Notes & Commentary:
When the morning was come. The evangelist is silent with regard to what was transacted during the night, and of the
multiplied cruelties and base indignities offered to our divine Redeemer during the whole of the night; for, after he has
informed us of Peter's denial, he immediately proceeds to tell us what happened at break of day. (St. Augustine) --- The chief
priests, with the ancients and scribes, after they had wreaked their vengeance upon Jesus by the vilest treatment of his sacred
person, took counsel how they might induce the governor to put him to death. In this Sanhedrim, or full council of seventy-two,
they again put the question to hold a council. --- Council. Caiphas, in the morning, called a full council of the Sanhedrim.
They again put the question to Jesus, and commanded him to tell them if he were the Christ, and the Son of God?
He owned he was. (Luke xxii. 70.) --- Upon this they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor:
literally, the president. This they did, 1. because being a festival day, they apprehended a tumult among the people.
2. To make him die a more infamous death on the cross; otherwise they might perhaps have stoned him to death, as they afterwards
did St. Stephen. 3. The power of death being taken from them, they durst not well exercise it, at least, without permission
from the Roman governor. (Witham)
Ver. 2. In the
council Jesus was free; but now all the council rising up, as appears from St. Luke, and binding him, (detantes auton)
as one certainly guilty of death, they conduct him to Pilate. All attend to repress by their authority the people, to engage
Pilate to pronounce sooner the sentence, when he saw that he was condemned by the unanimous voice of the Sanhedrim, and to
hinder any one from rising in his defence. They were the more anxious, 1. because about three years before, the power of life
and death had been taken from them; 2. because they wished to throw the odium of the crime on another person; and lastly,
because as both Jew and Gentile were equally to benefit of Christ's death, so both Jew and Gentile were to concur in inflicting
it; and as all were to have salvation offered them through his blood, so none were to be freed from the guilt of shedding
Ver. 3. Then
Judas, ... repenting himself. A fruitless repentance, accompanied with a new sin of despair, says St. Leo. (Witham) ---
Perceiving that Jesus was delivered up, and remembering what our divine Saviour had said concerning his resurrection, he repented
of his atrocious wickedness. Perhaps Satan, who assisted and urged him on to betray his Master, deserted him, not that he
had prevailed upon the unhappy miscreant to perpetrate what he had so passionately desired. But how could Judas see that Jesus
was condemned? He certainly did not see it, but foreboded in his despairing mind what would be the event. But some are of
opinion that this passage is referred to Judas himself, who then became sensible of his crime, and saw his condemnation impending
over his head. (Origen) --- For the devil does not blind his agents in such a manner, as to leave them insensible of the crime
they are about to commit, till it is perpetrated. (St. Chrysostom) --- Although Judas conceived a horror at his crime, and
confessed it, and made satisfaction to a certain degree by restoring the money, still many essential conditions were wanting
to his repentance: 1. faith in Christ, as God, as a redeemer, as the sole justifier from sin; 2. besides this, there was also
wanting hopes of pardon, as in Cain, and a love of a much injured and much offended God. Hence his grief was unavailing, like
that of the damned. If Judas, says an ancient Father, had had recourse to sincere repentance, and not to the halter, there
was mercy in store even for the traitor. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Hanged
himself, and did not die of the quinsy, (a tumid inflammation in the throat) as some of late expound it. It is true
the Greek word may sometimes signify a suffocation with grief; but it signifies also to be strangled with a rope, as
Erasmus translated it. So it is in the ancient Syriac version; and the same Greek word is made use of in 2 Kings xvii, as
to Achitophel's death. (Witham) --- To his first repentance succeeded fell despair, which the devil pursued to his eternal
destruction. If the unhappy man had sought true repentance, and observed due moderation in it, (by avoiding both extremes,
presumption and despair) he might have heard a forgiving Master speaking to him these consoling words: I will not the death
of a sinner, but rather that he may be converted and still live. (Origen)
Ver. 6. Corbona.
A place in the temple, where the people put in their gifts or offerings. (Challoner)
Ver. 7. Burying-place.
this the Pharisees did, as a shew of their charity to strangers; but their intention, according to St. Jerome, was to disgrace
Jesus; thus to keep alive in the minds of the people, that he was sold by one of his own disciples, and delivered up to a
disgraceful death. (Denis the Carthusian)
Ver. 8. Haceldama
is a Syriac word: it is not in the Greek; and some conjecture, that it found its way hither from the first chapter of the
Acts, ver. 19. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 9. Then
was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias. Jeremias is now in all Latin copies, and the general reading of the Greek;
whereas the passage is found in Zacharias xi. 12. Some judge it to have been in some writing of Jeremias, now lost; as St.
Jerome says he found it in a writing of Jeremias, which was not canonical. Others conjecture, that Zacharias had also the
name of Jeremias. Others, that St. Matthew neither put Jeremias nor Zacharias, but only of the prophet: and that the
name of Jeremias had crept into the text. Jeremias is not in the Syrica[Syriac?]; and St. Augustine says it was not in divers
copies. --- And they took the thirty pieces of silver; each of which was called an argenteus. The evangelist
cites not the words, but the sense of the prophet, who was ordered to cast the pieces into the house of the Lord, and to cast
them to the potter: which became true by the fact of Judas, who cast them into the temple: and with them was purchased
the potter's field. The price of him that was prized. In the prophet we read, the handsome price, spoken ironically,
as the Lord did appoint me; i.e. as he had decreed. (Witham)
Ver. 11. Jesus
stood before the governor. By comparing the four evangelists together Pilate condescended to come out to the priests,
and asked them, what accusations they brought against this man? They replied first in general terms: (John xviii. 30.) If
he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. Take him you, said Pilate, and judge him according
to your law. They answered: It is not permitted us to put any one to death. After this they accused him of raising
tumults, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar; (Luke xxiii. 2; a manifest falsehood; see Matthew xxii,) and that he
said, he is Christ, the king. Upon this Pilate called him into the palace before him, and said: Art thou the king
of the Jews? Jesus owned he was: but first asked Pilate, if he said this of himself, or by the suggestion of others;
which was to insinuate, that this information of his being a king came from his malicious adversaries; and that Pilate, having
been so long governor, could not but know that he had never set himself up for king, nor pretended to any kingly power. However,
Pilate replied somewhat peevishly: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what
hast thou done? Jesus then told Pilate, that his kingdom was not of this world. This abundantly satisfied Pilate:
who needed not trouble his head about any spiritual kingdom, or such as was not of this world. Jesus speaking of truth,
Pilate asked him after a slight manner, what is truth? but perhaps, without waiting for any answer, went presently
out, and told the Jews, that he found no cause nor crime in Jesus. (Witham) --- The Judge of every living creature
was arraigned by permission of his heavenly Father, before the petty judge of Judea, and suffers himself to be interrogated
by him, though every question proposed was either put out of ridicule, or some equally base motive. (Origen) --- Our divine
Saviour confessed himself to be a king; but that he might give no umbrage either to Jew or Gentile, he at the same time declared,
that his kingdom was not of this world. (St. Chrysostom)
Ver. 14. The
governor wondered exceedingly at Jesus's patience and silence: and he saw very well that it was envy that excited
the Jewish priests against him. (Matthew xxvii. 18.) But they went on charging him, that he stirred up the people,
even from Galilee to Jerusalem. Pilate hearing that he was of Galilee, laid hold on this occasion, and sent him to
Herod Antipas, who was tetrarch of Galilee; and being a Jew was come up to Jerusalem at this great feast. Herod was glad to
see Jesus brought to him, hoping to see him do some miracle in his presence: but finding him silent, and that he did not satisfy
his curiosity, he contemned him, and ordered him to be clothed in such a garment as might make him laughed at for a
fool, or a mock king; and in this dress, sent him back through the streets to Pilate. (Witham) --- The president admires the
constancy and courage of his soul; and though, perhaps, he saw it was necessary to declare him guilty of the accusation; yet,
beholding the heavenly wisdom and gravity that appeared in his countenance and the heavenly composure in which he stood, he
could not conceal his admiration at his conduct. So that it seemed to him most miraculous, that a man brought to the bar,
and tried for a capital crime, should stand without fear at the approach of death, which men commonly so much dread. (Origen)
Ver. 15. Upon
the solemn day of the paschal feast, (which began the evening before) it was a custom for the governor to pardon and release
to the people any one criminal whose life they should petition for: and to induce them to beg for Jesus, he put in the balance
with him one Barabbas a famous malefactor, a seditious murderer, says St. Mark; a robber, or thief, says
St. John. (Witham) --- Pilate, wishing to release the innocent Jesus, that he might not give the Jews a possibility, as he
thought, of refusing his offer, puts the murderer Barabbas in competition with the innocent Lamb of God. (St. John Chrysostom)
Ver. 19. In
a dream. We must remark, that these kind of dreams were not unusual among the Gentiles, being sent by God for some just
and necessary reason; as on this occasion, that there might be a public testimony from the Gentiles, of the justice and innocence
of Christ. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 20. That
they should ask Barabbas. All, therefore, that resemble the Jews in either theory or practice, desire to have Barabbas
loosed to them; all, therefore, that seek after iniquity, ask for Barabbas, and put Jesus away. But all who walk in the paths
of virtue, ask for Jesus, and destroy Barabbas. Pilate wishing on this occasion to shew the Jews the enormity of their crime,
again puts the question, which will you have of the two? And again, What shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?
But, they being enraged that Pilate should declare Jesus to be the Christ, all in the frantic fury exclaimed, Let him be
Ver. 21. Which
... of the two, said Pilate to them, will you have released? St. Mark tells us, that at the instigation of the priests,
the people petitioned for Barabbas. It was no small disappointment to Pilate. What then, said he, shall I
do with Jesus? They all answer, let him be crucified. In St. Luke, crucify him, crucify him. What evil hath
he done? replied Pilate; and this he repeated thrice, according to St. Luke, xxiii. 22. --- Here in order followed
the cruel scourging of our blessed Saviour, which Pilate consented to, in hopes to move the people to compassion. This was
executed with the utmost cruelty. For they assembled the whole band of soldiers, commonly about 600. And they made him one
wound from head to foot. Then a scarlet or purple coat was thrown over his shoulders: and platting or wreathing
a crown of thorns, i.e. twisting sharp thorns, with some resemblance of a crown, they violently pressed it down on his
head; and struck him at their pleasure with a reed, or cane, which they had placed in his hand, instead of a
sceptre; and kneeling in derision, said, Hail, king of the Jews. --- When the soldiers had treated Jesus in this barbarous
manner, Pilate himself presented him in this condition to the people saying, Behold the man. He imagined their fury
would now be changed into pity: but they still cried out, Crucify him! crucify him! Take him you, said Pilate, and
crucify him; for I find no crime in him. The Jews then answered: We have a law: and according to our law, he must die;
because he hath made himself the Son of God. At this Pilate was more afraid, lest perhaps he should be of the progeny
of the gods, as the Romans fancied their heroes to be. He returned back to the palace and asked Jesus again: whence art
thou? Jesus gave him no direct answer, yet told him, he could have not power over him, unless it had been granted him
from above. Pilate was still very desirous to set him at liberty, especially when his wife sent a message to him to have
nothing to do with that just man, for that she had suffered much in a dream on his account. (Matthew xxvii. 19.) --- The Jews
perceived Pilate's great inclination to set Jesus at liberty: they therefore tell him in plain terms, that if he doth dismiss
this man, he is no friend to Cæsar: for every one, say they, that pretends to be a king, contradicts
Cæsar. This moved Pilate more than any thing whatsoever, and prevailed with him both against justice and his own conscience,
to condemn Jesus. He feared lest some private information might be presented against him to Tiberius Cæsar. He presently mounted
the judgment-seat in a public place, and said to the Jews: behold your king. They cry out, away with him, crucify
him. Shall I crucify your king? said Pilate. They reply: we have no king but Cæsar; thus renouncing their Messias.
At this Pilate yielded; and (ver. 24,) washed his hands, and said: I am innocent of the blood of this just man:
look you to it. (Witham)
Ver. 24. Taken
water. It was the custom of the ancients, when they wished to shew themselves innocent of any alleged crime, to take water
and wash their hands in public. (St. Remigius) --- Because the element of water naturally signifies purity. See Virgil, Æneid
xi. ver. 718.
Me bello è tanto digressum, et cæde
Attractare nefas, donec me flumine vivo
Ver. 25. All
the people answered: his blood be upon us, and upon our children which continues, saith St. Jerome, to this day. Then
Pilate delivered to them Jesus to be crucified. (Witham) --- This blasphemous prayer continues to this day, and will
continue a protracted curse upon the Jews, and upon their posterity. (Origen) --- Behold the insanity of the Jews! Their passion
and pertinacious obstinacy will not suffer them to see and understand: they draw down curses upon themselves in these terrible
imprecations: his blood be upon us and upon our children. Still the God of all mercies did not literally comply with
their impious prayer. For, of these children he selected some for himself; amongst the rest even Paul, and many thousands
who were converted at Jerusalem. (St. Chrysostom)
Ver. 26. And
having scourged Jesus. We must know that Pilate was a subject of the Roman empire; and by the Roman law it was ordained,
that whoever was condemned to the cross, should previously suffer the punishment of scourging. (St. Jerome) --- He wished
also by this apparent severity to soften the minds of the Jews, content their inveterate animosity, and this with hopes that
they would in the end consent to the liberation of Jesus. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 27. A Roman
cohort properly consisted of 625 men; but they were not always complete, nor all equally strong. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 28. A
scarlet cloak. St. Mark and St. John call it purple. But these colours are frequently taken promiscuously by writers.
Scarlet is a lighter, and crimson a deeper red colour. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 29. The
crowning of thorns had preceded the time, when Jesus was made over by Pilate to the Jews. As the Jews have no preterpluperfect
tense, we may conjecture that those words, circumdederunt, posuerunt, are Hebraisms; for circumdederant, posuerant,
they had covered him with a cloak; they had placed a crown of thorns on his head, and a reed or cane in his hand. (Bible de
Jesus carrieth his cross to Mount Calvary, where he is nailed
to it. A great darkness.
Ver. 31. And
led him away to crucify him. It was the custom for men condemned to die by crucifixion to carry their cross, which Jesus
did through the city; but going out, or being gone out of the city, and, as it is probable, fainting under the weight of it,
(his strength as man being exhausted) they forced a man of Cyrene, named Simon, perhaps a Gentile, or Cyrene,
in Lybia, to carry the cross after him. St. Luke says, they laid the cross upon him to carry after Jesus; whether it
were that they made Simon carry the whole cross, or whether he only bore it up behind, is not expressed. St. Luke tells us,
a great crowd followed, and a number of women, who wept and lamented; to whom Christ said: weep not over me, but
weep for yourselves, and for your children, on account of the punishments and miseries that will shortly happen. (Witham)
Ver. 32. Cyrene
was the capital of a province in Africa, near Lybia. See Acts ii. 10. Some are of opinion that this Simon was a Jew; his name
favours that sentiment, and there were many Jews in that province. (Bible de Vence) --- St. John says that Christ went out
carrying his own cross, while the other three evangelists state that they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry it for him. Both
are true: for seeing Christ unequal to the weight, they compelled the other to take it up for him; not a part only, as some
painters represent, but the whole, to Mount Calvary, as Jesus Christ had carried the whole before. (St. Augustine) --- The
evangelists would not have been so particular in this part, had they not wished to inculcate, that all who desire to follow
Christ, must also take up their cross and follow him. (St. Jerome and Jansenius) --- The latter says, in his Commentaries
on the Gospels; as no one liked to carry the ignominious cross, the insolence of the soldiery compelled a stranger to carry
it. By this we learn, that the cross is not taken up by many except with compulsion; but, when once taken up, they carry it
with willingness. (Jansenius)
Ver. 33. Golgotha,
i.e. the place of Calvary, of heads and skulls: perhaps, says St. Jerome, from the skulls of persons executed,
and buried there. Several ancient writers would have it so called, from Adam's skull, whom they guess to have been buried
there. Some also say that a part of this mountain was called Moria, the place where Abraham was ready to have sacrificed
his son Isaac. (Witham) --- Isaac, carrying the wood on his shoulders for the sacrifice, was a figure of Jesus Christ carrying
his cross. The mountain was situated to the north-west of Jerusalem.
Ver. 34. Wine
... mingled with gall. The Protestants from the ordinary Greek copies, translate vinegar; but other Greek
copies have wine, which St. Jerome and St. Hilary follow. And in St. Mark all copies, without exception, have wine
mixed with myrrh: perhaps myrrh, from its bitterness, is here called gall. It is also observed that wine,
with a mixture of myrrh, was often given to those that were to die a violent death, to comfort them, or stupefy them. Our
Saviour tasted it, but would not drink it. He refused not to taste the bitterness, but would not take what might lessen his
torments. (Witham) --- St. Mark says, mingled with myrrh; perhaps it was mixed with both, to render it as bitter as
possible. (St. Augustine) --- What St. Mark relates, he took it not, is thus explained: he took it not, so as to drink
it; which St. Matthew confirms, by saying: and when he had tasted, he would not drink; (St. Augustine,) so as to receive
the support and comfort which a strengthening draft might afford.
Ver. 35. They
divided his garments. This was accounted with the ancients the greatest infamy. It was never done with any but the most
vile and worthless wretches; with men who possessed nothing more then their garments. This they did to our blessed Saviour;
a punishment they did not think the two thieves deserving of. (St. Chrysostom)
Ver. 37. This
is Jesus, the King of the Jews. St. Mark has only, this is the King of the Jews; as also St. Luke. St. John, Jesus,
of Nazareth, King of the Jews, which might be the whole inscription. It was the custom of the Romans to put such inscriptions
with the cause of their being crucified. St. Luke and St. John tell us, it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
The Jews begged of Pilate that it might be changed, or only put; He said, I am the King of the Jews: but Pilate made
them this short answer: what I have written, I have written. (Witham) --- This title was nailed over the head of our
expiring Redeemer, by divine Providence; that the Jews might still be convinced, that with all their opposition, they must
acknowledge him for their King, whom they had condemned to so cruel a death; and that so far from lessening his empire and
regal power, they rather increased it. (St. Remigius)
Ver. 38. Two
robbers, or thieves, and Jesus in the midst; as if he had been the greatest malefactor of the three. (Witham)
Ver. 39. They
... blasphemed, reviled, and insulted him with words and gestures. (Witham)
Ver. 40. If
thou be the Son of God. Behold these children of Satan, how they imitate the language of their father. That wicked fiend,
tempting our divine Saviour, exclaimed, "if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:" and these his children say,
"if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross:" but, on the other hand, Jesus will not descend from the hard wood of
the cross, because he is the Son of God; for, being God, he descended on earth, took upon himself human nature, to die thus
for those who crucified him. (St. John Chrysostom)
Ver. 42. If
he be the king of Israel. Pilate having written on the inscription set upon the cross, that Christ was the king of Israel,
the Jews endeavoured to persuade him to remove or alter it; but Pilate gave them for answer, according to St. John, "what
I have written, I have written." The Jews, therefore, wishing to shew that he was not their king, said with insulting
scorn, "if he be the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross," (St. Chrysostom) "and we will believe him."
Falsehood and deceit are stamped upon these words of the Jewish priests; for, whether is it more difficult to descend from
his cross, being yet alive, or, being dead, to raise himself from the tomb? He rose again, and you did not believe had he
descended from the cross, you would have been equally incredulous. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 43. If
he will have him: literally, if he will him. In the style of the Scriptures, to will, is to love, or be
pleased with any one; and so it is applied, Psalm xxi. 9, from whence these words are taken. See also 1 Kings xviii. 22. (Witham)
Ver. 44. And
the same thing the thieves also: i.e. one of them, the other being converted, as we find Luke xxiii. 39. (Witham) ---
St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and Ven. Bede say, that at first both of the thieves blasphemed; but one of them
seeing the wonderful things that happened, viz. that the sun was darkened, the rocks split asunder, &c. was terrified
and converted, he believed in Jesus, and atoned for his former evil language, by praying to him as to his God. (Denis the
Ver. 45. From
the sixth hour. St. Mark says, it was the third hour, and they crucified him. St. John says, it was about
the sixth hour, when Jesus was condemned. To reconcile these expressions, we may take notice, that the third greater
hour lasted till the sixth hour; and so St. Mark calls it the third hour, because the third great hour (which contained three
lesser hours) did not end till mid-day, when the sixth hour was beginning; so that the end of the third, and the beginning
of the sixth, happened together. --- Darkness, at mid-day, and at full moon. Some call it an eclipse of the sun.
It was rather by an interposition of clouds, or by the substraction of the rays of the sun. --- Over all the earth,
until the ninth hour. It could be no miracle to be night in the opposite hemisphere; but whether it was in all those parts
of the world where, of course, it should have been light, is doubted. Origen thinks this darkness was only in Palestine, and
the neighbouring countries: for as to the words, over the whole earth, or over the whole land, we find one kingdom
or empire, by a common way of speaking, called the whole earth, or the whole world. Here, in the history of
Christ's passion, we should take notice of his seven last words, or sentences on the cross. 1. He prayed for his enemies,
and those that put him to death, (Luke xxiii. 34.) Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. 2. His mercy
called the good thief, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise, Luke xxiii. 43. 3. He recommended his beloved disciple
to his mother, saying: woman, behold thy son; and his mother to the same disciple, with, Behold thy mother.
(John xix. 26. and 27.) 4. Here (ver. 46) he cried out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani, i.e. my God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me? These words, out of Psalm xxi. 1[2?], were to express his violent sufferings. The Arians
objected them against the divinity of Christ; to whom the Fathers answer, that he spoke these words in the person of sinners,
for whose sake he suffered, as they shew by the following words of the same Psalm: far from my salvation are the words
of my sins: which cannot be applied to Christ, he being incapable of sinning. Besides, these words may be expounded as
a prayer, by which he desires of his Father, not to be abandoned any longer, but that his sufferings may now have an end.
In fine, that these words were uttered with an entire confidence, and an assurance in the presence and assistance of God,
appears by what he presently added, recommending his spirit into the hands of his Father. The fifth sentence was, I thirst,
to let us know the violent thirst of his exhausted body. St. John (xix. 28,) says it was that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
(Psalm lxviii. 22.) And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. The sixth sentence was, It is consummated;
(John xix. 30) i.e. the work of man's redemption, and all the prophecies, and decrees of heaven, concerning me, the Saviour
of the world, are now accomplished. The seventh and last sentence was, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit;
and with these words, says St. Luke, (xxiii. 46.) pronounced with a loud voice, he expired. (Witham) --- The learned
are divided on this passage: 1st, As to the cause of the obscuration of the sun; and, 2ndly, as to the extent of its darkness.
Origen is inclined to think that the darkness was partial, and confined to Judea and the neighbouring countries, as the darkness
of Egypt was only perceived in that country, and not in Gessen, where the children of Israel were. St. Jerome imagines that
the obscurity was caused by the rays of the sun being suddenly withdrawn by divine power, as was the case in Egypt. These
they give as conjectures only. But St. Dionysius, the Areopagite, speaks from his own observations, being, as he informs us
in a letter to St. Polycarp, then at Heliopolis, a city of Egypt, for the purpose of astronomical observations. He noticed
this miraculous eclipse. He saw the moon rise from the east, and placing itself directly under the sun, cause the above mentioned
darkness. This made him cry out to his companion, in the greatest admiration. He observes in this eclipse, four things contrary
to the ordinary course of nature: 1. The time, full moon, when there cannot be an eclipse of the sun; 2. the moon being under
the sun at the sixth hour, returned to its place in the east for the evening; 3. the order in which the sun was obscured.
In ordinary eclipses, the western limb of the sun is first obscured, on account of the motion of the moon in its orbit, being
from west to east; whereas, in the present case, the moon having already passed the sun, and being removed from the sun the
distance of a semicircle, returned from the east to the sun, and of course first eclipsed it on the eastern limb: 4. contrary
to the manner of common eclipses, in which that part is first visible which was first obscured, that part of the sun first
appeared which was last eclipsed, because the moon returned again to the east after the eclipse was full. To this may be added
the observation of St. Chrysostom and St. Jerome: that the duration of natural eclipses is very short, whilst this lasted
the space of three whole hours. But this interposition of the moon, which suffers the greatest parallax, could not cause an
universal eclipse; if, therefore, the text is to be understood literally of the whole earth, another cause must be supposed
for this universal darkness. But it may be understood in a more limited sense, of the land of Judea. (Denis the Carthusian)
The miracles at Christ's death. His burial.
Ver. 47. This
man calleth for Elias. St. Jerome thinks these might be some of the Roman soldiers, who understood not Syriac, but who
had heard of the prophet Elias. (Witham) --- But if we understand it of the Jews, who could not possibly be ignorant of this
word, we must suppose it was merely a stratagem of theirs, who wishing still to shew the weakness of our Redeemer, said that
he called Elias to his aid. (St. Jerome) --- The soldiers thinking that he called for Elias, wished to hinder any one from
offering vinegar, lest it should hasten his death, and prevent Elias from coming to assist him; which, from the darkness and
other signs, they might think probable. (St. Augustine) --- Wine and vinegar, on account of their penetrating quality, were
thought to hasten death. We read in Plutarch, that wine was given to Mark Anthony, when he had stabbed himself, that he might
die the sooner. (Jansenius)
Ver. 50. With
a loud voice. In this our Redeemer confirms what he had said to Pilate; I have the power to lay down my life, and I
have the power to take it up again: for he cried with a loud voice, and at the very hour of the evening sacrifice, to
shew that it was by the effect of his own will that he died. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxxxix.)
Ver. 51. The
veil of the temple was rent. As there were in the temple two parts of the sanctuary, so there were two veils, or partition
walls. The first sanctuary, called the holy, was separated by a veil from that part of the temple called the court
of the Israelites. Into this outward sanctuary, called the holy, entered every day the priests that were in office.
The second interior sanctuary, called the holy of holies, was also separated from the outward sanctuary by another
veil. And into this holy of holies, no one was to enter except the high priest, and he but once a-year. Both these veils seem
to have been rent at Christ's death: and by their being broken down, was signified first, that the ceremonies of the ancient
law were to be abolished by the law of Christ; and also that heaven should be open to all. --- The earth quaked. How
far this earthquake was extended, is uncertain. --- The rocks were rent, and the graves were opened: and many bodies of
the saints ... arose. St. Jerome takes notice, that these saints did not rise with their bodies till after Christ was
risen; and so it follows, that going out of the graves, after the resurrection, they came into the holy city, (i.e.
into Jerusalem) and appeared to many. (Witham) --- This event was a prophecy of the fatal destruction that was shortly
to fall upon the temple; and also, that it should henceforth give place to things more noble and sublime. It likewise shews
that greatness of Christ's power. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxix.)
Ver. 54. Indeed
this was the Son of God. St. Mark says, that when they saw Jesus die in that manner, crying out with a loud voice,
which could not be natural, and when they saw the other miracles, they were struck with fear. St. Luke says, (xxiii.
47.) that the centurion glorified God, &c. (Witham) --- It is said that this centurion, being afterwards confirmed
in the faith, was honoured with the crown of martyrdom. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxix.)
Ver. 55. Ministering
unto him. It was customary with the Jews, for the women of that country to minister unto their teachers both food and
raiment; but because this was liable to abuse, and to cause scandal to the Gentiles, St. Paul dispensed with their assistance.
These women ministered to our Lord, hoping that he would bestow heavenly food to them, who offered earthly food to him: not
that the Creator of all things stood in need of assistance: but he wished to shew his disciples an example of poverty in himself,
and charity in these women. But let us see what sort of women these were that followed our Lord, among whom were Mary Magdalene,
sister of Martha and Lazarus; Mary, the mother of James the less and Joseph, sister of the blessed Virgin Mary, and the mother
of the sons of Zebedee, otherwise called Salome, who were disciples of Jesus. (St. Jerome, and Menochius)
Ver. 57. When
it was evening, &c. St. John tells us, (Chap. xix. 31.) that the day on which Jesus died, being the day of preparation,
(literally, the parasceve) that is the Friday or eve of the great sabbath, to wit, of the sabbath-day, which
happened in the week of the paschal solemnity, the Jews desired of Pilate that the bodies might not remain on the crosses
on the sabbath-day, but that they might be taken away. Some soldiers were sent for this purpose, and broke the legs
of the two others that were not quite dead; but perceiving that Jesus was dead, they broke not his legs, but one of them pierced
and opened his side with a lance or spear; and with such a wound, as would have deprived him of life, had he
not been already dead. The divine Providence permitted this, to make his death more certain and undoubted. --- Joseph,
a disciple in private, now encouraged by the miracles which had happened, went boldly to Pilate, and begged the
body of Jesus. St. Mark says, Pilate wondered, when he heard he was dead; and having been informed of the truth by the
centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Nicodemus also, who is called a prince of the Jews, (John iii. 1.)
came to bury our Saviour, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, to embalm the body, as they did. (Witham)
--- The evangelist does not call Joseph a rich man out of vanity, or to inform us that Jesus had persons of distinction among
his followers, but to shew why Joseph in preference to any other went to beg the body; for being a nobleman, he could obtain
easier access to the governor of Judea than any of the other disciples, who were chiefly poor illiterate fishermen. (St. Jerome)
--- The town of Arimathea is placed on the maps about eighteen or twenty miles north-west of Jerusalem.
Ver. 58. The
Roman laws forbade sepulture to be given to criminals, without an express permission from the judges. (Bible de Vence, and
Ver. 59. Wrapt
it up. Behold with admiration the courage and constancy of this disciple of Christ, who, through love for his crucified
Saviour, willingly exposed himself not only to the enmity of his countrymen, but even to the danger of death, and dared in
the presence of all to beg the body of Jesus, and to give it public interment. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxix.)
Ver. 60. And
Joseph laid it in his own new monument, ... hewed or cut out in a rock, where no one had ever been laid: and
rolled a great stone against the entrance, that no one might go in, or take away the body. But Mary Magdalene,
and other women that had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, followed at a distance, to mark the place, having a design to come
afterwards, and again embalm the body. (Witham) --- It was the custom of that country, to excavate a tomb from the hard rock,
for all persons of great distinction. (Bible de Vence) --- From the unadorned tomb of a Man-God, we are taught to despise
the grandeur of this perishable world, and fear the example of those who, even in their sepulchres, manifest to the world
how grieved they were to leave their wealth, since they carried it with them to their tombs, ornamenting them with every costly
decoration human ingenuity could devise. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 61. Sitting
over-against. Though St. Matthew makes mention of two women only, who were there, it is nevertheless certain from the
other evangelists, that there were more, though these two are here particularized, because they perhaps shewed greater anxiety.
They are said to be sitting, because they were afraid to join themselves with the two noblemen, Joseph, of Arimathea, and
Nicodemus; and not able to leave their Lord, without knowing where he was placed, they sat down to see the end. (Jansenius)
Ver. 62. The
next day, which followed that of the parasceve, or preparation, (that is, on the great sabbath-day) the
chief priests came to Pilate, to beg him to set a guard at the monument. (Witham) --- The day of the preparation.
The eve of the sabbath; so called, because on that day they prepared all things necessary; not being allowed so much
as to dress their meat on the sabbath-day. (Challoner)
Ver. 63. Sir,
we have remembered, that that seducer, this impostor, this cheat; so they called our blessed Redeemer; from whence, says
St. Augustine, Christians may learn to be patient under the greatest injuries. --- Said: ... after three days I will rise
again. This, therefore, must have been well known among the Jews. (Witham) --- The chief motive, which influenced the
high priest on this occasion, was probably the apprehension lest this prediction of Christ's resurrection should be verified.
The wonderful prodigies which took place at his death, and especially the opening of the graves, (though none arose it is
believed till after Christ's resurrection, since Christ is called the first-born from the dead, 1 Colossians i. 18. and the
first-fruits of them that sleep, 1 Corinthians xv. 20.) might naturally appear as preludes to what he had so often foretold.
It is true they had no idea but of a temporal passing resurrection , like that of Lazarus, which they had seen: yet they judged
that such an event might be attended with the most serious consequences. Hence, it is probable, that they gave them most express
injunctions to put Jesus to death by all means, and to secure the body in the monument: for, it is certain, they formed a
similar design against the life of Lazarus, whose resurrection occasioned many to believe in Jesus. (Haydock) --- They were
not satisfied with taking his life; they must, moreover, deprived him of his good name. (Menochius) ---The chief priests could
not yet be satisfied, after the horrid murder they had committed, unless they stirred up the minds of the people to a still
greater height, by calumniating this innocent Lamb of God, and calling him an impostor, who was the most innocent of
men, and spread abroad their poisonous doctrines in every sentence they uttered. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 65. You
have a guard; supposed to be a company of Roman soldiers, destined for the guard of the temple: (Bible de Vence) or, may
take a guard; go, and make it secure; which they did, sealing the stone, and placing guards at the monument. Providence
ordered this, to make Christ's resurrection more certain and evident. (Witham)
Ver. 66. They
departing. See how beyond the possibility of contradiction these precautions prove the reality of Christ's resurrection,
and how the inveterate enemies of Christ become unwilling witnesses of it; for, since the sepulchre was guarded, there was
an impossibility of any deceit on the part of the disciples. Now, if the least deceit was utterly impracticable, then indeed
Christ our Lord was infallibly risen; and to remove every, the least possibility of deceit, Pilate would not permit the soldiers
alone to seal up the monument. (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- The high priests made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone at the
entrance of the monument with the public seal, sphragisantes ton lithon, proof against all fraud, either
of corrupt guards or of designing followers, as Darius did, (Daniel vi. 17.) that no violence might be offered him. All this
diligence, on the part of the enemies of the Christian faith, was permitted by divine Providence, that our faith in Christ's
resurrection might be more certain, his glory greater, and the minds of the people better disposed to believe. (Jansenius)
 Ver. 5. Laqueo se suspendit, apegxato. See Mr. Leigh,
Crit. Sacra, apagchomai, strangulor, suffocor.
 Ver. 9. Zacharias xi. 13. projice illud ad staturium, decorum pretium.
... Et projeci illos in domum Domini ad statuarium; where the Hebrew word signifies, ad figulum.
 Ver. 33. Calvariæ locus. kraniou topos.
 Ver. 34. Vinum cum felle mixtum. The ordinary Greek copies have, oxos
meta choles; but several copies have, oinon: and all of them in St. Mark, esmurnismenon
oinon. Lamy says oxos is also used for made wines.
 Ver. 45. Tenebræ, a darkness. What is brought out of Phlegon, on the
4th year of 202d Olympiad, is no convincing proof that this was by an eclipse, but may be understood of a great and extraordinary
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The continuation of the history of the passion of Christ.
His death and burial.
1 And when morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the
people held a counsel against Jesus, to put him to death.
2 *And they brought him bound, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the
3 Then Judas, who betrayed him, seeing that he was condemned, repenting
himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the ancients,
4 Saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What
is that to us? look thou to it.
5 And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed: *and
went and hanged himself with a halter.
6 But the chief priests having taken the pieces of silver, said: It is
not lawful to put them into the Corbona, because it is the price of blood.
7 And having consulted together, they bought with them the potter's field,
to be a burying place for strangers.
8 *Wherefore that field was called Haceldama; that is, The field of blood,
even to this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias, the prophet, saying:
*And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they prized of the children of Israel.
10 And they gave them unto the potter's field, as the Lord appointed to
11 And Jesus stood before the governor, *and the governor asked him, saying:
Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus saith to him: Thou sayest it.
12 And when he was accused by the chief priests and ancients, he answered
13 Then Pilate saith to him: Dost not thou hear how great testimonies they
allege against thee?
14 And he answered him not to any word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly.
15 Now upon the solemn day the governor was accustomed to release to the
people one prisoner, whom they would.
16 And he had then a notorious prisoner, that was called Barabbas.
17 They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said: Whom will you that
I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ?
18 For he knew that through envy they had delivered him up.
19 And as he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent to him, saying:
Have thou nothing to do with that just man. For I have suffered many things this day in a dream on account of him.
20 *But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people, that they
should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away.
21 And the governor answering, said to them: Which will you of the two
to be released unto you? But they said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith to them: What shall I do then with Jesus that is called
Christ? They all say: Let him be crucified.
23 The governor said to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried
out the more, saying: Let him be crucified.
24 And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult
was made; having taken water, washed his hands before the people, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look
you to it.
25 And all the people answering, said: His blood be upon us, and upon our
26 Then he released to them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered
him to them to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, *gathered
together unto him the whole band:
28 And stripping him, they put a scarlet cloak about him.
29 *And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed
in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews.
30 And spitting upon him, they took the reed, and struck his head.
31 And after they had mocked him, they took off the cloak from him, and
put on him his own garments, and led him away to crucify him.
32 *And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon: him they forced
to take up his cross.
33 *And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place
34 And they gave him wine to drink, mingled with gall. And when he had
tasted, he would not drink.
35 *And after they had crucified him, they divided his garments, casting
lots; that the word might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: **They divided my garments among them; and
upon my vesture they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him.
37 And they put over his head his cause written: This is Jesus, the
King of the Jews.
38 Then were crucified with him two thieves: one on the right hand, and
the other on the left.
39 And they that passed by, blasphemed him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying: *Vah, thou who destroyest the temple of God, and in three
days dost rebuild it, save thy own self: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41 In like manner also the chief priests with the Scribes and ancients
42 He saved others; himself he cannot save: *if he be the king of Israel,
let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43 *He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he will have him:
for he said: I am the Son of God.
44 And the same thing the thieves also, that were crucified with him, reproached
45 Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the earth, until
the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: *Eli,
Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47 And some that stood there and heard, said: This man calleth Elias.
48 And immediately one of them running, took a sponge, and filled it with
vinegar; and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 And the others said: Stay, let us see whether Elias will come to deliver
50 And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 *And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even
to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent.
52 And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept
53 And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy
city and appeared to many.
54 Now the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, having
seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were greatly afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God.
55 And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from
Galilee, ministering unto him:
56 Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph,
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
57 *And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea,
named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus.
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded
that the body should be delivered.
59 And Joseph taking the body wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock.
And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way.
61 And there was there Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary sitting over-against
62 And the next day, which followed the day of preparation, the chief priests
and the Pharisees came together to Pilate,
63 Saying: Sir, we have remembered, that that seducer said, while he was
yet alive: After three days I will rise again.
64 Command, therefore, the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day:
lest his disciples come, and steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be
worse than the first.
65 Pilate saith to them: You have a guard: go, guard it as you know.
66 And they departing, made the sepulchre sure, with guards, sealing the
2: about the year A.D. 33.; Mark xv. 1.; Luke xxiii. 1.; John xviii. 28.
5: Acts i. 18.
8: Acts i. 19.
9: Zacharias xi. 12.
11: Mark xv. 2.; Luke xxiii. 3.; John xviii. 33.
20: Mark xv. 11.; Luke xxiii. 18.; John xviii. 40.; Acts iii. 14.
27: Mark xv. 16.; Psalm xxi. 17.
29: John xix. 2.
32: Mark xv. 21.; Luke xxii. 26.
33: Mark xv. 22.; Luke xxiii. 33.; John xix. 17.
35: Mark xv. 24.; Luke xxiii. 34.; John xix. 23. --- ** Psalm xxi. 19.
40: John ii. 19.
42: Wisdom ii. 18.
43: Psalm xxi. 9.
46: Psalm xxi. 1.
51: 2 Paralipomenon iii. 14.
57: Mark xv. 42.; Luke xxiii. 50.; John xix. 38.