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16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; 17and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25 And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

The Burial of Jesus

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

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16. Then, therefore, he delivered him to them to be crucified. Pilate was, no doubt constrained by their importunity to deliver Christ; and yet this was not done in a tumultuous manner, but he was solemnly condemned in the ordinary form, because there were also two robbers who, after having been tried, were at the same time condemned to be crucified. But John employs this expression, in order to make it more fully evident that Christ, though he had not been convicted of any crime, was given up to the insatiable cruelty of the people.

17. He went forth to a place. The circumstances which are here related contribute greatly, not only to show the truth of the narrative, but likewise to build up our faith. We must look for righteousness through the satisfaction made by Christ. To prove that he is the sacrifice for our sins, he wished both to be led out of the city, and to be hanged on a tree; for the custom was, in compliance with the injunction of the Law, that the sacrifices, the blood of which was shed for sin, were carried out of the camp, (Leviticus 6:30; 16:27;) and the same Law declares that

he who hangeth on a tree is accursed,
(Deuteronomy 21:23.)

Both were fulfilled in Christ, that we might be fully convinced that atonement has been made for our sins by the sacrifice of his death; that

he was made subject to the curse, in order that he might redeem us from the curse of the law,
(Galatians 3:13;)


he was made sin, in order that we might be the righteousness of God in him,
(2 Corinthians 5:21;)

that he was led out of the city, in order that he might carry with him, and take away, our defilements which were laid on him, (Hebrews 12:12.) To the same purpose is the statement about the robbers, which immediately follows: —

18. And two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. As if the severity of the punishment had not been sufficient of itself, he is hanged in the midst between two robbers, as if he not only had deserved to be classed with other robbers, but had been the most wicked and the most detestable of them all. We ought always to remember, that the wicked executioners of Christ did nothing but what had been determined by the hand and purpose of God; 167167     “N ont rien fait qui n eust este decrete et ordonne par le conseil de Dieu;” — “did nothing which had not been decreed and appointed by the purpose of God.” for God did not surrender his Son to their lawless passions, but determined that, according to his own will and good pleasure, he should be offered as a sacrifice. And if there were the best reasons for the purpose of God in all those things which he determined that his Son should suffer, we ought to consider, on the one hand, the dreadful weight of his wrath against sin, and, on the other hand, his infinite goodness towards us. In no other way could our guilt be removed than by the Son of God becoming a curse for us. We see him driven out into an accursed place, as if he had been polluted by a mass of all sorts of crimes, that there he might appear to be accursed before God and men. Assuredly we are prodigiously stupid, if we do not plainly see in this mirror with what abhorrence God regards sin; and we are harder than stones, if we do not tremble at such a judgment as this.

When, on the other hand, God declares that our salvation was so dear to him, that he did not spare his only-begotten Son, what abundant goodness and what astonishing grace do we here behold! Whoever, then, takes a just view of the causes of the death of Christ, together with the advantage which it yields to us, will not, like the Greeks, regard the doctrlne of the cross as foolishness, nor, like the Jews, will he regard it as an offense, (1 Corinthians 1:23,) but rather as an invaluable token and pledge of the power, and wisdom, and righteousness, and goodness of God.

When John says, that the name of the place was Golgotha, he means that, in the Chaldaic or Syriac language, it was called גלגלתא, (Gulgaltha.) The name is derived from גלגל, (Gilgel, 168168     The Pihel of, גלל, (Galal.) — Ed. ) which signifies, to roll; because a skull is round like a ball or globe. 169169     “The place where Christ was crucified appears to have received this name, not — as some have imagined — because the shape of the mountain resembled a human head, but because it was filled with the skulls of malefactors who had been put to death there.” — Schleusner on the word Γολγοθᾶ

19. And Pilate wrote also a title. The Evangelist relates a memorable action of Pilate, after having pronounced the sentence. It is perhaps true that it was customary to affix titles, when malefactors were executed, that the cause of the punishment might be known to all, and might serve the purpose of an example. But in Christ there is this extraordinary circumstance, that the title which is affixed to him implies no disgrace; for Pilate’s intention was, to avenge himself indirectly on the Jews, (who, by their obstinacy, had extorted from him an unjust sentence of death on an innocent man,) and, in the person of Christ, to throw blame on the whole nation. Thus he does not brand Christ with the commission of any crime.

But the providence of God, which guided the pen of Pilate, had a higher object in view. It did not, indeed, occur to Pilate to celebrate Christ as the Author of salvation, and the Nazarene of God, and the King of a chosen people; but God dictated to him this commendation of the Gospel, though he knew not the meaning of what he wrote. It. was the same secret guidance of the Spirit that caused the title to be published in three languages; for it is not probable that this was an ordinary practice, but the Lord showed, by this preparatory arrangement, that the time was now at hand, when the name of his Son should be made known throughout the whole earth.

21. The chief priests of the Jews said therefore to Pilate. They feel that they are sharply rebuked; and, therefore, they would wish that the title were changed, so as not to involve the nation in disgrace, but to throw the whole blame on Christ. But yet they do not conceal their deep hatred of the truth, since the smallest spark of it is more than they are able to endure. Thus Satan always prompts his servants to endeavor to extinguish, or, at least, to choke, by their own darkness, the light of God, as soon as the feeblest ray of it appears.

22. What I have written I have written. Pilate’s firmness must be ascribed to the providence of God; for there can be no doubt that they attempted, in various ways, to change his resolution. Let us know, therefore, that he was held by a Divine hand, so that he remained unmoved. Pilate did not yield to the prayers of the priests, and did not allow himself to be corrupted by them; but God testified, by his mouth, the firmness and stability of the kingdom of his Son. And if, in the writing of Pilate, the kingdom of Christ was shown to be so firm that it could not be shaken by all the attacks of its enemies, what value ought we to attach to the testimonies of the Prophets, whose tongues and hands God consecrated to his service?

The example of Pilate reminds us, also, that it is our duty to remain steady in defending the truth. A heathen refuses to retract what he has justly and properly written concerning Christ, though he did not understand or consider what he was doing. How great, then, will be our dishonor, if, terrified by threatenigs or dangers, we withdraw from the profession of his doctrine, which God hath sealed on our hearts by his Spirit! Besides, it ought to be observed how detestable is the tyranny of the Papists, which prohibits the reading of the Gospel, and of the whole of the Scripture, by the common people. Pilate, though he was a reprobate man, and, in other respects, an instrument of Satan, was nevertheless, by a secret guidance, appointed to be a herald of the Gospel, that he might publish a short summary of it in three languages. What rank, therefore, shall we assign to those who do all that they can to suppress the knowledge of it, since they show that they are worse than Pilate?

23. Then the soldiers. The other Evangelists also mention the parting of Christ’s garments among the soldiers, (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34.) There were four soldiers who parted among themselves all his garments, except the coat, which, being without seam could not be divided, and therefore they cast lots on it. To fix our minds on the contemplation of the purpose of God, the Evangelists remind us that, in this occurrence also, there was a fulfillment of Scripture. It may be thought, however, that the passage, which they quote from Psalm 22:18, is inappropriately applied to the subject in hand; for, though David complains in it that he was exposed as a prey to his enemies, he makes use of the word garments to denote metaphorically all his property; as if he had said, in a single word, that “he had been stripped naked and bare by wicked men;” and, when the Evangelists disregard the figure, they depart from the natural meaning of the passage. But we ought to remember, in the first place, that the psalm ought not to be restricted to David, as is evident from many parts of it, and especially from a clause in which it is written, I will proclaim thy name among the Gentiles, (Psalm 22:22) which must be explained as referring to Christ. We need not wonder, therefore, if that which was faintly shadowed out in David is beheld in Christ with all that superior clearness which the truth ought to have, as compared with the figurative representation of it.

Let us also learn that. Christ was stripped of his garments, that he might clothe us with righteousness; that his naked body was exposed to the insults of men, that we may appear in glory before the judgment-seat of God. As to the allegorical meaning to which some men have tortured this passage, by making it mean, that heretics tear Scripture in pieces, it is too far-fetched; though I would not object to such a comparison as this, —that, as the garments of Christ were once divided by ungodly soldiers, so, in the present day, there are perverse men who, by foreign inventions, tear the whole of the Scripture, with which Christ is clothed, in order that he may be manifested to us. But the wickedness of the Papists, accompanied by shocking blasphemy against God, is intolerable. They tell us, that Scripture is torn to pieces by heretics, but that the coatthat is, the Church — remains entire; and thus they endeavor to prove that, without paying any attention to the authority of Scripture, the unity of faith consists in the mere title of the Church; as if the unity of the Church were itself founded on any thing else than the authority of Scripture. When, therefore, they separate faith from Scripture, so that it may continue to be attached to the Church alone, by such a divorce they not only strip Christ of his garments, but tear in pieces his body by shocking sacrilege. And though we should admit what they maintain, that the coat without seam is a figure of the Church, they will be very far from gaining their point: for it will still remain to be proved, that the Church is placed under their authority, of which they show no sign whatever.

25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus. The Evangelist here mentions incidentally, that while Christ obeyed God the Father, he did not fail to perform the duty which he owed, as a son, towards his mother. True, he forgot himself, and he forgot every thing, so far as was necessary for the discharge of obedience to his Father, but, after having performed that duty, he did not neglect what he owed to his mother. Hence we learn in what manner we ought to discharge our duty towards God and towards men. It often happens that, when God calls us to the performance of any thing, our parents, or wife, or children, draw us in a contrary direction, so that we cannot give equal satisfaction to all. If we place men in the same rank with God, we judge amiss. We must, therefore, give the preference to the command, the worship, and the service of God; after which, as far as we are able, we must give to men what is their due.

And yet the commands of the first and second table of the Law never jar with each other, though at first sight they appear to do so; but we must begin with the worship of God, and afterwards assign to men an inferior place. Such is the import of the following statements:

He who loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me,
(Matthew 10:41;)


If any one hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, he cannot be my disciple,
(Luke 14:26.)

We ought, therefore, to devote ourselves to the interests of men, so as not in any degree to interfere with the worship and obedience which we owe to God. When we have obeyed God, it will then be the proper time to think about parents, and wife, and children; as Christ attends to his mother, but it is after that he is on the cross, to which he has been called by his Father’s decree.

Yet, if we attend to the time and place when these things happened, Christ’s affection for his mother was worthy of admiration. I say nothing about the severe tortures of his body; I say nothing about the reproaches which he suffered; but, though horrible blasphemies against God filled his mind with inconceivable grief, and though he sustained a dreadful contest with eternal death and with the devil, still, none of these things prevent him from being anxious about his mother. We may also learn from this passage, what is the honor which God, by the Law, commands us to render to parents, (Exodus 20:12.) Christ appoints the disciple to be his substitute, and charges him to support and take care of his mother; and hence it follows, that the honor which is due to parents consists, not in cold ceremony, 171171     “En froide ceremonie.” but in the discharge of all necessary duties.

On the other hand, we ought to consider the faith of those holy women 172172     “De ces sainctes femmes.” It is true that, in following Christ to the cross, they displayed more than ordinary affection; but, if they had not been supported by faith they could never have been present at this exhibition. As to John himself, we infer that, though his faith was choked for a short time, it was not wholly extinguished. How shameful will it be, if the dread of the cross deters us from following Christ, when the glory of his resurrection is placed before our eyes, whereas the women beheld in it nothing but disgrace and cursing!

Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. He calls her either the wife or the daughter of Cleophas; but I prefer the latter interpretation. 173173     ”Il y en a aucuns qui pensent que c’estoit la femme de Cleopas: mon opinion est que c’estoit plustost sa rifle.” — “There are some who think that she was the wife of Cleophas: my opinion is, that she was rather his daughter.” He says, that she was the sister of the mother of Jesus, and, in saying so, he adopts the phraseology of the Hebrew language, which includes cousins, and other relatives, 174174     “Les cousins et autres parens.” under the term brothers. We see that it was not in vain that Mary Magdalene was delivered from seven devils, (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2;) since she showed hersclf, to the last, to be so faithful a disciple to Christ.

26. Woman, behold thy son! 175175     “One who will take as much care of you as if he had been your son.” — Beausobre. As if he had said, “Henceforth I shall not be an inhabitant of the earth, so as to have it in my power to discharge to thee the duties of a son; and, therefore, I put this man in my room, that he may perform my office.” The same thing is meant, when he says to John,

Behold thy mother! For by these words he charges him to treat her as a mother, and to take as much care of her as if she had been his own mother.

In refraining from mentioning his mother’s name and in simply calling her Woman! some think that he did so, in order not to pierce her heart with a deeper wound. I do not object to this view; but there is another conjecture which is equally probable, that Christ intended to show that, after having completed the course of human life, he lays down the condition in which he had lived, and enters into the heavenly kingdom, where he will exercise dominion over angels and men; for we know that Christ was always accustomed to guard believers against looking at the flesh, and it was especially necessary that this should be done at his death.

27. The disciple took her to his own home. It is a token of the reverence due by a disciple to his master, that John so readily obeys the command of Christ. Hence also it is evident, that the Apostles had their families; for John could not have exercised hospitality towards the mother of Christ, or have taken her to his own home, if he had not had a house and a regular way of living. Those men, therefore, are fools, who think that the Apostles relinquished their property, and came to Christ naked and empty; but they are worse than fools, who make perfection to consist in beggary.

28. Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished. John purposely passes by many things which are related by the other three Evangelists. He now describes the last act, which was an event of the greatest importance.When John says that a vessel was placed there, he speaks of it as a thing that was customary. There has been much controversy on this subject; but I agree with those who think (and, indeed, the custom is proved by histories) that it was a kind of beverage usually administered for the purpose of accelerating the death of wretched malefactors, when they had undergone sufficient torture 176176     “On dispute diversement de ceci; mais je m’accorde a l’opinion de ceux qui disent (comme aussi I’llsage enest approuvee par les histoires) que e’estoit une sorte de bruvage, duquel coustumierement on usoit pour avaneer la mort des poures malfaiteurs, apres qu’ils avoyent este assez tormentez.” Now, it ought to be remarked, that Christ does not ask any thing to drink till all things have been accomplished; and thus he testified his infinite love towards us, and the inconceivable earnestness of his desire to promote our salvation. No words can fully express the bitterness of the sorrows which he endured; and yet he does not desire to be freed from them, till the justice of God has been satisfied, and till he has made a perfect atonement. 177177     The French copy gives an additional clause to this sentence: — “Comme s’il s’estoit oublid jusqu’k ce qu’ayant satisfait au payement de nos offenses, il declare qu’il n’est pas insensible, mais que l’amour qu’il nous portoit a surmontd toutes les angoisses;” — “As if he had forgotten his own concerns till he had given full satisfaction for our sins, he declares that he is not incapable of feeling, but that the love which he bore to us rose superior to all the pains which he endured.”

But how does he say, that all things were accomplished, while the most important part still remained to be performed, that is, his death? Besides, does not his resurrection contribute to the accomplishment of our salvation? I answer, John includes those things which were immediately to follow. Christ had not yet died: and had not yet risen again; but he saw that nothing now remained to hinder him from going forward to death and resurrection. In this manner he instructs us, by his own example, to render perfect obedience, that we may not think it hard to live according to his good pleasure, even though we must languish in the midst of the most excruciating pains.

That the Scripture might be fulfilled. From what is stated by the other Evangelists, (Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:23, 36; Luke 23:36,) it may readily be concluded that the passage referred to is Psalm 69:21,

They gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

It is, undoubtedly, a metaphorical expression, and David means by it, not only that they refused to him the assistance which he needed, but that they cruelly aggravated his distresses. But there is no inconsistency in saying that what had been dimly shadowed out in David was more clearly exhibited in Christ: for thus we are enabled more fully to perceive the difference between truth and figures, when those things which David suffered, only in a figurative manner, are distinctly and perfectly manifested in Christ. To show that he was the person whom David represented, Christ chose to drink vinegar; and he did so for the purpose of strengthening our faith.

I thirst. Those who contrive a metaphorical meaning for the word thirst, as if he meant that, instead of a pleasant and agreeable beverage, they gave him bitterness, as if they intended to flay his throat, 178178     “Comme s’il vouloit dire qu’au lieu de bruvage doux et aimable, on luy a donna de l’amertume, cornroe pour lug escorcher le gosicr.” are more desirous to be thought ingenious than to promote true edification; and, indeed, they are expressly refuted by the Evangelist, who says that Christ asked for vinegar when he was near death; from which it is evident that he did not desire any luxuries. 179179     “En quoy fi’ appert qu’il n’estoit question de nulles, delices.”

29. And, having filled a sponge with vinegar, they fixed it on hyssop. When he says that they fixed the sponge on hyssop, the meaning is, that they fastened it to the end of a bunch of hyssop, that it might be raised to Christ’s mouth; for, in that country, hyssops grow as large as small shrubs, 180180     “Car l’a les hyssopes sont grans comme petits arbnsseaux.”

30. It is finished. He repeats the same word which he had lately employed, 181181     The repetition of the word is concealed by the circumstance, that it is rendered, in the 28th verse, by impleta, Accomplished, and, in the 30th verse, by consummatum, Finished Οτι πάντα ἤδη τετέλεσται (verse 28,) that all things were now Accomplished Τετέλεσται, (verse 30) It is Finished or, it is Accomplished. — Ed. Now this word, which Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in his death. We have already stated that his resurrection is not separated from his death, but Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore, is, that every thing which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else; or — which amounts to the same thing — that the perfection of salvation is contained in him.

There is also an implied contrast; for Christ contrasts his death with the ancient sacrifices and with all the figures; as if he had said,” Of all that was practiced under the Law, there was nothing that had any power in itself to make atonement for sins, to appease the wrath of God, and to obtain justification; but now the true salvation is exhibited and manifested to the world.” On this doctrine depends the abolition of all the ceremonies of the Law; for it would be absurd to follow shadows, since we have the body in Christ.

If we give our assent to this word which Christ pronounced, we ought to be satisfied with his death alone for salvation, and we are not at liberty to apply for assistance in any other quarter; for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father to obtain for us a full acquittal, and to accomplish our redemption, knew well what belonged to his office, and did not fail in what he knew to be demanded of him. It was chiefly for the purpose of giving peace and tranquillity to our consciences that he pronounced this word, It is finished. Let us stop here, therefore, if we do not choose to be deprived of the salvation which he has procured for us. 182182     The last few sentences — commencing with “for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father“ — are not contained in the Latin original, but have been taken from the Author’s French Version. “Car celuy qnt estoit envoye du Pete celeste pour nous acquitter pleinement, et achever nostre redemption, seavoit bien son office, et n’est pus esparg.n en ce qu’il scavoit estre requis. Or notamment pour appaiser nos consciences, et nous Faire contenter, il a pronone ce mot, Quc c’cstoit fait. Arrestons-nous-y done, si nons ne voulons estre frustrez du saint qu’il nous a acqnis.”

But the whole religion of Popery tends to lead men to contrive for themselves innumerable methods of seeking salvation; and hence we infer, that it is full to overflowing with abominable sacrileges. More especially, this word of Christ condemns the abomination of the Mass. All the sacrifices of the Law must have ceased, for the salvation of men has been completed by the one sacrifice of the death of Christ. What right, then, have the Papists, or what plausible excuse can they assign for saying, that they are authorised to prepare a new sacrifice, to reconcile God to men? They reply that it is not a new sacrifice, but the very sacrifice which Christ offered. But this is easily refuted; for, in the first place, they have no command to offer it; and, secondly, Christ, having once accomplished, by a single oblation, all that was necessary to be done, declares, from the cross, that all is finished. They are worse than forgers, therefore, for they wickedly corrupt and falsify the testament sealed by the precious blood of the Son of God.

He yielded up his breath. All the Evangelists take great care to mention the death of Christ, and most properly; for we obtain from it our confident hope of life, and we likewise obtain from it a fearless triumph over death, because the Son of God has endured it in our room, and, in his contest with it, has been victorious. But we must attend to the phraseology which John employs, and which teaches us, that all believers, who die with Christ, peacefully commit their souls to the guardianship of God, who is faithful, and will not suffer to perish what he hath undertaken to preserve. The children of God, as well as the reprobate, die; but there is this difference between them, that the reprobate give up the soul, without knowing where it goes, or what becomes of it; 183183     “Ne scachant ou il va, ne qu’il devient.” while the children of God commit it, as a precious trust, to the protection of God, who will faithfully guard it till the day of the resurrection. The word breath is manifestly used here to denote the immortal soul.

31. For it was the preparation. This narrative also tends to the edification of our faith; first, because it shows that what had been foretold in the Scriptures is fulfilled in the person of Christ; and, secondly, because it contains a mystery of no ordinary value. The Evangelist says, that the Jews besought that the bodies might be taken down from the crosses. This had undoubtedly been enjoined by the Law of God; but the Jews, as is usually the case with hypocrites, direct their whole attention to small matters, and yet pass by the greatest crimes without any hesitation; for, in order to a strict observance of their Sabbath, they are careful to avoid outward pollution; and yet they do not consider how shocking a crime it is to take away the life of an innocent man. Thus we saw a little before, that

they did not enter into the governor’s hall, that they might not be defiled,
(John 18:28,)

while the whole country was polluted by their wickedness. Yet, by their agency, the Lord carries into effect what was of the greatest importance for our salvation, that, by a wonderful arrangement, the body of Christ remains uninjured, and blood and water low out of his side.

And it was the great day of that Sabbath 185185     ἦν γὰρ μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη τοῦ σαββάτον. “A very solemn festival; namely, as being not only an ordinary Sabbath, but the extraordinary one on the 15th of Nisan. For ἐκείνη, very many MSS., Versions, and early Editions, have ἐκείνου, which is received by most Editors from Wetstein to Scholz, with the approbation of Bishop Middleton.”BloomfieId. Another reading more generally approved is, and that Sabbath-day was great; but the reading which I have adopted is supported by many manuscripts that are ancient and of great authority. Let the reader choose for himself. If we read ἐκείνου in the genitive case, (ἐκείνου τοῦ σαββάτου of that Sabbath) the word Sabbath must be understood to denote the week; as if the Evangelist had said, that the festival of that week was very solemn, on account of the Passover. Note, the Evangelist speaks of the following day, which began at sunset. But, if we choose rather to read ἐκείνη, in the nominative case, ἦν γὰρ μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη τοῦ σαββάτου, and That was the great day of the Sabbath, the meaning will be nearly the same in substance; only there would be this difference in the words, that the Passover, which was to take place on the following day, would render that Sabbath more solemn.

33. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead. That they break the legs of the two robbers, and after having done so, find that Christ is already dead, and therefore do not touch his body, appears to be a very extraordinary work of the providence of God. Ungodly men will, no doubt, say that it happens naturally that one man dies sooner than another; but, if we examine carefully the whole course of the narrative, we shall be constrained to ascribe it to the secret purpose of God, that the death of Christ was brought on much more rapidly than men could have at all expected, and that this prevented his legs from being broken.

34. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. When the soldier pierced Christ’s side with his spear, he did so for the purpose of ascertaining if he was dead; but God had a higher object in view, as we shall immediately see. It was a childish contrivance of the Papists, when, out of the Greek word λόγχε, which means a spear, 186186     “Du mot Gree lonchi, qui signifie une lance.” they manufactured the proper name of a man, and called this soldier Longinus, and, to give an air of plausibility to their story, foolishly alleged that he had been formerly blind, and that, after having received his sight, he was converted to the faith. Thus they have placed him in the catalogue of the saints. 187187     Dr Bloomfield subjoins the following note to this verse: — “The epitaph of this soldier, (if genuine,) said to be found in the Church of St Mary, at Lyons, is as follows: — Qui Salvatoris latus Cruce Cuspfdefixit, Lo,’Ginus Mc jacet’ Here lies Longinu’s, who pierced the Savior’s side on the Cross with a spear.’” As the learned annotator has thus summarily adverted to this legendary tale, it is right that the reader should be briefly put in possession of the whole of it, as it has been collected by Moreri from Tillemont and other ecclesiastical writers, in his “Directory” under the head, St Longin — (St Longinns.) This St Longinus is twofold: “some saying, that he was the soldier that pierced our Lord’s side with a spear; and some, that he was the centurion who commanded the guard at the cross. The legends report both these persons to have been converted to the Christian faith, to have suffered martyrdom, and to have been canonized.” Moreri, however, though an ecclesiastic of the Romish Church, was constrained to add, The acts of both Longinuses are manifestly false; and the circumstances they allege mutually refute each other.”
   It would appear that the name Longinus has been formed from the Greek λόγχη, spear: Longinus being the Latin form of λόγχιμνος,spear-man. Thus, St Longinus is found to be a similar saint to the Sancta Veronica, reported by Brydone. “The Greeks,” continues Moreri, celebrate the martyrdom of Longinus, the centurion, on the 16th of October, the Latins on the 15th of March, and the Copts on the 1st of November. The martyrdom of Longinus, the soldier, is not acknowledged by the Greeks; but the Latins commemorate it on different days; some on the 15th of March, some on the 1st of September, others on the 22nd of November; or 11th of December.” We thus see how little this offspring of credulity and superstition merits the attention of the readers of the Gospel.Granville Penn’s Annotations.
Since their prayers, whenever they call on God, rest on such intercessors, what, I ask, will they ever be able to obtain? But they who despise Christ, and seek the intercessions of the dead, deserve that the devil should drive them to ghosts and phantoms.

And immediately there came out blood and water. Some men have deceived themselves by imagining that this was a miracle; for it is natural that the blood, when it is congealed, should lose its red color, and come to resemble water. It is well known also that water is contained in the membrane which immediately adjoins the intestines. What has led them astray is, that the Evangelist takes so much pains to explain that blood flowed along with the water, as if he were relating something unusual and contrary to the order of nature. But he had quite a different intention; namely, to accommodate his narrative to the passages of Scripture which he immediately subjoins, and more especially that believers might infer from it what he states elsewhere, that Christ came with water and blood, (1 John 5:6.) By these words he means that Christ brought the true atonement and the true washing; for, on the one hand, forgiveness of sins and justification, and, on the other hand, the sanctification of the soul, were prefigured in the Law by those two symbols, sacrifices and washings. In sacrifices, blood atoned for sins, and was the ransom for appeasing the wrath of God. Washings were the tokens of true holiness, and the remedies for taking away uncleanness and removing the pollutions of the flesh.

That faith may no longer rest on these elements, John declares that the fulfillment of both of these graces is in Christ; and here he presents to us a visible token of the same fact. The sacraments which Christ has left to his Church have the same design; for the purification and sanctification of the soul, which consists in newness of life, (Romans 6:4,) is pointed out to us in Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper is the pledge of a perfect atonement. But they differ widely from the ancient figures of the Law; for they exhibit Christ as being present, whereas the figures of the Law pointed out that he was still at a distance. For this reason I do not object to what Augustine says, that our sacraments have flowed from Christ’s side; for, when Baptism and the Lord’s Supper lead us to Christ’s side, that by faith we may draw from it, as from a fbuntain, what they represent, then are we truly washed from our pollutions, and renewed to a holy life, and then do we truly live before God, redeemed from death, and delivered from condemnation.

36. A bone of him shall not be broken. This citation is made from Exodus 12:46, and Numbers 9:12, where Moses treats of the paschal lamb. Note, Moses takes for granted that that lamb was a figure of the true and only sacrifice, by which the Church was to be redeemed. Nor is this inconsistent with the fact, that it was sacrificed as the memorial of a redemption which had been already made; for, while God intended that it should celebrate the former favor, he also intended that it should exhibit the spiritual deliverance of the Church, which was still future. On that account Paul, without any hesitation, applies to Christ the rule which Moses lays down about eating the lamb:

for even Christ, our Passover, is sacred for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with, the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,
(1 Corinthians 5:7, 8.)

From this analogy, or resemblance, faith derives no ordinary advantage, for, in all the ceremonies of the Law, it beholds the salvation which has been manifested in Christ. Such is also the design of the Evangelist John, when he says that Christ was not only the pledge of our redemption, but also the price of it, because in him we see accomplished what was formerly exhibited to the ancient people under the figure of the passover. Thus also the Jews are reminded that they ought to seek in Christ the substance of all those things which the Law prefigured, but did not actually accomplish.

37. They shall look on him whom they pierced. This passage is violently tortured by those who endeavor to explain it literally as referring to Christ. Nor is this the purpose for which the Evangelist quotes ib but rather to show that Christ is that God who formerly complained, by Zechariah, that the Jews had pierced his heart, (Zechariah 12:10) Now, God speaks there after the manner of men, declaring that He is wounded by the sins of his people, and especially by their obstinate contempt of his word, in the same manner as a mortal man receives a deadly wound, when his heart is pierced; as he says, elsewhere, that his Spirit was deeply grieved, 188188     Here Calvin’s Latin Copy refers to the words of our blessed Lord in Matthew 26:38, My soul is sorrowful, even to death; but the French Copy refers to Isaiah 63:10, But they rebelled, and Grieved His Holy Spirit. — Ed. Now, as Christ is God manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16,) John says that in his visible flesh was plainly accomplished what his Divine Majesty had endured from the Jews, so far as it was capable of enduring; not that God can be at all affected by the outrages of men, or that the reproaches which are cast at him from the earth ever reach him, but because by this mode of expression he intended to declare with what enormous sacrilege the wickedness of men is chargeable, when it rises in rebellion against heaven. What was done by the hand of a Roman soldier the ]Evangelist John justly imputes to the Jews; as they are elsewhere said to have crucified the Son of God, (Acts 2:36,) though they did not lay a finger on his body.

A question now arises as to this passage taken from the prophet, 189189     “On fait une question sur ce passage du prophete.” Does God promise to the Jews repentance to salvation, or, does he threaten that he will come as an avenger? For my own part, when I closely examine the passage, I think that it includes both; namely, that out of a worthless and unprincipled nation God will gather a remnant for salvation, and that, by his dreadful vengeance, he will show to despisers who it is with whom they have to do; for we know that they were wont to treat the prophets as insolently as if the prophets had told nothing but fables, and had received no commission from God. God declares that they will not pass unpunished, for he will at length maintain his cause.

38. Joseph of Arimathea besought Pilate. John now relates by whom, and in what place, and with what magnificence, Christ was buried. He mentions two persons who buried Christ; namely, Joseph and Nicodemus, the former of whom requested Pilate to give him the dead body, which otherwise would have been exposed to the lawless violence of the soldiers. Matthew (Matthew 27:57) says, that he was a rich man, and Luke (Luke 23:50) says, that he was a counsellor; that is, he held the rank of a senator. As to Nicodemus, we have seen, in the Third Chapter of this Gospel, that he held an honorable rank among his own countrymen; and that he was also rich, may be easily inferred from the great expense which he laid out in procuring this mixture.

Till now, therefore, riches had prevented them from professing to be the disciples of Christ, and might afterwards have no less influence in keeping them from making a profession so much hated and abhorred. The Evangelist expressly says, that Joseph has formerly been kept back by this fear from venturing to declare openly that he was a disciple of Christ; and as to Nicodemus, he repeats what we have already seen, that he came to Jesus secretly, and by night, (John 3:2 and John 7:50.) Whence, therefore, do they derive such heroic magnanimity that, when affairs are at the lowest ebb, they fearlessly come forth to public view? I say nothing of the great and evident danger which they must have incurred; but the most important point is, that they did not scruple to place themselves in a state of perpetual warfare with their own nation. It is therefore certain that this was effected by a heavenly impulse, so that they who, through, fear, did not render the honor due to him while he was alive, now run to his dead body, as if they had become new men.

They bring their spices to embalm the body of Christ; but they would never have done so, if they had been perfumed with the sweet sayour of his death. This shows the truth of what Christ had said,

Unless a grain of corn die, it remaineth alone;
but when it is dead, it bringeth forth much fruit,
(John 12:24.)

For here we have a striking proof that his death was more quickening than his life; and so great was the efficacy of that sweet sayour which the death of Christ conveyed to the minds of those two men, that it quickly extinguished all the passions belonging to the flesh. So long as ambition and the love of money reigned in thenb the grace of Christ had no charms for them; but now they begin to disrelish the whole world.

Besides, let us learn that their example points out to us what we owe to Christ. Those two men, as a testimony of their faith, not only took down Christ from the cross with great hazard, but boldly carried him to the grave. Our slothfulness will be base and shameful if, now that he reigns in the heavenly glory, we withhold from him the confession of our faith. So much the less excusable is the wickedness of those who, though they now deny Christ by base hypocrisy, plead in his behalf the example of Nicodemus. In one thing, I admit, they resemble him, that they endeavor, as far as lies in their power, to bury Christ; but the time for burying is past, since he hath ascended to the right hand of the Father, that he may reign gloriously over angels and men, and that every tongue may proclaim his dominion, (Philippians 2:9, 10.)

Secretly, through fear of the Jews. As this fear is contrasted with the holy boldness which the Spirit of the Lord wrought in the heart of Joseph, there is reason to believe that it was not free from blame. Not that all fear, by which believers guard against tyrants and enemies of the Church, is faulty, but because the weakness of faith is manifested, whenever the confession of faith is withheld through fear. We ought always to consider what the Lord commands, and how far he bids us advance. He who stops in the middle of the course shows that he does not trust in God, and he who sets a higher value on his own life than on the command of God is without excuse.

Who was a disciple of Jesus. When we perceive that the Evangelist bestows on Joseph the honorable designation of a disciple, at a time when he was excessively timid, and did not venture to profess his faith before the world, we learn from it how graciously God acts towards his people, and with what fatherly kindness he forgives their offenses. And yet the false Nicodemites have no right to flatter themselves, who not only keep their faith concealed within their own breast, but, by pretending to give their consent to wicked superstitions, do all that is in their power to deny that they are disciples of Christ.

40. As the custom of the Jews is to bury. When Christ had endured extreme ignominy on the cross, God determined that his burial should be honourable, that it might serve as a preparation for the glory of his resurrection. The money expended on it by Nicodemus and Joseph is very great, and may be thought by some to be superfluous; but we ought to consider the design of God, who even led them, by his Spirit, to render this honor to his own Son, that, by the sweet savor of his grave he might take away our dread of the cross. But those things which are cut of the ordinary course ought not to be regarded as an example.

Besides, the Evangelist expressly states that he was buried according to the custom of the Jews. By these words he informs us that this was one of the ceremonies of the Law; for the ancient people, who did not receive so clear a statement of the resurrection, and who had not such a demonstration and pledge of it as we have in Christ, needed such aids to support them, that they might firmly believe and expect the coming of the Mediator 190190     “Lt, venue du Messias;” — “the coming of the Messiah.” We ought, therefore, to attend to the distinction between us, who have been enlightened by the brightness of the Gospel, and the rather, to whom the figures supplied the absence of Christ. This is the reason why allowance could then be made for a greater pomp of ceremonies, which, at the present day, would not be free from blame; for those who now bury the dead at so great an expense do not, strictly speaking, bury dead men, but rather, as far as lies in their power, draw down from heaven Christ himself, the King of life, and lay him in the tomb, for his glorious resurrection 191191     “Sa resurrection glorieuse.” abolished those ancient ceremonies.

Among the heathen, too, there was great anxiety and ceremony in burying the dead, which unquestionably derived its origin from the ancient Fathers of the Jews, 192192     “Des Peres anciens des Juifs.” in the same manner as sacrifices; but, as no hope of the resurrection existed along them, they were not imitators of the Fathers, but apes of them; for the promise and word of God is, as it were, the soul, which gives life to ceremonies. Take away the word, and all the ceremonies which men observe, though outwardly they may resemble the worship of godly persons, is nothing else than foolish or mad superstition. For our part, as we have said, we ought now to maintain sobriety and moderation in this matter, for immoderate expense quenches the sweet savour of Christ’s resurrection.

41. Now, in the place where he was crucified there was a garden. This is the third point, as I have said, which ought to be observed in the history of the burial. It is related by the Evangelist for various reasons. In the first place, it did not happen by accident, but by an undoubted providence of God, that the body of Christ was buried in a new sepulchre; for although he died as all other men die, still, as he was to be the first-born from the dead, (Colossians 1:18,) and the first-fruits of them that rise, (1 Corinthians 15:20) he had a new sepulcher, in which no person had ever been laid True, Nicodemus and Joseph had a different object in view; for, in consequence of the short time that now remained till sunset, which was the commencement of the Sabbath, they looked to the convenience of the place, but, contrary to their intention God provided for his own Son a sepulchre which had not yet been used. The good men are merely gratified by the place being near at hand, that they might not violate the Sabbath; but God offers them what they did not seek, that the burial of his Son might have some token to distinguish him from the rank of other men. The local situation served also to prove the truth of his resurrection, and to throw no small light on the narrative which is contained in the following chapter.