St. Thomas Aquinas,
Catena Aurea (Golden Chain),
Parallel Gospel of Matthew 27:1-54
(John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington:London, 1842)
1. When the morning was come, all the Chief Priests
and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
2. And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered
him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
3. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned,
repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the
Chief Priests and elders,
4. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
And they said, "What is that to us? see thou to that."
5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed,
and went and hanged himself.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 7: The Evangelist had above brought
down his history, of what was done to the Lord as far as early morning;
he then turned back to relate Peter's denial, after which he returned to
the morning to continue the course of events,
"When the morning was come, &c."
Origen: They supposed that by His death they should crush His doctrine,
and the belief in Him of those who believed Him to be the Son of God. With
such purpose against Him they bound Jesus, Who looses them that are bound.
[marg. note: see Isa 61:1]
Jerome: Observe the evil zeal of the Chief Priests; they watched the
whole night with a view to this murder. And they gave Him up to Pilate
bound, for such was their practice to send bound to the judge any whom
they had sentenced to death.
Raban.: [p. 932] Though it should be observed that they did not now
first bind Him, but before, when they first laid hands upon Him in the
garden, as John relates. [John 18:12]
Chrys., Hom. lxxxiv: They did not put Him to death in secret, because
they sought to destroy His reputation, and the wonder with which He was
regarded by many. For this reason they were minded to put Him to death
openly before all, and therefore they led Him to the governor.
Jerome: Judas, when he saw that the Lord was condemned to death, returned
the money to the Priests, as though it had been in his power to change
the minds of His persecutors.
Origen: Let the propounders of those fables concerning intrinsically
evil natures [ed. note: vid. S. Basil. Reg. Brev. 84.] answer me here,
whence Judas came to the acknowledgment of his sin, "I have sinned in that
I have betrayed righteous blood," except through the good mind originally
implanted in him, and that seed of virtue which is sown in every rational
soul? But Judas did not cherish this, and so fell into this sin.
But if ever any man was made of a nature that was to perish, Judas was
yet more of such a nature. If indeed he had done this after Christ's resurrection,
it might have been said, that the power of the resurrection brought him
to repentance. But he repented when he saw Christ delivered up to Pilate,
perhaps remembering the things Jesus had so often spoken of His resurrection.
Or, perhaps Satan who had "entered into him" [John 13:27] continued
with him till Jesus was given up to Pilate, and then, having accomplished
his purpose, departed from him; whereupon be repented.
But how could Judas know that He was condemned, for He had not yet been
examined by Pilate? One may perhaps say, that he foreboded the event in
his own mind from the very first, when he saw Him delivered up. Another
may explain the words, when "he saw that he was condemned," of Judas himself,
that be then perceived his evil case, and saw that he himself was condemned.
Leo, Serm., 52, 5: When he says, "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed
innocent blood," he persists in his wicked treachery, seeing that amid
the last struggles of death he believed not Jesus to be the Son of God,
but merely man of our rank; for had he not thus denied His omnipotence,
he would have obtained His mercy.
Chrys.: Observe that he repents only when his [p. 933] sin is finished
and complete; for so the Devil suffers not those who are not watchful to
see the evil before they bring it to an end.
Remig.: "But they said, What is that to us?" that is to say, What is
it to us that He is righteous? "See thou to it," i.e. to thy own deed what
will come of it. Though some would read these in one [marg. note: Quid
ad nos tu videris?], What must we think of you, when you confess that the
man whom yourself have betrayed is innocent?
Origen: But when the Devil leave any one, he watches his time for return,
and having taken it, he leads him into a second sin, and then watches for
opportunity for a third deceit. So the man who had married his father's
wife afterwards repented him of this sin, [1 Cor 5:1] but again the Devil
resolved so to augment this very sorrow of repentance, that his sorrow
being made too abundant might swallow up the sorrower.
Something like this took place in Judas, who after his repentance did
not preserve his own heart, but received that more abundant sorrow supplied
to him by the Devil, who sought to swallow him up, as it follows, "And
he went out, and hanged himself." But had he desired and looked for place
and time for repentance, he would perhaps have found Him who has said,
"I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." [Ezek 33:11]
Or, perhaps, he desired to die before his Master on His way to death,
and to meet Him with a disembodied spirit, that by confession and deprecation
he might obtain mercy; and did not see that it is not fitting that a servant
of God should dismiss himself from life, but should wait God's sentence.
Raban.: He "hung himself," to shew that he was hateful to both heaven
Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. V. et N. Test. q. 94: Since the Chief Priests
were employed about the murder of the Lord from the morning to the ninth
hour, how is this proved that before the crucifixion Judas returned them
the money he had received, and said to them in the temple, "I have sinned,
in that I have betrayed innocent blood?"
Whereas it is manifest that the Chief Priests and Elders were never
in the temple before the Lord's crucifixion, seeing that when He was hanging
on the Cross they were there to insult Him. Nor indeed can this be proved
hence, because it is related before the Lord's Passion, for many things
which were manifestly done before, are related after, that, and the reverse.
It might have been done after the ninth hour, when Judas, seeing the [p.
934] Saviour dead and the veil of the temple rent, the earthquake, the
bursting of the rocks, and the elements terrified, was seized with fear
and sorrow thereupon. But after the ninth hour the Chief Priests and Elders
were occupied, as I suppose, in the celebration of the Passover; and on
the Sabbath, the Law would not have allowed him to bring money. Therefore
it is to me as yet unproved on what day or at what time Judas ended his
life by hanging.
6. And the Chief Priests took the silver pieces, and said, "It is
not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of
7. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field,
to bury strangers in.
8. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this
9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet,
saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that
was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10. And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed
Chrys.: The Chief Priests knowing that they had purchased a murder were
condemned by their own conscience; they said, "It is the price of blood."
Jerome: Truly straining out the gnat, and swallowing the camel; for
if they would not put the money into the treasury, because it was the price
of blood, why did they shed the blood at all?
Origen: They thought it meet to spend upon the dead that money which
was the price of blood. But as there are differences even in burial places,
they used the price of Jesus' blood in the purchase of some potter's field,
where foreigners might be buried, not as they desired in the sepulchres
of their fathers.
Aug., App. Serm., 80, 1: It was brought about, I conceive, by God's
providence, that the Saviour's price should not minister means of excess
to sinners, but repose to foreigners, that thence Christ might both redeem
the living by the shedding of His blood, and [p. 935] harbour the dead
by the price of His passion. Therefore with the price of the Lord's blood
the potter's field is purchased. We read in Scripture that the salvation
of the whole human race has been purchased by the Saviour's blood. This
field then is the whole world. The potter who is the Lord of the soil,
is He who has formed of clay the vessels of our bodies. This potter's field
then was purchased by Christ's blood, and to strangers who without country
or home wander over the whole world, repose is provided by Christ's blood.
These foreigners are the more devout Christians, who have renounced
the world, and have no possession in it, and so repose in Christ's blood;
for the burial of Christ is nothing but the repose of a Christian; for
as the Apostle says, "We are buried with him by baptism into death." [Rom
6:4] We are in this life then as foreigners.
Jerome: Also we, who were strangers to the Law and the Prophets, have
profited by the perverse temper of the Jews to obtain salvation for ourselves.
Origen: Or, the "foreigners" are they who to the end are aliens from
God, for the righteous are buried with Christ in a new tomb hewn out in
the rock. But they who are aliens from God, even to the end, are buried
in the field of a potter, a worker in clay, which being bought by the price
of blood, is called the field of blood.
Gloss, non occ.: "To this day" means to the time when the Evangelist
was then writing. He then confirms the event by the testimony of the Prophet;
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet," &c.
Jerome: This is not found at all in Hieremias; but in Zacharias [marg.
note: Zech 11:13], who is the last but one of the twelve Prophets, something
like it is told, and though the sense is not very different, yet the arrangement
and the words are different.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 7: But if any one thinks this lowers the historian's
credit, first let him know that not all the copies of the Gospels have
the name Hieremias, but some simply "by the Prophet."
But I do not like this defence, because the more, and the more ancient,
copies have Hieremias, and there could be no reason for adding the name,
and thus making an error. But its erasure is well accounted for by the
hardihood of ignorance having heard the foregoing objection urged. It might
be then, that the name Hieremias occurred to the mind of Matthew as he
wrote, instead of the name Zacharias, as so [p. 936] often happens; and
that be would have straightway corrected it, when pointed out to him by
such as read this while he yet lived in the flesh, had he not thought that
his memory, being guided by the Holy Spirit, would not thus have called
up to him one name instead of another, had not the Lord determined that
it should thus be written.
And why He should have so determined, the first reason is, that it would
convey the wonderful consent of the Prophets, who all spake by one Spirit,
which is much greater than if all the words of all the Prophets had been
uttered through the mouth of one man; so that we receive without doubt
whatever the Holy Spirit spake through them, each word belongs to all in
common, and the whole is the utterance of each. Suppose it to happen at
this day, that in repeating another's words one should mention not the
speaker's name, but that of some other person, who however was the other's
greater friend, and then immediately recollecting himself should correct
himself, he might yet add, Yet am I right, if you only think of the close
unanimity that exists between the two. How much more is this to be observed
of the holy Prophets!
There is a second reason why the name Hieremias should be suffered to
remain in this quotation from Zacharias, or rather why it should have been
suggested by the Holy Spirit. It is said in Hieremias, that he bought a
field of his brother's son, and gave him silver for it, [Jer 32:9] though
not indeed the sum stated in Zacharias, thirty pieces of silver. That the
Evangelist has here adapted the thirty pieces of silver in Zacharias to
this transaction in the Lord's history, is plain; but he may also wish
to convey that what Hieremias speaks of the field is mystically alluded
to here, and therefore he puts not the name of Zacharias who spoke of the
thirty pieces of silver, but of Hieremias who spoke of the purchase of
the field. So that in reading the Gospel and finding the name of Hieremias,
but not finding there the passage respecting the thirty pieces of silver,
but the account of the purchase of the field, the reader might be induced
to compare the two together, and so extract from them the sense of the
prophecy, how far it refers to what was now accomplished in the Lord.
For what Matthew adds to the prophecy, "Whom they of the children of
Israel [p. 937] did value, and gave them for the potter's field, as the
Lord appointed me," this, "as the Lord appointed me," is found neither
in Zacharias nor Hieremias. It must then be taken in the person of the
Evangelist as inserted with a mystic meaning, that he had learned by revelation
that the prophecy referred to this matter of the price for which Christ
Jerome, Hieron. ad Pam. Ep. 57, 5: Far be it then from a follower of
Christ to suppose him guilty of falsehood, whereas his business was not
to pry into words and syllables, but to lay down the staple of doctrine.
Aug., Hieron. in loc.: I have lately read in a Hebrew book given me
by a Hebrew of the Nazarene sect, an apocryphal Hieremias, in which I find
the very words here quoted. After all, I am rather inclined to think that
the passage was taken by Matthew out of Zacharias, in the usual manner
of the Apostles and Evangelists when they quote from the Old Testament,
neglecting the words, and attending only to the sense.
11. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him,
saying, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" And Jesus said unto him, "Thou
12. And when he was accused of the Chief Priests and elders, he
13. Then said Pilate unto him, "Hearest thou not how many things
they witness against thee?
14. And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 7: Matthew, having finished his digression
concerning the traitor Judas, returns to the course of his narrative saying,
"Jesus stood before the governor."
Origen: Mark how He that is ordained by His Father to be the Judge of
the whole creation, humbled Himself, and was content to stand before the
judge of the land of Judaea, and to be asked by Pilate either in mockery
or doubt, "Art thou the King of the Jews?"
Chrys., Hom. lxxxvi: Pilate asked Christ that which His enemies were
continually casting in His teeth, for because they knew that Pilate cared
not for matters of their [p. 938] Law, they had recourse to a public charge.
Origen: Or, Pilate spoke this affirmatively, as he afterwards wrote
in the inscription, "The King of the Jews." By answering to the Chief Priest,
"Thou hast said," He indirectly reproved his doubts, but now He turns Pilate's
speech into an affirmative, "Jesus saith unto him, Thou sayest it."
Chrys.: He acknowledges Himself to be a King, but a heavenly one, as
it is more expressly said in another Gospel, "My kingdom is not of this
world [John 18:36], so that neither the Jews nor Pilate were excusable
for insisting on this accusation.
Hilary: Or, when asked by the High Priest whether He were Jesus the
Christ, He answered, "Thou hast said," because He had ever maintained out
of the Law that Christ should come, but to Pilate who was ignorant of the
Law, and asks if He were the King of the Jews, He answers, "Thou sayest,"
because the salvation of the Gentiles is through faith of that present
Jerome: But observe, that to Pilate who asked the question unwillingly
He did answer somewhat; but to the Chief Priests and Priests He refused
to answer, judging them unworthy of a word; "And when he was accused by
the Chief Priests and Elders he answered nothing."
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 8: Luke explains what were the accusations
alleged against Him, "And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this
fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar,
saying that he himself is Christ a King." [Luke 23:2]
But it is of no consequence to the truth in what order they relate the
history, or that one omits what another inserts.
Origen: Neither then nor now did Jesus make any reply to their accusations,
for the word of God was not sent to them, as it was formerly to the Prophets.
Neither was Pilate worthy of an answer, as be had no fixed or abiding opinion
of Christ, but veered about to contradictory suppositions.
"Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?"
Jerome: Thus though it is a Gentile who sentences Jesus, he lays the
cause of His condemnation upon the Jews.
Chrys.: He said this out of a wish to release Him, if He should justify
Himself in His answer. But the Jews, though they had so many practical
proofs of His power, His meekness and humbleness, were yet enraged against
Him, and urged on by a perverted judgment. Wherefore He answers nothing,
or if He makes any [p. 939] answer He says little, that total silence might
not be construed into obstinacy.
Jerome: Or, Jesus would not make any answer, lest if He cleared Himself
the governor should have let Him go, and the benefit of His cross should
have been deferred.
Origen: "The governor marvelled" at His endurance, as knowing that he
had power to condemn Him, He yet continued in a peaceful, placid, and immovable
prudence and gravity. He marvelled "greatly," for it seemed to him a great
miracle that Christ, produced before a criminal tribunal, stood thus fearless
of death, which all men think so terrible.
15. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people
a prisoner, whom they would.
16. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
17. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto
them, "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is
18. For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto
him, saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered
many things this day in a dream because of him."
20. But the Chief Priests and elders persuaded the multitude that
they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21. The governor answered and said unto them, "Whether of the twain
will ye that I release unto you?" They said, "Barabbas."
22. Pilate saith unto them, "What shall I do then with Jesus which
is called Christ?" They all say unto him, "Let him be crucified."
23. And the governor said, "Why, what evil bath [p. 940] he done?"
But they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified."
24. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather
a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude,
saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it."
25. Then answered all the people, and said, "His blood be on us,
and on our children."
26. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged
Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Chrys.: Because Christ had answered nothing to the accusations of the
Jews, by which Pilate could acquit Him of what was alleged against Him,
he contrives other means of saving Him.
"Now on the feast day the governor was wont to release unto the people
a prisoner whom they would."
Origen: Thus do the Gentiles shew favours to those whom they subject
to themselves, until their yoke is riveted. Yet did this practice obtain
also among the Jews, Saul did not put Jonathan to death, because all the
people sought his life. [marg. note: 1 Sam 14]
Chrys.: And he sought to rescue Christ by means of this practice, that
the Jews might not have the shadow of an excuse left them. A convicted
murderer is put in comparison with Christ, Barabbas, whom he calls not
merely a robber, but a notable one, that is, renowned for crime.
Jerome: In the Gospel entitled 'according to the Hebrews,' Barabbas
is interpreted, 'The son of their master,' who had been condemned for sedition
and murder. Pilate gives them the choice between Jesus and the robber,
not doubting but that Jesus would be the rather chosen.
Chrys.: "Whom will ye that I release unto you?" &c. As much as to
say, If ye will not let Him go as innocent, at least, yield Him, as convicted,
to this holy day. For if you would have released one of whose guilt there
was no doubt, much more should you do so in doubtful cases. Observe how
circumstances are reversed. It is the populace who are wont to petition.
[p. 941] for the condemned, and the prince to grant, but here it is the
reverse, the prince asks of the people, and renders them thereby more violent.
Gloss., non occ.: The Evangelist adds the reason why Pilate sought to
deliver Christ, "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him."
Remig.: John explains what their envy was, when he says, "Behold, the
world is gone after him;" [John 12:19] and, "If we let him thus alone,
all men will believe on him." [John 11:48] Observe also that in place of
what Matthew says, "Jesus, who is called Christ," Mark says, "Will ye that
I release unto you the King of the Jews?" [Mark 15:9] For the kings of
the Jews alone were anointed, and from that anointing were called Christs.
Chrys.: Then is added something else which alone was enough to deter
all from putting Him to death; "When he was set on the judgment seat, his
wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man."
For joined with the proof afforded by the events themselves, a dream was
no light confirmation.
Raban.: It is to be noted, that the bench (tribunal) is the seat of
the judge, the throne (solium) of the king, the chair (cathedra) of the
master. In visions and dreams the wife of a Gentile understood what the
Jews when awake would neither believe nor understand.
Jerome: Observe also that visions are often vouchsafed by God to the
Gentiles, and that the confession of Pilate and his wife that the Lord
was innocent is a testimony of the Gentile people.
Chrys.: But why did Pilate himself not see this vision? Because his
wife was more worthy; or because if Pilate had seen it, he would not have
had equal credit, or perhaps would not have told it; wherefore it is provided
by God that his wife should see it, and thus it be made manifest to all.
And she not merely sees it, but "suffers many things because of him," so
that sympathy with his wife would make the husband more slack to put Him
to death. And the time agreed well, for it was the same night that she
Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caen. Dom.: Thus then the judge terrified through
his wife, and that he might not consent in the judgment to the accusation
of the Jews, himself endured judgment in the affliction of his wife; the
judge is judged, and tortured before he tortures.
Raban.: Or otherwise; The devil now at last understanding that he should
lose his trophies through Christ, as be had at the first brought in [p.
942] death by a woman, so by a woman he would deliver Christ out of the
hands of His enemies, lest through His death he should lose the sovereignty
Chrys.: But none of the foregoing things moved Christ's enemies, because
envy had altogether blinded them, and of their own wickedness they corrupt
the people, for they "persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas,
and destroy Jesus."
Origen: Thus it is plainly seen how the Jewish people is moved by its
elders and the doctors of the Jewish system, and stirred up against Jesus
to destroy Him.
Gloss., non occ.: Pilate is said to make this answer, "Whether of the
twain will ye that I release unto you?" either to the message of his wife,
or the petition of the people, with whom it was a custom to ask such release
on the feast-day.
Origen: But the populace, like wild beasts that rage the open plains,
would have Barabbas released to them. For this people had seditions, murders,
robberies, practised by some of their own nation in act, and nourished
by all of them who believe not in Jesus, inwardly in their mind. Where
Jesus is not, there are strifes and fightings; where He is, there is peace
and all good things. All those who are like the Jews either in doctrine
or life desire Barabbas to be loosed to them; for whoso does evil, Barabbas
is loosed in his body, and Jesus bound; but he that does good has Christ
loosed, and Barabbas bound.
Pilate sought to strike them with shame for so great injustice, "What
shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ?" And not that only, but
desiring to fill up the measure of their guilt. But neither do they blush
that Pilate confessed Jesus to be the Christ, nor set any bounds to their
impiety, They all say unto him, "Let him be crucified." Thus they multiplied
the sum of their wickedness, not only asking the life of a murderer, but
the death of a righteous man, and that the shameful death of the cross.
Raban.: Those who were crucified being suspended on a cross, by nails
driven into the wood through their hands and feet, perished by a lingering
death, and lived long on the cross, not that they sought longer life, but
that death was deferred to prolong their sufferings. The Jews indeed contrived
this as the worst of deaths, but it had been chosen by the Lord without
their privity, thereafter to place upon the foreheads of the faithful the
same cross as a [p. 943] trophy of His victory over the Devil.
Jerome: Yet even after this answer of theirs, Pilate did not at once
assent, but in accordance with his wife's suggestion, "Have thou nothing
to do with that just man," he answered, "Why, what evil hath he done?"
This speech of Pilate's acquits Jesus. "But they cried out the more, saying,
Let him be crucified;" that it might be fulfilled which is said in the
Psalm, "Many dogs have compassed me, the congregation of the wicked hath
inclosed me;" [Ps 22:16] and also that of Hieremias, "Mine heritage is
unto me as a lion in the forest, they have given forth their voice against
me." [Jer 12:8]
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 8: Pilate many times pleaded with the Jews,
desiring that Jesus might be released, which Matthew witnesses in very
few words, when he says, "Pilate seeing that he could prevail nothing,
but that rather a tumult was made." He would not have spoken thus, if Pilate
had not striven much, though how many efforts he made to release Jesus
he does not mention.
Remig.: It was customary among the ancients, when one would refuse to
participate in any crime, to take water and wash his hands before the people.
Jerome: Pilate took water in accordance with that, "I Will wash my hands
in innocency," [Ps 26:6] in a manner testifying and saying, I indeed have
sought to deliver this innocent man, but since a tumult is rising, and
the charge of treason to Caesar is urged against me, I am innocent of the
blood of this just man. The judge then who is thus compelled to give sentence
against the Lord, does not convict the accused, but the accusers, pronouncing
innocent Him who is to be crucified.
"See ye to it," as though be had said, I am the law's minister, it is
your voice that has shed this blood. Then answered all the people and said,
"His blood be on us and on our children." This imprecation rests at the
present day upon the Jews, the Lord's blood is not removed from them.
Chrys.: Observe here the infatuation of the Jews; their headlong haste,
and destructive passions will not let them see what they ought to see,
and they curse themselves, saying, "His blood be upon us," and even entail
the curse upon their children. Yet a merciful God did not ratify this sentence,
but accepted such of them and of their children as repented; for Paul was
of them, and many thousands of those who in Jerusalem believed.
Leo, Serm., 59, 2: The impiety of the Jews then [p. 944] exceeded the
fault of Pilate; but he was not guiltless, seeing he resigned his own jurisdiction,
and acquiesced in the injustice of others.
Jerome: It should be known that Pilate administered the Roman law, which
enacted that every one who was crucified should first be scourged. Jesus
then is given up to the soldiers to be beaten, and they tore with whips
that most holy body and capacious bosom of God.
Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caena Dom.: See the Lord is made ready for the
scourge, see now it descends upon Him! That sacred skin is torn by the
fury of the rods; the cruel might of repeated blows lacerates His shoulders.
Ah me! God is stretched out before man, and He, in whom not one trace of
sin can be discerned, suffers punishment as a malefactor.
Jerome: This was done that we might be delivered from those stripes
of which it is said, "Many stripes shall be to the wicked." [Ps 32:10]
Also in the washing of Pilate's hands all the works of the Gentiles are
cleansed, and we are acquitted of all share in the impiety of the Jews.
Hilary: At the desire of the Priests the populace chose Barabbas, which
is interpreted 'the son of a Father,' thus shadowing forth the unbelief
to come when Antichrist the son of sin should be preferred to Christ.
Raban.: Barabbas also, who headed a sedition among the people, is released
to the Jews, that is the Devil, who to this day reigns among them, so that
they cannot have peace.
27. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common
hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon
his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before
him, and mocked him, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!"
30. And they spit upon him, and took the reed and smote him on the
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 9: After the Lord's trial comes His Passion,
which [p. 945] thus begins, "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus
into the common hall," &c.
Jerome: He had been styled King of the Jews, and the Scribes and Priests
had brought this charge against Him, that He claimed sovereignty over the
Jewish nation; hence this mockery of the soldiers, taking away His own
garments, they put on Him a scarlet cloak to represent that purple fringe
which kings of old used to wear, for the diadem they put on Him a crown
of thorns, and for the regal sceptre give Him a reed, and perform adoration
to Him as to a king.
Aug.: Hence we understand what Mark means by "clothed him with purple;"
[Mark 15:17] instead of the royal purple, this scarlet cloak was used in
mockery; and there is a shade of purple which is very like scarlet. Or
it may be, that Mark spoke of the purple which the cloak contained, though
its colour was scarlet.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxvii: What should we henceforth care if any one insults
us, after Christ has thus suffered? The utmost that cruel outrage could
do was put in practice against Christ; and not one member only, but His
whole body suffered injuries; His head from the crown, the reed, and the
buffetings; His face which was spit upon; His cheeks which they smote with
the palms of their hands; His whole body from the scourging, the stripping
to put on the cloak, and the mockery of homage; His hands from the reed
which they put into them in mimicry of a sceptre; as though they were afraid
of omitting aught of indignity.
Aug.: But Matthew seems to introduce this here as recollected from above,
not that it was done at the time Pilate gave Him up for crucifixion. For
John puts it before He is given up by Pilate.
Jerome: All these things we may understand mystically. For as Caiaphas
said that "it is expedient that one man should die for the people," [John
11:50] not knowing what he said, so these, in all they did, furnished sacraments
to us who believe, though they did them with other intention. In the scarlet
robe He bears the bloody works of the Gentiles; by the crown of thorns
He takes away the ancient curse; with the reed He destroys poisonous animals;
or He held the reed in His hand wherewith to write down the sacrilege of
Hilary: Or otherwise; The Lord having taken upon Him all the infirmities
of our body, is then covered with the [p. 946] scarlet coloured blood of
all the martyrs, to whom is due the kingdom with Him; He is crowned with
thorns, that is, with the sins of the Gentiles who once pierced Him, for
there is a prick in thorns of which is woven the crown of victory for Christ.
In the reed, He takes into His hand and supports the weakness and frailty
of the Gentiles; and His head is smitten therewith that the weakness of
the Gentiles sustained by Christ's hand may rest on God the Father, who
is His head.
Origen: Or, The reed was a mystery signifying that before we believed
we trusted in that reed of Egypt, or Babylon, or of some other kingdom
opposed to God, which He took that He might triumph over it with the wood
of the cross. With this reed they smite the head of Christ, because this
kingdom ever beats against God the Father, who is the head of the Saviour.
Remig.: Or otherwise, By the scarlet robe is denoted the Lord's flesh,
which is spoken of as red by reason of shedding of His blood; by the crown
of thorns His taking upon Him our sins, because He appeared "in the likeness
of sinful flesh." [Rom 8:3]
Raban.: They smite the head of Christ with a reed, who speak against
His divinity, and endeavour to maintain their error by the authority of
Holy Scripture, which is written by a reed. They spit upon His face who
reject in abominable words the presence of His grace, and deny that Jesus
is come in the flesh. And they mock Him with adoration who believe on Him,
but despise Him with perverse works.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., ii, in fin: That they took from off the Lord in His
passion His own garment, and put on Him a coloured robe, denotes those
heretics who said that He had a shadowy, and not a real body.
31. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from
him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name:
him they compelled to bear his cross.
33. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is
to say, a place of a skull,
34. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he
had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
Gloss, non occ.: After the Evangelist had narrated what concerned the
mocking of Christ, he proceeds to His crucifixion.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 9: This is to be understood to have been done
at the end of all when He was led off to crucifixion after Pilate had delivered
Him up to the Jews.
Jerome: It is to be noted, that when Jesus is scourged and spit upon,
He has not on His own garments, but those which He took for our sins; but
when He is crucified, and the show of His mockery is completed, then He
takes again His former garments, and His own dress, and immediately the
elements are shaken, and the creature gives testimony to the Creator.
Origen: Of the cloak it is mentioned that they took it off Him, but
of the crown of thorns the Evangelists have not spoken, so that there are
now no longer those ancient thorns of ours, since Jesus has taken them
from us upon HiS revered head.
Chrys., Hom. de Cruc. et Lat., ii: The Lord would not suffer under a
roof, or in the Jewish Temple, that you should not suppose that He was
offered for that people alone; but without the city, without the walls,
that you might know that the sacrifice was common, that it was the offering
of the whole earth, that the purification was general.
Jerome: Let none think that John's narrative contradicts this place
of the Evangelist. John says that the Lord went forth from the praetorium
bearing His cross; Matthew tells, that they found a man of Cyrene upon
whom they laid Jesus' cross. We must suppose that as Jesus went out of
the praetorium, He was bearing His cross, and that afterwards they met
Simon, whom they compelled to bear it.
Origen: Or, as they went out, they laid hold of Simon, but when they
drew near to the place in which they would crucify Him, they laid the cross
upon Him that He might bear it. Simon obtained not this office by chance,
but was brought to the spot by God's providence, that he might be found
worthy of mention in the Scriptures of the Gospel, and of the ministry
of the cross of Christ. And it was not only meet that the Saviour should
carry His cross, but meet also that we should take part therein, filling
a carriage so beneficial to us. Yet would it not have so profited us to
take it on us, as we have profited by His taking it upon Himself. [marg.
Jerome: Figuratively, the nations take up the cross, and the foreigner
by obedience bears the ignominy of the Saviour. [p. 948]
Hilary: For a Jew was not worthy to bear Christ's cross, but it was
reserved for the faith of the Gentiles both to take the cross, and to suffer
Remig.: For this Simon was not a man of Jerusalem, but a foreigner,
and denizen, being a Cyrenean; Cyrene is a town of Lybia. Simon is interpreted
'obedient,' and a Cyrenean 'an heir;' whence he well denotes the people
of the Gentiles, which was strange to the testaments of God, but by believing
became a fellow-citizen of the saints, of the household, and an heir of
Greg., Hom. in. Ev., xxxii, 3: Or otherwise; By Simon who bears the
burden of the Lord's cross are denoted those who are abstinent and proud;
these by their abstinence afflict their flesh, but seek not within the
fruit of abstinence. Thus Simon bears the cross, but does not die thereon,
as these afflict the body, but in desire of vain-glory live to the world.
Raban.: "Golgotha" is a Syriac word, and is interpreted Calvary.
Jerome: [ed. note, b: He probably refers to an anonymous disputant,
of whom he speaks more at length in his Commentary on Ephesians 5, 14;
but a tradition to the same effect is mentioned by Origen, whose words,
as preserved in a MS. Catena quoted by Ruaeus, are, "A tradition has come
down to us, preserved by the Hebrews, that the body of Adam is buried in
Calvary, so that as in Adam all die, so in Christ may all be made alive."
And to the same effect Epiphanius cont. Tatian, and the Pseudo-Cyprian.
'De Resur. Christi.']
I have heard Calvary expounded as the spot in which Adam was buried,
as though it had been so called from the head of the old man being buried
there. A plausible interpretation, and agreeable to the ears of the people,
yet not a true one. Without the city outside the gate are the places where
criminals are executed, and these have got the name of Calvary, that is,
of the beheaded. And Jesus was crucified there, that where the plot of
criminals had been, there might be set up the flag of martyrdom. But Adam
was buried near Ebron and Arbee, as we read in the volume of Jesus the
son of Nave. [ed. note: Josh. 14, 15. in the Vulgate, "Adam maximus ibi
inter Enacim situs est;" departing from both the Heb. and LXX.]
Hilary: Such is the place of the cross, set up in the centre of the
earth, that it might be equally free to all nations to attain the knowledge
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 11: "And they gave him to drink wine mingled
with gall." Mark says, "mingled with myrrh." [Mark 16:23] Matthew put "gall"
to express bitterness, but wine mingled with myrrh is very bitter; though
indeed it might be, that gall together [p. 949] with myrrh would make the
Jerome: The bitter vine makes bitter wine; this they gave the Lord Jesus
to drink, that that might be fulfilled which was written, "They gave me
also gall for my meat." [Ps 69:12] And God addresses Jerusalem, "I had
planted there a true vine, how art thou turned into the bitterness of a
strange vine?" [Jer 2:21]
Aug.: "And when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink." That Mark
says, "But he received it not," we understand to mean that He would not
receive it to drink thereof. For that He tasted it Matthew bears witness;
so that Matthew's, "He could not drink thereof," means exactly the same
as Mark's, "He received it not;" only Mark does not mention His tasting
That He tasted but would not drink of it signifies that He tasted the
bitterness of death for us, but rose again the third day.
Hilary: Or, He therefore refused the "wine mingled with gall, because
the bitterness of sin is not mingled with the incorruption of eternal glory.
35. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots:
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted
my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36. And sitting down they watched him there;
37. And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right
hand, and another on the left.
Gloss, non occ.: Having described how Christ was led to the scene of
His Passion, the Evangelist proceeds to the Passion itself, describing
the kind of death; "And they crucified him."
Aug., Lib. 83, Quaest q25: The Wisdom of God took upon Him man, to give
us an example how we might live rightly. It pertains to right life not
to fear things that are not to be feared. But some men who do not fear
death in itself, yet dread some kinds of death. That no sort of death is
to be feared by the man who lives aright, was to be shewn by this Man's
cross. For of all the [p. 950] modes of death none was more horrible and
fearful than this.
Aug., in Serm., non occ.: Let your holiness consider of what might is
the power of the cross. Adam set at nought the commandment, taking the
apple from the tree; but all that Adam lost, Christ found upon the cross.
The ark of wood saved the human race from the deluge of waters; when God's
people came out of Egypt, Moses divided the sea with his rod, overwhelmed
Pharaoh, and redeemed God's people. The same Moses changed the bitter water
into sweet by casting wood into it. By the rod the refreshing stream was
drawn out of the rock; that Amalech might be overcome, Moses' outstretched
hands were supported upon his rod; the Law of God is entrusted to the wooden
ark of the covenant, that thus, by these steps we may come at last to the
wood of the cross.
Chrys., Hom. de Cruc. et Lat. ii: He suffered on a lofty cross, and
not under a roof, to the end that the nature of the air might be purified;
the earth also partook a like benefit, being cleansed by the blood that
dropped from His side.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: The shape of the cross seems also to signify the
Church spread through the four quarters of the earth.
Raban.: Or, according to the practical exposition, the cross in respect
of its broad transverse piece signifies the joy of him that works, for
sorrow produces straitness; for the broad part of the cross is in the transverse
beam to which the hands are fastened, and by the hands we understand works.
By the upper part to which the head is fastened is denoted our looking
for retribution from the supreme righteousness of God. The perpendicular
part on which the body is stretched denotes endurance, whence the patient
are called 'long-suffering' [marg. note: longamines]. The point that is
fixed into the ground shadows forth the invisible part of a sacrament.
Hilary: Thus on the tree of life the salvation and life of all is suspended.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 12: Matthew shortly says, "They parted his
garments, casting lots;" but John explains more fully how it was done.
"The soldiers, when they had crucified him, took his garments, and made
four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat; now the coat was
without seam." [John 19:23]
Chrys.: It is to be noted, that this is no small degradation of Christ.
For they did this as to one utterly abject and worthless, yet for the thieves
they did not the same. For they share the garments [p. 951] only in the
case of condemned persons so mean and poor as to possess nothing more.
Jerome: This which was now done to Christ had been prophesied in the
Psalm, "They parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."
[Ps 22:18] It proceeds, "And sitting down, they watched him there." This
watchfulness of the soldiers and of the Priests has proved of use to us
in making the power of His resurrection greater and more notorious.
"And they set up over his head his accusation written, This is Jesus,
the King of the Jews." I cannot sufficiently wonder at the enormity of
the thing, that having purchased false witnesses, and having stirred up
the unhappy people to riot and uproar, they found no other plea for putting
Him to death, than that He was King of the Jews; and this perhaps they
set up in mockery.
Remig.: It was divinely provided that this title should be set up over
His head, that the Jews might learn that not even by putting Him to death
could they avoid having Him for their King; for in the very instrument
of His death He not only did not lose, but rather confirmed His sovereignty.
Origen: The High Priest also in obedience to the letter of the Law wore
on his head the writing, 'Holiness to the Lord,' but the true High Priest
and King, Jesus, bears on His cross the title, "This is the King of the
Jews;" when ascending to His Father, instead of His own name with its proper
letters, He has the Father Himself.
Raban.: For because He is at once King and Priest, when He would offer
the sacrifice of His flesh on the altar of the cross, His title set forth
His regal dignity. And it is set over and not beneath the cross, because
though He suffered for us on the cross with the weakness of man, the majesty
of the King was conspicuous above the cross; and this He did not lose,
but rather confirmed, by the cross.
Jerome, Hieron., non occ.: As Christ was made for us a curse of the
cross, so for the salvation of all He is crucified as guilty among the
Leo, Serm. 55, 1: "Two thieves were crucified with him, one on the right
hand and one on the left," that in the figure of His cross might be represented
that separation of all mankind which shall be made in His judgment. The
Passion then of Christ contains a sacrament of our salvation, and of that
instrument which the wickedness of the Jews provided for His punishment,
the power of the Redeemer made a step [p. 952] to glory.
Hilary: Or otherwise; Two thieves are set up on His right and left hand,
to signify that the entire human race is called to the Sacrament of the
Lord's Passion; but because there shall be a division of believers to the
right, and unbelievers to the left, one of the two who is set on His right
hand is saved by the justification of faith.
Remig., ap. Gloss. ord.: Or, by the two thieves are denoted all those
who strive after the continence of a strict life. They who do this with
a single intention of pleasing God, are denoted by him who was crucified
on the right hand; they who do it out of desire of human praise or any
less worthy motive, are signified by him who was crucified on the left.
39. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their beads,
40. And saying, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it
in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from
41. Likewise also the Chief Priests mocking him, with the Scribes
and elders, said,
42. "He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King
of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have
him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
44. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same
in his teeth.
Chrys.: Having stripped and crucified Christ, they go yet further, and
seeing Him on the cross revile Him.
Jerome: "They revile him" because they passed by that way, and would
not walk in the true way of the Scriptures. "They wagged their heads,"
because they had just before shifted their feet, and stood not upon a rock.
The foolish rabble cast the same taunt against Him that the false witnesses
had invented, "Aha! thou that destroyest the temple of God and rebuildest
it in three days."
Remig.: "Aha!" is an interjection of taunt and [p. 953] mockery.
Hilary: What forgiveness then for them, when by the resurrection of
His body they shall see the temple of God rebuilt within three days?
Chrys.: And as beginning to extenuate His former miracles, they add,
"Save thyself; if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross."
Chrys., Hom. de Cruc. et Latr. ii: He, on the contrary, does not come
down from the cross, because He is the Son of God; for He therefore came
that He might be crucified for us.
Jerome: Even the Scribes and Pharisees reluctantly confess that "He
saved others." Your own judgment then condemns you, for in that He saved
others, He could if He would have saved Himself.
Pseudo-Chrys.: [ed. note, d: Hom. de Cruce et Latr. in the Latin Chrys.
(ed. Paris. 1588.) vol. iii. p. 750]
But attend to this speech of these children of the Devil, how they imitate
their father's speech. The Devil said, "If thou be the Son of God, cast
thyself down;" [Matt 4:6] and they say now, "If thou be the Son of God,
come down from the cross."
Leo, Serm. 55, 2: From what source of error, O Jews, have ye sucked
in the poison of such blasphemies? What teacher delivered it to you? What
learning moved you to think that the true King of Israel, that the veritable
Son of God, would be He who would not suffer Himself to be crucified, and
would set free His body from the fastenings of the nails? Not the bidden
meaning of the Law, not the mouths of the Prophets. Had ye indeed ever
read, "I hid not my face from the shame of spitting;" [Is 50:6] or that
again, :They pierced my hands and my feet, they told all my bones." [Ps
22:16] Where have ye ever read that the Lord came down from the cross?
But ye have read, "The Lord hath reigned from the tree." [ed. note, e:
Ps. 96, 10. 'Dominus regnavit a ligno,' in the old Italic Version; and
so Tertullian adv. Marc. iii. The Vulg. follows the Heb.]
Raban.: Had He then been prevailed on by their taunts to leave the cross,
He would not have proved to us the power of endurance; but He waited enduring
their mockery; and He who would not come down from the cross, rose again
from the tomb.
Jerome: But unworthy of credit is that promise, "And we will believe
him." For which is greater, to come down while yet alive from the cross,
or to rise from the tomb when dead? Yet this He did, and ye believed not;
therefore neither would ye have believed if He had come down from the cross.
It seems to me that this was a suggestion of the daemons. For immediately
[p. 954] when the Lord was crucified they felt the power of the cross,
and perceived that their strength was broken, and therefore contrive this
to move Him to come down from the cross. But the Lord, aware of the designs
of His foes, remains on the cross that He may destroy the Devil.
Chrys.: "He trusted in God, let him now deliver him, if he will." O
most foul! Were they therefore not Prophets or righteous men, because God
did not deliver them out of their perils? But if He would not oppose their
glory, which accrued to them out of the perils which you brought upon them,
much more in this man ought you not to be offended because of what He suffers;
what He has ever said ought to remove any such suspicion.
When they add, "Because he said, I am the Son of God," they desire to
intimate that He suffered as an impostor and seducer, and as making high
and false pretences. And not only the Jews and the soldiers from below,
but from above likewise. "The thieves, which were crucified with him, cast
the same in his teeth."
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 16: It may seem that Luke contradicts this,
when be describes one of the robbers as reviling Him, and as therefore
rebuked by the other. But we may suppose that Matthew, shortly alluding
to the circumstance, has used the plural for the singular, as in the Epistle
to the Hebrews we have, "Have stopped the mouths of lions," [Heb. 11:33]
when Daniel only is spoken of. And what more common way of speaking than
for one to say, See the country people insult me, when it is one only who
has done so. If indeed Matthew had said that both the thieves had reviled
the Lord, there would be some discrepancy; but when he says merely, "The
thieves," without adding 'both,' we must consider it as that common form
of speech in which the singular is signified by the plural.
Jerome: Or it may be said that at first both reviled Him; but when the
sun had withdrawn, the earth was shaken, the rocks were rent, and the darkness
increased, one believed on Jesus, and repaired his former denial by a subsequent
Chrys.: At first both reviled Him, but afterwards not so. For that you
should not suppose that the thing was arranged by any collusion, and that
the thief was not a thief, he shews you by his wanton reproaches, that
even after He was crucified he was a thief and a foe, but was afterwards
totally changed. [p. 955]
Hilary: That both the thieves cast in His teeth the manner of His Passion,
shews that the cross should be an offence to all mankind, even to the faithful.
Jerome: Or, in the two thieves both nations, Jews and Gentiles, at first
blasphemed the Lord; afterwards the latter terrified by the multitude of
signs did penitence, and thus rebukes the Jews, who blaspheme to this day.
Origen: The thief who was saved may be a sign of those who after many
sins have believed on Christ.
45. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land
unto the ninth hour.
46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?
47. Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, "This
man calleth for Elias."
48. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled
it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49. The rest said, "Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to
50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up
Pseudo-Chrys., in Hom. de Cruce et Latr.: Creation could not bear the
outrage offered to the Creator; whence the sun withdrew his beams, that
he might not look upon the crime of these impious men.
Origen: Some take occasion from this text to cavil against the truth
of the Gospel. For indeed from the beginning eclipses of the sun have happened
in their proper seasons; but such an eclipse as would be brought about
by the ordinary course of the seasons could only be at such time as the
sun and moon come together, when the moon passing beneath intercepts the
sun's rays. But at the time of Christ's passion it is clear that this was
not the case, because it was the paschal feast, which it was customary
to celebrate when the moon was full.
Some believers, desiring to produce some [p. 956] answer to this objection,
have said, that this eclipse in accordance with the other prodigies was
an exception to the established laws of nature.
Dionys. ad Polycarp. Ep. 7: When we were together at Heliopolis, we
both observed such an interference of the moon with the sun quite unexpectedly,
for it was not the season of their conjunction; and then from the ninth
hour until evening, beyond the power of nature, continuing in a direct
line between us and the sun. And this obscuration we saw begin from the
east, and so pass to the extreme of the sun's orb, and again return back
the same way, being thus the very reverse of an ordinary eclipse.
Chrys., Hom. lxxxviii: This darkness lasted three hours, whereas an
eclipse is transient, and not enduring, as they know who have studied the
Origen: Against this the children of this world urge, How is it that
of the Greeks and Barbarians, who have made observations of these things,
not one has recorded so remarkable a phenomenon as this? Phlegon indeed
has recorded such an event as happening in the time of Tiberius Caesar,
but he has not mentioned that it was at the full moon. I think therefore
that, like the other miracles which took place at the Passion, the rending
of the veil, and the earthquake, this also was confined to Jerusalem.
Or, if any one chooses, it may be extended to the whole of Judaea; as
in the book of Kings, Abdias said to Elias, "As the Lord thy God liveth,
there is no nation or kingdom whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee,"
[1 Ki 18:10] meaning that be had been sought in the countries round about
Judaea. Accordingly we might suppose many and dense clouds to have been
brought together over Jerusalem and Judaea, enough to produce thick darkness
from the sixth to the ninth hour. For we understand that there were two
creatures created on the sixth day, the beasts before the sixth hour, man
on the sixth; and therefore it was fitting that He who died for the salvation
of man should be crucified at the sixth hour, and for this cause that darkness
should be over the whole earth from the sixth to the ninth hour. And as
by Moses stretching out his hands towards heaven darkness was brought upon
the Egyptians who held the servants of God in bondage, so likewise when
at the sixth hour Christ stretched out his hands on the cross to heaven,
darkness came over all the people who had cried out, [p. 957] "Crucify
him," and they were deprived of all light as a sign of the darkness that
should come, and that should envelop the whole people of the Jews. Further,
under Moses there was darkness over the land of Egypt three days, but all
the children of Israel had light; so under Christ there was darkness over
all Judaea for three hours, because for their sins they were deprived of
the light of God the Father, the splendour of Christ, and the illumination
of the Holy Spirit.
But over the rest of the earth there is light, which every where illumines
the Church of God in Christ. And if to the ninth hour there was darkness
over Judaea, it is manifest that light returned to them again after that;
"so, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered in, then all Israel
shall be saved." [Rom 11:25]
Chrys.: Or otherwise; The wonder was in this, that the darkness was
over the whole earth, which had never come to pass before, save only in
Egypt what time the Passover was celebrated; for the things done then were
a type of these. And consider the time when this is done; at mid-day, while
over the whole world it was day, that all the dwellers on the earth might
perceive it. This is the sign He promised to them that asked Him, "An evil
and adulterous generation seeketh a sign, and there shall no sign be given
it save the sign of Jonas the Prophet," [Matt 12:39] alluding to His cross
and resurrection. And it was a much greater marvel that this should come
to pass when He was fastened to the cross, than when He was walking at
large on the earth.
Surely here was enough to convert them, not by the greatness of the
miracle alone, but because it was done not till after all these instances
of their frenzy, when their passion was past, when they had uttered all
that they would, and were satiated with taunts and gibes. But how did they
not all marvel and conclude Him to be God? Because the human race was at
that time plunged in exceeding sluggishness and vice, and this wonder was
but one, and quickly past away, and none cared to search out its cause,
or perhaps they attributed it to eclipse, or some other physical consequence.
And on this account He shortly afterwards lifts up His voice to shew
that He yet lives, and Himself wrought this miracle; "And about the ninth
hour Jesus cried with a loud voice," &c.
Jerome: He employed the beginning of the twenty-first Psalm. [marg.
note: Ps 22:1, Vulg.] That clause in the [p. 958] middle of the verse,
"Look upon me," is superfluous; for the Hebrew has only 'Eli, Eli, lama
sabachthani,' that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It
is impiety therefore to think that this Psalm was spoken in the character
of David or Esther or Mardocheus, when passages taken out of it by the
Evangelist are understood of the Saviour; as, "They parted my garments
among them," and, "They pierced my hands."
Chrys.: He uttered this word of prophecy, that He might bear witness
to the very last hour to the Old Testament, and that they might see that
He honours the Father, and is not against God. And therefore too, He used
the Hebrew tongue, that what He said might be intelligible to them.
Origen: But it must be asked, What means this, that Christ is forsaken
of God? Some, unable to explain how Christ could be forsaken of God, say
that this was spoken out of humility. But you will be able clearly to comprehend
His meaning if you make a comparison of the glory which He had with the
Father with the shame which He despised when He endured the cross.
Hilary, de Trin. x. 50 &c.: From these words heretical spirits contend
either that God the Word was entirely absorbed into the soul at the time
it discharged the function of a soul in quickening the body; or that Christ
could not have been born man, because the Divine Word dwelt in Him after
the manner of a prophetical spirit. As though Jesus Christ was a man of
ordinary soul and body, having His beginning then when He began to be man,
and thus now deserted upon the withdrawal of the protection of God's word
cries out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Or at least that the nature of the Word being transmuted into soul,
Christ, who had depended in all things upon His Father's support, now deserted
and left to death, mourns over this desertion, and pleads with Him departing.
But amidst these impious and feeble opinions, the faith of the Church imbued
with Apostolic teaching does not sever Christ that He should be considered
as Son of God and not as Son of Man. The complaint of His being deserted
is the weakness of the dying man; the promise of Paradise is the kingdom
of the living God. You have Him complaining that He is left to death, and
thus He is Man; you have Him as He is dying declaring that He reigns in
Paradise; and thus He is God. Wonder [p. 959] not then at the humility
of these words, when you know the form of a servant, and see the offence
of the cross.
Gloss., non occ.: God is said to have forsaken Him in death because
He exposed Him to the power of His persecutors; He withdrew His protection,
but did not break the union.
Origen: When He saw darkness over the whole land of Judaea He said this,
Father, "why hast thou forsaken me?" meaning, Why hast thou given Me over
exhausted to such sufferings? that the people who were honoured by Thee
may receive the things that they have dared against Me, and should be deprived
of the light of Thy countenance. Also, Thou hast forsaken Me for the salvation
of the Gentiles. But what good have they of the Gentiles who have believed
done, that I should deliver them from the evil one by shedding My precious
blood on the ground for them? Or will they, for whom I suffer these things,
ever do aught worthy of them? Or foreseeing the sins of those for whom
He suffered, He said, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" that I should become
"as one that gathereth stubble in the harvest, and gleanings in the vintage."
But you must not imagine that the Saviour said this after the manner
of men by reason of the misery which encompassed Him on the cross; for
if you take it so you will not hear His "loud voice" and mighty words which
point to something great hidden.
Raban.: Or, The Saviour said this as bearing about with Him our feelings,
who when placed in dangers think ourselves forsaken by God. Human nature
was forsaken by God because of its sins, and the Son of God becoming our
Advocate laments the misery of those whose guilt He took upon Him; [ed.
note: "These words He uttered as representing the person of men. For He
was never forsaken by His Divine nature; but we were the forsaken, and
the overlooked; whence He said this in as representing us." Damasc. Fid
Orth. iii 24. and so Theophylact.] therein shewing how they who sin ought
to mourn, when He who never sinned did thus mourn.
Jerome: It follows, "Some of them that stood by," &c.; "some," not
all; whom I suppose to have been Roman soldiers, ignorant of Hebrew, but
from the words "Eli, Eli," thought that He called upon Elias. But if we
prefer to suppose them Jews, they do it after their usual manner, that
they may accuse the Lord of weakness in thus invoking Elias.
Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. vi in Pass. (vol iii, p. 733): Thus the Source of
living water is made to drink vinegar, [p. 960] the Giver of honey is fed
with gall; Forgiveness is scourged, Acquittance is condemned, Majesty is
mocked, Virtue ridiculed, the Bestower of showers is repaid with spitting.
Hilary: Vinegar is wine, which has turned sour either from neglect,
or the fault of the vessel. Wine is the honour of immortality, or virtue.
When this then had been turned sour in Adam, He took and drunk it at the
hands of the Gentiles. It is offered to Him on a reed and a spunge; that
is, He took from the bodies of the Gentiles immortality spoiled and corrupted,
and transfused in Himself into a mixture of immortality that in us which
Remig.: Or otherwise; The Jews as degenerating from the wine of the
Patriarchs and Prophets were vinegar; they had deceitful hearts, like to
the winding holes and hollows in spunge. By the reed, Sacred Scripture
is denoted, which was fulfilled in this action; for as we call that which
the tongue utters, the Hebrew tongue, or the Greek tongue, for example;
so the writing, or letters which the seed produces, we may call a reed.
Origen: And perhaps all who know the ecclesiastical doctrine, but live
amiss, have given them to drink wine mingled with gall; but they who attribute
to Christ untrue opinions, these filling a sponge with vinegar, put it
upon the reed of Scripture, and put it to His mouth.
Raban.: The soldiers misunderstanding the sound of the Lord's words,
foolishly looked for the coming of Elias. But God, whom the Saviour thus
invoked in the Hebrew tongue, He had in ever inseparably with Him.
Aug., in Serm., non occ.: When now nought of suffering remains to be
endured, death still lingers, knowing that it has nothing there. The ancient
foe suspected somewhat unusual. This man, first and only, he found having
no sin, free from guilt, owing nothing to the laws of his jurisdiction.
But leagued with Jewish madness, Death comes again to the assault, and
desperately invades the Life-giver.
"And Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the
Wherefore should we be offended that Christ came from the bosom of the
Father to take upon Him our bondage, that He might confer on us His freedom;
to take upon Him our death, that we might be set free by His death; by
despising death He exalted us mortals into Gods, counted them of earth
worthy of things [p. 961] in heaven? For seeing the Divine power shines
forth so brilliant in the contemplation of its works, it is an argument
of boundless love, that it suffers for its subjects, dies for its bondsmen.
This then was the first cause of the Lord's Passion, that He would have
it known how great God's love to man, Who desired rather to be loved than
The second was that He might abolish with yet more justice the sentence
of death which He had with justice passed. For as the first man had by
guilt incurred death through God's sentence, and handed down the same to
his posterity, the second Man, who knew no sin, came from heaven that death
might be condemned, which, when commissioned to seize the guilty, had presumed
to touch the Author of sinlessness. And it is no wonder if for us He laid
down what He had taken of us, His life, namely, when He has done other
so great things for us, and bestowed so much on us.
Pseudo-Aug., Vigil cont. Felicianum, 14: Far be from the faithful any
suspicion that Christ experienced our death in such sort that life (as
far as it can) ceased to live. Had this been so, how could aught have been
said to live during that three days, if the Fountain of Life itself was
dried up? Therefore Christ's Godhead experienced death through its partaking
of humanity or of human feeling, which it had voluntarily taken on it;
but it lost not the properties of its nature by which it gives life to
all things. For when we die, without doubt the loss of life by the body
is not the destruction of the soul, but the soul quitting the body loses
not its own properties, but only lets go what it had quickened, and as
far as in it lays produces the death of somewhat else, but itself defies
death. To speak now of the Saviour's soul; it might depart without being
itself destroyed from His body for this three days' space, even by the
common laws of death, and without taking into account the indwelling Godhead,
and His singular righteousness. For I believe that the Son of God died
not in punishment of unrighteousness which He had not at all, but according
to the law of that nature which He took upon Him for the redemption of
the human race.
Damasc., de Fid. Orth. iii, 27: Although He died as man, and His holy
soul was separated from His unstained body, yet His Godhead remained inseparate
from either body or soul. Yet was not the one Person divided into two;
for as both [p. 962] body and soul had from the beginning an existence
in the Person of the Word, so also had they in death. For neither soul
nor body had ever a Person of their own, besides the Person of the Word.
Jerome: It was a mark of Divine power in Him thus to dismiss the Spirit
as Himself had said, "No man can take my life from me, but I lay it down
and take it again." [John 10:18]
For by "the ghost" in this place we understand the soul; so called either
because it is that which makes the body quick or spiritual, or because
the substance of the soul itself is spirit, according to that which is
written, "Thou takest away their breath, and they die." [Ps. 104:29]
Chrys.: Also for this reason He cried out with a loud voice to shew
that this is done by His own power. For by crying out with a loud voice
when dying, He shewed incontestably that He was the true God; because a
man in dying can scarcely utter even a feeble sound.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 18: Luke mentions the words which He thus cries
out, "Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit."
Hilary: Or, He gave up the ghost with a loud voice, in grief that He
was not carrying the sins of all men.
51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the
top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which
53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went
into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching
Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared
greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God."
55. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed
Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
56. Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James
and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
Origen: Great things were done at the moment that Jesus cried with a
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 19: The wording sufficiently shews that the
veil was rent just when He gave up the ghost. If he had not added, "And,
lo!" but had merely said, "And the veil of the temple was rent,: it would
have been uncertain whether Matthew and Mark had not inserted it here out
of its place as they recollected, and Luke had observed the right order,
who having said, "And the sun was darkened," adds, "And the veil of the
temple was rent in twain;" [Luke 23:45] or, on the contrary, Luke had returned
to what they had inserted in its place.
Origen: It is understood that there were two veils; one veiling the
Holy of Holies, the other, the outer part of the tabernacle or temple.
In the Passion then of our Lord and Saviour, it was the outer veil which
was rent from the top to the bottom, that by the rending of the veil from
the beginning to the end of the world, the mysteries might be published
which had been hid with good reason until the Lord's coming. "But when
that which is perfect is come," [1 Cor 13:10] then the second veil also
shall be taken away, that we may see the things that are hidden within,
to wit, the true Ark of the Testament, and behold the Cherubim and the
rest in their real nature.
HILARY; Or, The veil of the temple is rent, because from this time the
nation was dispersed, and the honour of the veil is taken away with the
guardianship of the protecting Angel.
Leo, in Serm. de Pass., non occ.: The sudden commotion in the elements
is a sufficient sign in witness of His venerable Passion, "The earth quaked,
and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened."
Jerome: It is not doubtful to any what these great signs signify according
to the letter, namely, that heaven and earth and all things should bear
witness to their crucified Lord.
Hilary: "The earth quaked," because it was unequal to contain such a
body; "the rocks rent," for the Word of God that pierces all strong and
mighty things, and the virtue of the eternal Power had penetrated them;
"the graves were opened," for the bands of death were loosed. "And many
bodies of the saints which slept arose," for illumining the darkness of
death, and shedding light upon the gloom of Hades, He robbed the spirits
Chrys.: When He remained on the cross they had said tauntingly, "He
saved others, himself he cannot save." But what He would not do for Himself,
that He did [p. 964] and more than that for the bodies of the Saints. For
if it was a great thing to raise Lazarus after four days, much more was
it that they who had long slept should now shew themselves alive; this
is indeed a proof of the resurrection to come. But that it might not be
thought that that which was done was an appearance merely, the Evangelist
adds, "And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into
the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Jerome: As Lazarus rose from the dead, so also did many bodies of the
Saints rise again to shew forth the Lord's resurrection; yet notwithstanding
that the graves were opened, they did not rise again before the Lord rose,
that He might be the first-born of the resurrection from the dead.
"The holy city" in which they were seen after they had risen may be
understood to mean either the heavenly Jerusalem, or this earthly, which
once had been holy. For the city of Jerusalem was called Holy on account
of the Temple and the Holy of Holies, and to distinguish it from other
cities in which idols were worshipped.
When it is said, "And appeared unto many," it is signified that this
was not a general resurrection which all should see, but special, seen
only by such as were worthy to see it.
Remig.: But some one will ask, what became of those who rose again when
the Lord rose. We must believe that they rose again to be witnesses of
the Lord's resurrection. Some have said that they died again, and were
turned to dust, as Lazarus and the rest whom the Lord raised. But we must
by no means give credit to these men's sayings, since if they were to die
again, it would be greater torment to them, than if they had not risen
again. We ought therefore to believe without hesitation that they who rose
from the dead at the Lord's resurrection, ascended also into heaven together
Origen: These same mighty works are still done every day; the veil of
the temple is rent for the Saints, in order to reveal the things that are
contained within. The earthquakes, that is, all flesh because of the new
word and new things of the New Testament. The rocks are rent, i.e. the
mystery of the Prophets, that we may see the spiritual mysteries bid in
their depths. The graves are the bodies of sinful souls, that is, souls
dead to God; but when by God's grace these souls have been raised, their
bodies which before were graves, become [p. 965] bodies of Saints, and
appear to go out of themselves, and follow Him who rose again, and walk
with Him in newness of life; and such as are worthy to have their conversation
in heaven enter into the Holy City at divers times, and appear unto many
who see their good works.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., iii, 20: It is no contradiction here that Matthew
says, that "The centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus,
feared when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done;" while
Luke says, that he wondered at the giving up the ghost with a loud voice.
For when Matthew adds, the things that were done, this gives full scope
for Luke's expression, that he wondered at the Lord's death, for this among
the rest was wonderful.
Jerome: Observe, that in the very midst of the offence of His passion
the Centurion acknowledges the Son of God, while Arius in the Church proclaims
Him a creature.
Raban.: Whence with good reason by the Centurion is denoted the faith
of the Church, which, when the veil of heavenly mysteries had been rent
by the Lord's death, immediately asserts Jesus to be both very Man, and
truly Son of God, while the Synagogue held its peace.
Leo, Serm. 66, 3: From this example then of the Centurion let the substance
of the earth tremble in the punishment of it Redeemer, let the rocks of
unbelieving minds be rent, and those who were pent up in these sepulchres
of mortality leap forth, bursting the bonds that would detain them; and
let them shew themselves in the Holy City, i.e. the Church of God, as signs
of the Resurrection to come; and thus let that take place in the heart,
which we must believe takes place in the body.
Jerome: It was a Jewish custom, and held no disgrace, according to the
manners of the people of old, for women to minister of their substance,
food, and clothing to their teachers. This Paul says, that he refused,
because it might occasion scandal among the Gentiles. They ministered to
the Lord of their substance, that He might reap their carnal things, of
whom they reaped spiritual things. Not that the Lord needed food of the
creature, but that He might set an example for the teacher, that He should
be content to receive food and clothing from His disciples.
But let us see what sort of attendants He had; "Among whom was Mary
Magdalene [p. 966], and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother
of Zebedee's children."
Origen: In Mark the third is called Salome.
Chrys.: These women thus watching the things that are done are the most
compassionate, the most sorrowful. They had followed Him ministering, and
remained by Him in danger, shewing the highest courage, for when the disciples
fled they remained.
Jerome, Hieron. adv. Helvid.: 'See,' says Helvidius, 'Jacob and Joseph
are the sons of Mary the Lord's mother, whom the Jews call the brethren
of Christ. [marg. note: Mark 6:3] He is also called James the less, to
distinguish him from James the greater, who was the son of Zebedee.' And
he urges that 'it were impious to suppose that His mother Mary would be
absent, when the other women were there; or that we should have to invent
some other third unknown person of the name of Mary, and that too when
John's Gospel witnesses that His mother was present.'
O blind folly! O mind perverted to its own destruction! Hear what the
Evangelist John says: "There stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and
his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." [John
No one can doubt that there were two Apostles called James; the son
of Zebedee, and the son of Alpheus. This unknown James the less, whom Scripture
mentions as the son of Mary, if he is an Apostle, is the son of Alpheus;
if he is not an Apostle, but a third unknown James, how can he be supposed
to be the Lord's brother, and why should he be styled 'The Less,' to distinguish
him from 'The Greater?' For The Greater and The Less are epithets which
distinguish two persons, but not three. And that the James, the Lord's
brother, was an Apostle, is proved by Paul, "Other of the Apostles saw
I none, save James the Lord's brother." [Gal 1:19]
But that you should not suppose this James to be the son of Zebedee,
read the Acts, where he was put to death by Herod. [marg. note: Acts 12:1]
The conclusion then remains, that this Mary, who is described as the mother
of James the less, was wife of Alpheus, and sister of Mary the Lord's mother,
called by John, Mary the wife of Cleophas. But should you incline to think
them two different persons, because in one place she is called Mary the
mother of James the less, and in another place Mary the wife of Cleophas,
you will learn the Scripture custom of calling the same man by different
names; as [p. 967] Raguel Moses' father-in-law is called Jethro. In like
manner then, Mary the wife of Cleophas is called the wife of Alpheus, and
the mother of James the less. For if she had been the Lord's mother, the
Evangelist would here, as in all other places, have called her so, and
not described her as the mother of James, when he meant to designate the
mother of the Lord.
But even if Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary the mother of James
and Joses, were different persons, it is still certain, that Mary the mother
of James and Joses was not the Lord's mother.
Aug.: We might have supposed that some of the women stood "afar off,"
as three Evangelists say, and others "near the cross," as John says, had
not Matthew and Mark reckoned Mary Magdalen among those that stood afar
off, while John puts her among those that stood near. This is reconciled
if we understand the distance at which they were to be such that they might
be said to be near, because they were in His sight; but far off in comparison
of the crowd who stood nearer with the centurion and soldiers. We might
also suppose that they who were there together with the Lord's mother,
began to depart after He had commended her to the disciple, that they might
extricate themselves from the crowd, and looked on from a distance at the
other things which were done, so that the Evangelists, who speak of them
after the Lord's death, speak of them as standing afar off.