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He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for 43 he said: I am the Son of God. The thieves also which were cru- 44 cified with him cast the same in his teeth.-Now from the sixth 45 hour there was darkness over all the land, unto the ninth hour. And 46
among the constellations of heaven, clenched by the hands of the dying, as their anchor of immortal hope, towering over the tomb and the cathedral, the speaking symbol and epitome of the Gospel, the cross was to gather about it the brightest halo of glory, and command the ever-increasing love and veneration of the human race. The love of the Father towards his sinful and wretched children, in sending his Son; the love of the heavenly Brother for his erring earthly brethren, shown in his there pouring out his lifeblood, to melt their hearts of stone, and reconcile them to their Father and his Father, were henceforth to consecrate the cross to all ages.
"In the cross of Christ I glory!—
Towering o'er the wrecks of time, All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime."
43. If he will have him. Translated by Carpenter, if he delighteth in him. There is in Plato, where he describes the credentials necessary to give weight to a teacher of virtue, this expression, singularly coinciding with the history of Jesus: "After he has borne all evils, let him be crucified."
44. The thieves. The robbers. It appears from Luke xxiii. 39, that only one of them was guilty of this abuse. Had the Gospels been composed by impostors, they never would have permitted such discrepancies.-Cast the same in his teeth. More elegantly, reviled him in the same way. Luke mentions, xxiii. 36, 37, that the soldiers also joined in these impious mockeries.-Socrates, to whom some have been fond of comparing Jesus Christ, spent his
last hours in quiet among weeping friends and disciples, and the executioner gave him the fatal cup of hemlock with tears in his eyes. But our Master, throughout his trial and crucifixion, was surrounded by a whirlwind of raging passions, blows, and insults. Yet with what self-possession, dignity, and kindness to those around him, did he meekly endure all, commending himself to the Father! Even Rousseau could say: "If the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher, the life and death of Jesus Christ are those of a Divinity." The interesting events respecting the penitent malefactor, and the intrusting of Jesus' mother to the care of John, probably occurred here. Luke xxiii. 40-43. John xix. 25-27.
45. Sixth hour, i. e. twelve o'clock. Jesus was crucified about the third hour according to Mark, xv. 25, but according to John, xix. 14, about the sixth hour, though the original reading is thought to have been the third. He is supposed to have remained, therefore, upon the cross from nine o'clock in the morning to about three in the afternoon, or about six hours.-Darkness over all the land, i. e. probably only over all the land of Judea, for so the words are usually translated. This would account in some degree for so remarkable an event not having been recorded by any profane writer. The darkness could not have been caused by an eclipse of the sun, for the moon was then in the full, as it always was at the time of the pass
The atmosphere is frequently darkened when earthquakes occur. But the Evangelists certainly
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 47 forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, 48 said: This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and
record the event as if it were supernatural. 66 The visible heavens and earth sympathize with Jesus."Ninth hour, i. e. three o'clock P. M.
46. Jesus cried with a loud voice. Which shows, with vivid reality, his great agony. The system, already fainting and dying, gathers up its strength and pours out one fearful cry.-Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? Ps. xxii. 1. This is Hebrew and Syro-Chaldaic. Mark, xv. 34, has it all in the latter dialect, which is supposed to have been used by our Saviour and his contemporaries. This exclamation has been explained as intended by him to show the appropriateness of Ps. xxii., as a description of his suffering condition, but eventual triumph; or, secondly, as denoting a destitution of that Divine help which he had hitherto enjoyed, and the pouring upon his devoted head of the vials of the wrath of God for the sins of the world; or, thirdly, that the powers of darkness then peculiarly beset his spirit. But these views are all more or less strained and far-fetched. As to the first, we may say, it was no time for Jesus to argue, directly or indirectly, when he was dying in agony; and as to the two last, they are totally destitute of any proof, either by way of declaration or inference, and are counter to the words of Jesus, that "therefore doth my Father love me because 1 lay down my life." John x. 17. It is better, with Furness, to understand it "as an expression of agony couched in the devout language of Scripture,”"an ejaculation wrung from him
by the intense suffering of the moment." Jesus was accustomed to pray to God in the words of the Psalms, as in chap. xi. 25, compared with Ps. viii. 2. This was not a cry of despair; God had not really deserted him; but it was rather an earnest entreaty, and, as it were, an expostulation with the Father that he would not desert him in that dreadful hour.
47. Calleth for Elias, i. e. Elijah. This word had a similar sound to that of Eli. Some of the bystanders, either through ignorance of the language which he spoke, for many foreigners were present, or, more probably, through derision of his claims to the Messiahship, pretended that he was calling upon Elijah, who was to be the forerunner of the great Deliverer, according to the Jewish belief.
48. Filled it with vinegar, &c. The occasion of this act is related in John xix. 28, where Jesus said, "I thirst." It was one of the effects of crucifixion to produce a general inflammation and fever through the whole frame, and consequently a burning and intolerable thirst, simiJar to that caused by gunpowder wounds, and which calls forth from the field of battle, when the carnage is over, the most piercing cries for water. A vessel was placed by the cross, as we learn from John, filled with vinegar, the usual beverage of Roman soldiers. When Jesus uttered his cry, some one, more compassionate than the rest, dipped a porous substance or sponge in the vinegar, and elevated it upon a reed or hyssop stalk to the parched lips
gave him to drink. The rest said: Let be; let us see whether Elias 49 will come to save him.—Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud 50 voice, yielded up the ghost.—And, behold, the veil of the temple 51 was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of 52 the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resur- 53
of the dying sufferer. Some have supposed that the hyssop spoken of by John was a bitter substance put into the drink.
49. Let be. According to Robinson, the union of the word in the original with the succeeding verb, to see, has simply this sense, let us see; or, as others say, it has the sense of, come, let us see.
50. Cried again with a loud voice. The convulsive gasp of dissolving nature. See note on verse 46. Luke and John mention more particularly his last words. From the different narratives we gather that he spoke seven times while on the cross, and each sentence imparts a distinct light and beauty to his divine character. 1. His prayer for his enemies. Luke xxiii. 34. 2. His compassionate address to the penitent malefactor. Luke xxiii. 43. 3. His filial devotion to Mary, and fraternal regard for his beloved disciple. John xix. 26, 27. 4. His expostulatory prayer to God, in his terrible pain. Mat. xxvii. 46. Mark xv. 34. 5. His expression of thirst. John xix. 28. 6. His declaration, "It is finished." John xix. 30. 7. His devout commendation of his spirit to the Father. Luke xxiii. 46. Such was the fitting close to a life spent in unbounded love to God and man.-Yielded up the ghost. Not by his own volition, as some have singularly supposed, which would be hardly distinguishable from suicide. The better translation is, he expired. Persons sometimes lived two, three, or even seven
days on the cross. But various causes might have combined to shorten the sufferings of Jesus: his supposed tenderness of constitution; his previous watching and sufferings in the garden, and during the mock trial; and especially the infliction of scourging. It appears that he had become so faint before he came to the place of execution, that he could not carry the cross. Comp. verse 32 with John xix. 17.
51. The veil of the temple was rent in twain. The veil here meant was the inner one between the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. Heb. ix. 3. It seems unlikely that any natural cause, short of the destruction of the temple, would have torn apart this veil. The event might be viewed as symbolical of the admission of all men, Jews and Gentiles, to the mysteries and privileges of God's holiest sanctuary of truth.
The earth did quake, and the rocks rent. Were rent is required by grammar, as in the first part of the verse. These unusual events were designed to mark the death of the Son of God with deep solemnity. The very heavens and earth seemed to mutter indignation against the impious doings of men. A great earthquake is said by the Latin writers to have occurred about this time, but it cannot with certainty be identified with the one in the text.
52, 53. The graves were opened. As it would appear, by the earthquake, which split the rocks or tombs of stone.-The saints. Who these were is not stated. Their
54 rection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared 55 greatly, saying: Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there, beholding afar off; which followed Jesus from Gali56 lee, ministering unto him; among which was Mary Magdalene, and
rising would intimate that resurrection was not to be peculiar to Jesus, but designed to extend to others also.-After his resurrection. It is singular that an interval of one day and two nights should occur between their rising and coming out of their graves and entering the city. Matthew does not speak of being himself an eye-witness of the fact, which has led some critics to suppose that he rather gives what was commonly reported, than vouches himself for the truth of the events. No mention of so astonishing an occurrence and its effects is made by the other Evangelists. As observed by Dr. Adam Clarke, "the place is extremely obscure," and "it is difficult to account for the transaction." It has been conjectured that these two verses might have been introduced into the text from the Nazarene Gospel, one of the apocryphal books, or from the Hebrew copy of Matthew's Gospel, where it had been inserted by some transcriber as a note in the margin. But the passage is found in all the best authorities.
54. The centurion, i. e. the commander of the soldiers who attended at the place of execution and watched those that were crucified. -Truly this was the Son of God. The words were those of the centurion, Mark xv. 39, Luke xxiii. 47, and were perhaps repeated by his soldiers. Luke represents him as saying, "Certainly this was a righteous man," which might have been in addition to the language record
ed in this place. He had probably caught the words of the allegation against Jesus, that he claimed to be the Son of God. Witnessing the tremendous events around him, the darkened sun, the reverberation of the earthquake, the rending of the rocks, and the awful consternation of the surrounding multitude, he said, with Roman frankness, This man was not an impostor, but a just person; he was, what he professed to be, the Son of God, or of a God;for we are to remember that the centurion was in all probability a polytheist, and ignorant of the true Deity. Luke, xxiii. 48, adds some interesting particulars, showing the overwhelming fear of the multitude.
55, 56. Many women were there, beholding afar off Probably outside of the crowd of soldiers and enemies of Jesus, who surrounded the cross. They had followed Jesus from Galilee, and supplied his wants from their substance. Luke viii. 3. They did not desert him in the last exigency, but heroically followed him with streaming eyes to the fatal mount, and from a distance witnessed the death of their matchless friend, and the great benefactor of their sex. If the last scenes of Jesus' life called forth some of the worst traits of human character, they also called forth some of the best; the penitence of the robber, the reverence of the centurion, and the attachment of those devoted friends, "daughters of Zion, faithful to the last.”—Mary
Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, 57 named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple. He went to 58 Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he 59
Magdalene, i. e. of Magdala. Mat.
57-61. Mark xv. 42-47. Luke xxiii. 50-56. John xix. 38-42. Previously to the account of the burial of Jesus, John, xix. 31-37, relates that a soldier ran a spear into his side, and that blood and water came out, a medical proof that he was now dead.
Nicodemus appear to have been the sincere disciples of our Lord, but did not possess that moral courage which would enable them to come out boldly and espouse an unpopular cause at the hazard of losing caste. But after the crucifixion, indignant probably at the baseness of their countrymen, and armed in their souls with new convictions of the greatness of the sufferer, by witnessing his sublime conduct, and the appalling circumstances which attended his death, they boldly engaged in paying the last tribute of respect to his lifeless remains. John xix. 39.
58. Begged the body of Jesus.— John relates, xix. 31-37, some other particulars, that, as it was not lawful for the bodies to remain upon the cross over the Sabbath, the Jews entreated Pilate that their dying struggles might be hastened by the usual cruel method of breaking their legs, which was rendered unnecessary in the case of Jesus, as he had already expired; but that a soldier pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out, a proof of his death. Joseph would show his reverence for Jesus by performing his funeral service.-Command
the body to be delivered. The bodies were at Pilate's disposal. It was customary to grant those of crucified persons to their friends for burial, if they requested it, but otherwise they were either burned, or buried in the common grave of criminals. Providence thus employed the friendship of Joseph as
57. When the even was come. This was the evening before the Jewish Sabbath. Dead bodies were not allowed to remain on the cross over night among the Jews. Deut. xxi. 23.-Arimathea. There were several places so called in Palestine. The one here intended was probably a village five or six miles north-ed ward of Jerusalem.-Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple. This wealthy individual was undoubtedly a member of the Jewish Sanhedrim. Mark xv. 43. Luke xxiii. 51. He did not consent to the injustice of his associates in putting Jesus to death. He and