Ver. 1. It was customary with the Jews to bind and deliver over to the Roman governors those whom they had condemned in their own councils; but we must not suppose that this was the first time they bound Jesus; for, as S. John informs us, when first they apprehended him, they put manacles upon him. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 2. It may be remarked upon this answer of our Lord, that he was not unwilling to answer the questions put to him by the governor, who condemned him contrary to his inclination, though he would not condescend to return an answer to the question of the high priests, as they were not worthy of the favour. Theophy.
Ver. 6. This practice of releasing to the people any prisoner they might think proper, was instituted in order to captivate the will of the people; which was most commonly done on the festival day, when the Jews were assembled from the different provinces to Jerusalem. But that the blindness and malice of this people might be more apparent, the evangelist here describes the atrocious wickedness of the man they preferred to the Son of God. Gloss.
Ver. 10. Since envy put to death the Author of life, Jesus Christ, how watchful should all Christians be against every degree of that sin. S. Chrysos. hom. xl. in Matt.
Ver. 21. S. Jerom thinks Alexander and Rufus were disciples of Christ, and on this account the name of their father is here expressed. S. Jerom. in D. Diony.
CalvaryGolgotha, i.e. the place of Calvary,of heads and skulls: perhaps, says S. Jerom, from the skulls of persons executed, and buried there. Several ancient writers would have it so called, from Adam's skull, whom they guess to have been buried there. Some also say that a part of this mountain was called Moria, the place where Abraham was ready to have sacrificed his son Isaac. Wi. --- Calvary. A place at a small distance from Jerusalem, where condemned malefactors were beheaded. So Christ, as a malefactor, dies on Calvary for the redemption of all: that where sin abounded, grace might more abound. Ven. Bede. --- In this mountain, according to the Hebrew doctors, were interred the remains of our protoparent, Adam. Athana.
Ver. 23. S. Matt. says mixed with gall; for gall is here used for bitterness, and wine that has myrrh in it is a very strong bitter; although, perhaps, both gall and myrrh might have been ingredients to increase the bitterness. S. Austin.
--- Or, in the confusion that was occasioned, some might have offered him one thing, some another; one person giving vinegar and gall, another wine mixed with myrrh. Theophy.
--- Wine mingled with myrrh may perhaps be used for vinegar. S. Jer.
--- This was given to criminals, to lessen their torments. Our Lord was pleased to taste the bitterness, but he would not permit the relief which the admittance of the same into his stomach might have afforded. Thus also were the scriptures fulfilled: they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Ps. lxviii. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 25. S. Mark is the only evangelist who says it was the third hour. S. John says it was the sixth. But these may easily be reconciled by supposing that he was crucified towards the end of the third hour, that is, about eleven of the clock, or half-past eleven, which being near the sixth hour, or twelve, the evangelist might say it was the sixth hour. Nic. de Lyra.
--- The third hour. The ancient account divided the day into four parts, which were named from the hour from which they began: the first, third, sixth, and ninth hour. Our Lord was crucified a little before noon; before the third hour had quite expired; but when the sixth hour was near at hand. Ch.
Ver. 26. It was written on a board, or rather on parchment fixed to a board, (as Leipsius informs us) expressing the cause why he was crucified, viz. because he was the King of the Jews. And, indeed, Pilate himself was fully persuaded that he was the Messiah promised to the Jews: and though he knew him to be innocent, he connived the more at his death through fear lest he might attempt something against the Roman empire, if he were permitted to continue. At the same time, by putting up his cause, he wished to revenge himself of the Jews, for their importunity and obstinacy in compelling him, partly against his will, to condemn him to death. For what could be more ignominious to the Jews than to see their king crucified at their own request, and for no other reason than because he was their king, and they did not wish him to reign over them. Thus did they receive the king for whose coming they had so long sighed, and from whom they had expected delivery from the Roman yoke, and the subjugation of the whole world to their own power. Sirinus.
Ver. 28. This text of Isaias regards the Messias according to the very letter. V.
Ver. 32. Afterwards they saw Him arising out of the sepulchre whom they thought unable to descend from the cross. Where, O Jew, is thy infidelity? I ask you yourselves. You shall be your own judges. How much more astonishing is it to be able, when dead, to rise again, than, when living, to descend from the cross? You desired a small exertion of power, and a much greater is here performed: but still your infidelity would not be cured. All have turned out of the way, all have become useless. S. Jer.
--- If the Scribes and Pharisees did not believe in Christ when he rose from the dead, neither would they have believed in him had he left the cross. Though the scripture had foretold in many places that he was to suffer, Ps. xxi. They have dug my hands and feet; and Ps. xcv, They shall look upon him whom they have pierced; He shall reign from the tree: (and which St. Justin assures us the Jews had erased from the psalm) yet where can the Jews point out that it was foretold he should descend from the cross? Tir.
Ver. 39. The centurion considered the crying out of our Saviour as an effect not of human, but divine power, since it generally happens that people at the moment the soul quits the body are reduced to so debilitated a state, that they are scarce able to utter the least word. Although Jesus was truly the natural, not the adoptive, Son of God, it is nevertheless probable that the centurion, being a Gentile, did not speak in this manner as if he knew Jesus to be the natural Son of God. He did not know that the Son of God was really true God, equal to the Father, but called him Son of God, as if adopted, on account of his extraordinary sanctity; or, perhaps, he might have called him the Son of God, in order to oppose the Jews, who called our Saviour a blasphemer, because he made himself the Son of God. D. Diony.
Ver. 42. Ven. Bede thinks the word parasceve is derived from the Greek paraskeuh, signifying a preparation. It was the day before the sabbath, on which the Jews were accustomed to prepare two meals, one for the parasceve, and another for the sabbath; the Jews not being allowed to dress any meat on the latter day, on account of its great solemnity. The Jews learnt this word of the Greeks, who lived among them in Jerusalem. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 43. A noble Decurion. The Decurions among the Romans were first called so as having ten men under them, as the centurions were over a hundred. But some of the Decurions were also Counsellors in towns, as is here signified by the Greek word BouleuthV. Wi.
ArimatheaThe town of Arimathea is placed on the maps about eighteen or twenty miles north-west of Jerusalem. --- Arimathea. In other parts of Scripture it is called Ramatha, a city of Judea, where Samuel, the prophet, was born. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 46. According to the description of those that have seen it, it is a kind of small chamber, the height of which, from top to bottom, is eight feet and an inch, its length six feet and one inch, and its breadth fifteen feet ten inches. Its entrance, or vestibule, which looks towards the east, is but four feet high, and two feet four inches wide. The place within, where our Lord's body was laid, takes up a whole side of the cave. The stone which was laid to secure the door of the sepulchre is still remaining, and according to Mr. Maundrell, is two yards and a quarter long, one broad, and one thick: but the particular parts of it are not visible, being all incrusted over with white marble, except in five or six little places, where it is left bare to receive the kisses and other devotions of pilgrims. Mark Luke's Voyage to Asia Minor, Vol. II. p. 12. and Maundrell's Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem.