Portion of Homily LXXXIII.
Ver. 33, 34. "Having entered in, he asked Jesus, and said, Art thou
the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself,
or did others tell it thee of Me?"
Wherefore did Christ ask this? Because He desired to expose the evil
intentions of the Jews. Pilate had heard this saying from many, and, since
the accusers had nothing to say, in order that the enquiry might not be
a long one, he desires to bring forward that which was continually reported.
But when he said to them, "Judge him according to your law," wishing to
show that His offense was not a Jewish one, they replied, "It is not lawful
for us." "He hath not sinned against our law, but the indictment is general."
Pilate then, having perceived this, saith, as being (himself) likely to
be endangered, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Then Jesus, not from ignorance,
but from a desire that the Jews should be accused even by him, asked him,
saying, "Did others tell it thee?" On this point then declaring himself,
Ver. 35. "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have
delivered thee unto me; what hast thou done?"
Here desiring to clear himself of the matter. Then because he had said,
"Art thou the King?" Jesus reproving him answereth, "This thou hast heard
from the Jews. Why dost thou not make accurate enquiry? They have said
that I am a malefactor; ask them what evil I have done. But this thou doest
not, but art simply framing charges against Me." "Jesus answered him, Sayest
thou this thing of thyself," or from others? Pilate then cannot at once
say that he had heard it, but simply goes along with the people, saying,
"They have delivered thee unto me." "I must needs therefore ask thee what
thou hast done." What then saith Christ?
Ver. 36. "My Kingdom is not of this world."
He leadeth upwards Pilate who was not a very wicked man, nor after their
fashion, and desireth to show that He is not a mere man, but God and the
Son of God And what saith He?
"If My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight,
that I should not be delivered to the Jews."
He undoeth that which Pilate for a while had feared, namely, the suspicion
of seizing kingly power, "Is then His kingdom not of this world also?"
Certainly it is. "How then saith He it `is not'?" Not because He doth not
rule here, but because He hath his empire from above, and because it is
not human, but far greater than this and more splendid. "If then it be
greater, how was He made captive by the other?" By consenting, and giving
Himself up. But He doth not at present reveal this, but what saith He?
"If I had been of this world, `My servants would fight, that I should not
be delivered.'" Here He showeth the weakness of kingship among us, that
its strength lies in servants; but that which is above is sufficient for
itself, needing nothing. From this the heretics taking occasion say, that
He is different from the Creator. What then, when it saith, "He came to
His own"? (c. i. 11.) What, when Himself saith, "They are not of this world,
as I am not of this world"? (c. xvii. 14.) So also He saith that His kingdom
is not from hence, not depriving the world of His providence and superintendence,
but showing, as I said, that His power was not human or perishable. What
then said Pilate?
Ver. 37. "Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that
I am a King. To this end was I born."
If then He was born a king, all His other attributes are by Generation,
and He hath nothing which He received in addition. So that when thou hearest
that, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son
also to have life" (c. v. 26), deem of nothing else but His generation,
and so of the rest.
"And for this cause came I, that I should bear witness unto the truth."
That is, "that I should speak this very thing, and teach it, and persuade
[5.] But do thou, O man, when thou hearest these things, and seest thy
Lord bound and led about, deem present things to be nought. For how can
it be otherwise than strange, if Christ bore such things for thy sake,
and thou often canst not endure even words? He is spit upon, and dost thou
deck thyself with garments and rings, and, if thou gain not good report
from all, think life unbearable? He is insulted, beareth mockings, and
scornful blows upon the cheek; and dost thou wish everywhere to be honored,
and bearest thou not the reproaching of Christ? Hearest thou not Paul saying,
"Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ"?(1 Cor. xi. 1.) When
therefore any one makes a jest of thee, remember thy Lord, that in mockery
they bowed the knee before Him, and worried Him both by words and deeds,
and treated Him with much irony; but He not only did not defend Himself,
but even repaid them with the contraries, with mildness and gentleness.
Him now let us emulate; so shall we be enabled even to be delivered from
all insult. For it is not the insulter that gives effect to acts of insult,
and makes them biting, but he who is little of soul, and is pained by them.
If thou art not pained, thou hast not been insulted; for the suffering
from injuries depends not on those who inflict, but on those who undergo
them. Why dost thou grieve at all? If a man hath insulted thee unjustly,
in this case surely thou oughtest not to grieve at all, but to pity him;
if justly, much more oughtest thou to keep quiet. For should any one address
thee, a poor man, as though thou wert rich, the praise contained in his
words is nothing to thee, but his encomium is rather mockery; and so if
one insulting thee utter things that are untrue, the reproach is nothing
to thee either. But if conscience takes hold of what hath been said, be
not grieved at the words, but make correction in deeds. This I say with
regard to what really are insults. For if one reproach thee with poverty
or low birth, laugh at him. These things are a reproach not to the hearer,
but to the speaker, as not knowing true wisdom. "But," saith some one,
"when these things are said in the presence of many who are ignorant of
the truth, the wound becomes unbearable." Nay, it is most bearable, when
you have an audience present of witnesses praising and applauding you,
scoffing at and making a jest of him. For not he that defends himself,
but he that saith nothing, is applauded by sensible persons. And if none
of those present be a sensible person, then laugh at him most of all, and
delight thyself in the audience of heaven. For there all will praise and
applaud and welcome thee. For one Angel is as good as all the world. But
why speak I of Angels, when the Lord Himself proclaimeth thee? Let us exercise
ourselves with these reasonings. For it is no loss to be silent when insulted,
but it is, on the contrary, to defend one's self when insulted. Since were
it a fault silently to bear what is said, Christ would never have told
us, "If one smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
(Matt. v. 39.) If then our enemy say what is not true, let us on this account
even pity him, because he draws down upon him the punishment and vengeance
of the accusers, being unworthy even to read the Scriptures. For to the
sinner God saith, "Why declarest thou My statutes, and takest My covenant
in thy mouth? Thou satest and spakest against thy brother." (Ps. l. 16
and Ps. l. 20 LXX.) And if he speak the truth, so also he is to be pitied;
since even the Pharisee spake the truth; yet he did no harm to him who
heard him, but rather good, while he deprived himself of ten thousand blessings,
enduring shipwreck by this accusation, So that either way it is he that
suffers injury, not thou; but thou, if thou art sober, wilt have double
gain; both the propitiating God by thy silence, and the becoming yet more
discreet, the gaining an opportunity from what hath been said to correct
what has been done, and the despisingmortal glory. For this is the source
of our pain, that many gape upon the opinion of men. If we are minded to
be thus truly wise, we shall know well that human things are nothing. Let
us learn then, and having reckoned up our faults, let us accomplish their
correction in time, and let us determine to correct one this month, another
next month, and athird in that which follows. And so mounting as it were
by steps, let us get to heaven by a Jacob's ladder. For the ladder seems
to me to signify in a riddle by that vision the gradual ascent by means
of virtue, by which it is possible for us to ascend from earth to heaven,
not using material steps, but improvement and correction of manners. Let
us then lay hold on this means of departure and ascent, that having obtained
heaven, we may also enjoy all the blessings there, through the grace and
lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and
John xviii. 37.-"To this end was I horn, and for this cause came
I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one
that is of the truth heareth My Voice."
[1.] A Marvelous thing is longsuffering; it places the soul as in a
quiet harbor, fleeing it from tossings and evil spirits. And this everywhere
Christ hath taught us, but especially now, when He is judged, and dragged,
and led about. For when He was brought to Annas, He answered with great
gentleness, and, to the servant who smote Him, said what had power to bring
down all his insolence; thence having gone to Caiaphas, then to Pilate,
and having spent the whole night in these scenes, He all through exhibiteth
His own mildness; and when they said that He was a malefactor, and were
not able to prove it, He stood silent; but when He was questioned concerning
the Kingdom, then He spake to Pilate, instructing him, and leading him
in to higher matters. But why was it that Pilate made the enquiry not in
their presence, but apart, having gone into the judgment hall? He suspected
something great respecting Him, and wished, without being troubled by the
Jews, to learn all accurately. Then when he said, "What hast thou done?"
on this point Jesus made no answer; but concerning that of which Pilate
most desired to hear, namely, His Kingdom, He answered, saying, "My Kingdom
is not of this world." That is, "I am indeed a King, yet not such an one
as thou suspectest, but far more glorious," declaring by these words and
those which follow, that no evil had been done by Him. For one who saith,
"To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that
I should bear witness unto the truth," showeth, that no evil hath been
done by Him. Then when He saith, "Every one that is of the truth heareth
My voice," He draweth him on by these means, and persuadeth him to become
a listener to the words. "For if," saith He, "any one is true, and desireth
these things, he will certainly hear Me." And, in fact, He so took him
by these short words, that he said,
Ver. 38. "What is truth?"
But for the present he applieth himself to what was pressing, for he
knew that this question needed time, and desired to rescue Him from the
violence of the Jews. Wherefore he went out, and what said he?
"I find no fault in him."
Consider how prudently he acted. He said not, "Since he hath sinned,
and is deserving of death, forgive him on account of the Feast"; but having
first acquitted Him of all guilt, he asks them over and above, if they
were not minded to dismiss Him as innocent, yet as guilty to forgive Him
on account of the time. Wherefore he added,
Ver. 39, 40. "Ye have a custom that I should release unto you one
at the Passover"; then in a persuasory way, "Will ye therefore that I release
the king of the Jews? Then cried they all, Not this man, but Barabbas."
O accursed decision! They demand those like mannered with themselves,
and let the guilty go; but bid him punish the innocent. For this was their
custom from old time. But do thou all through observe the lovingkindness
of the Lord in these circumstances. Pilate scourged Him perhaps desiring
to exhaust and to soothe the fury of the Jews. For when he had not been
able to deliver Him by his former measures, being anxious to stay the evil
at this point, he scourged Him, and permitted to be done what was done,
the robe and crown to be put on Him, so as to relax their anger. Wherefore
also he led Him forth to them crowned (ver. 5), that, seeing the insult
which had been done to Him, they might recover a little from their passion,
and vomit their venom. "And how would the soldiers have done this, had
it not been the command of their ruler?" To gratify the Jews. Since it
was not by his command that they at first went in by night, but to please
the Jews; they dared anything for money. But He, when so many and such
things were done, yet stood silent, as He had done during the enquiry,
and answered nothing. And do thou not merely hear these things, but keep
them continually in thy mind, and when thou beholdest the King of the world
and of all Angels, mocked of the soldiers, by words and by actions, and
bearing all silently, do thou imitate Him by deeds thyself. For when Pilate
had called Him the King of the Jews, and they now put about Him the apparel
of mockery, then Pilate having led Him out, said,
Ver. 4, 5. "I find no fault against him. He therefore went forth,
wearing the crown."
But not even so was their rage quenched, but they cried out,
Ver. 6. "Crucify him, crucify him."
Then Pilate, seeing that all was done in vain, said,
"Take ye him, and crucify him."
Whence it is clear that he had permitted what had been done before,
because of their madness.
"For I," he saith, "find no fault in him."
[2.] See in how many ways the judge makes His defense, continually acquitting
Him of the charges; but none of these things shamed the dogs from their
purpose. For the, "Take ye him and crucify him," is the expression of one
clearing himself of the guilt, and thrusting them forward to an action
not permitted to them. They therefore had brought Him, in order that the
thing might be done by the decision of the governor; but the contrary fell
out, that He was rather acquitted than condemned by the governor's decision.
Then, because they were ashamed,
Ver. 7. "We have," they said, "a law, and by our law he ought to
die, because he made himself the Son of God."
"How then when the judge said, `Take ye him, and judge him according
to your law,' did ye reply, `It is not lawful for us to put any man to
death,' while here ye fly to the law? And consider the charge, `He made
himself the Son of God.' Tell me, is this a ground of accusation, that
He who performed the deeds of the Son of God should call Himself the Son
of God?" What then doth Christ? While they held this dialogue one with
the other, He held His peace, fulfilling that saying of the Prophet, that
"He openeth not his mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away."
(Isa. liii. 7, Isa. liii. 8 LXX.)
Then Pilate is alarmed when he hears from them, that He made Himself
the Son of God, and dreads lest the assertion may possibly be true, and
he should seem to transgress; but these men who had learnt this, both by
His deeds and words, did not shudder, but are putting Him to death for
the very reasons for which they ought to have worshiped Him. On this account
he no more asks Him, "What hast thou done?" but, shaken by fear, he begins
the enquiry again, saying, "Art thou the Christ?" But He answered not.
For he who had heard, "To this end was I born, and for this came I," and,
"My Kingdom is not of this world," he, when he ought to have opposed His
enemies and delivered Him, did not so, but seconded the fury of the Jews.
Then they being in every way silenced, make their cry issue in a political
charge, saying, "He that maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar."
(Ver. 12.) Pilate ought therefore to have accurately enquired, whether
He had aimed at sovereignty, and set His hand to expel Caesar from the
kingdom. But he makes not an exact enquiry, and therefore Christ answered
him nothing, because He knew that he asked all the questions idly. Besides,
since His works bare witness to Him, He would not prevail by word, nor
compose any defense, showing that He came voluntarily to this condition.
When He was silent, Pilate saith,
Ver. 10. "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?"
Seest thou how he condemned himself beforehand; for, "if the whole rests
with thee, why dost not thou let Him go, when thou hast found no fault
in Him?" When then Pilate had uttered the sentence against himself, then
Ver. 11. "He that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin."
Showing that he also was guilty of sin. Then,to pull down his pride
and arrogance, He saith,
"Thou wouldst have no power except it were given thee."
Showing that this did not come to pass merely in the common order of
events, but that it was accomplished mystically. Then lest, when thou hearest,
"Except it were given thee," thou shouldest deem that Pilate was exempt
from all blame, on this account therefore He said, "Therefore he that delivered
Me unto thee hath the greater sin." "And yet if it was given, neither he
nor they were liable to any charge." "Thou objectest idly; for the `given'
in this place means what is `allowed'; as though He had said, `He hath
permitted these things to be, yet not for that are ye clear of the wickedness.'"
He awed Pilate by the words, andproffered a clear defense. On which account
that person sought to release Him; but they again cried out, saying,
Ver. 12. "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend."
For when they profited nothing by bringing charges drawn from their
own law, they wickedly betook themselves to external laws, saying,
"Every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar."
And where hath this Man appeared as a tyrant? Whence can ye prove it?
By the purple robe? By the diadem? By the dress? By the soldiers? Did not
He ever walk unattended, save by His twelve disciples, following in every
point a humble mode of living, both as to food, and clothing, and habitation?
But O what shamelessness and ill-time cowardice! For Pilate, deeming that
he should now incur some danger were he to overlook these words, comes
forth as though to enquire into the matter, (for the "sitting down" showed
this,) but without making any enquiry, he gave Him up to them, thinking
to shame them. For to prove that he did it for this purpose, hear what
Ver. 14, 15. "Behold your king!" But when they said, "Crucify him,"
he added again, "Shall I crucify your king?" But they cried out, "We have
no king but Caesar."
Of their own will they subjected themselves to punishment; therefore
also God gave them up, because they were the first to cast themselves out
from His providence and superintendence; and since with one voice they
rejected His sovereignty, He allowed them to fall by their own suffrages.
Still what had been said should have been sufficient to calm their passion,
but they feared, lest, being let go, He should again draw the multitudes,
and they did all they could to prevent this. For a dreadful thing is love
of rule, dreadful and able to destroy the soul; it was on account of this
that they had never heard Him. And yet Pilate, in consequence of a few
words, desired to let Him go, but they pressed on, saying, "Crucify him."
And why did they strive to kill Him in this manner? It was a shameful death.
Fearing therefore lest there should afterwards be any remembrance of Him,
they desired to bring Him to the accursed punishment, not knowing that
truth is exalted by hindrances. To prove that they had this suspicion,
listen to what they say; "We have heard that that deceiver said, After
three days I will rise again" (Matt. xxvii. 63); on this account they made
all this stir, turning things upside down, that they might ruin matters
in after time. And the ill-ordered people, corrupted by their rulers,cried
out continually, "Crucify him!"
[3.] But let us not merely read of these things, but bear them in our
mind; the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on
the cheek, the spittings, the irony. These things, if continually meditated
on, are sufficient to take down all anger; and if we be mocked at, if we
suffer injustice, let us still say, "The servant is not greater than his
Lord" (c. xiii. 16); and let us bring forward the words of the Jews, which
they uttered in their madness, saying, "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast
a devil" (c. viii. 48); and, "He casteth out devils by Beelzebub." (Luke
xi. 15.) For on this account He bare all these things, in order that we
might walk in His footsteps, and endurethose mockings which disturb more
than anyother kind of reproach. Yet nevertheless He not only bare these
things, but even used every means to save and deliver from the appointed
punishment those who did them. For He sent the Apostles also for their
salvation, at leastthou hearest them saying, that, "We know that through
ignorance ye did it" (Acts iii. 17); and by these means drawing them to
repentance. This let us also imitate; for nothing so much maketh God propitious
as the lovingenemies, and doing good to those who despitefully use us.
When a man insults thee, look not to him, but to the devil who moves him,
and against him empty all thy wrath, but pity the man who is moved by him.
For if lying is from the devil, to be angry without a cause is much more
so. When thou seest one turning another into ridicule, consider that it
is the devil who moves him, for mockings belong not to Christians. For
he who hath been bidden to mourn, and hath heard, "Woe, ye that laugh"
(Luke vi. 25), and who after this insults, and jests, and is excited, demands
not reproach from us, but sorrow, since Christ also was troubled when He
thought on Judas. All these things therefore let us practice in our actions,
for if we act not rightly in these, we have come to no purpose and in vain
into the world. Or rather we have come to our harm, for faith is not sufficient
to bring men to the Kingdom, nay, it even hath power in this way most to
condemn those who exhibit an ill life; for He "which knew his Lord's will,
and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes" (Luke xii. 47); and
again, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin."
(c. xv. 22.) What excuse then shall we have, who have been set within the
palace, and deemed worthy to stoop down and enter into the sanctuary, and
have been made partakers of the releasing Mysteries, and who yet are worse
than the Greeks, whohave shared in none of these things? For if they for
the sake of vainglory have shown so much true wisdom, much more ought we
to go after all virtue, because it is pleasing to God. But at present we
do not even despise wealth; while they have often been careless of their
life, and in wars have given up their children to their madness about devils,
and have despised nature for the sake of their devils, but we do not even
despise money for the sake of Christ, nor anger on account of God's will,
but are inflamed, and in no better state than the fevered. And just as
they, when possessed by their malady, are all burning, so we, suffocated
as by some fire, can stop at no point of desire, increasing both anger
and avarice. On this account I am ashamed and astonished, when I behold
among the Greeks men despising riches, but all mad among ourselves. For
even if we could find some despising riches, we should find that they have
been made captive by other vices, by passion or envy; and a hard thing
it is to discover true wisdom without a blemish. But the reason is, that
we are not earnest to get our remedies from the Scriptures, nor do we apply
ourselves to those Scriptures with compunction, and sorrow, and groaning,
but carelessly, if at any time we chance to be at leisure. Therefore when
a great rush of worldly matters comes, it overwhelms all; and if there
hath been any profit, destroys it. For if a man have a wound, and after
putting on a plaster, do not tie it tight, but allow it to fall off, and
expose his sore to wet, and dust, and heat, and ten thousand other things
able to irritate it, he will get no good; yet not by reason of the inefficacy
of the remedies, but by reason of his own carelessness. And this also is
wont to happen to us, when we attend but little to the divine oracles,
but give ourselves up wholly and incessantly to things of this life; for
thus all the seed is choked, and all is made unfruitful. That this may
not be the case, let us look carefully a little, let us look up to heaven,
let us bend down to the tombs and coffins of the departed. For the same
end awaiteth us, and the same necessity of departure will often come upon
us before the evening. Prepare we then for this expedition; there is need
of many supplies for the journey, for great is the heat there, and great
the drought, and great the solitude. Henceforth there is no reposing at
an inn, there is no buying anything, when one hath not taken all from hence.
Hear at least what the virgins say, "Go ye to them that sell" (Matt. xxv.
9); but they who went found not. Hear what Abraham saith, "A gulf between
us and you." (Luke xvi. 26.) Hear what Ezekiel saith concerning that day,
that Noah, and Job, and Daniel shall in nowise deliver their sons. (Ezek.
xiv. 14.) But may it never come to pass that we hear these words, but that
having taken hence sufficient provision for our way to eternal life, we
may behold with boldness our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father
and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without
John xix. 16-18.-"Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be
crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And He, bearing His Cross,
went forth into a place called the place of a skull, where they crucified
[1.] `Successes' have terrible power to cast down or draw aside those
who take not heed. Thus the Jews, who at first enjoyed the influence of
God, sought the law of royalty from the Gentiles, and in the wilderness
after the manna remembered the onions. In the same way here, refusing the
Kingdom of Christ, they invited to themselves that of Caesar. Wherefore
God set a king over them, according to their own decision. When then Pilate
heard these things, he delivered Him to be crucified. Utterly without reason.
For when he ought to have enquired whether Christ had aimed at sovereign
power, he pronounced the sentence through fear alone. Yet that this might
not befall him, Christ said beforehand, "My kingdom is not of this world";
but he having given himself wholly up to present things, would practice
no great amount of wisdom. And yet his wife's dream should have been sufficient
to terrify him; but by none of these things was he made better, nor did
he look to heaven, but delivered Him up. And now they laid the cross upon
Him as a malefactor. For even the wood they abominated, and endured not
even to touch it. This was also the case in the type; for Isaac bare the
wood. But then the matter stopped at the will of his father, for it was
the type; while here it proceeded to action, for it was the reality.
"And He came to the place of a skull." Some say that Adam died there,
and there lieth; and that Jesus in this place where death had reigned,
there also set up the trophy. For He went forth bearing the Cross as a
trophy over the tyranny of death: and as conquerors do, so He bare upon
His shoulders the symbol of victory. What matter if the Jews did these
things with a different intent. They crucified Him too with thieves, in
this also unintentionally fulfilling prophecy; for what they did for insult
contributed to the truth, that thou mayest learn how great is its power,
since the Prophethad foretold of old, that "He was numbered with the transgressors."
(Isa. liii. 12.) The devil therefore wished to cast a veil over what was
done, but was unable; for the three were crucified, but Jesus alone was
glorious, that thou mayest learn, that His power effected all. Yet the
miracles took place when the three had been nailed to the cross; but no
one attributed anything of what was done to either of those others, but
to Jesus only; so entirely was the plot of the devil rendered vain, and
all returned upon his own head. For even of these two, one was saved. He
therefore did not insult the glory of the Cross, but contributed to it
not a little. For it was not a less matter than shaking the rocks, to change
a thief upon the cross, and to bring him unto Paradise.
Ver. 19. "And Pilate wrote a title."
At the same time requiting the Jews, and making a defense for Christ.
For since, they had given Him up as worthless, and attempted to confirm
this sentence by making Him share the punishment of the robbers, in order
that for the future it might be in no maws power to prefer evil charges
against him, or to accuse him as a worthless and wicked person, to close
moreover their mouths and the mouths of all who might desire to accuse
Him, and to show that they had risen up against their own King, Pilate
thus placed, as on a trophy, those letters, which utter a clear voice,
and show forth His Victory, and proclaim His Kingdom, though not in its
completeness. And this he made manifest not in a single tongue, but in
three languages; for since it was likely that there would be a mixed multitude
among the Jews on account of the Feast, in order that none might be ignorant
of the defense, he publicly recorded the madness of the Jews, in all the
languages. For they bore malice against Him even when crucified. "Yet what
did this harm you? Nothing. For if He was a mortal and weak, and was about
to become extinct, why did ye fear the letters asserting that He is the
King of the Jews?" And what do they ask? "Say that `he said.' For now it
is an assertion, and a general sentence, but if `he said' be added, the
charge is shown to be one arising from his own rashness and arrogance."
Still Pilate was not turned aside, but stood to his first decision. And
it is no little thing that is dispensed even from this circumstance, but
the whole matter. For since the wood of the cross was buried, because no
one was careful to take it up, inasmuch as fear was pressing, and the believers
were hurrying to other urgent matters; and since it was in after times
to be sought for, and it was likely that the three crosses would lie together,
in order that the Lord's might not be unknown, it was made manifest to
all, first by its lying in the middle, and then by the title. For those
of the thieves had no titles.
[2.] The soldiers parted the garments, but not the coat. See the prophecies
in every instance fulfilled by their wickednesses; for this also had been
predicted of old; yet there were three crucified, but the matters of the
prophecies were fulfilled in Him. For why did they not this in the case
of the others, but in His case only? Consider too, I pray you, the exactness
of the prophecy. For the Prophet saith not only, that they "parted," but
that they "did not part." The rest therefore they divided, the coat they
divided not, but committed the matter to a decision by lot. And the, "Woven
from the top" (ver. 23) is not put without a purpose; but some say that
a figurative assertion is declared by it, that the Crucified was not simply
man, but had also the Divinity from above. Others say that the Evangelist
describes the very form of the coat. For since in Palestine they put together
two strips of cloth and so weave their garments, John, to show that the
coat was of this kind, saith, "Woven from the top"; and to me he seems
to say this, alluding to the poorness of the garments, and that as in all
other things, so in dress also, He followed a simple fashion.
Ver. 24. "These things the soldiers did." But He on the Cross,
committeth His mother to the disciple, teaching us even to our last breath
to show every care for our parents. When indeed she unseasonably troubled
Him, He said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" (c. ii. 4.) And, "Who
is My mother?"(Matt. xii. 48.) But here He showeth much loving affection,
and committeth her to the disciple whom He loved. Again John conceals himself,
in modesty; for had he desired to boast, he would have also put in the
cause for which he was loved, since probably it was some great and wonderful
one. But wherefore doth He converse on nothing else with John, nor comfort
him when desponding? Because it was no time for comforting by words; besides,
it was no little thing for him to be honored with such honor, and to receive
the reward of steadfastness. But do thou consider, I pray, how even on
the cross He did everything without being troubled, speaking with the disciple
concerning His mother, fulfilling prophecies, holding forth good hopes
to the thief. Yet before He was crucified He appeareth sweating, agonized,
fearing. What then can this mean? Nothing difficult, nothing doubtful.
There indeed the weakness of nature had been shown, here was being shown
the excess of Power. Besides, by these two things He teacheth us, even
if before things terrible we be troubled, not on that account to shrink
from things terrible, but when we have embarked in the contest to deem
all things possible and easy. Let us then not tremble at death. Our soul
hath by nature the love of life, but it lies with us either to loose the
bands of nature, and make this desire weak; or else to tighten them, and
make the desire more tyrannous. For as we have the desire of sexual intercourse,
but when we practice true wisdom we render the desire weak, so also it
falls out in the case of life; and as God hath annexed carnal desire to
the generation of children, to maintain a succession among us, without
however forbidding us from traveling the higher road of continence; so
also He hath implanted in us the love of life, forbidding us from destroying
ourselves, but not hindering our despising the present life. And it behooves
us, knowing this, to observe due measure, and neither to go at any time
to death of our own accord, even though ten thousand terrible things possess
us; nor yet when dragged to it, for the sake of what is pleasing to God,
to shrink back from and fear it, but boldly to strip for it, preferring
the future to the present life.
But the women stood by the Cross, and the weaker sex then appeared the
manlier(ver. 25); so entirely henceforth were all things transformed.
[3.] And He, having committed His mother to John, said, "Behold thy
Son." (Ver. 26.) O the honor! with what honor did He honor the disciple!
when He Himself was now departing, He committed her to the disciple to
take care of. For since it was likely that, being His mother, she would
grieve, and require protection, He with reason entrusted her to the beloved.
To him He saith, "Behold thy mother." (Ver. 27.) This He said, knitting
them together in charity; which the disciple understanding, took her to
his own home. "But why made He no mention of any other woman, although
another stood there?" To teach us to pay more than ordinary respect to
our mothers. For as when parents oppose us on spiritual matters, we must
not even own them, so when they do not hinder us, we ought to pay them
all becoming respect, and to prefer them before others, because they begat
us, because they bred us up, because they bare for us ten thousand terrible
things. And by these words He silenceth the shamelessness of Marcion; for
if He were not born according to the flesh, nor had a mother, wherefore
taketh He such forethought for her alone?
Ver. 28. "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished."
That is, "that nothing was wanting to the Dispensation." For He was
everywhere desirous to show, that this Death was of a new kind, if indeed
the whole lay in the power of the Person dying, and death came not on the
Body before He willed it; and He willed it after He had fulfilled all things.
Therefore also He said, "I have power to lay down My life; and I have power
to take it again." (c. x. 18.) Knowing therefore that all things were fulfilled,
Here again fulfilling a prophecy. But consider, I pray, the accursed
nature of the bystanders. Though we have ten thousand enemies, and have
suffered intolerable things at their hands, yet when we see them perishing,
we relent; but they did not even so make peace with Him, nor were tamed
by what they saw, but rather became more savage, and increased their irony;
and having brought to Him vinegar on a sponge, as men bring it to the condemned,
thus they gave Him to drink; since it is on this account that the hyssop
Ver. 30. "Having therefore received it, He saith, It is finished."
Seest thou how He doth all things calmly, and with power? And what follows
shows this. For when all had been completed,
"He bowed His head, (this had not been nailed,) and gave up the ghost."
That is, "died." Yet to expire does not come after the bowing the head;
but here, on the contrary, it doth. For He did not, when He had expired,
bow His head, as happens with us, but when He had bent His head, then He
expired. By all which things the Evangelist hath shown, that He was Lord
But the Jews, on the other hand, who swallowed the camel and strained
at the gnat, having wrought so atrocious a deed, are very precise concerning
Ver. 31. "Because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should
not remain upon the cross - they besought Pilate that their legs might
Seest thou how strong a thing is truth? By means of the very things
which are the objects of their zeal, prophecy is fulfilled, for by occasion
of those things, this plain prediction, unconnected with them, receives
its accomplishment. For the soldiers when they came, brake the legs of
the others, but not those of Christ. Yet these to gratify the Jews pierced
His side with a spear, and now insulted the dead body. O abominable and
accursed purpose! Yet, beloved, be not thou confounded, be not thou desponding;
for the things which these men did from a wicked will, fought on the side
of the truth. Since there was a prophecy, saying, (from this circumstance,
"They shall look on Him whom they pierced." (Ver. 37; Zech. xii. 10.) And
not this only, but the deed then dared was a demonstration of the faith,
to those who should afterwards disbelieve; as to Thomas, and those like
him. With this too an ineffable mystery was accomplished. For "there came
forth water and blood." Not without a purpose, or by chance, did those
founts come forth, but because by means of these two together the Church
consisteth. And the initiated know it, being by water indeed regenerate,
and nourished by the Blood and the Flesh. Hence the Mysteries take their
beginning; that when thou approachest to that awful cup, thou mayest so
approach, as drinking from the very side.
Ver. 35. "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true."
That is, "I heard it not from others, but was myself present and saw
it, and the testimony is true." As may be supposed. For he relates an insult
done; he relates not anything great and admirable, that thou shouldest
suspect his narrative; but securing the mouths of heretics, and loudly
proclaiming beforehand the Mysteries that should be, and beholding the
treasure laid up in them, he is very exact concerning what took place.
And that prophecy also is fulfilled,
Vet. 36. "A bone of Him shall not be broken." (Ex. xii. 46; Num.
For even if this was said with reference to the lamb of the Jews, still
it was for the sake of the reality that the type preceded, and in Him the
prophecy was more fully accomplished. On this account the Evangelist brought
forward the Prophet. For since by continually producing himself as witness
he would have seemed unworthy of credit, he brings Moses to help him, and
saith, that neither did this come to pass without a purpose, but was written
before of old. And this is the meaning of the words, "A bone of Him shall
not be broken." Again he confirms the Prophet's words by his own witness.
"These things," saith he, "I have told you, that ye might learn that great
is the connection of the type with the reality." Seest thou what pains
he takes to make that believed which seemed to be matter of reproach, and
bringing shame? For that the soldier should insult even the dead body,
was far worse than being crucified. "But still, even these things," he
saith, "I have told, and told with much earnestness, `that ye might believe.'
(Ver. 35.) Let none then be unbelieving, nor through shame injure our cause.
For the things which appear to be most shameful, are the very venerable
records of our good things."