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41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
'He saved others. It does not seem probable that they meant to admit that he had actually saved others, but only that he pretended to save them fron; death by miracles. "If he be the king of Israel,' &c. T'he people would have been as little satisfied that he was, if he had come down from the cross. They said this for the purpose of insult; and Jesus chose rather to suffer, than to work a new miracle for their gratification. He had foretold his death, and the time had come, and amidst revilings and curses, and the severe sarcasms of an angry and apparently triumphant priesthood, he chose to die for the sins of the world. To this they added insult to God, profanely calling upon God to interpose by miracle, and save him if he was his friend. And all this, when their prophets had foretold this very scene, and when they were fulfilling the predictions of their own scriptures. So wonderful is the way by which God causes his word to be fulfilled.
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
“The thieves also. The robbers or highwaymen. Luke says, xxiii. 39, that one of them did it, and that the other reproved him and was penitent. The account in Luke may, however, easily be reconciled with that in Matthew, by supposing that at first both of them reviled the Saviour, and that it is of this that Matthew speaks. Afterwards one of them became penitent, perhaps from witnessing the patient sufferings of Christ. It is of this particularly that Luke speaks. 'Casť the same in his teeth. It means they upbraided him, or reproached him.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
“Now, from the sixth hour.' That is, from our twelve o'clock. The Jews divided their day into twelve hours, beginning to count at sunrise. “There was darkness. This could not have been a natural eclipse of the sun, for the passover was celebrated at the time of the full moon, when the moon is opposite to the sun. The only cause of this was the interposing power of God-furnishing testimony to the dignity of the sufferer, and causing the elements to sympathize with the pains of his dying Son. A dark thick cloud, shutting out the light of day, and clothing every object with the gloom of midnight, was appropriate when the Redeemer died.
Over all the land. That is, probably over the whole land of Judea. «The ninth hour. Till about three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time the Saviour is supposed to have died.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?
'Eli, Eli,' &c. This language is not pure Hebrew, nor Syriac, but a mixture of both, called commonly Syro-Chaldaic. This was probably the language which Christ commonly spoke. The words are taken from Psalm xxii. 1. “My God, my God,' &c. This expression is one denoting intense suffering. A person suffering thus, might address God as if he was forsaken-given up to extreme anguish. He himself had also said that this was the power of darkness,' Luke xxii. 53.
When he was tempted, Matt. iv. it was said that the tempter departed from him for a
There is no improbability in supposing that he might be permitted to return at the time of his death, and increase the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. In what way this might be done, can be only conjectured. Yet, had there been nothing further, no deeper and more awful sufferings, it would be difficult to see why Jesus should have shrunk from these sorrows, and used such a remarkable expression. Isaiah tells us, liii. 4, 5, that he bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; that he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; that the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him; that by his stripes we are healed. He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal. iii. 13, he was made a sin offering, 2 Cor. v. 21; he died in our place, on our account, that he might bring us near to God. It was this, doubtless, which caused his intense sufferings. It was the manifestation of God's hatred of sin to his soul, in some way which he has not explained, that he experienced in this dread hour. It was suffering endured by him, that was due to us; and suffering by which, and by which alone, we can be saved from eternal death.
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
This was done purposely to deride Jesus, and his pretensions to be the Messiah. “The words Eli, Eli, they might easily pretend that they understood to meau Elias, or so pervert them. The taunt would be the more cutting, because it was the universal belief of the Jews, as well as the doctrine of Christ, that Elias would come before the Messiah. They derided him now, as calling upon Elias, when, as they implied, God refused to help him.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a
spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
John, xix. 28, says, that this was done in consequence of Jesus saying, ' I thirst.'
One of the effects of crucifixion was excessivé thirst. “Filled it with vinegar.' John says, xix. 29, there was a vessel set full of vinegar, probably for the use of the soldiers who watched his crucifixion. “And put it on a reed.' John says, it was put upon hyssop. The hyssop was a shrub, growing so large sometimes as to be called a tree, 1 Kings iv. 33. The stalk of this was what Matthew calls a reed. The spunge fastened to this could easily be extended to reach the mouth of Jesus. This vinegar Jesus drank, for it was not intended to stupify him, or blunt his sense of pain, like the wine and myrrh.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
Still deriding his sufferings, and refusing to allow any thing to assuage the thirst of the Saviour of the world in his dying agonies.
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
He cried, 'It is finished,' John xix. 30. It finished the work of atonement; made the way of salvation clear; rolled away the curse from guilty men; and opened the kingdom of heaven to all true believers. * Yielded up the ghost.' It means, resigned his spirit, or expired.
51 And, behold, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
“The vail of the temple. This was doubtless the vail, curiously wrought, which separated the holy from the most holy place, dividing the temple into two apartments, Ex. xxvi. 31–33. In twain. In two pieces, or parts. This was the time of day when the priest was burning incense in the holy place. The most holy place has been usually considered as a type of heaven, and the rending of the vail to signify that the way to heaven was now open to all.--the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus, being about to enter in as the forerunner of his people. And the earth did quake. Or shook. This was a miraculous convulsion of the earth, in attestation of the truth that the sufferer was the Messiah, the Son of God: and as an exhibition of his wrath at the crimes of those who put him to death. It is mentioned by Roman writers. * The rocks rent.' That is, were torn asunder.
52 And the graves were opened : and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Graves or sepulchres were most commonly made among the Jews in solid rucks, or in caves of rocks. The rending of the rocks, therefore, would lay them open, 'And many bodies of the saints arose. Of course it is not known who these were, mor what became of them. It is probable that they were persons who had recently died, and they appear to have been known in Jerusalen. Which slept.' Which had died. The death of saints is often called sleep, Dan, xii. 2. I Cor. xv. 18. 1 Thess. iv. 15.
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
There is nothing said of the reason why they were raised. It is not improbable to suppose that it was, amidst the other wonders attending the death of Jesus, to convince the Jews that he was the Messiah. What became of them after they entered into the city is not revealed, and conjeciure is vain. ''The holy city. Jerusalem, called holy because the temple was there; because it was devoted to God; and the place of their religious solemnities
54 Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
'Centurion.' A captain of a hundred soldiers. He was here placed over the band that attended the crucifixion. “They feared greatly.' They regarded these things as proofs that God was angry, and they were terrified at the prospect that vengeance was coming on them. Truly this was the Son of God.' They had heard, probably, that before Pilate he professed to be the Son of God, and seeing these wonders, they believed that it was true, and that God was now attesting the truth of his professions. The centurion was a heathen, and had probably no very distinct notions of the phrase "the Son of God;'* but he certainly regarded these wonders as proof that he was what he professed to be. Mark, xv. 39, says, that they affirmed that this man was the Son of God.'' Luke, xxiii. 47, that they said, 'certainly this was a righteous man.' These things were said by different persons, or at different periods of his sufferings, one evangelist having recorded one saying, and another another.
55 And many women were there, beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him :
‘Beholding afar off. They were probably part of the time not sufiered to come near the cross, because it was surrounded by soidiers, Ministering unto him.Attending him, and providing for his wants. While men forsook him in his trying moments, it
does not appear that any of his female followers were thus un. faithful. In the midst of all his trials, ar:d all the contempt poured upon him, they adhered to their Redeemer. Never did female constancy shine more brightly, and never was a happier example set for all who should afterwards believe on him.
56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
‘Mary Magdalene.' Mary of Magdala. She had peculiar cause of attachment to the Saviour, naving been relieved by him of a most dreadful calamity, and restored to her right mind, after being possessed by seven devils, Mark xvi. 9. And the mother of Zebedee's children. That is, of James and John, Matt, x, 2. Her name was Salome, Mark xv. 40.
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple :
“When the even was come.' That is, some time after three o'clock in the afternoon. See notes on John xix. 31–37. 'A rich man of Arimathea. There were several cities of this name in Judea. Luke says that this was a city of the Jews, and it is probable, therefore, that it was in the tribe of Benjamin, and but a short distance from Jerusalem. This man sustained a high character. He was an honourable counsellor, Mark xv. 43, he * waited for the kingdom of God;' was anxiously desirous of the appearance of the Messiah; he was a good man and a just;' he had nobly set himself against the wicked purposes of the sanhedrim, Luke xxiii. 51; he was a disciple of Jesus, though he was not opeply nis follower, because he feared the Jews, John xix. 38.
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
He went to Pilate.' Because no one had a right to remove the body but the magistrate.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
• He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.' John adds, that this was done with spices, xix. 40. The Jews were accustomed to use myrrh, aloes, and other aromatics, in large quantities, when they buried their dead. When they were not regularly embalmed, which was a long and tedious process, they inclosed the spices in the folds of the linen, or wrapped the body in it, 2 Chron. xvi. 14. There not being time properly to embalm the body of Jesus, ne was buried in this manner.
60. And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had