And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,…
You are invited —
1. To witness the crucifixion of Christ.
2. To attend the burial of Christ; and —
3. To watch at His grave.
I. YOU ARE INVITED TO WITNESS THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST. "It was the third hour of the day, and they crucified Him." Here you will naturally mark —
1. The instrument of His torture. It was a cross — a cross composed of two pieces of timber; one a transverse beam, and the other a perpendicular one, the foot of which was inserted into the ground; and then the sufferer was nailed to that cross, and suspended in bleeding anguish, till life became extinct. It was not only a most ignominious, but it was a most agonizing death; and not only was it agonizing, but it was lingering. You will naturally think of the place of His crucifixion. "They led Him to a place called Golgotha," which signifies, the place of skulls. There it was that malefactors were executed. In that gloomy, melancholy, horrifying spot, did the Saviour pay the forfeiture of our guilt. You will naturally revert, not only to the instrument of His torture, and the place of His suffering, but to the time of His crucifixion. It was a very remarkable season; at the particular moment when the Jewish Passover was held, and when, consequently, there was a vast concourse of persons gathered, both Jews and proselytes from among the Gentiles, in order to keep this annual feast. This was remarkable, both with respect to the typical relation of Christ's death, and with respect to the open publicity or popularity of His death. You will not only think of the instrument, and the time, and the place, of His crucifixion, bet you will think of the aggravations of it. In His agonies He met with mockery, insult, and derision. He was exposed to the rude treatment of the soldiers, and had the mortification of beholding their avaricious contention among themselves, when they "parted His raiment, and for His vesture they did cast lots." There are those who care little for Christ, beyond His robes and His vesture. If they can enrich themselves with the smallest perquisite from His wardrobe, this is all that concerns them, and all that they are disposed to contend about. But that which seems to have constituted the greatest aggravation of His crucifixion, was this — the withdrawment of the light, and sensible consolation, derived from the presence of His Divine Father. You will not only notice the instrument, and the place, and the time, and the aggravations, of His crucifixion, but you will advert to those supernatural portents which accompanied this transaction, and which proved it to be decidedly extraordinary, and of what we may call a miraculous character: for you will remember that while He was suspended on the cross, darkness extended itself over the whole land. He was crucified.
II. WE ARE FURTHER INVITED, THIS MORNING, TO ATTEND HIS BURIAL. This demonstrates, in the first place, the truth and indubitable certainty of His death. All this was not an imaginary scene; it was no fantastic illusion. He really suffered, and He really died. The character of His death deserves our particular notice. He died not an ordinary or common death, but He died as a public person; and His death was of a threefold character.
1. It may be considered as a satisfaction for sin.
2. As a glorious triumph.
3. As an edifying example.
III. AND NOW, MY DEAR HEARERS, FOR A SHORT SEASON, YOU ARE INVITED TO WATCH AT HIS GRAVE. "Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
1. It was a new tomb — it had never been previously occupied. By which, I think God intended, in His Providence, to put especial honour upon the mangled remains of His Son; "that in all things, He might have the preeminence" — that precedence might be given to Him, even in the lowest depths of His humiliation.
2. It was the tomb which Joseph of Arimathaea had prepared as his own resting place. How willingly should men sacrifice everything for Christ; the honour of an honourable interment, not excepted. Then, it was well for Joseph of Arimathaea, that Christ, by condescending to occupy his grave, seasoned it and perfumed it, and left there a lasting fragrance.
3. It was a tomb singularly guarded and fortified. I have only to add, once more, that it was in a garden. It was in a garden that man lost his innocency; in a garden that Adam sinned; and therefore in a garden Christ was buried, that He might expiate the guilt of sin, and take away the sting of death. Now, brethren, in retiring from the crucifixion, from the burial, and from the grave, of Jesus, we must first observe the vehement displeasure and indignation of God against sin. Secondly, in departing, let us bitterly bewail those sorrows which we have been instrumental in inflicting upon the immaculate Redeemer. Thirdly, let us accept the oblation and sacrifice of the Son of God. In the fourth place, how little reason have we to fear death. If we are united to Christ, "death is ours" — "to die, is gain." Lastly, how reasonable it is that we should give our lives to Him, who has encountered death in all its bitterness for us.
(G. Clayton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,