8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

Probably Herod would promise to set him free on condition of his working some miracles, but to all Herod's questions and suggestions he was absolutely impenetrable.*

11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.

Set him at nought

Herod's mood then changed to exasperation. He jeered at him and mocked him, and was at a loss to express the intensity of his angry scorn and contempt. In this he was supported by his officers and soldiers, who easily and eagerly made sport of a prisoner who was the butt of their master's rage.

..."I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn. They shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him; let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him ... Trouble is near.

There is none to help: Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.... Dogs have compassed me. The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me ... Thou hast known my reproach and my shame and my dishonour. Mine adversaries are all before thee.

Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness. I looked for some to take pity, and there was none: and for comforters, but I found none ... I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. It is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws: and thou hast brought me into the dust of death." *

12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

That Herod, who had been at enmity with Pilate, should have become reconciled to him again, through such a transaction, only added a further ingredient of bitterness and humiliation to the sufferings of Christ. Flattered with Pilate's attention in sending Jesus to him, Herod sent Jesus back to him for final adjudication; which Pilate, in his turn, accepted as a pleasant compliment, and returned to sentiments of amity.

It is no new thing for bad men to become friends, over the destruction of the righteous. But what about the vindication, when

"God shall judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus?"


*Nazareth Revisited Ch 57

Acts 4:27 tells us: "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together..."

According to Josephus, "The cause of the enmity between Herod and Pilate seems to have been this, that Pilate had intermeddled with the Tetrarch's jurisdiction, and had slain some of his Galilean subjects, and, as he was willing to correct that error, he sent Christ to Herod at this time." (antiquities,pg 548-footnote)

Bro Matt Drywood [Hamilton Book Road (Can)] Comment added in 2003

26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Tradition reports that Jesus, enfeebled and exhausted with his previous sufferings, was unable to carry the cross, and fell under it after walking a few steps, and that his guardians were compelled to get another to carry it.

...And thus in uttermost humiliation marched the Man of Sorrows to that sacrifice for the sins of the world which the Father required at his hands -- he in the middle with hands tied behind his back -- on each side, a file of soldiers -- behind him, a strong man carrying the piece of rude carpentry on which he was to be nailed, and before and behind, a rabble of running, vulgar, callous sightseers.

Only the reflection that it is all past, and that soon the dreadful ignominy was wiped away in the glad healing of the resurrection morning, enables the heart to endure the terrible scene.

Prefigured in the offering ,of Isaac, bound as he now was, near the very spot to which he was now on the way; typified in the Passover lamb, the very hour for whose annual national eating had now arrived; and pointed forward to in every slain animal offered on the Mosaic altar under whose very shadow he was now passing:

"Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."

Nazareth Revisited Ch 57

31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

...a proverbial expression contrasting Israel's fitness for the consuming fire of judgment shortly to be kindled, as compared with himself, who was as damp wood on which the fire could not catch.

If such terrible things were done to him, with whom God was pleased, what might not a "wicked and adulterous generation" expect who were thus putting him to death? The narrative of Josephus, of the events attendant on the overthrow of the Jewish state, is the full and awful answer.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 57

33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Such is the ungarnished record of the awful climax of the Lord's sufferings. The name of the spot has gone round the world in all languages, through all the ages with the cross of his shame and the name of his glory. Its particular locality is doubtful. It matters little. It is known to God, and is better not known to man in the state of things now upon the earth. It will doubtless be marked and honoured in the day of the Lord's glory when he reigns, with the nail marks in his hands where they were inflicted.

It is natural for men to be curious as to the exact site of Calvary. An attempt has recently been made to identify it in connection with its other name -- Golgotha, "the place of a skull". There is a prominence or spur outside the walls of Jerusalem on the eastern side resembling the shape of a skull, and it is supposed this was "the place" where the procession that led Jesus out to crucifixion came to a halt.

......The soldiers would undress him: for it was the custom to crucify prisoners naked. Oh, what heart rending indignity. Shall we be afraid of being put to shame for his sake? It was for us he thus suffered:

"the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."

Then they would lay the cross on the ground; and taking hold of Christ, they would lay him down on his back upon it, and seizing hammer and strong nails, they would drive the nails through hands and feet as if he were a piece of senseless wood. Oh, the agonised face! Oh, the sweat-beaded brow! Oh, the cruel pangs and heavy groans of that holy bosom! O God, why this heart-crushing tragedy -- Thy dear Son, Thy beloved Son, given thus into the hands of sinners, torn and mangled as by beasts of prey, subjected to every indignity in the power of man to inflict?

We know the answer:

"By one man sin entered into the world." 

He himself has said

"The cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink?"

But we are weak. We can ill bear this sight.

"Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."

Father, thou art great, and sin is terrible.

"It pleased the Lord to put him to grief."

Thou wilt yet divide him a portion with the strong in the bright and endless day for which thou art thus preparing. When we think of this, we draw a sigh of relief.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

The broad-headed nails driven entirely home, the soldiers would then lift the cross with its bleeding burden, and plant it in the hole dug in the earth to receive it. Firmly fixing it there, they do the same for the two thieves, and put the climax on the shame of his cross by placing them one on each side of him. Jesus is still able to speak. What are those words that come from his parched lips?

"Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do!"

Compassionate in the midst of his sufferings, he prays for his murderers. O Lord of heaven and earth, help us to conform to the example he hath left us. Our hearts break for love and pity. Help us to do his commandments.

The soldiers are four in number (a quarternion) they divide the clothes equally: but the vesture is more valuable than the rest. It is the work of love, and is seamless, a woven work throughout. For this, they cast lots.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58 

35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

The crowd that had accompanied them surge all around, gloating their eyes with triumphant satisfaction on the bleeding and suffering form of him who

"went about among them doing good."

The scribes and Pharisees and rulers of the people made themselves prominent in this ignominious pageant. Ill at ease, they try to argue themselves into the conviction that all is well:

"He saved others; himself he cannot save." "If he be king of Israel, let him descend now from the cross that we may see and believe."

Ah, "scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,"

did he save others? Are ye not afraid to crucify a man who saved others? Do bad men "save others?"

As to coming down from the cross, suppose that like Joseph, cast to death by his brethren; like Moses, rejected at first by your predecessors in Egypt, the purpose of your God requires that the king of Israel thus should suffer: that

"as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, the son of man should thus be lifted up."

How can he in that case "come down from the cross?" How then should the Scripture be fulfilled?

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

... is who is forgiven for crucifying Jesus?

The Romans were forgiven because they knew him not but, what about the Jewish authorities who set out to kill him?

Jesus clears this up in John 19:11 when he answered Pilate, "he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."

Therefore, the Sanhedrin bear 'the greater sin' because of their actions and will be held responsible.

Bro Matt Drywood [Hamilton Book Road (Can)] Comment added in 2003

36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,

Although they ridiculed him they were moved in spirit to assuage the intensity of his suffering offering him sour wine.

There was, first of all, a mitigating touch of humanity. They offered their noble victim a mixture to drink, which it is said would have had the effect of dulling sensibility to pain. Was this the result of softened feelings, inspired by the spectacle of his broken-heartedness? (for it is written in the psalms, "Grief hath broken his heart" -- we may know that such would be his aspect). Whatever feeling prompted their kindness, it was in vain. Jesus refused the drink.

He would not assuage, by a mechanical stupefaction, the sufferings which the Father had called upon him to go through by the power of faith.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

It would be the business of the captain to affix over the cross the usual writing specifying the offence of the prisoners. In the case of Christ, Pilate himself had prepared the writing. It was a difficult case to define. Pilate might have written "Treason." He chose not to do this. He wrote a title which became a declaration of the truth for all time. In this, he would be guided first by his own feelings (for he was persuaded Christ was no promoter of sedition), and the hand of God would guide him in a matter in which a divine work was concerned.

He wrote it in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Latin) to suit the Jews themselves; the Greek Jews who were visitors at the passover feast; and the soldiers and officials of Rome, who spoke Latin. When the chief priests saw the writing, they disliked it exceedingly, It was a discomforting declaration, which many believed, and of which many of them suspected the truth: for many of them (as John informs us) believed, but confessed him not, for fear of being excommunicated.

They quailed under such a declaration staring at them from the head of the cross. They therefore went to Pilate, and asked him to change it. They said, 

"Write not, The King of the Jews, but that he said, I am King of the Jews." 

But Pilate was not to be moved. 

"What I have written, I have written." 

And thus by an extraordinary and beautiful Providence of God, the truth was proclaimed in the very act by which man intended to brand it as a lie.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

One of the thieves appears to have come to a reasonable mind, and to have rebuked the railing of his companion.

...It is a matter of momentary marvel that a man of this stamp should have preferred such a request. The marvel ceases when we recollect that for 3 1/2 years, Jesus had engaged public attention, and that "the common people heard him gladly" everywhere; to which class, the man now on the cross by the side of Jesus probably belonged. He evidently knew enough of Jesus to recognise him in his true character, and to give way to the effect of his knowledge when his first bravado had subsided under the torture of his position.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry - Prov 6: 30 

The repentant thief likely stole in desperation but being premeditated he accepts his extremely harsh punishment with stoic resignation is not essential that he have been the subject of John's baptism or Christ's, if Christ were pleased, on his own sovereign authority (received from the Father), to dispense with the particular form of obedience required of men in general.

It is necessary to remember his possession of this "power on earth to forgive sins" in order to understand particular cases which may seem to us exceptions to the general law. While the power would never be exercised except in harmony with the principles he came to establish from the Father (viz., the necessity for faith and obedience), yet those principles had varying forms of application, according to the requirements of differing times and seasons (circumcision, John's baptism, Christ's baptism, to wit).

And he may have seen fit to accept the thief's faith, unaccompanied by baptism, in the particular and exceptional circumstances of the case. He had the power to do it: but such an exercise of power affords no guide to us.

Our law is the one promulgated by the apostles in the name of Christ, which came after the incident of the cross. On the other hand, the thief may have been the subject of John's baptism.

"All Jerusalem and Judea went out to John's baptism"

several years previously, and the thief may have been in the crowd.

The Christadelphian, Feb 1886

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Suffered with Messiah the baptism of death IN FAITH. Most likely baptised with John's baptism.

"Why Not Others?"

"If the thief on the cross will have admittance into the kingdom of God without immersion, why not others?"-K. H. M.

Answer. - The enquiry need not be restricted to the thief, whose case is doubtful. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets will be in the kingdom; and none of them were immersed. Why, then, should we not disregard immersion altogether?

For the simple and only reason that God has required it of us and did not require it of them. God required circumcision of most of them, and without it they would have been lost.-(Gen. 17:14).

He required the offering of a son of Abraham, and had Abraham refused, he would have been rejected. He requires baptism of us. This is the all-sufficient reason for obedience in the matter, without asking any vain question about others. God is supreme. He ruleth over all. He wills to be exalted among men.

If we honour Him not by implicit obedience, He will dispense with us. He does not need us. We cannot give Him anything.

"Who hath given unto Him and it shall be recompensed unto them again?" - (Rom. 9:35).

He has graciously put it in our power to offer him acceptable service by implicitly believing His promises, and implicitly obeying His commandments. Infatuated is the mortal who hesitates.

The Christadelphian, May 1872

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.

I say unto thee Today - An exceptional case. The malefactor's brethren must await the verdict to be given on the day of judgement to learn whether or not they will be with him in paradise. 

His acceptance has already been pronounced 'Today' - namely the day the Lord submitted to the crucifixion.

There is no immortality, nor Paradise until then [the second advent]; neither can any attain to them unless they "overcome the world;" for the promise is only "to him that overcometh."

But, to this doctrine sceptics object, that Paradise must have a present existence somewhere; seeing that, on the day of His crucifixion, Jesus told the thief that he should be with Him in Paradise on that day; as it is written, "I say to thee, to-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise " (Luke 23:43).

I admit, that it is so written in English; but, I find there are various readings and punctuations in the Greek. In the first place, the thief's petition is differently worded in some manuscripts. In the common version it reads, "remember me, Lord, when Thou comest in Thy kingdom, but in others it is various, though in sense the same -- as, "remember me when Thou comest in the day of Thy coming'.

Now the Lord "comes in His kingdom" "in the day of His coming;" therefore, I say, the two phrases are in sense the same, only the latter more plainly suggests to "the unskilful in the word of righteousness" (Heb. 5:13), the import of the term "to-day, " in the answer to the petition.

In the next place, Jesus did not evade the thief's prayer, but gave him a direct and intelligible reply. He told him, in effect, that what he requested should be granted; in other words, that when He was Himself in His kingdom he should be there too.

But, does the reader imagine, that Jesus told him the time when, seeing that He was not even Himself acquainted with the time when the Jewish State, as constituted by the Mosaic code, should be abolished? And, till this was set aside, He could not come in His kingdom; for then He is to sit and rule, and be a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6:12, 13, 15); which He could not be co-existent with the law; because the law of Moses would permit no one to officiate as a priest, who was not of the tribe of Levi; and Jesus was descended from Judah (Heb. 7:12-14).

"Heaven and earth," or the Mosaic constitution of things in Eden, "shall pass away," said Jesus: "but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:31,32).

Furthermore, does the reader suppose, that the Lord informed the thief of the time when He would come in His kingdom; or, that it could possibly be, that He came in His kingdom on the day of His suffering; seeing that on the forty-third day afterwards He refused to tell even the apostles, the times and the seasons when He would "restore AGAIN the kingdom of Israel?" "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power" (Acts 1:3, 6, 7). This was His language to the apostles.

The kingdom could not be restored again to Israel under the Mosaic code. This had "decayed, and waxed old, and was ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). It was to be "cast down to the ground," the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the temple and city to be demolished, by the Little Horn of the Goat, or Roman power" (Dan. 8:9, 12, 24 ; 9:26).

To tell them of the times and the seasons of the kingdom, would have been to have informed them of this national catastrophy; of which they were kept in ignorance, that they might not fall asleep, but be continually on the watch.

But, though Jesus did not then know the times and the seasons of the kingdom, He knows them now; for, about thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, "God gave Him a revelation of the things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1); and in this apocalypse, the times and seasons are set forth in order.

But, to return to the case of the thief. In saying, "to-day," Jesus did not, and could not, tell him the precise time when he should be with Him in Paradise. In some Greek manuscripts, there is a various, and no doubt the correct punctuation. The comma, instead of being after "thee," is placed after "to-day;" as, "I say unto thee to-day, thou shalt be with Me in the Paradise" that is, "at this time, or, I now say to thee, thou shalt be with Me in My kingdom in the day of My coming."

Elpis Israel 1.2.

The common view of this answer is excluded by the fact that Jesus did not go to Paradise during the twenty-four hours in which the words were uttered: that in fact he died, and had not ascended to the Father three days afterwards (Jno. xx. 17); and further by the fact that Paradise is not above the clouds, nor as yet established on the earth, but is to be established there, in the Holy Land, in the day of his glory. -- (See Ezek. xxxvi. 33-35; Is. lx. 13-15; Jer. xxxi. 23-26).

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

The Thief in Paradise

Griesbach considers that though the reading of the English version of Luke 23:43, may be defended by arguments more or less specious, they are in his judgment insufficient.

According to certain Greek manuscripts, the thief said to Jesus,

"Remember me Lord, οταυ ελθης εν τη ημερα της ελενσεως σον, when thou shalt come in the day of thy coming?" To which Jesus said, "Verily I say to thee, σημερον this day thou shalt be with me εν τω παραδεισω in the paradise". 

But the common rendering amounts to the same thing as this varied reading.

Jesus comes in his kingdom "in the day of his coming;" and therefore it is, that Paul associates "the kingdom" and "the appearing" together in 2 Tim. 4:1, where he says to Timothy,

"I earnestly exhort in the presence of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge living and dead (ones) at his appearing and kingdom, preach the word."

There is no kingdom till he appears; for he appears, as the God of heaven, to set up the kingdom, and in so doing to break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of the Gentiles.-Dan, 2:44.

The day referred to in the answer of Jesus to the thief was the same as that to which the thief directed his attention-namely, the Day of his Coming; the Day of the Kingdom; or, which is the same thing, the Day of the Paradise of God.-Rev. 2:7; 22:14. This is stated by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:2.-"The Day of the Anointed One."

People who do not understand the Gospel of the Kingdom, imagine that the day referred to by Jesus was the night of the crucifixion! By not knowing what the kingdom is, nor where it will exist when in being; and by not attending to the question asked: but by fixing all their little thought upon their own notion of the English words "To-day," they imagine that, Jesus referred to the time of the thief's "giving up the ghost" as they term it!

But this opinion-a dogma of the divinity in which the Old Man of the Flesh, always a Free-Willer, delights-only demonstrates profound ignorance of the first principles of the oracles of God. Hear what Paul saith,

"If Christ be not risen, then they having been asleep in Christ are perished."-1 Cor. 15:17, 18.

Christ did not rise till the third day. From the hour, then, of his death, to the hour of his waking from death, an interval of thirty-six hours, the thief was in the condition designed by the words "are perished:" and if Jesus had not as yet risen, and were not to rise at all, the thief and all the dead of every class, would be as the beasts.

Now thirty-six hours are one Jewish day and two Jewish nights. Jesus lived to the end of "To-day," the day on which he spoke the words; and he slept the ensuing night; and the to-morrow, Sabbath; and the night after the Sabbath, until dawn, in the sepulchre.

Now the thief was with him on "To-day;" but not in Paradisaic happiness, nor in the delights of Paradise: though, it must be admitted, that both he and Jesus were in the territory of Paradise; for they were both of them crucified therein.

They slept in Paradise together, though in separate apartments, he being in the rich man's mausoleum; but the thief, in the place appointed for the inhumation of criminals. But here the consociation ends. Jesus awoke at the early dawn, as the Spirit of Christ in David had predicted; and he arose, and left the thief sleeping in Paradise; and when he ascended to the Father, he left Paradise behind him, and sat down at the right hand of God.

Now the territory of Paradise is the Holy Land, as Isaiah and Ezekiel have shown. But at present there is no Tree of Life there, no Water of Life there; no Leaves for the healing of the nations.

At present [1858], it is a desolate province of the Ottoman empire, in which the living are as desolate as the land Abel, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, and probably "all the prophets," with the exception of Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, are in Paradise soundly sleeping in their graves; for Paradise is now an aceldama, a field of blood, and a place of graves.

But it was not in Paradise as it was then, and as it is now, that the thief desired to be. He did not wish to be in a Roman Paradise, nor in a Turkish Paradise; but in the Messianic Paradise-

"The Paradise of God." "Remember me, Lord. when thou comest into thy Paradise, or kingdom;"

 for scripturally, the paradise of God, and the kingdom of God are the same.

Having, then, left Paradise behind him when he ascended, Jesus is therefore not there; and consequently, though the thief is in Paradise, he is not with Jesus there. He sleeps in the dust of paradise awaiting "the day of his coming."

"I WILL RETURN," said Jesus to his friends, "and receive you to myself, that where I am, ye also may be-ητε."

When this time arrives, he will awake the dead in Paradise, and in other parts of the earth, and bid them weclcome to the kingdom he comes to establish there. Then will the thief see him for the first time since he saw him conveyed away from the cross.

But, whether he will be among the number of those to whom his companion-sufferer shall say,

"Come ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you,"

or among those who shall see the righteous in the kingdom, but also be commanded of the King to "Depart" accursed from his presence into exile from the land-does not appear from the testimony in hand. It is not all that dwell in the dust of Paradise will be Leaves on the Tree of Life to be planted there by the hand of God. If the King permit the thief to take a position as "the last in the kingdom of God," and therefore in rank higher than "the greatest of all the prophets," he will do so as a purely exceptional act of sovereign grace.

We confess, that we do not think it will be so. We see nothing in the text to justify the belief that he will. Many will meet the King in Paradise who will be thence ignominiously expelled. There is much testimony and proof of this. Take one example. Jesus said to Caiaphas the High Priest, who headed the conspiracy against his life,

"I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of POWER, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

Caiaphas and his colleagues have not yet seen this, which they called blasphemy. But, when it comes to pass, they will see it; and seeing it will weep and gnash their teeth in Paradise, from which the crucified victim of their malignity will cast them out with reprobation. See Mat. 26:64; Luke 13:24-30.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1858

It is morally impossible that such words could be said in mockery by an agonised dying man.

Christ doubtless referred to the Paradise spoken of by Paul, in 2 Cor. 12:4—the future glorious habitation of the accepted of God. And as to the suggested inappropriateness of his answer, understood in this sense, we must remember his own declaration that

"the Son of Man had power to forgive sins" (Matt. 9:6),

and that all judgment was committed to his hands.—(John 5:22). It was not beyond his province to pardon the thief, and promise him a place in the kingdom if he saw fit.

It must be noted that the thief was not the immoral and ignorant brute that popular theology delights to paint him. He was acquainted with the antecedents of Jesus, for he said

"This man hath done nothing amiss."

He was acquainted with the doctrine of Jesus; for he said "Remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom." He was possessed of moral discernment; for he said

"we suffer justly, receiving the due reward of our deeds."

He was probably less degraded than some "respectable" people of the Pharisaic order, and may by possibility have been driven by necessity to an act of theft which under ordinary circumstances he might not have committed. In all probability his case called for the favour shown him by Christ.

The Christadelphian, Aug 1873

44 And it was about the 6th hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the 9th hour.

At the end of three hours, namely towards 12 o'clock mid-day, according to modern reckoning, the day began to grow dark. The people began to look about expecting a thunderstorm, but there were no clouds. Shortly the obscuration deepened, till it was quite dark "over all the land."

Many would probably disperse to their homes in presence of the darkness, which was unusual and terrifying. It is said that calculations show that an eclipse of the sun occurred about this time. Possibly so, but this does not detract from the significance of a pre-arranged frown of nature at the wickedness of man in putting to death the son of God.

If it was done by an eclipse, that was God's way of bringing it about -- by timing the events with the eclipse; but it is by no means certain that this was the method. There were other circumstances in the situation of a directly supernatural character, and it is likely that all were such.

For three hours darkness lasted, -- namely, from 12 to 3 o'clock (Western time). The prevalence of darkness must have added greatly to the horror of Christ's last moments. He was a prey to raging thirst.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

The head then fell on the breast; the frame hung motionless All was over. Christ was dead..

Having finished the work the Father had given Him to do (John 17:4), on the sixth day of the week, Jesus, while suspended on the accursed tree, cried with a loud voice, "It is finished!" (John 19:28-30). "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.

48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

Solemnly they exchanged remarks with the emphatic gesture and breast-smitings of Orientals.

But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side - John 19: 34

see accompanying notes.

50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:

51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

Another point had now to be secured. The body of the Lord was in danger of being cast as a dishonoured carcase among the rubbish and defilement of the local town waste. This was the customary way of disposing of the corpses of crucified criminals; and such he was in the eye of human law at this moment. This needless dishonour of God's Holy One was to be prevented, and also the doubt as to his resurrection, which would in some measure have arisen if his body had been thrown out into an unidentifiable spot.

"An honourable man and a councillor" was providentially brought to the rescue -- a member of the Sannhedrin who "had not consented to the counsel and deed of them" -- Joseph, of Arimathea, -- "a good man and a just," who also himself waited for the Kingdom of God, and who had in fact been secretly a disciple of Jesus.

He now threw aside his secrecy, and went openly and boldly to Pilate, and begged that he might be allowed to take possession of the body of Jesus. This was an act of great courage. It was to identify himself with an executed criminal, and incur the reproach of his name at a time when as yet there was nothing to lighten the stigma like the circumstances that developed themselves in connection with his resurrection.

When a man is necessary, God provides him. An ordinary man would not have had influence enough with Pilate to get such a request granted. Joseph of Arimathea was no ordinary man. He was not only a man of exceptional character, but as a member of the council, he would carry all the weight of a modern member of Parliament.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 58

52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged 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

56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

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

Rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

Why, it is asked, did they do this if the Sabbath had been abolished? Because they did not know it. The fact had not then been proclaimed.

The resurrection of Jesus was not believed in, and hence the significance of his death was not realised. The statement in this passage, that the woman "rested on the Sabbath Day," incidentally confirms the conclusion already arrived at, that they did not revisit the sepulchre until after the Sabbath had terminated.

The verse immediately following describes what they did in the morning of the first day. It is rather inconsistent, therefore, to adduce this passage, and, at the same time, assert that their journey of love and sorrow was taken before the Sabbath had ended.

Bro J. J. Andrew.

The Christadelphian, July 1872