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of choosing Christ, or Barabbas the robber. They choose the robber, and thus mark their refusal of Christ in a very decided way. Even Pilate's wife sent a message to him to have nothing to do with that just man, but the cry of the multitude, set on by the priests, prevailed.
Pilate asked what evil had Christ done, but their only answer was a clamour for Him to be crucified. Pilate then took water and washed his hands before the people (see Deut xxi. 6-9), declaring that he was innocent of the death of such a just person, which drew forth from the people the awful sentence, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
Pilate washing his hands may have made an appearance, but it in no way cleared him from guilt. He acknowledged he was condemning a just person. (Acts iv. 27.)
Verse 18 shews that the rulers were envious of honour being paid to anyone who set them aside.
Verses 26–33. After being scourged (with sticks -a common thing among the Romans before execution) Jesus was delivered to be crucified. The common soldiers now gather together and mock Him, putting on Him
a crown of thorns and a purple robe, and placing a reed in His hands, they bow the knee, saying, Hail king of the Jews. To add to the shameful indignity they spit upon him, and strike him with the reed.
In being led to the place of execution, one Simon of Cyrene carried the cross, but John xx. 17, says our Lord carried His cross. It is probable that each carried it part of the way. Painters depict our Lord as overcome by the weight of the
Verses 34–38. They offered our Lord vinegar mixed with gall--a drink they gave to the prison
ers to stupefy them, but our Lord refused it. In Mark xv. 23, we read, they offered Him wine mingled with myrrh. They used a sort of sour wine that perhaps might be called either wine or vinegar; gall and myrrh, however, are not the
The drink may have contained both, and one evangelist names one ingredient and another the other,
The latter part of verse 35 is omitted by most editors, beginning at "that it might be fulfilled" to the end. The difference in the wording of the inscription may be accounted for by one giving the Latin, another the Greek, another the Hebrew, or giving the substance of it, without intending to quote the exact words. Two robbers were crucified with him.
Verses 39–44. The chief priests and the people mock our Lord while He is on the cross. Both the robbers also join in the insults, which makes the conversion of one, so soon after, all the more a trophy of grace.
Verses 45-50. Darkness was over the land from about twelve at noon till three, p.m. Jesus then cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," under the dreadful burden of bearing sin. The people said he called for Elias, probably in mockery. The soldiers would scarcely know anything of Elias. One ran and filled a sponge with vinegar, which our Lord received.
Jesus, when He had cried with a loud voice, shewing that He was not under the weight of death, but was laying down His life-breathed out His spirit.
Verses 51-56. The veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom, shewing it was God's doing, and that He was now revealed. There was an
earthquake, and the rocks were rent, and some came forth out of the graves after our Lord's resurrection, and appeared to many. The centurion was obliged to admit that Christ was the Son of God.
Verses 57–61. Joseph, a rich man (see Is. liii. 9), came and begged the body of Jesus and laid it in his own tomb, and there left it; but Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (see ver. 56) remained.
Verses 62–65. On the day that followed the preparation (which may have been on Friday evening, as the sabbath commenced), the Pharisees begged that the sepulchre should be watched, lest the disciples should go and steal Jesus away and say He was risen. Pilate singularly told them to make the sepulchre as safe as they could, or as safe as they knew how! They thought to make it sure with a seal and a watch.
CHAPTER XXVIII. VERSE 1. Instead of “as it began to dawn," it signifies as it became dark or twilight on Saturday evening, at the close of the sabbath.
Verses 2-4. Here is described the resurrection and the fear of the soldiers who sat as a watch.
Verses 5–10. This is on Sunday morning. The women had come to the sepulchre " early, when it was yet dark.” (John xx. 1.) The angels tell them that Jesus had risen ; they were to go quickly and tell the disciples. As they went Jesus Himself met them; they held Him by the feet and worshipped Him. He bids them tell the disciples that He would see them in Galilee.
Verses 11-15. The watch come and tell what had happened, the money is offered to them to say that the disciples stole the body of Christ away while they were asleep. They did not see the absurdity of saying what took place while they slept. It is added that the true account of what happened was commonly reported among the Jews,” so that they knew they were circulating a falsehood.
Verses 16-20. The disciples (eleven now) met Jesus in a mountain where He had appointed them. There they worshipped Him, but some doubted. He declared to them that all power was given to them in heaven and in earth. They were to go and make disciples of all nations——the glad tidings being now for all—“ baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" teaching them to observe all things that Christ had told them. He would be with them alway, even unto the end of the
age. It is a question how far the disciples followed out this commission. It is often represented that they tarried at Jerusalem, and neglected the commission altogether; but we think this is going too far: we must allow time for their prejudices to be broken down. It is clear that up to Acts xv (about A,D.50) it was a question with many whether there could be salvation to the Gentiles without circumcision and keeping the law. Verse 6 reads, “the apostles and elders came together” to consider the matter. But after this we do not again read of them at Jerusalem. In Acts xviii. 22, the as
. sembly only is mentioned, and in Acts xxi. 17, Luke writes, “The brethren received us gladly ;" and on the following day " Paul went in with us unto James ; and all the elders were present.” So that after about A.D. 50, and after it was manifest that God was working among the Gentiles, the
apostles, except James, may have gone forth fulfilling the mission. And the commission still runs on for all whom God has gifted to the work. And the blessed Lord is with such to the end of the age.
SKETCH OF A LESSON.
MORDECAI AND ESTHER.
1. REMARK on the fact that God took care of His own under all circumstances and delivered them in His own way, as illustrated in this narrative. Then in detail observe that the obedience to parents and guardians was exemplified in Esther. Though queen, she was still obedient to Mordecai who had brought her up. (Chap. ii. 20.)
2. Faithfulness in Mordecai. Though he was a captive in a strange land, yet, instead of wishing evil to the king, he was the means of saving his life when it was plotted against. (Vers. 21-23.)
3. Faithfulness of Mordecai to God. Though Haman had been raised into power, Mordecai refused at the peril of his life, to bow down to the haughty Agagite. 1 Samuel xv. shews that Agag was of the Amalekites; of whom God had said that the Israelites were to blot out the remembrance from under heaven. “ Thou shalt not forget it," are His emphatic words. (Deut. xxv. 19.) Mordecai did not forget it, and refused to bow down before the enemy of God's people.
4. Sentence of death is passed upon Mordecai and the Jews. Mordecai is conscious of it; Esther is not. This illustrates all the world lying under condemnation, but only a few are conscious of it. Mordecai clothes himself in sackcloth, like a sinner