- THIRD STAGE OF JEWISH TRIAL. JESUS FORMALLY CONDEMNED BY THE SANHEDRIN AND LED TO PILATE. (Jerusalem. Friday after dawn.) Matthew 27:1 Matthew 27:2 ; Mark 15:1 ; Luke 22:66-23:1 ; John 18:28
- The chief priests with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation. Since blasphemy was by no means acriminal offense among the Romans, the Sanhedrin consulted together andsought for some charge of which the Romans would take notice. As wefollow their course, it will become evident to us that they found nonew ground of accusation against Jesus, and, failing to do so, theydecided to make use of our Lord's claim to be the Christ by soperverting it as to make him seem to assert an intention to rebelagainst the authority of Rome.
- And bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate. The Sanhedrin could try and could condemn, but could not putto death without the concurring sentence of the Roman governor. Toobtain this sentence, they now led Jesus before Pilate in the earlydawn, having made good use of their time.
15:2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews1? And he answering saith unto him, Thou sayest2.
- FIRST STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. JESUS BEFORE PILATE FOR THE FIRST TIME. (Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.) Matthew 27:11-14 ; Mark 15:2-5 ; Luke 23:2-5 ; John 18:28-38
- Art thou the King of the Jews? The Gospels are unanimous in giving this question as the first words addressed by Pilate to Jesus. Thequestion expresses surprise. There was nothing in the manner or attireof Jesus to suggest a royal claimant. The question was designed to drawJesus out should he chance to be a fanatical or an unbalancedenthusiast.
- Thou sayest. Using the Hebrew form of affirmative reply, Jesus admits that he is a king. See John 18:34.
15:3 And the chief priests accused him of many things1.
- The chief priests accused him of many things. See Luke 23:2.
15:4 And Pilate again asked him, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of.
- Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of. Pilate was irritated that Jesus did not speak in his own defense. Hehad already seen enough of our Lord's wisdom to assure him that itwould be an easy matter for him to expose the malicious emptiness ofthese charges--charges which Pilate himself knew to be false, but aboutwhich he had to keep silent, for, being judge, he could not become ourLord's advocate.
15:5 But Jesus no more answered anything1; insomuch that Pilate marvelled.
- But Jesus no more answered anything. Our Lord's silence was a matter of prophecy ( Isaiah 53:7 ). Jesus keeps still because to havesuccessfully defended himself would have been to frustrate the purposefor which he was come into the world ( John 12:23-28 ).
15:6 Now at the feast1 he used to release unto them one prisoner, whom they asked of him2.
- THIRD STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. PILATE RELUCTANTLY SENTENCES HIM TO CRUCIFIXION. (Friday. Toward sunrise.) Matthew 27:15-30 ; Mark 15:6-19 ; Luke 23:13-25 ; John 18:39-19:16
- Now at the feast. The passover and unleavened bread.
- He used to release unto them one prisoner, whom they asked of him. No one knows when or by whom this custom was introduced, but similarcustoms were not unknown elsewhere, both the Greeks and Romans beingwont to bestow special honor upon certain occasions by releasingprisoners.
15:7 And there was one called Barabbas, [lying] bound with them that had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder1.
- Who in the insurrection had committed murder. Josephus tells us that there had been an insurrection against Pilate's government aboutthat time caused by his taking money from the temple treasury for theconstruction of an aqueduct. This may have been the affair herereferred to, for in it many lost their lives.
15:8 And the multitude went up and began to ask him [to do] as he was wont to do unto them1.
- And the multitude went up and began to ask him [to do] as he was wont to do unto them. It was still early in the morning, and the vastmajority of the city of Jerusalem did not know what was transpiring atPilate's palace. But they came thither in throngs, demanding theirannual gift of a prisoner. Pilate welcomed the demand as a possibleescape from his difficulties.
15:9 And Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews1?
- Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Though Jesus had been declared innocent on the joint finding of himself and Herod,Pilate did not have the courage to deliberately release him. We seefrom Matthew's account that though the people had a right to name theirprisoner ( Matthew 27:15 ), Pilate took upon himself the liberty of choosingwhich one of two it should be. By doing so he complicated matters forthe Jewish rulers, asking them to choose between Jesus, who was held onan unfounded charge of insurrection, and Barabbas, who was notoriouslyan insurrectionist and a murderer and a robber as well. But the rulerswere not to be caught in so flimsy a net.
15:11 But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them1.
- But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. Without regard to consistency, theyraised their voice in full chorus for the release of Barabbas and thecrucifixion of Jesus.
15:14 And Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done1? But they cried out exceedingly, Crucify him2.
- Why, what evil hath he done? Finding the mob cruelly persistent, Pilate boldly declines to do its will and turns back into thePraetorium declaring his intention to release Jesus.
- But they cried out exceedingly, Crucify him. But he retires with the demands of the multitude ringing in his ears.
15:15 And Pilate, wishing to content the multitude, released unto them Barabbas, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him1, to be crucified.
- When he had scourged him. Carrying out the program which he proposed, Pilate had Jesus removed from the Praetorium to the place ofscourging, and inflicted that punishment upon him. We learn fromJosephus and others that the law required that those about to becrucified should first be scourged. But Pilate hoped that scourgingwould suffice. He believed that the more moderate would take pity uponJesus when they viewed his scourged body, for scourging was so cruel apunishment that the condemned person often died under its infliction.The scourge was made of thongs loaded at the extremity with pieces ofbone or metal. The condemned person was stripped and fastened to a lowpost, this bending the back so as to stretch the skin. Blood spurted atthe first blow. Mark mentions the scourging to show that it precededthe crucifixion, but we see from John's account that the scourging tookplace somewhat earlier in the proceeding ( John 19:1 ).
- And delivered Jesus . . . to be crucified. Pilate delivered Jesus to the punishment, but not into their hands; he was led forth andcrucified by Pilate's soldiers, who first mocked him, as the nextparagraph shows.
15:16 And the soldiers led him away within the court, which is the Praetorium1; and they call together the whole band2.
- And the soldiers led him away within the court, which is the Praetorium. After the sentence of death the soldiers take Jesus backinto the Praetorium, and renew the mockeries and indignities which hadbeen interrupted that Pilate might exhibit Jesus to the people, as Johnshows us ( John 19:4-8 ).
- And they call together the whole band. Moreover, the whole band, or cohort, are now gathered, where at first but a few took part.
15:17 And they clothe him with purple1, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it on him2;
- And they clothe him with purple. The robe was designed to give Jesus a mock appearance of royalty, and it was likely some cast-offmilitary coat or state garment of Pilate's.
- And platting a crown of thorns, they put it on him. It is not know which one of the many thorny plants of Palestine was used to form theLord's crown. See Mark 4:7. It is likely that the mock robe andcrown were removed when Jesus was brought before Pilate to besentenced, for it is highly improbable that a Roman judge wouldpronounce the death sentence while the prisoner was clothed in such amanner.
15:18 and they began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews1!
- And they began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! The soldiers had no special malice against Jesus, but the Roman military system mademen hard of heart. The occasion gave to these foreign legionaries amuch-enjoyed opportunity to show their contempt for the Jews by mockingJesus as their King.
15:19 And they smote his head with a reed, and spat upon him1, and bowing their knees worshipped him.
- And spat upon him. See Mark 14:65.
15:20 And when they had mocked him1, they took off from him the purple, and put on him his garments. And they lead him out to crucify him.
- THE CRUCIFIXION. A. ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS. (Within and without Jerusalem. Friday morning.) Matthew 27:31-34 ; Mark 15:20-23 ; Luke 23:26-33 ; John 19:17
- And when they had mocked him. This ended the mockery, which seems to have been begun in a state of levity, but which ended in grossindecency and violence. When we think of him who endured it all, wecannot contemplate the scene without a shudder. Who can measure thegrace of God or the depravity of man?
15:21 And they compel one passing by, Simon of Cyrene1, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus2, to go [with them], that he might bear his cross3.
- And they compel one passing by, Simon of Cyrene. Cyrene was a flourishing city in the north of Africa, having in it a large Jewishpopulation, and Simon shows by his name that he was a Jew. TheCyreneans had one or more synagogues in Jerusalem ( Acts 2:10 ; Acts 6:9 ; Acts 11:20 ).There were many Cyreneans afterwards engaged in spreading the gospel( Acts 13:1 ), and since the sons of this man are spoken of as wellknown to Mark's readers, it is altogether likely that Simon was one ofthem.
- Rufus. He may be the one mentioned by Paul ( Romans 16:13 ).
- That he might bear his cross. The Roman soldiers found Simon entering the city, and because he was a stranger and they needed a manjust then, they impressed him; see Matthew 5:41 on the manner.
15:22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha1, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
- And they bring him unto the place Golgotha. Where this place was, or why it was so called, are matters of conjecture. All that we knowcertainly is that it was outside of, yet near, the city ( Hebrews 13:12
15:23 And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh1: but he received it not2.
- They offered him wine mingled with myrrh. This mixture of sour wine mingled with gall and myrrh was intended to dull the sense of pain ofthose being crucified or otherwise severely punished. The custom issaid to have originated with the Jews and not with the Romans.
- But he received it not. Jesus declined it because it was the Father's will that he should suffer. He would not go upon the cross ina drugged, semi-conscious condition.
15:24 And they crucify him1, and part his garments among them2, casting lots upon them, what each should take3.
- THE CRUCIFIXION. B. JESUS CRUCIFIED AND REVILED. HIS THREE SAYINGS DURING FIRST THREE HOURS. (Friday morning from nine o'clock till noon.) Hebrews ; Matthew 27:35-44 ; Mark 15:24-32 ; Luke 23:33-43 ; John 19 18-27
- And they crucify him. A quaternion or band of four soldiers did the work of the actual crucifixion ( John 19:23 ).
- And part his garments among them. The Roman law awarded them the garments of the condemned as their perquisites. The sandals, girdle,outer robe, head-dress, etc., of Jesus were divided into four parts andlots were cast of the parts.
- Casting lots upon them, what each should take. See Psalms 22:18
15:25 And it was the third hour1, and they crucified him.
- It was the third hour. About nine o'clock. See Matthew 20:3.
15:26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over1, THE KING OF THE JEWS2.
- And the superscription of his accusation was written over. It was a well-established Roman custom to thus place a witness above the headsof the crucified to indicate the cause for which they died.
- THE KING OF THE JEWS. Pilate writes the accusation so as to clear his own skirts before Caesar and so as to show his contempt for theJewish people. They had forced him to crucify and innocent man, and heretaliates by giving to that man the title which his enemies accusedhim of professing. Also see John 19:20.
15:27 And with him they crucify two robbers1; one on his right hand, and one on his left2.
- And with him they crucify two robbers. These were doubtless robbers of the class of Barabbas. See Mark 15:7 . They were also those who, ledon by fanatical patriotism, had become insurrectionists and outlaws.Large numbers of them were crucified during the Jewish wars (Josephus,Wars 13:2.3).
- One on his right hand, and one on his left. The two may have been crucified at this time for convenience' sake, but the fact that Jesuswas placed between them suggests that they were crucified with him toheighten his shame and indignity. For, though Pilate had no personalill will toward Jesus, he wished to show contempt for Judah's King.
15:28 [And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was reckoned with transgressors.]
- And he was reckoned with the transgressors. See Isaiah 53:12 .
15:29 And they that passed by1 railed on him, wagging their heads2, and saying3, Ha! Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days4,
- Mark 15:29-32
- And they that passed by. Jesus was evidently crucified near the highway.
- Railed on him, wagging their heads. Thus one and all unite in mocking Jesus, using both words and gestures.
- And saying. They bring forth echoes from the trial of Jesus and take other incidents from his life, little dreaming the deepsignificance of what they utter.
- Ha! Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days. They reminded Jesus of his words about destroying the temple( John 2:19-22 ; Mark 14:58 ), when they were committing that very act.
15:31 In like manner also the chief priests mocking [him] among themselves with the scribes said, He saved others; himself he cannot save1.
- He saved others; himself he cannot save. They taunt him with saving others, yet being unable to save himself, which is the great truth ofthe atonement which the Lord was then making.
15:32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross1, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reproached him2.
- Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross,
- that we may see and believe. They promised to believe if he will come down from the cross, yet his being lifted upon the cross was the veryact which would convince them ( John 8:28 ).
- And they that were crucified with him reproached him. It seems that at first both robbers reviled Christ, but one repenting spoke in hisfavor and prayed to him. See Luke 23:42.
15:33 And when the sixth hour was come1, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour2.
- THE CRUCIFIXION. C. DARKNESS THREE HOURS. AFTER FOUR MORE SAYINGS, JESUS EXPIRES. STRANGE EVENTS ATTENDING HIS DEATH. Matthew 27:45-56 ; Mark 15:33-41 ; Luke 23:44-49 ; John 19:28-30
- And when the sixth hour was come. Noon. See Matthew 20:3.
- There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. The darkness lasted from noon until three o'clock. It could not have beenan eclipse, for the moon was always full on the first day of thepassover. Whether the darkness was over the whole world, or simply allof Palestine, is uncertain, as, according to the usage of Biblelanguage, the words would be the same.
15:34 And at the ninth hour1 Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani2? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me3?
- And at the ninth hour. At three o'clock p.m. See Matthew 20:3.
- Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? The words of the cry are found at Psalms 22:1 . "Eli" is Hebrew, "Eloi" is Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic for "MyGod". The former would be used by Jesus if he quoted the Scripture, thelatter if he spoke the language of the people.
- My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? We can imagine what it would mean to a righteous man to feel that he was forsaken of God. Butthe more we feel and enjoy the love of another, the greater our senseof loss at being deprived of it. Considering, therefore, the near anddear relationship between the Son and Father, it is evident that we cannever know or fathom the depth of anguish which this cry expressed.Suffice it to say, that this was without doubt the most excruciating ofall Christ's sufferings, and it, too, was a suffering in our stead.
15:35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elijah1.
- Behold, he calleth Elijah. Jesus had now been upon the cross for six hours, and fever and loss of blood and the strain upon the musclesof his chest had rendered his articulation difficult and indistinct.For this reason some of those who stood by, though perfectly familiarwith the language, misunderstood him and thought that he called uponElijah.
15:36 And one ran, and filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed1, and gave him to drink, saying, Let be2; let us see whether Elijah cometh to take him down.
- And one ran, and filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed,
- and gave him to drink. After Jesus speaks of his thirst ( John 19:28 ), vinegar is given to him to remove the dryness from histhroat.
- Let be. Those who give the vinegar and those who stand by ( Matthew 27:49 ), unite in saying "Let be". This phrase has no referenceto the vinegar; it is a general expression, meaning, "Let us do nothingto prevent him from calling upon Elijah, or to prevent Elijah fromcoming".
15:37 And Jesus uttered a loud voice1, and gave up the ghost2.
- And Jesus uttered a loud voice. See Luke 23:46 .
- And gave up the ghost. In Greek, "ekpneo", "breathed his last". None of the Evangelists speaks of Jesus as dying; for he yielded up hisspirit voluntarily ( John 10:18 ).
15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom1.
- And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. The veil was the heavy curtain which hung between the holyand the most holy places in the sanctuary. By shutting out from themost holy place all persons except the high priest, who alone waspermitted to pass through it, and this only once in the year, itsignified that the way into the holiest--that is, into heaven--was notyet made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing ( Hebrews 9:7 Hebrews 9:8 ).But the moment that Jesus died, thus making the way manifest, the veilwas appropriately rent in twain from top to bottom, disclosing the mostholy place to the priests who were at that time offering the eveningincense in the holy place.
15:39 And when the centurion, who stood by over against him, saw that he so gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
- The centurion . . . said, Truly this man was the Son of God. The conduct of Jesus upon the cross and the disturbances of nature whichaccompanied his death ( Matthew 27:51-52 ), convinced the centurion thatJesus was a righteous man. But knowing that Jesus claimed to be theSon of God, and this claim was the real cause for which the Jews werecrucifying him, he concludes, since he concedes that Jesus isrighteous, that he is also all that he professed to be--the Son of God.There is no just reason for minimizing his confession, as though he hadsaid, "A son of the gods"; for he said nothing of that kind, and thoseerr as to the use of Scriptural language who think so. Like thecenturions of Capernaum and Caesarea ( Matthew 8:10 ; Acts 10:1 Acts 10:2 ), this Romanxsurpassed in faith those who had better opportunities. But in thisfaith he was not alone.
15:40 And there were also women beholding from afar: among whom [were] both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
- And there were also women beholding from afar off, etc. John had already mentioned this group of women ( John 19:25 ), and has shownthat he stood with them. The women unable to bear arms in aninsurrection had little to fear. They were not likely to be complicatedin the charges against Jesus. But the men were conspicuously absent.They appear to have stood quite close to the cross at one time justbefore the darkness. Probably they feared violence in the darkness, andso withdrew and viewed from afar off the scene as lighted by thetorches which the Roman soldiers would be obliged to procure in orderto effectually guard their prisoner ( Acts 16:29 ). The Synoptists,who make mention of the women toward the close of the crucifixion, donot mention the mother of Jesus as any longer among them. It is likelythat she had withdrawn with John, being unable longer to endure thesight.
NOTE.--To aid the reader, we submit the following table of the womenwho watched the crucifixion of Jesus, for it is from their names anddescriptions that we get our Scriptural light by which we distinguishthe kindred of our Lord.
-------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ | | Mary | and Mary the | and mother Mt 27:56 | | Magdalene | mother of | of sons of | | | James & John | Zebedee-------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ | | Mary | and Mary the | and Salome Mr 15:40 | | Magdalene | mother of | | | | James the Less| | | | and of Joses |-------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ | his mother | and Mary | Mary, the wife| the sister Joh 19:23 | his mother | Magdalene | of Clopas | of Jesus' | | | | mother-------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------
Matthew and Mark each name three women, whence it is thought thatSalome was the name of the mother of James and John. But the solutionof the problem depends on our rendering of John 19:25 . Now, wasMary, the wife of Clopas, named and also additionally described assister to our Lord's mother, or was it the unnamed Salome who was hersister? Does John mention three or four women? The best modernscholarship says that there were four women, and that therefore Jamesand John, the sons of Zebedee, were cousins of our Lord. In support ofthis it is argued: (1) That it is unlikely that two sisters would bearthe same name, a fact which, as Meyer says, is "established by noinstance". (2) John gives two pairs of women, each pair coupled by an"and". The first pair is kindred to Jesus, and is unnamed and isparalleled by the other pair, which is not kindred and of which thenames are given. Hebrew writers often used such parallelism. (3) Itaccords with John's custom to withhold the names of himself and allkindred, so that in his Gospel he nowhere gives his own, his mother's,or his brother's name, nor does he even give the name of our Lord'smother, who was his aunt. (4) The relationship explains in part whyJesus, when dying, left the care of his mother to John. It was not anunnatural thing to impose such a burden upon a kinsman.
15:41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women that came up with him unto Jerusalem.
- Who . . . followed him, and ministered unto him. As to the ministering of these women, see Luke 8:3.
15:42 And when even was now come, because it was the Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath1,
- THE CRUCIFIXION. D. JESUS FOUND TO BE DEAD. HIS BODY BURIED AND GUARDED IN THE TOMB. Matthew 27:57-66 ; Mark 15:42-47 ; Luke 23:50-56 ; John 19:31-42
- It was the Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath. According to rabbinical writing a few hours before the Sabbath werecalled the Preparation; but afterwards the term was applied to theentire day preceding the Sabbath.
15:43 there came Joseph of Arimathaea1, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus2.
- Joseph of Arimathaea. Joseph's town has been variously identified with Ramleh in Dan, Ramathaim in Ephraim ( 1 Samuel 1:1 ), and Ramah inBenjamin ( Matthew 2:18 ). It was a fulfillment of prophecy that the onewho buried Jesus should be rich ( Isaiah 53:9 ; Matthew 27:57 ).
- And he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. It is strange that those who were not afraid to be disciples wereafraid to ask for our Lord's body, yet he who was afraid to be adisciple feared not to do this thing ( John 19:38 ).
15:44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
- And Pilate marvelled if he was already dead. Instances are cited where men lived one whole week upon the cross, and men rarely died thefirst day.
15:46 And he bought a linen cloth1, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth2, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of a rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
- And he bought a linen cloth. A sindon. See Mark 14:51.
- Wound him in the linen cloth. As to the swathing of dead bodies, see John 11:44.
15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the [mother] of Joses beheld where he was laid1.
- And Mary Magdalene and Mary the [mother] of Joses beheld where he was laid. See Luke 23:55 andsee Luke 23:56.