Matthew 26:36-75; 27:1-60
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew
At that time, Jesus came with His disciples into a country place which is called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then He saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here and watch with Me. And going a little further, He fell upon His face, praying and saying: My Father, if it be. possible, let this chalice pass from Me: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt. And He cometh to His disciples, and findeth them asleep. And He saith to Peter: What! Could you not watch one hour with Me? Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, He went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done. And He cometh again, and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them, He went again: and He prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word. Then He cometh to His disciples, and saith to them: Sleep ye now and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go: behold, he is at hand that will betray Me.
As He yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people. And he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is He: hold Him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed Him. And Jesus said to Him: Friend, whereto art thou come? Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus, and held Him. And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword, and striking the servant of the high priest, cut off his ear. Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place; for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask My Father, and He will give Me presently more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done? In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes: You are come out, as it were to a robber, with swords and clubs to apprehend Me. I sat daily with you, teaching in the Temple, and you laid not hands on Me. Now all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disciples, all leaving Him, fled.
But they holding Jesus led Him to Caiphas the high priest, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled. And Peter followed Him afar off, even to the court of the high priest. And going in, he sat with the servants, that he might see the end. And the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put Him to death. And they found not, whereas many false witnesses had come in. And last of all there came two false witnesses; and they said: This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and after three days to rebuild it. And the high priest, rising up, said to Him: Answerest Thou nothing to the things which these witness against Thee? But Jesus held His peace. And the high priest said to Him: I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us if Thou be the Christ the Son of God. Jesus saith to him: Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his garments, saying: He hath blasphemed; what further need have we of witness? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. What think you? But they answering, said: He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in His face and buffeted Him; and others struck His face with the palms of their hands, saying: Prophesy unto us, O Christ, who is he that struck Thee?
But Peter sat without in the court, and there came to him a servant-maid, saying: Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean. But he denied before them all, saying: I know not what thou sayest. And as he went out of the gate, another maid saw him, and she said to them that were there: This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath: I know not the man. And after a little while, they came that stood by and said to Peter: Surely thou also art one of them; for even thy speech doth discover thee. Then he began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man; and immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus which He had said: Before the cock crow, thou wilt deny Me thrice. And going forth, he wept bitterly.
And when morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the people took counsel against Jesus, that they might put Him to death. And they brought Him bound, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, who betrayed Him, seeing that He was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What is that to us? Look thou to it. And casting down the pieces of silver in the Temple, he departed; and went and hanged himself with an halter. But the chief priests having taken the pieces of silver, said: It is not lawful to put them into the corbona, because it is the price of blood. And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, to be a burying-place for strangers. For this cause that field was called Haceldama, that is The field of blood, even to this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Isræl; and they gave them unto the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed to me.
And Jesus stood before the governor asked Him, saying: Art Thou the King of the Jews? Jesus saith to him: Thou sayest it. And when He was accused by the chief priests and ancients, He answered nothing. Then Pilate saith to Him: Dost not Thou hear how great testimonies they allege against Thee? And He answered to him never a word, so that the governor wondered exceedingly. Now upon the solemn day the governor was accustomed to release to the people one prisoner, whom they would. And he had then a notorious prisoner that was called Barabbas. They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said: .Whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas, or .Jesus that is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him. And as he was sitting in the place of judgment his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him. But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away. And the governor answering, said to them: Whether will you of the two to be released unto you? But they said: Barabbas. Pilate saith to them: What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ? They say all: Let Him be crucified. The governor said to them: Why, what evil hath He done? But they cried out the more, saying: Let Him be crucified. And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, taking water washed his hands before the people, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it. And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and upon our children. Then he released to them Barabbas: and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him unto them to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band; and stripping Him they put a scarlet cloak about Him; and platting a crown of thorns they put it upon His head and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews. And spitting upon Him, they took the reed and struck His head. And after they had mocked Him, they took off the cloak from Him, and put on Him His own garments, and led Him away to crucify Him.
And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon: him they forced to take up His cross. And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place of Calvary. And they gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall: and when He had tasted He would not drink. And after they had crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: They divided My garments among them, and upon My vesture they cast lots. And they sat and watched Him. And they put over His head His cause written: This is Jesus the King of the Jews. Then were crucified with Him two thieves: one on the right hand and one on the left. And they that passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, Thou that destroyest the temple of God and in three days dost rebuild it, save Thy own self. If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: He saved others, Himself He cannot save: if He be the king of Isræl, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him; He trusted in God, let Him now deliver Him if He will have Him; for He said: I am the Son of God. And the self-same thing the thieves also that were crucified with Him reproached Him with.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? That is, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? And some that stood there and heard, said: This man calleth Elias. And immediately one of them running took a sponge and filled it with vinegar and put it on a reed and gave Him to drink. And the others said: Let be; let us see whether Elias will come to deliver Him. And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom; and the earth quaked and the rocks were rent; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many. Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God. And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him: among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the Mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded that the body should be delivered. And Joseph taking the body wrapt it up in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument and went his way.
Verse 36. Gethsemani. S. John tells us it was a garden, whither Jesus was accustomed to go with his disciples, which Judas knew. S. Luke says, he went according to his custom to the mount of Olives; i.e. where he used to spend part of the nights in prayer. Wi.
Verse 37. He began to grow sorrowful. The Greek signifies to be dispirited. S. Mark, to be in a consternation with fear: to wit, when all he was to undergo was represented to him, as well as the ingratitude of sinners. Wi.
Verse 38. My soul is sorrowful. The cause of our Lord’s grief was not the fear of suffering; since he took upon himself human nature, to suffer and to die for us; but the cause of his grief was the unhappy state of Judas, the scandal his disciples would take at his passion, the reprobation of the Jewish nation, and the destruction of the miserable Jerusalem. Our Lord also suffered himself to be thus dejected, to convince the world of the truth and reality of his human nature. S. Jerom.
Verse 39. Going a little further. S. Luke says, about a stone’s cast, kneeling down; or as here in Matt. prostrating himself. He did both. — Father, if it is possible. Which is the same, says S. Augustin, as if he said, if thou wilt, let this cup of sufferings pass from me. — Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. He that was God and man, had both a divine and a human will. He was pleased to let us know what he naturally feared, as man, and in the sensitive part of his soul; yet shews his human will had nothing contrary to his divine will, by presently adding, but not my will, but thine be done. Here, as related by S. Luke, followed his bloody sweat. Luke xxii. 43. Wi. — These words are a source of instruction for all Christians. These words inflame the breasts of confessors; the same also crown the fortitude of the martyrs. For, who could overcome the hatred of the world, the assaults of temptations, and the terrors of persecutors, unless Christ in all, and for all, had said to his eternal Father: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou willest. Let all the children of the Church then understand well these words, that when calamities violently beat upon us, we may with resignation exclaim: nevertheless, not as I will, but, &c. S. Leo the great.
Verse 41. Watch ye and pray, &c. We watch by being intent on good works, and by being solicitous that no perverse doctrine seize our hearts. Thus we must first watch, and then pray. Origen. — The spirit indeed is willing, &c. This is addressed to the disciples; that they were not to trust too much to their own courage; for although their spirit was ready to undergo any temptation, their bodies were still so weak, that they would fail, unless strengthened by prayer. S. Hilary.
Verse 44. He prayed the third time, to teach us perseverance in our prayers. Of these particulars Christ might inform his disciples afterwards; or they were revealed to them. Wi. — Our Lord prayed three different times, to obtain of his heavenly Father pardon for our past sins, defence against our present evils, and security against our future misfortunes; and that we might learn to address ourselves in prayer to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Rabanus.
Verse 45. Sleep on now. These were words spoken, as it were, ironically. The hour is come, that I am to be betrayed. Wi. — It seems more probable that he then permitted them to sleep for some time, compassionating their weakness, and leaving them undisturbed. For, it is not very probable that after the agony he had just been in, he should address his disciples ironically; so that the words in the next verse, Rise, let us go, seem to have been spoken after he had permitted them to enjoy a short repose. Jans. — S. Austin also supposes that after our Lord said, sleep ye now, he was silent for some time, and only then added, it is enough, the hour is come.
Verse 48. Judas wished to give them a sign, because Jesus had before been apprehended, and had escaped from them on account of their ignorance of his person; which on this occasion he could also have done, if such had been his pleasure. S. John Chrysostom.
Verse 49. Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed him. This kind of salutation was ordinary with the Jews. S. Luke tells us, Christ called Judas friend; and added, Is it with a kiss thou betrayest the Son of man? By what we read in S. John, these men that came with Judas, seem not to have known our Saviour: for when he asked then, whom seek you? they do not answer, thyself, but Jesus of Nazareth. They were struck with a blindness, which S. Chrysostom looks upon as done miraculously. The second miracle was, that when Christ said, I am he, they fell to the ground, as thunder-struck. The third was, let these go, by which they had no power to seize any one of his disciples. The fourth was, the healing of Malchus’s ear. Wi.
Verse 51. Drew out his sword. Peter did not comprehend the meaning of what Christ had said, Luke xxii. 36. He that hath not a sword, let him buy one, which was no more than an intimation of the approaching danger. Now Peter, or some of them, asked, and said: Lord, shall we strike? But he struck without staying for an answer. Wi.
Verse 52. Shall perish by the sword. This was not to condemn the use of the sword, when employed on a just cause, or by lawful authority. Euthymius looks upon it as a prophecy that the Jews should perish by the sword of the Romans. Wi. — Our divine Saviour would not permit this apostle to continue in his pious zeal for the safety of his Master. He says to him: put up thy sword. For he could not be unwilling to die for the redemption of man, who chose to be born for that end alone. Now, therefore, he gives power to his implacable enemies to treat him in the most cruel manner, not willing that the triumph of the cross should be in the least deferred; the dominion of the devil and man’s captivity in the least prolonged. S. Leo.
Verse 53. More than twelve legions of angels. A legion was computed about 6,000. Wi. — These would amount to 72,000; but our Lord means no more than a great number. Verse 55. In that same hour, &c. The reason why the Jewish princes
did not seize our Lord in the temple, was, because they feared the multitude; on which account Jesus retired, that he might give them an opportunity, both from the circumstances of place and time, to apprehend him: thus shewing us, that without his permission they could not so much as lay a finger upon him. The evangelist informs us in the following verse of the reason of this conduct; that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled. S. Chrys. See Luke xxii. 53.
Verse 56. All leaving him, fled away. Yet Peter and another soon followed after at a distance. S. Mark says (xiv. 51,) that a young man followed with nothing on but a linen cloth. Perhaps it was some one that upon the noise came hastily out of the neighbourhood; and when they catched hold on him, fled away naked. It is not known who he was. Wi.
Verse 57. To Caiphas. Our Saviour Christ was led in the night time, both to Annas and Caiphas: and first to Annas; (Jo. xviii. 13,) perhaps because the house of Annas was in their way; or that they had a mind to gratify the old man with the sight of Jesus, now taken prisoner and bound with ropes. Wi. — After the chief priests had bribed Judas to betray Christ, they bring him to Caiphas, not as to his judge, but as to his enemy, to insult over him: and then they began to examine him concerning his doctrine and disciples, that they might find some heads of accusation from his answers: thus they shewed that they acted contrary to common justice, in apprehending a person before they had any thing to lay to his charge. Jans. — Josephus relates that Caiphas had purchased the high priesthood for that year; although Moses, at the command of God, had ordained that a regular succession be kept up, and the son should succeed the father in the high priesthood. It is no wonder then if an iniquitous judge passed an iniquitous sentence. S. Jerom.
Verse 58. Peter followed. To wit, to the court of Caiphas, where a great many of the chief priests were met. — And another disciple. Many think this disciple was S. John himself. Wi.
Verse 60. False witnesses. But how were these men false witnesses, who affirm what we read in the gospel? That man is a false witness, who construes what is said in a sense foreign to that of the speaker. Jesus Christ spoke of the temple of his body. Our divine Saviour had said, Destroy this temple; and they affirm that he had said, I am able to destroy. Had the Jews attended sufficiently to our Saviour’s words, they would easily have perceived of what Christ was speaking, from what he there says: and in three days I will raise it up, S. Jerom. — These words of Jesus Christ are only mentioned by S. John ii. 19, who marks on what occasion and in what sense there were spoken. V.
Verse 61. This man said: I am able to destroy the temple of God. These men that gave this evidence, are called false witnesses. They relate not the true words of Christ; which were not, I can destroy, but destroy you this temple, &c. 2. Christ spoke of the temple of his body, and they of the material temple. 3. It is not unlikely that they made other additions, as well as false constructions, omitted by the evangelists. Wi.
Verse 63. I adjure thee by the living God. They hoped this might make him own himself God; for which they were for stoning him. Jo. x. 31. — S. Luke tells us, (xxii. 66,) that this question was put to Jesus, when it was day. S. Augustine thinks it was put to him first in the night, and again the next morning. We must not forget that when Christ was examined by the high priest, one of the servants standing by gave our blessed Redeemer a box on the ear, or on the face. See John xviii. 22. Wi. — Our divine Saviour as God knew perfectly well, that whatever he said would be condemned; and therefore the more Jesus was silent to what was alleged against him, the more did the high priest try to extort an answer from him, that he might have some accusation against the Lord of glory. Hence he exclaimed in that violent manner: I adjure thee, or I command thee by the living God, Exorkizw se kata tou Qeou zwntoV. The law for witnesses is to be found in Levit. v. 1; where the witness is pronounced guilty who should suppress the truth, after he has heard the fwnhn orkismou. This is the true meaning of that law, so very ill understood by many. See also Menochius, who on these very words of Leviticus says: if any one shall be called upon to say what he knows of a point that another has confirmed by oath, he shall carry his iniquity, i.e. the punishment of his iniquity, which God will inflict. M. — See 1 Kings xiv. 24. 27. Numbers v. 19. 1 Thess. v. 27. The confession or denial of a person thus interrogated was decisive. C.
Verse 64. Thou hast said it. Or, as it is in S. Mark, I am. According to S. Luke, Christ in the morning, before he answered directly, said to them: If I tell you, you will not believe me, &c. Wi.
Verse 65. The same fury that made Caiphas rise from his seat, forced him also to rend his garments, saying: he hath blasphemed. It was customary with the Jews, whenever they heard any blasphemous doctrines uttered against the majesty of the Almighty, to rend their garments in abhorrence of what was uttered. S. Jerom. — This was forbidden the high priest; (Lev. xxi. 10,) but the Pharisees allowed him to rend his clothes from the bottom, but not from the top to the breast.
Verse 66. He is guilty of death; i.e. of blasphemy, and so deserves to be stoned to death. Wi.
Verse 67. Then they spat in his face, and buffetted him, &c. Here it was that this wicked council of the Sanhedrim broke up, in order to meet again the next morning. Our blessed Saviour in the mean time was abandoned; that is, had abandoned himself for our sake, to be abused, vilified, beaten and tormented by a crew of miscreants, by all the ways and means their enraged malice could devise or invent: which S. Luke passeth over in a few words, telling us, that, blaspheming, they said many other things against him. Let us, at least, compassionate our blessed Redeemer, and cry out with the angel in the Apocalypse: thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive power and divinity, honour and glory for ever. Wi. — Behold with what accuracy the evangelist mentions every, even the most ignominious circumstance, concealing nothing, ashamed of nothing, but esteeming it his glory that the Creator of heaven and earth should suffer so much for man’s redemption. Let us continually meditate upon this; let us ever glory in this, and fix it irrevocably in our minds. S. Chrys. See Mark xiv. 65. Luke xxii. 64.
Verse 69. Peter sat without in the palace: i.e. in the open court below, where the servants had lighted a fire. There came to him a certain servant-maid, the portress, says S. John, xviii. 17. But he denied, saying: I know not what thou sayest. In S. Luke, I know him not: in S. John, I am not. The sense is the same; and Peter might use all these expressions. Wi.
Verse 71. As he went out of the gate another maid. S. Mark says, he went out before the court. By the Greek, he seems to have gone out of the court into the porch. He went from the fire, but returned thither again: for by S. John, (xviii. 25,) this second denial was at the fire. S. Luke seems to say it was a man, that spoke to him: and S. John, that they were several that spoke to him: it is likely both a girl and a man. Wi.
Verse 73. And after a little while. S. Luke says, about an hour after: this seems to have been about the time that the cocks crow the second time. — They that stood by came. S. Luke says, another man. S. John says, the cousin to him whose ear Peter cut off. It is probable not he alone, but others with him. — Peter began to curse and swear. It is in vain to pretend to excuse Peter, as if he meant that he knew not Jesus, as man; but knew him as God. They (says S. Jer.) who are for excusing Peter in this manner, accuse Christ of a lie, who foretold that he should deny him. Wi. — See how one fall draws on another, and generally a deeper: to a simple untruth is added perjury; and to this, horrible imprecations against himself. Lord, Jesus, preserve me! or, I also shall deny thee!
Verse 75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus. S. Aug. understands this rather of an interior illumination of grace: but it is likely our Saviour then might be where he saw Peter, and gave him a glance of his eye. — And going forth he wept bitterly: even daily all his life-time, say the ancient historians of his life. Wi. — S. Clement, pope, in his itinerary, relates how S. Peter was ever after accustomed to watch in prayer, from the first crow of the cock till morning, pouring forth torrents of tears, and bitterly bewailing his heinous crime. Dion. Carth. — Let us compassionate our blessed Lord under his sufferings, and in opposition to the cruel malice of his enemies, let his followers cry out with the angel in the Apocalypse: Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive power and divinity, honour and glory, for ever and ever.
Verse 1. When the morning was come. The evangelist is silent with regard to what was transacted during the night, and of the multiplied cruelties and base indignities offered to our divine Redeemer during the whole of the night; for, after he has informed us of Peter’s denial, he immediately proceeds to tell us what happened at break of day. S. Austin. — The chief priests, with the ancients and scribes, after they had wreaked their vengeance upon Jesus by the vilest treatment of his sacred person, took counsel how they might induce the governor to put him to death. In this Sanhedrim, or full council of seventy-two, they again put the question to hold a council. — Council. Caiphas, in the morning, called a full council of the Sanhedrim. They again put the question to Jesus, and commanded him to tell them if he were the Christ, and the Son of God? He owned he was. Luke xxii. 70. — Upon this they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor: lit. the president. This they did, 1. because being a festival day, they apprehended a tumult among the people. 2. To make him die a more infamous death on the cross; otherwise they might perhaps have stoned him to death, as they afterwards did S. Stephen. 3. The power of death being taken from them, they durst not well exercise it, at least, without permission from the Roman governor. Wi.
Verse 2. In the council Jesus was free; but now all the council rising up, as appears from S. Luke, and binding him, (dhtanteV auton) as one certainly guilty of death, they conduct him to Pilate. All attend to repress by their authority the people, to engage Pilate to pronounce sooner the sentence, when he saw that he was condemned by the unanimous voice of the Sanhedrim, and to hinder any one from rising in his defence. They were the more anxious, 1. because about three years before, the power of life and death had been taken from them; 2. because they wished to throw the odium of the crime on another person; and lastly, because as both Jew and Gentile were equally to benefit of Christ’s death, so both Jew and Gentile were to concur in inflicting it; and as all were to have salvation offered them through his blood, so none were to be freed from the guilt of shedding it. A.
Verse 3. Then Judas, … repenting himself. A fruitless repentance, accompanied with a new sin of despair, says S. Leo. Wi. — Perceiving that Jesus was delivered up, and remembering what our divine Saviour had said concerning his resurrection, he repented of his atrocious wickedness. Perhaps Satan, who assisted and urged him on to betray his Master, deserted him, not that he had prevailed upon the unhappy miscreant to perpetrate what he had so passionately desired. But how could Judas see that Jesus was condemned? He certainly did not see it, but foreboded in his despairing mind what would be the event. But some are of opinion that this passage is referred to Judas himself, who then became sensible of his crime, and saw his condemnation impending over his head. Origen. — For the devil does not blind his agents in such a manner, as to leave them insensible of the crime they are about to commit, till it is perpetrated. S. Chrys. — Although Judas conceived a horror at his crime, and confessed it, and made satisfaction to a certain degree by restoring the money, still many essential conditions were wanting to his repentance: 1. faith in Christ, as God, as a redeemer, as the sole justifier from sin; 2. besides this, there was also wanting hopes of pardon, as in Cain, and a love of a much injured and much offended God. Hence his grief was unavailing, like that of the damned. If Judas, says an ancient Father, had had recourse to sincere repentance, and not to the halter, there was mercy in store even for the traitor. A.
Verse 5. Hanged himself, and did not die of the quinsy, (a tumid inflammation in the throat) as some of late expound it. It is true the Greek word may sometimes signify a suffocation with grief; but it signifies also to be strangled with a rope, as Erasmus translated it. So it is in the ancient Syriac version; and the same Greek word is made use of in 2 K. xvii, as to Achitophel’s death. Wi. — To his first repentance succeeded fell despair, which the devil pursued to his eternal destruction. If the unhappy man had sought true repentance, and observed due moderation in it, (by avoiding both extremes, presumption and despair) he might have heard a forgiving Master speaking to him these consoling words: I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may be converted and still live. Origen.
Verse 6. Corbona. A place in the temple, where the people put in their gifts or offerings. Ch.
Verse 7. Burying-place. This the Pharisees did, as a shew of their charity to strangers; but their intention, according to S. Jerom, was to disgrace Jesus; thus to keep alive in the minds of the people, that he was sold by one of his own disciples, and delivered up to a disgraceful death. Dion Carth.
Verse 8. Haceldama is a Syriac word: it is not the Greek; and some conjecture, that it found its way hither from the first chapter of the Acts, v. 19. V.
Verse 9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias. Jeremy is now in all Latin copies, and the general reading of the Greek; whereas the passage is found Zachary xi. 12. Some judge it to have been in some writing of Jeremy, now lost; as S. Jerom says he found it in a writing of Jeremy, which was not canonical. Others conjecture, that Zachary had also the name of Jeremy. Others, that S. Matthew neither put Jeremy nor Zachary, but only of the prophet: and that the name of Jeremy had crept into the text. Jeremy is not in the Syrica; and S. Augustine says it was not in divers copies. — And they took the thirty pieces of silver; each of which was called an argenteus. The evangelist cites not the words, but the sense of the prophet, who was ordered to cast the pieces into the house of the Lord, and to cast them to the potter: which became true by the fact of Judas, who cast them into the temple: and with them was purchased the potter’s field. The price of him that was prized. In the prophet we read, the handsome price, spoken ironically, as the Lord did appoint me; i.e. as he had decreed. Wi.
Verse 11. Jesus stood before the governor. By comparing the four evangelists together Pilate condescended to come out to the priests, and asked them, what accusations they brought against this man? They replied first in general terms: (John xviii. 30.) If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. Take him you, said Pilate, and judge him according to your law. They answered: It is not permitted us to put any one to death. After this they accused him of raising tumults, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar; (Luke xxiii. 2; a manifest falsehood; see Matt. xxii,) and that he said, he is Christ, the king. Upon this Pilate called him into the palace before him, and said: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus owned he was: but first asked Pilate, if he said this of himself, or by the suggestion of others; which was to insinuate, that this information of his being a king came from his malicious adversaries; and that Pilate, having been so long governor, could not but know that he had never set himself up for king, nor pretended to any kingly power. However, Pilate replied somewhat peevishly: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? Jesus then told Pilate, that his kingdom was not of this world. This abundantly satisfied Pilate: who needed not trouble his head about any spiritual kingdom, or such as was not of this world. Jesus speaking of truth, Pilate asked him after a slight manner, what is truth? but perhaps, without waiting for any answer, went presently out, and told the Jews, that he found no cause nor crime in Jesus. Wi. — The Judge of every living creature was arraigned by permission of his heavenly Father, before the petty judge of Judea, and suffers himself to be interrogated by him, though every question proposed was either put out of ridicule, or some equally base motive. Origen. — Our divine Saviour confessed himself to be a king; but that he might give no umbrage either to Jew or Gentile, he at the same time declared, that his kingdom was not of this world. S. Chrys.
Verse 14. The governor wondered exceedingly at Jesus’s patience and silence: and he saw very well that it was envy that excited the Jewish priests against him. Matt. xxvii. 18. But they went on charging him, that he stirred up the people, even from Galilee to Jerusalem. Pilate hearing that he was of Galilee, laid hold on this occasion, and sent him to Herod Antipas, who was tetrarch of Galilee; and being a Jew was come up to Jerusalem at this great feast. Herod was glad to see Jesus brought to him, hoping to see him do some miracle in his presence: but finding him silent, and that he did not satisfy his curiosity, he contemned him, and ordered him to be clothed in such a garment as might make him laughed at for a fool, or a mock king; and in this dress, sent him back through the streets to Pilate. Wi. — The president admires the constancy and courage of his soul; and though, perhaps, he saw it was necessary to declare him guilty of the accusation; yet, beholding the heavenly wisdom and gravity that appeared in his countenance and the heavenly composure in which he stood, he could not conceal his admiration at his conduct. So that it seemed to him most miraculous, that a man brought to the bar, and tried for a capital crime, should stand without fear at the approach of death, which men commonly so much dread. Origen.
Verse 15. Upon the solemn day of the paschal feast, (which began the evening before) it was a custom for the governor to pardon and release to the people any one criminal whose life they should petition for: and to induce them to beg for Jesus, he put in the balance with him one Barabbas a famous malefactor, a seditious murderer, says S. Mark; a robber, or thief, says S. John. Wi. — Pilate, wishing to release the innocent Jesus, that he might not give the Jews a possibility, as he thought, of refusing his offer, puts the murderer Barabbas in competition with the innocent Lamb of God. S. John. Chrys.
Verse 19. In a dream. We must remark, that these kind of dreams were not unusual among the Gentiles, being sent by God for some just and necessary reason; as on this occasion, that there might be a public testimony from the Gentiles, of the justice and innocence of Christ. S. Jerom.
Verse 20. That they should ask Barabbas. All, therefore, that resemble the Jews in either theory or practice, desire to have Barabbas loosed to them; all, therefore, that seek after iniquity, ask for Barabbas, and put Jesus away. But all who walk in the paths of virtue, ask for Jesus, and destroy Barabbas. Pilate wishing on this occasion to shew the Jews the enormity of their crime, again puts the question, which will you have of the two? And again, What shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? But, they being enraged that Pilate should declare Jesus to be the Christ, all in the frantic fury exclaimed, Let him be crucified. Origen.
Verse 21. Which … of the two, said Pilate to them, will you have released? S. Mark tells us, that at the instigation of the priests, the people petitioned for Barabbas. It was no small disappointment to Pilate. What then, said he, shall I do with Jesus? They all answer, let him be crucified. In S. Luke, crucify him, crucify him. What evil hath he done? replied Pilate; and this he repeated thrice, according to S. Luke, xxiii. 22. — Here in order followed the cruel scourging of our blessed Saviour, which Pilate consented to, in hopes to move the people to compassion. This was executed with the utmost cruelty. For they assembled the whole band of soldiers, commonly about 600. And they made him one wound from head to foot. Then a scarlet or purple coat was thrown over his shoulders: and platting or wreathing a crown of thorns, i.e. twisting sharp thorns, with some resemblance of a crown, they violently pressed it down on his head; and struck him at their pleasure with a reed, or cane, which they had placed in his hand, instead of a sceptre; and kneeling in derision, said, Hail, king of the Jews. — When the soldiers had treated Jesus in this barbarous manner, Pilate himself presented him in this condition to the people saying, Behold the man. He imagined their fury would now be changed into pity: but they still cried out, Crucify him! crucify him! Take him you, said Pilate, and crucify him; for I find no crime in him. The Jews then answered: We have a law: and according to our law, he must die; because he hath made himself the Son of God. At this Pilate was more afraid, lest perhaps he should be of the progeny of the gods, as the Romans fancied their heroes to be. He returned back to the palace and asked Jesus again: whence art thou? Jesus gave him no direct answer, yet told him, he could have not power over him, unless it had been granted him from above. Pilate was still very desirous to set him at liberty, especially when his wife sent a message to him to have nothing to do with that just man, for that she had suffered much in a dream on his account. Matt. xxvii. 19. — The Jews perceived Pilate’s great inclination to set Jesus at liberty: they therefore tell him in plain terms, that if he doth dismiss this man, he is no friend to Cæsar: for every one, say they, that pretends to be a king, contradicts Cæsar. This moved Pilate more than any thing whatsoever, and prevailed with him both against justice and his own conscience, to condemn Jesus. He feared lest some private information might be presented against him to Tiberius Cæsar. He presently mounted the judgment-seat in a public place, and said to the Jews: behold your king. They cry out, away with him, crucify him. Shall I crucify your king? said Pilate. They reply: we have no king but Cæsar; thus renouncing their Messias. At this Pilate yielded; and (v. 24,) washed his hands, and said: I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look you to it. Wi.
Verse 24. Taken water. It was the custom of the ancients, when they wished to shew themselves innocent of any alleged crime, to take water and wash their hands in public. Remigius. — Because the element of water naturally signifies purity. See Virgil, Æneid xi. ver. 718.
Me bello è tanto digressum, et cæde recenti Attractare nefas, donec me flumine vivo Abluero.
Verse 25. All the people answered: his blood be upon us, and upon our children which continues, saith S. Jerom, to this day. Then Pilate delivered to them Jesus to be crucified. Wi. — This blasphemous prayer continues to this day, and will continue a protracted curse upon the Jews, and upon their posterity. Origen. — Behold the insanity of the Jews! Their passion and pertinacious obstinacy will not suffer them to see and understand: they draw down curses upon themselves in these terrible imprecations: his blood be upon us and upon our children. Still the God of all mercies did not literally comply with their impious prayer. For, of these children he selected some for himself; amongst the rest even Paul, and many thousands who were converted at Jerusalem. S. Chrys.
Verse 26. And having scourged Jesus. We must know that Pilate was a subject of the Roman empire; and by the Roman law it was ordained, that whoever was condemned to the cross, should previously suffer the punishment of scourging. S. Jerom. — He wished also by this apparent severity to soften the minds of the Jews, content their inveterate animosity, and this with hopes that they would in the end consent to the liberation of Jesus. V.
Verse 27. A Roman cohort properly consisted of 625 men; but they were not always complete, nor all equally strong. V.
Verse 28. A scarlet cloak. S. Mark and S. John call it purple. But these colours are frequently taken promiscuously by writers. Scarlet is a lighter, and crimson a deeper red colour. V.
Verse 29. The crowning of thorns had preceded the time, when Jesus was made over by Pilate to the Jews. As the Jews have no preterpluperfect tense, we may conjecture that those words, circumdederunt, posuerunt, are Hebraisms; for circumdederant, posuerant, they had covered him with a cloak; they had placed a crown of thorns on his head, and a reed or cane in his hand. V.
Jesus carrieth his cross to Mount Calvary, where he is nailed to it. A great darkness.
Verse 31. And led him away to crucify him. It was the custom for men condemned to die by crucifixion to carry their cross, which Jesus did through the city; but going out, or being gone out of the city, and, as it is probable, fainting under the weight of it, (his strength as man being exhausted) they forced a man of Cyrene, named Simon, perhaps a Gentile, or Cyrene, in Lybia, to carry the cross after him. S. Luke says, they laid the cross upon him to carry after Jesus; whether it were that they made Simon carry the whole cross, or whether he only bore it up behind, is not expressed. S. Luke tells us, a great crowd followed, and a number of women, who wept and lamented; to whom Christ said: weep not over me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children, on account of the punishments and miseries that will shortly happen. Wi.
Verse 32. Cyrene was the capital of a province in Africa, near Lybia. See Acts ii. 10. Some are of opinion that this Simon was a Jew; his name favours that sentiment, and there were many Jews in that province. V. — S. John says that Christ went out carrying his own cross, while the other three evangelists state that they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry it for him. Both are true: for seeing Christ unequal to the weight, they compelled the other to take it up for him; not a part only, as some painters represent, but the whole, to Mount Calvary, as Jesus Christ had carried the whole before. S. Austin. — The evangelists would not have been so particular in this part, had they not wished to inculcate, that all who desire to follow Christ, must also take up their cross and follow him. S. Jerom and Jans. — The latter says, in his Commentaries on the Gospels; as no one liked to carry the ignominious cross, the insolence of the soldiery compelled a stranger to carry it. By this we learn, that the cross is not taken up by many except with compulsion; but, when once taken up, they carry it with willingness. Jans.
Verse 33. Golgotha, i.e. the place of Calvary, of heads and skulls: perhaps, says S. Jerom, from the skulls of persons executed, and buried there. Several ancient writers would have it so called, from Adam’s skull, whom they guess to have been buried there. Some also say that a part of this mountain was called Moria, the place where Abraham was ready to have sacrificed his son Isaac. Wi. — Isaac, carrying the wood on his shoulders for the sacrifice, was a figure of Jesus Christ carrying his cross. The mountain was situated to the north-west of Jerusalem.
Verse 34. Wine … mingled with gall. The Prot. from the ordinary Greek copies, translate vinegar; but other Greek copies have wine, which S. Jerom and S. Hilary follow. And in S. Mark all copies, without exception, have wine mixed with myrrh: perhaps myrrh, from its bitterness, is here called gall. It is also observed that wine, with a mixture of myrrh, was often given to those that were to die a violent death, to comfort them, or stupefy them. Our Saviour tasted it, but would not drink it. He refused not to taste the bitterness, but would not take what might lessen his torments. Wi. — S. Mark says, mingled with myrrh; perhaps it was mixed with both, to render it as bitter as possible. S. Austin. — What S. Mark relates, he took it not, is thus explained: he took it not, so as to drink it; which S. Mat. confirms, by saying: and when he had tasted, he would not drink; (Idem,) so as to receive the support and comfort which a strengthening draft might afford.
Verse 35. They divided his garments. This was accounted with the ancients the greatest infamy. It was never done with any but the most vile and worthless wretches; with men who possessed nothing more then their garments. This they did to our blessed Saviour; a punishment they did not think the two thieves deserving of. S. Chrys.
Verse 37. This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. S. Mark has only, this is the King of the Jews; as also S. Luke. S. John, Jesus, of Nazareth, King of the Jews, which might be the whole inscription. It was the custom of the Romans to put such inscriptions with the cause of their being crucified. S. Luke and S. John tell us, it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The Jews begged of Pilate that it might be changed, or only put; He said, I am the King of the Jews: but Pilate made them this short answer: what I have written, I have written. Wi. — This title was nailed over the head of our expiring Redeemer, by divine Providence; that the Jews might still be convinced, that with all their opposition, they must acknowledge him for their King, whom they had condemned to so cruel a death; and that so far from lessening his empire and regal power, they rather increased it. Remigius.
Verse 38. Two robbers, or thieves, and Jesus in the midst; as if he had been the greatest malefactor of the three. Wi.
Verse 39 They … blasphemed, reviled, and insulted him with words and gestures. Wi.
Verse 40. If thou be the Son of God. Behold these children of Satan, how they imitate the language of their father. That wicked fiend, tempting our divine Saviour, exclaimed, “if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:” and these his children say, “if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross:” but, on the other hand, Jesus will not descend from the hard wood of the cross, because he is the Son of God; for, being God, he descended on earth, took upon himself human nature, to die thus for those who crucified him. S. John Chrys.
Verse 42. If he be the king of Israel. Pilate having written on the inscription set upon the cross, that Christ was the king of Israel, the Jews endeavoured to persuade him to remove or alter it; but Pilate gave them for answer, according to S. John, “what I have written, I have written.” The Jews, therefore, wishing to shew that he was not their king, said with insulting scorn, “if he be the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross,” (S. Chrys.) “and we will believe him.” Falsehood and deceit are stamped upon these words of the Jewish priests; for, whether is it more difficult to descend from his cross, being yet alive, or, being dead, to raise himself from the tomb? He rose again, and you did not believe; had he descended from the cross, you would have been equally incredulous. S. Jerom.
Verse 43. If he will have him: lit. if he will him. In the style of the Scriptures, to will, is to love, or be pleased with any one; and so it is applied, Psalm xxi. 9, from whence these words are taken. See also 1 Kings xviii. 22. Wi.
Verse 44. And the same thing the thieves also: i.e. one of them, the other being converted, as we find Luke xxiii. 39. Wi. — S. Ambrose, S. Chrysostom, S. Jerom, and Ven. Bede say, that at first both of the thieves blasphemed; but one of them seeing the wonderful things that happened, viz. that the sun was darkened, the rocks split asunder, &c. was terrified and converted, he believed in Jesus, and atoned for his former evil language, by praying to him as to his God. Dion. Carth.
Verse 45. From the sixth hour. S. Mark says, it was the third hour, and they crucified him. S. John says, it was about the sixth hour, when Jesus was condemned. To reconcile these expressions, we may take notice, that the third greater hour lasted till the sixth hour; and so S. Mark calls it the third hour, because the third great hour (which contained three lesser hours) did not end till mid-day, when the sixth hour was beginning; so that the end of the third, and the beginning of the sixth, happened together. — Darkness, at mid-day, and at full moon. Some call it an eclipse of the sun. It was rather by an interposition of clouds, or by the substraction of the rays of the sun. — Over all the earth, until the ninth hour. It could be no miracle to be night in the opposite hemisphere; but whether it was in all those parts of the world where, of course, it should have been light, is doubted. Origen thinks this darkness was only in Palestine, and the neighbouring countries: for as to the words, over the whole earth, or over the whole land, we find one kingdom or empire, by a common way of speaking, called the whole earth, or the whole world. Here, in the history of Christ’s passion, we should take notice of his seven last words, or sentences on the cross. 1. He prayed for his enemies, and those that put him to death, (Luke xxiii. 34.) Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. 2. His mercy called the good thief, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise, Luke xxiii. 43. 3. He recommended his beloved disciple to his mother, saying: woman, behold thy son; and his mother to the same disciple, with, Behold thy mother. Jo. xix. 26. and 27. 4. Here (v. 46) he cried out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani, i.e. my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? These words, out of Psalm xxi. 1, were to express his violent sufferings. The Arians objected them against the divinity of Christ; to whom the Fathers answer, that he spoke these words in the person of sinners, for whose sake he suffered, as they shew by the following words of the same Psalm: far from my salvation are the words of my sins: which cannot be applied to Christ, he being incapable of sinning. Besides, these words may be expounded as a prayer, by which he desires of his Father, not to be abandoned any longer, but that his sufferings may now have an end. In fine, that these words were uttered with an entire confidence, and an assurance in the presence and assistance of God, appears by what he presently added, recommending his spirit into the hands of his Father. The fifth sentence was, I thirst, to let us know the violent thirst of his exhausted body. S. John (xix. 28,) says it was that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Psalm lxviii. 22. And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. The sixth sentence was, It is consummated; (Jo. xix. 30) i.e. the work of man’s redemption, and all the prophecies, and decrees of heaven, concerning me, the Saviour of the world, are now accomplished. The seventh and last sentence was, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and with these words, says S. Luke, (xxiii. 46.) pronounced with a loud voice, he expired. Wi. — The learned are divided on this passage: 1st, As to the cause of the obscuration of the sun; and, 2ndly, as to the extent of its darkness. Origen is inclined to think that the darkness was partial, and confined to Judea and the neighbouring countries, as the darkness of Egypt was only perceived in that country, and not in Gessen, where the children of Israel were. S. Jerom imagines that the obscurity was caused by the rays of the sun being suddenly withdrawn by divine power, as was the case in Egypt. These they give as conjectures only. But S. Dionysius, the Areopagite, speaks from his own observations, being, as he informs us in a letter to S. Polycarp, then at Heliopolis, a city of Egypt, for the purpose of astronomical observations. He noticed this miraculous eclipse. He saw the moon rise from the east, and placing itself directly under the sun, cause the above mentioned darkness. This made him cry out to his companion, in the greatest admiration. He observes in this eclipse, four things contrary to the ordinary course of nature: 1. The time, full moon, when there cannot be an eclipse of the sun; 2. the moon being under the sun at the sixth hour, returned to its place in the east for the evening; 3. the order in which the sun was obscured. In ordinary eclipses, the western limb of the sun is first obscured, on account of the motion of the moon in its orbit, being from west to east; whereas, in the present case, the moon having already passed the sun, and being removed from the sun the distance of a semicircle, returned from the east to the sun, and of course first eclipsed it on the eastern limb: 4. contrary to the manner of common eclipses, in which that part is first visible which was first obscured, that part of the sun first appeared which was last eclipsed, because the moon returned again to the east after the eclipse was full. To this may be added the observation of S. Chrys. and S. Jerom: that the duration of natural eclipses is very short, whilst this lasted the space of three whole hours. But this interposition of the moon, which suffers the greatest parallax, could not cause an universal eclipse; if, therefore, the text is to be understood literally of the whole earth, another cause must be supposed for this universal darkness. But it may be understood in a more limited sense, of the land of Judea. Dion. Carth.
The miracles at Christ’s death. His burial.
Verse 47. This man calleth for Elias. S. Jerom thinks these might be some of the Roman soldiers, who understood not Syriac, but who had heard of the prophet Elias. Wi. — But if we understand it of the Jews, who could not possibly be ignorant of this word, we must suppose it was merely a stratagem of theirs, who wishing still to shew the weakness of our Redeemer, said that he called Elias to his aid. S. Jer. — The soldiers thinking that he called for Elias, wished to hinder any one from offering vinegar, lest it should hasten his death, and prevent Elias from coming to assist him; which, from the darkness and other signs, they might think probable. S. Austin. — Wine and vinegar, on account of their penetrating quality, were thought to hasten death. We read in Plutarch, that wine was given to Mark Anthony, when he had stabbed himself, that he might die the sooner. Jans.
Verse 50. With a loud voice. In this our Redeemer confirms what he had said to Pilate; I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again: for he cried with a loud voice, and at the very hour of the evening sacrifice, to shew that it was by the effect of his own will that he died. S. John Chrys. hom. lxxxix.
Verse 51. The veil of the temple was rent. As there were in the temple two parts of the sanctuary, so there were two veils, or partition walls. The first sanctuary, called the holy, was separated by a veil from that part of the temple called the court of the Israelites. Into this outward sanctuary, called the holy, entered every day the priests that were in office. The second interior sanctuary, called the holy of holies, was also separated from the outward sanctuary by another veil. And into this holy of holies, no one was to enter except the high priest, and he but once a-year. Both these veils seem to have been rent at Christ’s death: and by their being broken down, was signified first, that the ceremonies of the ancient law were to be abolished by the law of Christ; and also that heaven should be open to all. — The earth quaked. How far this earthquake was extended, is uncertain. — The rocks were rent, and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints … arose. S. Jerom takes notice, that these saints did not rise with their bodies till after Christ was risen; and so it follows, that going out of the graves, after the resurrection, they came into the holy city, (i.e. into Jerusalem) and appeared to many. Wi. — This event was a prophecy of the fatal destruction that was shortly to fall upon the temple; and also, that it should henceforth give place to things more noble and sublime. It likewise shews that greatness of Christ’s power. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxix.
Verse 54. Indeed this was the Son of God. S. Mark says, that when they saw Jesus die in that manner, crying out with a loud voice, which could not be natural, and when they saw the other miracles, they were struck with fear. S. Luke says, (xxiii. 47.) that the centurion glorified God, &c. Wi. — It is said that this centurion, being afterwards confirmed in the faith, was honoured with the crown of martyrdom. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxix.
Verse 55. Ministering unto him. It was customary with the Jews, for the women of that country to minister unto their teachers both food and raiment; but because this was liable to abuse, and to cause scandal to the Gentiles, S. Paul dispensed with their assistance. These women ministered to our Lord, hoping that he would bestow heavenly food to them, who offered earthly food to him: not that the Creator of all things stood in need of assistance: but he wished to shew his disciples an example of poverty in himself, and charity in these women. But let us see what sort of women these were that followed our Lord, among whom were Mary Magdalene, sister of Martha and Lazarus; Mary, the mother of James the less and Joseph, sister of the blessed Virgin Mary, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, otherwise called Salome, who were disciples of Jesus. S. Jerom, and M.
Verse 57. When it was evening, &c. S. John tells us, (C. xix. 31.) that the day on which Jesus died, being the day of preparation, (lit. the parasceve) that is the Friday or eve of the great sabbath, to wit, of the sabbath-day, which happened in the week of the paschal solemnity, the Jews desired of Pilate that the bodies might not remain on the crosses on the sabbath-day, but that they might be taken away. Some soldiers were sent for this purpose, and broke the legs of the two others that were not quite dead; but perceiving that Jesus was dead, they broke not his legs, but one of them pierced and opened his side with a lance or spear; and with such a wound, as would have deprived him of life, had he not been already dead. The divine Providence permitted this, to make his death more certain and undoubted. — Joseph, a disciple in private, now encouraged by the miracles which had happened, went boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. S. Mark says, Pilate wondered, when he heard he was dead; and having been informed of the truth by the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Nicodemus also, who is called a prince of the Jews, (Jo. iii. 1.) came to bury our Saviour, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, to embalm the body, as they did. Wi. — The evangelist does not call Joseph a rich man out of vanity, or to inform us that Jesus had persons of distinction among his followers, but to shew why Joseph in preference to any other went to beg the body; for being a nobleman, he could obtain easier access to the governor of Judea than any of the other disciples, who were chiefly poor illiterate fishermen. S. Jerom. — The town of Arimathea is placed on the maps about eighteen or twenty miles north-west of Jerusalem.
Verse 58. The Roman laws forbade sepulture to be given to criminals, without an express permission from the judges. V. and M.
Verse 59. Wrapt it up. Behold with admiration the courage and constancy of this disciple of Christ, who, through love for his crucified Saviour, willingly exposed himself not only to the enmity of his countrymen, but even to the danger of death, and dared in the presence of all to beg the body of Jesus, and to give it public interment. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxix.
Verse 60. And Joseph laid it in his own new monument, … hewed or cut out in a rock, where no one had ever been laid: and rolled a great stone against the entrance, that no one might go in, or take away the body. But Mary Magdalene, and other women that had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, followed at a distance, to mark the place, having a design to come afterwards, and again embalm the body. Wi. — It was the custom of that country, to excavate a tomb from the hard rock, for all persons of great distinction. V. — From the unadorned tomb of a Man-God, we are taught to despise the grandeur of this perishable world, and fear the example of those who, even in their sepulchres, manifest to the world how grieved they were to leave their wealth, since they carried it with them to their tombs, ornamenting them with every costly decoration human ingenuity could devise. S. Jerom.
1336: Errors Concerning the Most Pure Love of God
INNOCENT XII 1691-1700 Condemned in the brief "Cum alias," March 12, 1699
Then a soul separated from itself expires with Christ on the Cross, saying: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” [Matt. 27:46]. In this involuntary expression of despair there is completed the absolute sacrifice of one’s own interest in so far as eternity is concerned.
[Editor’s note: the above statement is condemned by the Church.]
36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, "Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38. Then saith he unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me."
Remig.: The Evangelist had said a little above, that “when they had sung an hymn they went out to the mount of Olives;” to point out the part of the mount to which they took their way, he now adds, “Then came Jesus with them to a garden called Gethsemane.”
Raban.: Luke says, “To the mount of Olives,” [Luke 22:39] and John, “Went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden,” [John 18:1] which is the same as this Gethsemane, and is a place where He prayed at the foot of mount Olivet, where is a garden, and a Church now built. [ed. note: This is probably from Areulfus’ account in Adamnantus de Locis Sanctis, c. 23 (ap. Act. Benedict. iv 502) as he quoted him by name, above, p. 95]
Jerome: Gethsemane is interpreted, ‘The rich valley;’ and there He bade His disciples sit a little while, and wait His return whilst He prayed alone for all.
Origen: For it was not fitting that He should be seized in the place where He had sate and eaten the Passover with His disciples. Also He must first pray, and choose a place pure for prayer.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiii: He says, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder,” because the disciples adhered inseparably to Christ; but it was His practice to pray apart from them, therein teaching us to study quiet and retirement for our prayers.
Damascenus, de Fid. Orth., iii, 24: But seeing that prayer is the sending up the understanding to God, or the asking of God things fitting, how did the Lord pray? For His understanding needed not to be lifted up to God, having been once united hypostatically to God the Word. Neither could He need to ask of God things fitting, for the One Christ is both God and Man. But giving in Himself a pattern to us, He taught us to ask of God, and to lift up our minds to Him. As He took on Him our passions, that by triumphing over them Himself, He might give us also the victory over them, so now He prays to open to us the way to that lifting up to God, to fulfil for us all righteousness, to reconcile His Father to us, to pay honour to Him as the First Cause, and to shew that He is not against God.
Raban.: When the Lord prayed in the mountain, He taught us to make supplication for heavenly things; when He prays in the garden, He teaches us to study humility in our prayer.
And beautifully, as He draws near His Passion, does He pray in the ‘valley of fatness’ shewing that through the valley of humility, and the richness of charity, He took upon Him death for our sakes. The practical instruction which we may also learn from this is, that we should not suffer our heart to dry up from the richness of charity.
Remig.: He had accepted the disciples’ faith and the devotedness of their will, but He foresaw that they would be troubled and scattered abroad, and therefore bade them sit still in their places; for to sit belongs to one at ease, but they would be grievously troubled that they should have denied Him. In what fashion He went forward it describes, “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and very heavy;” the same to whom He had shewn His glory in the mount.
Hilary: These words, He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, are interpreted by heretics that fear of death assailed the Son of God, being (as they allege) neither begotten from eternity, nor existing in the Father’s infinite substance, but produced out of nothing by Him who created all things; and that hence He was liable to anguish of grief, and fear of death. And He who can fear death can also die; and He who can die, though He shall exist after death, yet is not eternal through Him who begot Him in past time. Had these faith to receive the Gospels, they would know that the Word was in the beginning God, and from the beginning with God, and that the eternity of Him who begets and Him who is begotten is one and the same. But if the assumption of flesh infected with its natural infirmity the virtue of that incorruptible substance, so that it became subject to pain, and shrinking from death, it would also become thereby liable to corruption, and thus its immortality being changed into fear, that which is in it is capable of at some time ceasing to be. But God ever is without measure of time, and such as He is, He continues to be eternally. Nothing then in God can die, nor can God have any fear springing out of Himself.
Jerome, Hieron. non. occ: But we say that passible man was so taken by God the Son, that His Deity remained impassible. Indeed the Son of God suffered, not by imputation but actually, all that Scripture testifies, in respect of that part of Him which could suffer, viz. in respect of the substance that He had taken on Him.
Hilary, de Trin., x, 10: I suppose that there are some who offer here no other cause of His fear than His passion and death. I ask those who think thus, whether it stands with reason that He should have feared to die, who banished from the Apostles all fear of death, and exhorted them to the glory of martyrdom? How can we suppose Him to have felt pain and grief in the sacrament of death, who rewards with life those who die for Him? And what pangs of death could He fear, who came to death of the free choice of His own power? And if His Passion was to do Him honour, how could the fear of His Passion make Him sorrowful?
Hilary, in loc.: Since then we read that the Lord was sorrowful, let us discover the causes of His agony. He had forewarned them all that they would be offended, and Peter that he would thrice deny his Lord; and taking him and James and John, He began to be sorrowful. Therefore He was not sorrowful till He took them, but all His fear began after He had taken them; so that His agony was not for Himself, but for them whom He had taken.
Jerome: The Lord therefore sorrowed not from fear of suffering, for for this cause He had come that He should suffer, and had rebuked Peter for his fearfulness; [marg. note: Matt 14:40] but for the wretched Judas, for the offence of the rest of the Apostles, for the rejection and reprobation of the Jewish nation, and the overthrow of unhappy Jerusalem.
Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 23: Or otherwise; All things which have not yet been brought into existence by their Maker have a natural desire of existence, and naturally shun non-existence. God the Word then, having been made Man, had this desire, through which He desired food, drink, and sleep, by which life is supported, and naturally used them, and contrariwise shunned the things that are destructive of life. Hence in the season of His Passion which He endured voluntarily, He had the natural fear and sorrow for death. For there is a natural fear wherewith the soul shrinks from separation from the body, by reason of that close sympathy implanted from the first by the Maker of all things.
Jerome: Our Lord therefore sorrowed to prove the reality of the Man which He had taken upon Him; but that passion might bear no sway in His mind, “He began to be sorrowful” by pro-passion [ed. note: see ch. 5, page 185]; for it is one thing to be sorrowful, and another to be very sorrowful.
Remig.: By this place are overthrown the Manichaeans, who said that He took an unreal body; and those also who said that He had not a real soul, but His Divinity in place of a soul. [marg. note: e.g. Apollinaris]
Aug., Lib. 83 Quaest. Q80: We have the narratives of the Evangelists, by which we know that Christ was both born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was seized by the Jews, scourged, crucified, put to death, and buried in a tomb, all which cannot be supposed to have taken place without a body, and not even the maddest will say that these things are to be understood figuratively, when they are told by men who wrote what they remembered to have happened. These then are witnesses that He had a body, as those affections which cannot be without mind prove Him to have had a mind, and which we read in the accounts of the same Evangelists, that Jesus wondered, was angry, was sorrowful.
Aug., City of God, book xiv, ch. 9: Since then these things are related in the Evangelists, they are not surely false, but as when He willed He became Man, so likewise when He willed He took into His human soul these passions for the sake of adding assurance to the dispensation. We indeed have these passions by reason of the weakness of our human nature; not so the Lord Jesus, whose weakness was of power.
Damas., Fid. Orth., iii, 20: Wherefore the passions of our nature were in Christ both by nature and beyond nature. By nature, because He left His flesh to suffer the things incidental to it; beyond nature, because these natural emotions did not in Him precede the will. For in Christ nothing befel of compulsion, but all was voluntary; with His will He hungered, with His will He feared, or was sorrowful. Here His sorrow is declared, “Then saith he unto them, My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”
Ambrose, in Luc. 23, 43: He is sorrowful, yet not Himself, but His soul; not His Wisdom, not His divine Substance, but His soul, for He took upon Him my soul, and my body.
Jerome: He is sorrowful not because of death, but “unto death,” until He has set the Apostles free by His Passion. Let those who imagine Jesus to have taken an irrational soul, say how it is that He is thus sorrowful, and knows the season of His sorrow, for though the brute animals have sorrow, yet they know neither the causes of it, nor the time for which it must endure.
Origen: Or otherwise; “My soul is sorrowful even unto death;” as much as to say, Sorrow is begun in me, but not to endure for ever, but only till the hour of death; that when I shall die for sin, I shall die also to all sorrow, whose beginnings only are in me. “Tarry ye here, and watch with me;” as much as to say, The rest I bade sit yonder as weak, removing them from this struggle; but you I have brought hither as being stronger, that ye may toil with me in watching and prayer. But abide you here, that every man may stay in his own rank and station; since all grace, however great, has its superior.
Jerome: Or the sleep which He would have them forego is not bodily rest, for which at this critical time there was no room, but mental torpor, the sleep of unbelief.
39. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." 40. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." 43. And he came and found them asleep again for their eyes were heavy. 44. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Origen: He took with Him the self-confident Peter, and the others, that they might see Him falling on His face and praying, and might learn not to think great things, but little things of themselves, and not to be hasty in promising, but careful in prayer. And therefore, “He went forward a little,” not to go far from them, but that He might be near them in His prayer. Also, He who had said above, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart,” now commendably humbling Himself, falls on His face. But He shews His devotion in His prayer, and as beloved and well-pleasing to His Father, He adds, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” teaching us that we should pray, not that our own will, but that God’s will, should be done.
And as He began to have fear and sorrow, He prays accordingly that the cup of His Passion may pass from Him, yet not as He wills, but as His Father wills; wills, that is, not according to His Divine and impassible Substance, but according to His human and weak nature. For in taking upon Him the nature of human flesh, He fulfilled all the properties thereof, that it might be seen that He had flesh not in appearance only, but in reality. The believer indeed must in the first instance be loth to incur pain, seeing it leads to death, and he is a man of flesh; but if it be God’s will, he acquiesces because he is a believer. For as we ought not to be too confident that we may not seem to make a boast of our own strength; so neither ought we to be distrustful, lest we should seem to charge God our helper with weakness.
It is to be observed that Mark and Luke write the same, but John does not introduce this prayer of Jesus’, that this cup may pass from Him, because the first three are rather occupied about Him, according to His human nature, John according to His divine. Otherwise; Jesus makes this petition, because He sees what the Jews will suffer for requiring His death.
Jerome: Whence He says emphatically, “This cup,” that is, of this people of the Jews, who, if they shall put Me to death, can have no excuse for their ignorance, seeing they have the Law and the Prophets, who speak of Me.
Origen: Then again considering the benefit that would accrue to the whole world from His Passion, He says, “But not as I will, but as thou wilt;” i.e. If it be possible for all these benefits which shall result from My Passion to be procured without it, let it pass from Me, and both the world be saved, and the Jews not be condemned in putting Me to death. But if the salvation of many cannot be procured without the destruction of a few, saving Thy justice, let it not pass away. Scripture, in many places, speaks of passion as a cup that is drained; and it is drained by him, who in testimony suffers whatever is inflicted upon him. He sheds it, on the contrary, who denies in order to avoid suffering.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: And that none might think that He limited His Father’s power, He said not, “If thou canst do it,” but “If it may be,” or, “If it be possible;” as much as to say, If thou wilt. For whatever God wills can be done, as Luke expresses more plainly; for he says not, “If it be possible,” but “If thou wilt.”
Hilary: Otherwise; He says not, Let this cup pass away from Me, for that would be the speech of one who feared it; but He prays that it may pass not so as that He should be passed over, but that when it has passed from Him, it may go to another. His whole fear then is for those who were to suffer, and therefore He prays for those who were to suffer after Him, saying, “Let this cup pass from me,” i.e. as it is drunk by Me, so let it be drunk by these, without mistrust, without sense of pain, without fear of death. He says, “If it be possible,” because flesh and blood shrink from these things, and it is hard for human bodies not to sink beneath their infliction. That He says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” He would fain indeed that they should not suffer, lest their faith should fail in their sufferings, if indeed we might attain to the glory of our joint inheritance with Him without the hardship of sharing in His Passion. He says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” because it is the Father’s will that strength to drink of the cup should pass from Him to them, that the Devil might be vanquished not so much by Christ as by His disciples also.
Aug., in Ps. 32, enar. 2: Christ thus as man shews a certain private human will, in which He who is our head figures both His own will and ours when He says, “Let it pass from me.” For this was His human will choosing something as apart for Himself. But because as man He would be righteous and guide Himself by God’s will, He adds, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt;” as much as to say to us, Man, behold thyself in Me, that thou canst will somewhat apart of thyself, and though God’s will is other, this is permitted to human frailty.
Leo, Serm., 58, 5: This speech of the Head is the health of the whole body, this saying is instruction to the faithful, animates the confessor, crowns the martyr. For who could vanquish the hatred of the world, or the whirlwind of temptations, or the terrors of the persecutors, if Christ did not in all and for all say to the Father, “Thy will be done.” Let all the sons of the Church then utter this prayer, that when the pressure of some mighty temptation lies upon them, they may embrace endurance of the suffering, disregarding its terrors.
Origen: And though Jesus went but a “little forward,” they could not watch one hour in His absence; let us therefore pray that Jesus may never depart even a little from us.
Chrys.: He “finds them sleeping,” both because it was a late hour of the night, and their eyes were heavy with sorrow.
Hilary: When then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping, He rebukes Peter, “Could ye not watch one hour with me?” He addresses Peter rather than the rest, because be had most loudly boasted that he would not be offended.
Chrys.: But as they had all said the same, He charges them all with weakness; they had chosen to die with Christ, and yet could not even watch with Him.
Origen: Finding them thus sleeping, He rouses them with a word to hearken, and commands them to watch; “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation;” that first we should watch, and so watching pray. He watches who does good works, and is careful that He does not run into any dark doctrine, for so the prayer of the watchful is heard.
Jerome: It is impossible that the human mind should not be tempted, therefore He says not “Watch and pray” that ye be not tempted, but “that ye enter not into temptation,” that is, that temptation vanquish you not.
Hilary: And why He thus encouraged them to pray that they might not enter into temptation, He adds, “For the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;” this He says not of Himself, but addresses them.
Jerome: This is against those rash persons who think that whatever they believe they can perform. The more confident we are of our zeal, the more mistrustful should we be of the frailty of the flesh.
Origen: Here it should be enquired, whether as all men’s flesh is weak, so all men’s spirit is willing, or whether only that of the saints; and whether in unbelievers the spirit is not also dull, as the flesh is weak. In another sense the flesh of those only is weak whose spirit is willing, and who with their willing spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh. These then He would have watch and pray that they should not enter into temptation, for the more spiritual any one may be, the more careful should he be that his goodness should not suffer a great fall.
Remig.: Otherwise; In these words He shews that He took real flesh of the Virgin, and had a real soul, saying that His spirit is willing to suffer, but His flesh weak in fearing the pain of Passion.
Origen: There were, I conclude, two ways in which this cup of Passion might pass from the Lord. If He should drink it, it would pass away from Him, and afterwards from the whole race of mankind also; if He should not drink it, it would perhaps pass from Him, but from men it would not pass. He would fain therefore that it should so pass from Him as that He should not at all taste its bitterness, yet only if it were possible, saving the righteousness of God. If it were not possible, He was rather willing to drink it, that so it might pass from Him, and from the whole race of mankind rather than against His Father’s will shun the drinking thereof.
Chrys.: That He prays for this a second and a third time, comes of the feelings belonging to human frailty, through which also He feared death, thus giving assurance that He was truly made man. For in Scripture when any thing is repeated a second and third time, that is the greatest proof of its truth and reality; as, for example, when Joseph says to Pharaoh, “And for that thou sawedst it twice, it is proof of the thing being established by God.” [Gen 41:32]
Jerome: Or otherwise; He prays a second time that if Nineveh, or the Gentile world, cannot be saved unless the gourd, i.e. the Jews, be withered, His Father’s will may be done, which is not contrary to the Son’s will, who Himself speaks by the Prophet, “I am content to do thy will, 0 God.” [Ps 40:8]
Hilary: Otherwise, He bare in His own body all the infirmities of us His disciples who should suffer, and nailed to His cross all wherein we are distressed; and therefore that cup cannot pass from Him, unless He drink it, because we cannot suffer, except by His passion.
Jerome: Christ singly prays for all,as He singly suffers for all. “Their eyes were heavy,” i.e. an oppression and stupefaction came on as their denial drew near.
Origen: And I suppose that the eyes of their body were not so much affected as the eyes of their mind, because the Spirit was not yet given them. Wherefore He does not rebuke them, but goes again and prays, teaching us that we should not faint but should persevere in prayer, until we obtain what we have begun to ask.
Jerome: He prayed the third time, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word might be established.
Raban: Or, The Lord prayed thrice, to teach us to pray for pardon of sins past, defence against present evil, and provision against future perils, and that we should address every prayer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that our spirit, soul, and body should be kept in safety.
Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 47: Nor is that an absurd interpretation which makes Our Lord pray thrice because of the threefold temptation of His Passion. To the temptation of curiosity is opposed the fear of death; for as the one is a yearning for the knowledge of things, so the other is the fear of losing such knowledge. To the desire of honour or applause is opposed the dread of disgrace and insult. To the desire of pleasure is opposed the fear of pain.
Remig.: Or, He prays thrice for the Apostles, and for Peter in particular, who was to deny Him thrice.
45. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me."
Hilary: After His persevering prayer, after His departures and several returns, He takes away their fear, restores their confidence, and exhorts them to “sleep on, and take their rest.”
Chrys.: Indeed it behoved them to watch, but He said this to shew that the prospect of coming evils was more than they would bear, that He had no need of their aid, and that it must needs be that He should be delivered up.
Hilary: Or, He bids them “sleep on, and take their rest,” because He now confidently awaited His Father’s will concerning the disciples, concerning which He had said, “Thy will be done,” and in obedience to which He drunk the cup that was to pass from Him to us, diverting upon Himself the weakness of our body, the terrors of dismay, and even the pains of death itself.
Origen: Or, the sleep He now bids His disciples take is of a different sort from that which is related above to have befallen them. Then He found them sleeping, not taking repose, but because their eyes were heavy, but now they are not merely to sleep, but to “take their rest,” that this order may be rightly observed, namely, that we first watch with prayer that we enter not into temptation, and afterwards sleep and take our rest, when having “found a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob,” we may “go up into our bed, and give sleep to our eyes.” [Ps 132:3] It may be also that the soul, unable to sustain a continual energy by reason of its union with the flesh, may blamelessly admit some relaxations, which may be the moral interpretation of slumbers, and then again after due time be quickened to new energy.
Hilary: And whereas, when He returned and found them sleeping, He rebukes them the first time, the second time says nothing, the third time bids them take their rest; the interpretation of this is, that at the first after His resurrection, when He finds them dispersed, distrustful, and timorous, He rebukes them; the second time, when their eyes were heavy to look upon the liberty of the Gospel, He visited them, sending them the Spirit, the Paraclete; for, held back by attachment to the Law, they slumbered in respect of faith; but the third time, when He shall come in His glory, He shall restore them to quietness and confidence.
Origen: When He had roused them from sleep, seeing in the Spirit Judas drawing near to betray Him, though the disciples could not yet see him, He says, “Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
Chrys.: The words, “the hour is at hand,” point out that all that has been done was by Divine interference; and that, “into the hands of sinners,” shew that this was the work of their wickedness, not that He was guilty of any crime.
Origen: And even now Jesus “is betrayed into the hands of sinners,” when those who seem to believe in Jesus, continue to sin while they have Him in their hands. Also whenever a righteous man, who has Jesus in Him, is put into the power of sinners, Jesus is delivered into the hands of sinners.
Jerome: Having concluded His third prayer, and having obtained that the Apostles’ terror should be corrected by subsequent penitence, He goes forth undaunted by the prospect of His own Passion to meet His pursuers, and offers Himself voluntarily to be sacrificed. “Arise, let us be going;” as much as to say, Let them not find you trembling, let us go forth willingly to death, that they may see us confident and rejoicing in suffering; “Lo, he that shall betray me draweth near.”
Origen: He says not, Draws near to thee, for indeed the traitor was not near Him, but had removed himself far off through his sins.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 4: This speech as Matthew has it seems self-contradictory. For how could He say, “Sleep on, and take your rest,” and immediately continue, “Rise, let us be going.” This contradiction some have endeavoured to reconcile by supposing the words, “Sleep on, and take your rest,” to be an ironical rebuke, and not a permission; it might be rightly so taken if need were. But as Mark records it, when He had said, “Sleep on, and take your rest,” He added, “it is enough,” and then continued, “The hour is come, behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners;” [Mark 14:41] we clearly understand the Lord to have been silent some time after He had said, “Sleep on,” to allow of their doing so, and then after some interval to have roused them with, “Behold, the hour is at hand.” And as Mark fills up the sense with, “it is enough,” that is, ye have had rest enough.
47. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the Chief Priests and elders of the people. 48. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast." 49. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, "Hail, Master;" and kissed him. 50. And Jesus said unto him, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
Gloss., non occ.: Having said above that the Lord offered Himself of His own accord to His pursuers, the Evangelist proceeds to relate how He was seized by them.
Remig.: “One of the twelve,” by association of name, not of desert. This shews the monstrous wickedness of the man who from the dignity of the Apostleship became the traitor. To shew that it was out of envy that they seized Him, it is added, “A great multitude sent by the Chief Priests and elders of the people.”
Origen: Some may say that a great multitude came, because of the great multitude of those who already believed, who, they feared, might rescue Him out of their hands; but I think there is another reason for this, and that is, that they who thought that He cast out daemons through Beelzebub, supposed that by some magic He might escape the hands of those who sought to hold Him. Even now do many fight against Jesus with spiritual weapons, to wit, with divers and shifting dogmas concerning God. It deserves enquiry why, when He was known by face to all who dwelt in Judaea, he should have given them a sign, as though they were unacquainted with His person. But a tradition to this effect has come down to us, that not only had He two different forms, one under which He appeared to men, the other into which He was transfigured before His disciples in the mount, but also that He appeared to each man in such degree as the beholder was worthy; in like manner as we read of the manna, that it had a flavour adapted to every variety of use, and as the word of God shews not alike to all. They required therefore a sign by reason of this His transfiguration.
Chrys.: Or, because whenever they had hitherto attempted to seize Him, He had escaped them they knew not how; as also He might then have done had He been so minded.
Raban.: The Lord suffered the traitor’s kiss, not to teach us to dissemble, but that He might not seem to shrink from His betrayal.
Origen: If it be asked why Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, according to some it was because He desired to keep up the reverence due to his Master, and did not dare to make an open assault upon Him; according to others, it was out of fear that if he came as an avowed enemy, be might be the cause of His escape, which he believed Jesus had it in His power to effect. But I think that all betrayers of truth love to assume the guise of truth, and to use the sign of a kiss. Like Judas also, all heretics call Jesus Rabbi, and receive from Him mild answer. “And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?” He says, “Friend,” upbraiding his hypocrisy; for in Scripture we never find this term of address used to any of the good, but as above, “Friend, how camest thou in hither?” [Matt 22:12] and, “Friend, I do thee no wrong.” [Matt 20:13]
Aug., non occ.: He says, “Wherefore art thou come?” as much as to say, Thy kiss is a snare for Me; I know wherefore thou art come; thou feignest thyself My friend, being indeed My betrayer.
Remig.: Or, after “Friend, for what thou art come,” that do, is understood. “Then came they, and laid their hands on Jesus, and held him.” “Then,” that is, when He suffered them, for ofttimes they would have done it, but were not able.
Pseudo-Aug., Serm. de Symb. ad Catech. 6: Exult, Christian, you have gained by this bargain of your enemies; what Judas sold, and what the Jews bought, belongs to you.
51. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the High Priest's, and smote off his ear. 52. Then said Jesus unto him, "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54. But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiv: So Luke relates, the Lord had said to His disciples at supper, “He that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one;” [Luke 22:36] and the disciples answered, “Lo, here are two swords.” It was natural that there should be swords there for the paschal lamb which they had been eating. Hearing then that the pursuers were coming to apprehend Christ, when they went out from supper they took these swords, as though to fight in defence of their Master against His pursuers.
Jerome: In another Gospel [marg. note: John 18:19], Peter is represented as having done this, and with his usual hastiness; and that the servant’s name was Malchus, and that the ear was the right ear. In passing we may say, that Malchus, i.e. one who should have been king of the Jews, was made the slave of the ungodliness and the greediness of the Priests, and lost his right ear so that he might hear only the worthlessness of the letter in his left.
Origen: For though they seem even now to hear the Law, yet is it only with the left ear that they hear the shadow of a tradition concerning the Law, and not the truth. The people of the Gentiles is signified by Peter; for by believing in Christ, they become the cause of cutting off the Jews’ right ear.
Raban.: Or, Peter does not take away the sense of understanding from them that hear, but opens to the careless that which by a divine sentence was taken away from them; but this same right ear is restored to its original function in those who out of this nation believed.
Hilary: Otherwise; The ear of the High Priest’s servant is cut off by the Apostle, that is, Christ’s disciple cuts off the disobedient hearing of a people which were the slaves of the Priesthood, the ear which had refused to hear is cut off so that it is no longer capable of hearing.
Leo, Serm. 22: The Lord of the zealous Apostle will not suffer his pious feeling to proceed further, “Then saith Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place.” For it was contrary to the sacrament of our redemption that He, who had come to die for all, should refuse to be apprehended. He gives therefore licence to their fury against Him, lest by putting off the triumph of His glorious Cross, the dominion of the Devil should be made longer, and the captivity of men more enduring.
Raban.: It behoved also that the Author of grace should teach the faithful patience by His own example, and should rather train them to endure adversity with fortitude, than incite them to self-defence.
Chrys.: To move the disciple to this, He adds a threat, saying, “All they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword.”
Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 70: That is, every one who uses the sword. And he uses the sword, who, without the command or sanction of any superior, or legitimate authority, arms himself against man’s life. For truly the Lord had given commandment to His disciples to take the sword, but not to smite with the sword. Was it then at all unbeseeming that Peter after this sin should become ruler of the Church, as Moses after smiting the Egyptian was made ruler and chief of the Synagogue? For both transgressed the rule not through hardened ferocity, but through a warmth of spirit capable of good; both through hatred of the injustice of others; both sinned through love, the one for his brother, the other for his Lord, though a carnal love.
Hilary: But all who use the sword do not perish by the sword; of those who have used the sword either judicially, or in self-defence against robbers, fever or accident carries off the greater part. Though if according to this every one who uses the sword shall perish by the sword, justly was the sword now drawn against those who were using the same for the promotion of crime.
Jerome: With what sword then shall he perish, that takes the sword? By that fiery sword which waves before the gate of paradise, and that sword of the Spirit which is described in the armour of God.
Hilary: The Lord then bids him return his sword into its sheath, because He would destroy them by no weapon of man, but by the sword of His mouth.
Remig.: Otherwise; Every one who uses the sword to put man to death perishes first by the sword of his own wickedness.
Chrys.: He not only soothed His disciples, by this declaration of punishment against His enemies, but convinced them that it was voluntarily that He suffered, “Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, &c.” Because He had shewn many qualities of human infirmity, He would have seemed to say what was incredible, if He had said that He had power to destroy them, therefore He says, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father?”
Jerome: That is to say, I need not the aid of the Apostles, though all the twelve should fight for me, seeing I could have twelve legions of the Angelic army. The complement of a legion among the ancients was six thousand men; twelve legions then are seventy-two thousand Angels, being as many as the divisions of the human race and language. [ed. note: It was generally supposed that in the dispersion at Babel, mankind was divided into seventy-two nations, each speaking a different language. For that is the number of the heads of families enumerated in the genealogy, in Gen. xi. See Aug. de Civ. Dei, xvi. 6.]
Origen: This shews that the armies of heaven have divisions into legions like earthly armies, in the warfare of the Angels against the legions of the daemons. This He said not as though He needed the aid of the Angels, but speaking in accordance with the supposition of Peter, who sought to give Him assistance. Truly the Angels have more need of the help of the Only-begotten Son of God, than He of theirs.
Remig.: We might also understand by the Angels the Roman armies, for with Titus and Vespasian all languages had risen against Judaea, and that was fulfilled, “The whole world shall fight for him against those foolish men.” [Wisdom 5:21]
Chrys.: And He quiets their fears not thus only, but by reference to Scripture, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?”
Jerome: This speech shews a mind willing to suffer; vainly would the Prophets have prophesied truly, unless the Lord asserts their truth by His suffering.
55. In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, "Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56. But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. 57. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the High Priest, where the Scribes and the elders were assembled. 58. But Peter followed him afar off unto the High Priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
Origen: Having commanded Peter to put up his sword, which was an instance of patience, and having (as another Evangelist writes [marg. note: Luke 22:51]) healed the ear that was cut off, which waS an instance of the greatest mercy, and of Divine power, it now follows, “In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, (to the end that if they could not remember His past goodness, they might at least confess His present,) Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me?”
Remig.: As much as to say, Robbers assault and study concealment; I have injured no one, but have healed many, and have ever taught in your synagogues.
Jerome: It is folly then to seek with swords and staves Him who offers Himself to your hands, and with a traitor to hunt out, as though lurking under cover of night, one who is daily teaching in the temple.
Chrys.: They did not lay hands on Him in the temple because they feared the multitude, therefore also the Lord went forth that He might give them place and opportunity to take Him. This then teaches them, that if He had not suffered them of His own free choice, they would never have had strength to take Him. Then the Evangelist assigns the reason why the Lord was willing to be taken, adding, “All this was done that the Scriptures of the Prophets might be fulfilled.”
Jerome: “They pierced my hands and my feet;” [Ps 22:16] and in another place, “He is led as a sheep to the slaughter;” and, “By the iniquities of my people was He led to death.” [Isa 53:7-8]
Remig.: For because all the Prophets had foretold Christ’s Passion, he does not cite any particular place, but says generally that the prophecies of all the Prophets were being fulfilled.
Chrys.: The disciples who had remained when the Lord was apprehended, fled when He spoke these things to the multitudes, “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled;” for they then understood that He could not escape but rather gave Himself up voluntarily.
Remig.: In this act is shewn the Apostles’ frailty; in the first ardour of their faith they had promised to die with Him, but in their fear they forgot their promise and fled. The same we may see in those who undertake to do great things for the love of God, but fail to fulfil what they undertake; they ought not to despair, but to rise again with the Apostles, and recover themselves by penitence.
Raban.: Mystically, As Peter, who by tears washed away the sin of his denial, figures the recovery of those who lapse in time of martyrdom; so the flight of the other disciples suggests the precaution of flight to such as feel themselves unfit to endure torments.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 6: “They that had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the High Priest.” But He was first taken to Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, as John relates. And He was taken bound, there being with that multitude a tribune and cohort, as John also records. [John 18:12]
Jerome: But Josephus writes [ed. note: “Josephus (Ant. xviii. 3 and 4,) twice mentions this Caiaphas as the successor of Simon the son of Camithes, but we do not find that he purchased the High Priesthood of Herod.” Vallarsi.], that this Caiaphas had purchased the priesthood of a single year, notwithstanding that Moses, at God’s command, had directed that High Priests should succeed hereditarily, and that in the Priests likewise succession by birth should be followed up. No wonder then that an unrighteous High Priest should judge unrighteously.
Raban.: And the action suits his name; Caiaphas, i.e. ‘contriving,’ or, ‘politic,’ to execute his villainy; or ‘vomiting from his mouth,’ because of his audacity in uttering a lie, and bringing about the murder. They took Jesus thither, that they might do all advisedly; as it follows, “Where the Scribes and the Elders were assembled.”
Origen: Where Caiaphas the High Priest is, there are assembled the Scribes, that is, the men of the letter [marg. note: literati], who preside over the letter that killeth; and Elders, not in truth, but in the obsolete ancientness of the letter. It follows, “Peter followed Him afar off,” He would neither keep close to Him, nor altogether leave Him, but “followed afar off.”
Chrys.: Great was the zeal of Peter, who fled not when He saw the others fly, but remained, and entered in. For though John also went in, yet he was known to the Chief Priest. He “followed afar off,” because he was about to deny his Lord.
Remig.: For had he kept close to his Lord’s side, he could never have denied Him. This also shews that Peter should follow his Lord’s Passion, that is, imitate it.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 46: And also that the Church should follow, i.e. imitate, the Lord’s Passion, but with great difference. For the Church suffers for itself, but Christ for the Church.
Jerome: He went in, either out of the attachment of a disciple, or natural curiosity, seeking to know what sentence the High Priest would pass, whether death, or scourging.
59. Now the Chief Priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60. But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61. And said, "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days." 62. And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, "Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?" 63. But Jesus held his peace. And the High Priest answered and said unto him, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." 64. Jesus saith unto him, "Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." 65. Then the High Priest rent his clothes, saying, "He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. 66. What think ye?" They answered and said, He is guilty of death. 67. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, 68. Saying, "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?"
Chrys.: When the Chief Priests were thus assembled, this conventicle of ruffians sought to give their conspiracy the character of a legal trial. But it was entirely a scene of confusion and uproar, as what follows shews, “Though many false witnesses came, yet found they none.”
Origen: False witnesses have place when there is any good colour for their testimony. But no pretext was found which could further their falsehoods against Jesus; notwithstanding there were many desirous to do a favour to the Chief Priests. This then is a great testimony in favour of Jesus, that He had lived and taught so irreproachably, that though they were many, and crafty, and wicked, they could find no semblance of fault in Him.
Jerome: “At last came two false witnesses.” How are they false witnesses, when they repeat only what we read that the Lord spoke? A false witness is one who takes what is said in a different sense from that in which it was said. Now this the Lord had spoken of the temple of His Body, and they cavil at His expressions, and by a slight change and addition produce a plausible charge. The Lord’s words were, “Destroy this temple;” [John 2:19] this they make into, I can destroy the Temple of God. He said, “Destroy,” not, I will destroy, because it is unlawful to lay hands on ourselves. Also they phrased it, “And build it again,” making it apply to the temple of the Jews; but the Lord had said, “And I will raise it up again,” thus clearly pointing out a living and breathing temple. For to build again, and to raise again, are two different things.
Chrys.: Why did they not bring forward now His breaking the Sabbath? Because He had so often confuted them on this point.
Jerome: Headlong and uncontrolled rage, unable to find even a false accusation, moves the High Priest from his throne, the motion of his body shewing the emotion of his mind. “And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against Thee?”
Chrys.: He said this with a design to draw from Him some indefensible answer which might be made a snare for Him. But “Jesus held his peace,” for defence had availed nothing when none would listen to it. For here was only a mockery of justice, it was in truth nothing more than the anarchy of a den of robbers.
Origen: This place teaches us to contemn the clamours of slanderers and false witnesses, and not to consider those who speak unbeseeming things of us worthy of an answer; but then, above all, when it is greater to be manfully and resolutely silent, than to plead our cause in vain.
Jerome: For as God, He knew that whatever He said would be twisted into an accusation against Him. But at this His silence before false witnesses and ungodly Priests, the High Priest was exasperated, and summons Him to answer, that from any thing He says he may raise a charge against Him.
Origen: Under the Law, we do indeed find many instances of this adjuration; but I judge that a man who would live according to the Gospel should not adjure another; for if we are not permitted to swear, surely not to adjure. [marg. note: Numb 5:19, 1 Ki 22:16] But he that regards Jesus commanding the daemons, and giving His disciples power over them, will say, that to address the daemons by the power given by the Saviour, is not to adjure them. But the High Priest did sin in laying a snare for Jesus; imitating his father, who twice asked the Saviour, “If thou be Christ the Son of God.” Hence one might rightly say, that to doubt concerning the Son of God, whether Christ be He, is the work of the Devil. It was not fit that the Lord should answer the High Priest’s adjuration as though under compulsion, wherefore He neither denied nor confessed Himself to be the Son of God. For he was not worthy to be the object of Christ’s teaching, therefore He does not instruct him, but taking up his own words retorts them upon him. This sitting of the Son of Man seems to me to denote a certain regal security; by the power of God, Who is the only power, is He securely seated to Whom is given by His Father all power in heaven as in earth.
And there will come a time when the enemies shall see this establishment. Indeed this has begun to be fulfilled from the earliest time of the dispensation; for the disciples saw Him rising from the dead, and thereby saw Him seated on the right band of power.
Or, In respect of that eternity of duration which is with God, from the beginning of the world to the end of it is but one day; it is therefore no wonder that the Saviour here says, “Shortly,” signifying that there is but short time before the end come. He prophesies moreover, that they should not only see Him “sitting at the right hand of power,” but also “coming in the clouds of heaven.” These clouds are the Prophets and Apostles, whom He commands to rain when it is required, they are the clouds that pass not away, but “bearing the image of the heavenly,” [1 Cor 15:49] are worthy to be the throne of God, as “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” [Rom 8:17]
Jerome: The same fury which drew the High Priest from his seat, impels him now to rend his clothes; for so it was customary with the Jews to do whenever they heard any blasphemy, or any thing against God.
Chrys.: This He did to give weight to the accusation, and to confirm by deeds what He taught in words.
Jerome: And by this rending his garments, he shews that the Jews have lost the priestly glory, and that their High Priest’s throne was vacant. For by rending his garment he rent the veil of the Law which covered him.
Chrys.: Then, after rending his garment, he did not give sentence of himself, but asked of others, saying, “What think ye?” As was always done in undeniable cases of sin, and manifest blasphemy, and as by force driving them to a certain opinion, he anticipates the answer, “What need we any further witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” What was this blasphemy? For before He had interpreted to them as they were gathered together that text, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,” [Matt 22:44] and they had held their peace, and had not contradicted Him. How then do they call what He now says blasphemy? “They answered and said, He is guilty of death,” the same persons at once accusers, examiners, and sentencers.
Origen: How great their error! to pronounce the principle of all men’s life to be guilty of death, and not to acknowledge by the testimony of the resurrection of so many, the Fount of life, from Whom life flows to all that rise again.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxv: As hunters who have started their game, so they exhibit a wild and drunken exultation.
Jerome: “They spit in his face, and buffeted him,” to fulfil the prophecy of Esaias, “I gave my cheek to the smiters, and turned not away my face from shame and spitting.” [Isa 50:6]
Gloss., ord.: “Prophesy unto us” is said in ridicule of His claim to be held as a Prophet by the people.
Jerome: But it would have been foolish to have answered them that smote Him, and to have declared the smiter, seeing that in their madness they seem to have struck Him openly.
Chrys.: Observe how circumstantially the Evangelist recounts all those particulars even which seem most disgraceful, hiding or extenuating nothing, but thinking it the highest glory that the Lord of the earth should endure such things for us. This let us read continually, let us imprint in our minds, and in these things let us boast.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 44: That, “they did spit in his face,” signifies those who reject His proffered grace. They likewise buffet Him who prefer their own honour to Him; and they smite Him on the face, who, blinded with unbelief, affirm that He is not yet come, disowning and rejecting His person.
69. Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, "Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee." 70. But he denied before them all, saying, "I know not what thou sayest." 71. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth." 72. And again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the man." 73. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, "Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee." 74. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, "I know not the Man." And immediately the cock crew. 75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, "Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 6: Among the other insults offered to our Lord was the threefold denial of Peter, which the several Evangelists relate in different order. Luke puts Peter’s trial first, and the ill-usage of the Lord after that; Matthew and Mark reverse the order.
Jerome: “Peter sat without,” that he might see the event, and not excite suspicion by any approach to Jesus.
Chrys.: And he, who, when he saw his Master laid hands on, drew his sword and cut off the ear, now when he sees Him enduring such insults becomes a denier, and cannot withstand the taunts of a mean servant girl. “A damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.”
Raban.: What means this, that a handmaid is the first to tax him, when men would be more likely to recognise him, except that this sex might seem to sin somewhat in the Lord’s death, that they might be redeemed by His passion? “He denied before them all,” because he was afraid to reveal himself; that he said, “I know not,” shews that he was not yet willing to die for the Saviour.
Leo, Serm. 60, 4: For this reason it should seem he was permitted to waver, that the remedy of penitence might be exhibited in the head of the Church, and that none should dare to trust in his own strength, when even the blessed Peter could not escape the danger of frailty.
Chrys.: But not once, but twice and thrice did he deny within a short time.
Aug.: We understand that having gone out after his first denial, the cock crowed the first time as Mark relates.
Chrys.: To shew that the sound did not keep him from denial, nor bring his promise to mind.
Aug.: The second denial was not outside the door, but after he had returned to the fire; for the second maid did not see him after he had gone out, but as he was going out; his getting up to go out drew her attention, and she said to them that were there, that is, to those that were standing round the fire in the hall, “The fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He who had gone out, having heard this returned, that he might by denial vindicate himself. Or, as is more likely, he did not hear what was said of him as he went out, but it was after he came back that the maid, and the other man whom Luke mentions, said to him, “And thou also art one of them.”
Jerome: “And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.” I know that some out of a feeling of piety towards the Apostle Peter have interpreted this place to signify that Peter denied the Man and not the God, as though he meant, ‘I do not know the Man, because I know the God.’ But the intelligent reader will see that this is trifling, for if he denied not, the Lord spoke falsely when He said, “Thou shalt deny me thrice.” [ed. note: e.g. S. Ambrose (in Luc.) says, He well denied him as man, for he knew him as God." And S. Hilary, (in loc.) “Almost without sin did he now deny the man, who had been the first to acknowledge him as Son of God; yet seeing through infirmity of the flesh, he had at least doubted, he therefore wept bitterly when he remembered that he had not been able, even after warning, to avoid the sin of that fearfulness.” Ambrose, in Luc., 22, 57: I had rather that Peter deny, than that the Lord be made out false.]
Raban.: In this denial of Peter we affirm that Christ is denied not only by him who denies that He is Christ, but who denies himself to be a Christian.
Aug.: Let us now come to the third denial; “And after a while came they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them,” (Luke’s words are, “About the space of one hour after, [Luke 22:59]) for thy speech bewrayeth thee.”
Jerome: Not that Peter was of a different speech or nation, but a Hebrew as his accusers were; but every province and every district has its peculiarities, and he could not disguise his native pronunciation.
Remig.: Observe how baneful are communications with evil men; they even drove Peter to deny the Lord whom be had before confessed to be the Son of God.
Raban.: Observe, that he said the first time, “I know not what thou sayest;” the second time, “He denied with an oath;” the third time, “He began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man.” For to persevere in sinning increases sinfulness, and he who disregards light sins, falls into greater.
Remig.: Spiritually; By Peter’s denial before the cock-crow, are denoted those who before Christ’s resurrection did not believe Him to be God, being perplexed by His death. In his denial after the first cock-crow, are denoted those who are in error concerning both Christ’s natures, His human and divine. By the first handmaid is signified desire; by the second, carnal delight; by them that stood by, the daemons; for by them men are led to a denial of Christ.
Origen: Or, By the first handmaid is understood the Synagogue of the Jews, which oft compelled the faithful to deny; by the second, the congregations of the Gentiles, who even persecuted the Christians; they that stood in the hall signify the ministers of divers heresies, who also compel men to deny the truth of Christ.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 45: Also Peter thrice denied, because heretical error concerning Christ is limited to three kinds; they are in error respecting His divinity, His humanity, or both.
Raban.: After the third denial comes the cock-crow; by which we may understand a Doctor of the Church who with chiding rouses the slumbering, saying, “Awake, ye righteous, and sin not.” [1 Cor 15:14] Thus Holy Scripture uses to denote the merit of divers cases [marg. note: meritum causarum] by fixed periods, as Peter sinned at midnight and repented at cock-crow.
Jerome: In another Gospel we read, that after Peter’s denial and thee cock-crow, the Saviour “looked upon Peter,” [Luke 22,61] and by His look called forth those bitter tears; for it might not be that he on whom the Light of the world had looked should continue in the darkness of denial, wherefore, “he went out, and wept bitterly.” For he could not do penitence sitting in Caiaphas’ hall, but went forth from the assembly of the wicked, that he might wash away in bitter tears the pollution of his timid denial.
Leo, Serm. 60, 4: Blessed tears, O holy Apostle, which had the virtue of holy Baptism in washing off the sin of thy denial. The right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ was with thee to hold thee up before thou wast quite thrown down, and in the midst of thy perilous fall, thou receivedst strength to stand. The Rock quickly returned to its stability, recovering so great fortitude, that he who in Christ’s passion had quailed, should endure his own subsequent suffering with fearlessness and constancy.
1. When the morning was come, all the Chief Priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2. And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the Chief Priests and elders, 4. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, "What is that to us? see thou to that." 5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 7: The Evangelist had above brought down his history, of what was done to the Lord as far as early morning; he then turned back to relate Peter’s denial, after which he returned to the morning to continue the course of events, “When the morning was come, &c.”
Origen: They supposed that by His death they should crush His doctrine, and the belief in Him of those who believed Him to be the Son of God. With such purpose against Him they bound Jesus, Who looses them that are bound. [marg. note: see Isa 61:1]
Jerome: Observe the evil zeal of the Chief Priests; they watched the whole night with a view to this murder. And they gave Him up to Pilate bound, for such was their practice to send bound to the judge any whom they had sentenced to death.
Raban.: Though it should be observed that they did not now first bind Him, but before, when they first laid hands upon Him in the garden, as John relates. [John 18:12]
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiv: They did not put Him to death in secret, because they sought to destroy His reputation, and the wonder with which He was regarded by many. For this reason they were minded to put Him to death openly before all, and therefore they led Him to the governor.
Jerome: Judas, when he saw that the Lord was condemned to death, returned the money to the Priests, as though it had been in his power to change the minds of His persecutors.
Origen: Let the propounders of those fables concerning intrinsically evil natures [ed. note: vid. S. Basil. Reg. Brev. 84.] answer me here, whence Judas came to the acknowledgment of his sin, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed righteous blood,” except through the good mind originally implanted in him, and that seed of virtue which is sown in every rational soul? But Judas did not cherish this, and so fell into this sin. But if ever any man was made of a nature that was to perish, Judas was yet more of such a nature. If indeed he had done this after Christ’s resurrection, it might have been said, that the power of the resurrection brought him to repentance. But he repented when he saw Christ delivered up to Pilate, perhaps remembering the things Jesus had so often spoken of His resurrection.
Or, perhaps Satan who had “entered into him” [John 13:27] continued with him till Jesus was given up to Pilate, and then, having accomplished his purpose, departed from him; whereupon be repented. But how could Judas know that He was condemned, for He had not yet been examined by Pilate? One may perhaps say, that he foreboded the event in his own mind from the very first, when he saw Him delivered up. Another may explain the words, when “he saw that he was condemned,” of Judas himself, that be then perceived his evil case, and saw that he himself was condemned.
Leo, Serm., 52, 5: When he says, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood,” he persists in his wicked treachery, seeing that amid the last struggles of death he believed not Jesus to be the Son of God, but merely man of our rank; for had he not thus denied His omnipotence, he would have obtained His mercy.
Chrys.: Observe that he repents only when his sin is finished and complete; for so the Devil suffers not those who are not watchful to see the evil before they bring it to an end.
Remig.: “But they said, What is that to us?” that is to say, What is it to us that He is righteous? “See thou to it,” i.e. to thy own deed what will come of it. Though some would read these in one [marg. note: Quid ad nos tu videris?], What must we think of you, when you confess that the man whom yourself have betrayed is innocent?
Origen: But when the Devil leave any one, he watches his time for return, and having taken it, he leads him into a second sin, and then watches for opportunity for a third deceit. So the man who had married his father’s wife afterwards repented him of this sin, [1 Cor 5:1] but again the Devil resolved so to augment this very sorrow of repentance, that his sorrow being made too abundant might swallow up the sorrower. Something like this took place in Judas, who after his repentance did not preserve his own heart, but received that more abundant sorrow supplied to him by the Devil, who sought to swallow him up, as it follows, “And he went out, and hanged himself.” But had he desired and looked for place and time for repentance, he would perhaps have found Him who has said, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” [Ezek 33:11] Or, perhaps, he desired to die before his Master on His way to death, and to meet Him with a disembodied spirit, that by confession and deprecation he might obtain mercy; and did not see that it is not fitting that a servant of God should dismiss himself from life, but should wait God’s sentence.
Raban.: He “hung himself,” to shew that he was hateful to both heaven and earth.
Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. V. et N. Test. q. 94: Since the Chief Priests were employed about the murder of the Lord from the morning to the ninth hour, how is this proved that before the crucifixion Judas returned them the money he had received, and said to them in the temple, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood?” Whereas it is manifest that the Chief Priests and Elders were never in the temple before the Lord’s crucifixion, seeing that when He was hanging on the Cross they were there to insult Him. Nor indeed can this be proved hence, because it is related before the Lord’s Passion, for many things which were manifestly done before, are related after, that, and the reverse. It might have been done after the ninth hour, when Judas, seeing the Saviour dead and the veil of the temple rent, the earthquake, the bursting of the rocks, and the elements terrified, was seized with fear and sorrow thereupon. But after the ninth hour the Chief Priests and Elders were occupied, as I suppose, in the celebration of the Passover; and on the Sabbath, the Law would not have allowed him to bring money. Therefore it is to me as yet unproved on what day or at what time Judas ended his life by hanging.
6. And the Chief Priests took the silver pieces, and said, "It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood." 7. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10. And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."
Chrys.: The Chief Priests knowing that they had purchased a murder were condemned by their own conscience; they said, “It is the price of blood.”
Jerome: Truly straining out the gnat, and swallowing the camel; for if they would not put the money into the treasury, because it was the price of blood, why did they shed the blood at all?
Origen: They thought it meet to spend upon the dead that money which was the price of blood. But as there are differences even in burial places, they used the price of Jesus’ blood in the purchase of some potter’s field, where foreigners might be buried, not as they desired in the sepulchres of their fathers.
Aug., App. Serm., 80, 1: It was brought about, I conceive, by God’s providence, that the Saviour’s price should not minister means of excess to sinners, but repose to foreigners, that thence Christ might both redeem the living by the shedding of His blood, and harbour the dead by the price of His passion. Therefore with the price of the Lord’s blood the potter’s field is purchased. We read in Scripture that the salvation of the whole human race has been purchased by the Saviour’s blood. This field then is the whole world. The potter who is the Lord of the soil, is He who has formed of clay the vessels of our bodies. This potter’s field then was purchased by Christ’s blood, and to strangers who without country or home wander over the whole world, repose is provided by Christ’s blood. These foreigners are the more devout Christians, who have renounced the world, and have no possession in it, and so repose in Christ’s blood; for the burial of Christ is nothing but the repose of a Christian; for as the Apostle says, “We are buried with him by baptism into death.” [Rom 6:4] We are in this life then as foreigners.
Origen: Or, the “foreigners” are they who to the end are aliens from God, for the righteous are buried with Christ in a new tomb hewn out in the rock. But they who are aliens from God, even to the end, are buried in the field of a potter, a worker in clay, which being bought by the price of blood, is called the field of blood.
Jerome: Also we, who were strangers to the Law and the Prophets, have profited by the perverse temper of the Jews to obtain salvation for ourselves.
Gloss, non occ.: “To this day” means to the time when the Evangelist was then writing. He then confirms the event by the testimony of the Prophet; “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet,” &c.
Jerome: This is not found at all in Hieremias; but in Zacharias [marg. note: Zech 11:13], who is the last but one of the twelve Prophets, something like it is told, and though the sense is not very different, yet the arrangement and the words are different.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 7: But if any one thinks this lowers the historian’s credit, first let him know that not all the copies of the Gospels have the name Hieremias, but some simply “by the Prophet.” But I do not like this defence, because the more, and the more ancient, copies have Hieremias, and there could be no reason for adding the name, and thus making an error. But its erasure is well accounted for by the hardihood of ignorance having heard the foregoing objection urged. It might be then, that the name Hieremias occurred to the mind of Matthew as he wrote, instead of the name Zacharias, as so often happens; and that be would have straightway corrected it, when pointed out to him by such as read this while he yet lived in the flesh, had he not thought that his memory, being guided by the Holy Spirit, would not thus have called up to him one name instead of another, had not the Lord determined that it should thus be written.
And why He should have so determined, the first reason is, that it would convey the wonderful consent of the Prophets, who all spake by one Spirit, which is much greater than if all the words of all the Prophets had been uttered through the mouth of one man; so that we receive without doubt whatever the Holy Spirit spake through them, each word belongs to all in common, and the whole is the utterance of each. Suppose it to happen at this day, that in repeating another’s words one should mention not the speaker’s name, but that of some other person, who however was the other’s greater friend, and then immediately recollecting himself should correct himself, he might yet add, Yet am I right, if you only think of the close unanimity that exists between the two. How much more is this to be observed of the holy Prophets!
There is a second reason why the name Hieremias should be suffered to remain in this quotation from Zacharias, or rather why it should have been suggested by the Holy Spirit. It is said in Hieremias, that he bought a field of his brother’s son, and gave him silver for it, [Jer 32:9] though not indeed the sum stated in Zacharias, thirty pieces of silver. That the Evangelist has here adapted the thirty pieces of silver in Zacharias to this transaction in the Lord’s history, is plain; but he may also wish to convey that what Hieremias speaks of the field is mystically alluded to here, and therefore he puts not the name of Zacharias who spoke of the thirty pieces of silver, but of Hieremias who spoke of the purchase of the field. So that in reading the Gospel and finding the name of Hieremias, but not finding there the passage respecting the thirty pieces of silver, but the account of the purchase of the field, the reader might be induced to compare the two together, and so extract from them the sense of the prophecy, how far it refers to what was now accomplished in the Lord. For what Matthew adds to the prophecy, “Whom they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me,” this, “as the Lord appointed me,” is found neither in Zacharias nor Hieremias. It must then be taken in the person of the Evangelist as inserted with a mystic meaning, that he had learned by revelation that the prophecy referred to this matter of the price for which Christ was betrayed.
Jerome, Hieron. ad Pam. Ep. 57, 5: Far be it then from a follower of Christ to suppose him guilty of falsehood, whereas his business was not to pry into words and syllables, but to lay down the staple of doctrine.
Aug., Hieron. in loc.: I have lately read in a Hebrew book given me by a Hebrew of the Nazarene sect, an apocryphal Hieremias, in which I find the very words here quoted. After all, I am rather inclined to think that the passage was taken by Matthew out of Zacharias, in the usual manner of the Apostles and Evangelists when they quote from the Old Testament, neglecting the words, and attending only to the sense.
11. And 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." 12. And when he was accused of the Chief Priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13. Then said Pilate unto him, "Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14. And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 7: Matthew, having finished his digression concerning the traitor Judas, returns to the course of his narrative saying, “Jesus stood before the governor.”
Origen: Mark how He that is ordained by His Father to be the Judge of the whole creation, humbled Himself, and was content to stand before the judge of the land of Judaea, and to be asked by Pilate either in mockery or doubt, “Art thou the King of the Jews?”
Chrys., Hom. lxxxvi: Pilate asked Christ that which His enemies were continually casting in His teeth, for because they knew that Pilate cared not for matters of their Law, they had recourse to a public charge.
Origen: Or, Pilate spoke this affirmatively, as he afterwards wrote in the inscription, “The King of the Jews.” By answering to the Chief Priest, “Thou hast said,” He indirectly reproved his doubts, but now He turns Pilate’s speech into an affirmative, “Jesus saith unto him, Thou sayest it.”
Chrys.: He acknowledges Himself to be a King, but a heavenly one, as it is more expressly said in another Gospel, “My kingdom is not of this world [John 18:36], so that neither the Jews nor Pilate were excusable for insisting on this accusation.
Hilary: Or, when asked by the High Priest whether He were Jesus the Christ, He answered, “Thou hast said,” because He had ever maintained out of the Law that Christ should come, but to Pilate who was ignorant of the Law, and asks if He were the King of the Jews, He answers, “Thou sayest,” because the salvation of the Gentiles is through faith of that present confession.
Jerome: But observe, that to Pilate who asked the question unwillingly He did answer somewhat; but to the Chief Priests and Priests He refused to answer, judging them unworthy of a word; “And when he was accused by the Chief Priests and Elders he answered nothing.”
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 8: Luke explains what were the accusations alleged against Him, “And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.” [Luke 23:2] But it is of no consequence to the truth in what order they relate the history, or that one omits what another inserts.
Origen: Neither then nor now did Jesus make any reply to their accusations, for the word of God was not sent to them, as it was formerly to the Prophets. Neither was Pilate worthy of an answer, as be had no fixed or abiding opinion of Christ, but veered about to contradictory suppositions. “Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?”
Jerome: Thus though it is a Gentile who sentences Jesus, he lays the cause of His condemnation upon the Jews.
Chrys.: He said this out of a wish to release Him, if He should justify Himself in His answer. But the Jews, though they had so many practical proofs of His power, His meekness and humbleness, were yet enraged against Him, and urged on by a perverted judgment. Wherefore He answers nothing, or if He makes any answer He says little, that total silence might not be construed into obstinacy.
Jerome: Or, Jesus would not make any answer, lest if He cleared Himself the governor should have let Him go, and the benefit of His cross should have been deferred.
Origen: “The governor marvelled” at His endurance, as knowing that he had power to condemn Him, He yet continued in a peaceful, placid, and immovable prudence and gravity. He marvelled “greatly,” for it seemed to him a great miracle that Christ, produced before a criminal tribunal, stood thus fearless of death, which all men think so terrible.
15. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" 18. For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." 20. But the Chief Priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21. The governor answered and said unto them, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" They said, "Barabbas." 22. Pilate saith unto them, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" They all say unto him, "Let him be crucified." 23. And the governor said, "Why, what evil bath he done?" But they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified." 24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it." 25. Then answered all the people, and said, "His blood be on us, and on our children." 26. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Chrys.: Because Christ had answered nothing to the accusations of the Jews, by which Pilate could acquit Him of what was alleged against Him, he contrives other means of saving Him. “Now on the feast day the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner whom they would.”
Origen: Thus do the Gentiles shew favours to those whom they subject to themselves, until their yoke is riveted. Yet did this practice obtain also among the Jews, Saul did not put Jonathan to death, because all the people sought his life. [marg. note: 1 Sam 14]
Chrys.: And he sought to rescue Christ by means of this practice, that the Jews might not have the shadow of an excuse left them. A convicted murderer is put in comparison with Christ, Barabbas, whom he calls not merely a robber, but a notable one, that is, renowned for crime.
Jerome: In the Gospel entitled ‘according to the Hebrews,’ Barabbas is interpreted, ‘The son of their master,’ who had been condemned for sedition and murder. Pilate gives them the choice between Jesus and the robber, not doubting but that Jesus would be the rather chosen.
Chrys.: “Whom will ye that I release unto you?” &c. As much as to say, If ye will not let Him go as innocent, at least, yield Him, as convicted, to this holy day. For if you would have released one of whose guilt there was no doubt, much more should you do so in doubtful cases. Observe how circumstances are reversed. It is the populace who are wont to petition. for the condemned, and the prince to grant, but here it is the reverse, the prince asks of the people, and renders them thereby more violent.
Gloss., non occ.: The Evangelist adds the reason why Pilate sought to deliver Christ, “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.”
Remig.: John explains what their envy was, when he says, “Behold, the world is gone after him;” [John 12:19] and, “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him.” [John 11:48] Observe also that in place of what Matthew says, “Jesus, who is called Christ,” Mark says, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” [Mark 15:9] For the kings of the Jews alone were anointed, and from that anointing were called Christs.
Chrys.: Then is added something else which alone was enough to deter all from putting Him to death; “When he was set on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man.” For joined with the proof afforded by the events themselves, a dream was no light confirmation.
Raban.: It is to be noted, that the bench (tribunal) is the seat of the judge, the throne (solium) of the king, the chair (cathedra) of the master. In visions and dreams the wife of a Gentile understood what the Jews when awake would neither believe nor understand.
Jerome: Observe also that visions are often vouchsafed by God to the Gentiles, and that the confession of Pilate and his wife that the Lord was innocent is a testimony of the Gentile people.
Chrys.: But why did Pilate himself not see this vision? Because his wife was more worthy; or because if Pilate had seen it, he would not have had equal credit, or perhaps would not have told it; wherefore it is provided by God that his wife should see it, and thus it be made manifest to all. And she not merely sees it, but “suffers many things because of him,” so that sympathy with his wife would make the husband more slack to put Him to death. And the time agreed well, for it was the same night that she saw it.
Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caen. Dom.: Thus then the judge terrified through his wife, and that he might not consent in the judgment to the accusation of the Jews, himself endured judgment in the affliction of his wife; the judge is judged, and tortured before he tortures.
Raban.: Or otherwise; The devil now at last understanding that he should lose his trophies through Christ, as be had at the first brought in death by a woman, so by a woman he would deliver Christ out of the hands of His enemies, lest through His death he should lose the sovereignty of death.
Chrys.: But none of the foregoing things moved Christ’s enemies, because envy had altogether blinded them, and of their own wickedness they corrupt the people, for they “persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”
Origen: Thus it is plainly seen how the Jewish people is moved by its elders and the doctors of the Jewish system, and stirred up against Jesus to destroy Him.
Gloss., non occ.: Pilate is said to make this answer, “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?” either to the message of his wife, or the petition of the people, with whom it was a custom to ask such release on the feast-day.
Origen: But the populace, like wild beasts that rage the open plains, would have Barabbas released to them. For this people had seditions, murders, robberies, practised by some of their own nation in act, and nourished by all of them who believe not in Jesus, inwardly in their mind. Where Jesus is not, there are strifes and fightings; where He is, there is peace and all good things. All those who are like the Jews either in doctrine or life desire Barabbas to be loosed to them; for whoso does evil, Barabbas is loosed in his body, and Jesus bound; but he that does good has Christ loosed, and Barabbas bound. Pilate sought to strike them with shame for so great injustice, “What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ?” And not that only, but desiring to fill up the measure of their guilt. But neither do they blush that Pilate confessed Jesus to be the Christ, nor set any bounds to their impiety, They all say unto him, “Let him be crucified.” Thus they multiplied the sum of their wickedness, not only asking the life of a murderer, but the death of a righteous man, and that the shameful death of the cross.
Raban.: Those who were crucified being suspended on a cross, by nails driven into the wood through their hands and feet, perished by a lingering death, and lived long on the cross, not that they sought longer life, but that death was deferred to prolong their sufferings. The Jews indeed contrived this as the worst of deaths, but it had been chosen by the Lord without their privity, thereafter to place upon the foreheads of the faithful the same cross as a trophy of His victory over the Devil.
Jerome: Yet even after this answer of theirs, Pilate did not at once assent, but in accordance with his wife’s suggestion, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man,” he answered, “Why, what evil hath he done?” This speech of Pilate’s acquits Jesus. “But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified;” that it might be fulfilled which is said in the Psalm, “Many dogs have compassed me, the congregation of the wicked hath inclosed me;” [Ps 22:16] and also that of Hieremias, “Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest, they have given forth their voice against me.” [Jer 12:8]
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 8: Pilate many times pleaded with the Jews, desiring that Jesus might be released, which Matthew witnesses in very few words, when he says, “Pilate seeing that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made.” He would not have spoken thus, if Pilate had not striven much, though how many efforts he made to release Jesus he does not mention.
Remig.: It was customary among the ancients, when one would refuse to participate in any crime, to take water and wash his hands before the people.
Jerome: Pilate took water in accordance with that, “I Will wash my hands in innocency,” [Ps 26:6] in a manner testifying and saying, I indeed have sought to deliver this innocent man, but since a tumult is rising, and the charge of treason to Caesar is urged against me, I am innocent of the blood of this just man. The judge then who is thus compelled to give sentence against the Lord, does not convict the accused, but the accusers, pronouncing innocent Him who is to be crucified. “See ye to it,” as though be had said, I am the law’s minister, it is your voice that has shed this blood. Then answered all the people and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” This imprecation rests at the present day upon the Jews, the Lord’s blood is not removed from them.
Chrys.: Observe here the infatuation of the Jews; their headlong haste, and destructive passions will not let them see what they ought to see, and they curse themselves, saying, “His blood be upon us,” and even entail the curse upon their children. Yet a merciful God did not ratify this sentence, but accepted such of them and of their children as repented; for Paul was of them, and many thousands of those who in Jerusalem believed.
Leo, Serm., 59, 2: The impiety of the Jews then exceeded the fault of Pilate; but he was not guiltless, seeing he resigned his own jurisdiction, and acquiesced in the injustice of others.
Jerome: It should be known that Pilate administered the Roman law, which enacted that every one who was crucified should first be scourged. Jesus then is given up to the soldiers to be beaten, and they tore with whips that most holy body and capacious bosom of God.
Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caena Dom.: See the Lord is made ready for the scourge, see now it descends upon Him! That sacred skin is torn by the fury of the rods; the cruel might of repeated blows lacerates His shoulders. Ah me! God is stretched out before man, and He, in whom not one trace of sin can be discerned, suffers punishment as a malefactor.
Jerome: This was done that we might be delivered from those stripes of which it is said, “Many stripes shall be to the wicked.” [Ps 32:10] Also in the washing of Pilate’s hands all the works of the Gentiles are cleansed, and we are acquitted of all share in the impiety of the Jews.
Hilary: At the desire of the Priests the populace chose Barabbas, which is interpreted ’the son of a Father,’ thus shadowing forth the unbelief to come when Antichrist the son of sin should be preferred to Christ.
Raban.: Barabbas also, who headed a sedition among the people, is released to the Jews, that is the Devil, who to this day reigns among them, so that they cannot have peace.
27. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" 30. And they spit upon him, and took the reed and smote him on the head.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 9: After the Lord’s trial comes His Passion, which thus begins, “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall,” &c.
Jerome: He had been styled King of the Jews, and the Scribes and Priests had brought this charge against Him, that He claimed sovereignty over the Jewish nation; hence this mockery of the soldiers, taking away His own garments, they put on Him a scarlet cloak to represent that purple fringe which kings of old used to wear, for the diadem they put on Him a crown of thorns, and for the regal sceptre give Him a reed, and perform adoration to Him as to a king.
Aug.: Hence we understand what Mark means by “clothed him with purple;” [Mark 15:17] instead of the royal purple, this scarlet cloak was used in mockery; and there is a shade of purple which is very like scarlet. Or it may be, that Mark spoke of the purple which the cloak contained, though its colour was scarlet.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxvii: What should we henceforth care if any one insults us, after Christ has thus suffered? The utmost that cruel outrage could do was put in practice against Christ; and not one member only, but His whole body suffered injuries; His head from the crown, the reed, and the buffetings; His face which was spit upon; His cheeks which they smote with the palms of their hands; His whole body from the scourging, the stripping to put on the cloak, and the mockery of homage; His hands from the reed which they put into them in mimicry of a sceptre; as though they were afraid of omitting aught of indignity.
Aug.: But Matthew seems to introduce this here as recollected from above, not that it was done at the time Pilate gave Him up for crucifixion. For John puts it before He is given up by Pilate.
Jerome: All these things we may understand mystically. For as Caiaphas said that “it is expedient that one man should die for the people,” [John 11:50] not knowing what he said, so these, in all they did, furnished sacraments to us who believe, though they did them with other intention. In the scarlet robe He bears the bloody works of the Gentiles; by the crown of thorns He takes away the ancient curse; with the reed He destroys poisonous animals; or He held the reed in His hand wherewith to write down the sacrilege of the Jews.
Hilary: Or otherwise; The Lord having taken upon Him all the infirmities of our body, is then covered with the scarlet coloured blood of all the martyrs, to whom is due the kingdom with Him; He is crowned with thorns, that is, with the sins of the Gentiles who once pierced Him, for there is a prick in thorns of which is woven the crown of victory for Christ. In the reed, He takes into His hand and supports the weakness and frailty of the Gentiles; and His head is smitten therewith that the weakness of the Gentiles sustained by Christ’s hand may rest on God the Father, who is His head.
Origen: Or, The reed was a mystery signifying that before we believed we trusted in that reed of Egypt, or Babylon, or of some other kingdom opposed to God, which He took that He might triumph over it with the wood of the cross. With this reed they smite the head of Christ, because this kingdom ever beats against God the Father, who is the head of the Saviour.
Remig.: Or otherwise, By the scarlet robe is denoted the Lord’s flesh, which is spoken of as red by reason of shedding of His blood; by the crown of thorns His taking upon Him our sins, because He appeared “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” [Rom 8:3]
Raban.: They smite the head of Christ with a reed, who speak against His divinity, and endeavour to maintain their error by the authority of Holy Scripture, which is written by a reed. They spit upon His face who reject in abominable words the presence of His grace, and deny that Jesus is come in the flesh. And they mock Him with adoration who believe on Him, but despise Him with perverse works.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., ii, in fin: That they took from off the Lord in His passion His own garment, and put on Him a coloured robe, denotes those heretics who said that He had a shadowy, and not a real body.
31. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. 32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. 33. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
Gloss, non occ.: After the Evangelist had narrated what concerned the mocking of Christ, he proceeds to His crucifixion.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 9: This is to be understood to have been done at the end of all when He was led off to crucifixion after Pilate had delivered Him up to the Jews.
Jerome: It is to be noted, that when Jesus is scourged and spit upon, He has not on His own garments, but those which He took for our sins; but when He is crucified, and the show of His mockery is completed, then He takes again His former garments, and His own dress, and immediately the elements are shaken, and the creature gives testimony to the Creator.
Origen: Of the cloak it is mentioned that they took it off Him, but of the crown of thorns the Evangelists have not spoken, so that there are now no longer those ancient thorns of ours, since Jesus has taken them from us upon HiS revered head.
Chrys., Hom. de Cruc. et Lat., ii: The Lord would not suffer under a roof, or in the Jewish Temple, that you should not suppose that He was offered for that people alone; but without the city, without the walls, that you might know that the sacrifice was common, that it was the offering of the whole earth, that the purification was general.
Jerome: Let none think that John’s narrative contradicts this place of the Evangelist. John says that the Lord went forth from the praetorium bearing His cross; Matthew tells, that they found a man of Cyrene upon whom they laid Jesus’ cross. We must suppose that as Jesus went out of the praetorium, He was bearing His cross, and that afterwards they met Simon, whom they compelled to bear it.
Origen: Or, as they went out, they laid hold of Simon, but when they drew near to the place in which they would crucify Him, they laid the cross upon Him that He might bear it. Simon obtained not this office by chance, but was brought to the spot by God’s providence, that he might be found worthy of mention in the Scriptures of the Gospel, and of the ministry of the cross of Christ. And it was not only meet that the Saviour should carry His cross, but meet also that we should take part therein, filling a carriage so beneficial to us. Yet would it not have so profited us to take it on us, as we have profited by His taking it upon Himself. [marg. note: ]
Jerome: Figuratively, the nations take up the cross, and the foreigner by obedience bears the ignominy of the Saviour.
Hilary: For a Jew was not worthy to bear Christ’s cross, but it was reserved for the faith of the Gentiles both to take the cross, and to suffer with Him.
Remig.: For this Simon was not a man of Jerusalem, but a foreigner, and denizen, being a Cyrenean; Cyrene is a town of Lybia. Simon is interpreted ‘obedient,’ and a Cyrenean ‘an heir;’ whence he well denotes the people of the Gentiles, which was strange to the testaments of God, but by believing became a fellow-citizen of the saints, of the household, and an heir of God.
Greg., Hom. in. Ev., xxxii, 3: Or otherwise; By Simon who bears the burden of the Lord’s cross are denoted those who are abstinent and proud; these by their abstinence afflict their flesh, but seek not within the fruit of abstinence. Thus Simon bears the cross, but does not die thereon, as these afflict the body, but in desire of vain-glory live to the world.
Raban.: “Golgotha” is a Syriac word, and is interpreted Calvary.
Jerome: [ed. note, b: He probably refers to an anonymous disputant, of whom he speaks more at length in his Commentary on Ephesians 5, 14; but a tradition to the same effect is mentioned by Origen, whose words, as preserved in a MS. Catena quoted by Ruaeus, are, “A tradition has come down to us, preserved by the Hebrews, that the body of Adam is buried in Calvary, so that as in Adam all die, so in Christ may all be made alive.” And to the same effect Epiphanius cont. Tatian, and the Pseudo-Cyprian. ‘De Resur. Christi.’] I have heard Calvary expounded as the spot in which Adam was buried, as though it had been so called from the head of the old man being buried there. A plausible interpretation, and agreeable to the ears of the people, yet not a true one. Without the city outside the gate are the places where criminals are executed, and these have got the name of Calvary, that is, of the beheaded. And Jesus was crucified there, that where the plot of criminals had been, there might be set up the flag of martyrdom. But Adam was buried near Ebron and Arbee, as we read in the volume of Jesus the son of Nave. [ed. note: Josh. 14, 15. in the Vulgate, “Adam maximus ibi inter Enacim situs est;” departing from both the Heb. and LXX.]
Hilary: Such is the place of the cross, set up in the centre of the earth, that it might be equally free to all nations to attain the knowledge of God.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 11: “And they gave him to drink wine mingled with gall.” Mark says, “mingled with myrrh.” [Mark 16:23] Matthew put “gall” to express bitterness, but wine mingled with myrrh is very bitter; though indeed it might be, that gall together with myrrh would make the most bitter.
Jerome: The bitter vine makes bitter wine; this they gave the Lord Jesus to drink, that that might be fulfilled which was written, “They gave me also gall for my meat.” [Ps 69:12] And God addresses Jerusalem, “I had planted there a true vine, how art thou turned into the bitterness of a strange vine?” [Jer 2:21]
*Aug.**: “And when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.” That Mark says, “But he received it not,” we understand to mean that He would not receive it to drink thereof. For that He tasted it Matthew bears witness; so that Matthew’s, “He could not drink thereof,” means exactly the same as Mark’s, “He received it not;” only Mark does not mention His tasting it. That He tasted but would not drink of it signifies that He tasted the bitterness of death for us, but rose again the third day.
Hilary: Or, He therefore refused the “wine mingled with gall, because the bitterness of sin is not mingled with the incorruption of eternal glory.
35. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36. And sitting down they watched him there; 37. And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
Gloss, non occ.: Having described how Christ was led to the scene of His Passion, the Evangelist proceeds to the Passion itself, describing the kind of death; “And they crucified him.”
Aug., Lib. 83, Quaest q25: The Wisdom of God took upon Him man, to give us an example how we might live rightly. It pertains to right life not to fear things that are not to be feared. But some men who do not fear death in itself, yet dread some kinds of death. That no sort of death is to be feared by the man who lives aright, was to be shewn by this Man’s cross. For of all the modes of death none was more horrible and fearful than this.
Aug., in Serm., non occ.: Let your holiness consider of what might is the power of the cross. Adam set at nought the commandment, taking the apple from the tree; but all that Adam lost, Christ found upon the cross. The ark of wood saved the human race from the deluge of waters; when God’s people came out of Egypt, Moses divided the sea with his rod, overwhelmed Pharaoh, and redeemed God’s people. The same Moses changed the bitter water into sweet by casting wood into it. By the rod the refreshing stream was drawn out of the rock; that Amalech might be overcome, Moses’ outstretched hands were supported upon his rod; the Law of God is entrusted to the wooden ark of the covenant, that thus, by these steps we may come at last to the wood of the cross.
Chrys., Hom. de Cruc. et Lat. ii: He suffered on a lofty cross, and not under a roof, to the end that the nature of the air might be purified; the earth also partook a like benefit, being cleansed by the blood that dropped from His side.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: The shape of the cross seems also to signify the Church spread through the four quarters of the earth.
Raban.: Or, according to the practical exposition, the cross in respect of its broad transverse piece signifies the joy of him that works, for sorrow produces straitness; for the broad part of the cross is in the transverse beam to which the hands are fastened, and by the hands we understand works. By the upper part to which the head is fastened is denoted our looking for retribution from the supreme righteousness of God. The perpendicular part on which the body is stretched denotes endurance, whence the patient are called ’long-suffering’ [marg. note: longamines]. The point that is fixed into the ground shadows forth the invisible part of a sacrament.
Hilary: Thus on the tree of life the salvation and life of all is suspended.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 12: Matthew shortly says, “They parted his garments, casting lots;” but John explains more fully how it was done. “The soldiers, when they had crucified him, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat; now the coat was without seam.” [John 19:23]
Chrys.: It is to be noted, that this is no small degradation of Christ. For they did this as to one utterly abject and worthless, yet for the thieves they did not the same. For they share the garments only in the case of condemned persons so mean and poor as to possess nothing more.
Jerome: This which was now done to Christ had been prophesied in the Psalm, “They parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” [Ps 22:18] It proceeds, “And sitting down, they watched him there.” This watchfulness of the soldiers and of the Priests has proved of use to us in making the power of His resurrection greater and more notorious. “And they set up over his head his accusation written, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” I cannot sufficiently wonder at the enormity of the thing, that having purchased false witnesses, and having stirred up the unhappy people to riot and uproar, they found no other plea for putting Him to death, than that He was King of the Jews; and this perhaps they set up in mockery.
Remig.: It was divinely provided that this title should be set up over His head, that the Jews might learn that not even by putting Him to death could they avoid having Him for their King; for in the very instrument of His death He not only did not lose, but rather confirmed His sovereignty.
Origen: The High Priest also in obedience to the letter of the Law wore on his head the writing, ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ but the true High Priest and King, Jesus, bears on His cross the title, “This is the King of the Jews;” when ascending to His Father, instead of His own name with its proper letters, He has the Father Himself.
Raban.: For because He is at once King and Priest, when He would offer the sacrifice of His flesh on the altar of the cross, His title set forth His regal dignity. And it is set over and not beneath the cross, because though He suffered for us on the cross with the weakness of man, the majesty of the King was conspicuous above the cross; and this He did not lose, but rather confirmed, by the cross.
Jerome, Hieron., non occ.: As Christ was made for us a curse of the cross, so for the salvation of all He is crucified as guilty among the guilty.
Leo, Serm. 55, 1: “Two thieves were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left,” that in the figure of His cross might be represented that separation of all mankind which shall be made in His judgment. The Passion then of Christ contains a sacrament of our salvation, and of that instrument which the wickedness of the Jews provided for His punishment, the power of the Redeemer made a step to glory.
Hilary: Or otherwise; Two thieves are set up on His right and left hand, to signify that the entire human race is called to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Passion; but because there shall be a division of believers to the right, and unbelievers to the left, one of the two who is set on His right hand is saved by the justification of faith.
Remig., ap. Gloss. ord.: Or, by the two thieves are denoted all those who strive after the continence of a strict life. They who do this with a single intention of pleasing God, are denoted by him who was crucified on the right hand; they who do it out of desire of human praise or any less worthy motive, are signified by him who was crucified on the left.
39. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their beads, 40. And saying, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41. Likewise also the Chief Priests mocking him, with the Scribes and elders, said, 42. "He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
Chrys.: Having stripped and crucified Christ, they go yet further, and seeing Him on the cross revile Him.
Jerome: “They revile him” because they passed by that way, and would not walk in the true way of the Scriptures. “They wagged their heads,” because they had just before shifted their feet, and stood not upon a rock. The foolish rabble cast the same taunt against Him that the false witnesses had invented, “Aha! thou that destroyest the temple of God and rebuildest it in three days.”
Remig.: “Aha!” is an interjection of taunt and mockery.
Hilary: What forgiveness then for them, when by the resurrection of His body they shall see the temple of God rebuilt within three days?
Chrys.: And as beginning to extenuate His former miracles, they add, “Save thyself; if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
Chrys., Hom. de Cruc. et Latr. ii: He, on the contrary, does not come down from the cross, because He is the Son of God; for He therefore came that He might be crucified for us.
Jerome: Even the Scribes and Pharisees reluctantly confess that “He saved others.” Your own judgment then condemns you, for in that He saved others, He could if He would have saved Himself.
Pseudo-Chrys.: [ed. note, d: Hom. de Cruce et Latr. in the Latin Chrys. (ed. Paris. 1588.) vol. iii. p. 750] But attend to this speech of these children of the Devil, how they imitate their father’s speech. The Devil said, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down;” [Matt 4:6] and they say now, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
Leo, Serm. 55, 2: From what source of error, O Jews, have ye sucked in the poison of such blasphemies? What teacher delivered it to you? What learning moved you to think that the true King of Israel, that the veritable Son of God, would be He who would not suffer Himself to be crucified, and would set free His body from the fastenings of the nails? Not the bidden meaning of the Law, not the mouths of the Prophets. Had ye indeed ever read, “I hid not my face from the shame of spitting;” [Is 50:6] or that again, :They pierced my hands and my feet, they told all my bones.” [Ps 22:16] Where have ye ever read that the Lord came down from the cross? But ye have read, “The Lord hath reigned from the tree.” [ed. note, e: Ps. 96, 10. ‘Dominus regnavit a ligno,’ in the old Italic Version; and so Tertullian adv. Marc. iii. The Vulg. follows the Heb.]
Raban.: Had He then been prevailed on by their taunts to leave the cross, He would not have proved to us the power of endurance; but He waited enduring their mockery; and He who would not come down from the cross, rose again from the tomb.
Jerome: But unworthy of credit is that promise, “And we will believe him.” For which is greater, to come down while yet alive from the cross, or to rise from the tomb when dead? Yet this He did, and ye believed not; therefore neither would ye have believed if He had come down from the cross. It seems to me that this was a suggestion of the daemons. For immediately when the Lord was crucified they felt the power of the cross, and perceived that their strength was broken, and therefore contrive this to move Him to come down from the cross. But the Lord, aware of the designs of His foes, remains on the cross that He may destroy the Devil.
Chrys.: “He trusted in God, let him now deliver him, if he will.” O most foul! Were they therefore not Prophets or righteous men, because God did not deliver them out of their perils? But if He would not oppose their glory, which accrued to them out of the perils which you brought upon them, much more in this man ought you not to be offended because of what He suffers; what He has ever said ought to remove any such suspicion. When they add, “Because he said, I am the Son of God,” they desire to intimate that He suffered as an impostor and seducer, and as making high and false pretences. And not only the Jews and the soldiers from below, but from above likewise. “The thieves, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.”
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 16: It may seem that Luke contradicts this, when be describes one of the robbers as reviling Him, and as therefore rebuked by the other. But we may suppose that Matthew, shortly alluding to the circumstance, has used the plural for the singular, as in the Epistle to the Hebrews we have, “Have stopped the mouths of lions,” [Heb. 11:33] when Daniel only is spoken of. And what more common way of speaking than for one to say, See the country people insult me, when it is one only who has done so. If indeed Matthew had said that both the thieves had reviled the Lord, there would be some discrepancy; but when he says merely, “The thieves,” without adding ‘both,’ we must consider it as that common form of speech in which the singular is signified by the plural.
Jerome: Or it may be said that at first both reviled Him; but when the sun had withdrawn, the earth was shaken, the rocks were rent, and the darkness increased, one believed on Jesus, and repaired his former denial by a subsequent confession.
Chrys.: At first both reviled Him, but afterwards not so. For that you should not suppose that the thing was arranged by any collusion, and that the thief was not a thief, he shews you by his wanton reproaches, that even after He was crucified he was a thief and a foe, but was afterwards totally changed.
Hilary: That both the thieves cast in His teeth the manner of His Passion, shews that the cross should be an offence to all mankind, even to the faithful.
Jerome: Or, in the two thieves both nations, Jews and Gentiles, at first blasphemed the Lord; afterwards the latter terrified by the multitude of signs did penitence, and thus rebukes the Jews, who blaspheme to this day.
Origen: The thief who was saved may be a sign of those who after many sins have believed on Christ.
45. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47. Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, "This man calleth for Elias." 48. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49. The rest said, "Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him." 50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Pseudo-Chrys., in Hom. de Cruce et Latr.: Creation could not bear the outrage offered to the Creator; whence the sun withdrew his beams, that he might not look upon the crime of these impious men.
Origen: Some take occasion from this text to cavil against the truth of the Gospel. For indeed from the beginning eclipses of the sun have happened in their proper seasons; but such an eclipse as would be brought about by the ordinary course of the seasons could only be at such time as the sun and moon come together, when the moon passing beneath intercepts the sun’s rays. But at the time of Christ’s passion it is clear that this was not the case, because it was the paschal feast, which it was customary to celebrate when the moon was full. Some believers, desiring to produce some answer to this objection, have said, that this eclipse in accordance with the other prodigies was an exception to the established laws of nature.
Dionys. ad Polycarp. Ep. 7: When we were together at Heliopolis, we both observed such an interference of the moon with the sun quite unexpectedly, for it was not the season of their conjunction; and then from the ninth hour until evening, beyond the power of nature, continuing in a direct line between us and the sun. And this obscuration we saw begin from the east, and so pass to the extreme of the sun’s orb, and again return back the same way, being thus the very reverse of an ordinary eclipse.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxviii: This darkness lasted three hours, whereas an eclipse is transient, and not enduring, as they know who have studied the matter.
Origen: Against this the children of this world urge, How is it that of the Greeks and Barbarians, who have made observations of these things, not one has recorded so remarkable a phenomenon as this? Phlegon indeed has recorded such an event as happening in the time of Tiberius Caesar, but he has not mentioned that it was at the full moon. I think therefore that, like the other miracles which took place at the Passion, the rending of the veil, and the earthquake, this also was confined to Jerusalem.
Or, if any one chooses, it may be extended to the whole of Judaea; as in the book of Kings, Abdias said to Elias, “As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee,” [1 Ki 18:10] meaning that be had been sought in the countries round about Judaea. Accordingly we might suppose many and dense clouds to have been brought together over Jerusalem and Judaea, enough to produce thick darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour. For we understand that there were two creatures created on the sixth day, the beasts before the sixth hour, man on the sixth; and therefore it was fitting that He who died for the salvation of man should be crucified at the sixth hour, and for this cause that darkness should be over the whole earth from the sixth to the ninth hour. And as by Moses stretching out his hands towards heaven darkness was brought upon the Egyptians who held the servants of God in bondage, so likewise when at the sixth hour Christ stretched out his hands on the cross to heaven, darkness came over all the people who had cried out, “Crucify him,” and they were deprived of all light as a sign of the darkness that should come, and that should envelop the whole people of the Jews. Further, under Moses there was darkness over the land of Egypt three days, but all the children of Israel had light; so under Christ there was darkness over all Judaea for three hours, because for their sins they were deprived of the light of God the Father, the splendour of Christ, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
But over the rest of the earth there is light, which every where illumines the Church of God in Christ. And if to the ninth hour there was darkness over Judaea, it is manifest that light returned to them again after that; “so, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered in, then all Israel shall be saved.” [Rom 11:25]
Chrys.: Or otherwise; The wonder was in this, that the darkness was over the whole earth, which had never come to pass before, save only in Egypt what time the Passover was celebrated; for the things done then were a type of these. And consider the time when this is done; at mid-day, while over the whole world it was day, that all the dwellers on the earth might perceive it. This is the sign He promised to them that asked Him, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign, and there shall no sign be given it save the sign of Jonas the Prophet,” [Matt 12:39] alluding to His cross and resurrection. And it was a much greater marvel that this should come to pass when He was fastened to the cross, than when He was walking at large on the earth.
Surely here was enough to convert them, not by the greatness of the miracle alone, but because it was done not till after all these instances of their frenzy, when their passion was past, when they had uttered all that they would, and were satiated with taunts and gibes. But how did they not all marvel and conclude Him to be God? Because the human race was at that time plunged in exceeding sluggishness and vice, and this wonder was but one, and quickly past away, and none cared to search out its cause, or perhaps they attributed it to eclipse, or some other physical consequence. And on this account He shortly afterwards lifts up His voice to shew that He yet lives, and Himself wrought this miracle; “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,” &c.
Jerome: He employed the beginning of the twenty-first Psalm. [marg. note: Ps 22:1, Vulg.] That clause in the middle of the verse, “Look upon me,” is superfluous; for the Hebrew has only ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,’ that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is impiety therefore to think that this Psalm was spoken in the character of David or Esther or Mardocheus, when passages taken out of it by the Evangelist are understood of the Saviour; as, “They parted my garments among them,” and, “They pierced my hands.”
Chrys.: He uttered this word of prophecy, that He might bear witness to the very last hour to the Old Testament, and that they might see that He honours the Father, and is not against God. And therefore too, He used the Hebrew tongue, that what He said might be intelligible to them.
Origen: But it must be asked, What means this, that Christ is forsaken of God? Some, unable to explain how Christ could be forsaken of God, say that this was spoken out of humility. But you will be able clearly to comprehend His meaning if you make a comparison of the glory which He had with the Father with the shame which He despised when He endured the cross.
Hilary, de Trin. x. 50 &c.: From these words heretical spirits contend either that God the Word was entirely absorbed into the soul at the time it discharged the function of a soul in quickening the body; or that Christ could not have been born man, because the Divine Word dwelt in Him after the manner of a prophetical spirit. As though Jesus Christ was a man of ordinary soul and body, having His beginning then when He began to be man, and thus now deserted upon the withdrawal of the protection of God’s word cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Or at least that the nature of the Word being transmuted into soul, Christ, who had depended in all things upon His Father’s support, now deserted and left to death, mourns over this desertion, and pleads with Him departing. But amidst these impious and feeble opinions, the faith of the Church imbued with Apostolic teaching does not sever Christ that He should be considered as Son of God and not as Son of Man. The complaint of His being deserted is the weakness of the dying man; the promise of Paradise is the kingdom of the living God. You have Him complaining that He is left to death, and thus He is Man; you have Him as He is dying declaring that He reigns in Paradise; and thus He is God. Wonder not then at the humility of these words, when you know the form of a servant, and see the offence of the cross.
Gloss., non occ.: God is said to have forsaken Him in death because He exposed Him to the power of His persecutors; He withdrew His protection, but did not break the union.
Origen: When He saw darkness over the whole land of Judaea He said this, Father, “why hast thou forsaken me?” meaning, Why hast thou given Me over exhausted to such sufferings? that the people who were honoured by Thee may receive the things that they have dared against Me, and should be deprived of the light of Thy countenance. Also, Thou hast forsaken Me for the salvation of the Gentiles. But what good have they of the Gentiles who have believed done, that I should deliver them from the evil one by shedding My precious blood on the ground for them? Or will they, for whom I suffer these things, ever do aught worthy of them? Or foreseeing the sins of those for whom He suffered, He said, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” that I should become “as one that gathereth stubble in the harvest, and gleanings in the vintage.” [Mic 9:1] But you must not imagine that the Saviour said this after the manner of men by reason of the misery which encompassed Him on the cross; for if you take it so you will not hear His “loud voice” and mighty words which point to something great hidden.
Raban.: Or, The Saviour said this as bearing about with Him our feelings, who when placed in dangers think ourselves forsaken by God. Human nature was forsaken by God because of its sins, and the Son of God becoming our Advocate laments the misery of those whose guilt He took upon Him; [ed. note: “These words He uttered as representing the person of men. For He was never forsaken by His Divine nature; but we were the forsaken, and the overlooked; whence He said this in as representing us.” Damasc. Fid Orth. iii 24. and so Theophylact.] therein shewing how they who sin ought to mourn, when He who never sinned did thus mourn.
Jerome: It follows, “Some of them that stood by,” &c.; “some,” not all; whom I suppose to have been Roman soldiers, ignorant of Hebrew, but from the words “Eli, Eli,” thought that He called upon Elias. But if we prefer to suppose them Jews, they do it after their usual manner, that they may accuse the Lord of weakness in thus invoking Elias.
Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. vi in Pass. (vol iii, p. 733): Thus the Source of living water is made to drink vinegar, the Giver of honey is fed with gall; Forgiveness is scourged, Acquittance is condemned, Majesty is mocked, Virtue ridiculed, the Bestower of showers is repaid with spitting.
Hilary: Vinegar is wine, which has turned sour either from neglect, or the fault of the vessel. Wine is the honour of immortality, or virtue. When this then had been turned sour in Adam, He took and drunk it at the hands of the Gentiles. It is offered to Him on a reed and a spunge; that is, He took from the bodies of the Gentiles immortality spoiled and corrupted, and transfused in Himself into a mixture of immortality that in us which was spoiled.
Remig.: Or otherwise; The Jews as degenerating from the wine of the Patriarchs and Prophets were vinegar; they had deceitful hearts, like to the winding holes and hollows in spunge. By the reed, Sacred Scripture is denoted, which was fulfilled in this action; for as we call that which the tongue utters, the Hebrew tongue, or the Greek tongue, for example; so the writing, or letters which the seed produces, we may call a reed.
Origin: And perhaps all who know the ecclesiastical doctrine, but live amiss, have given them to drink wine mingled with gall; but they who attribute to Christ untrue opinions, these filling a sponge with vinegar, put it upon the reed of Scripture, and put it to His mouth.
Raban.: The soldiers misunderstanding the sound of the Lord’s words, foolishly looked for the coming of Elias. But God, whom the Saviour thus invoked in the Hebrew tongue, He had in ever inseparably with Him.
Aug., in Serm., non occ.: When now nought of suffering remains to be endured, death still lingers, knowing that it has nothing there. The ancient foe suspected somewhat unusual. This man, first and only, he found having no sin, free from guilt, owing nothing to the laws of his jurisdiction. But leagued with Jewish madness, Death comes again to the assault, and desperately invades the Life-giver. “And Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” Wherefore should we be offended that Christ came from the bosom of the Father to take upon Him our bondage, that He might confer on us His freedom; to take upon Him our death, that we might be set free by His death; by despising death He exalted us mortals into Gods, counted them of earth worthy of things in heaven? For seeing the Divine power shines forth so brilliant in the contemplation of its works, it is an argument of boundless love, that it suffers for its subjects, dies for its bondsmen. This then was the first cause of the Lord’s Passion, that He would have it known how great God’s love to man, Who desired rather to be loved than feared. The second was that He might abolish with yet more justice the sentence of death which He had with justice passed. For as the first man had by guilt incurred death through God’s sentence, and handed down the same to his posterity, the second Man, who knew no sin, came from heaven that death might be condemned, which, when commissioned to seize the guilty, had presumed to touch the Author of sinlessness. And it is no wonder if for us He laid down what He had taken of us, His life, namely, when He has done other so great things for us, and bestowed so much on us.
Pseudo-Aug., Vigil cont. Felicianum, 14: Far be from the faithful any suspicion that Christ experienced our death in such sort that life (as far as it can) ceased to live. Had this been so, how could aught have been said to live during that three days, if the Fountain of Life itself was dried up? Therefore Christ’s Godhead experienced death through its partaking of humanity or of human feeling, which it had voluntarily taken on it; but it lost not the properties of its nature by which it gives life to all things. For when we die, without doubt the loss of life by the body is not the destruction of the soul, but the soul quitting the body loses not its own properties, but only lets go what it had quickened, and as far as in it lays produces the death of somewhat else, but itself defies death. To speak now of the Saviour’s soul; it might depart without being itself destroyed from His body for this three days’ space, even by the common laws of death, and without taking into account the indwelling Godhead, and His singular righteousness. For I believe that the Son of God died not in punishment of unrighteousness which He had not at all, but according to the law of that nature which He took upon Him for the redemption of the human race.
Damasc., de Fid. Orth. iii, 27: Although He died as man, and His holy soul was separated from His unstained body, yet His Godhead remained inseparate from either body or soul. Yet was not the one Person divided into two; for as both body and soul had from the beginning an existence in the Person of the Word, so also had they in death. For neither soul nor body had ever a Person of their own, besides the Person of the Word.
Jerome: It was a mark of Divine power in Him thus to dismiss the Spirit as Himself had said, “No man can take my life from me, but I lay it down and take it again.” [John 10:18] For by “the ghost” in this place we understand the soul; so called either because it is that which makes the body quick or spiritual, or because the substance of the soul itself is spirit, according to that which is written, “Thou takest away their breath, and they die.”
Chrys.: Also for this reason He cried out with a loud voice to shew that this is done by His own power. For by crying out with a loud voice when dying, He shewed incontestably that He was the true God; because a man in dying can scarcely utter even a feeble sound.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 18: Luke mentions the words which He thus cries out, “Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit.”
Hilary: Or, He gave up the ghost with a loud voice, in grief that He was not carrying the sins of all men.
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.
Origen: Great things were done at the moment that Jesus cried with a great voice.
**Aug.&&, de Cons. Ev., iii, 19: The wording sufficiently shews that the veil was rent just when He gave up the ghost. If he had not added, “And, lo!” but had merely said, “And the veil of the temple was rent,: it would have been uncertain whether Matthew and Mark had not inserted it here out of its place as they recollected, and Luke had observed the right order, who having said, “And the sun was darkened,” adds, “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain;” [Luke 23:45] or, on the contrary, Luke had returned to what they had inserted in its place.
Origen: It is understood that there were two veils; one veiling the Holy of Holies, the other, the outer part of the tabernacle or temple. In the Passion then of our Lord and Saviour, it was the outer veil which was rent from the top to the bottom, that by the rending of the veil from the beginning to the end of the world, the mysteries might be published which had been hid with good reason until the Lord’s coming. “But when that which is perfect is come,” [1 Cor 13:10] then the second veil also shall be taken away, that we may see the things that are hidden within, to wit, the true Ark of the Testament, and behold the Cherubim and the rest in their real nature.
Hilary: Or, The veil of the temple is rent, because from this time the nation was dispersed, and the honour of the veil is taken away with the guardianship of the protecting Angel.
Leo, in Serm. de Pass., non occ.: The sudden commotion in the elements is a sufficient sign in witness of His venerable Passion, “The earth quaked, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened.”
Jerome: It is not doubtful to any what these great signs signify according to the letter, namely, that heaven and earth and all things should bear witness to their crucified Lord.
Hilary: “The earth quaked,” because it was unequal to contain such a body; “the rocks rent,” for the Word of God that pierces all strong and mighty things, and the virtue of the eternal Power had penetrated them; “the graves were opened,” for the bands of death were loosed. “And many bodies of the saints which slept arose,” for illumining the darkness of death, and shedding light upon the gloom of Hades, He robbed the spirits of death.
Chrys.: When He remained on the cross they had said tauntingly, “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” But what He would not do for Himself, that He did and more than that for the bodies of the Saints. For if it was a great thing to raise Lazarus after four days, much more was it that they who had long slept should now shew themselves alive; this is indeed a proof of the resurrection to come. But that it might not be thought that that which was done was an appearance merely, the Evangelist adds, “And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
Jerome: As Lazarus rose from the dead, so also did many bodies of the Saints rise again to shew forth the Lord’s resurrection; yet notwithstanding that the graves were opened, they did not rise again before the Lord rose, that He might be the first-born of the resurrection from the dead. “The holy city” in which they were seen after they had risen may be understood to mean either the heavenly Jerusalem, or this earthly, which once had been holy. For the city of Jerusalem was called Holy on account of the Temple and the Holy of Holies, and to distinguish it from other cities in which idols were worshipped. When it is said, “And appeared unto many,” it is signified that this was not a general resurrection which all should see, but special, seen only by such as were worthy to see it.
Remig.: But some one will ask, what became of those who rose again when the Lord rose. We must believe that they rose again to be witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection. Some have said that they died again, and were turned to dust, as Lazarus and the rest whom the Lord raised. But we must by no means give credit to these men’s sayings, since if they were to die again, it would be greater torment to them, than if they had not risen again. We ought therefore to believe without hesitation that they who rose from the dead at the Lord’s resurrection, ascended also into heaven together with Him.
Origen: These same mighty works are still done every day; the veil of the temple is rent for the Saints, in order to reveal the things that are contained within. The earthquakes, that is, all flesh because of the new word and new things of the New Testament. The rocks are rent, i.e. the mystery of the Prophets, that we may see the spiritual mysteries bid in their depths. The graves are the bodies of sinful souls, that is, souls dead to God; but when by God’s grace these souls have been raised, their bodies which before were graves, become bodies of Saints, and appear to go out of themselves, and follow Him who rose again, and walk with Him in newness of life; and such as are worthy to have their conversation in heaven enter into the Holy City at divers times, and appear unto many who see their good works.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 20: It is no contradiction here that Matthew says, that “The centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, feared when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done;” while Luke says, that he wondered at the giving up the ghost with a loud voice. For when Matthew adds, the things that were done, this gives full scope for Luke’s expression, that he wondered at the Lord’s death, for this among the rest was wonderful.
Jerome: Observe, that in the very midst of the offence of His passion the Centurion acknowledges the Son of God, while Arius in the Church proclaims Him a creature.
Raban.: Whence with good reason by the Centurion is denoted the faith of the Church, which, when the veil of heavenly mysteries had been rent by the Lord’s death, immediately asserts Jesus to be both very Man, and truly Son of God, while the Synagogue held its peace.
Leo, Serm. 66, 3: From this example then of the Centurion let the substance of the earth tremble in the punishment of it Redeemer, let the rocks of unbelieving minds be rent, and those who were pent up in these sepulchres of mortality leap forth, bursting the bonds that would detain them; and let them shew themselves in the Holy City, i.e. the Church of God, as signs of the Resurrection to come; and thus let that take place in the heart, which we must believe takes place in the body.
Jerome: It was a Jewish custom, and held no disgrace, according to the manners of the people of old, for women to minister of their substance, food, and clothing to their teachers. This Paul says, that he refused, because it might occasion scandal among the Gentiles. They ministered to the Lord of their substance, that He might reap their carnal things, of whom they reaped spiritual things. Not that the Lord needed food of the creature, but that He might set an example for the teacher, that He should be content to receive food and clothing from His disciples. But let us see what sort of attendants He had; “Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”
Origen: In Mark the third is called Salome.
Chrys.: These women thus watching the things that are done are the most compassionate, the most sorrowful. They had followed Him ministering, and remained by Him in danger, shewing the highest courage, for when the disciples fled they remained.
Jerome, Hieron. adv. Helvid.: ‘See,’ says Helvidius, ‘Jacob and Joseph are the sons of Mary the Lord’s mother, whom the Jews call the brethren of Christ. [marg. note: Mark 6:3] He is also called James the less, to distinguish him from James the greater, who was the son of Zebedee.’ And he urges that ‘it were impious to suppose that His mother Mary would be absent, when the other women were there; or that we should have to invent some other third unknown person of the name of Mary, and that too when John’s Gospel witnesses that His mother was present.’ O blind folly! O mind perverted to its own destruction! Hear what the Evangelist John says: “There stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” [John 19:25]
No one can doubt that there were two Apostles called James; the son of Zebedee, and the son of Alpheus. This unknown James the less, whom Scripture mentions as the son of Mary, if he is an Apostle, is the son of Alpheus; if he is not an Apostle, but a third unknown James, how can he be supposed to be the Lord’s brother, and why should he be styled ‘The Less,’ to distinguish him from ‘The Greater?’ For The Greater and The Less are epithets which distinguish two persons, but not three. And that the James, the Lord’s brother, was an Apostle, is proved by Paul, “Other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” [Gal 1:19]
But that you should not suppose this James to be the son of Zebedee, read the Acts, where he was put to death by Herod. [marg. note: Acts 12:1] The conclusion then remains, that this Mary, who is described as the mother of James the less, was wife of Alpheus, and sister of Mary the Lord’s mother, called by John, Mary the wife of Cleophas. But should you incline to think them two different persons, because in one place she is called Mary the mother of James the less, and in another place Mary the wife of Cleophas, you will learn the Scripture custom of calling the same man by different names; as Raguel Moses’ father-in-law is called Jethro. In like manner then, Mary the wife of Cleophas is called the wife of Alpheus, and the mother of James the less. For if she had been the Lord’s mother, the Evangelist would here, as in all other places, have called her so, and not described her as the mother of James, when he meant to designate the mother of the Lord. But even if Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, were different persons, it is still certain, that Mary the mother of James and Joses was not the Lord’s mother.
Aug.: We might have supposed that some of the women stood “afar off,” as three Evangelists say, and others “near the cross,” as John says, had not Matthew and Mark reckoned Mary Magdalen among those that stood afar off, while John puts her among those that stood near. This is reconciled if we understand the distance at which they were to be such that they might be said to be near, because they were in His sight; but far off in comparison of the crowd who stood nearer with the centurion and soldiers. We might also suppose that they who were there together with the Lord’s mother, began to depart after He had commended her to the disciple, that they might extricate themselves from the crowd, and looked on from a distance at the other things which were done, so that the Evangelists, who speak of them after the Lord’s death, speak of them as standing afar off.
57. When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 58. He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60. And 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 sepulchre, and departed. 61. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
Gloss., non occ.: When the Evangelist had finished the order of the Lord’s Passion and death, he treats of His burial.
Remig.: Arimathea is the same as Ramatha, the city of Helcana and Samuel, and is situated in the Chananitic country near Diospolis. This Joseph was a man of great dignity in respect of worldly station, but has the praise of much higher merit in God’s sight, seeing he is described as righteous. Indeed he that should have the burial of the Lord’s body ought to have been such, that he might be deserving of that office by righteous merit.
Jerome: He is described as rich, not out of any ambition on the part of the writer to represent so noble and rich a man as Jesus’ disciple, but to shew how he was able to obtain the body of Jesus from Pilate. For poor and unknown individuals would not have dared to approach Pilate, the representative of Roman power, and ask the body of a crucified malefactor. In another Gospel this Joseph is called a counsellor; and it is supposed that the first Psalm has reference to him, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” [Ps 1:1]
Chrys.: Consider this man’s courage; he risked his life, and took upon him many enmities in order to render this service; and not only dares to ask for Christ’s body, but also to bury it.
Jerome: By this simple burial of the Lord is condemned the ostentation of the rich, who cannot dispense with lavish expense even in their tombs. But we may also consider in a spiritual sense, that the Lord’s body was wrapped not in gold, jewels, or silk, but in clean linen; and that he who wrapped it, is he who embraces Jesus with a pure heart.
Remig.: Or, otherwise; The linen is grown out of the ground, and is bleached to whiteness with great labour, and thus this signifies that His body which was taken of the earth, that is of a Virgin, through the toil of passion came to the whiteness of immortality.
Raban.: From this also has prevailed in the Church the custom of celebrating the sacrifice of the altar not in silk, or in coloured robes, but in linen grown from the earth, as we read, was ordered by the Holy Pope Silvester.
Pseudo-Aug., Serm. App., 248, 4: The Saviour was laid in a tomb belonging to another man, because He died for the salvation of others. For why should He who in Himself had no death, have been laid in His own tomb? Or He whose place was reserved for Him in heaven, have had a monument upon earth? He who remained but three days space in the tomb, not as dead, but as resting on His bed? A tomb is the necessary abode of death; Christ then, who is our life, could not have an abode of death; He that ever liveth had no need of the dwelling of the departed.
Jerome: He is laid in a new tomb, lest after His resurrection it should be pretended that it was some other who had risen when they saw the other bodies there remaining. The new tomb may also signify the virgin womb of Mary. And He was laid in a tomb hewn out of the rock, lest had it been one raised of many stones, it might have been said that He was stolen away by undermining the foundations of the pile.
Pseudo-Aug., Aug in Serm., non occ.: Had the tomb been in the earth, it might have been said they undermined the place, and so carried Him off. Had a small stone been laid thereon, they might have said, They carried Him off while we slept.
Jerome: That a great stone was rolled there, shews that the tomb could not have been reopened without the united strength of many.
Hilary: Mystically, Joseph affords a figure of the Apostles. He wraps the body in a clean linen cloth, in which same linen sheet were let down to Peter out of heaven all manner of living creatures; whence we understand, that under the representation of this linen cloth the Church is buried together with Christ. The Lord’s body moreover is laid in a chamber hewn out of rock, empty and new; that is, by the teaching of the Apostles, Christ is conveyed into the hard breast of the Gentiles hewn out by the toil of teaching, rude and new, hitherto unpenetrated by any fear of God. And for that besides Him ought nothing to enter our breasts, a stone is rolled to the mouth, that as before Him we had received no author of divine knowledge, so after Him we should admit none.
Origen: This is no casual mention of the circumstances that the body was wrapped in clean linen, and laid in a new tomb, and a great stone rolled to the month, but that every thing touching the body of Jesus is clean, and new, and very great.
Remig.: When the Lord’s body was buried, and the rest returned to their own places, the women alone, who had loved Him more attachedly adhered to Him, and with anxious care noted the place where the Lord’s body was laid, that at fit time they might perform the service of their devotion to him.
Origen: The mother of the sons of Zebedee is not mentioned as having sat over against the sepulchre. And perhaps she was able to endure as far as the cross only, but these as stronger in love were not absent even from the things that were afterwards done.
Jerome: Or, when the rest left the Lord, the women continued in their attendance, looking for what Jesus had promised; and therefore they deserved to be the first to see the resurrection, because “he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” [Matt 10:22]
Remig.: And to this day the holy women, that is, the lowly souls of the saints, do the like in this present world, and with pious assiduity wait while Christ’s passion is being completed.