What we read of the sufferings of Christ, in the foregoing chapter, was
but the prologue or introduction; here we have the completing of them.
We left him condemned by the chief priests; but they could only show
their teeth, they could not bite. Here we have him,
I. Arraigned and accused before Pilate the Roman governor,
II. Cried out against by the common people, at the instigation of the
III. Condemned to be crucified immediately,
IV. Bantered and abused, as a mock-king, by the Roman soldiers,
V. Led out to the place of execution with all possible ignominy
VI. Nailed to the cross between two thieves,
VII. Reviled and abused by all that passed by,
VIII. Forsaken for a time by his father,
IX. Dying, and rending the veil,
X. Attested and witnessed to by the centurion and others,
XI. Buried in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea,
|Christ Brought before Pilate.
1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a
consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council,
and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to
2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he
answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.
3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he
4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing?
behold how many things they witness against thee.
5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.
6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner,
whomsoever they desired.
7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with
them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed
murder in the insurrection.
8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as
he had ever done unto them.
9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto
you the King of the Jews?
10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for
11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should
rather release Barabbas unto them.
12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye
then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the
13 And they cried out again, Crucify him.
14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And
they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
Here we have,
I. A consultation held by the great Sanhedrim for the effectual
prosecution of our Lord Jesus. They met early in the morning
about it, and went into a grand committee, to find out ways and
means to get him put to death; they lost no time, but followed
their blow in good earnest, lest there should be an uproar among the
people. The unwearied industry of wicked people in doing that which
is evil, should shame us for our backwardness and slothfulness in that
which is good. They that war against Christ and thy soul, are up
early; How long then wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?
II. The delivering of him up a prisoner to Pilate; they bound
him. He was to be the great sacrifice, and sacrifices must be bound
Christ was bound, to make bonds easy to us, and enable us, as Paul and
Silas, to sing in bonds. It is good for us often to remember the
bonds of the Lord Jesus, as bound with him who was bound for
us. They led him through the streets of Jerusalem, to expose
him to contempt, who, while he taught in the temple, but a day
or two before, was had in veneration; and we may well imagine how
miserably he looked after such a night's usage as he had had; so
buffeted, spit upon, and abused. Their delivering him to the Roman
power was a type of ruin of their church, which hereby they merited,
and brought upon themselves; it signified that the promise, the
covenant, and the oracles, of God, and the visible state church, which
were the glory of Israel, and had been so long in their possession,
should now be delivered up to the Gentiles. By delivering up the
king they do, in effect, deliver up the kingdom of God,
which is therefore, as it were, by their own consent, taken from them,
and given to another nation. If they had delivered up Christ, to
gratify the desires of the Romans, or to satisfy and jealousies of
theirs concerning him, it had been another matter; but they voluntarily
betrayed him that was Israel's crown, to them that were
III. The examining of him by Pilate upon interrogatories
"Art thou the king of the Jews? Dost thou pretend to be so, to
be that Messiah whom the Jews expect as a temporal prince?"--"Yea,"
saith Christ, "it is as thou sayest, I am that Messiah, but not
such a one as they expect." He is the king that rules and protects his
Israel according to the spirit, who are Jews inwardly by the
circumcision of the spirit, and the king that will restrain and punish
the carnal Jews, who continue in unbelief.
IV. The articles of impeachment exhibited against him, and his silence
under the charge and accusation. The chief priests forgot the dignity
of their place, when they turned informers, and did in person accuse
Christ of many things
and witness against him,
Many of the Old-Testament prophets charge the priests of their times
with great wickedness, in which well did they prophesy of these
Hos. v. 1; vi. 9; Mic. iii. 11; Zeph. iii. 4; Mal. i. 6; ii. 8.
The destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans is said to be for the
iniquity of the priests that shed the blood of the just,
Note, Wicked priests are generally the worst of men. The better any
thing is, the worse it is when it is corrupted. Lay persecutors have
been generally found more compassionate than ecclesiastics. These
priests were very eager and noisy in their accusation; but Christ
When Pilate urged him to clear himself, and was desirous he should
yet still he stood mute
he answered nothing, which Pilate thought very strange. He gave
Pilate a direct answer
but would not answer the prosecutors and witnesses, because the things
they alleged, were notoriously false, and he knew Pilate himself was
convinced they were so. Note, As Christ spoke to admiration, so
he kept silence to admiration.
V. The proposal Pilate made to the people, to have Jesus released to
them, since it was the custom of the feast to grace the solemnity with
the release of one prisoner. The people expected and demanded that he
should do as he had ever done to them
it was not an ill usage, but they would have it kept up. Now Pilate
perceived that the chief priests delivered up Jesus for envy,
because he had got such a reputation among the people as eclipsed
It was easy to see, comparing the eagerness of the prosecutors with the
slenderness of the proofs, that it was not his guilt, but his
goodness, not any thing mischievous or scandalous,
but something meritorious and glorious, that they were
provoked at. And therefore, hearing how much he was the darling of the
crowd, he thought that he might safely appeal from the priests to the
people, and that they would be proud of rescuing him out of the
priests' hands; and he proposed an expedient for their doing it without
danger of an uproar; let them demand him to be released,
and Pilate will be ready to do it, and stop the mouths of the priests
with this--that the people insisted upon his release. There was indeed
another prisoner, one Barabbas, that had an interest, and would
have some votes; but he questioned not but Jesus would out-poll
VI. The unanimous outrageous clamours of the people have Christ put
to death, and particularly to have him crucified. It was a
great surprise to Pilate, when he found the people so much under the
influence of the priests, that they all agreed to desire that Barabbas
might be released,
Pilate opposed it all he could; "What will ye that I shall do to him
whom ye call the King of the Jews? Would not ye then have him
No, say they, Crucify him. The priests having put that in their
mouths, the insist upon it; when Pilate objected, Why, what evil has
he done? (a very material question in such a case), they did not
pretend to answer it, but cried out more exceedingly, as they
were more and more instigated and irritated by the priests, Crucify
him, crucify him. Now the priests, who were very busy dispersing
themselves and their creatures among the mob, to keep up the cry,
promised themselves that it would influence Pilate two ways to condemn
1. It might incline him to believe Christ guilty, when there was
so general an out-cry against him. "Surely," might Pilate think, "he
must needs be a bad man, whom all the world is weary of." He would now
conclude that he had been misinformed, when he was told what an
interest he had in the people, and that the matter was not so. But the
priest had hurried on the prosecution with so much expedition, that we
may suppose that they who were Christ's friends, and would have opposed
this cry, were at the other end of the town, and knew nothing of the
matter. Note, It has been the common artifice of Satan, to put Christ
and his religion into an ill name, and so to run them down. When once
this sect, as they called it, comes to be every where spoken
against, though without cause, then that is looked upon as
cause enough to condemn it. But let us judge of persons
and things by their merits, and the standard of God's word, and not
prejudge by common fame and the cry of the country.
2. It might induce him to condemn Christ, to please the people,
and indeed for fear of displeasing them. Though he was not so
weak as to be governed by their opinion, to believe him guilty,
yet he was so wicked as to be swayed by their outrage, to
condemn him, though he believed him innocent; induced thereunto by
reasons of state, and the wisdom of the world. Our Lord Jesus dying as
a sacrifice for the sins of many, he fell a sacrifice to
the rage of many.
|Christ Insulted and Condemned.
15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released
Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged
him, to be crucified.
16 And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called
Prætorium; and they call together the whole band.
17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of
thorns, and put it about his head,
18 And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit
upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.
20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from
him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify
21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming
out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear
I. Pilate, to gratify the Jews' malice, delivers Christ to be
Willing to content the people, to do enough for them (so
the word is), and make them easy, that he might keep them quiet, he
released Barabbas unto them, who was the scandal and plague of
their nation, and delivered Jesus to be crucified, who
was the glory and blessing of their nation. Though he had scourged
him before, hoping that would content them, and then not
designing to crucify him, yet he went on to that; for no wonder that he
who could persuade himself to chastise one that was innocent
could by degrees persuade himself to crucify him.
Christ was crucified, for that was,
1. A bloody death, and without blood no remission,
The blood is the life
it is the vehicle of the animal spirits, which
connect the soul and body, so that the exhausting of the blood
is the exhausting of the life. Christ was to lay down his life
for us, and therefore shed his blood. Blood made atonement
for the soul
and therefore in every sacrifice of propitiation special order was
given for the pouring out of the blood, and the
sprinkling of that before the Lord. Now, that Christ might
answer all these types, he shed his blood.
2. It was a painful death; the pains were exquisite and acute,
for death made its assaults upon the vitals by the exterior parts,
which are quickest of sense. Christ died, so as that he might
feel himself die, because he was to be both the priest and the
sacrifice; so that he might be active in dying; because he was
to make his soul an offering for sin. Tully calls crucifixion,
Teterrimum supplicium--A most tremendous punishment: Christ
would meet death in its greatest terror, and so conquer it.
3. It was a shameful death, the death of slaves, and the vilest
malefactors; so it was accounted among the Romans. The cross and
the shame are put together. God having been injured in his
honour by the sin of man, it is in his honour that Christ makes
him satisfaction, not only by denying himself in, and divesting
himself of, the honours due to his divine nature, for a time, but by
submitting the greatest reproach and ignominy the human nature was
capable of being loaded with. Yet this was not the worst.
4. It was a cursed death; thus it was branded by the Jewish law
He that is hanged, is accursed of God, is under a particular
mark of God's displeasure. It was the death that Saul's sons were put
to, when the guilt of their father' bloody house was to be expiated,
2 Samuel 21:6.
Haman and his sons were hanged,
We do not read any of the prophets of the Old Testament that were
hanged; but now that Christ has submitted to be hanged upon a
tree, the reproach and curse of that kind of death are quite rolled
away, so that it ought to be any hindrance to the comfort of those who
die either innocently or penitently, nor any diminution from, but
rather an addition to, the glory of those who die martyrs for Christ,
to be as he was, hanged upon a tree.
II. Pilate, to gratify the gay humour of the Roman soldiers, delivered
him to them, to be abused and spitefully treated, while they were
preparing for the execution. They called together the whole
regiment that was then in waiting, and they went into an inner
hall, where they ignominiously abused our Lord Jesus, as a king, just
as in the high priest's hall his servants had ignominiously abused him
as a Prophet and Saviour.
1. Do kings wear robes of purple or scarlet? They clothed him with
purple. This abuse done to Christ in his apparel should be an
intimation to Christians, not to make the putting on of apparel
1 Peter 3:4.
Shall a purple or scarlet robe be matter of pride to a Christian, which
was matter of reproach and shame to Christ.
2. Do kings wear crowns? They platted a crown of thorns,
and put it on his head. A crown of straw, or rushes, would have
been banter enough; but this was pain also. He wore the crown of thorns
which we had deserved, that we might wear the crown of glory which he
merited. Let us be taught by these thorns, as Gideon
taught the men of Succoth, to hate sin, and be uneasy under it, and to
be in love with Jesus Christ, who is here a lily among thorns. If we be
at any time afflicted with a thorn in the flesh, let it be our
comfort, that our high priest is touched with the feelings of our
infirmities, having himself known what thorns in the flesh
3. Are kings attended with the acclamations of their subjects, O
king, live for ever? That also is mimicked; they saluted him with
"Hail, King of the Jews; such a prince, and such a people, even
good enough for one another."
4. Kings have sceptres put into their hand, marks of dominion,
as the crown is of dignity; to imitate this, they put a reed in his
right hand. Those that despise the authority of Jesus Christ, as
not to be observed and obeyed, who regard not either the precepts of
his word, or the threatenings of his wrath, do, in effect, put a
reed in his hand; nay, and, as these here, smite him on the
head with it, such is the indignity they do him.
5. Subjects, when they swear allegiance, were wont to kiss their
sovereign; and this they offered to do, but, instead of that, spit
6. Kings used to be addressed upon the knee; and this also they
brought into the jest, they bowed the knee, and worshipped him;
this they did in scorn, to make themselves and one another laugh. We
were by sin become liable to everlasting shame and contempt, to
deliver us from which, our Lord Jesus submitted to this shame and
contempt for us. He was thus mocked, not in his own clothes, but
in another's, to signify that he suffered not for his own sin; the
crime was ours, the shame his. Those who pretend subjection to Christ,
but at the same time give themselves up to the service of the world and
the flesh, do, in effect, the same that they did, who bowed the knee to
him in mockery, and abused him with, Hail, king of the Jews,
when they said, We have no king but Cæsar. Those that bow
the knee to Christ, but do not bow the soul, that draw nigh to him
with their mouths, and honour him with their lips, but
their hearts are far from him, put the same affront upon him
that these here did.
III. The soldiers, at the hour appointed, led him away from Pilate's
judgment-hall to the place of execution
as a sheep to the slaughter; he was led forth with the workers of
iniquity, though he did no sin. But lest his death, under the load
of his cross, which he was to carry, should prevent the further
cruelties they intended, they compelled one Simon of Cyrene to carry
his cross for him. He passed by, coming out of the country or
out of the fields, not thinking of any such matter. Note, We
must not think it strange, if crosses come upon us suddenly, and we be
surprised by them. The cross was a very troublesome unwieldy load: but
he that carried it a few minutes, had the honour to have his name upon
the record in the book of God, though otherwise an obscure person; so
that, wherever this gospel is preached; so that, wherever this gospel
is preached, there shall this be told for a memorial to him: in like
manner, though no affliction, no cross, for the present, be
joyous, but grievous, yet afterward it yields a crown of glory to
them that are exercised thereby.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being
interpreted, The place of a skull.
23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he
received it not.
24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments,
casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over,
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right
hand, and the other on his left.
28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was
numbered with the transgressors.
29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads,
and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest
it in three days,
30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross.
31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among
themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot
32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross,
that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with
him reviled him.
We have here the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus.
I. The place where he was crucified; it was called
Golgotha--the place of a scull: some think, because of the heads
of malefactors that were there cut off: it was the common place of
execution, as Tyburn, for he was in all respects numbered with the
transgressors. I know not how to give any credit to it, but divers of
the ancients mention it as a current tradition, that in this place our
first father Adam was buried, and they think it highly congruous that
there Christ should be crucified; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ
shall all be made alive. Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom, and Epiphanius
(great names), take notice of it; nay, Cyprian adds, Creditur
à piis--Many good people believe that the blood of Christ
crucified did trickle down upon the scull of Adam, who was buried in
the same place. Something more credible is the tradition, that this
mount Calvary was that mountain in the land of Moriah (and in
the land of Moriah it certainly was, for so the country about Jerusalem
was called), on which Isaac was to be offered; and the ram was offered
instead of him; and then Abraham had an eye to this day of
Christ, when he called the place Jehovah-jireh--The Lord will
provide, expecting that so it would be seen in the mount of the
II. The time when he was crucified; it was the third
He was brought before Pilate about the sixth hour
according to the Roman way of reckoning, which John uses, with which
ours at this day agrees, that is at six o'clock in the morning; and
then, at the third hour, according to the Jews' way of
reckoning, that is, about nine of the clock in the morning, or soon
after, they nailed him to the cross. Dr. Lightfoot thinks the third
hour is here mentioned, to intimate an aggravation of the
wickedness of the priests, they were here prosecuting Christ to the
death, though it was after the third hour, when they ought to
have been attending the service of the temple, and offering the
peace-offerings; it being the first day of the feast of unleavened
bread, when there was to be a holy convocation. At that very
time, when they should have been, according to the duty of their place,
presiding in the public devotions, were they here venting their malice
against the Lord Jesus; yet these were the men that seemed so zealous
for the temple, and condemned Christ for speaking against it. Note,
There are many who pretend to be for the church, who yet care
not how seldom they go to church.
III. The indignities that were done him, when he was nailed to the
cross; as if that had not been ignominious enough, they added several
things to the ignominy of it.
1. It being the custom to give wine to persons that were to be
put to death, they mingled his with myrrh, which
was bitter, and made it nauseous; he tasted it,
but would not drink it; was willing to admit the bitterness of it, but
not the benefit of it.
2. The garments of those that were crucified, being, as with us, the
executioners' fee, the soldiers cast lots upon his garments
threw dice (as our soldiers do upon a drum-head), for them: so making
themselves merry with his misery, and sitting at their sport while he
was hanging in pain.
3. They set up a superscription over his head, by which they intended
to reproach him, but really did him both justice and honour, The
king of the Jews,
Here was no crime alleged, but his sovereignty owned. Perhaps Pilate
meant to cast disgrace upon Christ as a baffled king, or upon the Jews,
who by their importunity had forced him, against his conscience, to
condemn Christ, as a people that deserved no better a king than he
seemed to be: however, God intended it to be the proclaiming even of
Christ upon the cross, the king of Israel; though Pilate know
not what he wrote, any more than Caiaphas what he said,
Christ crucified is king of his church, his spiritual Israel; and even
then when he hung on the cross, he was like a king, conquering
his and his people's enemies, and triumphing over them,
Now he was writing his laws in his own blood, and preparing his favours
for his subjects. Whenever we look unto Christ crucified, we must
remember the inscription over his head, that he is a king, and we must
give up ourselves to be his subjects, as Israelites indeed.
4. They crucified two thieves with him, one on his right
hand, the other on his left, and him in the midst as the worst of
so great a degree of dishonour did they hereby intend him. And, no
doubt, it gave him disturbance too. Some that have been
imprisoned in the common gaols, for the testimony of Jesus, have
complained of the company of cursing, swearing prisoners, more than any
other of the grievances of their prison. Now, in the midst of such our
Lord Jesus was crucified; while he lived he had, and there was
occasion, associated with sinners, to do them good; and now when
he died, he was for the same purpose joined with them, for he came
into the world, and went out of it, to save sinners, even
the chief. But this evangelist takes particular notice of the
fulfilling of the scriptures in it,
In that famous prediction of Christ's sufferings
it was foretold that he should be numbered with the
transgressors, because he was made sin for us.
5. The spectators, that is, the generality of them, instead of
condoling with him in his misery, added to it by insulting over him.
Surely never was such an instance of barbarous inhumanity toward the
vilest malefactor: but thus the devil showed the utmost rage against
him, and thus he submitted to the greatest dishonours that could be
(1.) Even they that passed by, that were no way concerned,
railed on him,
If their hearts were so hardened, that their compassions were not moved
with such a spectacle, yet they should have thought it enough to have
their curiosity gratified; but that will not serve: as if they were not
only divested of all humanity, but were devils in human shape, they
taunted him, and expressed themselves with the utmost detestation of
him, and indignation at him, and shot thick at him their arrows, even
bitter words. The chief priests, no doubt, put these sarcasms
into their mouths, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it
in three days, now, if thou canst, save thyself, and come
down from the cross. They triumph as if now that they had got him
to the cross, there were no danger of his destroying the temple;
whereas the temple of which he spoke, he was now
destroying, and did within three days build it up; and
the temple of which they spoke, he did by men, that were his
sword and his hand, destroy not many years after. When
secure sinners think the danger is over, it is then most ready to seize
them: the day of the Lord comes as a thief upon those that
deny his coming, and say, Where is the promise of it? much more
upon those that defy his coming, and say, Let him make speed,
and hasten his work.
(2.) Even the chief priests, who, being taken from among men and
ordained for men, should have compassion even on those that are out of
the way, should be tender of those that are suffering and dying
yet they poured vinegar instead of oil into his wounds, they talked
to the grief of him whom God had smitten
they mocked him, they said, He saved others, healed and
helped them, but now it appears that it was not by his own power, for
himself he cannot save. They challenged him to come down from
the cross, if he could,
Let them but see that, and they would believe; whereas
they would not believe, when he gave them a more convincing sign than
that, when he came up from the grave. These chief priests, one would
think, might now have found themselves other work to do: if they
would not go to do their duty in the temple, yet they might have
been employed in an office not foreign to their profession; though they
would not offer any counsel or comfort to the Lord Jesus, yet they
might have given some help to the thieves in their dying moments (the
monks and priests in Popish countries are very officious about
criminals broken upon the wheel, a death much like that of the cross);
but they do not think that their business.
(3.) Even they that were crucified with him, reviled him
one of them did, so wretchedly was his heart hardened even in the depth
of misery, and at the door of eternity.
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over
the whole land until the ninth hour.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said,
Behold, he calleth Elias.
36 And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put
it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us
see whether Elias will come to take him down.
37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to
39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw
that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this
man was the Son of God.
40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was
Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of
Joses, and Salome;
41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and
ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him
Here we have an account of Christ's dying, how his enemies abused him,
and God honoured him at his death.
I. There was a thick darkness over the whole land (some
think over the whole earth), for three hours, from noon till three of
the clock. Now the scripture was fulfilled
I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken
the earth in the clear day; and
Her sun is gone down while it is yet day. The Jews have often
demanded of Christ a sign from heaven; and now they had one, but
such a one as signified the blinding of their eyes. It was a sign of
the darkness that was come, and coming, upon the Jewish church and
nation. They were doing their utmost to extinguish the Sun of
righteousness, which was now setting, and the rising again of which
they would never own; and what then might be expected among them but a
worse than Egyptian darkness? This intimated to them, that the things
which belonged to their peace, were now hid from their eyes, and
that the day of the Lord was at hand, which should be to them a day
of darkness and gloominess,
It was the power of darkness that they were now under, the works of
darkness that they were now doing; and such as this should their doom
justly be, who loved darkness rather than light.
II. Toward the close of this darkness, our Lord Jesus, in the agony of
his soul, cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
The darkness signified the present cloud which the human soul of Christ
was under, when he was making it an offering for sin. Mr. Fox,
in his Acts and Monuments (vol. 3, p. 160), tells of one Dr.
Hunter, a martyr in queen Mary's time, who, being fastened to the
stake, to be burnt, put up this short prayer, Son of God, shine upon
me; and immediately the sun in the firmament shone out of the dark
cloud, so full in his face, that he was forced to look another way,
which was very comfortable to him. But our Lord Jesus, on the contrary,
was denied the light of the sun, when he was in his sufferings, to
signifying the withdrawing of the light of God's countenance. And this
he complained of more than any thing; he did not complain of his
disciples' forsaking him, but of his Father's,
1. Because this wounded his spirit; and that is a thing hard
brought the waters into his soul,
2. Because in this especially he was made sin for us; our
iniquities had deserved indignation and wrath upon the soul
and therefore, Christ, being made a sacrifice, underwent as much
of it as he was capable of; and it could not but bear hard indeed upon
him who had lain in the bosom of the Father from eternity, and
was always his light. These symptoms of divine wrath, which
Christ was under in his sufferings, were like that fire from heaven
which had been sent sometimes, in extraordinary cases, to consume the
2 Chron. vii. 1; 1 Kings xviii. 38);
and it was always a token of God's acceptance. The fire that should
have fallen upon the sinner, if God had not been
pacified, fell upon the sacrifice, as a token that he was
so; therefore it now fell upon Christ, and extorted him from this
loud and bitter cry. When Paul was to be offered
as a sacrifice for the service of saints, he could joy
but it is another thing to be offered as a sacrifice for the sin of
sinners. Now, at the sixth hour, and so to the ninth,
the sun was darkened by an extraordinary eclipse; and if
it be true, as some astronomers compute, that in the evening of this
day on which Christ died there was an eclipse of the moon, that was
natural and expected, in which seven digits of the moon were darkened,
and it continued from five o'clock till seven, it is remarkable, and
yet further significant of the darkness of the time that then was. When
the sun shall be darkened, the moon also shall
not give her light.
III. Christ's prayer was bantered by them that stood by
because he cried, Eli, Eli, or (as Mark has it, according to the
Syriac dialect) Eloi, Eloi, they said, He calls for
Elias, though they knew very well what he said, and what it
signified, My God, My God. Thus did they represent him as
praying to saints, either because he had abandoned God, or God
had abandoned him; and hereby they would make him more and more odious
to the people. One of them filled a sponge with vinegar, and
reached it up to him upon a reed; "Let him cool his mouth with that, it
is a drink good enough for him,"
This was intended for a further affront and abuse to him; and whoever
it was that checked him who did it, did but add to the reproach;
"Let him alone; he has called for Elias: let us see whether
Elias will come take him down; and if not, we may conclude that he
also hath abandoned him."
IV. Christ did again cry with a loud voice, and so gave up
He was now commending his soul into his Father's hand; and though God
is not moved with any bodily exercise, yet this loud voice
signified the great strength and ardency of affection wherewith he did
it; to teach us, in every thing wherein we have to do with God, to put
forth our utmost vigour, and to perform all the duties of religion,
particularly that of self-resignation, with our whole heart and
whole soul; and then, though speech fails, that we cannot cry with a
loud voice, as Christ did, yet if God be the strength of the
heart, that will not fail. Christ was really and truly dead,
for he gave up the ghost; his human soul departed to the world
of spirits, and left his body a breathless clod of clay.
V. Just at that instant that Christ died upon mount Calvary, the
veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the
This bespoke a great deal,
1. Of the terror of the unbelieving Jews; for it was a presage of the
utter destruction of their church and nation, which followed not long
after; it was like the cutting asunder of the staff of beauty
(for this veil was exceedingly splendid and glorious,
and that was done at the same time when they gave for his price
thirty pieces of silver
to break the covenant which he had made with that people. Now it
was time to cry, Ichabod, The glory is departed from Israel.
Some think that the story which Josephus relates, of the temple door
opening of its own accord, with that voice, Let us depart hence,
some years before the destruction of Jerusalem, is the same with this;
but that is not probable: however, this had the same signification,
according to that
I will tear, and go away.
2. It bespeaks a great deal of comfort to all believing Christians, for
it signifies the consecrating and laying open to us of a new and
living way into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
VI. The centurion who commanded the detachment which had the oversight
of the execution was convinced, and confessed that this Jesus was the
Son of God,
One thing that satisfied him, was, that he so cried out, and gave up
the ghost: that one who was ready to give up the ghost, should be
able to cry out so, was very surprising. Of all the sad spectacles of
this kind he never observed the like; and that one who had strength to
cry so loud, should yet immediately give up the ghost, this also made
him wonder; and he said, to the honour of Christ, and the shame of
those that abused him, Truly this man was the Son of God. But
what reason had he to say so? I answer,
1. He had reason to say that he suffered unjustly, and had a
great deal of wrong done him. Note, He suffered for saying that he was
the Son of God; and it was true, he did say so, so that if he
suffered unjustly, as it was plain by all the circumstances of his
suffering that he did, then what he said was true, and he was indeed
the Son of God.
2. He had reason to say that he was a favourite of heaven, and
one for whom the almighty power was particularly engaged, seeing how
Heaven did him honour at his death, and frowned upon his persecutors.
"Surely," thinks he, "this must be some divine person, highly beloved
of God." This he expresses by such words as denote his eternal
generation as God, and his special designation to the office of
Mediator, though he meant not so. Our Lord Jesus, even in the depth of
his sufferings and humiliation, was the Son of God, and was declared to
be so with power.
VII. There were some of his friends, the good women especially, that
There were women looking on afar off: the men durst not
be seen at all, the mob was so very outrageous; Currenti cede
furori--Give way to the raging torrent, they thought, was good
counsel now. The women durst not come near, but stood at a distance,
overwhelmed with grief. Some of these women are here named. Mary
Magdalene was one; she had been his patient, and owed all her
comfort to his power and goodness, which rescued her out of the
possession of seven devils, in gratitude for which she thought she
could never do enough for him. Mary also was there, the
mother of James the little, Jacobus parvus, so the word is;
probably, he was so called because he was, like Zaccheus, little of
stature. This Mary was the wife of Cleophas or Alpheus, sister to the
virgin Mary. These women had followed Christ from Galilee,
though they were not required to attend the feast, as the males were;
but it is probably that they came, in expectation that his temporal
kingdom would now shortly be set up, and big with hopes of preferment
for themselves, and their relations under him. It is plain that the
mother of Zebedee's children was so
and now to see him upon a cross, whom they thought to have seen
upon a throne, could not but be a great disappointment to them. Note,
Those that follow Christ, in expectation of great things in this world
by him, and by the profession of his religion, may probably live to see
themselves sadly disappointed.
|The Burial of Christ; The Women at the Sepulchre.
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the
preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathæa, an honourable counsellor, which also
waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto
Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling
unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any
45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to
46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him
in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a
rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld
where he was laid.
We are here attending the funeral of our Lord Jesus, a solemn, mournful
funeral. O that we may by grace be planted in the likeness of it!
I. How the body of Christ was begged. It was, as the dead bodies
of malefactors are, at the disposal of the government. Those that
hurried him to the cross, designed that he should make his grave
with the wicked; but God designed he should make it with the
and so he did. We are here told,
1. When the body of Christ was begged, in order to its being buried,
and why such haste was made with the funeral; The even was come,
and it was the preparation, that is, the day before the
The Jews were more strict in the observation of the sabbath than of any
other feast; and therefore, though this day was itself a
feast-day, yet they observed it more religiously as the
eve of the sabbath; when they prepared their houses and
tables for the splendid and joyful solemnizing of the
sabbath day. Note, The day before the sabbath should be a day of
preparation for the sabbath, not of our houses and tables, but of our
hearts, which, as much as possible, should be freed from the
cares and business of the world, and fixed, and put in frame for
the service and enjoyment of God. Such work is to be done, and such
advantages are to be gained on the sabbath day, that it is requisite we
should get ready for it a day before; nay, the whole week should be
divided between the improvement of the foregoing sabbath and the
preparation for the following sabbath.
2. Who was it that begged the body, and took care for the decent
interment of it; it was Joseph of Arimathea, who is here called
an honourable counsellor
a person of character and distinction, and in an office of public
trust; some think in the state, and that he was one of Pilate's
privy council; his post rather seems to have been in the church,
he was one of the great Sanhedrim of the Jews, or one of the
high priest's council. He was euschemon bouleutes--a
counsellor that conducted himself in his place as did become him.
Those are truly honourable, and those only, in place of power and
trust, who make conscience of their duty, and whose deportment is
agreeable to their preferment. But here is a more shining character put
upon him; he was one that waited for the kingdom of God, the
kingdom of grace on earth, and of glory in heaven, the kingdom of the
Messiah. Note, Those who wait for the kingdom of God, and hope
for an interest in the privileges of it, must show it by their
forwardness to own Christ's cause and interest, even then when it seems
to be crushed and run down. Observe, Even among the honourable
counsellors there were some, there was one at least, that
waited for the kingdom of God, whose faith will condemn the unbelief of
all the rest. This man God raised up for this necessary service, when
none of Christ's disciples could, or durst, undertake it, having
neither purse, nor interest, nor courage, for it. Joseph went in
boldly to Pilate; though he knew how much it would affront the
chief priests, who had loaded him with so much reproach, to see any
honour done him, yet he put on courage; perhaps at first he was
a little afraid, but tolmesas--taking heart on it,
he determined to show this respect to the remains of the Lord Jesus,
let the worst come to the worst.
3. What a surprise it was to Pilate, to hear that he was dead
(Pilate, perhaps, expecting that he would have saved himself, and come
down from the cross), especially that he was already dead, that
one who seemed to have more than ordinary vigour, should so soon yield
to death. Every circumstance of Christ's dying was marvellous; for from
first to last his name was called Wonderful. Pilate doubted (so
some understand it) whether he was yet dead or no, fearing lest he
should be imposed upon, and the body should be taken down alive,
and recovered, whereas the sentence was, as with us, to hang till
the body be dead. He therefore called the centurion, his own
officer, and asked him whether he had been any while dead
whether it was so long since they perceived any sign of life in him,
any breath or motion, that they might conclude he was dead past recall.
The centurion could assure him of this, for he had particularly
observed how he gave up the ghost,
There was a special providence in it, that Pilate should be so strict
in examining this, that there might be no pretence to say that he was
buried alive, and so to take away the truth of his resurrection; and so
fully was this determined, that the objection was never started. Thus
the truth of Christ gains confirmation, sometimes, even from its
II. How the body of Christ was buried. Pilate gave Joseph leave
to take down the body, and do what he pleased with it. It was a wonder
the chief priests were not too quick for him, and had not first begged
the body of Pilate, to expose it and drag it about the streets, but
that remainder of their wrath did God restrain, and gave that
invaluable prize to Joseph, who knew how to value it; and the hearts of
the priests were so influenced, that they did not oppose it. Sit
divus, modo non sit vivus--We care not for his being adored, provided he
be not revived.
1. Joseph bought fine linen to wrap the body in, though in such
a case old linen that had been worn might have been thought sufficient.
In paying respects to Christ it becomes us to be generous, and
to serve him with the best that can be got, not with that which
can be got at the best hand.
2. He took down the body, mangled and macerated as it was, and
wrapt it in the linen as a treasure of great worth. Our Lord
Jesus hath commanded himself to be delivered to us sacramentally in the
ordinance of the Lord's supper, which we should receive in such a
manner as may best express our love to him who loved us and died for
3. He laid it in a sepulchre of his own, in a private place. We
sometimes find it spoken of in the story of the kings of Judah, as a
slur upon the memory of the wicked kings, that they were not buried in
the sepulchres of the kings; our Lord Jesus, though he did no
evil but much good, and to him was given the throne of his father
David, yet was buried in the graves of the common people, for it was
not in this world, but in the other, that his rest was glorious.
The sepulchre belonged to Joseph. Abraham when he had no other
possession in the land of Canaan, yet had a burying-place, but Christ
had not so much as that. This sepulchre was hewn out of a rock,
for Christ died to make the grave a refuge and shelter to the
saints, and being hewn out of a rock, it is a strong refuge.
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave! Christ himself is a
hiding place to his people, that is, as the shadow of a great
4. He rolled a stone to the door of the sepulchre, for so the
manner of the Jews was to bury. When Daniel was put into the lion's
den, a stone was laid to the mouth of it to keep him in, as here to the
door of Christ's sepulchre, but neither of them could keep off the
angels' visits to the prisoners.
5. Some of the good women attended the funeral, and beheld where he
was laid, that they might come after the sabbath to anoint the dead
body, because they had not time to do it now. When Moses, the mediator
and lawgiver of the Jewish church, was buried, care was taken that no
man should know of his sepulchre
because the respect of the people towards his person were to die with
him; but when our great Mediator and Lawgiver was buried, special
notice was taken of his sepulchre, because he was to rise again:
and the care taken of his body, bespeaks the care which he himself will
take concerning his body the church. Even when it seems to be a dead
body, and as a valley full of dry bones, it shall be preserved in order
to a resurrection; as shall also the dead bodies of the saints, with
whose dust there is a covenant in force which shall not be forgotten.
Our mediations on Christ's burial should lead us to think of our own,
and should help to make the grave familiar to us, and so to render that
bed easy which we must shortly make in the darkness. Frequent thoughts
of it would not only take off the dread and terror of it, but quicken
us, since the graves are always ready for us, to get ready for