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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 27 - Verse 35

Verse 35. And they crucified him. To crucify, means to put to death on a cross. The cross has been described at Mt 27:32. The manner of the crucifixion was as follows: After the criminal had carried the cross, attended with every possible jibe and insult, to the place of execution, a hole was dug in the earth to receive the foot of it. The cross was laid on the ground; the person condemned to suffer was stripped, and was extended on it, and the soldiers fastened the hands and feet either by nails or thongs. After they had fixed the nails deeply in the wood, they elevated the cross with the agonizing sufferer on it; and, in order to fix it more firmly in the earth, they let it fall violently into the hole which they had dug to receive it; This sudden fall must have given to the person that was nailed to it a most violent and convulsive shock, and greatly increased his sufferings. The crucified person was then suffered to hang, commonly, till pain, exhaustion, thirst, and hunger ended his life. Sometimes the sufferings continued for days; and when friendly death terminated the life, the body was often suffered to remain—a loathsome object, putrefying in the sun, or devoured by the birds.

This punishment was deemed the most disgraceful and ignominious that was practised among the Romans. It was the way in which slaves, robbers, and the most notorious and abandoned wretches, were commonly put to death. It was this, among other things, that exposed those who preached the gospel to so much shame and contempt among the Greeks and Romans. They despised everything that was connected with the death of one who had died as a slave and an outlaw.

As it was the most ignominious punishment known, so it was the most painful. The following circumstances make it a death of peculiar pain:

(1.) The position of the arms and the body was unnatural, the arms being extended back and almost immovable. The least motion gave violent pain in the hands and feet, and in the back, which was lacerated with stripes.

(2.) The nails, being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound with nerves and tendons, created the most exquisite anguish.

(3.) The exposure of so many wounds to the air brought on a violent inflammation, which greatly increased the poignancy of the suffering.

(4.) The free circulation of the blood was prevented. More blood was carried out in the arteries than could be returned by the veins. The consequence was, that there was a great increase in the veins of the head, producing an intense pressure and violent pain. The same was true of other parts of the body. This intense pressure in the blood vessels was the source of inexpressible misery.

(5.) The pain gradually increased. There was no relaxation, and no rest. There was no prospect but death. The sufferer was commonly able to endure it till the third, and sometimes even to the seventh day. The intense sufferings of the Saviour, however, were sooner terminated. This was caused perhaps, in some measure, by his previous fatigue and exhaustion, but still more by the intense sufferings of His soul, his bearing our griefs, and carrying our sorrows; in making an atonement for the sins of the world. See Barnes "Mr 15:44".

 

And parted his garments. It was customary to crucify a person naked. The clothes of the sufferer belonged to those who were executioners. John says Joh 19:23 that they divided his garments into four parts, to each soldier a part; but for his coat they cast lots. See Barnes "John 19:23".

When Matthew says, therefore, that they parted his garments, casting lots, it is to be understood that they divided one part of them, and for the other part of them they cast lots.

That it might be fulfilled, etc. The words here quoted are found in Ps 22:18. The whole psalm is usually referred to Christ, and is a most striking description of his sufferings and death.

{e} "crucified" Ps 22:16; Mr 15:24; Lu 23:34; Joh 19:24

{f} "spoken by the prophets" Ps 22:18

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