Matthew 27:39
And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) They that passed by.—The words bring before us the picture of a lounging crowd, strolling from one cross to the other, and mocking the central sufferer of the three. Rulers and chief priests were not ashamed to take part in the brutal mockery of a dying man. The spoken taunts were doubtless often repeated, and not always in the same form, but their burden is always the same.

Matthew 27:39-44. They that passed by reviled him, &c. — As it was a great aggravation of our Lord’s sufferings that he was crucified along with two thieves, and in the middle of them, as though he had been the chief malefactor of the three, so it was a further aggravation thereof that he was reviled, mocked, and derided by different descriptions of persons. The common people, whom the priests had incensed against him by the malicious lies which they spread concerning him, and which they pretended to found on the evidence of witnesses, seeing him hang as a malefactor on the cross, and reading the superscription that was placed over his head, expressed their indignation against him by railing on him, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, &c., save thyself — The rulers having, as they imagined, wholly overturned his pretensions as the Messiah, ridiculed him on that head, and, with a meanness of soul which will render them for ever infamous, mocked him while in the agonies of death, and even most basely upbraided him with the saving power, which they could not deny that he had exerted; saying, he saved others, himself he cannot save — Thus they scoff at the wonderful miracles of healing, by which he had demonstrated that he was the Messiah; and they promise to believe on him on condition that he would prove his pretensions by coming down from the cross. In the mean time nothing could be more false and hypocritical, for they continued in their unbelief notwithstanding that he raised himself from the dead, which was a much greater miracle than his coming down from the cross would have been; a miracle also that was attested by witnesses whose veracity they could not call in question; for it was told them by the soldiers whom they themselves had placed at the sepulchre to watch his body. It is plain, therefore, that their incorrigible stubbornness would not have yielded to any proof, however convincing, and that when they said they would believe if he would come down from the cross, they only meant to insult him; thinking it impossible now for him to escape out of their hands. In saying, He trusted in God, &c., they deride his faith and reliance on God, whom he had called his Father, and thus show themselves to be either real infidels, or very profane, though under a profession of religion. In speaking thus, however, they fulfilled a remarkable prophecy concerning the Messiah’s sufferings, Psalm 22:8, where it is foretold that his enemies would utter these very words, in derision of his pretensions. The thieves also, &c., cast the same in his teeth — That is, one of them did so, for, according to Luke 23:39, &c., the other exercised a most extraordinary faith in our Lord, and that at a time when he was deserted by his Father, mocked by men, and hung on a cross as the worst of malefactors. Some commentators endeavour to reconcile the two evangelists by supposing, that both the thieves might revile Jesus at first. But this solution is not very probable. In Scripture, a single person or thing is often expressed in the plural number, especially when it is not the speaker’s or writer’s intention to be more particular.27:35-44 It was usual to put shame upon malefactors, by a writing to notify the crime for which they suffered. So they set up one over Christ's head. This they designed for his reproach, but God so overruled it, that even his accusation was to his honour. There were crucified with him at the same time, two robbers. He was, at his death, numbered among the transgressors, that we, at our death, might be numbered among the saints. The taunts and jeers he received are here recorded. The enemies of Christ labour to make others believe that of religion and of the people of God, which they themselves know to be false. The chief priests and scribes, and the elders, upbraid Jesus with being the King of Israel. Many people could like the King of Israel well enough, if he would but come down from the cross; if they could but have his kingdom without the tribulation through which they must enter into it. But if no cross, then no Christ, no crown. Those that would reign with him, must be willing to suffer with him. Thus our Lord Jesus, having undertaken to satisfy the justice of God, did it, by submitting to the punishment of the worst of men. And in every minute particular recorded about the sufferings of Christ, we find some prediction in the Prophets or the Psalms fulfilled.Wagging their heads - In token of derision and insult. See Job 16:4; Psalm 109:25. Mt 27:34-50. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus. ( = Mr 15:25-37; Lu 23:33-46; Joh 19:18-30).

For the exposition, see on [1375]Joh 19:18-30.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:44". And they that passed by,.... In the road to or from Jerusalem; for, it seems, the crosses were placed by the wayside; or they who passed by the cross, the populace that came from Jerusalem, on purpose to see the sight,

reviled him, or "blasphemed him": they spoke all manner of evil of him, they could think of, to which he answered not a word; and which may teach us patience under the revilings of men: this was foretold of him, Psalm 89:51, "they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed", or "Messiah"; and which Jarchi explains by "the ends of the king Messiah"; his last times, towards the close of his days; and cites that passage in the Misna (z),

"in the heels, or, as Buxtorf renders it, in the end of the days of the Messiah impudence shall be multiplied,

as it now was exceedingly:

wagging their heads; in derision of him, and as exulting in his misery; see Isaiah 37:22. This also was prophesied of him in

{11} And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

(11) To make full satisfaction for us, Christ suffered and overcame not only the torments of the body, but also the most horrible torments of the mind.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:39 Οἱ δὲ παραπορ.] That what is here said seems to imply, what would ill accord with the synoptic statement as to the day on which our Lord was crucified, that this took place on a working day (Fritzsche, de Wette), is not to be denied (comp. on John 18:28; Mark 15:21), though it cannot be assumed with certainty that such was the case. But there can be no doubt that the place of execution was close to a public thoroughfare.

κινοῦντες τὰς κεφ. αὐτ.] The shaking of the head here is not to be regarded as that which expresses refusal or passion (Hom. Il. xviii. 200, 442; Od. v. 285, 376), but, according to Psalm 22:8, as indicating a malicious jeering at the helplessness of one who had made such lofty pretensions, Matthew 27:40. Comp. Job 16:4; Psalm 109:25; Lamentations 2:15; Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 18:16; Buxt. Lex. Talm. p. 2039; Justin, Ap. I. 38.Matthew 27:39-44. Taunts of spectators (Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-37; Luke 23:39). The last drop in Christ’s bitter cup. To us it may seem incredible that even His worst enemies could be guilty of anything so brutal as to hurl taunts at one suffering the agonies of crucifixion. But men then felt very differently from us, thanks to the civilising influence of the Christian faith, which has made the whole details of the Passion history so revolting to the Christian heart. These sneers at the great Sufferer are not invented fulfilments of prophecy (Psalm 22:7-8; so Brandt), but belong to the certainties of the tragic story as told by the synoptists.39. See Psalm 22:7.Matthew 27:39. Οἱ δὲ παραπαρευόμενοι, but they that were passing by) Many did not even condescend to stand still.—κινοῦντες τὰς κεφαλὰς, shaking their heads) The gesture of one who refuses to acknowledge something.Verse 39. - They that passed by. Golgotha being near a great high road and a much-frequented city gate (John 19:20), passersby were numerous, even without counting those who were attracted by the woeful sight. Many of them knew nothing of Christ's case, but seeing him punished in company with the two malefactors, thought that he was doubtless guilty of the same crimes as they; others, perhaps, who had seen his miracles and heard something of his teaching, conceived the notion that one whom the priests and rulers condemned must be a dangerous impostor, and deserved the cruelest of deaths. Reviled him; ἐβλασφήμουν: railed on him; blasphemabant (Vulgate). The expression, indeed, is true in its worse sense, for they who could thus revile the Son of God were guilty, however ignorantly, of gross impiety and irreverence. Wagging their heads. In mockery and contempt, thus fulfilling the psalmist's words, "All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head;" and, "I am become a reproach unto them; when they see me, they shake their heads" (Psalm 22:7; Psalm 109:25).
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