SUMMARY.--Christ Delivered to Pilate.
Judas Hangs Himself.
Jesus Before Pilate.
Barabbas and Christ.
Pilate's Wife's Intercession.
Pilate Acquits Jesus, but Yields to the Clamor.
Jesus Scourged, Mocked, Taken to Golgotha, Crucified.
Mocked on the Cross.
Reviled by the Thieves.
It Is Finished.
The Veil of the Temple Rent.
The Centurion's Confession.
Pilate Yields the Body of Jesus to Joseph.
Buried in the New Tomb.
The Tomb Sealed and Guarded.
1. When the morning was come. Jesus had already been condemned,
but another meeting of the Sanhedrim after daylight was necessary to
give its legal effect, as condemnations to death could not be made in
the night. That was the object of this meeting. For a fuller account of
For account of Christ before Pilate and the crucifixion, compare
Luke 23:1-56; John 18:1-38.
2. Delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. The first
mention of the Roman procurator by that name. He was both military and
civil commander, usually dwelt at Cæsarea, but came up to
Jerusalem at the passover feasts to preserve order. The Sanhedrim could
not put Jesus to death, as the Roman rulers demanded that all cases of
capital punishment be referred to them.
3. Then Judas . . . saw that he was condemned. The annals of men
record no sadder history than that of Judas, impelled by avarice and
resentment to betray his Master for money, and only to awake to the
nature of his awful crime when it was too late. The language here
suggests that Judas had hoped that the betrayed Jesus would deliver
himself from his enemies.
Repented himself. Not, in the Greek, the word used for "repent"
and elsewhere, but one that means, rather, remorse. The first
means "to change the mind or purpose;" the other
"to carry a burden of sorrow over the past." One promises a change in
the future; the other is born of despair; Peter repented; Judas
4. I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood. The
Jewish law demanded that if new testimony was offered after
condemnation the case should again be heard. Perhaps Judas thought his
testimony to the innocence of Christ might, under the circumstances, be
What is that to us? No words could more emphatically declare the
utter disregard of the Jewish rulers to justice. They concerned
themselves not in the slightest concerning the innocence or guilt of
Christ; they cared only to procure his death.
5. Cast down the pieces of silver in the temple. Where he had
this interview with the
Went and hanged himself. So have done, since, thousands of
criminals when the blackness of their crime had revealed itself to
them. How often a man after the committal of a murder shoots
6. It is not lawful to put it in the treasury. These men were
not too scrupulous to send the innocent to death, to shed the blood of
the innocent, but were too scrupulous to put blood money into the
treasury. They could pay blood money, but could not take it back.
7. Bought the potter's field. A field that had been used for the
purpose of making pottery until it was worthless for other purposes and
could be bought cheap. Potters' fields are still found in the Kedron
Valley south of the city.
To bury strangers in. A burial place for the poor. The Jews
usually provided their own tombs. Peter, in
says that Judas fell down headlong and his bowels gushed out. The
common explanation is that he hung himself on a tree overlooking the
valley of Hinnom, that the rope gave way, and that he fell headlong
upon the rocks below, a distance of forty to sixty feet.
9. Then was fulfilled. The prophecy is found in
Albert Barnes shows that a change of a single letter in the original
would transform Zechariah into Jeremiah, and it is supposed that some
early copyist made the mistake. Another explanation is that Jeremiah,
in the Jewish arrangement of the prophets, stood first, and that his
name was given to the whole book of prophecy.
11. Now Jesus stood before the governor. In the judgment hall
which the Sanhedrim did not enter for fear of defilement. It was
probably about seven A.M. that they presented
themselves to Pilate, hoping that he would order their condemned
prisoner to death without inquiry, but on his demand for charges they
accuse Jesus of seeking to make himself King of the Jews. This charge
causes Pilate to ask:
Art thou the King of the Jews? They had condemned Jesus for
blasphemy, but now make a political charge, and Pilate's question is
whether Jesus is claiming a temporal kingdom.
Thou sayest. Jesus was King, not of the Jews only, but men, and
he admits the charge. He was King, however, in a spiritual sense, as he
explained to Pilate
12. He answered nothing. He made no defence, just as he had done
when before Caiaphas.
13, 14. He gave no answer. To their charges of seeking to
establish a worldly kingdom and of stirring up sedition he returned not
a word. His impressive silence moved Pilate deeply.
15. At that feast. The passover. How the custom of releasing a
prisoner at the passover arose is unknown, but such customs are common
under arbitrary rule.
16. A notable prisoner. A leader in an insurrection in which he
had committed murder
(Mark and Luke).
Barabbas. The word means "son of a father." Some have made him a
type of the guilty human race which is released from punishment by the
substitution of the innocent Christ.
17. When therefore they were gathered. After the first
examination, Pilate, finding that Jesus was from Galilee, sent him to
Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, then in Jerusalem, to be tried by him as
belonging to his jurisdiction. Herod, however, after trying to induce
him to work a miracle and mocking him, sent him back
Now they had gathered after his return.
Barabbas, or Christ? Pilate, desirous of releasing an innocent
man, afraid to oppose the Sanhedrim, adopted this expedient in the hope
that the increasing multitude of people would demand Christ rather than
a blood-stained robber.
19. While he was sitting on the judgment seat. Probably while
the people were deciding for which one to ask. The judgment seat was a
kind of lofty official throne, placed on the pavement
His wife sent to him. On this sad day the voice of a Gentile
woman was the only one that interceded for Christ. That she should
speak of Jesus as a "righteous man," shows that she knew much of him
and that he had already made a wide and deep impression.
A dream. It may have been entirely natural. She was probably
already deeply interested in Jesus and knew that he was to be seized in
the night. Her waking thoughts would be reflected in her sleep.
20. Persuaded the multitudes. To call for the release of
Barabbas, instead of Christ. It is likely that few of the Galileans, so
favorable to him, yet knew of his arrest. "The multitudes" were such as
the authorities would summon at this early hour.
21. They said, Barabbas. Pilate's artifice had failed. The
Jewish nation had not only rejected its Messiah, but chosen a robber
22. Let him be crucified. This is the decision of the Jewish
people. He shall suffer the fate which was due the crime of Barabbas
who had been released in his stead.
23. What evil hath he done? Pilate's struggle between his desire
to be just and to please a body demanding a crime at his hands is
pitiable. He repeats the question three times and offers to appease
their rage by chastising the innocent
He had, however, lost his power when he began to parley with a mob.
They, utterly unreasonable, only demand the move vehemently that Jesus
24. When Pilate saw that . . . a tumult was arising. It was a
dangerous time for a tumult, with more than a million Jews in
Jerusalem, and probably not a thousand Roman soldiers in the castle. If
one occurred, it would be reported to Rome, and he could hardly make a
plausible defence to the emperor. He therefore yielded, and gave his
sanction to confessed wrong, rather than endanger himself.
Washed his hands. A symbolic act, meaning that the
responsibility of the sin was upon the Jewish authorities and people
instead of himself.
25. His blood be on us. That is, let us have the responsibility
and suffer the punishment. A fearful legacy, and awfully inherited. The
history of the Jews from that day on has been the darkest recorded in
26. Jesus he scourged. Scourging usually preceded crucifixion.
It was an awful punishment, inflicted by brutal soldiers, and continued
until the victim was fainting under the torture.
27. Then the soldiers . . . took Jesus into the palace. After
the scourging which was inflicted in the court
Josephus says that Pilate stayed, while in Jerusalem, in Herod's
palace, on the northern brow of Zion, near the Jaffa gate.
The whole band. The cohort (from 400 to 600 men) on duty at the
palace. They gathered to mock the doomed prisoner.
28. They stripped him. His clothing, stripped off at the
scourging, had been replaced, but was now removed to wrap him in a mock
royal mantle. Scarlet or purple were the royal colors.
29. A crown of thorns. Both in mockery and for torture.
And a reed in his right hand. For a sceptre. Having thus arrayed
him, in royal robe, crown of thorns, and mock sceptre, they kneel
before him and deride him.
30. They spat on him. In order to show still greater contempt.
Brutal as these heathen soldiers were, they were no more so than the
Jewish Sanhedrim had been.
31. When they had mocked him. Pilate presented the bleeding
prisoner once more to the people, evidently to secure their pity, and
made one more effort to release him, but in vain
Then Jesus was led away to the cross.
32. As they came out. Of the city. Jesus was crucified "without
A company of soldiers, led by a centurion, had charge.
A man of Cyrene. Simon by name, the father of two well-known
Cyrene was in North Africa, and was the home of many Jews.
That he might bear the cross. At first Jesus bore his own cross,
but exhausted by scourging, sank under the weight
seems to show that Simon only bore the "after" part of the cross, the
lighter end, which had been dragging on the ground.
33. When they were come unto a place called Golgotha. A Hebrew
word, meaning a skull. From its Latin equivalent, calvaria,
comes our English word Calvary, which occurs in the English New
Testament only in
where it should be translated "a skull" The name was due, either to a
rounded rock like a skull, or to the fact that it was a place of
execution and that skulls were lying there. The locality is not
34. They gave him wine to drink mingled with gall. A stupefying
drink, intended to lessen suffering.
He would not drink. The "tasting" implied a recognition of the
kindly purpose of the act, but a recognition only. In the refusal to do
more than taste, we trace the resolute purpose to drink the cup which
his Father had given him to the last drop.
35. They crucified him. This was the most dreadful, terrible and
shameful death known to antiquity. The Jews never crucified Jews, nor
the Romans, Romans. That the Jews should demand of the Romans to
inflict it on Jesus shows the intensity of their hate.
And parted his garments. From
we learn that there were four soldiers at the cross, and the garments
were the perquisite of the soldiers. The outer garments were divided
into four parts, one to each, but the coat, rather the "tunic,"
an inner garment, was seamless, woven in one piece, probably of wool.
As it would have been spoiled by dividing it, the soldiers decided to
cast lots for it, thus fulfilling another prophecy
36. And sitting down they watched him there. It was their duty
to remain by the cross until the execution was ended by death.
37. This is Jesus the King of the Jews. It was the Roman custom
to place on the cross over the criminal's head, a titulus, or
placard, stating the crime for which he suffered. Luke
says that the title was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the chief
languages then spoken, and all spectators would be able to read it.
38. Then were there two robbers crucified with him. In all
probability, partners in the crime of Barabbas. The mountain robbers,
or banditti, were always ready to take part in such desperate risings
against the Roman power.
39. They that passed by reviled him. The people going in and out
of the city, on the thoroughfare near the place of crucifixion.
Wagging their heads. Derisively and insultingly. Compare
2 Kings 19:21;
Job 16:4; Psalm 109:25.
40. Thou that destroyest the temple. It is very remarkable that
now, while this was receiving its real fulfillment, it should be made
more public and more impressive by the insulting proclamation of his
enemies. Hence the importance attached to it after the resurrection
41, 42. He saved others. This may be ironical, but if Christ had saved
himself he could not have saved others.
If he be the King of Israel. The language is that of taunt, and
refers to the inscription upon the cross.
43. He said, I am the Son of God. It was because he said this
that the Sanhedrim condemned him to death. In that he hung, seemingly
helpless, on the cross, the chief priests, the very persons who voted
his death, considered it demonstrated that he was not the Son of
44. The robbers also cast upon him the same reproach. Luke only
tells of the penitence of one. Doubtless, both at first reviled him,
but one was converted in three hours that they hung side by side.
45. From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land.
Darkness from twelve until three o'clock. "Over all the land" means,
not the whole earth, but Judea. Early Christian writers speak of this,
and appeal to heathen testimony in support of the fact. The period of
outward darkness, no doubt, coincided with that of Christ's mental
agony and sense of desertion. The darkness was not total, but probably
a deep gloom, such as every one remembers to have experienced in his
46. About the ninth hour. Three o'clock, after the Lord had been
six hours on the cross. The cry that follows is from the
Why hast thou forsaken me? These words can only express the idea
that he was treading the wine-press alone. As he hung on the cross,
"made sin for us,"
he was left to struggle without a sense of his Father's presence.
Still, the cry,
My God, my God! shows that he still clung to the Father as his
47. Some . . . said, He calleth of Elias. The resemblance
between the word "Eli" and the name Elijah is very close in the
original. There is an allusion to the belief that Elijah would come
before the Messiah.
48. One ran and filled a sponge. This was occasioned by our
Lord's cry, "I thirst"
the fifth word from the cross.
Full of vinegar. This was the sour wine used by the soldiers;
not mixed with myrrh, as in the case of the stupefying draught Jesus
had refused before crucifixion.
49. Let be, let us see, etc. This was spoken in the way of
interruption of him who was furnishing the draught of vinegar.
According to Mark, he replied, and asked to be let alone.
50. When he had cried again with a loud voice. "It is finished"
the sixth word from the cross. The three evangelists all dwell upon the
loudness of the cry,
as if it had been the triumphant note of the conqueror. The last words
from the cross were those recorded in
"Father, into thy hands," etc. The first "word" is the prayer for his
Yielded up his spirit. He voluntarily gave up his life for his
sheep, and took it back again
51. The veil of the temple was rent. The curtain before the Holy
of Holies separating it from the Holy Place.It took place about the
time of the evening sacrifice and showed by symbol that the real
atonement, of which the yearly atonement was only a type, had been
offered and that the true High Priest had entered into the true Holy of
And the earth did quake. A common event at Jerusalem, but now
significant of the sympathy of nature with the great tragedy.
52. The tombs were opened. The convulsions of the earth would
naturally roll the stones from the doors of the sepulchers.
The saints . . . were raised. Who is not stated, or whether
their bodies returned to the grave again. Their rising was a testimony
that the death of Christ is life to the saints.
54. The centurion. The Roman officer in charge of the execution.
Truly this was the Son of God. Rather, "a son of a god." He was a
heathen soldier, believing in many gods, and the scenes of the cross
had convinced him that Jesus was more than man.
55, 56. Many women. The devoted women were still faithful, when the
disciples had fled. Of the apostles we only know that John was near.
Mary Magdalene. Mentioned first here, also in
before the resurrection. She had been healed by the Lord.
Mary the mother of James and Joses. She was the wife of Clopas
The mother of the sons of Zebedee. Salome. John
mentions "his (Jesus') mother's sister," but does not name Salome, his
own mother. Hence it is inferred that Salome was the sister of Mary,
the mother of Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also at the cross
57. There came a rich man. On the burial, compare
Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42.
Of Arimathæa. Its location is unknown. Joseph was a member
of the Sanhedrim, who had not consented to the murder of Jesus
(Luke 23:50-51; Mark 15:43).
Jesus' disciple. But "secretly for fear of the Jews"
The death of Christ made him braver.
58. Asked for the body of Jesus. Usually, the Romans suffered
the crucified to remain unburied, but Joseph, to prevent this, or any
abuse of the sacred body, begged it of Pilate. The latter consented
readily, probably anxious for respect for the body of him whom he
vainly sought to save from death.
59. Joseph took the body. Carefully down from the cross.
Wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. A winding sheet. Another
Sanhedrist, Nicodemus, aided him
and they enclosed spices in the winding sheet.
60. Laid it in his own new tomb. A rock-hewn sepulcher, cut
horizontally into the cliff.
Rolled a great stone to the door. The usual method of closing
the rock-hewn tombs. Thus Christ "was buried, according to the
in a rich man's tomb, was "with the rich in his death"
61. The other Mary. The mother of James and Joses.
These women saw where he was laid and returned there after the Sabbath
62. The morrow. The Sabbath.
After the day of preparation. "That is, the day before the
63. Sir, we remember. These dignitaries had not forgotten the
predictions of Christ that he would rise on the third day, even if his
own disciples had.
64. Until the third day. That is, until Sunday morning. Friday
would be the first day.
65. Ye have a guard. That is, ye can have a guard. He granted
them a guard of Roman soldiers.
66. Sealing the stone. A cord was stretched across the stone
door and sealed at each end with wax. The seal would have to be broken
to remove the stone.