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observed and obeyed, who regard not either the precepts of his word, or the treatenings 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 upon him. 6. Kings used to be ad-1 dressed
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 gave 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.
The soldiers, at the hour appointed, led him away from Pilate's judgment-hall to the place of execution (ver. 20), 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 farther 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. We must not think it strange, if crosses come upon us suddenly, and be surprised by them. The cross was a very troublesome unwieldy load : but he that carried it a few minutes, hal the honour to have his name upon record in the book of God, though otherwise an obscure person; so that, wherever this gospel is preached, there shall this be told for à memorial of bim : 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 interpre
ted, 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 othe superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And Pwith 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 Like. wise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 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.
k Matt. xxvii. 33; Luke xxiii. 33; John xix. 17. 1 Matt. xxvii. 34. m Psal. xxii. 18: Luke xxiii. 44; John sis. in Matt. xxvii. 45; Luke xxiii, 44; John xix. 14. o Matt. xxvii. 37 ; John xix. 19. p Matt. xxvii. 38.
9 Isa, liu. Luke xxii. 37. r Psal. xxii, 7. s Chap. xiv. 58; John ii. 19. t Matt. xxvii. 44; Luke xxiii, 44.
We have here the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus.
The place where he was crucified was called Golgotha—the place of a skull ; some think, because of the heads of malefactors that were there cut off. It was the common place of execution; for he was in all respects numbered with the transgressors. I know not how to give any credit 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 3 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, “ Many good people believe that the blood ! of Christ crucified did trickle down upon the skull 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 Lord.”
The time when he was crucified-it was the third hour. Ver. 25. He was brought before Pilate about the sixth hour (John xix. 14), 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 o'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, that 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! There are many who pretend to be for the church, who yet care not how seldom they go to church.
Next, observe 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
his garments (ver. 24)—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 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. Ver. 26. 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 knew not what he wrote, any more than Caiaphas what he said. John xi. 51. 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. Col. ii. 15. 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 the three (ver. 27); 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 jails, for the testimony of Jesus, have complained of the company of cursing, swearing prisoners, more than of any other of the grievances of their prison. Now, in the midst of such our Lord Jesus was crucified. While he lived, he had, as 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. Ver. 28. In that famous prediction of Christ's sufferings, Isa. liii. 12, 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 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 done him.
Even they .that passed by, that were no way concerned, railed on him. Ver. 29. 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 m, 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; 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.
Even the chief priests, who, being taken from among men, and ordained for men, should have conpassion even on those that are out of the way, should be tender of those that are suffering and dying (Heb. v. 1, 2), yet they poured vinegar instead of oil into his wounds, they talked to the grief of him whom God had smitten (Psal. Ixix. 26), 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 sare. They challenged him to come down from the cross, if he could. Ver. 32. 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 not have found themselves other work to do ; if they would not go to do their duty in the temple, fet 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 did not think that their business.
Even they that were crucified with him reviled him (ver. 32); one of them did, so wretchedly was his heart hardened even in the depth of misery, and at the door of eternity.
The contemplation of the whole human race, as all lying under deserved condemnation, and esposed to everlasting misery, except as Jesus opened the gates of life and salvation to believers, must tend to reconcile us to the scorn and hatred of the world, mortify us to its interests and pleasures, and render us contented in trials and obscurity.
With what earnestness will the man that firmly believes these truths seek for salvation ! With what gratitude will he receive even the dawning hope of forgiveness and eternal life, as purchased for him by the sufferings and death of the Son of God ! and with what godly sorrow will he mourn over the sins which have crucified the Lord of glory! Hence, attention to the one thing needful
, and all other interests and employments, are made subordinate to devoted obedience to Christ; hence abhorrence of sin, which renders it the great burden of a believer's life; hence he is induced diligently to use every means that may tend to weaken and destroy all evil from his heart. 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, saving, '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 vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 4 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 look
1 ing on Rafar 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 unto Jerusalem.
u Matt. xxvii. 45; Luke xxiii. 44. * Psal. xxii, 1; Matt. xxvii. 46. y Matt. xxvii. 48; John xix. 23.
- Psal. lxix. .. a Matt. xxvii, 1; Luke xxiii. 46; John xix. 30. b Matt. xxvii. 51; Luke xxiii, 45. c Matt. xxvii. 54; Luke xxii, 4. d Matt. xxvii. 55; Luke xxiii. 49. e Psal. xxxviii. 11. s Luke viii. 2, 3.
Here we have an account of Christ's dying, how his enemies abused him, and God honoured him at his death.
There was thick darkness over the whole land (some think over tho *bii basto) e thote
hours, from noon till three of the clock. Now the Scripture was fulfilled (Amos viii. 9), “I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day;" and Jer. xv. 9, “ Her sun is gone down while it is yet day.” The Jews had 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 to 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. Joel ii. 1, 2. 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 justlý be, who loved darkness rather than light.
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 ? Ver. 34. 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. iii. 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 a 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 signify 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 to bear (Prov. xviii. 14); this brought the waters into his soul. Psal. Ixix. 1–3. 2. Because in this especially he was made sin for us; our iniquities had deserved indignation and wrath upon the soul (Rom. ii. 8), 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 delight. 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 sacrifices (as Lev. ix. 24; 2 Chron. vii. 1; 1 Kings xviii. 38); and it was always a token of God's acceptance. The fire that should have fallen
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 from him this loud and bitter
When Paul was to be offered as a sacrifice for the service of saints, he could joy and rejoice (Phil. ii. 17); 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 farther significant of the darkness of the time that then was. When the sun shall be darkened, the moon also shall not give her light.
Christ's prayer was mocked by them that stood by (ver. 35, 36); 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 the 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 drink good enough for him. Ver. 36. This was intended for a farther 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 to take him down ; and if not, we may conclude that he also hath abandoned him.
Christ did again cry with a loud voice, and so gave up the ghost. Ver. 37. 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 our 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.
Just at the instant that Christ died upon mount Calvary, the veil of the temple was rent in tuain from the top to the bottom. Ver. 38. This bespoke a great deal.—1, Of terror to the unbe
lieving 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, Ezek. xxvi. 31), and that was done at the same time, when they gave for his price thirty pieces of silver (Zech. xi. 10, 12), 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 sanie with this; but that is not probable : however, this had the signification, according to that (Hos. v. 14), “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.
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. Ver. 39. 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 shama 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. 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 sufferings 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.
There were some of his friends, the good women especially, that attended him (ver. 40, 41); There were women looking on afar oft: The men durst not be seen at all, the mob was so very outrageous; to 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 less. This Mary was the wife of Cleophas, or Alpheus, sister to the virgin Mary. These women had fol. lowed Christ from Galilee, though they were not required to attend the feast, as the males were ; but it is probable 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 (Matt. xx. 21); 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. 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.
Views of Christ crucified will reconcile the believer to the thoughts of death, that he may behold, love, and praise, as he ought, that Saviour who was wounded and pierced to save him from the wrath to come. Let us, then, often meditate on scenes which have such blessed efficacy in producing holy and benevolent affections, which tend to form our characters into conformity to Jesus; and let us especially do so when tempted to impatience under trials, peevishness under contempt and reproach, when anxious about worldly things, or desiring sinful indulgences.
With this object before us, can it be too much to shed tears for those sins for which the Son of God shed his precious blood ? or to pour out our prayers for those blessings for which he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors ? or to bear hardship for him who bare the wrath of God for us? All we can suffer must be light compared with his agonies ; yet how often are we weary and faint in our minds under our light afflictions, instead of being thankful that we are not in the pit of destruction, as justly we might have been. 42 T And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation,
that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, which also "waited for the kingdom of God, came, and
g Matt. xxvii. 57; Luke xxiji. 50; John xix. 38.
h Luke ii. 25, 38.