hrist delivered to Pilate, The despair of Judas. (1-10)
Christ before Pilate. (11-25) Barabbas loosed, Christ mocked.
(26-30) Christ led to be crucified. (31-34) He is crucified.
(35-44) The death of Christ. (45-50) Events at the crucifixion.
(51-56) The burial of Christ. (57-61) The sepulchre secured.
Verses 1-10: Wicked men see little of the consequences of their crimes
when they commit them, but they must answer for them all. In the
fullest manner Judas acknowledged to the chief priests that he
had sinned, and betrayed an innocent person. This was full
testimony to the character of Christ; but the rulers were
hardened. Casting down the money, Judas departed, and went and
hanged himself, not being able to bear the terror of Divine
wrath, and the anguish of despair. There is little doubt but
that the death of Judas was before that of our blessed Lord. But
was it nothing to them that they had thirsted after this blood,
and hired Judas to betray it, and had condemned it to be shed
unjustly? Thus do fools make a mock at sin. Thus many make light
of Christ crucified. And it is a common instance of the
deceitfulness of our hearts, to make light of our own sin by
dwelling upon other people's sins. But the judgment of God is
according to truth. Many apply this passage of the buying the
piece of ground, with the money Judas brought back, to signify
the favour intended by the blood of Christ to strangers, and
sinners of the Gentiles. It fulfilled a prophecy, (Zec 11:12).
Judas went far toward repentance, yet it was not to salvation.
He confessed, but not to God; he did not go to him, and say, I
have sinned, Father, against heaven. Let none be satisfied with
such partial convictions as a man may have, and yet remain full
of pride, enmity, and rebellion.
Verses 11-25: Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear
himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from
his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to
sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to
have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and
from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which
the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are
entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being
overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas.
Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their
ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews
were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it
would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power
of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to
make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own,
but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to
free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous
person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews'
curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the
sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others,
except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we
not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when
sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling
sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The
blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the
Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!
Verses 26-30: Crucifixion was a death used only among the Romans; it
was very terrible and miserable. A cross was laid on the ground,
to which the hands and feet were nailed, it was then lifted up
and fixed upright, so that the weight of the body hung on the
nails, till the sufferer died in agony. Christ thus answered the
type of the brazen serpent raised on a pole. Christ underwent
all the misery and shame here related, that he might purchase
for us everlasting life, and joy, and glory.
Verses 31-34: Christ was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, as a Sacrifice
to the altar. Even the mercies of the wicked are really cruel.
Taking the cross from him, they compelled one Simon to bear it.
Make us ready, O Lord, to bear the cross thou hast appointed us,
and daily to take it up with cheerfulness, following thee. Was
ever sorrow like unto his sorrow? And when we behold what manner
of death he died, let us in that behold with what manner of love
he loved us. As if death, so painful a death, were not enough,
they added to its bitterness and terror in several ways.
Verses 35-44: It was usual to put shame upon malefactors, by a writing
to notify the crime for which they suffered. So they set up one
over Christ's head. This they designed for his reproach, but God
so overruled it, that even his accusation was to his honour.
There were crucified with him at the same time, two robbers. He
was, at his death, numbered among the transgressors, that we, at
our death, might be numbered among the saints. The taunts and
jeers he received are here recorded. The enemies of Christ
labour to make others believe that of religion and of the people
of God, which they themselves know to be false. The chief
priests and scribes, and the elders, upbraid Jesus with being
the King of Israel. Many people could like the King of Israel
well enough, if he would but come down from the cross; if they
could but have his kingdom without the tribulation through which
they must enter into it. But if no cross, then no Christ, no
crown. Those that would reign with him, must be willing to
suffer with him. Thus our Lord Jesus, having undertaken to
satisfy the justice of God, did it, by submitting to the
punishment of the worst of men. And in every minute particular
recorded about the sufferings of Christ, we find some prediction
in the Prophets or the Psalms fulfilled.
Verses 45-50: During the three hours which the darkness continued,
Jesus was in agony, wrestling with the powers of darkness, and
suffering his Father's displeasure against the sin of man, for
which he was now making his soul an offering. Never were there
three such hours since the day God created man upon the earth,
never such a dark and awful scene; it was the turning point of
that great affair, man's redemption and salvation. Jesus uttered
a complaint from (Ps 22:1). Hereby he teaches of what use the
word of God is to direct us in prayer, and recommends the use of
Scripture expressions in prayer. The believer may have tasted
some drops of bitterness, but he can only form a very feeble
idea of the greatness of Christ's sufferings. Yet, hence he
learns something of the Saviour's love to sinners; hence he gets
deeper conviction of the vileness and evil of sin, and of what
he owes to Christ, who delivers him from the wrath to come. His
enemies wickedly ridiculed his complaint. Many of the reproaches
cast upon the word of God and the people of God, arise, as here,
from gross mistakes. Christ, just before he expired, spake in
his full strength, to show that his life was not forced from
him, but was freely delivered into his Father's hands. He had
strength to bid defiance to the powers of death: and to show
that by the eternal Spirit he offered himself, being the Priest
as well as the Sacrifice, he cried with a loud voice. Then he
yielded up the ghost. The Son of God upon the cross, did die by
the violence of the pain he was put to. His soul was separated
from his body, and so his body was left really and truly dead.
It was certain that Christ did die, for it was needful that he
should die. He had undertaken to make himself an offering for
sin, and he did it when he willingly gave up his life.
Verses 51-56: The rending of the veil signified that Christ, by his
death, opened a way to God. We have an open way through Christ
to the throne of grace, or mercy-seat now, and to the throne of
glory hereafter. When we duly consider Christ's death, our hard
and rocky hearts should be rent; the heart, and not the
garments. That heart is harder than a rock that will not yield,
that will not melt, where Jesus Christ is plainly set forth
crucified. The graves were opened, and many bodies of saints
which slept, arose. To whom they appeared, in what manner, and
how they disappeared, we are not told; and we must not desire to
be wise above what is written. The dreadful appearances of God
in his providence, sometimes work strangely for the conviction
and awakening of sinners. This was expressed in the terror that
fell upon the centurion and the Roman soldiers. We may reflect
with comfort on the abundant testimonies given to the character
of Jesus; and, seeking to give no just cause of offence, we may
leave it to the Lord to clear our characters, if we live to Him.
Let us, with an eye of faith, behold Christ and him crucified,
and be affected with that great love wherewith he loved us. But
his friends could give no more than a look; they beheld him, but
could not help him. Never were the horrid nature and effects of
sin so tremendously displayed, as on that day when the beloved
Son of the Father hung upon the cross, suffering for sin, the
Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. Let us yield
ourselves willingly to his service.
Verses 57-61: In the burial of Christ was nothing of pomp or solemnity.
As Christ had not a house of his own, wherein to lay his head,
while he lived, so he had not a grave of his own, wherein to lay
his body, when he was dead. Our Lord Jesus, who had no sin of
his own, had no grave of his own. The Jews designed that he
should have made his grave with the wicked, should have been
buried with the thieves with whom he was crucified, but God
overruled it, so that he should make it with the rich in his
death, (Isa 53:9). And although to the eye of man the beholding
a funeral may cause terror, yet if we remember how Christ by his
burial has changed the nature of the grave to believers, it
should make us rejoice. And we are ever to imitate Christ's
burial in being continually occupied in the spiritual burial of
Verses 62-66: On the Jewish sabbath, the chief priests and Pharisees,
when they should have been at their devotions, were dealing with
Pilate about securing the sepulchre. This was permitted that
there might be certain proof of our Lord's resurrection. Pilate
told them that they might secure the sepulchre as carefully as
they could. They sealed the stone, and set a guard, and were
satisfied that all needful care was taken. But to guard the
sepulchre against the poor weak disciples was folly, because
needless; while to think to guard it against the power of God,
was folly, because fruitless, and to no purpose; yet they
thought they dealt wisely. But the Lord took the wise in their
own craftiness. Thus shall all the rage and the plans of
Christ's enemies be made to promote his glory.