risen saints. We have no positive information, but the natural presumption is, that they ascended to heaven. These resurrections were symbolic, showing that the resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of the race-- 1 Corinthians 15:22.] b39 And when the centurion, who stood by awatching Jesus, bover against him, saw that he so gave up the ghost, asaw the earthquake, and the things that were {cwhat was} done, he glorified God, saying, {bhe said,} cCertainly this was a righteous man. a54 Now the centurion, and they that were with him feared exceedingly, saying, Truly this bman was the Son of God. [The conduct of Jesus upon the cross and the disturbances of nature which accompanied his death convinced the centurion that Jesus was a righteous man. But knowing that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and this claim was the real cause for which the Jews were crucifying him, he concludes, since he concedes that Jesus is righteous, that he is also all that he professed to be--the Son of God. There is no just reason for minimizing his confession, as though he had said, "A son of the gods;" for he said nothing of that kind, and those err as to the use of Scriptural language who think so. Like the centurions of Capernaum ( Matthew 8:10) and Cæsarea ( Acts 10:1, Acts 10:2), this Roman surpassed in faith those who had better opportunities. But in this faith he was not alone.] c48 And all the multitudes that came together to this sight, when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts. [The people who had acted under the influence of the priests now yielded to superior influences and began to experience that change of sentiment which led so many to repent and confess Christ at Pentecost.] 49 And all his acquaintance, a55 And many women balso awere there beholding cthe women that {awho} had followed cwith aJesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: cstood afar off, abeholding from afar, cseeing these things. bamong [732] whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; athe mother of the sons of Zebedee. b41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women that came up with him unto Jerusalem. [John has already mentioned this group of women (see Acts 16:29). The synoptists, who make mention of the women toward the close of the crucifixion, do not mention the mother of Jesus as any longer among them. It is likely that she had withdrawn with John, being unable longer to endure the sight. As to the ministering of these women, see p. 297, 298.]

[FFG 729-733]

Verses 50-56


CXXXIII.
THE CRUCIFIXION.
Subdivision D.
JESUS FOUND TO BE DEAD. HIS BODY
BURIED AND GUARDED IN THE TOMB.

aMATT. XXVII. 57-66; bMARK XV. 42-47; cLUKE XXIII. 50-56; dJOHN XIX. 31-42.

d31 The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross upon the sabbath (for the day of that sabbath was a high day), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. [According to rabbinical writing a few hours before the Sabbath were called the Preparation; but afterwards the term was applied to the entire day preceding the Sabbath. The Romans left the bodies of criminals hanging upon the cross until beasts and birds of prey, or putrefaction, removed them. But the Jewish [733] law forbade that a body should hang over night; for a dead body was accursed, and so the day following might be polluted by the curse which attached to it ( Deuteronomy 21:23, Joshua 8:29, Joshua 10:26; Jos. Wars iv. 5. 2). The context suggests that the Jews had grown lax with regard to this law on account of the trouble of obtaining the consent from the Romans required to carry it out. But as the Sabbath in this instance was that of the passover week, and as they were ready enough to do anything to show that Jesus was an extraordinary criminal, they asked Pilate that their law might be observed. Instead of killing the criminals, they broke their legs, which rendered recovery impossible, since putrefaction almost immediately set it.] 32 The soldiers therefore came, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him: 33 but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 howbeit one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side [to insure death in case they might be mistaken], and straightway there came out blood and water. 35 And he that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye also may believe. [Many able men have argued learnedly that this flow of blood and water was evidence that Jesus died of a ruptured, or literally broken, heart; but they confess themselves involved in difficulties, for it is hard to reconcile the idea that Jesus died a voluntary death with the idea that he died of any natural cause whatever. Can anything be at once natural and supernatural? However, John’s asservation that he was an eye-witness of this shows that he attached importance to it. To him the body of Jesus gave evidence that it differed from other dead bodies. We enter with hesitancy the realm of symbolism, knowing how flagrantly it is abused, but we offer this as a suggestion. Jesus died for our sins, and his death was therefore to provide a means for the cleansing of sin. But, under the terms of his gospel, sins are visibly and physically washed away by water, and invisibly and spiritually by blood ( Hebrews 10:22). Now, since both these means were seen [734] by a faithful witness to issue from the side of our crucified Lord, contrary to the ordinary law and course of nature, we have additional reason to believe that things out of the course of nature, namely, the cleansing of sin, etc., were accomplished by his crucifixion.] 36 For these things came to pass, that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. [ Psalms 34:20.] 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. [ Zechariah 12:10. Even after his death divine power went on fulfilling the prophecies concerning Jesus. He hangs upon the cross as one of a group of three, yet, in the twinkling of an eye, he is separated from the other two by the fulfillment of a brace of prophecies which point him out as the chosen of God.] 38 And after these things bwhen even was now come, because it was the Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, cbehold, athere came a rich man from Arimathaea, ca city of the Jews, anamed Joseph, bof Arimathaea, cwho was a councillor, bof honorable estate, ca good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), bwho also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; awho also himself was Jesus’ disciple: {dbeing a disciple of Jesus,} but secretly for fear of the Jews [ John 12:42, John 12:43], a58 this man bboldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. dasked of Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus [Joseph’s town has been variously identified with Ramleh in Dan, Ramathaim in Ephraim ( 1 Samuel 1:1), and Ramah in Benjamin ( Matthew 2:18). It was a fulfillment of prophecy that the one who buried Jesus should be rich ( Isaiah 53:9). It is strange that those who were not afraid to be disciples were afraid to ask for our Lord’s body, yet he who was afraid to be a disciple feared not to do this thing]: b44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead [instances are cited where men lived one whole week upon the cross, and men rarely died the first day]: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while [735] dead. 45 And when he learned it of the centurion, aThen Pilate bgranted the corpse to Joseph. acommanded it to be given up. dand Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took away his body. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, he who at the first came to him by night [ John 3:2], bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. [Myrrh was a resin and the aloe was pulverized wood. Both were aromatic-- Psalms 45:8.] a59 And Joseph bbought a linen cloth [a sindon--see Acts 5:6. The spices were wrapped between the folds of the linen in order to partially embalm the body. Thus two members of the Sanhedrin unite to bury Jesus, each showing his reverence in his own way: Joseph by buying a sindon instead of cheaper cloth, and Nicodemus by a wonderful wealth of spices--twelve hundred ounces. Possibly the heart of Nicodemus smote him for his tardiness in honoring Christ, and he desired to appease his conscience by giving the Lord a royal burial-- 2 Chronicles 16:14.] 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden [belonging to Joseph]; and in the garden a {ahis own} new tomb which he had {cthat was bwhich had been} chewn in stone, bout of a {athe} rock: dwherein was never man yet laid. {cwhere never man had yet lain.} [To the sindon Joseph adds the honor of a burial in his own tomb. The unused state of the tomb is mentioned to show that there is no shadow of doubt as to whose resurrection opened it.] 54 And it was the day of the Preparation, and the sabbath drew on. d42 There then because of the Jews’ Preparation (for the tomb was nigh at hand) they laid Jesus. aand he rolled a great stone to {bagainst} the door of the tomb. aand departed. c55 And the [736] women, who had come with him out of Galilee, followed after, and beheld the tomb, and how his body was laid. a61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, bthe mother of Joses asitting over against the sepulchre. cand beheld the tomb, bwhere cand how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. And on the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. [As Jesus died about three o’clock in the afternoon, and as all work had to stop at sunset, which was the beginning of the Sabbath, Joseph was much hurried in his efforts to bury Jesus. The context, therefore, shows that our Lord was not completely embalmed by him. The body of Jesus might have been kept elsewhere until after the Sabbath; but because the tomb was near it appears to have been used temporarily, and the preparation of spices by the women shows that even that part of the burial was not, in their estimation, completed. This unfinished burial led the women back to the tomb early on the first day of the week, and thus brought to the disciples the glad news of the resurrection without any needless delay.] a62 Now on the morrow, which is the day after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together unto Pilate [This was not the whole Sanhedrin, but members of it. When did they come to Pilate? Meyer, Cook, etc., say that the Greek word translated "morrow" precludes any other idea than it was after daylight Saturday morning, but Michaelis, Paulus, Kuinoel, etc., say that they came Friday night, and we think their view is correct. The word translated "morrow" also means "the next day." As the Jewish day began at sunset, we know of no other Greek adverb by which Matthew could have expressed the beginning of a day. Had it been the Sabbath morning there is no reason why Matthew should not have said so. By mentioning, instead, the Preparation, he draws the mind back to what we would call Friday night. It is highly improbable that the Jews would leave the tomb of Jesus unguarded for one whole night. Their gathering thus to Pilate in the shades of evening presents a gruesome picture], 63 saying, Sir, we remember [737] that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, After three days I rise again. [For this saying, see Luke 23:48), and judging the disciples of Jesus by themselves--full of all subtlety and cunning--they grasped at once the idea that the disciples could make a great stir among the people by stealing the body and proclaiming the predicted resurrection. The apostles, on the other hand, when the actual resurrection had taken place, did not learn for fifty days what use to make of it, thus showing they could not have planned a pretended resurrection.] 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a guard [The Greek here may be the indicative or the imperative; it is clearly the latter. If the Jews had possessed a guard, they would not have asked for one. Pilate consents to their request by saying, "Have ye a guard:" thereby fully sanctioning their idea]: go, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, the guard being with them. [They sealed the stone by drawing a string or tape across it and fastening the ends with wax or clay to the surface of the rock on either side. If either seals were broken, that fact would show that the tomb was entered from without.] [738]

[FFG 733-738]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 23". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/luke-23.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.