Importance of the Last Events
We reach now the closing week and last solemn events of the earthly life of Jesus. The importance attached to this part of their narratives is seen by the space the evangelists devote to it. Of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark fully one-third is devoted to the events of the Passion Week and their sequel in the resurrection; Luke has several chapters; John gives half his Gospel to the same period. It is obvious that in the minds of the evangelists the crucifixion of Jesus is the pivot of their whole narrative--the denouement to which everything tends from the first.
The Events Preceding the Last Super
The arrival in Bethany is placed by John "six days before the Passover" (12:1). Assuming that the public entry into Jerusalem took place on the Sunday, and that the 14th of Nisan fell on the following Thursday, this would lead to the arrival being placed on the Friday or Saturday preceding, according to the mode of reckoning. It is in the highest degree unlikely that Jesus would journey from Jericho on the Jewish Sabbath; hence He may be supposed to have arrived on the Friday evening. The supper at which the anointing by Mary took place would be on the Saturday (Sabbath) evening. Matthew and Mark connect it with events two days before the Passover (Mt 26:2; Mr 14:1), but parenthetically, in a way which leaves the other order open.
The Anointing at Bethany
(Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-9)
This beautiful deed occurred at a supper given in honor of Jesus at the house of one Simon, a leper (Matthew and Mark)--probably cured by Jesus--at which Martha, Mary and Lazarus were guests. Martha aided in serving (Joh 12:2). In the course of the meal, or at its close, Mary brought a costly box of nard (valued by Judas at "300 shillings," about $50, or 10 pounds; compare the American Revised Version margin on Joh 6:7), and with the perfume anointed the head (Matthew, Mark) and feet (John) of Jesus, wiping His feet with her hair (Matthew and Mark, though not mentioning the "feet," speak of the "body" of Jesus). Indignation, instigated by Judas (John), was at once awakened at what was deemed wanton waste. How much better had the money been given to the poor! Jesus vindicated Mary in her loving act--a prophetic anointing for His burial--and declared that wherever His gospel went, it would be spoken of for a memorial of her. It is the hearts from which such acts come that are the true friends of the poor. The chief priests were only the further exasperated at what was happening, and at the interest shown in Lazarus, and plotted to put Lazarus also to death (Joh 12:10).
The Entry into Jerusalem
(Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19)
On the day following--Palm Sunday--Jesus made His public entry as Messiah into Jerusalem. All the evangelists narrate this event. The Mount of Olives had to be crossed from Bethany, and Jesus sent two disciples to an adjacent village--probably Bethphage (this seems to have been also the name of a district)--where an ass and its colt would be found tied. These they were to bring to Him, Jesus assuring them of the permission of the owners. Garments were thrown over the colt, and Jesus seated Himself on it. In this humble fashion (as Mt and Joh note, in fulfillment of prophecy, Zec 9:9), He proceeded to Jerusalem, from which a multitude, bearing palm branches, had already come out to meet Him (John). Throngs accompanied Him, going before and after; these, spreading their garments, and strewing branches in the way, hailed Him with hosannas as the Son of David, the King of Israel, who came in the name of the Lord. Very different were the feelings in the breasts of the Pharisees. "Behold," they said, "how ye prevail nothing; lo, the world is gone after him" (Joh 12:19). They bade Jesus rebuke His disciples, but Jesus replied that if they were silent, the very stones would cry out (Lu 19:40).
Jesus Weeping over Jerusalem--Return to Bethany.
One incident in this progress to Jerusalem is related only by Lu 19:41-44. As at a bend in the road Jerusalem became suddenly visible, Jesus paused and wept over the city, so blind to its day of visitation, and so near to its awful doom. Not His own sufferings, but the thought of Jerusalem’s guilt and woes, filled Him with anguish. On reaching the city, Mark’s testimony is explicit that He did no more than enter the temple, and `look round on all things’ (Mr 11:11). Then eventide having come, He returned to Bethany with the Twelve.
Cursing of the Fig Tree--Second Cleansing of Temple
(Matthew 21:12-22; Mark 11:12-26; Luke 19:45-48)
The morning of Monday found Jesus and His disciples again on their way to the city. Possibly the early hours had been spent by Jesus in solitary prayer, and, as they went, it is recorded that "he hungered." A fig tree from which, from its foliage, fruit might have been expected, stood invitingly by the wayside, but when Jesus approached it, it was found to have nothing but leaves--a striking symbol of the outwardly religious, but spiritually barren Jewish community. And in this sense Jesus used it in pronouncing on it the word of doom, "No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for ever" (Mark). Next morning (Tuesday), as the disciples passed, the tree was found withered from the roots. Matthew combines the events of the cursing and the withering, placing both on the second day, but Mark more accurately distinguishes them. Jesus used the surprise of the disciples as the occasion of a lesson on the omnipotence of faith, with added counsels on prayer.
Were There Two Cleansings?
Pursuing His journey on the first morning, Jesus reached the temple, and there, as His first act, is stated by Mt and Mr to have cleansed the temple of the traders. It is a diffcult question whether this is a second cleansing, or the same act as that recorded by John at the beginning of the ministry (Joh 2:13-22; see above), and here narrated out of its chronological order. The acts are at least quite similar in character and significance. In favor of a second cleansing is the anger of the priests and scribes (Mr 11:18; Lu 19:47), and their demand next day for His authority. No other incidents are recorded of this visit to the temple, except the healing of certain blind and lame, and the praises of the children, "Hosanna to the son of David"--an echo of the previous day’s proceedings (Mt 21:14-16). In the evening He went back to Bethany.
The Eventful Tuesday
Far different is it with the third day of these visits of Jesus to the temple--the Tuesday of the Passion Week. This is crowded with parables, discourses, incidents, so numerous, impressive, tragical, as to oppress the mind in seeking to grasp how one short day could embrace them all. It was the last day of the appearance of Jesus in the temple (Joh 12:36), and marks His final break with the authorities of the nation, on whom His words of denunciation (Mt 23) fell with overwhelming force. The thread of the day’s proceedings may thus be briefly traced.
a) The Demand for Authority--Parables:
(Matthew 21:23-22:14; Mark 11:27-12:12; Luke 20:1-18)
On His first appearance in the temple on the Tuesday morning, Jesus was met by a demand from the chief priests, scribes and elders (representatives of the Sanhedrin), for the authority by which He acted as He did. Jesus met them by a counterquestion, "The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?" The dilemma was obvious. If John was Divinely accredited, why did they not accept his testimony to Jesus? Yet they feared to say his mission was of men, for John was universally esteemed a prophet. They could therefore only lamely reply: "We cannot tell" (the King James Version). Matters had now come to an issue, and Jesus, reverting to the method of parable, set forth plainly their sin and its results to themselves and others.
The Two Sons--the Wicked Husbandmen--the Marriage of the King’s Son.
The parables spoken on this occasion were: that of the Two Sons, one who said "I go not," but afterward repented and went, the other who said, "I go, sir," but went not--pointing the moral that the publicans and harlots went into the kingdom of God before the self-righteous leaders who rejected the preaching of John (Mt 21:28-32); that of the Wicked Husbandmen, who slew the servants, and finally the son, sent to them, and were at length themselves destroyed, the vineyard being given to others--a prophecy of the transferring of the kingdom to the Gentiles (Matthew, Mark, Luke); and that of the Marriage of the King’s Son (Mt 22:2-14), akin to that of the Great Supper in Lu 14:16-24 in its gathering in of the outcasts to take the place of those who had been bidden, but distinguished from it by the feature of the wedding garment, the lack of which meant being thrust into the outer darkness. The Pharisees easily perceived that these parables were spoken of them (Mt 21:45; Mr 12:12; Lu 20:19), and were correspondingly enraged, yet dared not touch Jesus for fear of the people.
b) Ensnaring Questions, etc.:
(Matthew 22:1-46; Mark 12:13-37; Luke 20:19-44)
The attempt was next made on the part of the Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees--now joined in a common cause--to ensnare Jesus by captious and compromising questions. These attempts He met with a wisdom and dignity which foiled His adversaries, while He showed a ready appreciation of a candid spirit when it presented itself, and turned the point against His opponents by putting a question on the Davidic sonship of the Messiah.
(1) Tribute to Caesar--the Resurrection--the Great Commandment.
First the Pharisees with the Herodians sought to entrap Him by raising the question of the lawfulness of tribute to Caesar. By causing them to produce a denarius bearing Caesar’s image and superscription, Jesus obtained from them a recognition of their acceptance of Caesar’s authority, and bade them render Caesar’s things to Caesar, and God’s to God. The Sadducees next tried Him with the puzzle of the wife who had seven husbands, leading up to denial of the resurrection; but Jesus met them by showing that marriage relations have no place in the resurrection life, and by pointing to the implication of a future life in God’s word to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham," etc. God "is not the God of the dead, but of the living," a fact which carried with it all the weight of resurrection, as needed for the completion of the personal life. The candid scribe, who came last with His question as to which commandment was first of all, had a different reception. Jesus met Him kindly, satisfied him with His answer, and pronounced him "not far from the kingdom of God" (Mr 12:34).
(2) David’s Son and Lord.
The adversaries were silenced, but Jesus now put to them His own question. If David in Ps 110 could say "Yahweh saith unto my lord, Sit thou on my right hand," etc., how was this reconcilable with the Christ being David’s son? The question was based on the acceptance of the oracle as spoken by David, or one of his house, of the Messiah, and was intended to suggest the higher nature of Christ as one with God in a Divine sovereignty. David’s son was also David’s Lord.
c) The Great Denunciation:
(Matthew 23; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47; compare Luke 11:39-52)
At this point, in audience of the multitudes and of His disciples in the temple, Jesus delivered that tremendous indictment of the scribes and Pharisees, with denunciations of woes upon them for their hypocrisy and iniquity of conduct, recorded most fully in Mt 23. A more tremendous denunciation of a class was never uttered. While conceding to the scribes and Pharisees any authority they lawfully possessed (23:2,3), Jesus specially dwelt on their divorce of practice from precept. They said and did not (23:3). He denounced their perversion of the right, their tyranny, their ostentation, their keeping back others from the kingdom, their zeal in securing proselytes, only to make them, when gained, worse than themselves, their immoral casuistry, their scruples about trifles, while neglecting essentials, their exaltation of the outward at the expense of the inward, their building the tombs of the prophets, while harboring the spirit of those that killed the prophets. He declared them to be foul and corrupt to the last degree: `sons of Gehenna’ (23:15,33). So awful a condition meant ripeness for doom. On them, through that law of retribution which binds generation with generation in guilt and penalty, would come all the righteous blood shed since the days of Abel (the allusion to "Zachariah son of Barachiah," 23:35, is unmistakably to 2Ch 24:21--this being the last book in the Hebrew Canon--but "Barachiah" seems a confusion with Zec 1:1, perhaps through a copyist’s gloss or error). At the close indignation melts into tenderness in the affecting plaint over Jerusalem--"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, .... how often would I have gathered thy children together," etc. (Mt 23:37-39)--words found in Luke in an earlier context (13:34,35), but assuredly also appropriate here. For other parts of the discourse found earlier, compare Lu 11:39-52. All seems to have been gathered up afresh in this final accusation. It can be imagined that the anger of the Pharisees was fierce at such words, yet they did not venture openly to touch Him.
d) The Widow’s Offering:
(Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)
Before finally leaving the temple, Jesus seems to have passed from the outer court into the women’s court, and there to have sat down near the receptacles provided for the gifts of the worshippers. Many who were wealthy cast of their gold and silver into the treasury, but the eye of Jesus singled out one poor widow who, creeping up, cast in two mites (Greek lepta, the smallest of coins), which made up but a farthing. It was little, but it was her all, and Jesus immortalized her poor offering by declaring that, out of her want, she had given more than the wealthlest there. Gifts were measured in His sight by the willingness that prompted them, and by the sacrifice they entailed.
e) The Visit of the Greeks:
f) Discourse on the Last Things:
(Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36)
g) Parables of Ten Virgins, Talents and Last Judgment:
To this great discourse on the solemnities of the end, Jesus, still addressing His disciples, added three memorable parables of instruction and warning (Mt 25)--the first, that of the Ten Virgins, picturing, under the figure of virgins who went to meet the bridegroom with insufficient provision of oil for their lamps, the danger of being taken unawares in waiting for the Son of Man; the second, that of the Talents, akin to the parable in Luke of the Pounds (19:11-27), emphasizing the need of diligence in the Lord’s absence; the third, that of the Sheep and Goats, or Last Judgment, showing how the last division will be made according as discipleship is evinced by loving deeds done to those in need on earth--such deeds being owned by Christ the King as done to Himself. Love is thus declared to be the ultimate law in Christ’s kingdom (compare 1Co 13); the loveless spirit is reprobated. "These shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life" (Mt 25:46).
A Day of Retirement
(compare John 12:36)
Lu 21:37,38 might suggest that Jesus taught in the temple every day till the Thursday of the Passover; if, however, the denunciation took place, as nearly all agree, on Tuesday, an exception must be made of the Wednesday, which Jesus probably spent in retirement in Bethany in preparation of spirit for His last great conflict (others arrange differently, and put some of the preceding events in this day). The summary in Joh 12:36-43 connects the blindness of mind of the Pharisees with Isaiah’s vision (Isa 6:10), and with the prophecy of the rejected Servant (Isa 53:1).
An Atmosphere of Plotting--Judas and the Priests
(Matthew 26:1-5,14-16; Mark 14:1,2,10,11; Luke 22:1-6)
The plot for the destruction of Jesus was meanwhile maturing. Two days before the Passover (Tuesday evening), Jesus forewarned the disciples of His approaching betrayal and crucifixion (Mt 26:2); and probably at that very hour a secret meeting of the chief priests and elders was being held in the court of the house of the high priest, Caiaphas (Matthew), to consult as to the means of putting Him to death. Their resolve was that it should not be done on the feast day, lest there should be a tumult; but the appearance of Judas, who since the anointing had seemingly meditated this step, speedily changed their plans. For the paltry sum of 30 pieces of silver (shekels of the sanctuary, less than $20 or 4 pounds; the price of a slave, Ex 21:32; compare Zec 11:12), the recreant disciple, perhaps persuading himself that he was really forcing Jesus to an exercise of His Messianic power, agreed to betray his Lord. The covenant of infamy was made, and the traitor now only waited his opportunity to carry out his project.
From the Last Supper till the Cross
The Last Supper
(Matthew 26:17-35; Mark 14:12-31; Luke 22:7-38; John 13; compare 1Co 11:23-25)
In the scene in the upper chamber, at the observance of the Last Supper, we enter the holy of holies of this part of the Lord’s history. It is difficult, in combining the narratives, to be sure of the order of all the particulars, but the main events are clear. They may be exhibited as follows:
a) The Preparation:
On "the first day of unleavened bread"--Thursday, 14th of Nisan--Jesus bade two of His disciples (Luke names Peter and John) make the needful preparations for the observance of the Passover. This included the sacrificing of the lamb at the temple, and the securing of a guest-chamber. Jesus bade the disciples follow a man whom they would meet bearing a pitcher, and at the house where he stopped they would find one willing to receive them. The master of the house, doubtless a disciple, at once gave them "a large upper room furnished and ready" (Mark); there they made ready.
b) Dispute about Precedence--Washing of the Disciples’ Feet--Departure of Judas:
Evening being come, Jesus and the Twelve assembled, and took their places for the meal. We gather from Joh 13:23 that John reclined next to Jesus (on the right), and the sequel shows that Judas and Peter were near on the other side. It was probably this arrangement that gave rise to the unseemly strife for precedence among the disciples narratedin Lu 22:24-30. The spirit thus displayed Jesus rebuked, as He had more than once had occasion to do (compare Mr 9:33-37); then (for here may be inserted the beautiful incident in Joh 13:1 ff), rising from the table, He gave them an amazing illustration of His own precept, "He that is chief (let him become) as he that doth serve ..... I am in the midst of you as he that serveth" (Lu 22:26,27), in divesting Himself of His garments, girding Himself with a towel, and performing the act of a servant in washing His disciples’ feet. Peter’s exclamation must have expressed the feelings of all: "Lord, dost thou wash my feet?" The act of the Divine Master was a wonderful lesson in humility, but Jesus used it also as a parable of something higher. "If I wash thee not (i.e. if thou art not cleansed by the receiving of my word and spirit, which this washing symbolizes), thou hast no part with me"; then on Peter’s further impulsive protest, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head," the word: "He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit" (i.e. sanctification of the inner man is once for all, but there is need for cleansing from the sins of the daily walk). Resuming His place at the table, He bade them imitate the example He had just given them.
Is it I?
An ominous word had accompanied the reply to Peter, "Ye are not all clean" (Joh 13:10,11). As the supper proceeded, the meaning of this was made plain. Judas, who had already sold his Master, was at the table with the rest. He had permitted Jesus to wash his feet, and remained unmoved by that surpassing act of condescending love. Jesus was "troubled in spirit" and now openly declared, "One of you shall betray me" (the Greek word means literally, "deliver up": compare Lu 22:4,6, and the Revised Version margin throughout). It was an astounding announcement to the disciples, and from one and another came the trembling question, "Lord, is it I?" Jesus answered that it was one of those dipping his hand with Him in the dish (Mark), and spoke of the woe that would overtake the betrayer ("Good were it for that man if he had not been born"). John, at a sign from Peter, asked more definitely, "Who is it?" (John). Jesus said, but to John only, it was he to whom He would give a sop, and the sop was given to Judas. The traitor even yet sought to mask his treachery by the words, "Is it I, Rabbi?" and Jesus replied, though still not aloud, "Thou hast said" (Matthew); then, as Satanic passion stirred the breast of Judas, He added, "What thou doest, do quickly" (John). Judas at once rose and went out--into the night (Joh 13:30). The disciples, not comprehending his abrupt departure, thought some errand had been given him for the feast or for the poor. Jesus was relieved by his departure and spoke of the glory coming to Himself and to His Father, and of love as the mark of true discipleship (Joh 13:31-35).
c) The Lord’s Supper:
The forms of the observance of the Passover by the Jews are given elsewhere (see Passover). Luke alone of the New Testament writers speaks of 2 cups (22:17,20); in Jewish practice 4 cups were used. The "Western" text, Codex Bezae (D), omits Luke’s 2nd cup, from which some (compare Sanday, Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes)) infer duplication, but this is not necessary. Luke’s 1st cup (Lu 22:17) may be that with which the paschal supper opened; the 2nd cup--that mentioned by all the writers--was probably the 3rd Jewish cup, known as "the cup of blessing" (compare 1Co 10:16). Some, however, as Meyer, make it the 4th cup. It is implied in Matthew, Mark, John, that by this time Judas had gone. Left thus with His own, the essentials of the paschal meal being complete, Jesus proceeded, by taking and distributing bread and wine, associating them with His body and blood, soon to be offered in death upon the cross, to institute that sacred rite in which, through all ages since (though its simplicity has often been sadly obscured) His love and sacrifice have been commemorated by His church. There are variations of phrase in the different accounts, but in the essentials of the sacramental institution there is entire agreement. Taking bread, after thanks to God, Jesus broke it, and gave it to the disciples with the words, "This is my body"; the cup, in like manner, after thanksgiving, He gave them with the words, "This is my blood of the covenant (in Luke and Paul, "the new covenant in my blood") which is poured out for many" (Matthew adds, "unto remission of sins"). Luke and Paul add what is implied in the others: "This do in remembrance of me" (Lu 22:19; 1Co 11:24). Nothing could more plainly designate the bread and wine as holy symbols of the Lord’s body and blood, offered in death for man’s redemption, and sealing in His blood a new covenant with God; nor, so long as the rite is observed in its Divine simplicity, as Jesus instituted it, will it be possible to expunge from His death the character of a redeeming sacrifice. In touching words Jesus intimated that He would no more drink of the fruit of the vine till He drank it new with them in their Father’s Kingdom (on the doctrinal aspects, see Eucharist; Sacraments; LORD’s SUPPER).
d) The Last Discourses--Intercessory Prayer:
The Supper was over, and parting was imminent, but Jesus did not leave the holy chamber till He had poured out His inmost heart in those tender, consolatory, profoundly spiritual addresses which the beloved disciple has preserved for us in John 14; 15; and 16, followed by the wonderful closing intercessory prayer of John 17. He was leaving them, but their hearts were not to be disquieted, for they would see Him again (14:18; 16:16 ff), and if, ere long, He would part with them again in visible form, it was only outwardly He would be separated from them, for He would send them the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who would take His place, to guide them into all truth, and bring all things to their remembrance that He had said to them (14:16,17; 15:26; 16:7-14). If He went away, it was to prepare a place for them, and He would come again to receive them to Himself in His Father’s house (14:1-3); let them meanwhile show their love to Him by keeping His commandments (14:15,23,14). In the Spirit He Himself and the Father would dwell in the souls that loved Him (14:21-23). The intimacy of their union with Him would be like that of branches in the vine; only by abiding in Him could they bring forth fruit (15:1 ff). They would have tribulations (15:18 ff; 16:1,2), but as His dying bequest He left them His own peace (14:27); that would sustain their hearts in all trial (16:33). With many such promises did He comfort them in view of the terrible ordeal through which they were soon to pass; then, addressing His Father, He prayed for their holy keeping, and their final admission to His glory (17:9-18,24).
These solemn discourses finished, Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn (the "Hallel") and departed to go to the Mount of Olives. Comparing the evangelists, one would infer that the conversation in which Jesus foretold the denial of Peter at least commenced before they left the chamber (Lu 22:31 ; John connects it, probably through relation of subject, with the exposure of Judas, Joh 13:36-38); but it seems to have continued on the way (Matthew, Mark).
e) The Departure and Warning:
Jesus had spoken of their being "offended" in Him that night. In his exaltation of spirit, Peter declared that though all should be offended in Him, he would never be offended. Jesus, who had already warned Peter that Satan sought to have him, that he might sift him as wheat (Lu 22:31; but "I made supplication for thee," etc.), now told him that before the cock should crow, he would thrice deny Him. Peter stoutly maintained that he would die rather than be guilty of so base an act--so little did he or the others (Mt 26:35; Mr 14:31) know themselves! The enigmatic words in Lu 22:36 about taking scrip and sword point metaphorically to the need, in the times that were coming upon them, of every lawful means of provision and self-defence; the succeeding words show that "sword" is not intended to be taken literally (22:38).
Gethsemane &m,dash; the Betrayal and Arrest
(Matthew 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-53; Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-12)
Descending to the valley, Jesus and His disciples, crossing the brook Kidron ("of the cedars"), entered the "garden" (John) known as Gethsemane ("oil-press"), at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Here took place the agony, which is the proper commencement of the Passion, the betrayal by Judas and the arrest of Jesus.
During the evening the thoughts of Jesus had been occupied mainly with His disciples; now that the hour had come when the things predicted concerning Him should have fulfillment (Lu 22:37 "your hour, and the power of darkness," Lu 22:53), it was inevitable that mind and spirit should concentrate on the awful bodily and mental sufferings that lay before Him.
a) Agony in the Garden:
It was not the thought of physical suffering alone--from that also the pure and sensitive humanity of Jesus shrank with natural horror--but death to Him, the Holy One and Prince of Life, had an indescribably hateful character as a hostile power in humanity, due to the judgment of God on sin, and now descending upon Him through the workings of the vilest of human passions in the religious heads of His nation. What anguish to such an One, filled with love and the desire to save, to feel Himself rejected, betrayed, deserted, doomed to a malefactor’s cross--alone, yet not alone, for the Father was with Him! (Joh 16:32). The burden on His spirit when He reached Gethsemane was already, as the language used shows, all but unendurable--"amazed," "sore troubled," "My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death" (Mark). There, bidding the other disciples wait, He took with Him Peter, and James, and John, and withdrew into the recesses of the garden. Leaving these also a little behind, He sank on the ground in solitary "agony" (Luke), and "with strong crying and tears" (Heb 5:7), poured out His soul in earnest supplication to His Father. "Let this cup pass away from me"--it could not be, but thus the revulsion of His nature was expressed--"howbeit not what I will, but what thou wilt." The passage in Lu (22:44), "His sweat became as it were great drops of blood," etc., though omitted in certain manuscripts, doubtless preserves a genuine trait. Returning to the three, He found them overpowered with sleep: even the support of their wakeful sympathy was denied Him! "Watch and pray," He gently admonished them, "that ye enter not into temptation." A second and third time the same thing happened--wrestling with God on His part, sleep on theirs, till, with Divine strengthening (Lu 22:41), victory was attained, and calm restored. "Sleep on now," He said to His disciples (the crisis is past; your help can avail no more): "Arise, let us be going" (the future has to be faced; the betrayer is at hand. See the remarkable sermon of F.W. Robertson, II, sermon 22).
b) Betrayal by Judas--Jesus Arrested:
Trial before the Sanhedrin
(Matthew 26:57-75; 27:1-10; Mark 14:53-72; 15:1; Luke 22:54-71; John 18:12-27; compare Ac 1:18,19):
It would be about midnight when Jesus was arrested, and He was at once hurried to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, where in expectation of the capture, a company of chief priests, scribes and elders--members of the Sanhedrin--were already assembled. Here the first stage in the trial of Jesus took place.
The legal and constitutional questions connected with the trial of Jesus are considered in the article on JESUS CHRIST, THE ARREST AND TRIAL OF; see also Dr. Taylor Innes, The Trial of Jesus Christ; on the powers of the Sanhedrin, see Sanhedrin, and compare Schurer, Jewish People, etc., II, 1, pp. 163 ff. There seems little doubt that, while certain judicial forms were observed, the trial was illegal in nearly every particular. The arrest itself was arbitrary, as not rounded on any formal accusation (the Sanhedrin, however, seems to have arrogated to itself powers of this kind; compare Ac 4:1 ff); but the night session, lack of definite charge, search for testimony, interrogation of accused, haste in condemnation, were unquestionably in flagrant violation of the established rules of Jewish judicial procedure in such cases. It is to be remembered that the death of Jesus had already been decided on by the heads of the Sanhedrin, so that the trial was wholly a means to a foregone conclusion. On the historical side, certain difficulties arise. Joh seems to make the first interrogation of Jesus take place before Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas (on Annas, see below; though deposed 15 years before, he retained, in reality, all the dignity and influence of the high-priesthood; compare Lu 3:2; Ac 4:6); after which He is sent to Caiaphas (Joh 18:13,14,19-24). The narrative is simplified if either
(1) Joh 18:19-23 are regarded as a preliminary interrogatory by Annas till matters were prepared for the arraignment before Caiaphas; or
(2) 18:24 is taken as retrospective (in the sense of "had sent," as in the King James Version), and the interrogation is included in the trial by Caiaphas (compare 18:19: "the high priest").
Annas and Caiaphas may be presumed from the account of Peter’s denials to have occupied the same official residence; else Annas was present on this night to be in readiness for the trial. The frequently occurring term "chief priests" denotes the high priests, with those who had formerly held this rank, and members of their families (compare Schurer, op. cit., 203 ff). They formed, with the scribes, the most important element in the Sanhedrin.
a) Before Annas and Caiaphas--the Unjust Judgment:
First Jesus was led before Annas, then by him, after a brief interview, was transferred, still bound, to Caiaphas. Annas had been deposed, as above noticed, much earlier (15 AD), but still retained the name and through his sons and relations, as long as he lived, exercised much of the authority of high priest. Like all those holding this high office, he and Caiaphas were Sadducees. Annas--if he is the questioner in Joh 18:19-23--asked Jesus concerning His disciples and His teaching. Such interrogation was unlawful, the duty of the accuser, in Jewish law, being to produce witnesses; properly, therefore, Jesus referred him to His public teaching in the temple, and bade him ask those who heard Him there. An officer standing by struck Jesus with his hand for so speaking: an indignity which Jesus endured with meek remonstrance (18:22,23).
(1) An Illegal Session.
(2) A Morning Confirmation.
To give color of judicial sanction to these tumultuous and wholly irregular night proceedings, a more formal meeting of the Sanhedrin was convened as soon as day had dawned (Mt 27:1; Mr 15:1; Lu 22:66-71). Probably the irregularities were held to be excused by the urgency of the occasion and the solemnities of the feast. Jesus was again brought forward; new questions were put which He declined to answer. Possibly a new avowal of His Messiahship was made (more probably Luke includes in this scene, the only one he records, some of the particulars of the earlier proceedings). The judgment of the past night was confirmed.
b) The Threefold Denial:
While this greatest moral tragedy of the trial and condemnation of Jesus was in process, a lesser, but still awful, tragedy in the history of a soul was being enacted in the court of the same building (from this the chamber in which the Sanhedrin sat was visible), in the threefold denial of his Master by the apostle Peter. Peter, who had followed "afar off" (Luke), had gained access to the court through an unnamed disciple, whom it is easy to identify with John (Joh 18:15). As he stood warming himself at a fire which had been kindled, the maid who had admitted them (John), gazing attentively at Peter, said boldly, "Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean" (Mt 26:69). Unnerved, and affrighted by his surroundings, Peter took the readiest mode of escape in denial. "I know him not." His heart must have sunk within him as he framed the words, and the crowing of a cock at the moment (Mark--perhaps an hour after midnight), reminding him of his Master’s warning, completed his discomfiture. Guiltily he withdrew to the porch, only a little after to be accosted by another (the maid had spoken to her neighbors, Mark), with the same charge. More afraid than ever, he declared again, "I know not this man," and, seeing he was not believed, strengthened the denial with an oath. Yet a third time, an hour later, a bystander (or several, Mark), this time founding on his Galilean speech, pronounced, "Of a truth thou art one of them." Peter, to clear himself, cursed and swore, anew disclaiming knowledge of his Lord. To this depth had the boastful apostle fallen--as low, it might seem, as Judas! But there was a difference. As Peter spoke the cock again crew--the cockcrow which gives its form to three of the narratives (Mark alone mentions the double cockcrowing). At the same instant, either from within, or as He was being led forth, Jesus turned and looked on His erring disciple. That look--so full of pity, sorrow, reproach--could never be forgotten! Its effect was instantaneous: "Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
c) Remorse and Suicide of Judas:
Peter’s heartfelt repentance has its counterfoil in the remorse of Judas, which, bitter as it also was, cannot receive the nobler name. First, Judas sought to return the 30 shekels paid him as the price of blood ("I betrayed innocent blood"); then, when callously rebuffed by the priests and elders, he flung down the accursed money in the sanctuary, and went and hanged himself. Matthew and Ac seem to follow slightly divergent traditions as to his end and the purchase of the potter’s field. The underlying facts probably are that the priests applied the money, which they could not put into the treasury (Matthew), to the purchase of the field, where, either before or after the purchase, Judas destroyed himself (Acts: falling and bursting asunder), assigning it as a place to bury strangers in. Its connection with Judas is attested by its name, "Akeldama," "the field of blood."
The Jews might condemn, but they had no power to execute sentence of death (Joh 18:31). This power had been taken from them by the Romans, and was now vested in the Roman governor. The procurator of Judea was Pontius Pilate, a man hated by the Jews for his ruthless tyranny (see Pilate), yet, as the Gospels show him, not without a sense of right, but vacillating and weak-willed in face of mob clamor, and risk to his own interests.
Trial before Pilate
(Matthew 27:2,11-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-40; 19:1-16)
His residence in Jerusalem ("Praetorium," the English Revised Version "palace") was probably Herod’s former palace (thus Schurer, G.A. Smith, etc.), on the tesselated pavement (Joh 19:13) in the semicircular front of which was placed the tribunal (bema) from which judgments were delivered. It was to this place Jesus was now brought. The events took place when it was "early" (Joh 18:28), probably between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. (compare Joh 19:14, Roman camputation).
a) The Attitude of the Accusers:
b) The Attitude of Pilate:
Pilate was from the first impressed with the innocence of Jesus, and was sincerely anxious, as his actions showed, to save Him from the terrible and ignominious death His implacable enemies were bent on inflicting upon Him. His crime was that, as Roman judge, he finally, against his own convictions, through fear of a charge of disloyalty to Caesar, yielded up to torture and death One whom he had pronounced guiltless, to gratify the brutal passions of a mob. By Pilate’s own admissions, Christ’s death was, not a punishment for any crime, but a judicial murder. First, through private examination, Pilate satisfied himself that the kingship Jesus claimed ("Thou sayest") carried with it no danger to the throne of Caesar. Jesus was a king indeed, but His kingdom was not of this world; was not, like earthly kingdoms, supported by violence; was founded on the truth, and gathered its subjects from those that received the truth (Joh 18:36,37). The indifference to the name of truth which the jaded mind of Pilate confessed ("What is truth?") could not hide from him the nobility of soul of the Holy One who stood before him. He declared publicly, "I find no fault in this man," and thereafter sought means of saving Him, at least of shifting the responsibility of His condemnation from himself to others.
(1) Jesus Sent to Herod.
Hearing in the clamor round the judgment seat that Jesus was a Galilean, and remembering that Herod Antipas, who had jurisdiction in that region, was in the city, Pilate’s first expedient was to send Jesus to Herod, to be examined by him (Lu 23:6-11). This act of courtesy had the effect of making Herod and Pilate, who had been at enmity, again friends (Lu 23:12); otherwise it failed of its object. Herod was pleased enough to see One he had so often heard about--even thought in his flippancy that a miracle might be done by Him--but when Jesus, in presence of "that fox" (Lu 13:32), refused to open His mouth in answer to the accusations heaped upon Him, Herod, with his soldiers, turned the matter into jest, by clothing Jesus in gorgeous apparel, and sending Him back as a mock-king to Pilate.
(2) "Not This Man, but Barabbas."
Pilate’s next thought was to release Jesus in pursuance of a Jewish custom of setting free a prisoner at the feast, and to this end, having again protested that no fault had been found in Him, offered the people the choice between Jesus and a notorious robber and murderer called Barabbas, then in prison. Just then, as he sat on the judgment seat, a message from his wife regarding a dream she had ("Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man," Mt 27:19) must strongly have influenced his superstitious mind. Pilate could hardly have conceived that the multitude would prefer a murderer to One so good and pure; but, instigated by the priests, they perpetrated even this infamy, shouting for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus.
(3) "Ecce Homo."
Pilate’s weakness now began to reveal itself. He proposed to "chastise" (scourge) Jesus--why "chastise," if He was innocent?--then release Him. But this compromise, as was to be anticipated, only whetted the eagerness for blood, and the cries grew ever louder, "Crucify him." Pilate, however, as if yielding to the storm, did deliver Jesus to be scourged (scourging--a fearful infliction--preceded crucifixion), the cruelty being aggravated by the maltreatment of the soldiers, who, outstripping former mockeries, put on His head a crown of thorns, arrayed Him in a purple robe, and rained blows upon His bleeding face and form. It seems to have been a design of Pilate to awake pity, for once again he brought Jesus forth, and in this affecting guise, with new attestation of His innocence, presented Him to the people in the words, "Behold, the man!" (Joh 19:5). How hideous the mockery, at once to declare of such an one, "I find no crime in him," and to exhibit Him to the crowd thus shamefully abused! No pity dwelt in these hearts, however, and the shouts became still angrier, "Crucify him."
(4) A Last Appeal--Pilate Yields.
The words of the leaders, "He made himself the Son of God," spoken as a reason for putting Jesus to death (Joh 19:7), struck a new fear into the heart of Pilate. It led him again to enter the Pretorium, and inquire of this strange prisoner, unlike any he had ever seen, "Whence art thou?" Jesus was silent. "Knowest thou not," asked Pilate, "that I have power to release thee, and have power to crucify thee?" Jesus answered only that he, Pilate, had no power over Him at all save what was given him of God; the greater therefore was the crime of those who had subjected Him to this abuse of Divinely given power. Again Pilate went out and sought to release Him, but was met by the fierce cries that foreboded complaint to Caesar (Joh 19:12). A tumult seemed imminent, and Pilate succumbed. Here probably (though possibly after the choice of Barabbas) is to be placed the washing of his hands by Pilate--a vain disclaiming of his responsibility--recorded in Mt 27:24, and the awful answer of the people, "His blood be on us, and on our children" (27:25). Pilate now ascends the judgment seat, and, fully conscious of the iniquity of his procedure, pronounces the formal sentence which dooms Jesus to the cross. The trial over, Jesus is led again into the Pretorium, where the cruel mockery of the soldiers is resumed in intensified form. The Holy One, thorn-crowned, clad in purple, a reed thrust into His hand, is placed at the mercy of the whole band, who bow the knee in ridicule before Him ("Hail, King of the Jews"), spit upon Him in contempt, smite Him on the head with the reed (Matthew, Mark). Then, stripped of the robe, His own garments are put on Him, in preparation for the end.
c) The Attitude of Jesus:
In all this hideous scene of cruelty, injustice, and undeserved suffering, the conspicuous feature in the bearing of Jesus is the absolute calmness, dignity and meekness with which He endures the heaviest wrongs and insults put upon Him. The picture in Isa 53:7,8 is startling in its fidelity: "When he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away," etc. There is no return of the perturbation of Gethsemane. As if the strength won there had raised Him into a peace that nothing could shake, He passed through the frightful physical exhaustion, mental strain, agony of scourging, suffering from wounds and blows, of that terrible night and morning, with unbroken fortitude and unembittered spirit. Not a word of complaint passes His lips; He makes no reply to accusations; when reviled, He reviles not again; He takes all with submission, as part of the cup the Father has given Him to drink. It is a spectacle to move the stoniest heart. Well to remember that it is the world’s sin, in which all share, that mingled the bitter draught!
The Crucifixion and Burial
(Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37)
Crucifixion was the form of punishment reserved by the Romans for slaves, foreigners and the vilest criminals, and could not be inflicted on a Roman citizen. With its prolonged and excruciating torture, it was the most agonizing and ignominious death which the cruelty of a cruel age could devise. Jewish law knew nothing of it (the `hanging on a tree’ of De 21:22,23, was after death; compare Ga 3:13), yet to it the Jewish leaders hounded Pilate on to doom their Messiah. The cross was no doubt of the usual Roman shape (see Cross). The site of Golgotha, "the place of a skull" (in Luke "Calvary," the Latinized form), is quite uncertain. It may have been a slight mound resembling a skull (thus Meyer, Luthardt, Godet, etc.), but this is not known. It is only plain that it was outside the wall, in the immediate vicinity of the city (see note below on sepulcher). The time of the crucifixion was about 9 a.m. (Mr 15:25). The day (Friday) was the "preparation" for the Sabbath of the Passover week (Matthew, Mark, Luke; compare Joh 19:14,31).
a) On the Way:
It was part of the torment of the victim of this horrible sentence that he had to bear his own cross (according to some only the patibulum, or transverse beam) to the place of execution. As Jesus, staggering, possibly fainting, under this burden, passed out of the gate, a stranger coming from the country, Simon, a man of Cyrene, was laid hold of, and compelled to carry the cross (such an one would not be punctilious about rabbinical rules of travel, especially as it was not the regular Sabbath). Jesus, however, was not wholly unpitied. In the crowd following Him were some women of Jerusalem, who bewailed and lamented Him. The Lord, turning, bade these weep, not for Him, but for themselves and for their children. "If they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (Lu 23:27-31).
b) Between the Thieves--the Superscription--the Seamless Robe:
Golgotha being reached, the crucifixion at once took place under the care of a centurion and a quaternion of soldiers. With ruthless blows, hands and feet were nailed to the wood, then the cross was reared (the perpendicular part may, as some think, have first been placed in position). As if to emphasize, from Pilate’s point of view, the irony of the proceedings, two robbers were crucified with Jesus, on right and left, an undesigned fulfillment of prophecy (Isa 53:12). It was doubtless when being raised upon the cross that Jesus uttered the touching prayer--His 1st word on the cross (its genuineness need not be questioned, though some ancient manuscripts omit)--"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke). Above His head, according to custom, was placed a tablet with His accusation, written in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The chief priests took offense at the form, "This is the King of the Jews," and wished the words changed to, "He said, I am King," etc., but Pilate curtly dismissed their complaint: "What I have written I have written" (John). Whether Jesus still wore the crown of thorns is doubtful. The garments of the Crucified were divided among the soldiers, but for His inner garment, woven without seam, they cast lots (compare Ps 22:18). A draught of wine mingled with an opiate (gall or myrrh), intended to dull the senses, was offered, but refused.
c) The Mocking--the Penitent Thief--Jesus and His Mother:
The triumph of Christ’s enemies now seemed complete, and their glee was correspondingly unrestrained. Their victim’s helplessness was to them a disproof of His claims. Railing, and wagging their heads, they taunted Him, "If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross"; "He saved others; himself he cannot save." At first the robbers who were crucified with Him (possibly only one) joined in this reproach, but ere long there was a change. The breast of one of the malefactors opened to the impression of the holiness and meekness of Jesus, and faith took the place of scorn. He rebuked his neighbor for reviling One who had "done nothing amiss"; then, addressing Jesus, he prayed: "Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom." The reply of Jesus--His 2nd word on the cross--surpassed what even the penitent in these strange circumstances could have anticipated "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (Luke). A not less touching incident followed--perhaps preceded--this rescue of a soul in its last extremity. Standing near the cross was a group of holy women, one of them the mother of Jesus Himself (Joh 19:25 Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas--some identify the two latter--Mary Magdalene). Mary, whose anguish of spirit may be imagined, was supported by the disciple John. Beholding them--His 3rd word from the cross--Jesus tenderly commended His mother to the care of John; to Mary, "Woman, behold, thy son"; to John, "Beho1d, thy mother." From that time Mary dwelt with John.
Three hours passed, and at noon mocking was hushed in presence of a startling natural change. The sun’s light failed (Luke), and a deep darkness, lasting for 3 hours, settled over the land. The darkness was preternatural in its time and occasion, whatever natural agencies may have been concerned in it. The earthquake a little later (Matthew) would be due to the same causes. It was as if Nature veiled itself, and shuddered at the enormity of the crime which was being perpetrated.
d) The Great Darkness--the Cry of Desertion:
But the outer gloom was only the symbol of a yet more awful darkness that, toward the close of this period, overspread the soul of Jesus Himself. Who shall fathom the depths of agony that lay in that awful cry--the 4th from the cross--that burst loudly from the lips of Jesus, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani"--"My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me" (or, "Why didst thou forsake me?")--words borrowed from Ps 22:1! It was before remarked that death was not a natural event to Jesus, but ever had in it to His mind its significance as a judgment of God on sin. Here it was not simply death that He experienced in its most cruel form, but death bereft of the sensible comforts of the Father’s presence. What explanation of that mystery can be found which does not take into account with Isa 53 (compare Joh 1:29) His character as Sin-Bearer, even as the unbroken trust with which in His loneliness He clings to God ("My God") may be felt to have in it the element of atonement? On this, however, the present is not the place to dwell.
e) Last Words and Death of Jesus:
The end was now very near. The victim of crucifixion sometimes lingered on in his agony for days; but the unexampled strain of body and mind which Jesus had undergone since the preceding day brought an earlier termination to His sufferings. Light was returning, and with it peace; and in the consciousness that all things were now finished (Joh 19:28), Jesus spoke again--the 5th word--"I thirst" (John). A sponge filled with vinegar was raised on a reed to His lips, while some who had heard His earlier words ("Eli, Eli," etc.), and thought He called for Elijah, said, "Let us see whether Elijah cometh to save him" (Matthew). With a last effort, Jesus cried aloud--6th and memorable word--"It is finished," then, in a final utterance--the 7th--commended His spirit to God: "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke). Following on this word, bowing His head, He surrendered Himself to death. It will be seen that of the 7 words spoken from the cross, 3 are preserved by Luke alone (1st, 2nd, 7th), 3 by John alone (3rd, 5th, 6th), while the 4th cry ("Eli, Eli," etc.) occurs only in the first 2 evangelists (Matthew and Mark, however, speak of Jesus "crying with a loud voice" at the close).
f) The Spear Thrust--Earthquake and Rending of the Veil:
Jesus had died; the malefactors still lived. It was now 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and it was desired that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the approaching Sabbath. Permission was therefore obtained from Pilate for the soldiers to break the legs of the crucified (crurifragium), and so hasten death. When it was discovered that Jesus was already dead, a soldier, possibly to make sure, pierced His side with a spear, and John, who was present, notices as a special fact that "there came out blood and water" (19:34). Whether this means, as Stroud and others have contended, that Jesus literally died of rupture of the heart, or what other physiological explanation may be given of the phenomenon, to which the apostle elsewhere attaches a symbolical significance (1 Joh 5:6), need not be here discussed (see Blood and Water). This, however, was not the only startling and symbolically significant fact attending the death of Jesus. A great darkness had preluded the death; now, at the hour of His termination, the veil of the temple (i.e. of the inner shrine) was rent from top to bottom--surely a sign that the way into the holiest of all was now opened for mankind (Heb 9:8,12)--and a great earthquake shook the city and rent the rocks. Mt connects with this the statement that from the tombs thus opened "many bodies of the saints .... were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many" (27:52,53). There is nothing in itself improbable, though none of the other evangelists mention it, in such an early demonstration being given of what the Lord’s death and resurrection meant for believers. In other ways the power of the cross was revealed. A dying robber had been won to penitence; now the centurion who commanded the soldiers was brought to the avowal, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew, Mark; in Luke, "a righteous man"). The mood of the crowd, too, was changed since the morning; they "returned, smiting their breasts" (Lu 23:48). "Afar off," speechless with sorrow, stood the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, with other friends and disciples. The evangelists name Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Joses, Salome (Mark), and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (Luke).
(Matthew 27:57-66; compare 28:11-15; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
Jesus had conquered hearts on His cross; now His death reveals friends from the wealthier classes, hitherto kept back by fear (Joh 19:38,39), who charge themselves with His honorable burial. One was Joseph of Arimathea, a just man, "looking for the kingdom of God," of whom the interesting fact is recorded that, though a member of the Sanhedrin, "he had not consented to their counsel and deed" (Luke); the other was Nicodemus, he who came to Jesus by night (Joh 3:1,2; 19:39), mentioned again only in Joh 7:50-52, where, also as a member of the Sanhedrin, he puts in a word for Jesus.
a) The New Tomb:
Joseph of Arimathea takes the lead. "Having dared," as Mr says (15:43, Gr), he begged the body of Jesus from Pilate, and having obtained it, bought linen cloth wherein to wrap it, and reverently buried it in a new rock-tomb of his own (Matthew, Mark), "where never man had yet lain" (Luke). John furnishes the further particulars that the tomb was in a "garden," near where Jesus was crucified (19:41,42). He tells also of the munificence of Nicodemus, who brought as much as 100 pounds (about 75 lbs. avoir.) of spices--"a mixture of myrrh and aloes" (19:39), with which to enwrap the body of Jesus. This is not to be thought of as an "anointing": rather, the spices formed a powder strewn between the folds of the linen bandages (compare Luthardt, Commentary on Joh 19:40). The body, thus prepared, was then placed in the tomb, and a great stone rolled to tile entrance. The burial was of necessity a very hurried one, which the holy women who witnessed it--Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses are specially mentioned (Matthew, Mark)--purposed to supplement by an anointing when the Sabbath was past (compare Lu 23:56).
b) The Guard of Soldiers:
Though Jesus was dead, the chief priests and Pharisees were far from easy in their minds about Him. Mysterious words of His had been quoted about His building of the temple in three days; possibly Judas had told something. about His sayings regarding His death and rising again on the 3rd day; in any case, His body was in the hands of His disciples, and they might remove it, and create the persuasion that He had risen. With this plea they went to Pilate, and asked from him a watch of soldiers to guard the tomb. To make assurance doubly sure, they sealed the tomb with the official seal. The result of their efforts was only, under Providence, to provide new evidence of the reality of the resurrection!
The uncertainty attaching to the site of Golgotha attaches also to the site of Joseph’s rock-tomb. Opinion is about equally divided in favor of, and against, the traditional site, where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands. A principal ground of uncertainty is whether that site originally lay within or without the second wall of the city (compare Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, 457 ff; G.A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 576; a good conspectus of the different opinions, with the authorities, is given in Andrews, Part VII).