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27. Conviction and Crucifixion
1Now when morning was come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2and they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pilate the governor.
3Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4saying, I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood. But they said, What is that to us? see thou to it. 5And he cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6And the chief priests took the pieces of silver, and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is the price of blood. 7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8Wherefore that field was called, the field of blood, unto this day. 9Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did price; 10and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
11Now Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13Then saith Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14And he gave him no answer, not even to one word: insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15Now at the feast the governor was wont to release unto the multitude one prisoner, whom they would. 16And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? 18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him up. 19And while he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21But the governor answered and said unto them, Which of the two will ye that I release unto you? And they said, Barabbas. 22Pilate saith unto them, What then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ? They all say, Let him be crucified. 23And he said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out exceedingly, saying, Let him be crucified. 24So when Pilate saw that he prevailed nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; see ye to it. 25And all the people answered and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26Then released he unto them Barabbas; but Jesus he scourged and delivered to be crucified.
27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium, and gathered unto him the whole band. 28And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29And they platted a crown of thorns and put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30And they spat upon him, and took the reed and smote him on the head. 31And when they had mocked him, they took off from him the robe, and put on him his garments, and led him away to crucify him.
32And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to go with them, that he might bear his cross.
33And they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, The place of a skull, 34they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted it, he would not drink. 35And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments among them, casting lots; 36and they sat and watched him there. 37And they set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38Then are there crucified with him two robbers, one on the right hand and one on the left. 39And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, 40and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself: if thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41In like manner also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42He saved others; himself he cannot save. He is the King of Israel; let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on him. 43He trusteth on God; let him deliver him now, if he desireth him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44And the robbers also that were crucified with him cast upon him the same reproach.
45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47And some of them stood there, when they heard it, said, This man calleth Elijah. 48And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49And the rest said, Let be; let us see whether Elijah cometh to save him. 50And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. 51And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; 52and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many. 54Now the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 55And many women were there beholding from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
57And when even was come, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 58this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded it to be given up. 59And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. 61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
62Now on the morrow, which is the day after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together unto Pilate, 63saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, After three days I rise again. 64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest haply his disciples come and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: and the last error will be worse than the first. 65Pilate said unto them, Ye have a guard: go, make it as sure as ye can. 66So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, the guard being with them.
The Crucifixion; The Death of Christ.
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
We have here, at length, an account of the death of Christ, and several remarkable passages that attended it.
I. The manner how he breathed his last (v. 50); between the third and the sixth hour, that is, between nine and twelve o'clock, as we reckon, he was nailed to the cross, and soon after the ninth hour, that is, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, he died. That was the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, and the time when the paschal lamb was killed; and Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us and offered himself in the evening of the world a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour. It was at that time of the day, that the angel Gabriel delivered to Daniel that glorious prediction of the Messiah, Dan. ix. 21, 24, &c. And some think that from that very time when the angel spoke it, to this time when Christ died, was just seventy weeks, that is, four hundred and ninety years to a day, to an hour; as the departure of Israel out of Egypt was at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day, Exod. xii. 41.
Two things are here noted concerning the manner of Christ's dying.
1. That he cried with a loud voice, as before, v. 46. Now,
(1.) This was a sign, that, after all his pains and fatigues, his life was whole in him, and nature strong. The voice of dying men is one of the first things that fails; with a panting breath and a faltering tongue, a few broken words are hardly spoken, and more hardly heard. But Christ, just before he expired, spoke like a man in his full strength, to show that his life was not forced from him, but was freely delivered by him into his Father's hands, as his own act and deed. He that had strength to cry thus when he died, could have got loose from the arrest he was under, and have bid defiance to the powers of death; but to show that by the eternal Spirit he offered himself, being the Priest as well as the Sacrifice, he cried with a loud voice.
(2.) It was significant. This loud voice shows that he attacked our spiritual enemies with an undaunted courage, and such a bravery of resolution as bespeaks him hearty in the cause and daring in the encounter. He was now spoiling principalities and powers, and in this loud voice he did, as it were, shout for mastery, as one mighty to save, Isa. lxiii. 1. Compare with this, Isa. lxxii. 13, 14. He now bowed himself with all his might, as Samson did, when he said, Let me die with the Philistines, Judg. xvi. 30. Animamque in vulnere ponit—And lays down his life. His crying with a loud voice when he died, signified that his death should be published and proclaimed to all the world; all mankind being concerned in it, and obliged to take notice of it. Christ's loud cry was like a trumpet blown over the sacrifices.
2. That then he yielded up the ghost. This is the usual periphrasis of dying; to show that the Son of God upon the cross did truly and properly die by the violence of the pain he was put to. His soul was separated from his body, and so his body was left really and truly dead. It was certain that he did die, for it was requisite that he should die; thus it was written, both in the close rolls of the divine counsels, and in the letters patent of the divine predictions, and therefore thus it behoved him to suffer. Death being the penalty for the breach of the first covenant (Thou shalt surely die), the Mediator of the new covenant must make atonement by means of death, otherwise no remission, Heb. ix. 15. He had undertaken to make his soul an offering for sin; and he did it, when he yielded up the ghost, and voluntarily resigned it.
II. The miracles that attended his death. So many miracles being wrought by him in his life, we might well expect some to be wrought concerning him at his death, for his name was called Wonderful. Had he been fetched away as Elijah in a fiery chariot, that had itself been miracle enough; but, being sent for away by an ignominious cross, it was requisite that his humiliation should be attended with some signal emanations of the divine glory.
1. Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain. This relation is ushered in with Behold; "Turn aside, and see this great sight, and be astonished at it." Just as our Lord Jesus expired, at the time of the offering of the evening-sacrifice, and upon a solemn day, when the priests were officiating in the temple, and might themselves be eyewitnesses of it, the veil of the temple was rent by an invisible power; that veil which parted between the holy place and the most holy. They had condemned him for saying, I will destroy this temple, understanding it literally; now by this specimen of his power he let them know that, if he had pleased, he could have made his words good. In this, as in others of Christ's miracles, there was a mystery.
(1.) It was in correspondence with the temple of Christ's body, which was now in the dissolving. This was the true temple, in which dwelt the fulness of the Godhead; when Christ cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost, and so dissolved that temple, the literal temple did, as it were, echo to that cry, and answer the stroke, by rending its veil. Note, Death is the rending of the veil of flesh which interposes between us and the holy of holies; the death of Christ was so, the death of true Christians is so.
(2.) It signified the revealing and unfolding of the mysteries of the Old Testament. The veil of the temple was for concealment, as was that on the face of Moses, therefore it was called the veil of the covering; for it was highly penal for any person to see the furniture of the most holy place, except the High-Priest, and he but once a year, with great ceremony and through a cloud of smoke; all which signified the darkness of that dispensation; 2 Cor. iii. 13. But now, at the death of Christ, all was laid open, the mysteries were unveiled, so that now he that runs may read the meaning of them. Now we see that the mercy-seat signified Christ the great Propitiation; the pot of manna signified Christ the Bread of life. Thus we all with open face behold, as in a glass (which helps the sight, as the veil hindered it), the glory of the Lord. Our eyes see the salvation.
(3.) It signified the uniting of Jew and Gentile, by the removing of the partition wall between them, which was the ceremonial law, by which the Jews were distinguished from all other people (as a garden enclosed), were brought near to God, while others were made to keep their distance. Christ, in his death, repealed the ceremonial law, cancelled that hand-writing of ordinances, took it out of the way, nailed it to his cross, and so broke down the middle wall of partition; and by abolishing those institutions abolished the enmity, and made in himself of twain one new man (as two rooms are made one, and that large and lightsome, by taking down the partition), so making peace, Eph. ii. 14-16. Christ died, to rend all dividing veils, and to make all his one, John xvii. 21.
(4.) It signified the consecrating and laying open of a new and living way to God. The veil kept people off from drawing near to the most holy place, where the Shechinah was. But the rending of it signified that Christ by his death opened a way to God, [1.] For himself. This was the great day of atonement, when our Lord Jesus, as the great High-Priest, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, entered once for all into the holy place; in token of which the veil was rent, Heb. ix. 7, &c. Having offered his sacrifice in the outer court, the blood of it was now to be sprinkled upon the mercy-seat within the veil; wherefore lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; for the King of glory, the Priest of glory, shall come in. Now was he caused to draw near, and made to approach, Jer. xxx. 21. Though he did not personally ascend into the holy place not made with hands till above forty days after, yet he immediately acquired a right to enter, and had a virtual admission. [2.] For us in him: so the apostle applies it, Heb. x. 19, 20. We have boldness to enter into the holiest, by that new and living way which he has consecrated for us through the veil. He died, to bring us to God, and, in order thereunto, to rend that veil of guilt and wrath which interposed between us and him, to take away the cherubim and flaming sword, and to open the way to the tree of life. We have free access through Christ to the throne of grace, or mercy-seat, now, and to the throne of glory hereafter, Heb. iv. 16; vi. 20. The rending of the veil signified (as that ancient hymn excellently expresses it), that, when Christ had overcome the sharpness of death, he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Nothing can obstruct or discourage our access to heaven, for the veil is rent; a door is opened in heaven, Rev. iv. 1.
2. The earth did quake; not only mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified, but the whole land, and the adjacent countries. This earthquake signified two things.
(1.) The horrible wickedness of Christ's crucifiers. The earth, by trembling under such a load, bore its testimony to the innocency of him that was persecuted, and against the impiety of those that persecuted him. Never did the whole creation, before, groan under such a burthen as the Son of God crucified, and the guilty wretches that crucified him. The earth quaked, as if it feared to open its mouth to receive the blood of Christ, so much more precious than that of Abel, which it had received, and was cursed for it (Gen. iv. 11, 12); and as if it fain would open its mouth, to swallow up those rebels that put him to death, as it had swallowed up Dathan and Abiram for a much less crime. When the prophet would express God's great displeasure against the wickedness of the wicked, he asks, Shall not the land tremble for this? Amos viii. 8.
(2.) The glorious achievements of Christ's cross. This earthquake signified the mighty shock, nay, the fatal blow, now given to the devil's kingdom. So vigorous was the assault Christ now made upon the infernal powers, that (as of old, when he went out of Seir, when he marched through the field of Edom) the earth trembled, Judg. v. 4; Ps. lxviii. 7, 8. God shakes all nations, when the Desire of all nations is to come; and there is a yet once more, which perhaps refers to this shaking, Hag. ii. 6, 21.
3. The rocks rent; the hardest and firmest part of the earth was made to feel this mighty shock. Christ had said, that if the children should cease to cry Hosanna, the stones would immediately cry out; and now, in effect, they did so, proclaiming the glory of the suffering Jesus, and themselves more sensible of the wrong done him than the hard-hearted Jews were, who yet will shortly be glad to find a hole in the rocks, and a cleft in the ragged rocks, to hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne. See Rev. vi. 16; Isa. ii. 21. But when God's fury is poured out like fire, the rocks are thrown down by him, Nah. i. 6. Jesus Christ is the Rock; and the rending of these rocks, signified the rending of that rock, (1.) That in the clefts of it was may be hid, as Moses in the cleft of the rock at Horeb, that there we may behold the glory of the Lord, as he did, Exod. xxxiii. 22. Christ's dove is said to be hid in the clefts of the rock (Cant. ii. 14), that is, as some make the allusion, sheltered in the wounds of our Lord Jesus, the Rock rent. (2.) That from the cleft of it rivers of living water may flow, and follow us in this wilderness, as from the rock which Moses smote (Exod. xvii. 6), and which God clave (Ps. lxxviii. 15); and that rock was Christ, 1 Cor. x. 4. When we celebrate the memorial of Christ's death, our hard and rocky hearts must be rent—the heart, and not the garments. That heart is harder than a rock, that will not yield, that will not melt, where Jesus Christ is evidently set forth crucified.
4. The graves were opened. This matter is not related so fully as our curiosity would wish; for the scripture was not intended to gratify that; it should seem, that same earthquake that rent the rocks, opened the graves, and many bodies of saints which slept, arose. Death to the saints is but the sleep of the body, and the grave the bed it sleeps in; they awoke by the power of the Lord Jesus, and (v. 53) came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into Jerusalem, the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now here,
(1.) We may raise many enquiries concerning it, which we cannot resolve: as, [1.] Who these saints were, that did arise. Some think, the ancient patriarchs, that were in such care to be buried in the land of Canaan, perhaps in the believing foresight of the advantage of this early resurrection. Christ had lately proved the doctrine of the resurrection from the instance of the patriarchs (ch. xxii. 32), and here was a speedy confirmation of his argument. Others think, these that arose were modern saints, such as had been Christ in the flesh, but died before him; as his father Joseph, Zecharias, Simeon, John Baptist, and others, that had been known to the disciples, while they lived, and therefore were the fitter to be witnesses to them in an apparition after. What if we should suppose that they were the martyrs, who in the Old-Testament times had sealed the truths of God with their blood, that were thus dignified and distinguished? Christ particularly points at them as his forerunners, ch. xxiii. 35. And we find (Rev. xx. 4, 5), that those who were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, arose before the rest of the dead. Sufferers with Christ shall first reign with him. [2.] It is uncertain whether (as some think) they arose to life, now at the death of Christ, and disposed of themselves elsewhere, but did not go into the city till after his resurrection; or whether (as others think), though their sepulchres (which the Pharisees had built and varnished, ch. xxiii. 29), and so made remarkable, were shattered now by the earthquake (so little did God regard that hypocritical respect), yet they did not revive and rise till after the resurrection; only, for brevity-sake, it is mentioned here, upon the mention of the opening of the graves, which seems more probable. [3.] Some think that they arose only to bear witness of Christ's resurrection to those to whom they appeared, and, having finished their testimony, retired to their graves again. But it is more agreeable, both to Christ's honour and theirs, to suppose, though we cannot prove, that they arose as Christ did, to die no more, and therefore ascended with him to glory. Surely on them who did partake of his first resurrection, a second death had no power. [4.] To whom they appeared (not to all the people it is certain, but to many), whether enemies or friends, in what manner they appeared, how often, what they said and did, and how they disappeared, are secret things which belong not to us; we must not covet to be wise above what is written. The relating of this matter so briefly, is a plain intimation to us, that we must not look that way for a confirmation of our faith; we have a more sure word of prophecy. See Luke xvi. 31.
(2.) Yet we may learn many good lessons from it. [1.] That even those who lived and died before the death and resurrection of Christ, had saving benefit thereby, as well as those who have lived since; for he was the same yesterday that he is to-day, and will be for ever, Heb. xiii. 8. [2.] That Jesus Christ, by dying, conquered, disarmed, and disabled, death. These saints that arose, were the present trophies of the victory of Christ's cross over the powers of death, which he thus made a show of openly. Having by death destroyed him that had the power of death, he thus led captivity captive, and gloried in these re-taken prizes, in them fulfilling that scripture, I will ransom them from the power of the grave. [3.] That, in virtue of Christ's resurrection, the bodies of all the saints shall, in the fulness of time, rise again. This was an earnest of the general resurrection at the last day, when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And perhaps Jerusalem is therefore called here the holy city, because the saints, at the general resurrection, shall enter into the new Jerusalem; which will be indeed what the other was in name and type only, the holy city, Rev. xxi. 2. [4.] That all the saints do, by the influence of Christ's death, and in conformity to it, rise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. They are raised up with him to a divine and spiritual life; they go into the holy city, become citizens of it, have their conversation in it, and appear to many, as persons not of this world.
III. The conviction of his enemies that were employed in the execution (v. 54), which some make no less than another miracle, all things considered. Observe,
1. The persons convinced; the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus; a captain and his company, that were set on the guard on this occasion. (1.) They were soldiers, whose profession is commonly hardening, and whose breasts are commonly not so susceptible as some others of the impressions either of fear or pity. But there is no spirit too big, too bold, for the power of Christ to break and humble. (2.) They ware Romans, Gentiles, who knew not the scriptures which were now fulfilled; yet they only were convinced. A sad presage of the blindness that should happen to Israel, when the gospel should be sent to the Gentiles, to open their eyes. Here were the Gentiles softened, and the Jews hardened. (3.) They were the persecutors of Christ, and those that but just before had reviled him, as appears Luke xxiii. 36. How soon can God, by the power he has over men's consciences, alter their language, and fetch confessions of his truths, to his own glory, out of the mouths of those that have breathed nothing but threatenings, and slaughter, and blasphemies!
2. The means of their conviction; they perceived the earthquake, which frightened them, and saw the other things that were done. These were designed to assert the honour of Christ in his sufferings, and had their end on these soldiers, whatever they had on others. Note, The dreadful appearances of God in his providence sometimes work strangely for the conviction and awakening of sinners.
3. The expressions of this conviction, in two things.
(1.) The terror that was struck upon them; they feared greatly; feared lest they should have been buried in the darkness, or swallowed up in the earthquake. Note, God can easily frighten the most daring of his adversaries, and make them know themselves to be but men. Guilt puts men into fear. He that, when iniquity abounds, doth not fear always, with a fear of caution, when judgments are abroad, cannot but fear greatly, with a fear of amazement; whereas there are those who will not fear, though the earth be removed, Ps. xlvi. 1, 2.
(2.) The testimony that was extorted from them; they said, Truly this was the Son of God; a noble confession; Peter was blessed for it, ch. xvi. 16, 17. It was the great matter now in dispute, the point upon which he and his enemies had joined issue, ch. xxvi. 63, 64. His disciples believed it, but at this time durst not confess it; our Saviour himself was tempted to question it, when he said, Why hast thou forsaken me? The Jews, now that he was dying upon the cross, looked upon it as plainly determined against him, that he was not the Son of God, because he did not come down from the cross. And yet now this centurion and the soldiers make this voluntary confession of the Christian faith, Truly this was the Son of God. The best of his disciples could not have said more at any time, and at this time they had not faith and courage enough to say thus much. Note, God can maintain and assert the honour of a truth then when it seems to be crushed, and run down; for great is the truth, and will prevail.
IV. The attendance of his friends, that were witnesses of his death, v. 55, 56. Observe,
1. Who they were; many women who followed him from Galilee. Not his apostles (only elsewhere we find John by the cross, John xix. 26), their hearts failed them, they durst not appear, for fear of coming under the same condemnation. But here were a company of women, some would have called them silly women, that boldly stuck to Christ, when the rest of his disciples had basely deserted him. Note, Even those of the weaker sex are often, by the grace of God, made strong in faith, that Christ's strength may be made perfect in weakness. There have been women martyrs, famous for courage and resolution in Christ's cause. Now of these women it is said, (1.) That they had followed Jesus from Galilee, out of the great love they had to him, and a desire to hear him preach; otherwise, the males only were obliged to come up, to worship at the feast. Now having followed him such a long journey as from Galilee to Jerusalem, eighty or a hundred miles, they resolved not to forsake him now. Note, Our former services and sufferings for Christ should be an argument with us, faithfully to persevere to the end in our attendance on him. Have we followed him so far and so long, done so much, and laid out so much for him, and shall we forsake him now? Gal. iii. 3, 4. (2.) That they ministered to him of their substance, for his necessary subsistence. How gladly would they have ministered to him now, if they might have been admitted! But, being forbidden that, they resolved to follow him. Note, When we are restrained from doing what we would, we must do what we can, in the service of Christ. Now that he is in heaven, though he is out of the reach of our ministration, he is not out of the reach of our believing views. (3.) Some of them are particularly named; for God will honour those that honour Christ. They were such as we have several times met with before, and it was their praise, that we meet with them to the last.
2. What they did; they were beholding afar off.
(1.) They stood afar off. Whether their own fear or their enemies' fury kept them at a distance, is not certain; however, it was an aggravation of the sufferings of Christ, that his lovers and friends stood aloof from his sore, Ps. xxxviii. 11; Job xix. 13. Perhaps they might have come nearer, if they would; but good people, when they are in sufferings, must not think it strange, if some of their best friends be shy of them. When Paul's danger was imminent, no man stood by him, 2 Tim. iv. 16. If we be thus looked strangely upon, remember, our Master was so before us.
(2.) They were there beholding, in which they showed a concern and kindness for Christ; when they were debarred from doing any other office of love to him, they looked a look of love toward him. [1.] It was a sorrowful look; they looked unto him who was now pierced, and mourned; and no doubt, were in bitterness for him. We may well imagine how it cut them to the heart, to see him in this torment; and what floods of tears it fetched from their eyes. Let us with an eye of faith behold Christ and him crucified, and be affected with that great love wherewith he loved us. But, [2.] It was no more than a look; they beheld him, but they could not help him. Note, When Christ was in his sufferings, the best of his friends were but spectators and lookers on, even the angelic guards stood trembling by, saith Mr. Norris, for he trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him; so his own arm wrought salvation.