7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
This only increased Pilate's perplexity. His wife's message had perturbed him. The prisoner's extraordinary bearing had impressed him, and now the claim of divine sonship reported to him was calculated to stagger him. He rose from his seat and went straight to Christ in the judgment hall behind him, and said unto him, "Whence art thou?" Jesus made no answer.
Already condemned, and deeply suffering in body and mind, it was natural he should think all further communication useless. But Pilate was too much in earnest, though it might be the earnestness of superstition, to be put off. *
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
He meant to say that Pilate's power, though real and personal for the time being, was not his own, though he might think it was, but was divinely conferred, and could only be exercised conformably with Heaven's object in the gift: that, as the executive of Roman authority divinely permitted over Yahweh's land and people for the time being, he might not be personally responsible for its exercise: that the real sin lay with those who were using that authority for the private ends of malice and wickedness.
Whether Pilate understood or not, Christ's answer pleased him, and he returned to the Jewish assembly outside with an increased determination to release him. But it was all in vain. The more he argued in favour of release, the more tumultuous the Jews became in their opposition.*
12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.
What, O Israel? "Whosoever?" Your own promised Messiah also? Ye say that this Jesus of Nazareth is not he; but do ye not believe that he will in due time appear? And do ye say that when he comes, he must be rejected for "making himself a king?".
To what a depth of faithlessness and darkness must Israel have sunk to employ an argument that shut the door thus against the promises of God; or into what mental perversity they must have come to use an argument against Christ which, if correct, would exclude the Messiahship for ever.
It was so that "darkness had blinded their eyes." Pilate was dark-minded, but not in the same way. He felt a regard for Christ that would have been gratified at his release: but he felt a much greater regard for his own skin. Consequently, when he heard an insinuation of treason that might be turned against himself, he felt he must not trifle with the case. *
*Nazareth Revisited Ch 57
18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
54.-What has been accomplished in Christ?
ANSWER: Sin had been condemned in his death on the cross, and the righteousness of God has been declared and exhibited to all the world in the shedding of his blood.
55.-How could sin be condemned in Christ who was sinless? and how could the righteousness of God be declared in the blood-shedding of a righteous man?
ANSWER: Because being born of Adam's condemned race, and partaking of their condemned nature, Christ was made subject, equally with them to the consequences of Adam's transgression. Therefore his public execution was a public exhibition of what was due to a man from God.
It pleased God to require this before inviting men to reconciliation through the man in whom this vindication should take place.
The Christadelphian Instructor.
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Till the Lord Jesus, however, sits on his throne as "King of the Jews" (John 18:33-39; 19:12-19), the providential direction of human affairs is committed to the Elohim; who are termed the angels of the little ones who believe in Jesus" (Matt. 18:3-6,10), because they minister to their profit, in causing all things among the nations to work together for their ultimate good.
When that remarkable change in the constitution of things is brought to pass, when Jesus having received the sovereignty, the angels shall do homage to him, there will be a great national jubilee throughout the earth.
Elpis Israel 2.3.
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Comparing Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 with John 19:25 almost certainly establishes Salome as the sister of Mary. This would make James and John the cousins of Jesus. The only other alternatives are --
Mary's sister is mentioned once, (John 19:25) but not named, or ever referred to elsewhere.
Mary's sister was also named Mary, and was the wife of Cleophas.
In either case, Salome would be omitted from one record where she appears in the other two. In the first case, someone else is mentioned in her place who is never mentioned again. In the second case, there were two sisters, both named Mary. All this seems very unlikely, so we conclude that Salome was "his (Jesus') mother's sister" of John 19:25.
It was Salome who approached Jesus with the request that her two sons, James and John, sit on Jesus' right and left hands in the Kingdom.
We will have a better and kinder view of Salome if we remember in connection with this incident that she was one of the faithful band of women who followed Jesus wherever he went, ministering unto him in loving devotion of their own substance. *
Three elderly women, standing by the cross, witnessed that almost unendurable scene of agony and shame, with hopeless bewilderment and disappointed faith. Faith and Hope had fled, but Love remained.
And then there was Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is clearly the leading and most active spirit among the faithful group of women. For three days -- the most momentous three days of history -- Mary Magdalene is the most prominent actor in the whole divine plan.
How strange and beautiful that this fearless devoted woman should suddenly come briefly into brilliant prominence and, then as quickly fade forever from the record! She filled one essential, central role in the great sweep of history, and then retired to womanly obscurity.
Mary Magdalene -- the last at the cross, and the first at the tomb. And her devotion was rewarded -- she was the first to see the Lord. *
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
At the betrayal in the garden, nine disciples flee and we hear no more about them until after the resurrection.
The other two, John and Peter, after first fleeing with the rest, turned and followed the crowd to the High Priest's house. John was known at the High Priest's house, and therefore must have been known to be a disciple of Jesus. The High Priests maidservant remembered seeing Peter with Jesus; she surely would have remembered seeing John with him, as she knew John. This is a point in John's favour. He went right in along with Jesus, knowing he would be recognized. We find John outstanding all through these events.
After Peter's denial, he too, like the rest of the apostles, drops out of the picture until after the resurrection. There is no mention of Peter or of any of the rest at the cross -- only John and the women. All the women closest to Jesus are mentioned by name by Matthew, Mark and John, as being there.
John stood at the foot of the cross, with Jesus' mother, and received the commission to take care of her.
...When we come right down to the very heart of the events of these three days -- around which all history revolves -- we come to two people -- Mary Magdalene and John the beloved disciple.
True, John at first fled. "They ALL forsook him and fled." It had to be that way. The flesh must learn the deep wisdom of its weakness -- its utter, powerless dependence upon God. But John recovered himself immediately.
Peter "followed afar off," drawn by an irresistible love, but held back by the dragging feet of a terrible, trembling fear.
But John, we are told, "went in with Jesus into the palace of the High Priest"; then later went out and brought in Peter. It was John who said, "Perfect love casteth out fear."
John was the last to whom Jesus spoke in the hour of death: "Behold thy mother." *
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the spirit.
"All things were now accomplished," so that the Mosaic handwriting was blotted out, being nailed with Him to the cross, and taken out of the way as a rule of life.
The Lord Jesus "rested from His labours" on the seventh day in the silent tomb, and "His disciples rested according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56). He abode in His place, and did not go out of it until the sabbath was at an end" (Mark 16:1). But, on the eighth day, styled also the first day, God gave Him liberty (Matt. 28:2).
Elpis Israel 1.2.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken [that death might ensue in a day or two], and that they might be taken away.
Under ordinary circumstances they would have been left to languish to death where they were; but next day was the high sabbath of the passover, the feast, and the Jews were very punctilious about proper ceremonial observance, which the exposure of criminals in execution would have contravened.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
The sabbath day was a 'high day'
There was no enactment in the Mosaic statute that a "seventh day" should follow the passover day; this would have been equivalent to fixing the day of the passover to Friday. It would fall on this day in some years, as in 1890. Nevertheless it was ordained that the night of the 14th was to be succeeded by a day of holy convocation, on which no servile work was to be done (Lev. 23: 6, 7).
This was equivalent to a Sabbath, as it is said in the case of the feast of tabernacles in the same chapter, where the words "on first day an holy convocation" and "on the eighth an holy convocation" (verses 35, 36) are afterwards described as Sabbaths (ver. 39) as it is said,
"on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath."
If the Sabbath referred to were the ordinary Sabbath, there would have been no necessity for its special enactment in these terms. The seventh-day Sabbath of the paschal week would, due to that circumstance, be an "High Day" as John calls it, for says he, "that Sabbath Day was an high day" (John 19:31).
Looking at the context it will be seen that the Sabbath in question was the day following "the preparation," which was the day on which Christ was crucified (between nine o'clock and three), as it is said,
"and that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on" (Luke 23:51).
The "preparation" that is says Mark, "the day before the Sabbath" (Mar. 15:42.) It was in the even of this preparation day that Joseph begged the body of Jesus (Mar. 15:42, 43). It was in the same evening the women returned from the sepulchre and prepared spices (Luke 23:56). Following this they rested on the Sabbath (ver. 56).
The Sabbath ended, they came to the sepulchre with their spices by the time it began to dawn towards the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1, 2). All this put together leads to one conclusion only, viz.: that in this year the 14th happened on the Thursday, on which night Jesus partook of the passover with his disciples (Luke 23:7, 8), and his crucifixion on the traditional "Good Friday;" following this, he rested in the grave on the Sabbath (as Dr. Thomas says) rising again early on the morning of the "first day;" alias the "morrow after the Sabbath," and the "third day" from his crucifixion.
Bro. F. R. Shuttleworth
The Christadelphian, June 1888
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
Thus was the certainty of death guaranteed to all who should come after, and thus also was it shewn that mental suffering had more to do with causing death than physical agony: for, according to surgical testimony, the efflux of "blood and water" could only occur where the heart had been ruptured.
Thus, finally, was the precious blood of Christ shed for us as the antitypical lamb without spot. Blood would ooze from the hands and feet, and from the pain punctures of the thorny crown; but copious and complete would be the discharge caused by the Roman spear; and thus would the one great offering for sin be consummated.
"Without the shedding of blood is no remission:"
such is the law of God which no man can change.
"The life is in the blood" (Lev. xvii. II);
and it is the life that sin brings into condemnation -- not as an entity but as the possession of the flesh. It was, therefore, fitting that "the blood of the new covenant" should be poured out in a manner, leaving no sense of incompleteness. This was secured by the providential regulation of the natural circumstances connected with the Lord's crucifixion.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
He fell into a deep sleep; and, while thus unconscious and insensible, His side was opened by a spear, and forthwith rushed blood and water (John 19:33-34). Being awoke out of His sleep, He was built up a spiritual body, flesh and bones; and, by His ascension, presented to the Father as the federal representative of His ecclesia.
... Thus, the ecclesia is figuratively taken out of the side of her Lord; for every member of it believes in the remission of sins through His shed blood; and they all believe in the real resurrection of His flesh and bones, for their justification unto life by a similar revival from the dead. "Your bodies are the members," or flesh and bones, "of Christ and he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:15-17). "I have espoused you to one husband," says Paul, "that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2).
Elpis Israel 1.2.
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
Joseph went away at once to Golgotha, to receive the body. There was need for haste, as the evening was come, and the bodies had to be removed in compliance with the urgent scrupulosities of the Jews. Joseph had a newly-made grave of his own close to the city, and not far from the cross; and he had just purchased a quantity of new linen. His plan was to wrap the body in the linen and put it in his grave till a permanent arrangement could be made.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
Joseph of Arimathea, we have never heard before, and never hear of him again. We are told he was rich, he was a counsellor, that is, one of the ruling body of the nation -- like a member of Congress or of Parliament, that he was a good and righteous man who looked for the Kingdom of God, that he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews.
Up to this point he had never publicly revealed his allegiance. He had lived a double life -- an inner, private life and an outer, public one.
There is a great lesson and a great comfort in the example of Joseph. He was rich and influential -- he had much to lose in following Jesus, and up to this point he had not been able to face the open choice.
But when Jesus was dead, when all hope seemed ended, he gathered together a Faith and a Courage that stand out with almost unique brilliance, and went boldly to Pilate, requesting the body of Jesus! Something now so moved and took hold of this fearful man that he stood up boldly and alone before both the Romans and his whole nation and publicly allied himself with the cause of Christ, just when that cause had come into direct collision with both Jews and Romans and seemed to have ended in utter disaster.
We wonder whether, and at what point, Joseph realized that he was fulfilling that strange, unlikely prophecy of Isaiah 53 --
"He shall make his grave with the rich."
Truly a prophecy which -- up until the moment Joseph stepped forth -- seemed impossible of fulfillment under the circumstances.
How marvellous are the ways of God! Let Joseph be a perpetual inspiration to all who have ever hesitated under any circumstances to speak out for Christ because of fear.
Joseph laid the body in his own new tomb -- a tomb wherein never man had lain. In the fittingness of things, it could be no other way. This event was not only unique in all history -- it was the very center of all history. *
* Bro Growcott - Woman, Why Weepest Thou
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Nicodemus brought with him about a hundred-weight of the spices in which it was customary for the Jews to enswathe their beloved dead before committing them to the tomb. Nicodemus must have made this preparation during the day, in the full knowledge of Christ's condemnation, and in anticipation of his death.
Possibly he and Joseph agreed together that they should ask Pilate for custody of the body when death should be certified. Probably they were among the crowds that came out to witness the crucifixion and saw the end. At all events, here they were together at the cross, with the full authority of the governor to take possession of the body, and armed with the needful appliances for affectionate interment.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
The other man was Nicodemus -- likewise a counselor -- two of the highest men in the nation. And, like Joseph, he had apparently up to this point been held back by fear from open discipleship. Unlike Joseph, he appears twice before in the record.
At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, Nicodemus comes to him by night, confessing his recognition that Jesus was a teacher sent from God.
Though he chides him for lack of understanding basic spiritual truth, though holding a position as the teacher of Israel, still Jesus speaks to him many things of depth and beauty like we find revealed nowhere else. He knew what was in man, and he could doubtless see in Nicodemus the nucleus of a faith that would overcome all fear.
Consider the well-known passages of eternal promise and beauty that Jesus spoke alone to this Jewish leader who sought him in the night. The event is recorded in John 3 --
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit."
"No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven."
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up."
"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
"This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light."
For all this we are indebted to Jesus' private conversation with this man Nicodemus in the quiet of the night. And Jesus ended the interview with this gentle rebuke, doubtless long-remembered with much heart-searching and self-examination, and which bore glorious fruit so long after --
"He that doeth Truth cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
Nicodemus was at last to come in the open daylight -- in full public gaze -- to manifest his allegiance to Light and Truth. *
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
All this, from the death of Jesus on the cross -- the begging of the body from Pilate, the removal from the cross, the burial and the preparation of spices, had to happen between three o'clock and six o'clock on Friday afternoon, before the Sabbath began.
There has always been controversy concerning what day of the week Jesus was crucified. Many, on the basis of a full three-day interpretation, and by a double-Sabbath theory (Passover Sabbath and weekly Sabbath), move the crucifixion back to Thursday and some even Wednesday.
But bro. Thomas' beautiful exposition of the Son of Man fulfilling the work given him to do by the Friday night, "resting according to the commandment" during the Sabbath, and arising the first day of a new week to a new life and a new work, strongly inclines us to the simple view that the crucifixion was on Friday. ** Bro Growcott - Woman, Why Weepest Thou