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1: In the morning - As the sanhedrim used to meet in one of
the courts of the temple, which was never opened in the night,
they were forced to stay till the morning before they could
proceed regularly, in the resolution they had taken to put him
to death.(Mk 15:1,Lu 22:66,23:1,Joh 18:28).
2: Having bound him - They had bound him when he was first
apprehended. But they did it now afresh, to secure him from
any danger of an escape, as he passed through the streets of
3: Then Judas seeing that he was condemned - Which probably he
thought Christ would have prevented by a miracle.
4: They said, what is that to us? - How easily could they digest
innocent blood! And yet they had a conscience! It is not
lawful (say they) to put it into the treasury - But very lawful
to slay the innocent!
5: In that part of the temple where the sanhedrim met.
7: They bought with them the potter's field - Well known, it
seems, by that name. This was a small price for a field so
near Jerusalem. But the earth had probably been digged for
potters' vessels, so that it was now neither fit for tillage
nor pasture, and consequently of small value. Foreigners
- Heathens especially, of whom there were then great numbers
9: Then was fulfilled - What was figuratively represented of old,
was now really accomplished. What was spoken by the prophet - The
word Jeremy, which was added to the text in latter copies, and
thence received into many translations, is evidently a mistake:
for he who spoke what St. Matthew here cites (or rather
paraphrases) was not Jeremy, but Zechariah.(Zec 11:12).
10: As the Lord commanded me - To write, to record.
11: Art thou the king of the Jews? - Jesus before Caiaphas avows
himself to be the Christ, before Pilate to be a king; clearly
showing thereby, that his answering no more, was not owing to
15: At every feast - Every year, at the feast of the passover.(Mk 15:6,Lu 23:17,Joh 18:39).
18: He knew that for envy they had delivered him - As well as from
malice and revenge; they envied him, because the people magnified him.
22: They all say, Let him be crucified - The punishment which
Barabbas had deserved: and this probably made them think of it.
But in their malice they forgot with how dangerous a precedent
they furnished the Roman governor. And indeed within the
compass of a few years it turned dreadfully upon themselves.
24: Then Pilate took water and washed his hands - This was a
custom frequently used among the heathens as well as among
the Jews, in token of innocency.
25: His blood be on us and on our children - As this imprecation
was dread. fully answered in the ruin so quickly brought on the
Jewish nation, and the calamities which have ever since pursued
that wretched people, so it was peculiarly fulfilled by Titus
the Roman general, on the Jews whom he took during the siege of
Jerusalem. So many, after having been scourged in a terrible
manner, were crucified all round the city, that in a while there
was not room near the wall for the crosses to stand by each other.
Probably this befell some of those who now joined in this cry, as
it certainly did many of their children: the very finger of God
thus pointing out their crime in crucifying his Son.
26: He delivered him to be crucified - The person crucified was
nailed to the cross as it lay on the ground, through each hand
extended to the utmost stretch, and through both the feet
together. Then the cross was raised up, and the foot of it
thrust with a violent shock into a hole in the ground prepared
for it. This shock disjointed the body, whose whole weight
hung upon the nails, till the persons expired through mere dint
of pain. This kind of death was used only by the Romans, and
by them inflicted only on slaves and the vilest criminals.
27: The whole troop - or cohort. This was a body of foot
commanded by the governor, which was appointed to prevent
disorders and tumults, especially on solemn occasions.(Mk 15:16,Joh 19:2).
28: They put on him a scarlet robe - Such as kings and generals
wore; probably an old tattered one.
32: Him they compelled to bear his cross - He bore it himself,
till he sunk under it, (Joh 19:17).
33: A place called Golgotha, that is, the place of a skull
- Golgotha in Syriac signifies a skull or head: it was probably
called so from this time; being an eminence upon Mount Calvary,
not far from the king's gardens.(Mk 15:22,Lu 23:33,Joh 19:17)
34: They gave him vinegar mingled with gall - Out of derision:
which, however nauseous, he received and tasted of. St. Mark
mentions also a different mixture which was given him, Wine
mingled with myrrh: such as it was customary to give to dying
criminals, to make them less sensible of their sufferings: but
this our Lord refused to taste, determining to bear the full
force of his pains.
35: They parted his garments - This was the custom of the Romans.
The soldiers performed the office of executioners, and divided
among them the spoils of the criminals. My vesture - That is, my
inner garment. (Ps 22:18).
38: (Mk 15:27,Lu 23:32).
44: (Mk 15:32,Lu 23:33).
45: From the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the earth
unto the ninth hour - Insomuch, that even a heathen philosopher
seeing it, and knowing it could not be a natural eclipse,
because it was at the time of the full moon, and continued three
hours together, cried out, "Either the God of nature suffers, or
the frame of the world is dissolved."
By this darkness God testified his abhorrence of the wickedness
which was then committing. It likewise intimated Christ's sore
conflicts with the Divine justice, and with all the powers of
46: About the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice - Our Lord's
great agony probably continued these three whole hours, at the
conclusion of which be thus cried out, while he suffered from
God himself what was unutterable. My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me? - Our Lord hereby at once expresses his trust in God,
and a most distressing sense of his letting loose the powers of
darkness upon him, withdrawing the comfortable discoveries of his
presence, and filling his soul with a terrible sense of the
wrath due to the sins which he was bearing.(Ps 22:1).
48: One taking a sponge, filled it with vinegar - Vinegar and water
was the usual drink of the Roman soldiers. It does not appear,
that this was given him in derision, but rather with a friendly
design, that he might not die before Elijah came.(Joh 19:28).
50: After he had cried with a loud voice - To show that his life
was still whole in him. He dismissed his spirit - So the original
expression may be literally translated: an expression admirably
suited to our Lord's words, (Joh 10:18):
No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself.
He died by a voluntary act of his own, and in a way peculiar
to himself. He alone of all men that ever were, could have
continued alive even in the greatest tortures, as long as he
pleased, or have retired from the body whenever he had thought
fit. And how does it illustrate that love which he manifested
in his death? Insomuch as he did not use his power to quit his
body, as soon as it was fastened to the cross, leaving only an
insensible corpse, to the cruelty of his murderers: but continued
his abode in it, with a steady resolution, as long as it was
proper. He then retired from it, with a majesty and dignity
never known or to be known in any other death: dying, if one
may so express it, like the Prince of life.
51: Immediately upon his death, while the sun was still darkened,
the veil of the temple, which separated the holy of holies from
the court of the priests, though made of the richest and strongest
tapestry, was rent in two from the top to the bottom: so that
while the priest was ministering at the golden altar (it being
the time of the sacrifice) the sacred oracle, by an invisible
power was laid open to full view: God thereby signifying the
speedy removal of the veil of the Jewish ceremonies the casting
down the partition wall, so that the Jews and Gentiles were now
admitted to equal privileges, and the opening a way through the
veil of his flesh for all believers into the most holy place.
And the earth was shaken - There was a general earthquake through
the whole globe, though chiefly near Jerusalem: God testifying
thereby his wrath against the Jewish nation, for the horrid
impiety they were committing.
52: Some of the tombs were shattered and laid open by the
earthquake, and while they continued unclosed (and they must
have stood open all the Sabbath, seeing the law would not
allow any attempt to close them) many bodies of holy men were
raised, (perhaps Simeon, Zacharias, John the Baptist, and others
who had believed in Christ, and were known to many in Jerusalem,)
And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, went into the
holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many - Who had probably known
them before: God hereby signifying, that Christ had conquered
death, and would raise all his saints in due season.
54: The centurion - The officer who commanded the guard; and they
that were with him feared, saying, Truly this was the Son of God
- Referring to the words of the chief priests and scribes, (Mt 27:43):
He said, I am the Son of God.
56: James - The less: he was so called, to distinguish him from
the other James, the brother of John; probably because he was
less in stature.
57: When the evening was come - That is, after three o'clock; the
time from three to six they termed the evening.(Mk 15:42,Lu 23:50,Joh 19:38).
62: On the morrow, the day that followed the day of the
preparation - The day of preparation was the day before the
Sabbath, whereon they were to prepare for the celebration of it.
The next day then was the Sabbath according to the Jews.
But the evangelist seems to express it by this circumlocution,
to show the Jewish Sabbath was then abolished.
63: That impostor said, while he was yet alive, After three
days I will rise again - We do not find that he had ever said
this to them, unless when he spoke of the temple of his body,(Joh 2:19,21). And if they here refer to what he then said,
how perverse and iniquitous was their construction on these
words, when he was on his trial before the council?(Mt 26:61). Then they seemed not to understand them!
65: Ye have a guard - Of your own, in the tower of Antonia, which
was stationed there for the service of the temple.
66: They went and secured the sepulchre, sealing the stone, and
setting a guard - They set Pilate's signet, or the public seal of
the sanhedrim upon a fastening which they had put on the stone.
And all this uncommon caution was overruled by the providence of
God, to give the strongest proofs of Christ's ensuing resurrection;
since there could be no room for the least suspicion of deceit,
when it should be found, that his body was raised out of a new
tomb, where there was no other corpse, and this tomb hewn out of
a rock, the mouth of which was secured by a great stone, under a
seal, and a guard of soldiers.