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CXXXIII.

The Crucifixion.

Subdivision C.

Darkness Three Hours. After Four More Sayings,

Jesus Expires. Strange Events Attending His Death.

A Matt. XXVII. 45–56; B Mark XV. 33–41; C Luke XXIII. 44–49; D John XIX. 28–30.

c 44 And it was now about the sixth hour, b 33 And a 45 Now b when the sixth hour was come, there was c a darkness came a over all b the whole land a from the sixth hour b until the ninth hour. c 45 the sun's light failing [The darkness lasted from noon until three o'clock. It could not have been an eclipse, for the moon was always full on the first day of the passover. Whether the darkness was over the whole world, or simply all of Palestine, is uncertain, as, according to the usage of Bible language, the words would be the same]: b 34 And at { a about} the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli { b Eloi, Eloi,} lama sabachthani? which is, { a that is,} 730 b being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [We can imagine what it would mean to a righteous man to feel that he was forsaken of God. But the more we feel and enjoy the love of another, the greater our sense of loss at being deprived of it. Considering, therefore, the near and dear relationship between the Son and Father, it is evident that we can never know or fathom the depth of anguish which this cry expressed. Suffice it to say, that this was without doubt the most excruciating of all Christ's sufferings, and it, too, was a suffering in our stead. The words of the cry are found at Ps. xxii. 1. Eli is Hebrew, Eloi Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic for “My God.” The former would be used by Jesus if he quoted the Scripture, the latter if he spoke the language of the people.] 35 And some of them that stood by, { a this man} when they heard it, said, b Behold, he { a this man} calleth Elijah. d 28 After this Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, that the scripture might be accomplished, saith, I thirst. 29 There was set there a vessel full of vinegar: a 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with { b and filling a sponge full of} vinegar, a and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. d so they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop, and brought it to his mouth. b saying, { a 49 And the rest said,} Let be; let us see whether Elijah cometh b to take him down. a to save him. [Jesus had now been upon the cross for six hours, and fever and loss of blood and the strain upon the muscles of his chest had rendered his articulation difficult and indistinct. For this reason some of those who stood by, though perfectly familiar with the language, misunderstood him and thought that he called upon Elijah. Immediately afterwards Jesus speaks of his thirst, and vinegar is given to him to remove the dryness from his throat. Those who give the vinegar and those who stand by, unite in saying “Let be.” This phrase has no reference to the vinegar; it is a general expression, meaning, “Let us do nothing to prevent him from calling upon Elijah, or to prevent Elijah from 731coming.”] b 37 And d 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, a Jesus cried again with { b uttered} a loud voice, d he said, It is finished [He had come, had ministered, had suffered, and had conquered. There now remained but the simple act of taking possession of the citadel of the grave, and the overthrowing of death. By his righteousness Jesus had triumphed in man's behalf and the mighty task was accomplished]: c 46 And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [Ps. xxxi. 5]: and having said this, d he bowed his head, and gave up { a yielded up} b the ghost. a his spirit. [None of the Evangelists speaks of Jesus as dying; for he yielded up his spirit voluntarily—John x. 18.] 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two c in the midst. b from the top to the bottom. [The veil was the heavy curtain which hung between the holy and the most holy places in the sanctuary. By shutting out from the most holy place all persons except the high priest, who alone was permitted to pass through it, and this only once in the year, it signified that the way into the holiest—that is, into heaven—was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing (Heb. ix. 7, 8). But the moment that Jesus died, thus making the way manifest, the veil was appropriately rent in twain from top to bottom, disclosing the most holy place to the priests who were at that time offering the evening incense in the holy place.] a and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; 52 and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many. [The earthquake, the rending of the rocks, and the consequent opening of the graves, occurred at the moment Jesus died, while the resurrection and visible appearance in the city of the bodies of the saints occurred “after his resurrection,” for Jesus himself was the “first-born from the dead” (Col. i. 18). Matthew chooses to mention the last event here because of its association with the rending of 732the rocks, which opened the rock-hewn sepulchres in which the saints had slept. There has been much speculation as to what became of these risen saints. We have no positive information, but the natural presumption is, that they ascended to heaven. These resurrections were symbolic, showing that the resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of the race—I. Cor. xv. 22.] b 39 And when the centurion, who stood by a watching Jesus, b over against him, saw that he so gave up the ghost, a saw the earthquake, and the things that were { c what was} done, he glorified God, saying, { b he said,} c Certainly this was a righteous man. a 54 Now the centurion, and they that were with him feared exceedingly, saying, Truly this b man was the Son of God. [The conduct of Jesus upon the cross and the disturbances of nature which accompanied his death convinced the centurion that Jesus was a righteous man. But knowing that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and this claim was the real cause for which the Jews were crucifying him, he concludes, since he concedes that Jesus is righteous, that he is also all that he professed to be—the Son of God. There is no just reason for minimizing his confession, as though he had said, “A son of the gods;” for he said nothing of that kind, and those err as to the use of Scriptural language who think so. Like the centurions of Capernaum (Matt. viii. 10) and Cæsarea (Acts x. 1, 2), this Roman surpassed in faith those who had better opportunities. But in this faith he was not alone.] c 48 And all the multitudes that came together to this sight, when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts. [The people who had acted under the influence of the priests now yielded to superior influences and began to experience that change of sentiment which led so many to repent and confess Christ at Pentecost.] 49 And all his acquaintance, a 55 And many women b also a were there beholding c the women that { a who} had followed c with a Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: c stood afar off, a beholding from afar, c seeing these things. b among 733whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; a the mother of the sons of Zebedee. b 41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women that came up with him unto Jerusalem. [John has already mentioned this group of women (see p. 729), and has shown that he stood with them. The women, being unable to bear arms in an insurrection, had little to fear. They were not likely to be complicated in the charges against Jesus. But the men were conspicuously absent. They appear to have stood quite close to the cross at one time just before the darkness. Probably they feared violence in the darkness, and so withdrew and viewed from afar off the scene as lighted by the torches which the Roman soldiers would be obliged to procure in order to effectually guard their prisoner (Acts xvi. 29). The synoptists, who make mention of the women toward the close of the crucifixion, do not mention the mother of Jesus as any longer among them. It is likely that she had withdrawn with John, being unable longer to endure the sight. As to the ministering of these women, see p. 297, 298.]

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