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.
He had anxiously followed the course of events, evidently expecting that Jesus, would deliver himself from the hands of his captors by the power that he knew he possessed, and which he had seen him put forth in self-preservation on more than one occasion before. When he now saw that all hope in this direction was at an end, and that Jesus was a doomed victim of authority in the hands of those to 'whom he had betrayed him, his spirit sank under the remorse excited by the full sense of what he had done...
...In a frenzy of despair, he went back to the officials in the Temple, from whom he had received the money, and threw the money before them in an agony of self-accusation.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 57
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.
There may have been nothing in the dream of Pilate's wife but the idle reflex of the current city-excitement. At the same time, there is nothing improbable in the supposition that it was something more -- that her dream was of divine origin with the object of influencing Pilate in Christ's favour, and leading him to proclaim the innocence of Christ, in a position from which his words would (afterwards) be heard by all the world.
It was a judicial vindication of Christ at the very moment of his condemnation, and threw the whole responsibility of that condemnation on "the Jews, his own nation," who have since tried in vain to get rid of it.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 57
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
It is useless reasoning with hatred... Pilate felt he must make some concession, or there might be serious riot, for which he would be held responsible at headquarters. His desire to release Christ was not strong enough to withstand the pressure of personal danger. So he signified compliance with the demands of the crowd, and secured peace and infamy by one and the same act.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 57
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
The first and ordinary preliminary to crucifixion was "scourging." To this Jesus was now subjected. Horror of horrors! Think of it ye who have been "bought with (such) a price." Hark at the resounding blows on that noble form!
If the usual practice was followed, which there is no reason to doubt, he was publicly stripped where he stood, and made to kneel down with his hands tied to a pillar, and many blows inflicted by a strong man on his bare back with a knotched and knotted bludgeon, which tore the flesh and drew blood at every stroke.
It is said that those subjected to this terrible torture frequently died under it. It would have been well for Jesus in a human sense if this had been his experience, for he survived it only to undergo more terrible sufferings.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 57
34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
We may here understand why Jesus, the great antitypical Nazarite, refused, before crucifixion, to drink of the "vinegar, mingled with gall" (Matt. 27:34), which would have dulled pain, and enabled him to go through the ordeal of pain with an endurance not derived from faith, but from mere physical stupefaction.
Law of Moses Ch 30
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?
Some have a difficulty in understanding such words from the mouth of Christ. There need be none. The exhaustion of nature accounts for the momentary suspension of understanding. Consider the sleepless and terrible night he had come through; the buffetings; the scourging; and the six hours fierce agony of the cross; can we wonder at strength gone, understanding clouded, heart broken? The moment of release was at hand.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
The effluent power by which he had taught and worked was withdrawn from him for some time before he died. The Spirit no longer rested upon the Cherub, yet that Cherub continued to live as other men. In process of time he expired. He was now, like the Cherubic Veil of the Temple, "rent in twain." It was no longer affirmable that
"I and the Father are one"
; but that "I and the Father are twain"; for the Father was no longer in him, nor he in the Father. In the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the body was in the condition predicted in Psalm 38:
"Yahweh's arrows stuck fast in it, and His hand pressed it sore. There was no soundness in the flesh; its wounds stank; and its loins were filled with a loathsome disease; feeble and sore broken, his lovers and friends stood aloof from His stroke, which had consumed him, and laid him low in a horrible pit."
This was the death state of the Cherub. Will any one affirm that that dead body was the Father? That it had lived in the world before the world was? That it was the Creator of all things? Nay, it was the flesh only in which sin was condemned: and had it been left there, it would have crumbled into unprofitable dust (Psalm 30:9).
But, in the wisdom of the Eternal Substance, this could not be permitted. This flesh must be born again, and its ears must be opened (Psalm 40:6; Heb. 10:5). The Eternal sent forth His spirit, and "healed his soul" of that "evil disease," which his enemies said, "cleaved fast unto him, that lying down, he should rise up no more" (Psalm 41:4, 8).
But the Eternal Power defeated their machinations, and proved them to be liars; for He turned the body into Spirit, and made it "one in nature" with Himself - the Spirit - Son of the Eternal Spirit, equal in power and glory -- GOD.
Phanerosis - The Anointed Cherub
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
Some of the bystanders, misunderstanding the Hebrew in which Jesus spoke, imagined he was calling for Elias
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit.
There was one long loud wail from the convulsed form on "the accursed tree" and then a few scarcely audible words:
"Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit."
Again he said,
"It is finished."
The head then fell on the breast; the frame hung motionless All was over. Christ was dead.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
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;
As a literal element of the tabernacle, we know that it was there to provide a concealed recess for the symbols of the divine presence in Israel's midst; but the question now concerns the significance of the veil as part of the Mosaic shadow. Why was there a veil?
We see the answer when we ascertain what it represents. This we ascertain from the circumstance recorded by Matthew, that when Jesus died,
"the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom"
considered in connection with the exegetical remark of Paul in Heb. 10:20, that there is a
"new and living way which Jesus hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh".
The veil, then, stands for the flesh of present mortal nature, as possessed by Christ in his natural days. This nature veils off or stands between us and the glorious realities signified by the golden ark-throne in the Holiest of all. It was natural, therefore, that in a structural prophecy of good things to come, there should be a counterpart to this time of waiting and preparation.
The veil divided the two apartments; the veil of the flesh divides the two states.
The veil had to be torn asunder that we might enter from the one to the other. This was done in Christ. It could not be done in any other; for while any man could have been crucified, any man could not, under the law of sin and death, have risen to glory, honour and immortality.
Any one could have died, but mere death was not passing through the veil. The inner side of the veil was the immortal state, and this is not entered except by resurrection. If Christ had not risen, his death would have been in vain, as Paul teaches (1 Cor. 15:17).
A successful rending of the veil required the righteousness of a perfectly obedient man, which existed only in Christ. Therefore, the veil, while standing for the flesh-nature, stood particularly for the Christ form of that nature--through which only could the new and living way be opened.
The concurrence of the rending of the Temple veil with the death of Christ might seem to indicate death simply as the rending: and so it might be considered in the case of Christ, in which it was the completion of a perfect course of obedience.
The resurrection sequel was ensured, and was only a question of a few days. He could exclaim,
"It is finished",
though resurrection and many other things remained to complete the glorious programme of the divine work in him, because all was secured by the course completed in his death.
So the rending of the Temple veil could proclaim the opening of the new and living way, though resurrection had to follow crucifixion before the opening was actually achieved.
Law of Moses Ch 14
An earthquake sent its appalling tremors far and wide; with sharp, cracking sound, the rocky hills in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem were rent asunder in all directions; the graves were exposed; the veil of the temple that fenced off the holiest from human intrusion, was sharply torn open from top to bottom.
Dark, weird, and terrific, every aspect of nature combined to express the anger of God at a tragedy which, while His own pre-appointment for high and holy ends, was none the less the infamous triumph of human wickedness over the holy, the good, and divine.
Not many years afterwards, there was a fearful retribution on the same spot, when by the order of Titus, to deter the inhabitants of the beleagured city from escaping into his camp, Jerusalem was surrounded with a long line of crosses on each of which an escaped Jew was transfixed in writhing agony. If we could know, we should probably discover that the victims on that occasion, though taken at haphazard by the Romans, were probably selected by the hand of Providence with reference to the guilt of Calvary.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Where are the already Risen Saints
We can tell no more about the matter than is expressed in Matt. 27:52, 53. We cannot tell what became of them. The Scriptures do not say whether they died again, or lived to die no more. The answer of our faith is the testimony; where this fails, our faith has attained a limit, beyond which it may be amusing, but unremunerative, to go.
Many questions might be asked upon the text; as, was Abel among those who rose? If he were, who did he know in Jerusalem? Did any of them appear to Pilate to reproach him? Did Nicodemus see one or all of them?
The answers to such questions are not in the record. We can tell this, however, that Daniel was not there; because he does not arise to his lot till the end of 1335 days and they had not begun at that time-Dan. 12:12, 13. A principle, however, is established by the text, namely, that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a price or ransom adequate to the redemption of the saints who died under the curse of Moses' law.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Apr 1859
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
The statement occurs in connection with the description of the crucifixion, and the first impression it makes on the mind is that it occurred at the same time that terrible day when "the earth did quake and the rocks rent." But reading again, it appears that only the opening of the graves happened in connection with the earthquake. The vivifying of the bodies thus exposed and ready for liberty, did not take place till the morning that saw the Lord himself "arise triumphant from the tomb."
There is something fitting in the idea that the effluence of life-power, employed in restoring the Lord to life, should extend its healing effects to the Lord's recently-interred friends. We may infer they were recently interred from the circumstance of their entering Jerusalem and "appearing unto many." Strangers would not have been recognised.
Did they die again? or did they survive in the Elias and Enoch state? The question has been asked. It cannot be answered. There is no information. It matters nothing. The circumstance of their return to life at the Lord's resurrection is interesting: and no doubt it would greatly tend to establish that faith in the event which all the opposition and unbelief of the enemy was not able to eradicate.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 60
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.
And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. -Luke 23: 48
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.
55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
We can hardly interpret "many" as much less than fifteen or twenty, and it would seem to imply more. Let us try to get the picture. Besides these women, as Jesus travelled about, there were the twelve disciples, and a certain number of others. We know there were at least more than two others, and probably many more, for in Acts 1, Peter says --
"Of these men which have companied with us all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us ... must one be ordained a witness."
And of this group they appointed two to be chosen between by lot to fill Judas' place...
Ministering unto him:
...He did not work. He did not support himself. He allowed these (as it would seem) infatuated women to minister to him of their substance.
We remember his first temptation -- "Make these stones bread." He had all the power at his command. He did not need to humiliate himself, and give such an appearance to the world by depending upon the ministrations and possessions of the simple women who followed him.
Only two classes could possibly be attracted to him -- the very simple, and those with deep spiritual discernment who could see through all the externals to the reality within.
How beautiful it was that he who had all the power at his command must not use it for his own simplest needs, but must embarrassingly depend upon devoted women who had left their households and who followed and ministered to him with loving care! How beautiful that he should be permitted to need them and depend upon them! -- He -- the Son of God, the potential Lord of Heaven and Earth!
How strange and beautiful are the ways of God! How utterly and refreshingly different from the ways of men!
And so "many" loving and devoted women were there at the cross, but -- as far as we have any record -- only one man, "the disciple whom Jesus loved."
Bro Growcott - Woman, Why Weepest Thou
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (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 - Luke 23: 50,51.
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
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
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 - John 19: 39
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
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment- Luke 23: 56
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
...how unreasonable and impossible were the views of the case entertained by the destroyers of Jesus.
Here was a body of soldiers at his grave side by their request -- to prevent what? His resurrection? Oh, no; they could not admit that. Jesus was "that deceiver." Though he said he would rise in three days, of course he would do no such thing. What then were the soldiers for? To prevent the disciples stealing the body, and saying Jesus had risen. To prevent the disciples stealing and lying? Why should they steal and lie in the case? When men steal and lie, it is with an object -- invariably. What object could there be in this case?
The possession of Christ's dead body would be the surest evidence to the disciples that he was not what they believed him to be. With such fatal proof that he was dead, and not alive, why should they wish to say he had risen? What had they to gain by it -- for themselves or others?
We could understand their getting up a story that was to work to advantage in some way; but where was the advantage in preaching a lie in the face of opposition, imprisonment and death? If Christ rose, we can understand it. If he did not, the procedure of the apostles is inexplicable on any known principle of human action, and their success still more so.
How overpowering do these considerations become when we come to study the actual inducements afterwards offered by the disciples to the people in connection with faith in his resurrection:
"Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins! Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and God shall send Jesus Christ whom the heavens must receive until -- &c."
That men should steal a dead body and proclaim a lie that they might preach such doctrines and present such considerations, is a moral impossibility. Yet such was the puerile suggestion on which the chief priests asked Pilate to safe-guard the grave of Jesus of Nazareth.
It bears its own condemnation on its face. However, it was a useful piece of folly. It turned the very murderers of Christ into witnesses of his resurrection. By placing a guard at the tomb, they were placed under the obligation of admitting before the whole world that "after three days;" the tomb was empty; and the very story they put into circulation to explain the emptiness -- (current among the Jews to this very day) -- became, by its lameness and self-evident absurdity, one of the principal evidences of that very resurrection which they invented it to deny.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
How extraordinary a man must be to have soldiers posted at his grave -- on whatever plea the soldiers are placed there. The chief priests and Pharisees were uneasy about the occupant of that grave.
...Behold, then, a squad of Roman soldiers march into the garden, and set themselves down before a quiet stone chamber, containing a dead man! Was ever such a thing seen before? How suggestive is the incident every way when thought over.
How fruitful of evidence of the truth. It proves (out of the mouth of Christ's enemies) that Christ had predicted his own death; for how otherwise could the idea of rising again in three days have arisen? And if he predicted his own death, the presence of his dead body in that cold soldier-guarded chamber is proof of his having been a true prophet in that particular. And if a true prophet in that particular, why not in the other particular also, that
"in three days he would rise again?"
It proves also that Christ was a doer of mighty works "before God and all the people;" for if he were not, how came the Pharisees to take such trouble to prevent the idea of his resurrection from arising. The Pharisees themselves are witnesses to the mighty works -- the curing of multitudes by his word. The very explanation they gave of them is evidence of their occurrence.
"He casteth out demons by the prince of demons."
If he performed these mighty works, what explanation is there of them but the one he gave himself:
"The works that I do bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 58
"It Is Finished"
Dear Brethren and Sisters, the chapter we have before us this morning-Matthew 27-is the center point of all history. Most history is utterly meaningless and unimportant-the mere squabbles of animals in a jungle. But this chapter records the most important and meaningful event that ever happened.
If we read this chapter everyday and meditated upon it, it could make the difference between acceptance and rejection at the judgment seat of Christ. Let us not take that acceptance for granted. It is only for the very few who give themselves wholly to God (we are told that over and over)-those who live and think entirely differently from how they would naturally live and think apart from the Word of God.
The attainment of salvation and eternal life is not hard. It is very easy. It is actually the easiest possible way of life, because it is in harmony with truth and reality. Jesus said,
"My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
But, easy as it is, it does not just happen. It requires a certain specific course of life-clearly explained in God's book of life. It may be very easy to get to a certain place, much easier for example than to get to some other place. But unless we actually put our feet on the right path and move steadily along that path, we shall never get there, no matter how easy it may be to do so.
Because God has made the way so easy, so sensible, so reasonable, is why the judgment for neglect is so severe.
"Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
The judge does not say, "Sorry, you tried, but you did not quite make it. We'll just put you quietly to sleep." No, there is no such middle ground as that. What he says is either,
"Come, ye blessed of my Father," or "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."
Why no middle ground? Because the way of life is SO easy. There is absolutely no excuse for failure. God has made every provision for success. It is just a matter of finding out exactly what is required and simply doing it-just very simple submission and obedience, as we expect and take for granted even from any well-trained dog.
The required obedience covers many aspects-actually every act and aspect of life. But none are too hard for the simplest mind to grasp. Such as-
"Love not the world."
"Come out and be separate."
"Always abound in the work of the Lord."
"Rejoice without ceasing."
"In everything, give thanks."
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice."
"Be ye holy, as God is holy."
"Meditate on these things; give thyself wholly to them."
"Make no provision for the flesh."
"Let your speech be always with grace."
"Put away all anger."
"Be gentle to all men."
There are, of course, many, many more. And they are all just as simple and easy. It's just a matter of being sensible enough to get down to doing them, instead of doing something else.
There is absolutely no excuse for failure, for all that God ever asks is our best. He never requires anything beyond our abilities. All that He asks is everything that we have, which is perfectly reasonable, and actually, the very least that He could ask under the circumstances, for it to really mean anything at all.
The gift is so great, and what we have to offer Him at best is so utterly puny, that for Him to ask or for us to give anything less than everything would make a mockery of the whole thing-not worth bothering with.
All the things that God asks of us are the things that enlightened love and common sense would want to give anyway-would not be happy without giving.
The truly spiritual mind-the intelligent godly mind-could not possibly be satisfied with giving anything less. It is in fact desolated and embarrassed that it has so little to give to manifest its love and devotion and thanksgiving. Devotion always wants to give to its object. It gets its joy and peace and satisfaction from giving. And it is always eagerly striving to give more.
This is why the cleavage at the judgment seat is so clear cut-"Come, ye blessed," to the wise and intelligent; "Depart, ye cursed," to the foolish.