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had known Him best, and loved Him most; many holy women who had come up with Him to that last Passover, whose work and joy it was to minister to Him and His there as in Galilee. Some of them are mentioned by name; Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James the younger, 2 -80 called to distinguish him from another of the same name,-and Salome, mother of the sons of Zebedee. She now doubtless calls to mind her ambitious prayer for her two sons," when she sees who is on His right hand and on His left.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xix, 31-37.
The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
Our Lord was crucified on the day to which the Jews gave the name “Preparation,” the day which preceded a Sabbath 5
· St. Mark xv. 41; St. Luke viii. 2, 3.
? The author probably of the General Epistle of St. James. His mother was the wife of Alphæus or Cleophas, more correctly Clopas, and
sister and namesake to the Mother of
3 St. Mark xy. 40.
of more than usual solemnity, that namely in the Paschal week. On such a day they were not willing to see anything which might offend their eye. They had no objection to the sin itself, but they did not care to have before their eyes, on this day of festival, the ghastly forms of the crucified. They would not have their joy disturbed by so ugly and sad a spectacle. Here too with these slavish Jews came in the scruple of the Law, without its justice or its mercy. Here was the letter without the spirit. It was the mere corpse or carcase of religion. Life was wanting there. They thought to keep the Sabbath, when they had slain the Lord of the Sabbath. Rather than have the festival of the morrow invaded by any such sights, the Jews applied to the Romans to complete the punishment by a cruel supplement which sometimes followed crucifixion. This was to break the legs
. of the crucified just above the ankle, with the heavy blow of an iron mallet. They might then be safely taken away without any fear of their escape or restoration. Civilization, we see, without Christianity will not humanize the heart of
Greece and Rome were abundantly civilized, and they were, we know, abundantly cruel. Not till the time of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was so barbarous a punishment done away. It is not easy to account for the motive of this soldier in thus piercing our Saviour's side. It was probably one of those wanton acts which would not be uncommon at such a time. But whatever was this man's motive in the act, it was overruled to the instruction of the Church, and to the fulfilment of the Scripture. “These are the two blessed Sacraments of the Spouse of Christ, each assuring her of the death of her Beloved,” ? who, “ for the
which was smitten, and the waters of life gushed forth. Behold the Fountain that is set open to the House of David, for sin, and for uncleanness.
Those two Sacraments which Thou didst institute alive, flow also from Thee dead, as the last memorials of Thy love to Thy Church: the water of Baptism, which is the laver of regeneration; the blood of the New Testament, shed for the remission of
forgiveness of our sins, did shed out of His most precious side both water and blood;" 1 water to wash us, and blood to redeem us, as in Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. The impression this incident made upon the Evangelist who witnessed it, may be gathered not only from the manner of the record here, but also from his memorable statement else. where in an Epistle. And lest any should say that there was some mistake or misconception, he not only tells us, as there, that this is the statement of an eye-witness,- but adds this affirmation of the truth of his testimony, that they might be fully persuaded in their own minds, and doubt no more. It was important to dwell upon this point as proving the actual death of Jesus; for even in those early days there had arisen men "speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;" a sect especially, called from their vain opinion Docetæ, who feigned that Jesus had not a real body, but was only a phantom or appearance. These therefore it was needful thus to confute. The reality of His death proved the very humanity of His life. Here again we find the soldiers coming in, unconscious witnesses, agents in the fulfilment of prophecy.
sins." And again (Sermon on The all the purifications of the Law might Believer crucified with Christ): "See be referred to these two classes : some Him stretching out His arms to re- were by blood, some by water. In ceive and embrace you; hanging the Tabernacle were two receptacles, down His head to take view of your ove for blood, the other for water; misery ; opening His precious side to that on the altar, this in the laver of receive you into His bosom; opening brass. So began to be fulfilled the His very heart to take you in thither; promise of Ezek. xxxvi. 25; Zech. ix. pouring out thence water to wash you, 11; xiii. 1. See Ps. xxii. 14. Auand blood to redeem you.” Su also gustine (in S. Jo. Tr. cxx. 2) speaks the animated close of Cyprian's medic of the water as tempering the cup, tation, De Passione Christi.
referring to the mixed chalice. See 1 The Ministration of Public Bap- too the use made of it in Toplady's tism. Bengel says, that blood should well-known hymn, “ Rock of Ages.” come thereout was wonderful; that ? 1 St. John v. 6, 8. water, more wonderful; that both to- 3 1 St. John i. 1-3. gether, and yet distinctly, most won- * Ps. xxxiv. 20; xxii. 17; Zech. derful of all. Lampe reminds us that xii. 10.
St. John xix. 38-42.
And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus : and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden ; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
The evening was now come, and we see Jesus, who was crucified and dead, also buried. This Joseph was a rich man,' and an honourable counsellor, a member, that is, of the Sanhedrim or Jewish Council. He was also a good man and a just. He had not consented to the counsel and deed of the rest. He waited for the Kingdom of God. This man went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. With him was associated Nicodemus, of whom we have heard before. These had both been timid during His life, fearing the rulers and the power of excommunication they possessed; but with His death their courage rises, quickened by love. That very thing which the persecutors calculated would make all waverers more fearful, only makes these sincere men the more bold. Pilate, we are told, marvelled if He were already dead : and calling unto him the Centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the Centurion,' he commanded the body to be
1 St. Matt. xxvii, 57. 2 St. Mark xv, 43.
3 St. Luke xxiii. 50, 51. * St. Mark xv. 44, 45.
delivered. The Evangelist is careful to mention the weight
" of the spices which Nicodemus brought to embalm the body of the Lord. The largeness of the gift argues the largeness of his love, who thought nothing too great, too good, for his Lord. In an utilitarian age like the present, it may be well for us sometimes to recall a precedent like this. Then, as it was foretold, “He made his grave with .... the rich in His death ;" 3 for the place was Joseph's property. The sepulchre was hewn out of the rock, and secured by a great stone rolled to the mouth or entrance. This mention of the Garden where His Passion closed, remits us to that Garden where the woe began. And the "new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid,” reminds us that His birth and His burial were in this alike. He who was born of a Virgin-Mother shall be laid in a Virgin-grave. A Joseph too is the guardian in either case, and each is called a just man. There then they laid Jesus, as in a temporary resting-place; somewhat hastily, as it was Preparation-day, the day before the great Sabbath of the Paschal week ;5 intending to return to the sepulchre and complete their care; ignorant as yet that there should be no need of this, not looking for the triumphs of that first Easter morn.
And while this funeral is taking place (which should take off from the gloom of ours) we see Mary Magdalene 6 and Mary the mother of Joses,' sitting over against the sepulchre, watching to the last. They are singled out for mention among the women which came with Him from Galilee, who followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments, to complete their loving reverence, so soon as the Sabbath-day, when they rested according to the commandment,' should be past. Thus have we seen the Saviour of the world, in the brief language of the Creed, “crucified, dead, and buried.” Nor may we overlook the
I St Matt. xxvii. 58.
6 St. Matt. xxvii, 61. See the ? See the closing stanzas in The beautiful hymn in Hymns Ancient and Christian Year for the Third Sunday Modern, beginning, “ Resting from after Epiphany.
His work to-day.” 3 Is. liii. 9.
? St. Mark xv. 47. 4 St. Matt. xxvii. 60.
8 St. Luke xxiii, 55, 56. 5 St. Luke xxiii. 54.