Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:IV
CHRIST ON GOLGOTHA THE LIGHT OF SALVATION, OR THE GLORIFICATION OF THE CURSE OF THE OLD WORLD. CHRIST THE CROSS-BEARER. THE CRUCIFIED IN THE MIDST OF THE CRUCIFIED. THE SUPERSCRIPTION: THE KING OF THE JEWS, A WRITING OF DISGRACE CHANGING INTO A WRITING OF HONOR. THE BOOTY OF THE SOLDIERS, ALSO A FULFILMENT OF SCRIPTURE. THE INSTITUTION OF DEPARTING LOVE. THE LAST DRAUGHT. THE WORD OF VICTORY: IT IS FINISHED!
(Matt. 27:32–56; Mark 15:20–41; Luke 23:26–49)
And they [They therefore, οὖν] took Jesus and led him away.8 17And he bearing his [own]9 cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull [the so called Place of a Skull, εἰς τὸν λεγόμενον Κρανίου Τόπον] which is called in the [omit the] Hebrew Golgotha:10 18Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one [and with him two others, one on each side], and Jesus in the midst.
19And Pilate wrote [also, χαί] a title [or, an inscription], and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH [THE NAZARENE, ὁ Ναζωραῖος THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20This title then read many of the Jews; for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written 21in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin [in Hebrew, Roman, Greek].11 Then [Therefore] said the chief-priest of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22Pilate answered, What I have written I 23have written.
23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his [upper] garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat [the inner garment, tunic, τὸν χιτῶνα]: now the coat was without seam [but the tunic was seamless, ἄραφος, woven from the top throughout. 24They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, ‘They parted my raiment [garments] among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.’ [Ps. 22:18.] These things therefore the soldiers did.
25Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister [Salome, John’s mother, see the Exeg.], Mary the wife of Cleophas [Clopas, ή τοῦ Κλωπᾶ], and Mary [the, ῆ] Magdalene. 26When Jesus therefore saw [Jesus therefore seeing] his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he [omit he] saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that [the, ὁ] disciple took her unto his own home.
28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished [finished, τετέλεσται, as John 19:30], that the Scripture might be fulfilled [accomplished, τελειωθῇ] 29saith, I thirst. Now [omit Now]12 there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth [so putting a sponge filled with the vinegar upon a stalk of hyssop, they raised it to his mouth]. 30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [yielded up his spirit].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[John’s account of the crucifixion is brief and comprehensive, yet with several original details of the deepest import. On his relation to the Synoptists in this section, see the full analysis of Dr. Lange in Doctr. & Ethic, below, No. 1.—P. S.]
John 19:17. And bearing His own cross, etc. Αὑτῷ [for Himself] τὸν σταυρόν emphasized. [See TEXT. NOTE, “As conquerors bear their own trophies, so Christ bears the symbol of His own victory.”—P. S.] Thus He went forth [ἐξῆλθεν]. Out of the city, Heb 13:12.
Golgotha. See Comm. on Matthew 27:33.
[On the words Golgotha, Cranion, Calvaria, Calvary, Mount (?) Calvary, see my TEXTUAL NOTE 3. The vexed question of locality is fully discussed by Dr. Lange and myself in the Commentary on Matthew, pp. 520, 521, with reference to the principal arguments for and against the traditional site of the crucifixion, i.e., the spot where now stands the Constantinian or, perhaps, post-Constantinian “Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” which lies within the walls of the present city and in the north-western quarter, not far from the Damascus Gate. Robinson is the chief authority in opposition, G. Williams in defense, of the popular tradition. The former has still the best of the argument.13 The other writers on the subject, Ritter, Raumer, Tobler, Winer, Schubert, Bergren, Arnold, Kraft, Friedlieb, Furrer, Lange, etc., among the Germans, Wilson, Barclay, Finley, Olin, Lewin, Tristram, Stanley, Fergusson, etc., among English and Americans, are divided in opinion or leave the matter doubtful. James Fergusson (art. Jerusalem in Smith’s Bible Dictionary, and also in a special pamphlet On the Site of the Holy Sepulchre, in answer to the Edinb. Rev.) has recently propounded the startling theory that the place of crucifixion was Mount Moriah, on the very spot where now stands the Mosque of Omar, or as the Moslems call it, the Dome of the Rock; and, further, that this building is the identical church of the Holy Sepulchre which Constantine erected over the rocky tomb of Christ. But this theory, besides leaving the disappearance of Constantine’s church and the substitution of the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre unexplained, is set aside by the extreme improbability that the temple area was outside of the city and a place of execution. Lange is disposed to identify Golgotha with the hill Goath, Jer. 31:39, which was outside of the city, east of the Sheep Gate. My colleague, Prof. Dr. Hitchcock, informs me that by personal examination in 1870 he came independently to the same conclusion. Perhaps it is best that the real locality of crucifixion should be unknown: it is too holy to be desecrated by idolatrous superstitions and monkish impostures and quarrels such as, from the age of Constantine to this day, have disgraced the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the delight of Mohammedan Turks, and to the shame and grief of Christians. The apostles and evangelists barely allude to the places of our Lord’s birth, death, and resurrection: they fixed their eyes of faith and love upon the great facts themselves, and upon the ever-living Christ in heaven. Only this is more or less certain from the Gospels, viz.: that the place of the crucifixion was out of the city (John 19:17; Matt. 28:11; comp. Heb. 13:12, ἔξω τῆς πύλης); yet near the city (John 19:20); apparently near a thoroughfare and exposed to the gaze of the passing multitude (as may be inferred from Mark 15:29 and John 19:20); probably on a little conical elevation (hence probably the name: ‘Skull,’ or ‘Place of a Skull’), but not on a mountain or hill (as the popular term Mount Calvary would imply); and that it was near the Lord’s sepulchre (John 19:41), which was in a garden and hewn in a rock (Matt. 27:60).—P. S.]
John 19:18. But Jesus in the midst. [μέσον δὲ τόν Ἰησοῦν]. This was Pilate’s arrangement, and designed to mock the Jews (see 1 Kings 22:19). Meyer maintains that it was an arrangement of the Jews’, the Jews being the crucifiers. Against this view we have to observe: 1. That the two thieves were not executed as Jewish heretics; 2. that the consummating of the crucifixion, as a Roman punitory act, must have been left to the Romans; 3. that it further reads: Pilate wrote also—namely, to complete the mockery of the Jews.
[Christ was crucified between the two robbers who represent the two classes of the human family: both guilty before God and justly condemned to death, but the one repenting, and saved by faith in the crucified Redeemer, the other impenitent, and rushing to ruin by unbelief. On the archæology of crucifixion, see the Notes on Matthew, pp. 522 f. Crucifixion was one of the most painful and disgraceful modes of death. It was unusual among the Jews, and applied among the Greeks and Romans (till the fourth century) only to slaves and gross criminals, as rebels and highway-robbers. Cicero calls it the most cruel and abominable punishment (crudelissimum teterrimumque supplicium). The cross consisted of two pieces of wood, generally put together transversely at right angles in the form of a T. The longer beam was planted in the earth, and provided with a projecting bar like a horn in the middle for the body to rest upon, which somewhat relieved the sufferings, and prevented the hands from being torn through. There were, however, various forms of the cross (crux commissa, cr. immissa, cr. decussata). The victim was first undressed, the arms tied with ropes to the cross-beam, the hands fastened with iron nails, the feet tied or nailed to the upright post. In this unnatural and immovable position of the body, he suffered intensely from thirst, hunger, inflammation of the wounds, and deep anguish in consequence of the rushing of the blood towards the head. Death followed slowly from loss of blood, thirst, and hunger, gradual exhaustion, and stiffening of the muscles, veins, and nerves. The loss of blood, however, was small, since the wounds in the hands and feet did not lacerate any large vessels, and were nearly closed by the nails. The sufferers lingered generally twelve hours,—sometimes, according to the strength of their constitution, to the second or third day. The bodies were left hanging on the cross until they decayed or were devoured by ravenous beasts and birds. But the Jews were accustomed to take them down and bury them. Constantine the Great, from motives of humanity, and especially from respect to the cross of Christ as the sign of victory (Hoc signo vinces), abolished crucifixion in the Roman empire, and since that time it has almost disappeared from Europe. What a wonderful change! Through the death of Christ the cross has been transformed from a symbol of shame into a symbol of glory and victory, and one of the richest themes of poetry. Well may we exclaim with Venantius Fortunatus, in his famous Passion-hymn, Pange, lingua:
Crux fidelis, inter omnes
Arbor una nobilis!
Nulla talem silva profert
Fronde, flore, germine:
Dulce lignum, dulces clavi,
Dulce pondus sustinens.
“Faithful cross! above all other,
One and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peers may be:
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron,
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.”—P. S.]
John 19:19. Pilate wrote also [or, Moreover Pilate wrote, ἔγραψε δὲ δὲ καὶ].—After sentence was pronounced, and as a formulation of the same. On this account, however, it is as little the Pluperfect (Tholuck) as it is a formula manufactured during the crucifixion only. In a word, Pilate first arranged the manner of the execution—between two thieves—and then wrote the superscription. See Comm. on Matthew. Τίτλος[=ἐπιγραφή, from the Latin titulus, inscription], the customary Roman term for such superscriptions (Wetstein).
Jesus the Nazarene [Ἰησ. ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Βασιλευς τῶν Ἰουδαίων, Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judæorum. All the four Evangelists give the inscription on the cross, but with slight variations, on which see Wordsworth in loc.—P. S.] The manifest double meaning of the superscription was the final expression of the suit. In the sense of the man Pilate, it meant: Jesus, the King of the Jewish fanatics, crucified in the midst of Jews, who should all thus be executed; in the sense of the Jews: Jesus, the seditionary, the King of rebels [and pseudo-prophets]; in the sense of the political judge: Jesus, for whose execution the Jews, with their ambiguous accusation, may answer; in the sense of the divine irony which ruled over the expression: Jesus, the Messiah, by the crucifixion become in very truth the King of the people of God.
John 19:20. Was read by many of the Jews.—Whereby they were forced to reflect upon that treason to the Messianic idea, of which the high-priests were guilty.
The place was near the city.—On Sunday afternoon the populace are fond of walking out of the city, particularly in the direction of new suburbs. So the Jews on their festivals. Towards Golgotha the beginnings of the new city were forming,—Bezetha. Leben Jesu, 2. p. 1573.
In Hebrew, etc.—Here also the Evangelist has in view the triumph of the Divine Spirit over human sin and malice. The inscription, in this threefold form, must symbolize the preaching concerning the Crucified One in the three principal languages of the world: in the language of religion [Hebrew], of culture [Greek], and of the State [Latin—the language of law and government].14
John 19:21. Then said the high-priests to Pilate.—A proposal to alter the title. They feel the sting of the inscription, and therefore prosecute their calumny. Jesus was to be more definitely characterized as a seditionary in the Roman sense, one whom Pilate himself had sentenced.
John 19:22. What I have written, etc. [ὅγέγραφα, γέγραφα. The first perfect denotes the past action, the second that it is complete and unchangeable.—P. S.]. Pilate feels secure again, and once more assumes the air of unshakeable authority and of the firm Roman. His declaration, however, contains at the same time the continuation of the idea that he lays the dark riddle of this crucifixion upon their consciences, that he does not acknowledge Jesus to be guilty in their sense, and that they need reckon upon no forbearance on his part. “Analogous formulæ from Rabbins, see in Lightfoot.” Meyer. “Agreeably to his character ἀκαμπὴς τὴν φύσιν, as Philo calls him, Pilate adheres to his resolution.” Tholuck.
John 19:23. Took His upper garments.—“The only earthly leavings of the Redeemer do not fall to the share of His people, but, in accordance with Roman law, to the executors of the death-sentence. By the ἱμάτια may be understood the upper garment, the girdle, the sandals, perhaps the linen shirt; these are divided amongst the Roman guard, consisting of four men (Acts 12:4).” Tholuck.
But the tunic, etc. [ἦν δὲ ὁ χιτὼν ἅραφος].—According to lsidor. Pelusiota, the like was worn by the lower classes in Galilee. This statement, however, might readily be abstracted from our passage. The Evangelist seems to see in this body-vest a homely work of art, wrought by loving hands. [χιτών], tunica, is an inner garment, worn to the skin like a shirt, mostly without sleeves, fastened round the neck with a clasp, and usually reaching to the knees. Sometimes two were worn for ornament or comfort. It was worn also by the Jewish high-priest and priests (but as an outer tunic, a broidered coat, chethoneth thashpez), and is described by Josephus, Antiq. lII. 7, § 4. The fathers (as also Roman commentators and Bishop Wordsworth) see in the seamless coat of Christ a symbol of the unity of the church.—P. S.]
John 19:24. In order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Ps. 22:19 (18), according to the Septuagint. A typical prophecy. See Comm. on Matthew. The apparent identicalness in the parallelismus membrorum of the Psalmist does not preclude our Evangelist’s right to make the distinction he does—it being a question of the interpretation of an unconsciously prophetic, a typical, speech.
These things therefore the soldiers did. As the soldiers knew nothing of those words of the Psalmist, their fulfilment of them is the more strikingly a divine inspiration. The same idea as John 12:16.
[John 19:25–27. Peculiar to John. A scene of unique delicacy, tenderness and sublimity. A type of those pure and spiritual relationships (the sacred Wahlverwandtschaften) which have their origin in heaven and are deeper and stronger than those of blood and interest. The cross is the place where the holiest ties are formed, and where they are guarded against the disturbing influences of sin.
“Das kreuz ist es, das Herzen zicht und bindet,
Wo Tiefverwandtes wunderbar sich findet”
A few simple touches reveal a world of mingled emotions of grief and comfort. The mother pierced in her soul by the sword (Luke 2:35), the beloved disciple gazing at the cross, the dying Son and Lord uniting them in the tenderest relation! The first words furnished the keynote to that marvellous Stabat Mater dolorosa of Jaeopône (1306), which, though disfigured by Mariolatry, describes with overpowering effect the intense sympathy with Mary’s grief, and is the most pathetic, as the Dies Iræ is the most sublime, product of Latin hymnology. It is the text for some of the noblest musical compositions, which will never cease to stir the hearts of men.—P. S.]
John 19:25. Now there stood by the cross [εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ, in the Vulgate: Stabat juxta crucem mater ejus, from which the Stabat Mater took its rise, as the Dies iræ from the Vulgate’s rendering of Zeph. 1:15.—P. S.].—According to the Synoptists (Matthew, Mark), the women mentioned stand afar off. According to Lücke and Olshausen, they were there previously; according to Meyer, there is a difference which must be settled in John’s favor. But it is manifestly necessary to distinguish two stages in the proceedings attendant upon the crucifixion: the tumult of the crucifixion itself, amidst which no friends could approach, and the subsequent sufferings on the cross. See Comm. on Matthew [p. 529].
We read with Wieseler (Studien u. Kritiken, 1840, p. 648): His mother (Mary) and His mother’s sister (Salome); then Mary—the wife of Clopas—and Mary Magdalene. Leben Jesu; Introduction to this Comm. [p. 4]. So also Lücke, Ewald [Meyer and Alford]; in old times, the Syrian, Ethiopian and Persian translations,15 as also the texts of Lachmann, editio minor, Tischendorf,16 Muralt. [Also Westcott and Hort, who punctuate without a comma after Κλοπᾶ, thus: ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆδ μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλ. καί Μαριὰμ ἡ Μαριὰμ ἡ μαγδ .—P. S.]. The opposite side is taken by Luthardt, Ebrard [Hengstenberg, Godet] and others.
[Thus we have not three women (Mary, her sister Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene), as is usually assumed, but four, arranged in two pairs: Mary and her sister (viz. Salome), Mary of Clopas and Mary the Magdalene. See the list of the apostles, Matt. 10:2 ff.; Luke 6:16 ff. Consequently John, the son of Salome, was a cousin of Jesus and a nephew of His earthly mother. This double relationship explains the more readily the fact that Jesus intrusted her to John rather than to His half-brothers, who at the time were yet unbelieving. Apocryphal traditions make Salome now a daughter, now a sister, now a former wife, of Joseph.—P. S.]
Wieseler’s hypothesis is upheld by the following facts:
1. It is not supposable that two sisters had the same name. [Some conjecture that Mary was only a step-sister. But I know of no example even of step-sisters or step-brothers bearing precisely the same name without an additional one to distinguish, them. Hengstenberg escapes the difficulty by the arbitrary assumption that sister here denotes sister-in-law.—P. S.]
2. In a precisely similar manner John elsewhere paraphrases his own name. [Nor does he introduce his brother James by name.—P. S.]
3. According to Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40, Salome really was among those women [who stood by the cross; and it is not likely that John should have omitted his own mother, the less so as he introduced himself.—P. S.]
The wife of Clopas [ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ].—Clopas=Alpheus, Matt. 10:3. The mother of the so-called brethren of Jesus, i.e. His cousins.
[The identity of Κλὡπᾶ (which sounds like an abridgement of Κλεοπ́ατρος) with the Hebrew name Αλφαῖος, הַלְפַּי (Matt. 10:3), is by no means so certain as Dr. Lange with most commentators (also Meyer) assumes, but quite doubtful on account of the difference, of letters, and the improbability that John should use the Aramaic, and Matthew and Mark the Hellenistic form. Ελωπᾶς sounds rather like an abridgement of Κλεόπατρος and maybe the same with the Κλεόπας, mentioned Luke 14:18. But even in case of the identity of Clopas and Alpheus, it does not follow that James and Joses, the sons of Alpheus and a certain Mary (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; Luke 24:10), were cousins of Jesus, unless we identify this Mary with the sister of the mother of Jesus, which Lange does not. Nor is it certain that ἡ means the wife of; it may also mean the daughter of, the Klopas mentioned Luke 24:18 (as Ewald).—P. S.]
John 19:26. Woman, behold thy son [Τύ ναι, ἴδε ὁ υἱός σου]—Woman instead of mother. See John 2:4. The word here denotes particularly the character of woman in her helplessness and need of comfort. It must be remembered, however, that Mary deserved the name of “woman” in the ideal sense also. As Christ was the Son of Man, or the Man, so she, though approximately only, not in the perfection of sinlessness, was the ideal woman. [The second Eve, the Woman, whose Seed here bruised the serpent’s head, Gen. 3—P. S.]. Thus the name “woman,” the greeting of the woman who in spirit shares His crucial agony, is likewise a title of dignity. But besides this, Christ has sufficient reason for not exposing Mary to the mockery or persecution of the enemy by saluting her with the name pf “mother.”
The explanation recently (for instance in Piper’s Jahrbuch, article “Maria”) enlarged upon with ever-increasing grotesqueness, and which claims that with this saying Christ renounced His mother at the cross, goes, in its gradual development, from Luthardt, who is more precisely the author of it, back to Hofmann.17 It is expressive of a Monophysite view which takes the bold flight of afterward annulling even the historical fact. People holding this view apparently conceive of the status majestaticus not as the centre of the glorification of the human life, but as a sort of Oriental court raised to heaven. In connection with this view it would be better to represent the Logos in His birth as born not of Mary, but merely through her, in accordance with some of the ancients.
That it is the desire of Jesus to give Mary a son in His stead in a special sense, results from the fact that the Alphæides also were her sons.18 And what sons! Nevertheless, Mary was to have a still richer compensation after the departure of Jesus than could be given by the Alphæides; John was destined to make this compensation. And he indeed stood alone by her in this moment, as her support; thus should he stand by her from this time forth. The thing, the unique adoptive relationship, already existed de facto, being born beneath the cross of Christ; consciousness, a name, and the sanction of Christ must be added to it. According to Tholuck, the ἀδελφοί were as yet unbelieving. In regard to this, see John 7:5 [and my counter-notes, p. 241.—P. S.]. According to others, they were not so well off as John. But had there been question of a mere pecuniary provision for His mother, Christ would not have deferred its settlement until now. Mary needed a son in the sense of the higher soul-life, just as Jesus had Himself been refreshed by a friend. The friend of Jesus was fitted to be the son of Mary.
Behold thy mother [Ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ σου]!—We may primarily understand both sayings of Jesus in such a manner as to make them express the same idea: ye shall henceforth cleave together as mother and son. But not in vain are they divided into two sayings. If we apprehend them as consolations, the word: “Behold thy son!” signifies: in him shall be thy support; the word: “thy mother:” thou shalt become a sharer in her maternal blessing. If we apprehend them as admonitions, commands, the case presents a different aspect: the mother is enjoined to live for the son, the son for the mother. The one signification, however, is inseparable from the other. On both sides love and blessing are one in personal relationship.
[Alford: “The solemn and affecting commendation of her to John is doubly made,—and thus bound by the strongest injunctions on both. The Romanist idea, that the Lord commended all His disciples as represented by the beloved one, to the patronage of His mother, is simply absurd. The converse is true: He did solemnly commend the care of her, especially indeed to the beloved disciple, but in him to the whole cycle of disciples, among whom we find her, Acts 4:14. No certain conclusion can be drawn from this commendation, as to the ‘brethren of the Lord’ believing on Him or not at this time. The reasons which influenced Him in His selection must ever be far beyond our penetration:—and whatever relations to Him we suppose those brethren to have been, it will remain equally mysterious why He passed them over, who wore so closely connected with His mother. Still the presumption, that they did not then believe on Him, is one of which it is not easy to divest one’s self; and at least may enter as an element into the consideration of the whole subject, beset as it is with uncertainty.” John’s relation to Mary as established beneath the Cross, was that of a sacred friendship and spiritual communion (comp. Matt. 12:47–50), and interfered neither with John’s relation and duty to his natural mother Salome, nor with Mary’s relation to the “brethren” of Jesus, whatever view we may take of them. I have so often discussed this vexed question, especially in this vol. p. 241 and in the Com. on Matthew, pp. 456–460, that it is unnecessary to say more.—P. S.]
Took her unto his own home [ἔλαβεν ὁ μαθητὴς αὐτὴν εἰς τὰ ἴδια],—John gladly apprehended the word of Christ in that meaning also which carried an obligation with it. The expression: from that hour, cannot be weakened. Yet it is neither necessary to infer that John had a house of his own in Jerusalem, nor that he kept house for himself alone. “If he received Mary into his dwelling, into his family circle—consisting of Salome and perchance his brother, εἰς τᾶ ἴδια would be perfectly correct.” Meyer. [So also Alford. Ewald well observes: “It was for the Apostle in his later years a sweet reward to recall vividly every such minute detail,—and for his readers it is, without his intention, a sign that he alone could have written all this (dass nur er diess alles geschrieben haben könne).” Against the misunderstanding of this most touching scene by such men as Scholten and Weisse, see the just remarks of Meyer, p. 630.—P. S.]
John 19:28. I thirst [Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ ’Ιησοῦς ὅτι ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται, ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφὴ, λέγει• Διψῶ].—Different views:
1. Prevailing ancient interpretation: ἵνα τελ. is referable to λέγει• διψῶ. Since He knew that all things were accomplished, He said, in order to fulfil the Scripture in that particular also: I thirst (Chrysostom, Theophylact and others). Beza: Vehementissima quidem siti pressus, sed tamen de implendis singulis prophetiis nostraque salute potius quam de ulla siti sollicitus. This manner of fulfilling the Scripture is in accordance neither with the view of the Lord nor the delineation of John (see John 19:24). Then, too, it would have to read thus: As He knew that the Scripture was fulfilled, with the exception of one particular, He said—in order that this one thing also might be fulfilled, etc.,—irrespective of the fact that in John 19:32 ff. additional unfulfilled particulars Nos. 2 and 3 would present themselves.
2. Intensified apprehension of the foregoing explanation: as vinegar was given Him to drink, the drink was demanded as ultima pars passionum, with reference to Ps. 69:22, which passage, as others also suppose, is here had in mind (Theodorus of Heraclea, Gerhard, Marheineke).
3. Christ did not drink for the sake of fulfilling the Scripture, but the Evangelist interprets His drinking as a fulfilment of Scripture; ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή is therefore a parenthesis, containing the explanation of the Evangelist (Piscator, Grotius, Lücke).
4. The final sentence (ἵνα, etc.) is not parenthetic, nor is it to be applied to what follows, but to that which precedes it: in the consciousness that His passion is finished, i.e. finished unto the accomplishment of the Scripture, He now says: “I thirst” (Michaelis, Semler, Knapp, Tholuck, Meyer and others). This interpretation seems to us the correct one. Hitherto Jesus has passed through one temptation and anxiety after another and, absorbed in the hot conflict in which He saw the fulfilment of the divine decree in accordance with the Scripture, has forgotten the burning thirst that has preyed upon Him since His last draught at the Supper. Now, with the presentiment of victory, His thirst makes itself felt, and He, being no legal ascetic, nor despising a service rendered by the hand of sinners, requests and partakes of the last, sorry refreshment. The expression: “that the Scripture might be accomplished,” does not mean: for the bare fulfilling of the Scripture hath He passed through all these things,—but: in the fulfilling of Scripture as the expression of the divine counsel, He found that which was His perfect tranquillization and exaltation in view of all these things, Luke 22:22, Matt. 26:54. According to Hofmann, Jesus demanded a refreshment conducive to the prolongation of life, in order thus to demonstrate the freedom of His departure. This would be drinking for a theologico-apologetic purpose. Tholuck more pertinently remarks that the τελειοῦν of the divine βουλή was but the very (likewise the very) τελειοῦν of the γραφή,—hence τελειοῦν instead of πληροῦν.
John 19:29. A vessel therefore was standing there [σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους—sour wine, or vinegar and water—μεστόν].—The Evangelist’s οὖν might here mean: Jesus’ glance had fallen upon the vessel containing the beverage and had suggested to Him the prospect of refreshment. From a strict interpretation of the word, however, a higher signification results. Christ’s complaint, His last craving, must not fail of satisfaction. It was necessary, therefore, that provision should have been made before-hand; it was to be expected that satisfaction was nigh at hand. The stupefying draught that was offered Him at the beginning of His suffering (Matt. 27:34; Mark 15:23), Jesus had rejected. See Comm. on Matthew. But the pure, sour soldiers’ wine, vinegar-wine, He now receives to His refreshment. “The most distressing thirst torments the crucified. The soldiers give Him some of the beverage [ὄξος] which they are wont to drink (posca, vinum acidum); saturating a sponge with it, they put the sponge upon a hyssopstalk (which in the East attains a height of from one to one and a half feet. ‘Γσσώπῳ, that is καλάμῳ τοῦ ῦσσώπου, see Matt. 27:48), and thus convey it to His mouth as He hangs upon the slightly elevated cross.” Matthew 27:48 is a parallel passage. The touch in Luke 23:36 really seems indicative of a third, derisive presentation of vinegar-wine on the part of the soldiers, situate between the first and the last. See Meyer on the passage, and Comm. on Luke 23:26 [p. 373. Am. Ed.].
John 19:30. It is finished.—Τετέλεσται. The expression of the consciousness, John 19:28. Bengel: Hoc verbum in corde Jesu erat John 19:28, nunc ore profertur. It is possible that He required the reviving refreshment to aid Him in pronouncing the last words. The sublime word, finished, refers to His work, as commanded Him according to the counsel of God (delineated in the Scripture).
And yielded up the (or His) spirit [καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα].—Expressive of a free dying. The characteristic word for this exode is itself preserved by the Evangelist Luke: Father, into Thy hands. Comp. John 10:18. Gerhard and the older Lutheran exegetes declared that the death of Jesus was not a suffering, but a deed. Tholuck: “This can be said only in the ethical sense,—in which sense it can be predicated of all His suffering—not in the physical sense (comp. Thomasius, Christol. Dogmatics, II., p. 225 with 218); in itself it is merely the expression of self-surrender, trusting in God, as Ps. 31:6, whence the expression is derived.” But of a certainty, also the expression of a thoroughly unique, free dying which was at once suffering and deed in the ethico-physical sense. See John 10:18. [“The παραδιδόναι was strictly a voluntary and determinate act—no coming on of death, which had no power over Him.” (Alford.) On the physical cause of Christ’s death, comp. the remarks in Comm. on Matthew, p. 523, and the treatise of William Stroud, M. D., on the Physical Cause of Christ’s Death and its Relation to the Principles and Practice of Christianity. Second ed. with Appendix by Sir James Y. Simpson, London, 1871 (504 pp.). Dr. Stroud endeavors to demonstrate that the immediate cause of the Saviour’s death must be traced neither to the ordinary effects of crucifixion, nor the wound inflicted by the soldier’s spear, nor an unusual degree of weakness, nor the interposition of supernatural influence, but to the vicarious agony of His mind culminating in the exclamation, “My God, My God,” etc., and producing rupture of the heart, which is intimated by a discharge of blood and water from His side, when it was afterwards pierced with a spear. “It was the death of a pure and perfect human being sustaining and discharging the penalty due to human depravity, and thereby acquiring an equitable claim to see the travail of His soul and to be satisfied, by becoming the author of eternal salvation to all that obey Him.” See more of this below on John 19:34, p. 597.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. In the history of the crucifixion of Jesus, as subsequently in that of His burial, John gives special prominence to the considerations of the fulfilment of Biblical prophecies and types. In correspondence with Scripture, Pilate was constrained to make the superscription: The King of the Jews; in accordance with Scripture, the division of the clothing took place, accompanied by the casting of lots for the body-vest; in further accordance, Jesus, at the approach of His death, felt that all things were accomplished, to the fulfilling of the Scripture; and thus the manner of His taking down from the cross must itself have reference to two passages of Scripture. But not for the sake of the fulfilment of the Scripture did all these things happen, but because in the providence of God they must happen, they were preceded by the presages and fore-glimpses of Scripture. The reference to Scripture, however, is designed to be expressive of two things: the objective veracity of God, who, in the ordering of the crucial sufferings, is consistent with Himself, and the unconditional trust of Christ and His people, that above all human arbitrariness and malice in the crucifixion, the providence and faithfulness of God were ruling.
Many items in the history of the crucifixion, the Evangelist assumes to be already familiar,—especially the history of Simon of Cyrene, the presentation of the intoxicating myrrh-wine, the mockings of the Crucified One, the conduct of the thieves, the darkening of the land, the earthquake, the rending of the vail in the temple, the testimony of the Gentile captain, Matthew’s indication of extraordinary occurrences in the spirit-world, the agitation of the people, as recorded by Luke, as also the majority of the seven last words.
With pleasure, however, he dwells—first upon the trait of Christ’s bravely and resolutely taking His cross on His own shoulders (αὑτῷ), upon the contest which Pilate and the Jews continued over the Crucified One, upon the significant superscription, and similar features. But for him there lay special preciousness in the recollection that Jesus, in His last hour, instituted filial relations between him, His friend, and His mother.
2. The word: The King of the Jews, was a fulfilment of the entire Old Testament—hence there are no particular citations here. According to the original accusation of the Jews, it was designed to denote His mortal offence. It then, in accordance with Pilate’s meaning, denoted the occasion of His death, being intended as a mockery of, and sarcasm upon, the Jews. In the sense of the Scripture, however, it denotes His divinely appointed destiny of death, and in the sense of the Spirit, the eternal gloriousness and fruit of His death. Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews: the word of the cross, glorified by the Spirit into a word about the cross. Pilate did not suspect that his writing, like his saying, Ecce Homo, did, under the providence of God, take significance, when he wrote, in the three most important languages of the world, this sermon over the cross.
3. The references to the fulfilments of Scripture in Christ’s suffering are nought but celestial lights shining into the darkness of the crucial passion. All is spiritualized, or transillumined by the Spirit, in order to be by the Spirit glorified, as God’s counsel, foreknowledge, ordinance, disposition, and judgment upon the blindness of the world,—glorified, I say, unto salvation.
4. If Mary is meant to be a symbol of the Church, then Christ, with His institution of this adoption, hath made His bosom-friends the veriest sons of the Church, and the Church their mother. Hence a form of the Church which is at extreme variance with the Johannean mind, cannot be the true one. Mary may, however, far rather be called a symbol of the Theocracy, which has been finally comprehended in her heart. In that sense the institution would mean: the Theocracy, i.e. the theocratic side of the Church, is always to have a spiritual son,—children of the Spirit; the children of the Spirit are always to have a motherly authority over them in the ecclesiastical communion.
5. As Peter, who recognized in Christ the Renewer of the old Theocracy, the King of the Divine Kingdom, was pre-eminently entrusted with the foundation and care of the Church of Christ, so to John, who in Christ saw pre-eminently the manifestation of the personal God, the portrait of eternal love, was confided the foundation and care of a holy family of the friends of God as the innermost vital focus within the Church.
6. The thirst of Jesus, His last suffering. A sign (1) that He has passed through all His sufferings and may now receive the draught of refreshment; (2) that He departs from earth and from those who have crucified Him, not proudly and coldly, but humbly, warmly and lovingly; (3) that He would be no pattern in self-chosen torments and penances; (4) that He still speaks in the consciousness of His divine spiritual power, as if it were at once a begging and a commanding; (5) that He is making preparation for the end.
7. It is finished. See the Homiletical Hints. Hebrews 10:14. The word as (1) a prophetic word (all scripture fulfilled); (2) a high-priestly word (the expiatory sacrifice completed); (3) a kingly word (the kingdom of heaven founded); (4) a unitous word (the work of redemption accomplished as the founding of the new creation, the world of the eternal Spirit).
8. The share of John in the account of the seven last words of Jesus.
9. The three languages on the cross, the three ground-tongues of theology.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See the Synoptists.—The grand fulfilments of the divine counsel in the Passion of Christ, attested by the most significant fulfilments of Scripture (John 19:31–37 must be considered in this connection).—Christ’s suffering in its fundamental features: 1. As an Acts of suffering: the bearing of His cross and going forth (without the gate, Heb. 13:13; out of the old communion) unto Calvary; 2. as an experience of suffering—with the thieves, in the midst of the thieves; 3. as a glorification of suffering: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews (the King of sufferers, of the people of God, of kings), in all the languages of the world.—The superscription of Pilate: 1. As the word of Pilate: Continuation of his mockery of the Jews;—the Jews a robber-folk, whose Head is already crucified. 2. As a word of the Spirit, unconsciously to the writer: The Messiah, the King of the people of God. Or, 1. As an assumed title of guilt, the property of malefactors in the old world; 2. as a personal title of honor, the property of the King of righteousness in the new world. Or as the explanation and glorification [Erklärung und Verklärung) of the cross of Christ.—This superscription read many of the Jews, for the place was nigh unto the city: 1. The word concerning Christ is still read by many legal men; 2. for the place where He is testified of is nigh to the city. [The evangelical Church by the side of the Church of legality].—How the priests would fain alter the writing concerning Christ.—The demand of the priests and the declaration of Pilate.—Pilate and the soldiers are compelled to work together for the fulfilment of the Scripture.—Soldiers, also, are under the providence of God, even in slaying, and dividing spoil.
Contrast of Christ’s adversaries and His friends at His crucifixion.—How they must glorify Him together; those unconsciously, these in grateful love.—Founding of the spiritual house of the mother and son beneath the cross.—The rich legacy of the poor Jesus.
The blissful presentiment of the dying Jesus that His day’s work is accomplished in accordance with the Scripture (or in accordance with the counsel of God): 1. Expressed in the evening draught which the great Laborer taketh as He quitteth work; 2. expressed in His evening song before He goeth to sleep: It is finished.
It is finished: 1. It, not this and that: all that lays the foundation of the new, eternal world of God. 2. It is, not it is being (Heb. 10:14). 3. Finished. As a spiritual act, as a vital conflict, as a mortal suffering, as a triumph of Christ and the salvation of God—conducted to the goal τέλος).—The word, It is finished: 1. As the Evangel of Christ; 2. as the confession of the Church; 3. as the jubilation of the believing heart; 4. as an excitation to every work of faith; 5. as a prophecy of the Last Day.
STARKE: Christians must make many a painful pilgrimage out of the city, out of the land,—nay, even to the gallows and the stake, for the sake of their faith—but courage! press onward! ye have a noble Predecessor.—Take comfort, thou pious man, if thou art accounted godless; Jesus was numbered with the transgressors that thou mightest be declared the child of God and righteous, Is. 53:12.—The vain lust of titles must be renounced in following the crucified Jesus. Though the world should crucify our honor and our good name; though she should nail above our head the superscription: this is a fool, a dreamer, an odd fellow, a heretic, etc., we must be satisfied with being called the children of God and having our names written in heaven.—Christians, read the Holy Scriptures diligently; there ye find your King, and His nature, will, and benefits. John 5:39,—ZEISIUS: The science of divers kinds of tongues, especially of the Hebrew and Greek, is to be recognized as a particular benefit of God, and is exceedingly useful for the investigation of Holy Scripture, that having been written in these two languages, 1 Cor. 12:10.—Pilate may have diligently framed the superscription in ambiguity, knowing Jesus to be innocent. Underlying this fact, however, was a special providence of God, who took care that His Son should have the right superscription, since He suffered the death of the cross as the Messiah or anointed King of Israel.—Behold God’s rule over the hearts of men; in this His sway over them He hath employed even His own enemies for the furtherance of His glory: yea, His foes must sometimes promote the glory of His children with the very things wherewith they have striven to dishonor them, Ps. 110:2.—If the writing of an earthly judge cannot be altered, how much less shall that be erased which God Himself has written in a Testament and Word.—CRAMER: Christ is poor in the beginning, middle, and end of His life, that through His poverty He might make us rich.—ZEISIUS: The nearer Christ, the nearer the cross, and the heavier our afflictions.—OSIANDER: Fervent love to God and the Lord Jesus regardeth no danger.—With this speech on the cross, the Lord Jesus (1) intended to show how He beareth on His heart a care even for our bodily circumstances, and considereth such care a part of His mediatorial office; He therewith (2) designed to confirm the fifth commandment and to set all children a good example, as to how they should care for their poor and forsaken parents; He hath therewith (3) shown that it is not contrary to the sense of the fifth commandment if we extend its limits somewhat farther than the letter of it seemeth to require; He hath (4) designed to hallow the natural love existing between friends and relatives; He hath (5) sanctioned guardianships; He hath (6) approved of testaments; He hath (7) taught thereby how every one ought to strive to make this painful life more endurable to his neighbor by rendering him loving aid; He hath (8), particularly in the person of John, enjoined it upon the hearts of all the teachers of His Church to have a care for poor and destitute persons; He hath (9) shown how we should seek to accomplish through others the good that we ourselves are unable to perform; He hath (10) assured all whom He recognizeth as His mother and His brethren that He will not forsake or neglect them either.—Christ’s eyes, amid the turmoil, are fixed upon believers, Ps. 33:18.—No man deriveth harm, but rather profit, from entering into the fellowship of Christ’s shame and suffering.—HEDINGER: God provideth physically and spiritually for them that belong to Him.—CRAMER: A Christian should settle well his household affairs before he dieth.—CANSTEIN: It is love’s way to interest itself for those it leaves destitute, and to endeavor to bring about by means of others such things as it cannot do itself.—LAMPE: It is right that those who are preparing themselves for death, should not forget to care for their families.—Happy is he that espouseth the cause of the widows and orphans and doeth them good; he doeth God’s will and shall inherit the blessing, Ps. 41:1 ff.; Ex. 22:22 ff.—Hear, dear Christian! that Jesus hath thirsted, and let it cause thee to guard the more vigilantly against all excess in drinking.—HALL: Christian mine, if thou too art tried with hunger and thirst in this world, comfort thyself with the thought that thy Saviour did also complain of the same on the cross. Ah, what a refreshment will this be to thee!—Τετέλεσται; In this one word everything appertaining to the purchase of our salvation is expressed and concluded. By this we see that the Master with the tongue of the learned, Is. 50:4, is before us,—He who can bring all things into one word, and yet it is plena enuntiatio, a complete declaration, a word above all words, a regular aphorism (as they call a concise saying, briefly and wittily expressed), short and yet intelligible: a true apophthegm (a momentous and pregnant saying). Upon hearing this declaration, it is finished, we are constrained to ask: what is finished? This question is easily answered if we do but consider the Person who made the declaration. It is accomplished—all that Christ was bound to do and to accomplish—and thus this word refers us to the whole course of His life. In consideration of the preceding 28th ver., the word τετέλεσται may be complemented after this fashion: herewith is the Scripture, in that which it hath prophesied concerning Me, fulfilled, Luke 18:31; 22:37. If we take into account the passages Heb. 5:9; 10:7, it may also be thus paraphrased: Herewith is the counsel and will of God concerning our salvation accomplished, namely, as regards the purchase of it; and in consideration of the declaration of Christ, Matt. 5:17, τετέλεσται means as much as: Now is the law fulfilled.—He now, as it were, nodded unto Death, bidding him come on; yea, He asserted by this bowing of His head, that He would become obedient to His Father unto death, Phil. 2:8.—CRAMER: Hath Christ finished it?—then we need not achieve it.—ZEISIUS: Christ’s consummatum, it is finished, hath been a blessed thing for us.—OSIANDER: Christ’s death is our life; in dying we enter into true life, Heb. 2:14.
GERLACH: The most horrible of all torments, the most burning thirst,—a circumstance expressly predicted of the suffering Messiah, Ps. 22:15; comp. Ps. 69:21.—LISCO: Pilate indignantly refuses the request of the Jews that Jesus should be characterized in the inscription as a deceiver.—The faithful love of those who clave to Jesus shunneth not that pain of deepest sympathy which is occasioned by the spectacle of His sufferings, Luke 2:35.
BRAUNE: Conscious of his injustice and of the innocence of Jesus, angry with those who had driven him to commit that injustice, he says: what I have written, I have written; this is the formula of deciding magistrates:—With this decree the matter rests.—It was written in Roman—Latin—, the judicial tongue; in Hebrew, the popular tongue; in Greek, the tongue in general use.—Duties, those, even, that are apparently of the least account, must be fulfilled up to the very last breath. The Christian should die like a general, upon his feet, fighting, giving orders, 1 Tim. 5:8.—Thus the gap that death makes, is best filled. For love is strong as death (Song of Sol. 8:6).—Think you, it would have been stronger, greater, worthier of His love, to repress the need He felt of quenching His burning thirst? Here we see how free His heart is from pride and rancor, passions by which many another apparently grows great and strong.—Whoso bindeth his soul and his soul’s life to Christ’s life, ways, walks, sufferings, can say, when faint in death: it is finished! What soul hath been converted unto God from its sins and is reconciled to Him, can exclaim: it is finished!—This word, it is finished! was uttered by Jesus, not at the close of His activity, in the high-priestly prayer, in Gethsemane, but at the end of His suffering.—But was He already risen for our justification? He had not yet sent the Comforter into the hearts of His people. But in the holy instant of death, by the light of eternity, His eye beheld the finished work of redemption, in its readiness for prosecution and spiritualization. Thus through suffering and tribulation is attained the triumph of the kingdom of God.
GOSSNER: What a procession! What a cross-walk! What a march! God’s Only-begotten One, under the burden of the cross, the tree whereon the curse lay, marcheth to the bitterest death. Thus do men send Him back to His Father from whom He proceeded—laden with cross, curse and shame; as a malefactor. What a journey, followed by consequences most rich in blessing!—And He bare His cross! Why that was our cross, and He appropriated it to Himself, as though it were His own; He embraced it with such love and patience as it had been His life, and it brought Him death—but to us life.—Neither can the coat of Christ’s righteousness be divided and cut into pieces—every soul must have it whole.—His nakedness on the cross is an evidence that He shunned no kind of humiliation for us.—The pagan Roman soldiers did not divide the coat of Christ, but Christians have made many rents and divisions over Christ’s coat, that they might establish their own opinions and their own righteousness.—Those under the cross composed the family of the Saviour; it had melted away to so few; that was His little Church whereunto He reckoneth Himself, wherewith He abideth, with which His Spirit resteth on earth. —His bowed head lifteth up the head of each one of us. He Himself inclined His head with the consciousness that He should soon raise it again, as He had foretold.
HEUBNER: God, whose hand guided the finger of Pilate, meant this superscription to be a challenge to all unbelieving Jews and all mankind to acknowledge this Jesus of Nazareth as their King. All languages, all tongues, are to resound with His praise and confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Pilate’s firm determination is indicative of God’s irrevocable decree. If all the world remonstrate against Christ’s royal dignity—God hath willed it, and there is an end of it, Ps. 2—Christ hung naked on the cross. This is very significant; He hung thus (1) In order to show how thoroughly the world had stripped Him of all that He owned, and covered Him with shame; (2) in order to present Himself to all as the Innocent and Pure One who can support the glances of all.—Mary, the mother of Jesus, stood beneath the cross: Now was fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon, Luke 2:35.—What feelings must have pierced her maternal heart! This was the origin of the ancient church-hymn: Stabat mater dolorosa.—Of such strength is womanly nature capable. An example for all Christian men and women, admonishing them not to be ashamed of Jesus, often to go beneath His cross, that they may become worthy of those women who went before them. RAMBACH, in loc., p. 1063, compares Mary and Eve. Eve stood in Paradise beside the pleasant tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Mary stands beside the ignominious tree of the cross. The former looked upon the forbidden tree, and its fruit conduced to her death; the latter looks upon the promised tree of life, and is refreshed by its fruit in her mortal anguish.—Our death too, when God calleth, must be voluntary. It is the Christian’s art to die willingly.
[CRAVEN: From AMBROSE: John 19:26. Mary, as became the Mother of our Lord, stood before the cross, when the Apostles fled, and with pitiful eyes beheld the wounds of her Son.——From AUGUSTINE: John 19:17. Great spectacle! to the profane a laughing-stock, to the pious a mystery. Profaneness sees a King bearing a cross instead of a sceptre; piety sees a King bearing a cross, thereon to nail Himself, and afterwards to nail it on the foreheads of kings.
John 19:18. Even the cross was a judgment seat; for the Judge being the middle, one thief, who believed, was pardoned, the other, who mocked, was damned: a sign of what He would once do to the quick and dead,—place the one on His right hand, the other on His left.
John 19:20. These three were the languages most known there: the Hebrew, on account of being used in the worship of the Jews; the Greek in consequence of the spread of Greek philosophy; the Latin, from the Roman empire being established everywhere.
John 19:22. O ineffable working of Divine power, even in the hearts of ignorant men! Did not some hidden voice sound from within, and, if we may say so, with clamorous silence,—saying to Pilate in the prophetic words of the Psalm, Alter not the inscription of the title?
John 19:26, 27. This truly is that hour of the which Jesus, when about to change the water into wine, said, Mother [Woman], what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. Then, about to act divinely, He repelled the Mother of His humanity, of His infirmity, as if He knew her not: now, suffering humanly, He commands with humane affection, her of whom he was made Man. Here is a moral lesson. The good Teacher shows us by His example that pious sons should take care of their parents. The cross of the Sufferer is the chair of the Master.
John 19:28. He who appeared Man, suffered all these things; He who was God, ordered them.——From CHRYSOSTOM: John 19:17. He carried the badge of victory on His shoulders, as conquerors do.
John 19:18. And two others with Him; What they did in wickedness was a gain to the truth. To convert a thief on the cross, and bring him into paradise, was no less a miracle than the rending of the rocks.
John 19:23, 24. Behold the sureness of prophecy. The prophet foretold not only what they would part, but what they would not. They parted the raiment, but cast lots for the vesture.
John 19:25. Observe how the weaker sex is the stronger; standing by the cross when the disciples fly.
John 19:26. Though there were other women by, He makes no mention of any of them, but only of His Mother, to show us that we should specially honor our mothers.
John 19:26–30. Observe how imperturbable He is during His crucifixion, talking to the disciple of His Mother, fulfilling prophecies, giving good hope to the thief; whereas, before His crucifixion, He seemed in fear. The weakness of His nature was shown there, the exceeding greatness of His power here. He teaches us too, herein, not to turn back, because we may feel disturbed at the difficulties before us; for when we are once actually under the trial, all will be light and easy for us.
[From BURKITT: John 19:17. Why could not Christ bear His own cross, who was able to bear the sins of the whole world, when hanging upon the cross? 1. Probably, the Jews’ malice provided Him a cross of an extraordinary greatness; 2. He was much debilitated and weakened, with His long watching and sweating the night before; 3. The sharp edges of the cross grating His late whipped and galled shoulders, might occasion the fresh bleeding of His wounds; 4. Thereby He gave the world a demonstration of the truth of His humanity, that He was in all things like unto us.
John 19:18. It had been a sufficient disparagement to our blessed Redeemer to be sorted with the best of men, but to be numbered with the scum of mankind is such an indignity as confounds our thoughts.
John 19:19. Pilate, who before was His judge, and pronounced Him innocent, is now His herald to proclaim His glory.—Pilate did that for Christ which none of His own disciples durst do. No thanks to him for this; because the highest services performed to Christ undesignedly shall neither be accepted nor rewarded by God.
John 19:22. Surely the constancy of Pilate at this time must be attributed to special divine Providence. How wonderful was it that he who before was as inconstant as a reed, should now be fixed as a pillar of brass! [His so called constancy was nothing but the natural outworking of the fear excited by the threat to accuse him before Cæsar; his persistence in retaining the inscription would not only gall the Jews but be an effectual bar to any charge of his having neglected the Imperial interests. The true homiletical inferences from this passage are that 1. Those who attempt to accomplish their ends by improper influences, brought to bear on rulers, generally over-reach themselves; 2. God over-rules the arts of the wicked for their own punishment and His glory. E. R. C.]
John 19:26. He calls her woman, and not mother: not that He was ashamed of, or unwilling to own her as His mother, but either 1. Fearing that calling her by that name should augment and increase her grief and trouble, or, 2. To intimate His change of state and condition, that, being ready to die and return to His Father in heaven, He was above all earthly relations.
John 19:26, 27. The Lord never removes one comfort, and takes away the means of subsistence from His people, but He raises up another in the room of it.—Such as are beloved of Christ, shall be peculiarly honored by Him, and be employed in the highest services for Him.
John 19:30. It is finished: 1. My Father’s eternal counsel concerning Me is accomplished; 2. The scriptures are now fulfilled; 3. My sufferings are now ended; 4. The fury and malice of My enemies are now ended; 5. The work of man’s redemption and salvation is perfected.—He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost: Christ was a volunteer in dying.
[From M. HENRY: John 19:17. Whatever cross He calls us out to bear at any time, we must remember that He bore the cross first, and by bearing it for us, bears it off from us in a great measure, for thus He hath made His yoke easy, and His burden light.
John 19:18. Observe what death Christ died; 1. The death of the cross, a bloody, painful, shameful, cruel death; 2. He was nailed to the cross, as a sacrifice bound to the altar; 3. He was lifted up, as the brazen serpent, hung between heaven and earth, because we were unworthy of either, and abandoned by both; 4. His hands were stretched out to invite and embrace us; 5. He hung upon the tree some hours, dying gradually in the full use of reason and speech, that He might actually resign Himself a sacrifice. See Him bleeding, see Him struggling, see Him dying, see Him and love Him, love Him and live to Him, and study what we shall render.
John 19:19, 20. God so ordered it that this (title) should be written in the three then most known tongues; intimating thereby that Jesus Christ should be a Saviour to all nations, and not to the Jews only; and also that every nation should hear in their own tongue the wonderful works of the Redeemer.
John 19:21, 22. An earnest of what came to pass soon after, when the Gentiles submitted to the kingdom of the Messiah, which the unbelieving Jews had rebelled against.
John 19:23. While Christ was in His dying agonies, the soldiers were merrily dividing His spoils.
John 19:26. His speaking to her in this seemingly slight manner was designed to give check to the undue honors which He foresaw would be given her in the Romish Church.
John 19:27. Those that truly love Christ, and are loved of Him, will be glad of an opportunity to do any service to Him, or His.
John 19:29. To everlasting thirst we had been condemned, had not Christ suffered [thirsted] for us.—Christ would rather court an affront than see any prophecy unfulfilled. This should satisfy us under all our trials,—that the will of God is done, and the word of God accomplished.
John 19:30. It is finished; that is 1. The malice of His persecutors; 2. The counsel and commandment of His Father; 3. The types and prophecies of the Old Testament; 4. The ceremonial law; 5. Sin; 6. His suffering; 7. His life; 8. The work of man’s redemption.
[From SCOTT: John 19:17–30. He was wounded and scourged that we might be healed; He was arrayed with scorn in the purple robe, that He might procure for us “the robe of righteousness;” He was crowned with thorns, that we might be “crowned with honor and immortality;” He stood speechless, that we might have an all-prevailing plea; He endured torture that we might have “a strong consolation;” He thirsted that we might drink of the waters of life; He bore the wrath of the Father, that we might enjoy His favor; He “was numbered with transgressors,” that we might be made “equal to angels;” He died, that we might live forever!
John 19:26. The surest interest in His love will not secure our exemption from the sharpest temporal sufferings.
John 19:27. We ought to act as though we heard Jesus say from His cross concerning this and the other believer, “Behold My mother,” “My brother,” “My sister.”——From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 19:17. And He bearing His cross went forth; “The Jews themselves have referred this type (of Isaac) unto that custom: for upon the words, ‘And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son,’ they have this note,—‘as a man carries his cross upon his shoulders.’ ” (PEARSON.)
John 19:19–22. “It was not for nothing that Pilate suddenly wrote, and resolutely maintained what he had written. That title on the cross did signify no less than that His royal power was active even there; for ‘having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it; and through His death, destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.’ ” (PEARSON.)
John 19:23. And thus at the very foot of the cross of Christ was enacted the emblem of that triumph over our Saviour which the Powers of Darkness, it may well be supposed, by this time thought secure! They had slain their great enemy (the devils will have already assumed); and their wicked agents may now be instigated to “divide the spoil.”—“Because Christ’s people cannot be rent and torn by divisions, His tunic, seamless and woven throughout, was not rent by them into whose hands it fell. Single,—united,—connected,—it shows the concord which should subsist among as many of ourselves as put on Christ. That vest of His declares to us, in a sacrament, the Unity of the Church.” (CYPRIAN.)
John 19:24. “Christ, like Joseph, was about to flee from this evil and adulterous world; and leave His garment in its hands.” (WILLIAMS.)
John 19:26, 27. O amazing privilege! thus to have been appointed by the Incarnate Word Himself to supply His place towards His bereaved mother! How stupendous a legacy was this for Divine Piety to bequeath, and for adoring love to inherit!—“The presence of the Godhead in our Lord’s person did not efface and outshine the essential feelings of a human heart. It did but quicken and strengthen all those affections and sympathies which are still left as remnants of the heavenly image, and the groundwork of its renewal within us.” (HOBHOUSE.)—“ As GOD, our Saviour might have removed His human mother to the best of those ‘many mansions’ which are prepared for those that love Him. But it was as GOD He willed that she should stay awhile on earth: while as Man, He both provided a home for her such as He could never give her while He lived; and called the human feelings of a friend into play on her behalf, while He did so.” (HOBHOUSE.)
John 19:30. He was “reclining His head as on His Father’s bosom.” (ORIGEN.)
[From KRUMMACHER: John 19:17. And He bearing His cross, etc. It is thus the unhappy world repels the Man who entered upon it heralded by angels!—It is thus she rewards Him for the unwearied love with which He poured upon her the abundance of all conceivable benefits and mercies.—Oh, who that is still inclined to doubt whether mankind was worthy of eternal perdition without the intervention of a Mediator, let him cast a look at this path of suffering and convince himself of the contrary! For why is the Holy One thus dragged along, unless it be that we loved sin too ardently not to hate a man, even to the death, who made Himself known as the deliverer from it.—Had He shrunk back from this fatal path, His road to suffering would have represented to us that on which, when dying, we should have quitted the world. Instead of soldiers, the emissaries of Satan would have escorted us; instead of the accursed tree, the curse of the law itself; instead of the fetters, the bands of eternal wrath would have encircled us, and despair have lashed us with its fiery scourge.—It may be that during our earthly pilgrimage we are led on similar paths to that on which we see Jesus, our Head, proceeding; but Christ has deprived our fearful path of its horrors, our burdens of their overpowering weight, our disgrace and need of their deadly stings, and placed us in a situation to say “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”——Golgotha—Calvary—horrifying name—the appellation of the most momentous and awful spot upon the whole earth. Behold a naked and barren eminence, enriched only by the blood of criminals, and covered with the bones of executed rebels, incendiaries, prisoners, and other offscouring of the human race. An accursed spot, where love never rules, but where naked justice alone sits enthroned, with scales and sword, and from which every passer-by turns with abhorrence, a nocturnal rendezvous of jackals and hyenas. Only think, this place so full of horrors, becomes transformed into “the hill from whence cometh our help,” and whose mysteries many kings and prophets desired to see and did not see them. Yes, upon this awful hill our roses shall blossom, and our springs of peace and salvation burst forth. The pillar of our refuge towers upon this height. The Bethany of our repose and eternal refreshment here displays itself to our view.—On that awful mount ends the earthly career of the Lord of Glory. Behold Him, the only green, sound, and fruitful tree upon earth, and at the root of this tree the axe is laid, What a testimony against the world, and what an annihilating contradiction to every thing that bears the name of God and Divine Providence, if the latter did not find its solution in the mystery of the representative atonement.
John 19:18. They crucified Him; O what a dying bed for the King of kings! As often as we repose on the downy cushions of peace, or blissfully assemble in social brotherly circles, singing hymns of hope, let us not forget that the cause of the happiness we enjoy is solely to be found in the fact, that the Lord of Glory once extended Himself on the fatal tree for us.—The earth rejects the Prince of Life from its surface, and, as it seems, heaven also refuses Him: Though rejected by heaven and earth, yet He forms, as such, the connecting link between them both, and the Mediator of their eternal and renewed amity.—The moment the cross is elevated to its height, a purple stream falls from the wounds of the crucified Jesus, and bedews the place of torture and the sinful crowd which surrounds it. This is His legacy to His Church. This rosy dew works wonders. It falls upon spiritual deserts, and they blossom as the rose. We sprinkle it upon the door-posts of our hearts, and are secure against destroyers and avenging angels. This dew falls on the ice of the north pole, and the accumulated frozen mass of ages thaws beneath it. It streams down on the torrid zone, and the air becomes cool and pleasant. Where this rain falls, the gardens of God spring up, lilies bloom, and what was black becomes white in the purifying stream, and what was polluted becomes pure as the light of the sun.—For our justification nothing more is requisite than that, in the consciousness of our utter helplessness we lay hold on the horns of that altar, which is sprinkled with blood that “speaketh better things than that of Abel.”—“I am crucified with Christ,” exclaims the Apostle, and by these words points out the entire fruit which the cross bears for all believers. His meaning is, “They are not His sins for which the curse is there endured, but mine; for He who thus expires on the cross dies for me: Christ pays and suffers in my stead.”—The life of the world springs only from the death of the Just One.
John 19:19. “What sayest thou, Is this a King?” Do not shake thy head, but know that thou art wanting in discernment, not He in majesty.—Dost thou inquire where is the majesty of this King? Truly it exists, although for the time hidden, like the glittering gold of the ark beneath the rams’ skins that covered it.—Jesus of Nazareth, THE KING of the Jews: Yes, it is He. Thou mayest recognize Him (as King) by the victories He achieves even on the fatal tree, the first of which is of a glorious twofold character—over Himself and over the infernal tempter. 1. Over Himself; 2. Over Satan; He suffers Himself to be wounded in the heel, but at the same time breaks the head of the old Serpent. 3. The greatest and most wonderful of all—the victory of the Lawgiver over the Law. There was no want of wish or will in heaven to save us; but the right to undertake the great work was wanting—the law put in its protest to our redemption. The curse had to be endured; He submitted to this and drank the cup of wrath—and when the voice of mercy was heard from heaven, the law had nothing to object.—Yes, He is a King! But where is His kingdom? He is founding it while hanging on the cross. The drops of blood which trickle down, are the price He paid to ransom His people, and the dying groans which issue from His breast, the joyful peal which announces the birthday of His Zion.—In His crown of thorns He governs the world of spirits and of hearts; and the greatest marvels by which He glorifies Himself on earth He performs with His pierced hands.
John 19:20. The title was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the three theological languages, that all the world may read and understand.
John 19:23, 24. A dying bed presents itself to our view—an individual at the point of death—a legacy and the heirs; let us direct our attention first to the Testator, and then to His legacy, and heirs: 1. The Testator; Jesus of Nazareth—(1) the poorest of the poor, (2) the King of the Jews—the King of kings—the Son of the Living God—the Alpha and Omega, God blessed forever; 2. The Legacy; His clothing—(1) the upper garment which symbolizes the outwardly operating fullness of the Saviour’s power and life, and in a second signification, the spiritual endowment intended for us—this is divisible; (2) the vesture or body-coat of the Man of sorrows which He used to wear under the mantle; beneath the resplendent robe of His wonderful and active life, the Saviour wore another, the garment of a perfect obedience—it is the robe of righteousness of the Son of God, which is symbolized by the coat without a seam (indivisible) for which the lot is cast at the foot of the cross; 3. The heirs; (1) the executioners, (2) one of the murderers inherits the costly robe,—this circumstance tells us that no wickedness, however great, excludes unconditionally from the inheritance; it only depends upon this, that the symbolical position of those executioners, with respect to the body should be essentially fulfilled in us—1. They know how to value the preciousness of the seamless vestment: 2. They perceive that only in its undivided whole it was of value; 3. They are satisfied to obtain possession gratuitously—without any merit of their own.
John 19:25, 26. In the midst of rage and fury, love stands near Jesus in His dying moments and lifts up to Him its tearful and affectionate eye—behold a lovely little company in the midst of the bands of Belial, a hidden rosebud under wild and tangled bramble-bushes, a splendid wreath of lilies around the death-bed of the Redeemer.—In that mourning group you see only the first divinely quickened germs of the future kingdom of the Divine Sufferer.—Strange enough, with one exception, all of them are females: the strong are fled—the weak maintain their ground; the heroes despair—the timid, who did not presume to promise anything, overcome the world. If the man’s is the splendid deed—the woman’s is enduring patience; if to the former belongs the heroism which cuts the knot—to the latter (which is the greater of the two) belongs the silent self-sacrifice which is faithful unto death.—The disciple whom He loved; In these words the Apostle indicates what was his pride, his crown, and his highest boast. At the same time they point out the source whence he derived all his consolation, hope, and strength; this source was love—not the love with which he embraced the Lord, but that with, which the Lord embraced him.—He who can sign himself the disciple whom Jesus loves has a sure guaranty for all that he needs, and for all that his heart can desire; he may call himself the man that is tossed with tempests, yet if he is “the disciple whom Jesus loves” what more will he have?—Woman; It becomes Him not to call her Mother now since this term in the Hebrew includes the idea of Mistress, while He was just preparing, as the Lord of lords, to ascend the throne of eternal majesty.
John 19:26, 27. Behold thy Son—Behold thy Mother; These words contain the record of the institution of a new family relationship; in this fellowship Christ is the Head, and all His believing people form one great, closely-connected family: Let him who would envy John the pleasing task of being a support to the Mother of Jesus know that the way to the same honor lies open to him—Jesus has said, “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My Mother and sister and brother,” Matt. 12:50.
John 19:28. I thirst: What was the nature of the distress expressed by the cry?—1. Physical; 2. Does it not remind of the awful representation of the invisible world portrayed in the parable of Lazarus and Dives?—For what did He thirst? Not only for earthly water, but after the full restoration of His Father’s countenance.—These words also solicited from mankind a charitable act.—That for which He chiefly thirsts is that He may gain us over to Himself—that transgressors may be freed from sin; those under the curse, absolved; those that are bound, liberated.—O that you could weep as Peter wept, and like David! Such tears are the drink-offering for which the Saviour still thirsts.
John 19:30. It is finished: At the very moment when, for the Hero of Judah, all seems lost, His words declare that all is won and accomplished. Listen! at these words you hear fetters burst, and prison walls falling down; barriers as high as heaven are overthrown, and gates which had been closed for, thousands of years again move on their hinges.—Every condition of the work of human redemption has been completed with the exception of one which was included in them.—If He has paid the ransom, how can a righteous God demand payment a second time?—With the heraldic and conquering cry, It is finished, He turned once more to the world. It was His farewell to earth—a farewell such as beseemed the Conqueror of Death, the Prince of Life, the Governor of all things. He then withdrew Himself entirely into connection with His God, and turned His face to Him alone. [From JACOBUS: John 19:26, 27. What a Son was this, true to His Father in Heaven, and to His mother on earth.——From OWEN: John 19:18. Jesus in the midst—disgraceful eminence.
John 19:26, 27. “The burden of the world’s redemption with all its increasing horror of sin, lies upon His soul; boundless anticipations, now gradually receding and passing away, of the glory to be obtained had filled His spirit, yet He has room for the exercise of the minutest care.” (STIER.)
John 19:28. Jesus was conscious that He was fulfilling a pre-determined series of sufferings, and manifested no impatient haste, that they should be endured other than in their allotted place and time.
John 19:30. It is finished; “All things were done which the law required, all things established which prophecy predicted, all things abolished which were to be abrogated, all things obtained in order to be bestowed which had been the subject of promise. All things—down to the last drops of scornful compassion, and compassionate scorn, after receiving which Christ’s lips uttered this great word—were suffered which were to be suffered; but therein, at the same time, all things were done and accomplished, nothing was left wanting. The theology of ages, has striven to embrace this ‘all’ and to develop it; and strives to this day in vain to express it perfectly.” (STIER.)
[John 19:25, 26. Now there stood by the cross, etc. Is not this symbolic of the great Apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3; Luke 18:8, etc.) when only a few shall remain faithful?
John 19:26. Woman; “She was THE WOMAN whose Seed here bruises the serpent’s head. What title, then, so fitting at the present juncture, as this—with its twofold weight of shame and glory? Woman, Satan’s instrument in bringing sin and death into the world—thereby rendering this cross necessary: Woman, God’s instrument in bringing Him into the world who is the Righteousness and Life thereof, whose cross shall be changed into a crown of rejoicing for Himself and his redeemed. Surely, it is no marvel if now, whilst the promise made to Eve is fulfilled to Mary, the same old word that meets us in the story of the fall, resounds from the lips of the Restorer, the suffering yet victorious Seed’ (E. M.)—“Woman! Thy Saviour spake thy name in His last agony—not harshly, condemningly, as He in justice might have done, but lovingly, compassionately, with fostering care.” (E. M.)]
John 19:16.—[The words καὶ ἀπήγαγον after τὸν Ἰησοῦν are doubtful. See the TEXT. NOTE on John 19:16 in the preceding section, with which Dr. Lange connects this clause.—P. S.]
John 19:17.—The reading αὑτῷ τὸν σταυρόν, in accordance with B. L. X. Sin., Vulgate, Itala, Origen in Lachmann, Tischendorf. [αὑτῷ is dat. commodi, carrying the cross for Himself or His own cross. The text. rec. reads τὸν σταυρὸν αὑτοῦ His cross.—P. S.]
John 19:17.—[Different spellings: Γολγοθᾶ (Alford, Tischendorf), Γολγοθά (West cottand Hort), Γολγοτά, Γοληόθ, etc. See Tischendorf. In Chaldee גֻּלְגָּלְתָּא, Gülgotha, in Hebrew גֻּלְנלֶת Gülgoleth, in Greek κρανίον i. e., Skull. The Vulgato translates the word in all cases Calvaria (fem. i. e., skull), from which our Calvary is derived. Comp. Jerome in Matt. 27:33: “Golgotha, quod est Calvariæ locus. ” The E. V., following the Vulgate, uses Calvary only once, Luke 23:33. for the Greek κρανίον (a diminutive of κρᾶνον), a skull. In the three places where the term Golgotha occurs, viz., Matt. 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17, the E. V. retains the Hebrew form, which, in our passage, is necessary on account of the Ἐβραϊστί. The popular expression “Mount Calvary,” is probably of monastic origin and has no foundation in the Evangelists, where Golgotha is simply called two?, “a place,” or “the Place of Skull.” It was probably only a small, round and barren elevation in the shape of a skull, and derived its name from its globular form. Jerome (on Matt. 27:33) informs us of the tradition that the place derived its name from Adam, the head (skull!) of the human family (hence, probably the skull introduced in early pictures of the crucifixion), but he himself discredits it, and conjectures that it was so called as a place of execution, on account of the capita damnatorum. But in this case the corresponding Greek name would have been τόπος κρανίων, “place of skulls,” instead of row. τόπ. κρανίου “pl. of a skull,” still less “a skull,” as in Hebrew and in the Greek of Luke 23:33.—P. S.]
John 19:20.—Meyer: “The probabilities are in favor of the sequence Ἑβραϊστί, Ῥωμαϊστί, Ἑλληνιστί (thus Tischendorf, in accordance with B. L. X., Minuscules, etc.), from Pilate’s standpoint.” This very consideration may have given an exegetical rise to it. The Sin. supports it. [Treg., Alf., Westc. and 2., adopt the same order. Lange, with Lachmann, retains the order of the text, rec, which is supported by A. D. Vulg. Syr.—P. S.]
John 19:29.—The οὖν is here omitted by Lachmann, in accordance with A. B. L. X. Lachmann, supported by B. L. X., etc., gives an οὖν, instead of δὲ after οἱ.
[The traditional site has been defended quite recently again by Furrer (art. Golgotha in Schenkel’s Bibel-Lexikon, 2, 508).—P. S.]
[Hamann ingeniously applied the inscription on the cross to the language of the New Testament which implies the three national elements, as it was written in Greek by Jews in a Jewish land, under the dominion of the Romans.—V. S.]
[These translations insert and (καί) between sister of his mother and Mary, thus making them two distinct persons.— P. S.]
[In ed. 8., Tischendorf makes a comma after Κλωπᾶ. So does Alford, yet he adopts Wieseler’s view.—P. S]
[The original reads Hoffmann, evidently a printing error. Prof. Hofmann of Erlangen is not to be confounded with Dr. Hoffmann, General Superintendent and’ Court Preacher at Berlin. Steinmeyer (as quoted and opposed by Meyer, p. 630, note) adopts the view of Luthardt and asserts that the death of the Redeemer of all men solved the bonds of His earthly relationship. Of English commentators Alford says in the same sense: “The relationship in the flesh between the Lord and His mother was about to close; hence He commends her to another son who should care for and protect her.”—P. S.]
[According to Dr. Lange’s peculiar theory on the adoption of the family of Mary’s sister or sister-in-law into her own family—a view which I have frequently had occasion to oppose in connection with the cousin-theory concerning the brothers of Christ. Comp. pp. 115,241, Matthew, pp. 456–460.—P. S.]
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.V
CHRIST THE GLORIFICATION OF DEATH, THE VERY LIFE IN DEATH. THE CORPSE OF JESUS, TO HIS FOES AN OBSCURE SIGN OF CALAMITY, TO HIS FRIENDS A MYSTERIOUS PASSOVER–SIGN (A SIGN THAT HE IS THE TRUE PASSOVER–LAMB AND THAT SOMETHING MIRACULOUS IS TRANSPIRING WITHIN HIM), TO HIS UNDECIDED DISCIPLES A DECISIVE, ANIMATING SIGN. THE HONORABLE BURIAL IN THE GARDEN AND IN THE NEW SEPULCHRE. THE FORETOKENS OF THE VICTORY OF CHRIST
(Matt. 27:57–66; Mark 15:42–47; Luke 23:50–56.)
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation [it was preparation day, παρασκευή comp John 19:42], that the bodies should [might] not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day [sabbath], (for that sabbath day was a high day [for great was the day of that sabbath, ἦν γὰρ μεγάλη ή ήμέρα ἐκείου τοῦ σαββάτου],) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32Then came the soldiers [The soldiers therefore came], and brake [broke] the legs of the first, and of the other which [who] was crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake [broke] not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there [omit there, or34 read: there came] out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record [he that hath seen it, hath born witness, ὁ ἑωρακὼς μεμαρτύρηκεν], and his record [witness] is true [ἀληθινή]19; and he knoweth that he saith [what is] true [ὰληθῆ], that ye [also, καὶ ὑμεῖς] might believe [may believe, πιστεύσητε]. 36For these things were done [came to pass], that the Scripture should [might] be fulfilled, ‘A bone of him shall not be broken.’ [Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20.] 37And again another Scripture saith, ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced.’ [Zech. 12:10.]
38 And after this [these things, ταῦτα] Joseph20 of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly [though in secret, or, concealing it, κεκπυμμένος δέ] 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 [took away his body].21 39And there came also Nicodemus, (which [who] at the first came to Jesus [to him, πρὸς αὺτόν] by night) and brought [bringing, φέρων] a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight [a hundred pounds, λίτρας weight]. 40Then took they [They took therefore] the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is [as is the custom of the Jews] to bury. 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre [tomb], wherein was never man yet laid [in which no one had ever been laid].22 42There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day [day]; for the sepulchre [tomb] was nigh at hand.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
John 19:31. The Jews therefore.—The οὖν again characteristically indicates the next concern which troubled the Jews as Jews. The observance of the ceremonial law was their first thought after the work of the crucifixion was accomplished. Rupert: Magnifici honoratores Dei, cum in conscientia mala reposuissent sanguinem Justi.
That the bodies might not remain on the cross [ἵυα μὴ μείνη ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ τά σώματα].—On the Roman custom see the Commentary on Matthew. The Jewish ordinance in regard to the bodies of persons hanged on a tree Deut. 21:22 f.; Josephus, De Bello Jud., IV. 5, 2—Because it was the Preparation day [ἐπεὶ παρασκενὴ ἧν]—I. e. because preparations must be made for keeping holy the Sabbath, on which day no bodies were allowed to remain hanging on the tree.—For great was the (feast-) day of that (Paschal) Sabbath [ἧν γὰρ μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνου τοῦ σαββάτου]—(Comp. John 7:37). Elucidating parenthesis. I. e. it was not a simple Sabbath of the current year, but its sanctity was increased by its falling in the Paschal season. This was true of the day in any case, whether, in accordance with the view of the disharmonists, the first paschal day was still to arrive and coincided with the Sabbath (Meyer and others), or whether, according to the view represented by us, the Sabbath in question fell upon the second Jewish passover-day. Meyer thinks that as the second passover-day it could have been called μεγάλη only because, in accordance with Lev. 23:10, the feast of sheaves (Wieseler, Synopse, p. 344, p. 385) was celebrated on this day (16 Nisan). This reference, however, he asserts, John must have indicated. On the other hand, the first feast-day possessed, according to Lev. 23:7–15, the character of a Sabbath also. But the case is simpler in its bearings. The Sabbath, being the principal holiday of the Jews, derived additional importance from every other festivity coincident with it, hence also from the second solemn passover-day. If, on the other hand, the passover-day had been the decisive motive, John would not have mentioned the Sabbath as a motive.
That their legs might be broken, etc. [ἵνα κατεαγῶσιν23 αὐτῶν τὰ σκέλη καὶ αρθῶσιν]—Said in a perfectly general way, whence it follows that they were hastening the removal and as yet possessed no certain knowledge as to the death of Jesus. The shattering of the legs with clubs, crucifragium [σκελοκοπία], was a customary form of accelerating death—a procedure as harsh and brutal as crucifixion itself (Lactantius, Instit. IV. 26; Lipsius, Ad Plaut. II. 4, 63). It also appears as an independent punishment, Sueton., Aug. 67 [Seneca, De Ira, iii. 32, etc.]. “The supervention of a coup de grace, by which (not by the crucifragium in itself) death was occasioned, cannot be proved, least of all from John 19:34 (contrary to Michaelis, Hug and others).” Thus Meyer [p. 633], while Tholuck, following Quintil., Declam. vi. 9, and other instances in Hug, declares in favor of the customariness of the death-stab in cases where death seemed to have already taken place, but where the soldier wished thoroughly to assure himself of the fact. In accordance with the presentation of our Gospel, the breaking of the legs must be conceived of as a deadly process. It is omitted, as the more difficult task, in cases where the stab of a lance is sufficient to complete the signs of death by means of an easy death-stroke.
John 19:32. The soldiers therefore came [ἧλθον οὖν οἱ στρατιῶται, κ. τ. λ.].—Two soldiers simultaneously break the legs of the thief on the right and the thief on the left. With Jesus they consider this superfluous—therefore, to make assurance doubly sure, they pierce Him with the lance. His death is thus doubly and trebly warranted: once by the cognition of the soldiers, then by the mortal spear-stroke, finally by His burial on the part of His friends. From John 20:27 Tholuck infers besides (less securely) that the wound was the breadth of a man’s hand.—The soldier stood with his right hand opposite the left side of the Crucified One.
John 19:34. Blood and water [καὶ ἐξῆλθεν εὐθὺς αἷμα καὶ ὔδωρ]—We must preface the explanations of this fact by the statement that the Evangelist looks upon it as one of great moment. See John 19:37. [“The strong asseverations of the Evangelist, show that he regarded the circumstance as very extraordinary, perhaps as supernatural. He writes of it like a person who hardly expected to be believed. Yet the effect he describes is exactly (?) that which we now know was most likely to result from preceding causes. Thus his accuracy of observation and the honesty and veracity of his testimony are most remarkably corroborated.” Webster and Wilkinson.—P. S.]
1. The modern explanation of the fact as a NATURAL phenomenon. This interpretation is made the more difficult by the circumstance that the blood does not flow out of dead bodies, neither does it separate into blood and water [or placenta and serum] (as it does in a vessel after venesection).
First assumption: Death was produced by the spear-thrust, and the forth-flowing of the blood (or of a reddish lymph) must demonstrate Christ’s corporeality, in contradiction of the Docetæ (Hammond, Kuinoel, Olshausen). This view is combated by the presupposition of the disciple and the ancient Church that Jesus was dead, and by the separation of blood and water. [See also against this view, Stroud, on the Physical Cause of Christ s Death, p. 141 f. It is certain, however, that, had Christ not been already dead, the infliction of such a wound in the heart by the spear of a Roman soldier must have produced death; and this fact in any case sets aside the Gnostic docetic view according to which Christ suffered and died only in appearance, as well as the older rationalistic view that Christ recovered from the effects of the crucifixion, and that His resurrection was merely an awakening from a trance.—P. S.]
Second assumption: The flow of blood and water from the body of a dead person is physiologically explained:
a. By the presence of extravasations, or bloodblisters, in which the globules and serum have become separated one from the other (Ebrard).
b. By the serum in the pericardium (Gruner, De Jes. Christi morte vera non simulata, etc., Halle, 1805), to which yet other serous reservoirs on the side of the heart may be added (see Tholuck, p. 439). [The Gruners, two physicians, father and son, held that the blood issued from the heart, the water from the pericardium, i. e. the membrane which envelops the heart. So also Kipping (De cruce et cruciariis, pp. 187–195), Bishop Watson (Apology for the Bible), Barnes, Webster and Wilkinson, and Owen. To this theory it is objected that the quantity of liquid or reddish lymphatic humor in the pericardium is usually so minute as to be scarcely perceptible. “Haller states that a small quantity of water, not exceeding a few drachms, has frequently been found in the pericardium of executed persons; but, except under very peculiar and morbid, circumstances, the eminent anatomists John and Charles Bell deny the occurrence altogether.… Naturally the pericardium exhibits scarcely anything which deserves the name of liquid; but after some forms of violent death, more especially when attended with obstructed circulation, it may contain a little serum, either pure or mixed with blood.…For the statement of the Gruners, that after death accompanied with anxiety the pericardium is full of water, there is no evidence.” Stroud, 1 c. p. 138, 139.—P. S.]
2. The apprehension of the fact as a MIRACLE (Origen and the ancient Church generally, Meyer, Luthardt). [Bengel: quod sanguis exiit, mirum; quod etiam aqua, magis mirum; quod utrumque statim, uno tempore, et tamen distincte, maxime mirum. So also Alford who, with Meyer, stops with the recognition of a miracle, without indulging in allegorizing.—P. S.]
3. Between the assumption of a miracle unassisted by any physiological instrumentality, and that of a natural phenomenon, there lies the assumption that we have to do with a PRIMITIVE PHENOMENON, i. e. a unique appearance based upon the unique situation. Meyer [p. 635] says: “A natural explanation in a higher sense is assigned for this phenomenon by Lange (Leben Jesu, II. p. 1614 f.); he assumes it to be explicable by the process of transformation which, as he affirms, the body of Christ was undergoing. A spinose conception in which there is not only an absence of clearness” (a fact equally true of the transformation itself, but which, nevertheless, does not render that transformation spinose), “but also imperiling the essential and necessary point of the actual death of Jesus” (i. e., hazarding its being swallowed up in the resurrection), “and moreover representing the details of the assumed transformation as occurring in very sensuous and materialistic wise” (say, rather, in bodily and corporeal fashion). Meyer thinks he has warrant for citing against this view, 1 Cor. 15:51–53. The following propositions may assist to an apprehension of the case: (1) After the death of Jesus, either corruption or transformation must have been preparing. (2) Corruption He did not see, hence it is transformation that was in course of preparation. (3) If this was preparing, the fact must of necessity make itself known by a sign transpiring in His wounded body,—a sign such as we are unacquainted with in other corpses. (4) That this sign is a unicum, concerning which we can find nothing in the history of extravasations, pericardia, etc. is a circumstance perfectly in order.
4. The MYTHICAL interpretation of Baur and others may be passed over (comp. Meyer [p. 637]).
5. [SYMBOLICAL and ALLEGORICAL] interpretations of the phenomenon [which may be connected with either of the preceding ones, especially with No. 2.—P. S.]. With reference to 1 John 5:6: Symbol of the two sacraments of grace: Apollinaris, Ambrose (De Sacram. cp. I. aqua ut emundaret, sanguis ut redimeret, Augustine, the R. Catholic exegetes, Luther).24 Otherwise Baur: The death of Jesus symbolized as the source of spiritual life. Similarly Luthardt. The Evangelist has indeed said nothing of this meaning himself. He has laid stress upon the unexpectedness of the phenomenon, however.
[Other symbolical explanations: (1) Calvin: reference of the blood to expiation; of the water to regeneration. He, however, denies the miraculous character of the fact. Isaac Watts:
“My Saviour s pierced side
Poured out a double flood:
By water we are purified
And pardoned by the blood.”
“Let the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.”
(2) According to E. Swedenborg, blood signifies the proceeding Divine truth for the spiritual man, and water the Divine truth for the natural man. (Apocalypse Explained, No. 329).25—P. S.]
[ADDITIONAL REMARKS on the effusion of blood and water. This is properly a question for physicians to settle, but they differ as much as theologians. Comp. besides the dissertation of the Gruners already quoted, Thomas Bartholinus, De Latere Christi aperto, etc.; Hieronymus Bardus, Epist. ad Thom. Bartholinum, and the Reply of Bartholinus; William Stroud, M. D., The Physical Cause of the Death of Christ, 2d ed. with an Appendix by Sir James Y. Simpson, M. D. (London, 1871). The last work is probably the best and contains more curious information than any other. Dr. Stroud, as already mentioned on p. 587, traces the physical cause of the death of Christ to a sudden rupture of the heart, produced by intense agony of mind endured in behalf of sinners. He uses this verse as an argument for his theory. Rupture of the heart is followed by an effusion of blood (sometimes as much as a quart or much more) into the pericardium, where it quickly separates into its solid and liquid constituents, technically called crassamentum and serum, but in ordinary language blood and water. The soldier, in approaching the body of Christ and inflicting the wound for the purpose either to ascertain or to insure His death, would purposely aim at the heart, and, transfixing the lower part of the left side, would open the pericardium obliquely from below; that capsule being distended with crassamentum and serum, and consequently pressed against the side, its contents would, by force of gravity, be instantly and completely discharged through the wound, in a full stream, of clear watery liquid intermixed with clotted blood, exactly corresponding to the sacred narrative: “and immediately there came forth blood and water.” The difficulties of commentators have arisen mostly from the gratuitous assumption that the blood which flowed from the wound of Christ was liquid, and the water pure, and, to account for so marvellous an occurrence, recourse was had either to miraculous agency, or to other equally untenable suppositions. “Blood and water” simply denote the crassamentum and serum of blood which has separated into its constituents. See pp. 399 ff., and the instances adduced in illustration. Ewald (Geschichte Christus’, 3d ed. 1867, p. 584f.), without entering into the matter, likewise assumes that a sudden rupture of the heart (ein plötzlicher Herzbruch) was the immediate physical cause of the death of Christ, and explains from it the loud terrible cry of anguish on the cross.—P. S.]
John 19:35. And he that hath seen it hath borne witness [καὶ ὁ ἑωρακὼς μεμαρτύρηκεν].—According to Weisse, Schweizer, and others, a later reporter, distinguishing himself from John, here betrays himself. But it is the Evangelist who himself makes a distinction between an oral, evangelistic testimony, continued during many years, and his written iteration of the same at a later period—conscious that said testimony contains an extraordinary statement. He then distinguishes the substance of his testimony as essential truth (ἁληθινή), because the thing must so occur, as a fulfilment of the divine word, and the form of his testimony, ἀληθῆ. His testimony is, however, continually, and so in this instance also, designed to produce faith in Christ (see John 20:31), namely, the confirmation and consummation of his readers belief in the higher divine nature of Christ. Not, as some have supposed, that ye may believe in the death of Jesus as an event which really transpired (Beza and others); or in the true corporeality of Christ, in opposition to the Docetæ (Hammond, Paulus, and others). Meyer thinks that Gnosticism might have fastened even sooner upon the mysterious, enigmatical outflow (?).
John 19:36. A bone of Him shall not be broken [Ὀστοῦν οὐ συντριβήσεται αὐτοῦ].—The first fulfilment of Scripture was of a negative sort: it was the fulfilment of the typical provision that not a bone of the paschal lamb should be broken, Ex. 12:46; Nu. 9:12. As the suffering Christ was the antitype of the paschal lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), it was necessary that this typical trait also should be fulfilled in Him.
John 19:37. Whom they pierced [Ὄψονται δἰς ο͂ν ἐξεκέντησαν].—(Zech. 12:10.) The εἰς ὅν by attraction in the place of εἰς ἐκεῖνον δν. Second, positive fulfilment of a Scriptural passage by the spear-thrust. The passage freely cited after the original text which the Septuagint has weakened (“Whom they have insulted”). Properly: They shall look up to Me אֵלַי Whom they have pierced. The reading אֵלַיו found in many manuscripts is probably an exegetical correction, as it seemed obvious that Jehovah cannot be pierced; hence likewise the figurative conception of the Septuagint. The passage in question is one of the exceedingly pregnant Messianic passages of the second half of Zechariah. The Messiah here appears in the light of the self-manifesting Jehovah Himself. The piercers are the Jews, standing, however, as representatives of the whole human race. “They have pierced Me,” i. e. they have consummated their enmity against My highest manifestation and approach. “They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced,” i. e. their eyes shall be opened in regard to their conduct and they shall perceive whom they have outraged,—they shall regret it, or it shall become a matter of regret to them. This prophecy has had a general fulfilment in the turning of the believing world to the Crucified One. It shall, however, be fulfilled in the most universal sense, in regard to the whole world, at the Last Judgment (Rev. 1:7). The beginning of this consternation of the world upon discovering that it has thrust at God, whilst it supposed itself to be piercing a criminal, in dealing the Messiah the heart-thrust, is significantly seen by the Evangelist in the fact that we have been considering. The spear-thrust was the final heart-blow and death-blow which, after many blows and stabs, the whole race of man inflicted upon the Messiah; it was therefore the concentrated symbol of His crucifixion in general. Hence, there immediately appeared a sign, such as is not met with in other corpses;—a sign in which the higher nature of Christ, the incipient manifestation of His glory, announced itself. That which is related concerning murdered persons, namely, that their wounds bleed afresh when the murderers approach their bodies, did actually happen here in the highest sense. That the phenomenon made one of the many signs that perplexed and dismayed the people at Golgotha, may be securely assumed from the prominent mention which this occurrence and its effect receive at the hands of John. This involves the complete overthrow of the natural [rationalistic] explanation. An ordinary appearance could not thus have operated. See 8:28; 12:32; Acts 2.
John 19:38. Joseph of Arimathea.—Comp. Matt. 27:57. After the Jews had induced Pilate to have the bodies taken down, Joseph presented his request and arrived at precisely the right moment to take the corpse which had been accorded him, down from the cross. So Meyer rightly, in opposition to De Wette who finds a difficulty here, as likewise in opposition to Lücke, who apprehends the ἄρῃ and ἧρεν as relating to the carrying away of the body which the soldiers, had taken down. With this interpretation Meyer asserts that he has settled a difference which would otherwise exist, making this statement “unauthorized” by the side of Luke 23:53; Mark 15:46.
About a hundred pounds weight [ὡς λίτρας έκατόν].—See Comm. on Matthew, at the parallel passage. [A proof of the greatness of their love produced by the death of Christ.—P. S.]
John 19:40. As is the manner of the Jews [καθὼς ἔθος ἐστὶ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ἐνταφιάζειν].—Contrast: The custom of the Egyptians, who took out the brain and bowels, or at least steeped the body for seventy days in natron. See Winer, “Embalming,” Meyer. The Egyptian anointing was designed for the preservation of the bodies as mummies: the Jewish anointing formed a consecrated and beautiful transition of the corpse from death to corruption. On the fact that there is nothing surprising in the superabundance of one hundred pounds of aloes and myrrh for the anointing, see Tholuck.
John 19:41. In the place [ἐν τῷ τόπῳ], i.e. in the district. According to Matt. 27:60, it was Joseph’s garden. Comp. Luke 23:53; John 19:30; Mark 11:2.
John 19:42. On account of the preparation-day [διὰ τὴν παρασκευὴν τῶν Ἰουδ.].—An intimation that if haste had not been urgent, they would have given Jesus more honorable burial in another place. Thus the very haste of the preparation-day was providential. Jesus should be interred in a new grave, in a manner the most extraordinary. The circumstance must serve at the same time to manifest Joseph s great alacrity in sacrifice.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. THE JOHANNEAN RELATION. John omits the trait of their rolling a great stone in front of the door of the sepulchre; he does not mention that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James seated themselves over against the sepulchre;that the Jews, with the co-operation of Pilate, sealed the sepulchre on the Sabbath and set a military watch upon it (Matt.); that Pilate, before presenting Joseph with the body of Jesus, inquired of the centurion whether Jesus were dead (Mark); the approach of a greater number of acquaintances to view the death of Jesus; the inspection of the sepulchre by the women, and their Friday evening preparation of ointments for the formal interment of Jesus which they appointed to take place after the Sabbath (Luke).
On the other hand, he brings out the fact that Jesus was glorified in His death as the true Paschal Lamb, glorified no less by another mysterious fulfilment of Scripture, and specially glorified by the open emergence of His hitherto secret disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and the princely sepulture which they, in pious rivalry of love, have prepared for the Lord.
2. GREAT WAS THE DAY OF THAT SABBATH. A stroke of that Jewish hypocrisy which strains out gnats and swallows camels, similar to John 18:28. In removing the bodies, however, in accordance with the instinct of an evil conscience, they are peculiarly interested in having the body of Jesus conveyed “out of sight and mind” of the people; in causing, along with the odious Man, the very name of Him, as also their work upon Him, to be hurried, with all possible expedition, beneath the sod. But here, as in the composition of the superscription, contingencies occur, which cross, modify and enfeeble their plots. They can not hinder Jesus, upon His descent from the cross, from being significantly distinguished from the thieves and honorably sepulchred.
3. PASCHAL LAMB. Ye shall break not a bone of Him. On the uncertainty of typology in regard to the meaning of this provision, see Tholuck, p. 430. We assume that the provision originally belonged to the expression of the most hurried preparation of the Paschal Lamb, as at the instant of flight or departure. Then at the same time it was expressive of the utterly undivided participation of the house-congregation or domestic church in fellowship and sacrament (Tholuck, p. 430). This type was fulfilled in Christ. The hurried removal from the cross—an expression of the Sufferer s speedy transportation to glory—prevented the breaking of the legs, and henceforth the whole undivided Christ should be the spiritual and vital food of the Church of His salvation.
4. John 19:34 and 37. Blood and water. See the EXEG. NOTES, and Leben Jesu, p. 1611.
5. The association of JOSEPH of Arimathea and NICODEMUS: a sign showing how the complete development of malice and unrighteousness impels all nobler natures into the camp of Christ; and how the darkest hours of the kingdom of God are invariably the natal hour of a new discipleship. That glory of the Jewish world, to which they cleaved, being turned to shame in their eyes, they are become free from their earthly goods and know not how better to spend them than in the service of the love of Christ. One offers the abundance of his precious spices, which constituted an important household treasure among the Orientals; the other offers his garden and his family-vault to be the resting-place of an excommunicate, outlawed, crucified Man: both sacrifice their safety, position, authority, their old associations and, greatest sacrifice of all, their old Jewish hierarchal pride, and their old Messianic hope and entire view of the world. To them all things are involved in midnight gloom; but the innocence and righteousness of Christ they see, shining as the broad day in the midst of this darkness.—Moral loathing and abhorrence of the mask of hypocritical godlessness are able to burst the strongest bonds of deference to human opinions, and to generate the highest sacrificial courage.
6. The pious OBSERVANCE OP THE SABBATH on the part of Jesus’ friends, on the occasion of their burial of Him, a testimony against those who, with the charge of Sabbath-breaking, introduced His persecution unto death.
7. The REPOSE OF JESUS at once a slumber of death and a mystery of transformation unto resurrection.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See the DOCT. NOTES and the Synoptists.
From the moment of Jesus’ death, all things take a turn.—The glorification of Jesus begins with the glorification of His holy corpse: 1. Through special divine protection (break no bone); 2. through special heavenly signs (blood and water); 3. through special human reverence and care (the interment).—God watcheth over His own in death as in life.—How, in the funeral of the Just One, the victory of His life-battle is reflected.—The desire of the Jews to remove the, bodies from Golgotha: The expression of (1) a legal, slavish zeal; (2) an hypocritical sanctimoniousness; (3) a bad conscience.—The last heart-thrust which Christ received from the world: 1. A collective expression of all that the world has done to Him; 2. a pursuing of His life into the jaws of death (a violation of His corpse); 3. and yet a “mercy-stroke,” inasmuch as it is to secure His corpse from mutilation; 4. above all, a testimony of God to His death and unique nature (His transition to a new life).—The two great fulfilments connected with the one spear-thrust of an unsuspecting soldier: 1. The fulfilment of all the types of the Law in one feature (John 19:36). 2. The fulfilment of all the words of the Prophets in one single prophetic word.—Jesus, the unbroken Paschal Lamb for believing Israel, is at the same time the pierced Divine Image for unbelieving Israel.—The revealing of the Crucified One, the repentance of the world.—Nothing but the sight of Christ’s breaking heart could melt the heart of sin.—The death of Jesus the life of the world: 1. His falling asleep, her awaking (as His eyes close, hers open); 2. the end of His heart-grief, the commencement of hers; 3. His corpse, her quickening.—The stately sepulture of the Lord, or the princely disciples of the Crucified One.—The thank-offerings which immediately glorify the redemptive and expiatory offering of Christ.—The operation of the cross of Christ: 1. Comprehension of the cross; 2. courage for the cross; 8. sacrifices to the cross; 4. witnesses to the cross.—The great calm after the great storm: 1. The quiet Sufferer. 2. The quiet grave. 3. The quiet Sabbath. 4. The quiet mystery of life (or becoming). 5. The quiet presentiment. 6. The quiet turning of all things.
STARKE: OSIANDER: See how hypocrites act! fierce sticklers are they for external matters and ordinances, but in the weightiest matters, those that concern the soul and salvation, they care not for the fear of God. Matt. 23:23.—QUESNEL: In vain doth the sinner seek to bury the remembrance of his sins—sin shall ever rise up against him, Jer. 17:1; Gen. 42:21.—O how many think only how to conceal their sins, but not to be penitent for them! Job 31:33, 34. A foot-soldier, and not a horseman, as painters are wont to depict the man who pierced Jesus.—CANSTEIN: Let us look in faith, love and gratitude unto Him whom we ourselves have pierced, in order that we may rejoice when He is seen of us with our bodily eyes, Heb. 12:2.—QUESNEL: Jesus will come to judgment in the same flesh in which He was crucified, that He may confound His foes, John 5:27; Acts 17:31.—ZEISIUS: Thus God is able to raise up quickly unto His people, though they be, with Christ, forsaken of all men, persons who interest themselves for them with the greatest care and diligence, such as they would never have thought on. In sorest need, therefore, take heart, Jer. 38:7 ff.—The love of an upright, friend remains constant even in death.——HEDINGER: Excellent compensation of weakness through strength! Abraham’s faith was great, the thief’s was great, the centurion’s was great. The first saw Christ in the life, the second in dying, the last in death, amid many miracles. But there is nothing to surpass Joseph and Nicodemus—they believe on Him in the grave. O power of God in the faithful! O strength in the weak, we praise thee! 2 Cor. 12:9.—Godly, wise and brave undertakings of a true Christian, though apparently never so bold and perilous, are furthered to a good end through the help of the Almighty.—Like to like,—one lover of Jesus joineth company with another. Mark this, O man, and do thou likewise, Sir. 13:20, 21.—BIBL. TUB.: O that yet other fearful Nicodemuses might at the cross and in the sepulchre of Jesus crucify and bury their fear of man; then would amendment be of rapid growth in all ranks, Ps. 27:1; 1 Pet. 3:13.—Though not many rich and noble are called, there still are some who willingly lay out their possessions in the service of Jesus, Luke 7:5.—ZEISIUS: O how well do the rich do when they spend their riches on Christ, His glory and His needy members! that they do good and grow rich in good works, 1 Tim. 6:18, 19.—OSIANDER: We must not carelessly cast away the bodies of Christians; such a course is contrary to love and the hope of resurrection; but we must honorably commit them to the earth.—Gardens are pictures of death and resurrection—graves do suit them well: it is therefore not unfit that church-yards should have trees planted along their sides, and that they should be made to resemble gardens—OSIANDER: Christ hath hallowed our graves and made sleeping-rooms of them, in which the bodies rest until they are awakened again unto everlasting life, Rom. 6:4.
LISCO: John 19:38. Publicly and boldly doth the hitherto timorous love to Jesus now come forward; it leapeth over all considerations and scruples and toucheth the dead body of Jesus without any dread of becoming defiled after the law, through contact with a corpse, and that the corpse of a reputed malefactor.
BRAUNE: The fear of man is overcome; so openly they act. Delay is at an end; they make haste. They are not ashamed before all witnesses to make common cause with the Galilean women.—Joseph had had it hewn out for himself and Jesus entereth it before him; thus Jesus consecrateth the graves of His people, to the end that they may dread them the less.
GOSSNER: The stab was given by one soldier only, and here it says: They have pierced Him. How is this? the soldier was but the instrument; they, sinners, all of them, from the first to the last, did guide the soldier’s hand and the crime is imputed to them.—Love now breaketh through all fear of man, and where there was most to fear, fear vanisheth, so that he dreadlessly espouseth the cause of Him who was killed on the cross and rejected by the whole world,—espouseth it, say, at a time when, to all appearance, there was nothing to hope for from Him whom, living, he was either ashamed or afraid openly to confess.—This of itself was a beautiful fruit of the death of Jesus, that His secret disciples were made open ones, the weak, strong.—The love of the Slain Lamb driveth out all fear.—Christ liked and deserved a new grave, because He was a Dead Man without an equal; for all the children of Adam die from guilt, He guiltlessly.
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 19:34. That blood was shed for the remission of sins, that water tempers the cup of salvation.—O death, by which the dead are quickened; what can be purer than that blood, what more salutary than that wound!
John 19:38. In performing this last office to our Lord, he showed a bold indifference to the Jews, though he had avoided our Lord’s company when alive, for fear of incurring their hatred.—CHRYSOSTOM: John 19:31. The Jews who strained at [out] a gnat and swallowed a camel, after their audacious wickedness, reason scrupulously about the day.
John 19:34. When thou approachest the awful cup, approach as if thou wert about to drink out of Christ’s side.—From THEOPHYLACT: John 19:34. To please the Jews, they pierce Christ, thus insulting even His lifeless body. But the insult issues in a miracle; for a miracle it is that blood should flow from a dead body.
John 19:40. Even now, in a certain sense, Christ is put to death by the avaricious, in the person of the poor man suffering famine. Be therefore a Joseph, and cover Christ’s nakedness.—From HERBERT: John 19:34. Pierced His side;
If ye have anything to send or write,
(I have no bag, but here is room)
Unto My Father’s hand and sight
(Believe Me) it shall safely come.
That shall mind, what you impart;
Look, you may put it very near My heart.
Or if hereafter any of My friends
Will use me in this kind, the door
Shall still be open; what he sends
I will present, and somewhat more,
Not to his hurt. Sighs will convey
Anything to Me. Hark, despair, away.
[From BURKITT: John 19:31. Hence note the cursed hypocrisy of these Jews; they look upon themselves as strictly bound to observe an outward ceremony, but their consciences never scruple to violate the most weighty precepts of the moral law.
John 19:34. No cruelty was omitted towards Christ, either dead or alive, which might testify the great desert of our sin, nor was there any needful evidence wanting, which might make clear the truth of His death.
John 19:38–42. Grace doth not always make a public and open show where it is; but as there is much secret treasure unseen in the bowels of the earth, so is there much grace in the hearts of some saints, which the world takes little notice of.—We read of none of the apostles at Christ’s funeral; fear had put them to flight; but Joseph and Nicodemus appeared boldly: If God strengthen the weak, and leave the strong to the prevalency of their own fears, the weak shall be as David, and the strong as tow.
John 19:41. A sepulchre in a garden, to expiate Adam’s sin committed in a garden.
John 19:42. Of what use our Lord’s burial is to us His followers: It shows us the amazing depth of His humiliation, from what and to what His love brought Him, even from the bosom of His Father to the bosom of the grave, It may also comfort us against the fears of death; the grave could not long keep Christ, it shall not always keep us; it was a loathsome prison before, it is a perfumed bed now; he whose head is in heaven, need not fear to put his feet into the grave. Awake and sing, thou that dwellest in the dust, for the enmity of the grave is slain by Christ.
[From M. HENRY: John 19:31. Passover Sabbaths are high days; sacrament-days, supper-days, communion-days, are high days, and there ought to be more than ordinary preparation for them, that these may be high days indeed to us, as the days of heaven.—The pretended sanctity of hypocrites is abominable; they made no conscience of bringing an innocent and excellent person to the cross, and yet scrupled letting a dead body hang upon the cross.
John 19:32. One of these thieves was a penitent, and had received from Christ an assurance that he should shortly be with Him in paradise, and yet died in the same pain and misery that the other thief did: the extremity of dying agonies is no obstruction to the living comforts that wait for holy souls on the other side of death.
John 19:33. Whatever devices are in men’s hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand:—It was fully designed to break His legs, but, God’s counsel being otherwise, see how it was prevented.
John 19:34. Through this window, opened in Christ’s side, you may look into His heart, and see love flaming there, love strong as death; see our own names written there.—When Christ, the second Adam, was fallen into a deep sleep upon the cross, then was His side opened, and out of it was His Church taken, which He espoused to Himself.—The blood and water that flowed out of it were significant: 1. Of the two great benefits which all believers partake of through Christ—justification and sanctification; blood for remission, water, for regeneration; blood for atonement, water for purification; 2. Of the two great ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.—Now was the rock smitten (1 Cor. 10:4), now was the fountain opened (Zech. 13:1), now were the wells of salvation digged, Is. 12:3. Here is the river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.
John 19:36. Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, 1 Cor. 5:7. He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and, as the true Passover, His bones were kept unbroken.
John 19:38–42. Come and see a burial that conquered the grave, and buried it; a burial that beautified the grave, and softened it for all believers!
John 19:38. It was Joseph’s honor that he was a disciple of Christ, his weakness that he was so secretly.—Some who in lesser trials have been timorous, yet in greater have been very courageous.—The impotent malice of those that can but censure, and revile, and clamor, is sometimes more formidable even to wise and good men than one would think.—When God has work to do, He can find out such as are proper to do it, and spirit them for it.
John 19:39, 40. Since God designed honor for His body, they would put honor upon it.
John 19:40, 42. In conformity to this example, we ought to have regard to the dead bodies of Christians. The resurrection of the saints will be in virtue of Christ’s resurrection, and therefore in burying them we should have an eye to Christ’s burial.
John 19:41. In a garden Christ began His passion, and from a garden He would rise, and begin His exaltation.—He was buried in a new sepulchre: this was so ordered, 1. For honor; He that was born from a virgin-womb, must rise from a virgin-tomb; 2. For the confirming of the truth of His resurrection.
John 19:42. What is to be done on the evening before the Sabbath, should be so contrived that it may neither intrench upon Sabbath-time, nor indispose us for Sabbath-work.
[From SCOTT: John 19:31–42. Comparing the sacred oracles with the events which occur in the Church and in the world, our faith will be increased even by the most discouraging transaction.—From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): “If the Jews that stood by said truly of Him at Lazarus’ grave, Behold how He loved him! when He shed a few tears out of His eyes; much more truly may we say, Behold how He loved us! seeing Him shed both blood and water in great plenty out of His heart.” (Bishop ANDREWES.)
John 19:38–42. Surely, this entire history has consecrated expensive funerals, and given a solemn sanction to care bestowed on burial-places, forever!
[From KRUMMACHER: John 19:34. In the water and the blood are represented the most essential blessings of salvation: the water has a remote reference to baptism, but it chiefly symbolizes the moral purifying power of the word of Christ; the blood points out the ransom paid for our guilt, as well as the atoning sacrifice.—The blood flowed separately from the water; justification must not be mingled with, much less exchanged for, personal amendment.
John 19:38, 39. Marvellous things occur in the vicinity of the cross. Two individuals, belonging to the first ranks in society, who, when Jesus still walked abroad in the majesty of His supernatural acts did not venture to make known their favorable impression respecting Him,—now, that the termination of His course seems to have stamped Him as a pitiable enthusiast, honor Him as their King before all the people. The germ of faith which, all at once, manifests itself so gloriously and so fully developed, had long lain in their hearts; from out of the thunder-cloud that brooded over Calvary, abundant grace has proceeded.—Christ crucified must be the object of our affections; therefore detach Him from the accursed tree, and deposit Him in your hearts, as your only consolation in life and death.
John 19:42. There they laid Jesus; The curse is removed from a sinful world, Deut. 21:22, 23.—Christ by His burial has consecrated and shed light upon the darkness of our graves.—From JACOBUS: John 19:34, 35. Our faith weeps, yet triumphs, as it sees the death-blow fall upon our Substitute, for in this we see our release.]
[WORDSWORTH, on John 19:41: “Christ changes the valley of the shadow of death into a garden. Christ’s human body was laid in a natural garden. His human soul was in a spiritual garden (Luke 23:43), and by His death and burial He has prepared a garden for the souls and bodies of all who depart hence in the Lord; and He will make them to be like the dew of herbs (Isa. 26:19), and to rise up and blossom in a glorious spring time. He provides Paradise, or a garden, for the departed soul (Luke 23:43), and He makes the grave itself to be a garden of Paradise; from which at the great Day the bodies of the faithful, which have been sown in hope, will rise in vernal beauty, and be united for ever in unfading glory to their souls.”—P. S.]
John 19:35—[Cod. Sin. reads ἀληθής, but against most authorities.—P. S.]
John 19:38.—Ὁ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθαίας. In support of the article A.J. Δ.; for the omission of the second ὁ before ἀπό A. B. D., etc. [Tischend., Alf., Westcott and Hort omit both articles, and read simply, with א and B: Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθαίας—P. S.]
John 19:38.—[I read with א.3a B. L. X., etc., Lachm., Treg., Alf., Westc. and Hort, ἦλθεν οὗν καὶ ἧρεν τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ. The text. rec. (with Vulg.) has τοῦ Ἰησοῦ instead of αὐτοῦ. Tischendorf ed. 8, follows the reading of א.*: ἧλθον οὖν καὶ ή̔ρον αἠτόν: “they came therefore and took him away.”—P. S.]
John 19:41.—[A. D. Orig., Tischend., Tregelles and Alf., read ἐτέθη), was laid; but א. B. Cyr., Westcott read: ἦν τεθειμένος, had been laid; comp. Luke 23:53—P. S.]
[The aor. with augm. syllab. from κατάγνυμι, see Buttmann, II. 97, Winer, p. 68 (§ 12).—P. S.]
[So also Wordsworth (after the fathers). As Eve was taken from the side of sleeping Adam, so the church and the sacraments of the eucharist (blood) and baptism (water) emanated from the pierced side of the crucified Christ.—P. S.]
[There is a Swedenborgian Commentary on the Gospel of John by Rev. J. Clowes, 3d ed. London, 1853. It has only recently come into my hands, but presents very little that might have been worth quoting in this work. It consists almost entirely of extracts from Swedenborg’s writings, bearing or the “spiritual” sense of the spiritual Gospel.—P. S.]