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1. And straightway in the morning the Chief Priests held a consultation with the elders and Scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.
2. And Pilate asked Him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” And He answering said unto him, “Thou sayest it.”
3. And the Chief Priests accused Him of many things: but he answered nothing.
4. And Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.”
5. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.
Bede, in Marc., 4, 44: The Jews had a custom of delivering him whom they had condemned to death, bound to the judge. Wherefore after the condemnation of Christ, the Evangelist adds: “And straightway in the morning the Chief Priests held a consultation with the elders and Scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.” But it must be observed, that they did not then first bind Him, but they bound Him on first taking Him in the garden by night, as John declares.
Theophylact: They then gave Jesus up to the Romans, but were themselves given up by God into the hands of the Romans, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, which say, “Recompense them after the work of their hands.” [Ps 28:5]
It goes on: “And Pilate asked Him, Art thou the King of the Jews?”
Bede: By 310 Pilate’s asking Him about no other accusation, except whether He was King of the Jews, they are convicted of impiety, for they could not even find a false accusation against our Saviour.
It goes on: “And He answering said unto him, Thou sayest.”
He answers in this way so as both to speak the truth, and yet not be open to cavil.
Theophylact: For His answer is doubtful, since it may mean, Thou sayest, but I say not so.
Bede: And observe that He does somewhere answer Pilate, who condemned Him unwillingly, but does not choose to answer the priests and great men, and judges them unworthy of a reply.
It goes on: “And the Chief Priests accused Him of many things.”
Augustine, de. Con. Evan., iii, 8: Luke has also laid open the false charges which they brought against Him; for he thus relates it: “And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.” [Luke 23:2]
There follows: “And Pilate asked Him, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.”
Bede: He indeed who condemns Jesus is a heathen, but he refers it to the people of the Jews as the cause.
There follows: “But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.”
He was unwilling to give an answer, lest He should clear Himself of the charge, and be acquitted by the judge, and so the gain resulting from the Cross should be done away.
Theophlyact: But Pilate wondered, because, though He was a teacher of the law, and eloquent, and able by His answer to destroy their accusations, He did not answer any thing, but rather bore their accusations courageously.
6. Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.
7. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.
8. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.
9. But Pilate answered them, saying, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”311
10. For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered Him for envy.
11. But the Chief Priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
12. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, “What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?”
13. And they cried out again, “Crucify him!”
14. Then Pilate said unto them, “Why, what evil hath he done?” And they cried out the more exceedingly, “Crucify him!”
15. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him, to be crucified.
Bede: Pilate furnished many opportunities for releasing Jesus, in the first place contrasting a robber with the Just One.
Wherefore it is said: “Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.”
Gloss: Which indeed he was accustomed to do, to obtain favour with the people, and above all, on the feast day, when the people of the whole province of the Jews flocked to Jerusalem. And that the wickedness of the Jews might appear the greater, the enormity of the sin of the robber, whom they preferred to Christ, is next described.
Wherefore there follows: “And there was one Barabbas, who lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.”
In which words their wickedness is shewn both from the heinousness of his signal crime, in that he had committed murder, and from the way in which he did it, because he had in doing it raised a sedition and disturbed the city, and also because his crime was notorious, for he was bound with seditious persons.
It goes on: “And the multitude,” when it had come up, “began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.”
Augustine: No one can feel it a difficulty that Matthew is silent as to their asking some one to be released unto them, which Mark here mentions; for it is a thing of no consequence that one should mention a 312 thing which another leaves out.
There follows: “But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered Him for envy.”
Some one may ask, which were the words of which Pilate made use, those which are related by Matthew, or those which Mark relates; for there seems to be a difference between, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” as Matthew has it; and, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” as is here said. But since they gave to kings the name of Christs, he who said this man or that must have asked whether they wished the King of the Jews to be released unto them, that is, Christ. It makes no difference to the sense that Mark has said nothing of Barabbas, wishing only to mention what belonged to the Lord, since by their answer he sufficiently shewed whom they wished to have released to them.
For there follows: “But the Chief Priests moved the people that he should rather release unto them Barabbas.”
Bede: This demand which the Jews made with such toil to themselves still sticks to them. Because, when the choice was given to them, they chose a robber instead of Christ, a murderer instead of the Saviour, they deservedly lost their salvation and their life, and they subjected themselves to such a degree to robbery and sedition, that they lost their country and their kingdom which they preferred to Christ, and never regained their liberty, body or soul.
Then Pilate gives another opportunity of releasing the Saviour, when there follows, “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I should do unto the King of the Jews?”
Augustine: It now is clear enough that Mark means by “King of the Jews” what Matthew means by the word, “Christ”; for no kings but those of the Jews were called Christs. For in this place according to Matthew it is said, “What then shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” [Matt 27:22]
There follows: “And they cried out again, “Crucify him!”
Theophylact: Now see the wickedness of the Jews, and the moderation of Pilate, though he too was worthy of condemnation for not resisting the people. For they cried out, “Crucify”; he faintly tries to save Jesus from their determined sentence, and again puts a question to them.
Wherefore there follows: “Then Pilate said unto them, “Why, 313 what evil hath he done?” For he wished in this way to find an opportunity for releasing Christ, who was innocent.
Bede: But the Jews giving loose to their madness do not answer the question of the judge. Wherefore it goes on, “And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him!,” that those words of the Prophet Jeremiah might be fulfilled, “Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest, it crieth out against me.” [Jer 12:8]
There follows: “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him, to be crucified.”
Theophylact: He wished indeed to satisfy the people, that is, to do their will, not what was agreeable to justice and to God.
Pseudo-Jerome: Here are two goats; one is the scape goat, that is, one loosed and sent out into the wilderness of hell with the sin of the people; the other is slain, as a lamb, for the sins of those who are forgiven. The Lord’s portion is always slain; the devil’s part, (for he is the master of those men, which is the meaning of Barabbas,) when freed, is cast headlong into hell.
Bede: We must understand that Jesus was scourged by no other than Pilate himself. For John writes: “Pilate took Jesus, and scourged Him,” [John 19:1] which we must suppose that he did, that the Jews might be satisfied with Him pains and insults, and cease from thirsting for His blood.
16. And the soldiers led Him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they called together the whole band.
17. And they clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head.
18. And began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
19. And they smote Him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon Him, and bowing their knees worshipped Him.
20. And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put His own clothes on Him.
Theophylact: The vainglory of soldiers, ever rejoicing in disorder and in insult, here displayed what properly belonged to them.
Wherefore it is said, “And the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they call together the whole band,” that is, the whole company of the soldiers, “and they clothed Him with purple as a king.”
Bede: For since He had been called King of the Jews, and the scribes and priests had objected to Him as a crime that He usurped rule over the Jewish people, they in derision strip Him of His former garments, and put on Him a purple robe, which ancient kings used to wear.
Augustine, de Con. Evan., iii, 9: But we must understand that the words of Matthew, they “put of Him a scarlet robe,” Mark expresses by “clothed Him in purple”; for that scarlet robe was used by them in derision for the royal purple, and there is a sort of red purple, very like scarlet. It may also be that Mark mentions some purple which the robe had about it, though it was of a scarlet colour.
Bede: But instead of the diadem, they put on Him a crown of thorns, wherefore it goes on, “And platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head.” And for a royal sceptre they give Him a reed, as Matthew writes, and they bow before Him as a king, wherefore there follows, “And began to salute Him, Hail, King of the Jews!” And that the soldiers worshipped Him as one who falsely called Himself God, is clear from what is added: “And bowing their knees, worshipped Him,” as though He pretended to be God.
Pseudo-Jerome: His shame took away our shame; His bonds made us free; by the thorny crown of His head, we have obtained the crown of the kingdom; by His wounds we are healed.
Augustine: It appears that Matthew and Mark here relate things which took place previously, not that they happened when Pilate had already delivered Him to be crucified. For John says that these things took place at Pilate’s house; but that which follows, “And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put on Him His own clothes,” must be understood to have taken place last of all, when He was already being led to be crucified.
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystic sense, Jesus was stripped of His clothes, that is, of the Jews, and is clothed in a purple robe, that is, in the Gentile church, which is gathered together out of the rocks. Again, putting it off in the end, as offending, He again is clothed with the Jewish purple, [Rom 11:25] for when the fulness of the 315 Gentiles is come in, then shall all Israel be saved.
Bede: Or else, by the purple robe, with which the Lord is clothed, is meant His flesh itself, which He gave up to suffering, and by the thorny crown which He carried is meant, the taking upon Him of our sins.
Theophylact: Let us also put on the purple and royal robe, because we must walk as kings treading on serpents and scorpions, and having sin under our feet. For we are called Christians, that is, anointed ones, just as kings were then called anointed. Let us also take upon ourselves the crown of thorns, that is, let us make haste to be crowned with a strict life, with self-denials and purity.
Bede: But they smite the head of Christ, who deny that He is very God. And because men are wont to use a reed to write with, they, as it were, smite the head of Christ with a reed, who speak against His divinity, and endeavour to confirm their error by the authority of Holy Writ. They spit in His face, who spit from them by their accursed words the presence of His grace. There are some also in this day, who adore Him, with a sure faith, as very God, but by their perverse actions, despise His words as though they were fabulous, and think the promises of that word inferior to worldly allurements. But just as Caiaphas said, though he knew not what it meant, “It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people,” [John 11:50] so also the soldiers do these things in ignorance.
20. —— And led Him out to crucify Him.
21. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross.
22. And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
23. And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not.
24. And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
25. And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.316
26. And the superscription of His accusation was written over: The King of The Jews.
27. And with Him they crucify two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on His left.
28. And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, “And he numbered with the transgressors.” [Isa 53:12]
Gloss: After the condemnation of Christ, and the insults heaped upon Him when He was condemned, the Evangelist proceeds to relate His crucifixion, saying, “And led Him out to crucify Him.”
Pseudo-Jerome: Here Abel is brought out into the field by his brother, to be slain by him. Here Isaac comes forth with the wood, and Abraham with the ram caught in the thicket. Here also Joseph with the sheaf of which he dreamed, and the long robe steeped in blood. Here is Moses with the rod, and the serpent hanging on the wood. Here is the cluster of grapes, carried on a staff. Here is Elisha with the piece of wood sent to seek for the axe, which had sunk, and which swam to the wood; that is, mankind, which by the forbidden tree, fell down to hell, but by the wood of the cross of Christ, and by the baptism of water, swims to paradise. Here is Jonah out of the wood of the ship sent down into the sea and into the whale’s belly for three days [ed note: The Glossa ordinaria has here preserved the right reading, de ligno navis foris, which had been lost both in the editions of St. Jerome and in the Catena.].
There follows: “And they compel Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross.”
Theophylact: Now John says that He Himself bare His cross, for both took place; for He first bore the cross Himself, until some one passed, whom they compelled, and who then carried it. But he mentioned the name of his sons, to make it more credible and the affirmation stronger, for the man still lived to relate all that had happened about the cross.
Pseudo-Jerome: Now since some men are known by the merits of their fathers, and some by those of their sons, this Simon, who was compelled to carry the cross, is made known by the merits of his sons, who were disciples. By this we are reminded, 317 that in this life, parents are assisted by the wisdom and the merits of their children, wherefore the Jewish people is always held worthy of being remembered on account of the merits of the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles. But this Simon who carries the cross, because he is compelled, is the man who labours for human praise. For men compel him to work, when the fear and love of God could not compel him.
Bede: Or, since this Simon is not called a man a Jerusalem, but a Cyrenian, (for Cyrene is a city in Libya,) fitly is he taken to mean the nations of the Gentiles, which were once foreigners and strangers to the covenants, but now by obedience are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Whence also Simon is fitly interpreted ‘obedient’, and Cyrene ‘an heir’. But he is said to come from a country place, for a country place is called ‘pagos’ in Greek, wherefore those whom we see to be aliens from the city of God, we call pagans. Simon then coming out from the country carries the cross after Jesus, when the Gentile nations leaving pagan rights embrace obediently the footsteps of our Lord’s Passion.
There follows: “And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is being interpreted, the place of Calvary.”
There are places without the city and the gate, in which the heads of condemned persons are cut off, and which receive the name of Calvary, that is, of the beheaded. But the Lord was crucified there, that where once was the field of the condemned, there the standards of martyrdom might be lifted up.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the Jews relate that in this spot of the mountain the ram was sacrificed for Isaac, and there Christ is made bald, that is, separated from His flesh, that is, from the carnal Jews.
There follows: “And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh.”
Augustine, de. Con. Evan., iii, 11: This we must understand to be what Matthew expresses by, “mixed with gall”; for he put gall for anything bitter, and wine mingled with myrrh is most bitter; although there may have been both gall and myrrh to make the wine most bitter.
Theophylact: Or, they may have brought different things, in order [ed. note. some problem with translation of “in order”], some vinegar and gall, and others wine mixed with myrrh.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, “wine 318 mingled with myrrh,” that is, vinegar; by it the juice of the deadly apple is wiped away.
Bede: Bitter the vine which bore the bitter wine, set before the Lord Jesus, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith, “They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.” [Ps 69:22]
Augustine: That which follows, “But He received it not,” must mean, He received it not to drink, but only tasted it, as Matthew witnesses. And what the same Matthew relates, “He would not drink,” Mark expresses by, “He received it not,” but was silent as to His tasting it.
Pseudo-Jerome: He also refused to take sin for which He suffered, wherefore it is said of Him, I then paid the things that I never took. [Ps 68:5]
There follows: “And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.”
In this place salvation is figured by the wood; the first wood was that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; the second wood is one of unmixed good for us, and is the wood of life. The first hand stretched out to the wood caught hold of death; the second found again the life which had been lost. By this wood we are carried through a stormy sea to the land of the living, for by His cross Christ has taken away our torment, and by His death has killed our death.
With the form of a serpent [ed. note: This clause is not in Pseudo-Jerome; its obscurity may be cleared up by comparing it with a passage in St. Augustine’s sixth sermon, where it is said that the serpent signifies death, and that Moses’ rod was changed into a serpent because our Lord took upon Himself death for us. In St. Gregory Nyasen, the serpent is said to signify sin, de vita Mosis, p.193, v. also St. Ambrose, de Spiritu Sancto 3, 50.] He kills the serpent, for the serpent made out of the rod swallowed up the other serpents. But what means the shape itself of the cross, save the four quarters of the world; the East shines from the top, the North is on the right, the South on the left, the West is firmly fixed under the feet.
Wherefore the Apostle says: “That we may know what is the height, and breadth, and length, and depth.” [Eph 3:18]
Birds, when they fly in the air, take the shape of a cross; a man swimming in the waters is borne up by the form of a cross. A ship is blown along by its yards, which are in the shape of the cross. The letter Tan is written as the sign of salvation and of the cross.
Bede: 319 Or else, in the transverse beam of the cross, where the hands are fixed, the joy of hope is set forth; for by the hands we understand good works, by its expansion the joy of him who does them, because sadness puts us in straits. By the height to which the head is joined, we understand the expectation of reward from the lofty righteousness of God; by the length, over which the whole body is stretched, patience, wherefore patient men are called long-suffering; by the depth, which is fixed in the ground, the hidden Sacrament itself. As long therefore as our bodies work here to the destruction of the body of sin, it is the time of the cross for us.
Theophylact: But their casting lots for His garments was also meant as an insult, as though they were dividing the clothes of a king; for they were coarse and of no great value. And John’s Gospel shews this more clearly, for the soldiers, though they divided every thing else into four parts, according to their number, cast lots for the coat, which “was without seam, woven from the top throughout.” [John 19:23]
Pseudo-Jerome: Now the garments of the Lord are His commandments, by which His body, that is, the Church is covered; which the soldiers of the Gentiles divide amongst themselves, that there may be four classes with one faith, the married, and the widowed, those who bear rule, and those who are separate. [ed. note: The Catena, Glossa ordinaria, and editions of St. Jerome, which often correct each other, here agree in the reading “praepositi et separsti.” It appears to be only another instance of this writer’s obscurity.] They cast lots for the undivided garment, which is peace and unity.
It goes on: “And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.”
Mark has introduced this truly and rightly, for at the sixth hour darkness overspread the earth, so that no one could move his head.
Augustine, de. Con. Evan., iii, 13: If Jesus was given up to the Jews to be crucified, when Pilate sat down at his tribunal about the sixth hour, as John relates, how could He be crucified at the third hour, as many persons have thought from not understanding the words of Mark. First then let us see at what hour He might have been crucified, then we shall see why Mark said that He was crucified at the third hour. It was about the sixth hour when He was given up to be crucified by Pilate sitting on his judgment seat, as has been said, for it was not yet fully the sixth hour, but about the sixth, that is, the 320 fifth was over, and some of the sixth had begun, so that those things which are related to the crucifixion of our Lord took place after the finishing of the fifth, and at the commencement of the sixth, until, when the sixth was completed and He was hanging on the cross, the darkness which is spoken of took place.
Let us now consider, why Mark has said, “It was the third hour.” He had already said positively, “And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments;” as also the others declare, that when He was crucified His garments were divided. Now if Mark had wished to fix the time of what was done, it would have been enough to say, “And it was the third hour,” why did He add, “and they crucified Him,” unless it was that he wished to point to something which had gone before, and which if enquired into would be explained, since that same Scripture was to be read at a time, when it was known to the whole Church at what hour our Lord was crucified, by which means any error might be taken away, and any falsehood be refuted. But because he knew that the Lord was fixed to the cross not by the Jews but by the soldiers, as John very plainly shews, he wished to intimate that the Jews had crucified Him, since they cried out, “Crucify Him,” rather than those who executed the orders of their chief according to their duty. It is therefore implied, that it took place at the third hour when the Jews cried out, “Crucify Him,” and it is most truly shewn that they crucified Him, when they so cried out.
But in the attempt of Pilate to save the Lord, and the tumultuous opposition of the Jews, we understand that a space of two hours was consumed, and that the sixth hour had begun, before the end of which, those things occurred which are related to have taken place from the time when Pilate gave up the Lord, and the darkness overspread the earth. Now he who will apply himself to these things, without the hard-heartedness of impiety, will see that Mark has fitly placed it at the third hour, in the same place as the deed of the soldiers who were the executors of it is related.
Therefore lest any one should transfer in his thoughts so great a crime from the Jews to the soldiers, he says “it was the third hour, and they crucified Him,” that the fault might rather by a careful enquirer be charged to them, who, as he would find, had at the third hour cried out for His crucifixion, 321 whilst at the same time it would be seen that what was done by the soldiers was done at the sixth hour. [ed. note: For another explanation of this see Williams on the Passion, p. 257]
Pseudo-Augustine, Quaest. Vet. et Nov. Test. 65: Therefore he wishes to imply that is was the Jews who passed sentence concerning the crucifixion of Christ at the third hour; for every condemned person is considered as dead, from the moment that sentence is passed upon him. Mark therefore shewed that our Saviour was not crucified by the sentence of the judge, because it is difficult to prove the innocence of a man so condemned.
Augustine: Still there are not wanting persons who assert that the preparation, mentioned by John, “Now it was the preparation about the sixth hour,” was really the third hour of the day. For they say that on that day before the sabbath day, there was a preparation of the passover of the Jews, because on that sabbath, they began the unleavened bread; but however that the true passover, which is now celebrated on the day of our Lord’s Passion, that is, the Christian not the Jewish passover, began to be prepared, or to have its “parasceue”, from that sixth hour of the night, when His death began to be prepared by the Jews; for “parasceue” means preparation. Between that hour therefore of the night and His crucifixion occurs the sixth hour of preparation, according to John, and the third hour of the day, according to Mark. What Christian would not give in to this solution of the question, provided that we could find some circumstance, from which we might gather that this preparation of our Passover, that is, of the death of Christ, began at the ninth hour of the night? For if we say that it began when our Lord was taken by the Jews, it was still early in the night, but if when our Lord was carried away to the house of the father in law of Caiaphas, where also He was heard by the chief priests, the cock had not crowed; but if when He was given up to Pilate, it is very plain that it was morning. It remains therefore that we must understand the preparation of our Lord’s death to have commenced when all the Chief Priests pronounced, “He is guilty of death.” For there is nothing absurd in supposing that was the ninth hour of the night, so that we may understand that Peter’s denial is put out of its order after it really happened.
It goes on: “And the superscription of His accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Theophylact: They wrote this superscription, as the reason why He was 322 crucified, thus wishing to reprove His vainglory in making Himself a king, that so the passers by might not pity Him, but rather hate Him as a tyrant.
Pseudo-Jerome: He wrote it in three languages, in Hebrew, “Melech Jeudim”; in Greek, [ ]; in Latin, “Rex confessorum”. These three languages were consecrated to be the chief, in the superscription on the cross, that every tongue might record the treachery of the Jews.
Bede: But this superscription on the cross shews, that they could not even in killing Him take away the kingdom over them from Him who was about to render unto them according to their works.
There follows: “And with Him they crucify two thieves, the one on His right hand, the other on His left.”
Theophylact: They did this that men might have a bad opinion of Him, as though He also were a robber and a malefactor. But it was done by Providence to fulfil the Scriptures.
There follows: “And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.”
Pseudo-Jerome: Truth was numbered with the wicked; He left one on His left hand, the other He takes on the right, as He will do at the last day. With a similar crime they are allotted different paths; one precedes Peter into Paradise, the other Judas into hell. A short confession won for him a long life, and a blasphemy which soon ended is punished with endless pain.
Bede: Mystically, however, the thieves crucified with Christ signify those, who by their faith and confession of Christ undergo either the struggle of martyrdom, or some rules of a stricter discipline. But those who do these deeds for the sake of endless glory, are signified by the faith of the right hand robber; those again who do them for worldly praise copy the mind and the acts of the left hand robber.
Theophylact: Or else; the two robbers were meant to point out the two people, that is, the Jews and the Gentiles, for both were evil, the Gentile as transgressing natural law, but the Jew by breaking the written law, which the Lord had delivered to them; but the Gentile was penitent, the Jew a blasphemer unto the end. Between whom our Lord is crucified, for He is the corner stone, which binds us together.
29. And they that passed by railed on Him, 323 wagging their heads, and saying, “Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,
30. Save thyself, and come down from the cross.”
31. Likewise also the Chief Priests mocking said among themselves with the Scribes, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.”
32. “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him.
Pseudo-Jerome: The foal of Judah has been tied to the vine, and his clothes dyed in the blood of the grape, [Gen 49:11] and the kids tear the vine, blaspheming Christ, and wagging their heads.
Wherefore it is said: “And they that passed by railed on Him, wagging their heads and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple.”
Theophylact: For the passers by blasphemed Christ, reproaching Him as a seducer. But the devil moved them to bid Him come down from the Cross; for he knew that salvation was being won by the Cross, therefore he again proceeded to tempt Christ, so that if He came down from the Cross, he might be certain that He is not truly the Son of God, and so the salvation, which is by the Cross, might be done away. But He being truly the Son of God, did not come down; for if He ought to have come down, He would not have ascended there at all; but since He saw that in this way salvation must be effected, He underwent the crucifixion, and many other sufferings, unto the finishing of His work.
It goes on: “Likewise also the Chief Priests mocking said among themselves with the Scribes, He saved others, himself he cannot save.”
They said this, to do away with His miracles, as though those which He had done were but the semblance of them, for by working miracles He saved many.
Bede: Thus also they confess, though against their will, that He saved many. Therefore your words condemn you, for He who saved others could have saved Himself.
It goes on: “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”
Pseudo-Jerome: Afterwards they saw Him arise from the grave, though they would not believe that He could come down from 324 the tree of the Cross. Where, O Jews, is your lack of faith? Your own selves I appeal to; your own selves I bring as judges. How much more wonderful is it that a dead man should arise, than that one yet living should choose to come down from the cross. Ye asked but small things, till greater should have come to pass; but your want of faith could not be healed by signs much greater than those for which you sought. Here “all have gone out of the way, all are become abominable.” [Ps 13:3]
Wherefore it goes on: And they that were crucified with Him reviled.”
Augustine, de. Con. Evan. 3, 16: How can this be, when according to Luke one only reviled Him, but was rebuked by the other who believed on God; unless we understand that Matthew and Mark, who touched but slightly on this place, put the plural for the singular number?
Theophylact: Or else, both at first reviled Him, then one recognizing Him as innocent, rebukes the other for blaspheming Him.
33. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
34. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
35. And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he calleth Elias.”
36. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink, saying, “Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.”
37. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
Bede: This most glorious light took away its rays from the world, lest it should see the Lord hanging, and lest the blasphemers should have the benefit of its light.
Wherefore it goes on: “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
Augustine, de. Con. Evan. 3, 17: Luke added to this account the cause of the darkness, 325 that is, the darkening of the sun.
Theophylact: If this had been the time for an eclipse, some one might have said that this which happened was natural, but it was the fourteenth moon, when no eclipse can take place.
There follows: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.”
Pseudo-Jerome: At the ninth hour, the tenth piece of money which had been lost is found, by the overturning of the house.
Bede: For when Adam sinned, it is also written that he heard the voice of the Lord, walking in paradise, in the cool after mid-day [Gen 3:8]; and in that hour when the first Adam by sinning brought death into the world, in that same hour the second Adam by dying destroyed death. And we must observe, that our Lord was crucified, when the sun was going away from the center of the world; but at sunrise He celebrated the Mysteries of His Resurrection; because He died for our sins, but rose again for our justification.
Nor need you wonder at the lowliness of His words, at the complaints as of one forsaken, when you look on the offense of the cross, knowing the form of a servant. For as hunger, and thirst, and fatigue were not things proper to the Divinity, but bodily afflictions; so His saying, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” was proper to a bodily voice, for the body is never naturally wont to wish to be separated from the life which is joined to it. For although our Saviour Himself said this, He really shewed the weakness of His body; He spoke therefore as man, bearing about with Him my feelings, for when placed in danger we fancy that we are deserted by God.
Theophylact: Or, He speaks this as man crucified by God for me, for we men have been forsaken by the Father, but He never has. For hear what He says; “I am not along, because the Father is with me.” [John 16:32] Though He may also have said this as being a Jew, according to the flesh, as though He had said, Why hast thou forsaken the Jewish people, so that they have crucified Thy Son? For as we sometimes say, God has put on me, that is, my human nature, so here also we must understand “Thou hast forsaken me,” to mean my nature, or the Jewish people.
It goes on: “And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.”
Bede: These however I suppose were Roman soldiers who did not 326 understand the peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue, but, from His calling Eloi, thought that Elias was called by Him. But if the Jews are understood to have said this, they must be supposed to do this, as accusing Him of folly in calling for the aid of Elias.
It goes on: “And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink, saying, Let along; let us see whether Elias will come to take Him down.”
John shews more fully the reason why the vinegar was given to the Lord to drink, saying, that Jesus said, “I thirst,” [John 19:28] that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. They however applied a sponge full of vinegar to His mouth.
Pseudo-Jerome: Here he points out a similitude for the Jews; a sponge on a reed, weak, dry, fit for burning; they fill it with vinegar, that is, with wickedness and guile.
Augustine: Matthew has not related, that the man who brought the sponge filled with vinegar, but that the others spoke about Elias; from whence we gather that both said it.
Pseudo-Jerome: Though the flesh was weak, yet the heavenly voice, which said, “Open me the gates of righteouness,” [Ps 117:19] waxed strong.
Wherefore there follows: “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.”
We who are of the the earth die with a very low voice, or with no voice at all; but He who descended from heaven breathed His last with a loud voice.
Theophylact: He who both rules over death and commands it dies with power, as its Lord. But what this voice was is declared by Luke: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.” For Christ would have us understand by this, that from that time the souls of the saints go up into the hands of God. For at first the souls of all were held in hell, till He came, who preached the opening of the prison to the captives.
38. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
39. And when the centurion, which stood over against Him, saw that He so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
40. There were also women looking on afar off: 327 among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
41. (Who also, when He was in Galilee, followed Him, and ministered unto Him;) and many other women which came up with Him unto Jerusalem.
Gloss: After the Evangelist has related the Passion and the death of Christ, he now goes on to mention those things which followed after the death of our Lord.
Wherefore it is said: “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
Pseudo-Jerome: The veil of the temple is rent, that is, the heaven is opened.
Theophylact: Again, God by the rending of the veil implied that the grace of the Holy Spirit goes away and is rent from the temple, so that the Holy of holies might be seen by all; [ed. note: The sense of the passage by reference to Theophylact appears to be, that as the Jews used to rend their clothes as a sign of grief, so the temple by the rending of its veil might be said to mourn.] also that the temple will mourn amongst the Jews, when they shall deplore their calamities, and rend their clothes.
This also is a figure of the living temple, that is, the body of Christ, in whose Passion His garment is torn, that is, His flesh.
Again, it means another thing; for the flesh is the veil of our temple, that is, of our mind. But the power of the flesh is torn in the Passion of Christ, from the top to the bottom, that is, from Adam even down to the latest man; for also Adam was made whole by the Passion of Christ, and his flesh does not remain under the curse, nor does it deserve corruption, but we all are gifted with incorruption.
“And when the centurion who stood over against Him saw.” He who commands a hundred soldiers is called a centurion. But seeing that He died with such power as the Lord, he wondered and confessed.
Bede: Now the cause of the centurion’s wonder is clear, that seeing that the Lord died in that way, that is, sent forth His Spirit, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” For no one can send forth his own spirit, but He who is the Creator of souls.
Augustine: This also he most of all wondered at, that after that voice which He sent forth as a figure of our sin, He immediately gave up His Spirit. For the Spirit of the Mediator shewed that no penalty of sin could have had power 328 to cause the death of His flesh; for it did not leave the flesh unwillingly, but as it willed, for it was joined to the Word of God in the unity of person.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the last are now made the first. The Gentile people confesses. The blinded Jew denies, so that their error is worse than the first.
Theophylact: And so the order is inverted, for the Jew kills, and the Gentile confesses; the disciples fly, and the women remain.
For there follows: “There were also women looking on afar off, amongst whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome.”
Origin, in Matt. Tract. 35: But it seems to me, that here three women are chiefly named, by Matthew and Mark. Two indeed are set down by each Evangelist, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James; the third is called by Matthew, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, but by Mark she is called Salome.
Bede: He means by James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, who was also called the brother of our Lord, because he was the son of Mary, our Lord’s mother’s sister, whom John mentions, saying, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” [John 19:25]
And he seems to call her Mary of Cleophas, from her father or some relation. But he was called James the Less, to distinguish him from James the Great, that is, the son of Zebedee, who was called amongst the first of the Apostles by our Lord. Further, it was a Jewish custom, nor was it thought blamable after the manners of an ancient people, that women should furnish to teachers food and clothing out of their substance.
Wherefore there follows: “Who also when He was in Galilee followed Him, and ministered unto Him.”
They ministered unto the Lord of their substance, that He might reap their carnal things whose spiritual things they reaped, and that He might shew forth a type for all masters, who ought to be content with food and clothing from their disciples. But let us see what companions He had with Him, for it goes on: “And many other women which came up with Him into Jerusalem.”
Pseudo-Jerome: As the female sex through the Virgin Mary is not shut out from salvation, so it is not thrust away from the knowledge of the Mystery of the Cross, and of the Resurrection, through the widow Mary Magdalene, and the others, who were mothers.
42. And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43. Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
44. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
45. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
46. And he brought fine linen, and took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen, and laid Him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
47. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid.
Gloss: After the Passion and Death of Christ, the Evangelist relates His burial, saying, “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea.”
Bede: What is called “parasceue” in Greek, is in Latin “praeparatio”; by which name those Jews, who lived amongst Greeks, used to call the sixth day of the week, because on that day they used to prepare what was necessary for the rest of the sabbath day. Because then man was made on the sixth day, but on the seventh the Creator rested from all His work, fitly was our Saviour crucified on the sixth day, and thus fulfilled the mystery of man’s restoration.
But on the sabbath, resting in the tomb, He was waiting for the event of the Resurrection, which was to come on the eighth day. So we must also in this age of time be crucified to the world; but in the seventh day, that is, when a man has paid the debt to death, our bodies indeed must rest in the grave, but our souls after good works in hidden peace with God; till in the eighth period, even our 330 bodies themselves, glorified in the resurrection, receive incorruption together with our souls. But the man who buried the body of the Lord must needs by his righteous merits have been worthy, and by the nobility of worldly power able to perform this service.
Therefore it is said, “An honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God.” He is called in Latin, “decurio”, because he is of the order of the “curia”, and served the office of a provincial magistracy; this officer was also called “curialis”, from his care of civic duties. Arimathaea is the same as Ramathain, the city of Elkanah and Samuel.
Pseudo-Jerome: It it interpreted, “taking down,” of which was Joseph, who came to take down the body of Christ from the cross.
There follows: “Came and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.”
Theophylact: He was bold with a praiseworthy boldness; for he did not consider within himself, I shall fall from my rich estate, and I shall be expelled by the Jews, if I beg for the body of Him, who was condemned as a blasphemer.
It goes on: “And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead.” For he thought that He should continue long alive upon the cross, as also the thieves used to live long, upon the instrument of their execution.
It goes on: “And calling unto him the centurion, he asked him if he had been any while dead;” that is, before the time when other executed persons usually died.
There follows: “And when he knew it of the centurion, (that is, that He was dead,) he gave the body to Joseph.”
Bede: But it was not an obscure person, nor a man of mean rank, who could come to the governor and obtain the body.
There follows: “And he brought fine linen, and took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen.”
Theophylact: Burying the precious body preciously; for being a disciple of our Lord, he knew how greatly the Lord’s body ought to be honoured.
Bede: By this however, according to a spiritual meaning, we may understand that the body of the Lord should not be wrapped in gold or gems, or silk, but in a clean linen cloth. Hence it became a custom in the Church that the sacrifice of the altar should not be celebrated in silk, or in a dyed cloth, but in linen produced from the earth, just as the body of the Lord was wrapped in clean linen; as, we read in the Pontifical acts, it was ordered by the blessed 331 Sylvester [ed. note: St. Sylvester was Pope from 314 to 335. On his decree respecting the Corporal used in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, see Bona de Rebns Lit., i.e. 25. 11].
Though it has also another meaning, that he who receives Jesus in a pure mind wraps Him in a clean linen. There follows: “And laid Him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.”
It is said that the sepulchre of the Lord is a round cell, hewn out of the rock which was around it, so high, that a man standing upright could scarcely touch the roof with his outstretched hand; and it has an entrance to the east, to which the great stone was rolled, and placed upon it. In the northern part of it is the tomb itself, that is, the place where our Lord’s body lay, made of the same rock, seven feet in length, raised three palms higher than the floor. It is not open from above, but on the south side, the whole of which is open, and through which the body was brought in. The colour of the sepulchre and of the recess is said to be a mixed white and red.
Pseudo-Jerome: By the burial of Christ we rise again, by His going down into hell we mount up into heaven; here is found the honey in the mouth of the dead lion.
Theophylact: Let us too imitate Joseph, taking to ourselves the body of Christ by Unity, and let us place it in a sepulchre, hewn out of the rock, that is, in a soul recollected, never forgetful of God; for this is a soul hewn out of the rock, that is, out of Christ, for He is our rock, who holds together our strength. We ought also to wrap Him in linen, that is, to receive Him in a pure body; for the linen is the body which is the clothing of the soul. We must, however, not throw open, but wrap Him up; for He is secret, closed and hidden.
There follows: “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.”
Bede: We read in Luke, that His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him stood afar off. When these then who were known to Jesus returned home after the burial of His body, the women alone, who were bound to Him with a closer love, after following the funeral, took care to see how He was laid, that they might be able at a fitting season to offer Him the sacrifice of their devotion.
But on the day of the “parasceue”, that is, of the preparation, the holy women, that 332 is, humble souls, do the same, when they burn with love for the Saviour, and diligently follow the steps of His Passion in this life, where their future rest is to be prepared; and they weigh with a pious minuteness the order in which His Passion was accomplished, if perchance they be able to imitate it.
Pseudo-Jerome: These things also fit the Jewish people, which finally is believing, which is ennobled by faith to become the child of Abraham. It lays aside its despair, it waits for the kingdom of God, it goes in to the Christians, that is may be baptized; which is implied by the name of Pilate, which is interpreted.
‘One who works with a hammer,’ that is, he who subdues the iron nations, that he may rule them with a rod of iron. It seeks for the Sacrifice, that is, the Viaticum, which is given to penitents at their last end, and wraps it up in a heart clean and dead to sin; it makes it firm in the safeguard of faith, and shuts it up with the covering of hope, through works of charity; (for the end of the commandment is charity; [1 Tim 1:5]) whilst the elect, who are the stars of the sea, are looking on from afar, for, if it be possible, the very elect shall be offended.
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