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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels

Luke 23

 

 

Verses 1-5

And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him to Pilate. 2. 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. 3. And Pilate asked him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, You say it. 4. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. r

AUG. Luke, after he had finished relating the denial of Peter, recapitulated all that took place concerning our Lord during the morning, mentioning some particulars which the others omitted; and so he has composed his narrative, giving a similar account with the rest, when he says, And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him to Pilate, &c.

BEDE That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which He prophesied of His own death, He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, that is, to the Romans. For Pilate was a Roman, and the Romans had sent him as governor to Judea.

AUG. He next relates what happens before Pilate, as follows, And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting our nation, &c. Matthew and Mark do not give this, though affirming that they accused Him, but Luke has laid open the very charges which they falsely brought against Him.

THEOPHYL. Most plainly are they opposed to the truth. For our Lord was so far from forbidding to give tribute, that He commanded it to be given. How then did He pervert the people? Was it that He might take possession of the kingdom? But this is incredible to all, for when the whole multitude wished to choose Him for their king, He was as aware of it, and fled.

BEDE Now two charges having been brought against our Lord, namely, that He forbade to pay tribute to Caesar, and called Himself Christ the King, it may be that Pilate had chanced to hear that which our Lord spoke, Render to Caesar the things which be Caesar"s; and therefore setting aside this accusation as a palpable lie of the Jews, he thought fit to ask concerning that alone of which he knew nothing, the saying about the kingdom; for it follows, Pilate asked him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews, &c.

THEOPHYL. It seems to me that he asked this question of Christ by way of deriding the wantonness or hypocrisy of the alleged charge. As if he said, you a poor humble naked man, with none to help You, are accused of seeking a kingdom, for which you would need many to help You, and much money.

BEDE He answers the governor in the same words which He used to the Chief Priests, that Pilate might be condemned by his own voice; for it follows, And he answering said, You say.

THEOPHYL. Now they finding nothing else to support their calumny, have resort to the aid of clamor, for it follows, And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. As if they said, He perverts the people, not in one part only, but beginning from Galilee He arrives at this place, having passed through Judea. I think then that they purposely made mention of Galilee, as desirous to alarm Pilate, for the Galileans were of a different sect and given to sedition, as, for example, Judas of Galilee who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

BEDE But with these words they accuse not Him, but themselves. For to have taught the people, and by teaching to have roused them from their former idleness, and doing this to have passed through the whole land of promise, was an evidence not of sin, but of virtue.

AMBROSE Our Lord is accused and is silent, for He needs no defense. Let them cast about for defense who fear to be conquered. He does not then confirm the accusation by His silence, but He despises it by not refuting it. Why then should He fear who does not court safety? The Safety of all men forfeits His own, that He may gain that of all.


Verses 6-12

When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. 7. And as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod"s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. 8. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him9. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

BEDE, Pilate having determined not to question our Lord concerning the above-mentioned accusation, is the rather glad now that an opportunity offers to escape from passing judgment upon Him. Hence it is said, When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And lest he should be compelled to pass sentence against one whom he knew to be innocent, and delivered for envy sends Him to be heard by Herod, preferring that he who was the Tetrarch of our Lord"s country might be the person either to acquit or punish Him; for it follows, And as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod"s jurisdiction.

THEOPHYL. Wherein he follows the Roman law, which provided that every man should be judged by the governor of his own jurisdiction.

GREG. Now Herod wished to make proof of Christ"s fame, desiring to witness His miracles; for it follows, And when Herod saw Jesus, he was glad, &c.THEOPHYL. Not as though he was about to gain any benefit from the sight, but seized with curiosity he thought he should see that extraordinary man, of whose wisdom and wonderful works he had heard so much. He also wished to hear from His mouth what He could say. Accordingly he asks Him questions, making a sport of Him, and ridiculing Him. But Jesus, who performed all things prudently, and who, as David testifies, orders His words with discretion, thought it right in such a case to be silent. For a word uttered to one whom it profits nothing becomes the cause of his condemnation. Therefore it follows, But he answered him nothing.

AMBROSE He was silent and did nothing, for Herod"s unbelief deserved not to see Him, and the Lord shunned display. And perhaps typically in Herod are represented all the ungodly, who if they have not believed the Law and the Prophets, cannot see Christ"s wonderful works in the Gospel.

GREG. From these words we ought to derive a lesson, that whenever our hearers wish as if by praising us to gain knowledge from us, but not to change their own wicked course, we must be altogether silent, lest if from love of ostentation we speak God"s word, both they who were guilty cease not to be so, and we who were not become so. And there are many things which betray the motive of a hearer, but one in particular, when they always praise what they hear, yet never follow what they praise.

GREG. The Redeemer therefore though questioned held His peace, though expected disdained to work miracles. And keeping Himself secretly within Himself, left those who were satisfied to seek for outward things, to remain thankless without, preferring to be openly set at nought by the proud, than be praised by the hollow voices of unbelievers. Hence it follows, And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.

And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a white robe.

AMBROSE It is not without reason that He is arrayed by Herod in a white robe, as bearing a sign of His immaculate Passion, that the Lamb of God without spot would take upon Himself the sins of the world.

THEOPHYL. Nevertheless, observe how the Devil is thwarted by the thing which He does. He heaps up scorn and reproaches against Christ, whereby it is made manifest that the Lord is not seditious. Otherwise He would not have been derided, when so great a danger was afloat, and that too from a people who were held in suspicion, and so given to change. But the sending of Christ by Pilate to Herod, becomes the commencement of a mutual friendship, Pilate not receiving those who were subject to Herod"s authority, as it is added, And they were made friends, &c. Observe the Devil every where uniting together things separate, that he may compass the death of Christ. Let us blush then, if for the sake of our salvation we keep not even our friends in union with us.

AMBROSE Under the type also of Herod and Pilate, who from enemies were made friends by Jesus Christ, is preserved the figure of the people of Israel and the Gentile nation; that through our Lord"s Passion should come to pass the future concord of both, yet so that the people of the Gentiles should receive the word of God first, and then transmit it by the devotion of their faith to the Jewish people; that they too may with the glory of their majesty clothe the body of Christ, which before they had despised.

BEDE Or this alliance between Herod and Pilate signifies that the Gentiles and Jews, though differing in race, religion, and character, agree together in persecuting Christians


Verses 13-25

And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,14. Said to them, you have brought this man to me, as one that perverts the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof you accuse him:15. No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done to him. 16. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17. (For of necessity he must release one to them at the feast.)18. And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas:19. (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)20. Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spoke again to them. 21. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22. And he said to them the third time, Why, what evil has he dons? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. 25. And he released to them him that for sedation and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

AUG. Luke returns to those things which were going on before the governor, from which he had digressed in order to relate what took place with Herod; saying as follows, And Pilate, when he had called, yet from which we infer, that he has omitted the part wherein Pilate questioned our Lord what He had to answer to His accusers.

AMBROSE Here Pilate, who as a judge acquits Christ, is made the minister of His crucifixion.

He is sent to Herod, sent back to Pilate, as it follows, Nor yet Herod, for I sent you to him, and behold nothing worthy of death is done to him. They both refuse to pronounce Him guilty, yet for fear"s sake, Pilate gratifies the cruel desires of the Jews.

THEOPHYL. Wherefore by the testimony of two men, Jesus is declared innocent, but the Jews s His accusers brought forward no witness whom they could believe. See then how truth triumphs. Jesus is silent, and His enemies witness for Him the Jews make loud cries, and not one of them corroborates their clamor.

BEDE Perish then those writings, which composed so long a time after Christ, convict not the accused of magical arts against Pilate, but the writers themselves of treachery and lying against Christ.

THEOPHYL. Pilate therefore lenient and easy, yet wanting in firmness for the truth, because afraid of being accused, adds, I will therefore chastise him and release him.

BEDE As if he said, I will subject Him to all the scourgings and mockings you desire, but do not thirst after the innocent blood. It follows, For of necessity he must release one to them, &c. an obligation not imposed by a decree of the imperial law, but binding by the annual custom of the nation whom in such things he was glad to please.

THEOPHYL. For the Romans permitted the Jews to live according to their own laws and customs. And it was a natural custom of the Jews to seek pardon of the prince for those who were condemned as they asked Jonathan of Saul. And hence it is now added, with respect to their petition, And they cried all at once, Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas, &c.

AMBROSE Not unreasonably do they seek the pardon of a murderer, who were themselves demanding the death of the innocent. Such are the laws of iniquity, that what innocence hates, guilt loves. And here the interpretation of the name affords a figurative resemblance, for Barabbas is in Latin, the son of a father. Those then to whom it is said, You are your father the Devil, are represented as about to prefer t the true Son of God the son of their father, that is, Anti Christ.

BEDE Even to this day their request still clings to the Jews. For since when they had the choice given to them, they chose a robber for Jesus, a murderer for a Savior; rightly lost they both life and salvation, and became subject to such robberies and seditions among themselves as to forfeit both their country and kingdom.

THEOPHYL. Thus it came to pass, the once holy nation rages to slay, the Gentile Pilate forbids slaughter; as it follows, Pilate therefore spoke again to them, but they cried, out, Crucify, &c.

BEDE With the worst kind of death, that is, crucifixion, they long to murder the innocent. For they who hung on the cross, with their hands and feet fixed by nails to the wood, suffered a prolonged death, that their agony might not quickly cease; but the death of the cross was chosen by our Lord, as that which having overcome the Devil, He was about to place as a trophy on the brows of the faithful.

THEOPHYL. Three times did Pilate acquit Christ, for it follows, And he said to them the third time, Why, what evil has he done? I will chastise him, and let him go.

BEDE, This chastisement wherewith Pilate sought to satisfy the people, lest their rage should go even so far as to crucify Jesus, John"s words bear testimony that he not only threatened but performed together with mockings and scourgings. But when they saw all their charges which they brought against the Lord baffled by Pilate"s diligent questioning, they resort at last to prayers only; entreating that He might be crucified.

THEOPHYL. They cry out the third time against to be that by this third voice, they may approve the murder to e their own, which by their entreaties they extorted; for it follows, And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

And he released him that for sedition and murder was cast in to prison, but delivered Jesus to their will.

CHRYS. For they thought they could add this, namely, that Jesus was worse than a robber, and so wicked, that neither for mercy"s sake, or by the privilege of the feast, ought He to be let free.


Verses 26-32

And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. 27. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28. But Jesus turning to them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?32. And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.

GLOSS. Having related the condemnation of Christ, Luke naturally goes on to speak of His crucifixion; as it is said, And as they led him away, they laid hold upon on Simon, &c.

AUG. But John relates that Jesus bore His own cross, from which is understood that He was Himself carrying His cross, when He went froth to that place which is called Calvary; but as they journeyed Simon was forced into the service on the road, and the cross was given him to carry as far as the place.

THEOPHYL. For no one else accepted to bear the cross, because the wood was counted an abomination. Accordingly upon Simon the Cyrenian they imposed as it were to his dishonor the bearing of the cross, which others refused. Here is fulfilled that prophecy of Isaiah, Whose government shall be upon his shoulder. For the government of Christ is His cross; for which the Apostle says, God has exalted him. And as for a mark of dignity, some wear a belt, others a head dress, so our Lord the cross. And if you seek, you will find that Christ does not reign in us save by hardships, whence it comes that the luxurious are the enemies of the cross of Christ.

AMBROSE Christ therefore bearing His cross, already as a conqueror carried His trophies. The cross is laid upon His shoulders, because whether Simon or Himself bore it, both Christ bore it in the man, and the man in Christ. Nor do the accounts of the Evangelists differ, since the mystery reconciles them. And it is the rightful order of our advance that Christ should first Himself erect the trophy of His cross, then hand it down to be raised by His martyrs. He is not a Jew who bears the cross, but an alien and a foreigner, nor does he precede but follow, according as it is written, Let him take up his cross, and follow me.

BEDE, Simon is by interpretation "obedient", Cyrene "an heir" By this man therefore the people of the Gentiles are denoted who formerly foreigners and aliens to the covenant, have now by obedience been made heirs of God. But Simon coming out of a village, bears the cross after Jesus, because forsaking the pagan rites, he obediently embraces the footsteps of our Lord"s Passion. For a village is in Greek called, from whence Pagans derive their name.

THEOPHYL. Or he takes up the cross of Christ, who comes from the village; that is, he leaves this world and its labors, going forward to Jerusalem, that is heavenly liberty. Hereby also we receive no slight instruction. For to be a master after the example of Christ, a man must himself first take up his cross, and in the fear of God crucify his own flesh, that he may so lay it upon those that are subject and obedient to him. But there followed Christ a great company of people, and of women.

BEDE A large multitude indeed followed the cross of Christ, but with very different feelings. For the people who had demanded his death were rejoicing that they should see Him dying, the women weeping that he was about to die. But He was followed by the weeping only of women. Not because that vast crowd of men was not also sorrowful at His Passion, but because the less esteemed female sex could more freely give utterance to what they thought.

CYRIL Women also are ever prone to tears, and have hearts easily disposed to pity.

THEOPHYL. He bids those who weep for him cast their eyes forward to the evils that were coming, and weep for themselves.

CYRIL Signifying that in the time to come women would be bereft of their children. For when war breaks out upon the land of the Jews. All shall perish, both small and great. Hence it follows, For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, &c.

THEOPHYL. Seeing indeed that women shall cruelly roast their children, and the belly which had produced shall miserably again receive that which it bore.

BEDE By these miserably again receive that which it bore.

BEDE By these days He signifies the time of the siege and captivity which was coming upon them from the Romans, of which He had said before, Woe to them that are with child, and give suck in those days. It is natural, when captivity by an enemy is threatening, to seek for refuge in fastnesses or hidden places, where men may lie concealed. And so it follows, Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For Josephus relates, that when the Romans pressed hard upon them, the Jews sought hastily the caverns of the mountains, and the lurking places in the hills. It may be also that the words, Blessed are the barren, are to be understood of those of both sexes, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven"s sake, and that it is said to the mountains and hills, Fall upon us, and Cover us, because all who are mindful of their own weakness, when the crisis of their temptations breaks upon them, have sought to be protected by the example, precept, and prayers, of certain high and saintly men.

It follows, But if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

GREG. He has called Himself the life and strength of the Divine nature; but we who are mere men are called the dry wood.

THEOPHYL. As though He said to the Jews, If then the Romans have so raged against Me, a fruit-bearing and ever flourishing tree, what will they not attempt against you the people, who are a dry tree, destitute of every life-giving virtue, and bearing no fruit?

BEDE Or as if He spoke to all: If I who have done no sin being called the tree of life, do not depart form the world without suffering the fire of my Passion, what torment think you awaits those who are barren of all fruits?

THEOPHYL. But the Devil, desiring to engender an evil opinion of our Lord, caused robbers also to be crucified with Him; whence it follows, And there were two other malefactors led with him to be put to death.


Verse 33

And when they were come to the place, in which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

ATHAN, When mankind became corrupted, then Christ manifested His own body, that where corruption has been pass seen, there might spring up incorruption. Wherefore He is crucified in the place of Calvary; which place the Jewish doctors say was the burial-place of Adam.

BEDE Or else, without the gate were the places where the heads of condemned criminals were cut off, and they received the name of Calvary, that is, beheaded. Thus for the salvation of all men the innocent is crucified among the guilty, that where sin abounded, there grace might much more abound.

CYRIL The only-begotten Son of God did not Himself in His own nature in which He is God suffer the things which belong to the body, but rather in His earthly nature. For of one and the same Son both may be affirmed, namely, that He does not suffer in His divine nature, and that He suffered in His human.

EUSEB. But if, on the contrary, after His intercourse with men, He suddenly disappeared, flying away to avoid death, He might be likened by man to a phantom. And just as if any one wished to exhibit some incombustible vessel, which triumphed over the nature of fire, he would put it into the flame, and then directly draw it out from the flame unharmed; so the Word of God, wishing to show that the instrument which He used for the salvation of men was superior to death, exposed His mortal body to death to manifest His nature, then after a little rescued it from death by the force of His divine power. This is indeed the first cause of Christ"s death. But the second is the manifestation of the divine power of Christ inhabiting a body. For seeing that men of old deified those who were destined to a like end with themselves, and whom they called Heroes and Gods, He taught that He alone of the dead must be acknowledged the true God, who having vanquished death is adorned with the rewards of victory, having trodden death under His feet. The third reason is, that a victim must be slain for the whole race of mankind, which being offered, the whole power of the evil spirits was destroyed, and every error put to silence. There is also another cause of the health-giving death, that the disciples with secret faith might behold the resurrection after death. Whereunto they were taught to lift up their own hopes, that despising death they might embark cheerfully in the conflict with error.

ATHAN. Now our Savior came to accomplish not His own death, but that of man, for He experienced not death who is Life. Therefore not by His own death did He put off the body, but He endured that which was inflicted by men. But although His body had been afflicted, and was loosed in the sight of all men, yet was it not fitting that He who should heal the sicknesses of others should have His own body visited with sickness. But yet if without any disease He had put off His body apart in some remote place, He would not be believed when speaking of His remote place, For death must precede resurrection; why then should He openly proclaim His resurrection, but die in secret? Surely if these things had happened secretly, what calumnies would unbelieving men have invented? How would the victory of Christ over death appear, unless undergoing it in the sight of all men. He had proved it to be swallowed up by the incorruption of His body? But you will say, At least He ought to have devised for Himself a glorious death, to have avoided the death of the cross. But if He had done this, He would have made Himself suspected of not having power over every kind of death. As then the champion by laying prostrate whomsoever the enemy has opposed to him is shown to be superior to all, so the Life of all men took upon Him that death which His enemies inflicted, because it was the most dreadful and shameful, the abominable death upon the cross, that having destroyed it, the dominion of death might be entirely overthrown. Wherefore His head is not cut off as John"s was He was not sawn asunder as Isaiah, that He might preserve His body entire, and indivisible to death, and not become an excuse to those who ho would divide the Church. For He wished to bear the curse of sin which we had incurred, by taking upon Him the accursed death of the cross, as it is said, Cursed is he that hangs upon a tree. He dies also on the cross with outstretched hands, that with one indeed He may draw to Him the ancient people, with the other the Gentiles joining both to Himself. Dying also on the cross He purges the air of evil spirits, and prepares for us an ascent into heaven.

THEOPHYL. Because also by a tree death had entered, it must needs be that by a tree it should be abolished, and that the Lord passing unconquered through the pains of a tree should subdue the pleasures which flow from a tree.

GREG. NYSS. But the figure of the cross from one center of contact branching out into four separate terminations, signifies the power and providence of Him who hung upon it extending every where.

parAUG. For not without reason did He choose this kind of death, in order that He might be the master of breadth and length, and heighth and depth. For breadth lies in that cross piece of wood which is fastened from above. This belongs to good works, because on it the hands are outstretched. Length lies in that which is seen reaching from the former piece to the ground, for there in a certain manner we stand, that is, abide firm or persevere. And this is applied to long-suffering. Heighth is in that piece of wood which is left reaching upwards from that which is fixed across, that is, to the head of the Crucified; for the expectation of those who hope for better things is upward. Again, that part of the wood which is fixed hidden in the ground, signifies the depth of unrestrained grace.

CHRYS. Two thieves also they crucified on the two sides, that He might be a partaker of their reproach; as it follows, And the thieves one on his right hand, the other on his left. But it did not so turn out. For of them nothing is said, but His cross is every where honored. Kings, laying aside their crowns, assume the cross on their purple, on their diadems, on their arms. On the consecrated table, throughout the whole earth, the cross glitters. Such things are not of men. For even in their lifetime those who have acted nobly are mocked by their own actions, and when they perish their actions perish also. But in Christ it is quite different. For before the cross all things were gloomy, after it all things are joyful and glorious, that you may know that not a mere man was crucified.

BEDE But the two robbers crucified with Christ signify those who under the faith of Christ undergo either the pains of martyrdom, or the rules of a still stricter continence. But they do this for eternal glory, who imitate the actions of the thief on the right hand; while they who do it to gain the praise of men, imitate the thief on the left hand.


Verses 34-37

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,37. And saying, If you be the king of the Jews, save yourself.

CHRYS. Because the Lord had said, Pray for them that persecute you, this likewise He did, when He ascended the cross, as it follows, Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them, not that He was not able Himself to pardon them, but that He might teach us to pray for our persecutors, not only in word, but in deed also. But He says, Forgive them, if they should repent. For He is gracious to the penitent, if they are willing after so great wickedness to wash away their guilt by faith.

BEDE For must we imagine here that He prayed in vain, but that in those who believed after His passion He obtained the fruit of His prayers? It must be remarked, however, that He prayed not for those who chose rather to crucify, than to confess Him whom they knew to be the Son of God, but for such as were ignorant what they did, having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, as He adds, For they know not what they do.

GREEK EX. But for those who after the crucifixion remain in unbelief, no one can suppose that they are excused by ignorance, because of the notable miracles that with aloud voice proclaimed Him to be the Son of God.

AMBROSE It is important then to consider, in what condition He ascends the cross; for I see Him naked. Let him then who prepares to overcome the world, so ascend that he seek no the appliances of the world. Now Adam was overcome who sought for a covering. He overcame who laid aside His covering. He ascends such as nature formed us, God being our Creator. Such as the first man had dwelt in paradise, such did the second man enter paradise. But about to ascend the cross rightly, did He lay aside His royal garments, that you may know that He suffered not as God, but as man, though Christ is both.

ATHAN. He also who for our sakes took upon him all our conditions, put on our garments, the signs of Adam"s death, that He might put them off, and in their stead clothe us with life and incorruption. It follows, And they parted his raiment among them, and cast lots.

THEOPHYL. For perhaps many of them were in want. Or perhaps rather they did this as a reproach, and from a kind of wantonness. For what treasure did they find in His garments?

BEDE But in the lot the grace of God seems to be commended; for when the lot is cast, we yield not to the merits of any person, but to the secret judgment of God.

AUG. This matter indeed was briefly related by the three first Evangelists, but John more distinctly explains how it was done.

THEOPHYL. They did it then mockingly. For when the rulers scoffed, what can we say of the crowd? For it follows, And the people stood, who in truth had entreated that He should be crucified, waiting, namely, for an end. And the rulers also with them derided.

AUG. Having mentioned the rulers, and said nothing of the priests, St. Luke comprehended under a general name all the chief men, so that hereby may be understood both the scribes and the elders.

BEDE And these also unwillingly confess that He saved others, for it follows, Saying, He saved others, let him save himself, &c.

ATHAN. Now our Lord being truly the Savior wished not by saving Himself, but by saving His creatures, to be acknowledged the Savior. For neither is a physician by healing himself known to be physician by healing himself known to be a physician, unless he also gives proof of his skill towards the sick. So the Lord being the Savior had no need of salvation, nor by descending from the cross did He wish to be acknowledged the Savior, but by dying. For truly a much greater salvation does the death of the Savior bring to men, than the descent from the cross.

GREEK EX. Now the Devil, seeing that there was no protection for him, was at a loss, and as having no other resource, tried at last to offer him vinegar to drink. But he knew not that he was doing this against himself; for the bitterness of wrath caused by the transgression of the law, in which he kept all men bound, he now surrendered to the Savior, who took it and consumed it, in order that in the place of vinegar, He might give us wine to drink, which wisdom had mingled.

THEOPHYL. But the soldiers offered Christ vinegar, as it were ministering to a king, for it follows, saying, If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.

BEDE And it is worthy of remark, that the Jews blaspheme and mock the name of Christ, which was delivered to them by the authority of Scripture; whereas the soldiers, as being ignorant of the Scriptures, insult not Christ the chosen of God, but the King of the Jews.


Verses 38-43

And the superscription also was written over him in the letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.39. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If you be Christ, save yourself and us. 40. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do not you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation?41. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss. 42. And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. 43. And Jesus said to him, Verily I say to you, Today shall you be with me in paradise.

THEOPHYL. Observe a second time the device of the devil turned against himself. For in letters of three different characters he published the accusation of Jesus, that in truth it might not escape one of the passers by, that He was crucified because He made Himself King. For it is said, In Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, by which it was signified, that the most powerful of the nations, (as the Romans,) the wisest, (as the Greeks,) those who most worshipped God, (as the Jewish nation,) must be made subject to the dominion of Christ.

AMBROSE And rightly is the title placed above the cross, because Christ"s kingdom is not of the human body, but of the power of God. I read the title of the King of the Jews, when I read, My kingdom is not of this world. I read the cause of Christ written above His head, when I read, And the Word was God. For the head of Christ is God.

CYRIL Now one of the thieves uttered the same revilings as the Jews, but the other tried to check his words, while he confessed his own guilt, adding, We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds.

CHRYS. Here the condemned performs the office of judge, and he begins to decide concerning truth who before Pilate confessed his crime only after many tortures. For the judgment of man from whom secret things are hid is of one kind; the judgment of God who searches the heart of another. And in the former case punishment follows after confession, but here confession is made to salvation. But he also pronounces Christ innocent, adding, But this man has done nothing wrong: as if to say, Behold a new injury, that innocence should be condemned with crime. We kill the living, He raised the dead. We have stolen from others, He bids us give up even what is our own.

The blessed thief thus taught those that stood by, uttering the words by which he rebuked the other. But when he saw that the ears of those who stood by were stopped up, he turns to Him who knows the hearts; for it follows, And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. You behold the Crucified, and you acknowledge Him to be your Lord. You see the form of a condemned criminal, and you proclaim the dignity of a king. Stained with a thousand crimes, you ask the Fountain of righteousness to remember your wickedness, saying, But I discover your hidden kingdom; and you turn away my public iniquities, and accept the faith of a secret intention. Wickedness usurped the disciple of truth, truth did not change the disciple of wickedness.

GREG. On the cross nails had fastened his hands and feet, and nothing remained free from torture, but his heart and tongue. By the inspiration of God, the thief offered to Him the whole which he found free, that as it is written, With the heart he might believe to righteousness, with the mouth he might confess to salvation. But the three virtues which the Apostle speaks of, the thief suddenly filled with grace both received and preserved on the cross. He had faith, for example, who believed that God would reign whom he saw dying equally with himself. He had hope who asked for an entrance into His kingdom. He preserved charity also zealously in his death, who for his iniquity reproved his brother and fellow-thief, dying for a like clime to his own.

AMBROSE A most remarkable example is here given of seeking after conversion, seeing that pardon is so speedily granted to the thief. The Lord quickly pardons, because the thief is quickly converted. And grace is more abundant than prayer; for the Lord ever gives more than He is asked for. The thief asked that He should remember him, but our Lord answers, Verily I say to you, This day shall you be with me in Paradise. To be with Christ is life, and where Christ is, there is His kingdom.

THEOPHYL. And as every king who returns victorious carries in triumph the best of his spoils, so the Lord having despoiled the devil of a portion of his plunder, carries it with Him into Paradise.

CHRYS. Here then might one see the Savior between the thieves weighing in the scales of justice faith, and unbelief. The devil cast Adam out of Paradise. Christ brought the thief into Paradise before the whole world, before the Apostles. By a mere word and by faith alone he entered into Paradise, that no one after his sins might despair of entrance. Mark the rapid change, from the cross to heaven, from condemnation to Paradise, that you may know that the Lord did it all, not with regard to the thief"s good intention, but His own mercy.

But if the reward of the good has already taken place, surely a resurrection will be superfluous. For if He introduced the thief into Paradise while his body remained in corruption without, it is clear there is no resurrection of the body. Such are the words of some, But shall the flesh which has partaken of the toil be deprived of the reward? Hear Paul speaking, Then must this corruptible put on incorruption. But if the Lord promised the kingdom of heaven, but introduced the thief into Paradise, He does not yet recompense him the reward. But they say, Under the name of Paradise He signified the kingdom of heaven, using a well-known name in addressing a thief who knew nothing of difficult teaching. Now some do not read it, This day shall you be with me in Paradise, but thus, I say to you on this day, and then follows, You shall be with me in Paradise. But we will add a still more obvious solution. For physicians when they see a man in a desperate state, say, He is already dead. So also the thief, since he no longer fears his falling back to perdition, is said to have entered Paradise.

THEOPHYL. This however is more true than all, that although they have not obtained all the promises, I mean, the thief and the other saints in order that without us they might not be made perfect, they are notwithstanding in the kingdom of heaven and Paradise.

GREG. NYSS. Here again, we must examine how the thief should be thought worthy of Paradise, seeing that a flaming sword prevents the entrance of the saints. But observe that the word of God describes it as turning about, so as it should obstruct the unworthy, but open a free entrance to life to the worthy.

GREG. Or that flaming sword is said to be turning, because that He knew the time would come when it must be removed; when He in truth should come, who by the mystery of His incarnation was to open to us the way of Paradise.

AMBROSE But it must also be explained how the others, that is, Matthew and Mark, introduced two thieves reviling, while Luke, one reviling, the other resisting him. Perhaps this other at first reviled, but was suddenly converted. It may also have been spoken of one, but in the plural number; as in the Hebrews, They wandered in goat-skins, and they were sawn asunder; whereas Elijah alone is related to have had a goat-skin, and Isaiah to have been sawn asunder. But mystically, the two thieves represent the two sinful people who were to be crucified by baptism with Christ, whose disagreement likewise represents the difference of believers.

BEDE For as many of us as were baptized in Christ Jesus, were baptized in His death; but we are washed; by baptism, seeing we were sinners. But some, in that they praise God suffering in the flesh, are crowned; others, in that they refuse to have the faith or works of baptism, are deprived of the gift which they have received.


Verses 44-46

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

CYRIL As soon as the Lord of all had been given up to be crucified, the whole framework of the world bewailed its rightful Master, and the light was darkened at mid-day, which was a manifest token that the souls of those who crucified Him would suffer darkness.

AUG. What is here said of the darkness, the other two Evangelists, Matthew and Mark confirm, but St. Luke adds the cause whence the darkness arose, saying, And the sun was darkened.

AUG. This darkening of the sun it is quite plain did not happen in the regular and fixed course of the heavenly bodies, because it was then the Passover, which is always celebrated at the full moon. But a regular eclipse of the sun does not take place except at new moon.

DIONYS. When owe were both at Heliopolis together, we both saw at the same time in a marvelous manner the moon meeting the sun, (for it was not then the time of new moon,) and then again from the ninth hour until evening supernaturally brought back to the edge of the sun"s diameter. Besides, we observed that this obscuration began from the east, and having reached as far as the sun"s western border at length returned, and that the loss and restoration of light took place not from the same side, but from opposite sides of the diameter. Such were the miraculous events of that time, and possible to Christ alone who is the cause of all things.

GREEK EX. This miracle then took place that it might be made known, that He who had undergone death was the Ruler of the whole creation.

AMBROSE The sun also is eclipsed to the sacrilegious, that it may overshadow the scene of their awful wickedness; darkness was spread over the eyes of the unbelieving, that the light of faith might rise again.

BEDE But Luke, wishing to join miracle to miracle, adds, And the veil of the temple was rent in two. This took place when our Lord expired, as Matthew and Mark bear witness, but Luke related it by anticipation.

THEOPHYL. By this then our Lord showed that the Holy of Holies should be no longer inaccessible, but being given over into the hands of the Romans, should be defiled, and its entrance laid open.

AMBROSE The veil also is rent, by which is declared the division of the two people, and the profanation of the synagogue. The old veil is rent that the Church may hang up the new walls of faith. The covering of the synagogue is drawn up, that we may behold with the eyes of the mind the inward mysteries of religion now revealed to us.

THEOPHYL. Whereby it is signified that the veil which kept us asunder from the holy things which are in heaven, is broken through, namely, enmity and sin.

AMBROSE It took place also at that time when every mystery of Christ"s assumed mortality was fulfilled, and His immortality alone remained; as it follows, And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said.

BEDE By invoking the Father He declares Himself to be the Son of God, but by commending His Spirit, He signifies not the weakness of His strength, but His confidence in the same power with the Father.

AMBROSE The flesh dies that the Spirit may rise again. The Spirit is commended to the Father, that heavenly things also may be loosed from the chain of iniquity, and peace be made in heaven, which earthly things should follow.

CHRYS. Now this voice teaches us, that the souls of the saints are not henceforth shut up in hell as before, but are with God, Christ being made the beginning of this change.

ATHAN. For He commends to His Father through Himself all mankind quickened in Him; for we are His members; as the Apostle says, You are all one in Christ.

GREG. NYSS. But it becomes us to inquire how our Lord distributes Himself into three parts at once; into the bowels of the earth, as He told the Pharisees; into the Paradise of God, as He told the thief; into the hands of the Father, as it is said here. To those however who rightly consider, it is scarcely worthy of question, for He who by His divine power is in every place, is present in any particular place.

AMBROSE His spirit then is commended to God, but though He is above He yet gives light to the parts below the earth, that all things may be redeemed. For Christ is all things, and in Christ are all things.

GREG. NYSS. There is another explanation that at the time of His Passion, His Divinity being once united to His humanity, left neither part of His humanity, but of its own accord separated the soul from the body, yet showed itself abiding in each. For through the body in which He suffered death He vanquished the power of death, but through the soul He prepared for the thief an entrance into Paradise. Now Isaiah says of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is no other than Paradise, Upon my hands I have painted your walls; whence it is clear, that he who is in Paradise dwells in the hands of the Father.

DAMASC. Or to speak more expressly, In respect of His body, He was in the grave, in respect of His soul, He was in hell, and with the thief in Paradise; but as God, on the throne with His Father and the Holy Spirit.

THEOPHYL. But crying with a loud voice He gives up the ghost, because He had in Himself the power of laying down His life and taking it up again.

AMBROSE He gave up His Spirit, because He did not lose it as one unwilling; for what a man sends forth is voluntary, what he loses, compulsory.


Verses 47-49

Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49. And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

AUG. When after uttering that voice He immediately gave up the ghost, those who were present greatly marveled. For those who hung upon the cross were generally tortured by a prolonged death. Hence it is said, Now when the centurion saw, &c.

AUG. There is no contradiction in that the centurion seeing the earthquake marveled, whereas Luke says that he marveled, that Jesus while uttering the loud voice expired, showing what power He had when He was dying. But in that Matthew not only says, at the sight of the earthquake, but added, and at the things that were done, he has made it clear that there was ample room for Luke to say, that the centurion marveled at the death of the Lord. But because Luke also himself said, Now when the centurion saw what was done, he has included in that general expression all the marvelous things which took place at that hour, as if relating one marvelous event of which all those miracles were the parts and members. Again, because one Evangelist stated that the centurion said, Truly this man was the Son of God, but Luke gives the words, was a just man, they might be supposed to differ. But either we ought to understand that both these were said by the centurion, and that one Evangelist related one, another. Or perhaps, that Luke expresses the opinion of the centurion, in what respect he called Him the Son of God. For perhaps the centurion did not know Him to be the Only-begotten, equal to the Father, but called Him the Son of God, because he believed Him to be just, as many just persons are called the sons of God. But again, because Matthew added, those who were with the centurion, while Luke omits this, there is no contradiction, since one says what another is silent about. And Matthew said, They were greatly afraid; but Luke does not say that he feared, but that he glorified God. Who then does not see that by fearing he glorified God?

THEOPHYL. The words of our Lord seem now to be fulfilled, wherein He said, When I shall be lifted up I will draw all men to me. For when lifted upon the cross He drew to Him the thief and the centurion, besides some of the Jews also, of whom it follows, And all the people that came together smote their breasts.

BEDE By their smiting their breasts as if betokening a penitential sorrow, two things may be understood; either that they bewailed Him unjustly slain whose life they loved, or that remembering that they had demanded His death, they trembled to see Him in death still farther glorified. But we may observe, that the Gentiles fearing God glorify Him with works of public confession; the Jews only striking their breasts returned silent home

AMBROSE O the breasts of the Jews, harder than the rocks! The Judge acquits, the officer believes, the traitor by his death condemns his own crime, the elements flee away, the earth quakes, the graves are opened; the hardness of the Jews still remains immovable, though the whole world is shaken.

BEDE Rightly then by the centurion is the faith of the Church signified, which in the silence of the synagogue bears witness to the Son of God. And now is fulfilled that complaint which the Lord makes to His Father, neighbor and friend have you put far from me, and mine acquaintance because of a misery. Hence it follows, And all his acquaintance stood afar off.

THEOPHYL. But the race of women formerly cursed remains and sees all these things; for it follows, And the women which followed him from Galilee, seeing these things. And thus they are the first to be renewed by Justification, or by the blessing which flows from His passion, as also from His resurrection.


Verses 50-56

And, behold, there was a man named Joseph a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just:51. (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52. This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone wherein never man before was laid. 54. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. 56. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

GREEK EX. Joseph had been at one time a secret disciple of Christ, but at length bursting through the bonds of fear, and become very zealous, he took down the body of our Lord, basely hanging on the cross; thus gaining a precious Jewel by the meekness of His words. Hence it follows, And, behold, there was a man, named Joseph, a counselor.

BEDE A counselor, or decurio, is so called because he is of the order of the curia or council, and administers the office of the curia. He is also wont to be called curialis, from his management of civil duties. Joseph then is said to have been of high rank in the world, but of still higher estimation before God; as it follows, A good man, and a just, of Arimathea, a city of the Jews, &c. Arimathea is the same as Ramatha, the city of Helcanah and Samuel.

AUG. Now John says, that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus. Hence it is also here added, Who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

But it naturally causes surprise how he who for fear was a secret disciple should have dared to beg our Lord"s body, which none of those who openly followed Him dared to do; for it is said, This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. We must understand then, that he did this from confidence in his rank, by which he might be privileged to enter familiarly into Pilate"s presence. But in performing that last funeral rite, he seems to have cared less for the Jews, although it was his custom in hearing our Lord to avoid their hostility.

BEDE So then being fitted by the righteousness of his works for the burial of our Lord"s body, he was worthy by the dignity of his secular power to obtain it. Hence it follows, And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen. By the simple burial of our Lord, the pride of the rich is condemned who not even in their graves can be without their wealth.

ATHAN. They also act absurdly who embalm the bodies of their dead, and do not bury them, even supposing them to be holy. For what can be more holy or greater than our Lord"s body? And yet this was placed in a tomb until it rose again the third day. For it follows, And he laid it in a hewn sepulcher.

BEDE That is, hewn out of a rock, lest if it had been built of many stones, and the foundations of the tomb being dug up after the resurrection, the body should be said to have been stolen away. It is laid also in a new tomb, wherein never man before was laid, lest when the rest of the bodies remained after the resurrection, it might be suspected that some other had risen again. But because man was created on the sixth day, rightly being crucified on the sixth day our Lord fulfilled the secret of man"s restitution. It follows, And it was the day of the(Greek), which means the preparation, the name by which they called the sixth day, because on that day they prepared the things which were necessary for the Sabbath. But because on the seventh day the Creator rested from His work, the Lord on the Sabbath rested in the grave. Hence it follows, And the Sabbath was dawning. Now we said above, that all His acquaintance stood afar off, and the women which followed Him. These then of His acquaintance, after His body was taken down, returned to their homes, but the women who more tenderly loved Him, following His funeral, desired to see the place where He was laid.

For it follows, And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid, that in truth they might make the offerings of their devotion at the proper time.

THEOPHYL. For they had not yet sufficient faith, but prepared as if for a mere man spices and ointments, after the manner of the Jews, who performed such duties to their dead. Hence it follows, And they returned, and prepared spices. For our Lord being buried, they were occupied as long as it was lawful to work, (that is, until sun-set,) in preparing ointments. But it was commanded to keep silence on the Sabbath, that is, rest from evening to evening. For it follows, And rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

AMBROSE Now mystically, the just man buries the body of Christ. For the burial of Christ is such as to have no guile or wickedness in it. But rightly did Matthew call the man rich, or by carrying Him that was rich he knew not the poverty of faith. The just man covers the body of Christ with linen. Do you also clothe the body of Christ with His own glory, that you may be yourself just. And if you believe it to be dead, still cover it with the fullness of His own divinity. But the Church also is clothed with the grace of innocence.

BEDE He also wraps Jesus in clean linen, who ho has received Him with a pure mind.

AMBROSE Nor without meaning has one Evangelist spoken of a new tomb, another of the tomb of Joseph. For the grave is prepared by those who are under the law of death; the Conqueror of death has no grave of His own. For what fellowship has God with the grave. He alone is enclosed in this tomb, because the death of Christ, although it was common according to the nature of the body, yet was it peculiar in respect of power. But Christ is rightly buried in the tomb of the just, that He may rest in the habitation of justice. For this monument the just man hews out with the piercing word in the hearts of Gentile hardness, that the power of Christ might extend over the nations. And very rightly is there a stone rolled against the tomb; for whoever has in himself truly buried Christ, must diligently guard, lest he lose Him, or lest there be an entrance for unbelief.

BEDE Now that the Lord is crucified on the sixth day and rests on the seventh, signifies that in the sixth age of the world we must of necessity suffer for Christ, and as it were be crucified to the world. But in the seventh age, that is, after death, our bodies indeed rest in the tombs, but our souls with the Lord. But even at the present time also holy women, (that is, humble souls,) fervent in love, diligently wait upon the Passion of Christ, and if perchance they may be able to imitate Him, with anxious carefulness ponder each step in order, by which this Passion is fulfilled. And having read, heard, and called to mind all these, they next apply themselves to make ready the works of virtue, by which Christ may be pleased, in order that having finished the preparation of this present life, in a blessed rest they may at the time of the resurrection meet Christ with the frankincense of spiritual actions.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 23:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/luke-23.html.

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