« EdellinenJatka »
[3.] What dreadful pain behoved the lifting up of the cross, with him nailed to it, be to his blessed body, especially if done with a sudden jerk, which we may suppose to have been probably the case, considering the eagerness of his enemies to have him dispatched; and then thrusting it down again into the ground that it might stand upright, attended no doubt with shaking from side to side? Every one may well perceive what dreadful pain must have attended all this horrid scene.
[4.] It was a longsome or lingering death. He hung on the cross about six hours, from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon, Mark xv. 25, 34. What pain behoved to attend such a long suspension on the cross, his blessed body hanging all the while by his hands nailed to the upper part ?
2. His death was most shameful and ignominious, Heb. xii. 2. · He endured the cross, despising the shame.' Much shame was cast upon him. They spit upon him, and mocked him. The death of the cross was a death for bondmen, seldom for freemen, and those only of the baser sort, and for some of the highest crimes. While he was a-dying ho stood naked on the cross ; for they that were crucified were first stript naked of all their clothes, Matt, xxvii. 35. He was crucified in the midst of two thieves, as if he had been the chief of them, and that without the gate, as the blasphemer was without the camp. They wagged their heads at him. mocked in his prophetical office : they blindfolded him, and bad him prophesy who smote him.' IIe was mocked in his priestly office, ‘He saved others, but himself ho cannot save. And ho was mocked in his kingly office; they cried unto him, 'IIail, King of the Jews;' and this title, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews,' was inscribed on his cross, as giving him out for a mock monarch.
3. It was a cursed death, Deut. xxi. 23. ' [le that is hanged, it accursed of God.' That was but a ceremonial curse, but it was a real one to him, Gal. iii. 13. ' le was made a curse for us. There were many other kinds of death among tho Jews; but that kind only was accursed : and therefore it behoved Christ our Surety so to die. It is thought this crucifying of criminals was forbidden in the time of the Emperor Constantine.
Sixthly, He was buried, so that there might be full assurance given of his death, upon tho reality of which tho hopes and happiness of his people depend, inasmuch as thereby transgression was finished, an end put to sin, reconciliation made for iniquity, and everlasting righteousness brought in. He was buried too, that he might conquer death in its darkest and strongest hold, even in the gloomy recesses of the grave: to sanctify and sweeten it to all his
friends and followers, that it may be to them a place of repose, where their bodies may rest till the resurrection; that his people may have power and strength to bury sin, so as it may never rise up against them to their condemnation; and to teach his followers to give one another's dead bodies a just and decent interment.
The persons who concerned themselves in our Lord's funeral, were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, John xix. 38,—42. They were rich men, senators, and counsellors in the Jewish state, and of as bright and distinguished characters as any who sat in the sanhedrim; and yet they were so far from reckoning it a dishonour, that they counted it a piece of singular glory to be employed in this last act of kindness to their dead Lord. Now, when the apostles were all fled, and none of them appeared to shew this respect to their Master, Providence stirred up these two great and rich men to act a part upon this occasion which was truly great and honourable. And those persons were well affected to our Redeemer. Though the weakness of their faith moved them to conceal their profession during his life, yet now, when he is dead, and none of all his followers have the courage to own or concern themselves about him, they boldly appear in acting this part of sincere friends to him.
The place where our Lord was buried was a now sepulchre in a garden, wherein no man had ever been laid, John xix. 41. Thus our Lord was buried not in his own, but in another man's grave. As in the days of his life he was in such circumstances, that he himself said, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has not where to lay his head ;' so when he was dead ho had no grave of his own to be laid in. When he was born, he was born in another man's house; when ho preached, ho preached in another man's ship; when ho prayed, he prayed in another man's garden; when he rode to Jerusalem, he rode on another man's ass; and when he was buried, ho was buried in another man's grave. He had nothing peculiar to himself but his cross; which no man would touch, far less take from him, even when he was ready to faint under the weight of it, till Simon of Cyrene was compelled to bear it. The grave belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, who was a rich man; and thus there was a memorable fulfilment of that prophecy, Isa. liii. 9. 'He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.' Though upon the cross ho was insulted and despised, yet ho was honourably laid in the grave. It was a new grave; which a wise Providence so ordered, that tho Jews might have no ground to surmise, either that some other buried before had risen, or that his resurrection was not the effect of his own power, but of virtue flowing from the body of some saint formerly interred
there, as in the case of that dead man, who being let down into the grave of Elisha, and touching his bones, revived, and stood up on his feet, 2 Kings xiii. 21. This grave was in a garden ; which Joseph contrived to have so, that it might be a memorandum to him, while living amidst all the pleasures and products of this garden, to think of death, and to be diligent in preparing for it. In a sepulchre in a garden Christ's body was laid. In the garden of Eden death and the grave received their power, and now in a garden are conquered, disarmed, and triumphed over. In a garden Christ began his passion, and in a garden he would rise and begin his exaltation. Christ fell to the ground as a corn of wheat, John xii. 24. and therefore was sown in a garden ainong the seeds, for his dew is as the dew of herbs, Isa. xxvii. 19; yea, he is the fountain of gardens, Capt. iv. 15.
As to the manner of our Lord's funeral, several things may be observed.
1. Joseph, inspired with an undaunted courage, went to Pilate, and boldly asked the dead body of Jesus. Though while our Redeemer lived, Joseph was so far sunk under the power of fear and cowardice, that he acted only as his secret disciple, yet now when he is dead, holy boldness and courage rose to such a pitch in his spirit, that he openly asked his body of Pilate, in order to a decent interment. Though he might have formed a party to have carried it off by violence, yet he rather chose to do it in a regular and peaceable manner; and therefore made a dutiful application to Pilate, who was the proper person to be addressed on this occasion, in regard he had the disposal of the body. In things wherein the power of the civil magistrate is concerned, due regard must be had to that power, and nothing done to break in upon it.
2. Upon this application, Pilate very readily granted Joseph the body of Jesus, in order to its being decently interred. Perhaps by this step he imagined to do something towards atoning that guilt wherewith his conscience charged him in condemning an innocent person. But whatever might be in this, it is certain, that, in Joseph's petition and Pilate's ready grant of it, honour was done to Christ, and a testimony borne to his integrity.
3. Joseph having obtained his desire, instantly repaired to the accursed tree, from which he took down the body of Jesus; and mangled and mascerated as it was, carried it in his arms to a place proper for its being dressed. Thus did he act under the prevailing conduct of the deepest and dearest love to his Redeemer.
4. Our Redeemer's body being brought into some adjoining house, it was washed from blood and dust, and then wound in linen with spices, as the manner of the Jews was. But why did Joseph and Nicodemus make all this ado about tho body of Christ? Though perhaps in this their management we may discern the weakness of their faith, for a firm belief of the resurrection of Christ the third day would have saved them this care and cost, and have been more acceptable than all spices; yet herein we may evidently see the strength of their love, together with the value they had for his person and doctrine, which was no way lessened by the reproach of the
5. The time of our Lord's burial was on the day of the preparation, when the Sabbath drew on; and this was the reason that they made such haste with the funeral. Though they were in tears for the death of Christ, yet they did not forget the work of an approaching Sabbath; but set themselves with all convenient speed and care to prepare for it.
6. The company who attended our Redeemer's funeral, was not any of the disciples, but only the women who came with him from Galilee, who, as they staid by him while he hung upon the cross, so they followed him all in tears, beheld the sepulchre where it was, which was the way to it, and how his body was laid in it: and all this they were led to, not by their curiosity, but by their affection to the Lord Jesus, which was strong as death, cruel as the grave, and which many waters could not quench.
7. The Redeemer's funeral was actually solemnized; for after all the above circumstances were over, then they acted as is related, John xix. 41, 42. 'Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jews preparation day, for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. There laid they Jesus,' i. e. the dead body of Jesus. Some think that the calling of that Jesus intimates the inseparable union between the divine and human natures in his blessed person. Even this dead body was Jesus a Saviour; for his death is our life. Thus, without pomp or solemnity, is the body of Jesus laid in the cold and silent grave. Here lies our Surety arrested for our debt: so that if he be released, his discharge will be ours. Here is the Sun of righteousness set for a while to rise again in greater glory, and set no more. Here lies a seeming captive to death, but a real conqueror over death. Yea here lies death itself slain, and the grave conquered: * Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
Seventhly, Our Redeemer continued under the power of death for a time. 'For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the
whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, Matth. xii. 40. For clearing the import of Christ's continuing under the power of death for a time, consider,
1. That death hath a very strange and strong power in the world, which invades and prevails against all the children of men. For what man is he that liveth, and shall not see death ?' says the Psalmist. This interrogation plainly imports, that no man, high or low, great or small, rich or poor, can possibly cover himself from the stroke of death. And no wonder; for as the apostle tells us,
death hath reigned from Adam,' Rom. v. 14. The empire of death hath made an universal spread through the face of the earth, and, with an unrelenting fury, bears all the sons of men before it. And it is no way strange it be so, seeing it acts under the conduct of Heaven's irrepealable decree, 'It is appointed unto men once to die,' Heb. ix. 27.
2. That the empire, power, and dominion of death, was introduced into the world by sin, Rom. v. 12. 'By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. The wages of sin is death.' And therefore man no sooner gave into apostacy from his Maker, but the awful sentence went forth, 'Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,' Gen. iii. 19.
3. That our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of life, fell under the power of death, and that in its most frightful and amazing form: for ho died the painful, the cursed, the shameful, and lingering death of tho cross; and this he did not by constraint, but with the utmost cheerfulness.
4. That it was for the sins of his elect people that tho Lord of life came under the power of death. Their sins were imputed to him : 'He was made sin for us,' says the apostle, 'who knew no sin.' Because their sins were imputed to him, therefore death, the punishment of sin, came upon him. Ile was not only wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, but he died for our sins, He bare the sins of many; and for the transgressions of his people was he stricken, yea, stricken even unto death.
5. That though our Redeemer continued under the power of death, yet it was only for a time. Though this king of terrors brought the King of glory down to tho gloomy shades of tho grave, yet he could not hold him long there. Hence tho apostle says, Acts ii. 24. God loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.' Christ was imprisoned for our debt, and thrown into the hands of death; but divine justice being satislied, it was not possible that he should be detained there, either by