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35 And they crucified him, and parted his gar ments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
* And they crucified him. To crucify, means to put to death on a cross. The cross has been described at ver. 32. The manner of the crucifixion was as follows: After the criminal had carried the cross to the place of execution, a hole was dug in the earth to receive the foot of it. The cross was laid on the ground; the person condemned to suffer was stripped, and was distended on it, and the soldiers fastened the hands and feet. After they had fixed the nails deeply in the wood, they elevated the cross with the agonizing sufferer on it; and in order to fix it more firmly in the earth, they let it fall violently into the hole which they had dug to receive it. This sudden fall must have given to the person
that was nailed to it a most violent and convulsive shock, so as greatly to increase his sufferings. The crucified person was then suffered to hang commonly till pain, exhaustion, thirst, and hunger ended his life.
This punishment was deemed the most disgraceful and ignominious that was practised among the Romans. It was the way in which slaves, robbers, and the most notorious and abandoned wretches were commonly put to death.
As it was the most ignominious punishment known, so it was the most painful. The position of the arms and the body was unnatural, the arms being extended back, and almost immovable. The least motion gave violent pain. The nails being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound with nerves and tendons, created the most exquisite anguish. The exposure of so many wounds to the air brought on a violent inflammation, which greatly increased the poignancy of the suffering. The free circulation of the blood was prevented. The consequence was intense pressure in the blood vessels, which was the source of inexpressible misery. The pain gradually increased. There was no relaxation, and no rest. The sufferer was commonly able to endure it till the third, and sometimes even to the seventh day. The intense sufferings of the Saviour, however, were sooner terminated. This was caused, perhaps, in some measure, by his previous fatigue and exhaustion, but still more by the intense sufferings of his soul. See note on Mark xv. 44. And parted his garments. It was customary to crucify a person naked. The clothes of the sufferer belonged to the executioners. John says, xix. 23, that they divided his garments into four parts, to each soldier a part; but for his coat they cast lots. See note on the place. When Matthew says, therefore, that they parted his garments, casting lots, it is to be understood that they divided one part of them, and for the other part of them they cast lots. “Thel
it might be fulfilled,' &c. The words here quoted are found in Psalm xxii. 18. The whole Psalm is usually referred to Christ, and is a most striking description of bis sufferings and death.
36 And sitting down they watched him there; “They watched him there. That is, the four soldiers who had crucified him. They watched him lest his friends should come and release him.
37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESÚS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
"And set up over his head.' John says, xix. 19, that Pilate wrote the title, and put it upon the cross, that is, he caused it to be written, and directed the soldiers to set it up. It was customary to set up over the heads of persons crucified, the crime for which they suffered, and the name of the sufferer. The accusacion on which Jesus had been condemned by Pilate, was his claiming to be the king of the Jews. “This is Jesus the king of the Jews.' The evangelists differ in the account of this title. Mark, xv. 26, says it was the king of the Jews.'. Luke says, xxii. 38,- this is the king of the Jews. John, xix. 19,- Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.' But the difficulty may be easily removed. John says, that the title was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. It is not at all improbable that the inscription varied in these languages. One evangelist may have translated it from the Hebrew; another from the Greek; a third from the Latin; and a fourth have translated one of the inscriptions a little different from another. Besides, the evangelists all agree in the main point of the inscription, namely, that he was the king of the Jews.
38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
"Two thieves.' Two robbers, or highwaymen. To show greater contempt for Jesus, and to treat him with greater cruelty, he was crucified between men of that abandoned character.
39 ( And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
Wagging their heads.' In token of derision and insult. See Job xvi. 4. Psa. cix. 25.
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buiidest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
'Thou that destroyest the temple,' &c. Meaning thou that didst boast that thou couldst do it. This was one of the things falsely charged on him. It was intended for painful sarcasm and derision,
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; hımself 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 mean, to admit that he had actually saved others, but only that he pretended to save them from death by miracles. 'If he be the king of Israel,' &c. The 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 apparentiy triumphant priesthood, he chose to die for the sins of the world. To this they added insult to God, profanely calling upon God to in. terpose 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. Cast 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 ihree o'clock in the after. noon, 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. ). “My God, my God,' &c. This expression is one denoting intense suffering. A person sutfering 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 haired 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 pretens ons to be the Messiah. The words Eli, Eli, they might easily pretend that they understood to mean 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 excessIvē thirst. “Filled it with vinegar. John says, xix. 29, there was a vessel set full of vinegar, probably for the use of the sol. diers 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 T 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, resigued 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,