|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:35-44 It was usual to put shame upon malefactors, by a writing to notify the crime for which they suffered. So they set up one over Christ's head. This they designed for his reproach, but God so overruled it, that even his accusation was to his honour. There were crucified with him at the same time, two robbers. He was, at his death, numbered among the transgressors, that we, at our death, might be numbered among the saints. The taunts and jeers he received are here recorded. The enemies of Christ labour to make others believe that of religion and of the people of God, which they themselves know to be false. The chief priests and scribes, and the elders, upbraid Jesus with being the King of Israel. Many people could like the King of Israel well enough, if he would but come down from the cross; if they could but have his kingdom without the tribulation through which they must enter into it. But if no cross, then no Christ, no crown. Those that would reign with him, must be willing to suffer with him. Thus our Lord Jesus, having undertaken to satisfy the justice of God, did it, by submitting to the punishment of the worst of men. And in every minute particular recorded about the sufferings of Christ, we find some prediction in the Prophets or the Psalms fulfilled.
Verse 36. - They watched him there. The soldiers, in relays, had to guard the criminal from any attempt of his friends to remove him from the cross - a long and tedious duty, during the performance of which they were allowed to sit. Crucifixion was not accompanied by immediate death. It was one of its greatest horrors that the tortured sufferer sometimes lived for days before death relieved him from his agony. Till this supervened, the guard had to keep watch. That this caution was not superfluous, we have intimations in ancient history, which tells of crucified persons being sometimes removed by their friends and restored to the use of their limbs and faculties. Josephus ('Vita,' 75) relates that he thus took down three criminals after a lengthened suspension, one of whom completely recovered, though the others succumbed to their injuries. This vigilance of the soldiers was providentially ordered as one of the means of proving the reality of Christ's death.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And sitting down, they watched him there. That is, the soldiers, after they had crucified Jesus, and parted his garments, sat down on the ground at the foot of the cross, and there watched him, lest his disciples should take him down; though there was no need to fear that, since they were few, and weak, and wanted courage, and were in the utmost dread and consternation themselves; or lest the people, who were very changeable with respect to Christ, one day saying Hosanna to the son of David, and another day crucify him, crucify him, should once more change their sentiments of him, and through pity to him rise and take him down; or rather, lest Jesus himself should, by his miraculous power, unloose himself, come down, and make his escape. It was usual with the Romans to set a soldier, or soldiers, to watch those that were crucified, not only before they expired, but after they were dead, lest they should be took down and buried; as appears from Petronius, Plutarch, and others (w). This seems to be the watch Pilate refers to, Matthew 27:65, and over which there was a centurion, Matthew 27:54.
(w) Vid. Lipsium de Cruce, l. 2. c. 16. & Lydium. de re militari, l. 5. c. 4. p. 191. Kirchman. de funeribus Rom. append. c. 9. p. 726.
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