Scared and Confused!
Written by Fr. Michael Cawthon
Main source Jamison, Facett, and Brown commentary
What is happening?
Excuse me, please forgive me, but I am a little tired, for this has been a very long night. And I am afraid of this day as it may be even more stressful and dark.
Say what? Say again? What’s that? What am I talking about? Have you not heard?
The story is already swirling around this night, spreading like a wildfire. The intensity and excitement this night is of a story which seems to only get stronger hour by hour. I have never heard nor seen anything like this. The city is going wild. Confusion seems to be everywhere and for a person like me, faithful and simple, the emotion has swept over me, and is very exhausting. I don't know what to think or believe.
Please believe me, I have always followed the leaders of the Temple and always adhered to what they say; but now someone, who seemed so harmless, real and authentic, well, some think he may be the new Moses or Messiah. Well he is questioning the teachings of some of the Temple Leaders, saying they had corrupted the temple. Some people are saying that this is the beginning of a new Exodus, but from what or from whom?
And now, the latest word on the street that last night he gathered his Apostles and celebrated the Passover and gave them bread and wine, and as he did, he broke tradition as he did added a blessing by telling them that this meal is now of a New Covenant. He told them the Bread and Wine of the Passover meal was now His Body and His Blood and tells them that they must continue to “do this.”
The twelve did just as Jesus told them, and as they ate with their Master whom they call their Lord, He then led them out from the upper chambers before they finished, as required by their own tradition, and he led them out into the darkness of the night. They went to a “special place” where he had taught and spoken with them in the past, it was a place that they all knew very well.
On top of all this, we are hearing that this good man was betrayed by one of his own followers. Just imagine this, this fellow, Judas, had followed Jesus as one of his most trusted followers. This Apostle, of his circle of closest friends, was actually a traitor within.
During the past hour, fear has been created by these strange doings and has now climaxed. They captured Jesus and have brought him to their authorities who all seem to hate and despise this poor man. Strangely, some say that the authorities fear him. This makes no sense.
Do you understand my confusion, they have captured him, and they are afraid of him? Why, he has no army or weapons. And the confusion in the streets is odd because just a week ago this city cheered and celebrated this man as he came to Jerusalem, but tonight we are told that they punched him and spit upon him as they dragged him before the authorities. Some have cheered and celebrated in his pain. But, some of us are shocked by the hatred shown to this fellow Jew who has done no wrong. He simply proclaims peace to the world. And some now proclaim that he brings (somehow) a dawn of a new era, a new creation as the “Kingdom of God” has come among us.
This is going to be a very long day. There seems to be some type of spiritual battle brewing and I know not how this it is going to end. I must go now as I am afraid someone may have followed me. Please pray, for it seems like the invasion of this one man into our midst is of powers greater than we.
The Gospel of St. John: Chapters 18 & 19
John 18:1-8 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into which he entered, and his disciples.
And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus often resorted thither with his disciples.
Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
Then he asked again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
On this ugliest of days;
the day that we crucified our Lord, and the innocence of one, who is above all innocence, endures a hardship, even the death, of a hateful and distorted world. A world in which often the most beautiful can become defaced and abused by an ugly and jealous and evil world, a world often angry at the joy and happiness of others, and is only content within the emotions of their anger and jealousy of others. We will walk (for the next three hours) with our Lord; as he is shown man’s hatred and anger.
As they moved to the mount of Olives, called Gethsemane, they had to cross over a brook called Kedron, a deep and dark ravine, northeast of Jerusalem before reaching the Garden, it is a deep and dark ditch. And is this not (?) often the way of our lives?
Often before we reach the fruit of our labor, we must first labor, and we often endure the many obstacles which enter into our lives. This journey of our Lord this night is filled with pain and heavy labor as He endures many obstacles prior to sitting upon His Throne this day – this throne, this day, we will call his Cross.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that they had just finished the very first Eucharist, in which Jesus had told them (Mat 26:30, 36) “this is my body” and this is “my blood of the new testament,” and then Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn as they proceeded to the garden. Often in life, we move from a high to low, from having a meal with our Lord to running from and denying him, do we not do this today? The peace and love of partaking in our Lord during the Eucharist so easily seems to become an explosion of emotions, as soon as someone angers us. Peace to hostility, within a blink of the eye. Anger is often close, even if we think it is not. A triggered happy mind, is often just one word away.
And now, Judas who knew the place, for he was with Jesus often ( John 8:1) as they went to the mount of Olives, and Luke tells of the night that they abode in the mount, so he was here previously with Jessus, with “his friend.” Yes, we as friends often go to a common place to be together in friendship and love, and the normal thought of this place of commonality, would be for convenience; hey, let us meet here or let us meet there, for it is a common meeting place, never would it be a place of betraying one’s friend, yea much less the betraying of one whom you had called “master” in the past (Matt 26:25.)
And the pain of this night is just starting, for this was a place where they resorted together, He and his disciples; as friends of whom He would die for. The love He had for them, the joy they experienced would make one believe that this place was a garden of bliss for Jesus and his friends, a place where he taught them and led them, a place where he loved them and corrected them, yes, a place of true friendship.
The baseness of this abuse of knowledge of Judas was derived from the closest privacies of his Master, is conveyed. So, let's dwell a moment upon the pain, this abuse of knowledge that caused Jesus to suffer. No, it is not just a physical pain, for it will be great also, but the spiritual pain.
The pain when someone is stabbed in the back, by this word or that word, or by this action (or inaction), or by betrayal and lying, when the innocent, the victim, is viciously assaulted by undeserved misdeeds and distortions. It is as if one decides to cheat on their spouse, and as if this is not bad enough, they decide to go to that special place, maybe where he and his wife had their first date together, so the sin and pain becomes even worse, by the sin using a prior knowledge viciously, and so now the sin becomes even greater. How low can a person go?
Jesus however; knowing that it is in this spot that Judas would expect to find Him, instead of avoiding it, goes Him, as a Lamb to the slaughter. Sometimes it is difficult to understand why someone, who could avoid pain, submits themselves, knowing in advance, the outcome. But, love is often that way. With our children and yes, even with one’s spouse, we often can avoid the pain by avoiding the situation. And yet, it is the situation that makes the pain necessary. Although in avoiding the pain, if I do not this, then knowledge is not learnt (it is almost as if yearning consequences in order to teach or learn; or as if I avoid this, because of the pain it will inflict upon me, then my love for them may not be strong, but weak. It is the sacrifices we make in life that brings the greatest benefits to us and others.
Jesus says "No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself" (Jhn 10:18). We must always remember, we are in control of very little. We do not know the outcome of this action or that action, for actions bring counter actions and this continues what we call a chain of events, in which the ending is rarely known. But this is not so with our Lord. God is so great, that it is He, who is in control. He knew from the day of His becoming Man what his fate would be. There are no unanswered questions to God and on this day of Him being betrayed, there was never any doubt of the ending. And as a Christian, we too must have this same certainty, if we will do as our Lord did and say to God “not my will, but thine, be done,” if we truly engrave those words into our heart, soul, and mind, then the outcome for us is as sure as it was for His Son…for He has told us:
Jhn 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
So why did Jesus take his disciples to the mount of Olives – why did he go to this place of theirs, where such fond memories were made, some have said, and I believe it so, that they left the upper room when they did;
first,not to cloud the great gift that He had just given them, His Body and His Blood.
Secondly, so that Jesus could complete the Passover meal that they had begun. This gift, of connecting the Passover and the Eucharist must never be tarnished for it is forever real and it is forever present…to this fact we can say Amen.
This scene in the garden filled the little bit of breathing time that they had left together, this awful interval, between the Supper and the Apprehension. The beginning scene of Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of the Christ portrays this scene in its very first act. It is as if there is a brief "silence in heaven for just a few moments'' between the breaking of the Apocalyptic Seals and the peal of the Trumpets of war as read in ( Rev 8:1 ) for it is as if the final war was about to begin between Heaven and Hell and the invasion of God's Kingdom upon the earth, and this moment is described as St. John wrote his Revelation in Chapter 8
Rev 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
It seems that these moments have much in common, and the agony would have been too terrible for the upper room; nor would Jesus place a cloud over the delightful actions associated with the last Passover and the first Supper by pouring out the anguish of His soul there. The garden, however, with its amplitude, its shady olives, its endeared associations, would be congenial to His heart as a place of past joys and friendships. The stillness would only be broken by the treading sound of the traitor and His band of soldiers of the Chief Priest.
Meditation thoughts and questions:
If I was a gambling man, I would wager that Judas was a prideful man. How about you – prideful or not was he? He seemed so sure that he knew what was best, and like a prideful man, when things do not go their way, they can become very angry. This anger, as is always the case, makes the work of Satan so much easier.
Judas convinced himself, which is easy to do when angry (we all have worked ourselves up into a lather over things often out of our control) and because Jesus was not doing it “right” (the way Judas desired) this impatient man decided that he would “speed up the process” of returning Israel to its proper position, not with God, but within the world. It is a shame that Judas did not recall the words of the great prophets Isaiah and Jerimiah for they had said:
Isaiah 57:13 … but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land and
Jeremiah 39:18 … For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, … because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD.
Now, moving forward this dreadful night with Judas, we read in Luke 22:47 "He that was called Judas, one of the Twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him." This language brands Judas with a severe bad deed, as if saying, yes Judas was in the sacred circle ... while in reality he had no sense of it.
We have all known people like this, they are part of this group or that group (or both) while not really being a part of either. To be part of a group can make one feel better and give confidence, you know, raises the esteem by being seen with the group while in reality not being a true member; maybe a member by their association to the group, but not a member by their actions or works. This seems to be the man that
became angry, maybe he was ridiculed, who knows, but for whatever reason he allowed himself to become just the opposite of what he confessed. He said the words, but they were obviously not of his heart, soul, nor his mind.
We also have this band of men—they were "detached, as they were on duty at the festival that night, for the purpose of maintaining order", thus you can imagine their state of mind. I am sure it was not very good nor pleasant to be assigned to controlling the mobs that fled to Jerusalem during the Passover. This would not have been a job which one sought after. And with them, to add to the level of anxiety, were officers from the chief priests and Pharisees--captains of the temple and armed Levites – oh you know this had to be a miserable group of people, going together, although hating one another, through ditches in the darkness of night; the Romans not liking the Jews and the Jews despising the Romans, and they now together, as one, on a mission, of which, they were simply the pawns, to get this one man, called Jesus. To me, moments like this shows and proves that God does have a sense of humor.
By lanterns and torches: By all accounts there was a full moon this night, but just in case Jesus had hid somewhere in the dark ravine, they brought the means of exposing hiding-places, not knowing whom they really had to deal with. One can only imagine the scene, as the soldiers were probably drinking wine to ease their burden on this miserable mission (you know, having to deal with these Jews would make one do such), slipping and sliding all over the place while verbally abusing one another as they searched for Jesus, you can just imagine and hear their frustration, as they probably murmured to one another saying “let’s just get this over with!”
Eventually they arrive and begin their devious plot. For whatever reason Judas, out of his desire to mock Jesus or maybe required and forced by the Jews in advance for we now read: "Now he that betrayed Him had given them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He, hold Him fast" ( Matthew 26: verse 48 ).
The one that betrays is now instructing the Romans and Jews to “hold Him fast.” Once again, it seems that just doing the filthy deed is not enough, but now we see a type of boasting by Judas; giving instructions and even demanding that they “hold Him fast.” Too bad, Judas had not “hold fast” to the words of Jesus and trust in Him. But this showing of power, over those he was leading to capture Jesus, portrays the same condition of instructing demons to do this or do that, of which CS Lewis writes of in The Screwtape letters as demons instruct demons, we see this same type of works unfolding this night.
The cold-bloodedness of this speech was only exceeded by the deceitful deed itself. "And Judas went before them [ Luke 22:verse 47 ], and forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master, and kissed Him" ( Matthew 26: verse 49)
“And kissed him”; oh ... these words of pure deception send chills down the spine each time I read them. Words of such betrayal exceed my ability to understand the true force of their ugliness when used against one’s God. Just hearing the words “And kissed him”, would not these words normally indicate affection, friendship or even love? And now this distorted world shows its ugly head as it is Satan who is flexing his power through his work to “save us” from the one true God, as hate and pain is used as a replacement for affection and love. To kiss one is to reveal the love of god as we read:
In Exodus Exodus 4: verses 27 & 28 “the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.
From Moses to The New Testament:
In the Gospel of Luke, 7th chapter: verse 35, we read of the woman who was a sinner: And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: … And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
She kisses the feet of Jesus, the one bringing peace...
And in Nahum Chapter 1 verse 15 it says Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed. Even the name Nahum has a Meaning of "comforter" in Hebrew, so this sign of her kissing the feet of Jesus is for the one who brings good news.
Even this act reveals and exalts the love, of a kiss. Normally a kiss is sought; however my friends, normal was not this night, nor these times.
Lesson for us: The arrogance of this horrific deed shows how thoroughly Judas, had by this time, received Satan into his soul. The Jews call this place, what we call the soul, the Nephesh which is “ones own completeness or being” and now this shell of a man (called Judas) is void of all goodness. There is not a good way to explain this, the dialogue between our Lord and His captors. If he gave the kiss to Jesus before the dialogue, as some think it was, the kiss of Judas was purely gratuitous, meaning nothing. How sad and gut wrenching is this scene as Judus does this to make good his right to the bribe, the money promised. His treachery shows to the world a “nephesh” totally void of God. Sometimes we may say the word love with our lips, but unfortunately our words are betrayed often by our deeds. Often our own words are “only words.”
Let us continue:
Our Lord presented Himself unexpectedly before them, by doing so, he rendered it unnecessary for anyone “to point Him out.” However a comparison of the narratives seems to show that our Lord's "coming forth" to the band of men was subsequent to the actions of Judas.
"And Jesus said unto him, Friend" but this word “friend” was not the endearing term "friend" found in (John 15: verse 15 ), but here as a "companion" word used on occasions of rebuke as in Matthew 20: verse 13 and 22nd chaper: verse 12 ) --"Wherefore art thou come?" and in ( Matthew 26: verse 50 ). "Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss"; imputing upon the foulest act, while pretending to be acting in the tenderest of affection? This lowest of low, is then made even lower. It reveals brutality as when one would smile as he beheads the life of another – expressing satisfaction and even joy, while performing the most devious of all acts. Jesus, over and over, on various occasions was keenly susceptible to such hatred and betrayal throughout his life (by friends and foes.)
But watch now as our Lord takes control of the situation with the cowards, with his calmness and love for all in (18:4-9.) Jesus. . . “knowing all things that should come”— yes, even knowing what was to come this dreadful night.
He takes upon himself and went forth: from being within any shadows of the moon that night, hovering over the trees, he moves before them all, in plain view, indicating His sublime preparedness to finally meet His captors. It is almost too painful to watch as his boldness and total willingness to fulfill his Fathers Will is observed. As if to say, here I am ready to do my duty, how about you is implied to the guards? So come, he seems to say, do your dirty deeds as we are wasting precious time for the coming of God’s KIngdom. Why wait? Do what you must do, just as I will do the same.
But after this bravo moment – when we want to yell YES!!!! “you show them Jesus!” It is now at this moment that it appears Jesus now shows compassion, love and concern for his disciples. Instead of waiting for an eruption of violence; as usual, it is Jesus who shows control with his simple but stern voice … Whom seek ye?
Jesus simply and lovingly asks’; as if to partly prevent a rush of the soldiery upon his friends and disciples. He is saying No need to rush us, here I am, the one whom ye seek. Jesus' tendency, was and is to always protect others. This showing forth of his might and power over the situation demonstrates his courage and His majesty, which had to overwhelm everyone that was there. I can only imagine the soldiers thinking
NOW LOOK AT THIS. How strange this had to appear to these warriors, these men of war, as Jesus seems as if he could not wait to be taken. This is your desire, well let’s do it he seems to say.
Surely these soldiers had to be shocked. This was not expected for those who were expecting a fight from this filthy Jew, not a submission (no wonder (?) the people had followed him.) Some may have even been shaking at this show of courage (if there is one thing soldiers know when they see it, it is courage,) yes even courage of an enemy brings about a certain kind of respect (warrior to warrior.) We see the respect of a warrior to his foe as They answered. . . (simply) Jesus of Nazareth. Just the sort of a blunt straight forward reply one would expect from military men, who were acting on their orders to get the job done, quickly and efficiently.
I am He; these are the words used by Jesus. Often he used them as beautiful and reassuring words, as he had used those words before with his disciples; once as they tossed to and fro in a raging sea and heard their master's voice and words of comfort, as He informs them; It is I: be not afraid (John 6: verse 20).
But on this terrible night, when normal was nowhere to be found, his mercy seems to flow upon those who were sent to capture him. Similar words now used to ease the anxiety of these brutal and harsh soldiers. “I am He”
And now by this time, Judas. . . stood with them! Yes, Judas is now standing with them as he is now separated from his fellow Apostles, and it is later this night that His own Apostle’s, would show a cowardness of their own by fleeing, and thus they, like Judas, would deny him.
No more is recorded here on his part in this scene, but we have found the gap painfully supplied by all the other Evangelists.
As soon then as he said unto them, I am He, they went backward—recoiled, and fell to the ground — (John chapter 18, verse 6) struck down by a power which seems similar to that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Acts 26: verses 13 through 15). It seems as if it was the glorious brightness, taken to the extreme, which dazzles them by the majesty of Christ, which seems to have overpowered them. "This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up." Yes, freely our Lord is submitting himself to all of man’s hatred…freely He gives, even to those who deny him.
7. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye?—It is as if Jesus is giving the mob a door of escape. An escape from the guilt of a deed which now they were able in some measure to understand (after being thrown to the ground by a force, by something) that seems to happen often when in the presence of God, and yet we like they, do not see often because we are blinded often and too fail to realize the presence of God in our lives..
Jesus of Nazareth--The stunning effect of His first answer wearing off, they think only of the necessity of executing their orders. Soldiers follow orders, and they are not to be swayed, even by a God, of which they had many.
8. I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way-- Wonder and splendor is showed by his self control and a consideration for others, even under these evil circumstances!
Meditation thoughts and questions:
Words of Scripture:
John 18: 9 through 27 - That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jhn 18:20 - Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew. That the saying might be fulfilled which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
Let us recall his words earlier:
(John 16:verse 39) “ And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day”
and as well as the 17th chapter “verse 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
(The Evangelist John concerned about the preservation of the disciples on this occasion may be viewed as part of a deeper preservation. For these Apostle’s, and those they established, would carry on His Church. They would be the ones to build upon the foundation that Christ built, the chief cornerstone, and they would do so under the direction of the Holy Ghost which will be sent to them. The title of Apostle was of extreme importance in the early years of the church as they fought the heresy’s and evils from without, of which this night Judas exemplified.) Now let us continue…
As the confusion and excitement of the moment surfaced, suddenly in verses 10 & 11: Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The moment had arrived, the Apostles and disciples of our Lord, who leaving all behind, finally came the time where they felt threatened, obviously as never before, so they decided to strike out.
Not looking to Jesus for instruction, the Apostle acts out of the pure emotions of fear and anger, Peter now decides to take matters into his own hands (his own sword.) How often have we acted out of anger only later to regret our actions as we learn of the harm and of our inability to control or even use our emotions in a positive manner. Harm seems to always follow fear and anger as negative feelings usually bring about a counter reaction against this or that situation, thus scripture tells us over and over to “Fear Not.”
To bring the story closer to us and to remind us of our own humanity and goodness, John even tells us the servant’s name is Malchus. Somehow this knowledge of his name makes this scene even more vivid and alive. We know that John the Apostle was known by the “high priest” (John 18: verse 15) so the giving of the name of the victim, who lost his right ear, is not surprising and it gives the mark of truth in this matter.
Malchus may have been leading the mob sent, thus assuming a physical position in front of his men being foremost of those who advanced to seize Jesus, thus placing himself in the role of a combatant. As the combat began, we can only assume that the vertical blow from Peter had as its target the very head of Malchus. Situations in life can change in an instant, without thought or planning, events can take on a life of their own often without any regard to those whom the actions may harm. These moments seem to occur within their own universe without any concern for anyone else. Fights occur and lives are lost often for no reason at all or over matters that often are trivial or could be resolved via another path, other than violence. As if enough was enough:
Then said Jesus according to Luke 22:51 "Suffer ye thus far" – but to whom was Jesus speaking? It appears this time our Lord’s love and concern is for his followers and comes to the forefront, as well as his reasoning. He now seems to be speaking to the mob sent for him, to pacify them, that they might not be provoked to fall upon the disciples, whom Jesus had undertaken the preservation of: it is as if he is saying "Pass by this injury; it was without warrant from “me”, and there shall not be another blow struck.' Although Christ had power to strike them down, to strike them dead, yet he speaks to them in a fair tone, and, as it were, begs their pardon for an assault made upon them by one of his followers. This is a lesson for us to teach, even to give good words, even to our enemies.
Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? This expresses both the feelings which struggled in the Lord's breast during the Agony in the garden and the aversion to the cup viewed itself, but, in the light of the Father's will, there was perfect preparedness to drink it. But why is Chist using the analogy of “The Cup?” The cup was part of the Passover Meal which they had participated in a few hours earlier?”
The Words, Thy Will be done, shows an obligation to carry out the Will of the Father, however; without the Deed itself, all would have been in vain. Yes,; our Lord was fully aware of the consequences of obeying and fulfilling the Father's Words.
Fulfilling a promise, a vow, a covenant, is not easy, fun, or pleasant. Jesus knew that His death would be bloody, for it had to be for He had said (Luke 22: verse 20) earlier that night “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Jesus knew the Roman practice of crucifixion; it was an extremely and cruel form of execution. Both ancient Jews and Gentiles alike regarded it as nothing short of horrific. Josephus later would refer to the crucifixion as the most wretched of deaths. In Deuteronomy we are told that to be hung is a curse of God. “Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sticky, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals upon the shoulders and chest, and drawing the Breath of Life out amid the long drawn-out agony” would be said later by Seneca, in his Epistle to Lucilus.
John 3rd Chapter 29th verse speaks of the bridegroom and even Paul speaks, Ephesians 5th chapter verses 23 through 32, of Christ as “the head of the church, as the saviour of the body. that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of Water by the word, that he might present it to himself and a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Could it be that Paul, because of his Jewish background, saw the passion and death of Christ as the Fulfillment of the God of Israel's Eternal plan to wed himself to humankind and an everlasting marital Covenant. Could the bridegroom of John 3: 29 now be turning his own crucifixion into his wedding day as he had said in Mark 2:20 “the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and they will fast in that day.” Let us now continue...
The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes: "For all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword" ( Matthew 26: verse 52.) Jesus is basically telling them; 'Those who take the sword run all the risks of human warfare; but Mine is a warfare whose weapons are not carnal, thus they attained with no such hazards, but carry a certain victory.' The sword has its place in history, but here our Lord is saying “not here” and “not now.” This is the spiritual warfare of which our Great High Priest had to fight. This matter seems too important for the sword and must be addressed by the Creator Himself.
"Thinkest thou that I cannot now" even after all the things that have proceeded that Jesus can "pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me" even "place at My disposal"--"more than twelve legions of angels"; recall how Luke tells us of an Angel had "appeared to Him from heaven strengthening Him" ( Luke 22: verse 43.)
"But how then shall the scripture be fulfilled that thus it must be?" (Matthew 26: verse 54). JESUS could not allow any un-fulfillment of prophecy, should He allow Himself to be delivered from his prophesied death?
"No, this death MUST HAPPEN. But before if earnestly begins:
And He touched his ear and healed him" ( Luke 22: verse51), have we not heard
"the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them" ( Luke 9: verse 56), and, even while they were destroying and denying His life, he saved theirs. Healed him, yes, and there were those in the early church who taught that Malchus was not only healed physically but also spiritually; Quite possibly, he as a first hand witness, became a believer.
Then the men took Jesus, but not till He implied "no man took His life from Him, but that He laid it down of Himself." They took Jesus and led him away, after they had bound him; surely they were confident that their superiors would be pleased, and just maybe, their night would begin to calm down. So, through the darkness they begin the journey to now deliver their prisoner to Annas – the Father-in-law of Cai’-a-phas..
And led him away--"In that hour, "says Matthew chapter 26: verses 55 & 56 and now on his way to judgment, the crowds began to appear and press upon them and "said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves, for to take Me." He expresses the indignation "I sat daily with you in the temple, and ye laid no hold on Me.” Luke even adds in 22:53 "but this is your hour, and the power of darkness." And Matthew continues--"But all this was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.
When he had thus said these things all the disciples forsook Him and fled" (Matrhew 26: verse 56), thus fulfilling the prediction that he had made “And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Mark 14: verse 27) and “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” (John 16: verse 32.) As is often the case, our Lord speaks to us and yet we do not hear him and even if we do, we often do not understand. So on this night, the story is told, not with words, but by deeds. And one should not be surprised, for we learn often by experiences, and on this night, we have no prior experience and all things are anew.
Jesus is first taken to (John 18: verses 13 to-27) to ANNAS and then on to Caiaphas. Had we only the first three Gospels, we should have concluded that our Lord was led immediately to Caiaphas. But since the Sanhedrim would hardly have been brought together at the dead hour of night, as our Lord was in the hands of them sent to apprehend Him, and we are told it was only "as soon as it was day" that the Council met (Luke 22:66), so there is some difficulty in knowing what was done with Him during those intervening hours. But in the Fourth Gospel, all this is cleared up as a very important addition is made (John 18:13, 14, 19-24). Let us take a moment to trace the events in the true order of succession, and in the detail supplied by a comparison of all the four streams of text, the four Gospels.
This Annas, to whom they took him, was an appointed high priest by Quirinus, in A.D. 12, and after holding the office for several years, was deposed by Valerius Gratius, Pilate's predecessor in Judea [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 18.2.1, &c.]. He appears, however, to have possessed great influence, having obtained the High Priesthood, not only, for his son Eleazar, and his son-in-law Caiaphas, but subsequently for four other sons, under the last of whom, James the brother of our Lord, was put to death [Antiquities, 20.9.1]. It is thus highly probable that, besides having the title of "high priest" merely as one who had filled the office, and he to a great degree, retained the powers he had formerly exercised, and came to be regarded practically as a kind of current high priest.
Oh, one more thing: If our Lord had been transferred from the residence of Annas to that of Caiaphas, one is apt to wonder that there is no mention of His being marched from one to the other. But the building, in all likelihood, was one and the same; in which case He would merely have to be taken perhaps across the courtyard, from one chamber to another.
Mark: 53. And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. Thus, it was then a full and formal meeting of the Sanhedrim.
Meditation thoughts and questions:
Now, we must speak of poor Peter. A small point: the first three Evangelists place all Peter's denials of his Lord after this time and we should naturally conclude that they took place while our Lord stood before the Sanhedrim. But, it is normally thought that the scene around the fire took place overnight, the second crowing of the cock would occur about the beginning of the fourth watch, between three and four in the morning. By that time, however, the Council had probably convened. If this is correct, it is fairly certain that only the last of Peter's three denials would take place while our Lord was under trial before the Sanhedrim.
Now back to verses 15 through 18; Simon Peter followed Jesus. Surely he had "watched and prayed that he enter not into temptation," as his Master had bade him in (Matthew 26: 41), and now the other disciple; rather, "the other disciple" the Evangelist John the Apostle himself, was known by the high priest (See on JF & B for John 18:10) so he went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter had to stand at the door without, by arrangement with his friend the Apostle John, as he gains him access.
Then went out that other (the Apostle John). . . and spoke to her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. These small details are not unworthy of notice. This other disciple first made good his own entrance on the score of acquaintance with the high priest; this secured, then goes forth again, now as a privileged person on the inside, to make known his interest for Peter's admission.
Unfortunately, Peter is in the coils of the serpent. The next steps can be best understood inverting Jhn 18:17.
17. Then saith the damsel that kept the door--"one of the maids of the high priest," says Mark 14: 66. "When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him and said" in verse 67 “And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.” Luke is more graphic in 22: 56: She "beheld him as he sat by the fire (literally, 'in the light'), and earnestly fixed her gaze upon him, and said “this man was also with him”
This is the question that many must face from time to time, as she questions Peter’s loyalty to Jesus. You can hear the indignation and hatred in her voice even today:
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
Art thou not also one of this man's disciples? Implying as well "that the other disciple" John, whom she knew to be one as well, but she did not dare challenge him, perceiving that he was a privileged person – for he was on the inside.
Peter replied I am not; denying them all who accused him, rightly so, by saying, I know not what thou sayest" (Matthew 26: 70). Peter puts forth a point blank denial; "I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest" (Mark 14: 68); and "Woman, I know Him not" in Luke (22:57). So here we hear THE FIRST DENIAL.
"And he went out into the porch [maybe thinking perhaps that he could hide away], and the cock crew," ( Mark 14: 68 ). And the servants and officers—probably some of the "band" that "took Jesus" stood there, who had made a fire of coals, for it was a cool night, and they warmed themselves.
It is John alone who notices the material (charcoal) of which the fire was made, and the reason for a fire was the coldness of the night." Yes, dark times are often mark by a coldness – if not of the weather – then of the heart. A coldness of heart caused by sin often can only be overcome by the warmth of Christ. Bad situations often lose their “badness” as the warmth of Christ shines upon them. The terrible becomes tolerable and the anger seems to lesson day by day. But for these men, they had but a “charcoal fire” to keep them warm.
"Peter sits to see the end and warmed himself at the fire" as well (Mar 14: 54). It is interesting how Satan works within our mind. Peter desired to "see the end," of these proceedings, which led him into the palace. But once in, the serpent coil is drawn closer; it is a cold night, and why should not Peter take advantage of the fire as well as the others? Besides, in the talk of the crowd about the all-engrossing topic, he may hear something. There seems to be a battle within Peter, a kind of spiritual warfare in the midst of a world that was within the same battle. Why not make himself comfortable?
To help visualize the situation: Mark says "And as Peter was beneath in the palace" (Mar 14: 66). But Matthew (Mat 26: 69) says, "sat without in the palace." According to Oriental architecture, and especially in large buildings, as here, the street door, the heavy folding gate through which single persons entered by a door kept by a porter, opened by a passage or "porch" (Mar 14: 68) into a quad-rangular court, here called the "palace" or hall, which was open above, and is frequently paved with flagstones. In the center of this court the "fire" would be kindled in a brazier(a pan.) At the upper end of it, probably, was the chamber in which the trial was held opened to the court and not far from the fire (Luk 22:61),
Continuing: verses 19 through 21. The high priest. . . asked Jesus (?) of his disciples, and of his doctrine, surely attempting to entrap Him into some statements which might be used against Him at the trial. From our Lord's answer it would seem that "His disciples" were thought to be some secret society. So he responds: in verse 20. I spake--have spoken openly to the world John 7:4. I constantly taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always gather in public. Ye ask, in secret have I said, but I spake nothing. For there was nothing taught of any different nature.
And now to prove his point of hiding nothing but speaking openly and plainly verse 21. Why askest thou me? (why don’t you ask them which heard me?). . . they know what I have said. And as they attempted to draw Him into self-crimination, they resorted upon the right of every accused party, to have some charge laid against Him by competent witnesses. To add to the drama, as Jesus ask “Why askest thou me” he is struck by the palm of a hand . . . As if to place, even the Priest servants, above Jesus and probably screamed “Answerest Thou the high priest so Jesus responds verse 23. If I have spoken evil – then bear witness of the evil, and asks . . . “why smites thou me?
Often it is the simple question that can cause one to stumble and can cause one to reflect. The smiting of Jesus, was it pure anger or was it to show superiority – reflecting one’s pride in the ability to do so. So many today need to “heal” their anger and hatred with harshness, and this is what the world often promotes…it is often as if the world is against itself - as its heralds “might make right.”
As our Lord is struck in the face, Peter is denying Jesus again… verse 25 as he continued to stand and warm himself. They said therefore. . . Art thou not also one of his disciples?
And In Matthew 26: 71 the second charge was made by "another maid, when he was gone out into the porch," who "saw him, and said unto them that were there, This [fellow] was also with Jesus of Nazareth." So also Mar 14:69.
But in Luk 22:58 it is said, "After a little while" (from the time of the first denial), "another [man] saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. He denied it, and said, I am not--in Mat 26:72, "He denied with authority this time, I do not know the man."
This was THE SECOND DENIAL.
In verse 26 one of the servants of the high priest, many believe a relative, to the man whose ear Peter had cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him--No doubt the servants relationship to Malchus drew attention to the man who smote him, thus enabling him to identify Peter.
The other Evangelists make his detection to turn upon his dialect.
Luke says "After a while 'about the space of one hour after' (22: 59 ) came unto him … and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them, for thy speech betrayeth thee"
in Matthew (26: 73). "Thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto" also in
(Mark 14: 70; and so Luke 22: 59).
The Galilean dialect had a more Syrian cast than that of Judea. If Peter had held his peace, this peculiarity would not have been observed; but hoping, probably, to put them off the scent by joining in the fireside talk, he only thus revealed himself.
Now losing his case Matthew tells us (26: 74) "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man."
This was THE THIRD DENIAL. and immediately--"while he yet spake" (Luke 22: 60) the cock crew.
Of interest, Mark is the only Evangelist who tells us that our Lord predicted that the cock should crow twice (Mark 14: 30), so he only mentions that it did crow twice (Mark 14: 72). The other Evangelists, who tell us merely that our Lord predicted that "before the cock should crow he would deny Him thrice" ( Matthew 26: 34; Luke 22: 34; John 13: 38.)
The immediate subsequent acts are given in full only in Luke (Luk 22:61, 62): "And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter," from the hall of judgment to the court, as already explained. But who can tell of the lightning flashes of wounded love pierced from that "look" through the eye of Peter into his heart! "And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly."
Meditation thoughts and questions:
spoken word and others do not? How can we “hear” better and what is the role of Christ’s Church (St. Michael the Archangel) in spreading the word? How can I help St. Michael’s spread the word of Christ to the world around us?
follow you today will they see you “with him?” How can you make Christ more prevalent in your life. Do you wish to be seen “with him” – what would you like people to see in you that reminds them of Christ?
John 18: 28 through 40. JESUS BEFORE PILATE
John 18: 28 - Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment:
28. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment, the palace of the governor of the Roman province.
John 18:29 - Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? 28 Pilate needs to know the charge against this man that they had brought before him. It is difficult to determine guilt if one knows not what is the charge being investigated…Pilate is asking for what am I to judge?
John 18:30 - They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. They were conscious they had no case of which Pilate could recognize; and therefore, they insinuated that they had already found Him worthy of death by their own law; but not having the power, under the Roman government, to carry their sentence into execution, they had come merely for his sanction. The Jews were basically telling Pilate ``trust us” for we have already convicted him and we just need you to authorize our actions. Just tell us it is OK and we will leave. But, Pilate sensing the Jews deception says unto them:
John 18:31 - Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
This whole scene demonstrates the fear they had of Christ, for the one wants the other to do the dirty deed and each seems unsure of the ground upon which they stood – the bearing of false witness was prevalent as one tried to nudge the other to take the final step. Cowardness ran rampant as Jesus already knew his fate; as John tells us
John 18:32 - That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die, that is, by crucifixion as we see in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.,
and also in Matthew we are read 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.;
crucifixion being the Roman mode of execution could only be carried into effect by order of the governor. (Of note, the Jewish mode in such cases as this was by stoning).
Jhn 18:33 - Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
33. Pilate asks a question that many still ask today: Art tho the King of the Jews? But why would Pilate ask such a question? In Luke 23: 2 they charge our Lord before Pilate with "perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a king." Perhaps this was what occasioned Pilate's question; regardless, Jesus probes the question with his answer:
John 18:34 - Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? an important question for our Lord's case, he wished to bring out whether the word "King" were meant in a political sense, with which Pilate had a right to know and deal with, or whether Pilate were merely put up to it by His accusers, because they had no claims to charge Him but such as were of a purely religious nature, with which Pilate had nothing to do.
J0hn 18:35 - Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? What hast thou done? You can almost hear the puzzlement in his words; these are "Jewish questions that I neither understand nor wish to meddle with; but here you stand before me. Thou art here on a charge which, though it seems only Jewish, may yet involve a treasonable matter: Tell me, then, what has brought Thee into this position in which you find yourself, tell me! We must not feel too bad for Pilate as this question was merely to determine the relevancy of the charge on which he must decide.
John 18:36 - Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
These words, let us examine each point by point:
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world, notice He does not say "not over," but "not of this world"--that is, in its origin and nature; therefore "no such kingdom need give thee or thy master the least alarm."
if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; "A very convincing argument; for if His servants did not fight, except for Paul who had acted out of rage, they did not prevent their King from being delivered to His enemies; much less, if of an army, they would had used force for the establishment of His kingdom."
but now--basically, the fact is.
my kingdom not from hence--Our Lord only says whence His kingdom is not, first simply affirming it, next giving proof of it, then reaffirming it. This was all that Pilate had to deal with. The positive nature of His kingdom He would not force upon anyone who was not able to comprehend. It is worth noting that the "MY," which occurs four times in this one verse, thrice of His kingdom, and once of His servants, is put in a form of emphasis.
John 18:37 - Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Art thou a king then?--There does not seem to be any sarcasm or disdain in this question, else our Lord's answer would have been different. Putting emphasis upon "thou," his question betrays a mixture of surprise and uneasiness, partly at the possibility of there being, after all, something dangerous under the claim, and partly from a certain awe which our Lord's demeanor probably struck into him.
Thou sayest that I am a king: It is even so.
To this end was I: "have I been."
born and for this cause came I: yes, am I come.
into the world, that I may bear witness to the truth
His birth expresses His manhood; His coming into the world of His existence before assuming humanity: The truth, then, here affirmed, though Pilate would catch little of it, was that His Incarnation was expressly in order to the assumption of Royalty in our nature. Yet, instead of saying, He came to be a King, which is His meaning, He says He came to testify to the truth. Why this?
In such circumstances it required divine courage not to flinch from His royal claims; and our Lord was conscious that He was putting forth that courage. It is to this that Paul alludes, in those remarkable words to Timothy: "I charge thee before God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who, in the presence of Pontius Pilate, witnessed the good confession" (1Titus 6: 13 ).
This one act of our Lord's life, His courageous witness-bearing before the governor, was selected as an encouraging example of the fidelity which Timothy ought to display. As the Lord revealed Himself before a most exalted council, so He confessed His royal and kingly dignity in presence of the representative of the highest political authority on earth.
As Jesus bears witness to the Truth:
John 18: 38 - Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?--that is, "Thou stirrest the question of questions, which the thoughtful of every age have asked,
but never man yet answered."
And when he had said this: as if, by putting such a question, he was getting into inquiries with no answers, thus this business demanded rather prompt action.
he went out again unto the Jews: thus missing a noble opportunity for himself, and giving utterance to that consciousness of all intellectual and moral certainty, which should have been the feeling of every thoughtful mind this day. How often are we hurried to do something, to make this decision or that, to act is often demanded, but in reality time offers us a better perspective.
In these hurried situations "The only certainty," "is that nothing is ever certain.”
and Pilate saith unto them: after hearing of our Lord, who had been brought forth.
I find in him no fault, no crime. This so exasperated "the chief priests and elders" that, afraid of losing their prey, they poured forth a volley of charges against Him, as appears from Luke 23: 4 & 5 on affirming His innocence, "they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place."
They now see no hope of getting Pilate's sanction to His death unless they can fasten upon Him a charge of conspiracy against the government; and as Galilee was noted for its turbulence ( Luk3 13: 1 & Act 5: 37 ), and our Lord's ministry lay chiefly there, they artfully introduce this fact to give color to their charge. "And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing ( Mark 15: 3.)
Then said Pilate unto Him, Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee? And He answered him to never a word, insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly" (Matthew 27:13, 14.) See on JF & B for Mr 15:3-5. In his perplexity, Pilate, hearing of Galilee, bethinks himself of the expediency of sending Him to Herod, in the hope of further shaking off responsibility in the case.
is his trip to Herod discussed?
See Mark 15: 6, and see on JF & B for Luke 23:6- 12. The return of the prisoner only deepened the perplexity of Pilate, who, "calling together the chief priests, rulers, and people," tells them plainly that not one of their charges against "this man" had been made good, while even Herod, to whose jurisdiction he more naturally belonged, had done nothing to Him: He "will therefore chastise (punish) and release him" ( Luke 23: 13 through 16 ).
John 18: 39 Now, Pilate being sharp on his feet acknowledges an established tradition: But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
Once again stirring their emotions by calling Jesus their King (of the Jews)…his flashing before them of his authority, taunting them, only seems to strengthen their resolve. As they:
Jhn 18:40 - Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Give us evil and not God, these are their words demanding of Pilate.
Meditation thoughts and questions:
14. "And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing (Mar 15:3 ). Jesus remained silent…was this smart? Could he have changed their minds? Could he have advanced the truth? Are there times when being silent is wise? Do you have trouble remaining silent? Is this a talent that could help you in your life? Think of ways of building the courage and character of doing so.
15. Give us evil and not God: is what the crowd demanded. How often in our lives do we say or do this? Having the proper priorities leads to proper decisions being made…How are your priorities? It is through the Holy Ghost that you can do this, have you prayed for the Holy Spirit to give you the strength that you need?
The Passion of our Lord is painful and hurts, but let us slow down and review the Gospel of John 19. Line by line let us reflect upon what is being said:
John 19: 1 through 19
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. – surely hoping to appease the blood thirsty crowd whose emotions had been stirred; finally giving in to their wants and desires. Although he should have known that this would not satisfy the hunger of evil, for evil seeks the death of righteousness. How often have all of us “given in to the wants and desires of others although we know better” and how often do we regret the outcome. Regardless, "And the soldiers led Him away into the palace, and they call the whole band" ( Mark 15: 16 ) --the whole body of the military stationed there--to take part in the mocking and the corruptible coronation now to be enacted.
And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, (in mockery of the imperial purple) but first Matthew tells us of them "stripping him" (Matthew 27: 28) of His own outer garment. This robe may have even been the "gorgeous" one in which Herod arrayed and sent Him back to Pilate but we know not for sure (Luke 23: 11).
Lesson: The importance of the crown and of the garments. On one level these things are done as acts of personal and political mockery. As well, a first century Jew would have known that kings were not the only ones who wore crowns in the days of Jesus; for it was customary for the Jewish Bridegroom to wear a crown on his wedding day. As noted in the Jewish Mishnah & Tosefta, as they speak of the custom of crowning the bridegroom.
And in John, it speaks of the seamless Garment of Jesus (John 19: 23 through 25) and again the Jewish bridegroom (think Christ and His Church) was to be dressed as a priest (see Exodus 28: 31 to 33, Leviticus 21: 10, and Josepus, Antiquities 3. 161) and when linked with the crown as a King and now with the garment of a Priest we see why we call Jesus, the King and great highPriest. And so next:
"And they put a reed into His right hand" (Mattew 27: 29) --in mockery of the regal scepter (showing royal of imperial power.) As a final insult "they bowed the knee before Him" (Matthew 27: 29). Is it not so human to want to have the last word; like an exclamation mark, they so kneeled with pride surely raging within as being superior as they give one last parting shot.
My personal thought: My mind would tell me that he despised them for this cruel act, but my faith and understanding of God is that He pitied their pitiful pride and actions.
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands and
Heaped contempt upon him as they pay homage in the form used for an approaching emperor.
Then “they spit upon Him, and took the reed and smote Him on the head" we are told in Matthew 27: 30.
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Pilate, knowing there were no good choices went forth again, and saith: Behold, I am bringing, that is, going to bring him forth to you, that ye may know I find no fault in him. By scourging Him and allowing the soldiers to make sport of abusing Him, I have gone as far to meet your great anger and rage as can be expected from a judge.
Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! There is no reason to think that contempt was dictated by his words. There was clearly a struggle within this wretched man called Pilate, for whatever reasons. Not only was he reluctant to surrender to the uproar and clamor for an innocent man, but one would think that he may have had a feeling of anxiety, yea can we say fear, about the mysterious claims of Jesus.
The object of his exclamation “Behold the man” seems to have been said to move their pity (as seeing the bloody mess of his tortured body,) I would wager that no normal person could even bear the vision of their cruelty and brutality to this man, who had simply revealed the power of God in His deeds and works. However, whatever Pilate’s intent, those three words have been eagerly appropriated by all Christendom, and enshrined forever in its heart a sublime expression of its calm, as giving complete admiration for the suffering Lord. Behold the man – indeed!.
When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. It seems as if just the sight of Jesus kindled their rage afresh. Their own hatred seems to have gained advantage of them as seems to occur when rage is unleashed: Crucify him, crucify him says Mark 15: 14
Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him; for I find no fault in him--as if this would relieve him of the responsibility of the deed, who, by surrendering Him, incurred it all! It seems that Pilate then, and we today, often give-in to the pressure of others. He and we seem to lack at times any fortitude of standing for what is right and against what is wrong. This action is contrary to what our Lord showed forth that night and is so evident within the world today.
The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. Having failed in their criminal charges, they give up that point, and as Pilate was throwing the whole responsibility upon them, they retreat to their own Jewish law, by which, as claiming equality with God John 5: 18, He ought to die; insinuating that it was Pilate's duty, even as a civil governor, to protect their law from such insult. Two groups that despise one another, obviously could not even figure out who should do this cowardly deed. The Cowardness of both, Pilate and the Jewish leaders, is revealed before the world. Behold, the cowards!
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; Yes the name "SON OF GOD" startled Pilate (whom I believe deep inside he knew,) the lofty sense attached to it by His Jewish accusers, and by the dialogue he had already held with Jesus, and there was the dream of his wife as we read in Matthew 27: 19 when previously Pilate “was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him”’ All these things had to be working together in the breast of the man whose wretchedness would be revealed by his actions.
And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate was obviously scared and confused and wanted to know beyond all doubt a question relating not to His mission but to His personal origin, but Jesus would give him no answer. It appears that Lord had had enough, yes, He had said enough; the time for answering such a question was past; the weak and wavering governor is already at the point of giving way to the mob outside.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? The "me" is the emphatic word in the question, as Pilate falls back upon the pride of office, which doubtless tended to blunt the workings of his conscience, for this was a cruel time. He did see, but yet he did not see - he heard, but did not hear nor listen.
He continues to plead for help from Jesus: knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? One would think Pilate said these words hoping to work upon Jesus by fear or by hope. But, by his answer, Jesus answers the questions in Pilate mind, although he did not realize, he had ears, but did not hear.
Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. Jesus is rather saying, "shouldst" have no power at all against me--neither to crucify nor to release, nor to do anything whatsotever against Me, except it were, "unless it (the power) had been" or given thee from above, that is, "Thou thinkest too much of thy power, Pilate: against Me that power is none, save what is given thee by special divine appointment, for this special end."
Therefore he that delivered me unto thee, the one you call Caiaphas, he only as representing the Jewish authorities as a body, hath the greater sin.
Meditation thoughts and questions:
16. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. Surely hoping to appease them, and finally giving in to their wants and desires. How often have all us “given into wants and desires of others although we know better” and how often do we regret the outcome. The crowd of a mob can often pressure others to do things that are contrary to the truth. Do I give into others too easily? In giving in to the desire of others, are we open to the sins of the crowd being cast upon us? Standing for what is true is not always easy…what are some ways of strengthening my ability to stand up for what is true and pure.
17. “Behold the man” seems to have been said to move their pity. When we see others, rich or poor, attractive or not, healthy or sick, regardless of their status, do we see God in them, as part of His creation. How can we become more sensitive to the needs of others. What in my life hardens my heart and what can I do to be more Christ like in my dealings and feelings of others.
23. Pilate was scared and wanted to know, beyond all doubt, a question relating not to His mission but to His personal origin. Understanding who God is, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, must be the foundation of our faith. Peace and salvation is nice, but only possible because Jesus is the Son of God; thus God. How can my understanding of who Christ is be strengthened within my life. Are friends walking my journey of faith with me, or are they a hinderance.
John 19: 12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.
Now Pilate's confusion grows, especially after their latest conversation, which seems to have put him in awe, and at the same time redoubled his anxiety. So Pilate sought to release him, and to gain the mobs consent to it as he could have done at once, on his authority. Often in life we come to a point to go this way or that way, and often we take the easiest way, which Pilate would do here, although he would never admit it, but he feared the Jewish mob and wanted to avoid the violence that they could and would bring.
Regardless, the Jews began to cry out, sensing their advantage, as they were not slow to take advantage and profit by their position. They sensed that they had Pilate on the run. So they proclaimed aloud:
If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend,.
"This charge was equivalent to a threat of impeachment, which we know was much dreaded by such officers of the courts, especially Pilate. It also consummates the treachery and disgrace of the Jewish rulers, who were willing to push for their advantage, all for the purpose of killing Jesus. Their hatred continues to outweigh any desire for justice, for they were completely controlled by their own blindness of any desire to do right. We can still see this blind allegiance in mob rule, even to this day. Anger is always hungry for its prey.
Now moving on to John 19: 13. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
The easy way is now taken as Pilate, after hearing the fury of the mob, brought Jesus forth, as he sat down. "upon" the judgment seat--an elevated podium from which he would pronounce the sentence, in this case against the Prisoner. Although some pity Pilate as being scared and confused, giving a penalty with which he seems to disagree; but a penalty, he did indeed inflict upon “The Son of God” himself” as he gives into the mob's charge. And this was done in a place called the Pavement—which had a decorated flooring with mosaics patterns, which was much loved by the Romans.
A Thought to ponder: Let us go back to Exodus 25.22 as is discussed the Tabernacle and the its furniture, especially to the Ark. The term "propitiation" (appeasing of wrath and of being reconciled) is translated from the Greek noun "hilastērion (hil-as-tay'-ree-on:) In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX - The Septuagent), "hilastērion" was used several times to translate the lid, of the Ark of the Covenant, which had in it Manna (bread of heaven) along with the commandments tablets and Aarons rod that bludded. And it is Christ Himself who tells us in Jhn 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” At each end of the Ark’s Mercy Seat was one cherub and at the other end, one cherub. Strong’s Concordance 2435 hilastérion. The mercy seat of the Old Testament, and the blood sprinkled upon it by the high priest, was it a prefiguring of Christ to come? Christ did come, and Christ did make the sacrifice, and Christ was raised from the dead. The tabernacle was real. The ark of the covenant was real. The mercy seat was real. The cross is real. The empty tomb will be . And a real woman stooped in and saw real angels at the head and feet of where Jesus had laid...Christ our mercy seat? Is it here at the empty tomb of Christ (?) that God finally meets us?
Now back to John 19: 14 we are told And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
It was the preparation, that is the day before the Jewish sabbath. It was about the sixth hour. The reading here is most likely "the third hour" or nine A.M. which would agree best with the whole series of events, as well as with the other Evangelists. And Pilate says to the Jews Behold your King! Having now made up his mind to yield Jesus to them, he seems to take a sort of revenge on them by this irony, which he knew would sting them. Behold your King - But his form of revenge only reawakens their cry to despatch Jesus to his death.
John 19: 15 - But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
The chief Priest lied, for their King was obviously the power that they were determined to keep from being undermined by this man they sought to kill, so the chief priest instigating the mob, now uses Pilate own position against him, as they shout take him away and crucify him. Caesar is now, all of sudden, admired as their leader – their King. The only justice for this mob is that "Some of those who thus cried crucify him, died miserably in rebellion against Caesar some forty years later. But this day the name of Caesar was well suited to their present purpose.
So thus: John 19: 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
From Matthew Henry we read: Pilate, to gratify the Jews' malice, delivers Christ to be crucified. Willing to content the people, to do enough for them (so the word is), to settle them down that he might keep them quiet, so he released Barabbas unto them: Barabbas who was the scandal and plague of their nation then released and in his place, is Jesus delivered to be crucified, He whom was the glory and blessing of their nation is betrayed by His own people, whom he had lead out of Egypt and now sacrificed at their hands. Though Pilate had scourged him before, hoping that this would content them, not designing to crucify him, yet he went forward to do just that. He who could persuade himself to chastise one that was innocent (Lu. 23: 16), now by degrees persuades himself to crucify him. Evil often works in degrees until the consummation of a deal with Satan himself.
Christ was crucified
A bloody death, blood is the life we are told in Genesis 9: 4, and some say blood connects the soul and body, so that the exhausting of the blood is the exhausting of the life itself. Christ laid down his life for us by the shedding of his blood, and as told in Leviticus (17 : 11), in every sacrifice of propitiation, special order was given for the pouring out of the blood. So it seems that the Blood be attached to the word “propitiation.”
It was a painful death; the pains were great, for death made its assaults upon the vitals through their exterior parts, which quickens the senses. Christ died, as that he might feel himself die, because he was to be both the priest and the sacrifice; so that he might be active in dying; as he cured our souls of the sin, yes he was becomes the physician of our souls. Crucifixion, A most painful punishment: Christ would meet death in its greatest terror, and so conquer it.
It was a shameful death, the death of slaves, and the most dangerous of criminals, so accounted among the Romans. The cross and the shame are put together. God having been injured in his honour by the sin of man, it is in his honour that Christ cures man from their destructive disease of sin, not only by denying himself and divesting himself of the honours due to his divine nature, and for a time submitting to the greatest reproach that human nature was capable of exhibiting. Yet this was not the worst.
It was a cursed death; thus branded by the Jewish law (Deu. 21: 23); He that is hanged, is accursed of God, is under a particular mark of God's displeasure. It was the death that Saul's sons were put to, when the guilt of their father's bloody house was to be expiated, 2 Sa. 21:6. Upper class citizens by contrast, were put to death by more “respectable” means, such as beheading...
John 19: 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
Jesus bearing his cross--went forth; in Hebrews we are told in Hbr 13: 11 - 13, Jesus "without the camp"; "without the gate." And upon arrival at the place, "they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall (wine mingled with myrrh, Mar 15:23), and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink" (Mat 27:34). This potion was to help one not to think or feel, and given to criminals just before execution, to deaden the sense of pain.
Jesus had vowed “I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink in new with in my Father’s kingdom (Matt 12: 27 -30.) When they arrived at the place call “the place of the skull” they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink of it. Ancient Jewish custom of giving “wine” to a man sentend to death in order “to numb his senses Proverbs 31:6 “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Thus Jesus refused to the wine while carrying the cross because he did not want to dull the pain of sufferings in the midst of his passion.Our Lord would die with every faculty clear, and in full sensibility to all His sufferings. Some of us would add (remember the 4th cup at the Seder Dinner,) that this was not the cup for which he longed, He would finish that meal, started hours before in the upper room with his Apostles.
It would be written years later:
Thou wilt feel all,
That Thou may'st pity all;
And rather would'st, Thou wrestle with strong pain
than overcloud Thy soul in agony,
Or lose one glimpse of Heaven before the time,
O most entire and perfect Sacrifice,
Renewed in every pulse (unto the end)
John 19:18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
With malefactors (Luke: 23:verse 33), thieves (or robbers) on either side (Matthew 27: 38 & Mark 15: 27) they crucified him, Jesus in the midst, holding Him up as the worst of the three. But in this, as in many other of their doings, "the scripture was fulfilled saith (Isaiah 53: 12), And he was numbered with the transgressors." "Then said Jesus",["probably while being nailed to the CROSS," "FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO" (Luke 23: 34) --and again the Scripture was fulfilled which said, "And He made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53: 12), this also reaches deeper.
Meditation thoughts and questions:
24. “They were completely controlled by their blindness of any desire to do right.” Blindness or darkness can be brought upon those who do not have deep roots of Faith. Are your roots of faith deep and strong. Is your faith dead because you have ceased growing, is your faith dry? Does your faith guide your day? What can you do to strengthen your faith? Do you attend any services outside of the weekly Eucharist (at least weekly?) Do you seek Christ by yourself or do you use the church to grow spiritually; if not, why not (?), and if so do assist in spreading Christ to others. Do you love the church, if so do you support it?
25. “they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall (wine mingled with myrrh, Mar 15:23), and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink" (Mat 27:34). This potion was to “help one not to think or feel.” Do we need drugs, alcohol, or other substances to ease our pain? Are we dependent on them? Is all pain bad? How can my faith assist in battling pain and depression? It is important that we follow the directions of our doctors, but we must also know their views of pain and drugs.
26. Jesus refer’s over and over again to the “Cup” and had promised not drink of til the coming of the KIngdom, thus completing the Passover meal. By connecting the Cup of the New Covenant with the cup of the Passover, does this have an impact of your longing for the Holy Eucharist. Does it help to clarify the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies?
27. "FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO" (Luk 23:34.) As Christians, do we know what we are expected to do? Do we accept as valid the words of scripture or do we take some words and leave others. Would Bible Study and Sunday school help me to more fully understand scripture, do you participate in these programs – why or why not? As a Christian, do we have the option of “not knowing what we do?”
John 19: 19 - And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
John 19: 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
John 19: 21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
John 19:22 - Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.
written in Hebrew the language of the country.
and Greek--the current language.
and Latin--the official language.
These were the chief languages of the earth, and this secured that all spectators should be able to read it. Stung by this, the Jewish ecclesiastics entreat that it may be so altered as to express, not His real dignity, but His false claim to it.
But Pilate thought he had yielded quite enough to them; and having intended expressly to spite and insult them by this title, for having got him to act against his own sense of justice, he put an end to debate and refused them.
And thus, amidst the conflicting passions of men was proclaimed in the chief tongues of mankind, from the Cross itself and in circumstances which threw upon it a vivid yet grand light, the truth which drew the Magi to His manger, and will yet be owned by all the world!
John 19:23 - Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. The clothing of a priest (Exodus 28 31 through 32; Leviticus 21: 10;Targum Isaiah 61: 10.) Without seam, woven from the top throughout--"perhaps denoting considerable skill and labor as necessary to produce such a garment, the work could have of one or more of the women who ministered in such things unto Him, Luk 8:3 "
The four who nailed Him to the cross took and parted his garments amongst themselves…and also his coat—which would have been a Roman tunic, or close-fitting vest.
John 19:24 - They 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 among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
They did cast lots-- (Psa 22: 18). That a prediction so specific, distinguishing one piece of dress from others, and announcing that while those should be parted amongst several, that should be given by lot to one person, that such a prediction should not only be fulfilled to the letter, but by a party of heathen military men without interference from either the friends of the enemies of the Crucified One, is surely worthy to be ranked among the wonders of this scene.
Now come the mockeries, and from four different quarters:-- "And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads" all said to ridicule (Psa 22:7 109:25; compare Jer 18:16 Lam 2:15). And as an exclamation to their ridicule
"Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself and come down from the cross" (Mat 27:39, 40 Mar 15:29, 30). It is evident that our Lord's saying, or rather this perversion of it (for He claimed not to destroy, but to rebuild the temple destroyed by them) had greatly exasperated the feeling which the priests and Pharisees had contrived to excite against Him. It is referred to as the principal fact brought out in evidence against Him on the trial (compare Act 6:13, 14). And it is very remarkable that now while it was receiving its real fulfilment, is being made more public and more impressive by the insulting proclamation of His enemies.
[WEBSTER and WILKINSON]. "Likewise also the chief priests, mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, Himself He cannot save" (Mat 27:41, 42). "If He be the king of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him" (Mat 27:42). No, they would not; for those who resisted the evidence from the resurrection of Lazarus, and from His own resurrection, were beyond the reach of any amount of merely external evidence. "He trusted in God that He would deliver him; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him [or 'delight in Him,' compare Psa 18:19 Deu 21:14]; for He said, I am the Son of God" (Mat 27:41-43).
Now we thank you, O ye chief priests, scribes, and elders, for this triple testimony, unconsciously borne by you, to our Christ: first to His habitual trust in God, as a feature in His character so marked, next, to His identity with the Sufferer of the twenty-second Psalm, whose very words (Psa 22:8) ye unwittingly appropriate, thus serving yourselves heirs to the dark office of the Messiah's enemies;
and again, to the true sense of that impressive title which He took to Himself, "THE SON OF GOD," which He rightly interpreted at the very first (see Jhn 5:18) as a claim to that oneness of nature with Him, and dearness to Him, which a son has to his father.
"And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save Thyself" (Luk 23:36, 37). They insultingl offer to share with Him their own vinegar, or sour wine, the usual drink of Roman soldiers, it being about the time of their midday meal. In the taunt of the soldiers we have one of those undesigned coincidences which so strikingly verify these historical records.
While the ecclesiastics deride Him for calling Himself, "the Christ, the King of Israel, the Chosen, the Son of God," the soldiers, to whom all such phraseology was mere Jewish jargon, make sport of Him as a pretender to royalty - "KING of the Jews", an office and dignity which they did not comprehend.
"The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same" ( Mat 27:44 Mar 15:32). Not both of them, however, as some commentators unnaturally think we must understand these words; as if some sudden change came over the penitent one, only did scoffs proceed from the passers-by, the ecclesiastics, the soldiery, but even from His fellow-sufferers."
Jhn 19:25 - Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Jhn 19:26 - When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Jhn 19:27 - Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
BEHOLD THY MOTHER!--What forgetfulness of self, what filial love, and to the "mother" and "son" what parting words!
from that hour. . . John took her to his own home--or, home with him; for his father Zebedee and his mother Salome were both alive, and the latter here present (Mar 15:40).
"Now from the sixth hour (twelve o'clock, noon) there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour" ( Mat 27:45 ). No ordinary eclipse of the sun could have occurred at this time, it being then full moon, and this obscuration lasted about twelve times the length of any ordinary eclipse. (Compare Exd 10:21, 23 ).
Beyond doubt, the divine intention was to invest this darkest of all tragedies with a gloom expressive of its real character. "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried, ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI. . My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Mat 27:46 ).
As the darkness commenced at the sixth hour, the second of the Jewish hours of prayer, so it continued till the ninth hour.
"FATHER," was the cry in the first prayer which He uttered on the cross, "Father" was the cry of His last prayer, for matters had then passed their worst. But at this crisis of His sufferings, "Father" does not proceed from His lips, for the light of a Father's countenance was then mysteriously eclipsed.
It is thus the cry of conscious innocence, but of innocence unavailing to draw down, at that moment, the least token of approval from the unseen Judge—innocence whose only recognition at that moment lay in the thick surrounding gloom which reflected the horror of great darkness that invested His own spirit. There was indeed a cause for it, He must taste this bitterest of the wages of sin "who did no sin". "Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias" (Mat 27:47).
Jhn 19:28 - After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
now accomplished--that is, the moment for the fulfilment of the last of them; for there was one other small particular, and the time was come for that too, in consequence of the burning thirst which the fevered state of His body occasioned (Psa 22:15).
that the scripture-- (Psa 69:21). might be fulfilled saith, I thirst.
Jhn 19:29 - Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
put it to his mouth--Though a stalk of this plant does not exceed eighteen inches in length, it would suffice, as the feet of crucified persons were not raised high.
"The rest said, Let be"--[that is, as would seem, 'Stop' "let us see whether Elias will come to save Him" (Mat 27:49). This was the last cruelty He was to suffer, but it was one of the most unfeeling. "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice" (Luk 23:46). Just as even His own dying saints, particularly the martyrs of Jesus, have sometimes had such gleams of coming glory immediately before breathing their last, as to impart to them a strength to utter their feelings which has amazed the by-standers, so this mighty voice of the expiring Redeemer was nothing else but the exultant spirit of the Dying Victor, receiving the fruit of His travail as about to be embraced, and immediately following the words of tranquil surrender, in Luke:
"FATHER, INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT!" (Luk 23:46). Yes, the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. His soul has emerged from its mysterious horrors; "My God" is heard no more, but; "As the Father receives the spirit of Jesus, so Jesus receives those of the faithful" (Act 7:59) And now comes the expiring mighty shout.
Jhn 19:30 - When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
But, --What is finished? The Law is fulfilled as never before, nor since, in His "obedience unto death, even the death of the cross";
Messianic prophecy is accomplished; Redemption is completed; "He hath finished the transgression, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and sealed up the vision and prophecy, and anointed a holy of holies";
He has inaugurated the kingdom of God and given birth to a new world.
Jhn 19:31 - 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.
Jhn 19:32 - Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
Jhn 19:33 - But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
Jhn 19:34 - But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
Jhn 19:35 - And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
Jhn 19:36 - For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
Jhn 19:37 - And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
IT IS FINISHED…
Jhn 19:38 - And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly 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.
Jhn 19:39 - And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Jhn 19:40 - Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Jhn 19:41 - Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
Jhn 19:42 - There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.