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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 hiin 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,
inade 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 xviij. 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 ow 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.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, 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 igno minious 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. "That
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 his 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 JESUS 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 accusation 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, xxiii. 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 buildest 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,