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do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
'Have thou nothing to do,' &c. That is, do not condemn him. Perhaps she was afraid that the vengeance of Heaven would follow her husband and family, if he condemned the innocent. "That just man.' The word 'just' here has the sense of innocent; or not guilty. She might have been satisfied of his innocence from other sources, as well as from the dream. 'I have suffered many things,' &c. Dreams were occasionally considered as indications of the Divine will, and among the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, great reliance was placed on them.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
'Persuaded the multitude.' The release of a prisoner was to be to the people, not to the rulers. The people were greatly under the influence of the priests. The priests turned the pretensions of Jesus into ridicule. Hence in a popular tumult, among a changing multitude, they easily excited those, who but a little before had cried Hosanna, to cry, Crucify him.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
'Whether of the twain ? Which of the two, Jesus or Barabbas? 'And the governor said, Why? Luke informs us that Pilate put this question to them three times, so anxious was he to release him. He affirmed that he had found no cause of death in him. He said therefore, that he would chastise him and let him go. He expected probably by causing him to be publicly scourged, to excite their compassion, to satisfy them, and thus to evade the demands of the priests, and to set him at liberty with the consent of the people. Let him be crucified.' See note on ver. 35. Luke says they were instant with loud voices demanding this. They urged it. They demanded it with a popular clamour.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and
washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person, see ye to it.
'He took water.' The Jews were accustomed to wash their hands when they wished to show that they were innocent of a crime committed by others, see Deut. xxi. 6. Ps. xxvi. 6. They often used signs to represent their meaning. But the mere washing of his hands, did not free Pilate from guilt. He was bound as a magistrate to free an innocent man; and was guilty of suffering the holy Saviour to be led to execution, to gratify the malice of enraged priests, and the clamours of a tumultuous populace. See ye to it.' That is, take it upon yourselves. Ye are responsible for it, if you put him to death.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
'His blood be on us.' &c. That is, let the guilt of putting him to death, if there be any, be on us and on our children. We will be answerable for it, and will consent to bear the punishment of it. In all countries, the conduct of the parent involves also the children in many of the consequences of his conduct. The Jews had no right to call down this vengeance on their children, but in the righteous judgment of God it has come upon them. In less than forty years their city and temple were overthrown and destroyed. More than a million of people perished in the siege. Their blood ran down the streets like water, so that, Josephus says, it extinguished things that were burning in the city. Thousands were crucified-suffering the same torture that they had inflicted on the Messiah. So great was the number of those who were crucified, that, Josephus says, they were obliged to cease from it, room being wanting for the crosses, and crosses for the men. To this day also the curse has remained. All classes of men; all the governments of the earth have conspired to overwhelm them with calamity, and yet they still live as monuments of the justice of God, as proofs that the christian religion is true, and standing demonstrations of the crime of their fathers in putting the Messiah to death, and in calling down vengeance on their heads.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
'And when he had scourged Jesus.' See note Matt. x. 17. Among the Romans it was customary to scourge or whip a slave before he was crucified. Our Lord, being about to be put to death after the manner of a slave, was also treated as a slave; as one of the lowest and most despised of mankind. 'He delivered him,' &c. He gave him up as a judge when he ought to have
saved his life, and might have done it. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment; it was performed by Roman soldiers; Pilate pronounced the sentence from the tribunal, and Pilate affixed the title to the cross. Pilate, therefore, as well as the Jews, was answerable to God for the death of the Saviour of the world.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
See also Mark xv. 15-20. John xix 1-3. 'Into the common hall.' The original word here means rather the governor's palace, or dwelling. The trial of Jesus had taken place out of the palace. Jesus, being condemned, was led by the soldiers away from the Jews within the palace, and subjected to their profane mockery and sport. The whole band.' The band or cohort was a tenth part of a Roman legion, and consisted of from four hundred to six hundred men, according to the size of the legion.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
"And they stripped him.' They took off all his upper garments. A scarlet robe.' Mark says they clothed him in purple. The ancients gave the name purple to any colour that had a mixture of red in it, and consequently these different colours might be sometimes called by the same name. The robe here used was the kind worn by Roman generals, and other distinguished officers of the Roman army, and also by the Roman governors. This was probably one which had been worn and cast off as useless, and was now used to array the Son of God as an object of ridicule and scorn.
29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
'Had platted.' The word 'platted' here means woven together, or having made a wreath of a thorn-bush. A crown,' or perhaps rather a wreath. A crown was worn by kings, commonly made of gold and precious stones. To ridicule the pretensions of Jesus, that he was a king, they probably plucked up a thornbush growing near, made it into something resembling, in shape, a royal crown, so as to correspond with the old purple robe, and to complete the mockery. And a reed in his right hand.' A reed is a straight, slender herb growing in marshy places, and abundant on the banks of the Jordan. It was often used for the purpose of making staves for walking. The word is several times thus used. See 2 Kings xviii. 21. Isa. xxxvi. 6. Ezek. xxix. 6. Kings commonly carried a sceptre, made of ivory or
gold, as a sign of their office or rank, Esther iv. 11; viii. 4. This reed or staff they put in his hand, in imitation of a sceptre, to deride his pretensions of being a king, 'And they bowed the knee.' This was done for mockery. It was an act of pretended homage. The common mode of showing respect or homage for kings was by kneeling or prostration. This was done for sport and amusement; and it shows amazing forbearance on the part of Jesus, that he thus consented to be ridiculed and set at nought. No being, merely human, would have borne it. Hail, king of the Jews. The term 'hail' was a common mode of salutation to a king, or even to a friend. It implies commonly the highest respect for the office, as well as for the person, and is an invocation of blessings on the person. Here it was used to ridicule Christ in every possible way.
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
'And they spit upon him.' This was a token of the deepest contempt and insult. And took the reed.' The cane, probably so large as to inflict a heavy blow. And smote him on the head.' Not merely to injure him by the force of the blow, but to press the thorns into his head, and thus to add cruelty to insult.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. 32 And as they came out they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
As they came out.' That is, out of the governor's palace, where he had been treated with such cruelty and contempt, or out of the gates of the city, to crucify him. A man of Cyrene.' Cyrene was a city of Lybia, in Africa, lying west of Egypt. There were many Jews there, and they were in the habit, like others, of going frequently to Jerusalem. Him they compelled to bear his cross." John says, xix. 17, that Jesus went forth bearing his cross. Luke says, xxiii. 26, that they laid the cross on Simon, that he might bear it after Jesus. There is no contradiction in these accounts. It was a part of the usual punishment of those who were crucified, that they should bear their own cross to the place of execution. It was accordingly laid at first on Jesus, and he went forth, as John says, bearing it. Weak, however, and exhausted by suffering and watchfulness, he sunk under the heavy burden, and they laid hold of Simon that he might bear one end of the cross, as Luke says, after Jesus. The cross was composed of two pieces of wood, one of which was placed upright in the earth, and the other crossed it, after the form of the letter T. The upright part was commonly so high
that the feet of the person crucified were two or three feet from the ground. On the middle of that upright part there was a projection, which served to keep up the body of the person cru. cified. This was necessary, as the hands alone were not strong enough to bear the weight of the body. The feet were fastened to the upright piece, either by nailing them with large spikes driven through the tender part, or by being lashed by cords. To the cross piece at the top, the hands, being extended, were also fastened, either by spikes, or by cords, or perhaps in some cases by both. The hands and feet of our Saviour were both fastened by spikes.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, A place of a skull,
Golgotha. This is the Hebrew word, signifying the place of a skull. It is the word which in Luke is called Calvary. The word 'Calvary' is a Latin word, meaning skull, or a place of skulls. It is not known certainly why this name was given to this place. The most probable opinion is, that it was a place of execution; that malefactors were beheaded there, or otherwise put to death, and that their bones remained unburied or unburned. Jesus was put to death out of the city, because capital punishments were not allowed within the walls. See Num. xv. 35. 1 Kings xxi. 13. He also died there, because the bodies of the beasts slain in sacrifice as typical of him, were burned without the camp. He also, as the antitype, suffered without the gate, Heb. xiii. 11, 12.
34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
They gave him vinegar,' &c. It has been doubted whether this was the same drink as that mentioned by Mark, xv. 23, wine mingled with myrrh. It is probable that the two evangelists mean the same thing. Vinegar was made of light wine rendered acrid, and was the common drink of the Roman soldiers, and might be called either vinegar or wine, in common language. Myrrh' is a bitter substance, produced in Arabia, but is used often to denote any thing bitter. The meaning of the name is bitterness. See note Matt. ii. 11. Gall' is properly a bitter secretion from the liver; but the word is also used to denote any thing exceedingly bitter, as wormwood, &c. The drink, therefore, was vinegar, rendered bitter by the infusion of wormwood, or some other very bitter substance. The effect of this, it is said, was to stupify the senses. It was often given to those crucified, to render them insensible to the pains of death. Our Lord knowing this when he had tasted it, refused to drink. He was unwilling to blunt the pains of dying. The cup which his Father gave him, he rather chose to drink; and he gave himself up to the unmitigated sufferings of the cross.