1 Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; 3 they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands.
2371 Above, the Evangelist gave us an account of what Christ suffered from the Jews; here he describes what in particular he endured from the Gentiles. He suffered three things, as he had predicted: "They will deliver him to the Gentiles, to be mocked and scourged and crucified" (Matt 20:19). First, he deals with the scourging of Christ; secondly, with his mockery (v 2); and thirdly, with his crucifixion (v 4).
2372 He says, Then, after all their shouting, Pilate took Jesus and scourged him, not with his own hands, but using his soldiers. He did this hoping that the Jews would be satisfied with these wounds and be softened so as no longer to demand his death. For it is natural for our anger to subside if we see the one we are angry at humiliated and punished, as the Philosopher says in his Rhetoric. This is true of that anger which seeks to inflict a limited amount of harm; but it is not the case of that hatred which seeks the entire destruction of the one hated: "An enemy ... if he finds an opportunity his thirst for blood will be insatiable" (Sir 12:16). Now the Jews hated Christ, and so his scourging did not satisfy them: "All the day long I have been scourged" [Ps 73:14]; "I gave my back to the smiters" (Is 50:6).
2373 Does this intention excuse Pilate for the scourging? It does not; because of all those things which are evil in themselves (per se), none can be made totally good by a good intention. Now to harm an innocent person, and especially the Son of God, is in the highest degree an evil in itself. Consequently, it cannot be excused by any intention.
2374 Now the Evangelist shows us Christ being ridiculed: first, the mock honors paid to him; secondly, the real dishonor showed him, and struck him. They pay him mock honors by calling him a king, thus adverting to the charge lodged by the Jews, who said that he made himself king of the Jews. Therefore, they pay him the three honors given to a king, but in a derisive way. First, we have a mock crown; and then mock clothing and acclamations.
2375 They mock him with a crown, because it is customary for kings to wear a crown, a crown of gold: "A crown of gold upon his head" [Sir 45:12]. The Psalm (21:3) mentions this: "Thou dost set a crown of fine gold upon his head." And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, the head of him who is a crown of glory to those who belong to him: "In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people" (Is 28:5). It was appropriately made of thorns, because by them he removes the thorns of sin, which pain us through remorse of conscience: "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns" (Jer 4:3). These thorns also take away the thorns of punishment which burden us: "Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you" (Gen 3:18).
Was this crowning done by the governor's order? Chrysostom says that it was not, but that the soldiers were bribed with money and did this to satisfy the Jews. On the other hand, Augustine says that this was done by the command or the permission of the governor to the end that the hatred of the Jews would be satiated and Pilate could more easily release Jesus.
2376 Secondly, they mock him with clothing. The soldiers ... arrayed him in a purple robe, which was the sign of a royal dignity for the Romans. In 1 Maccabees (8:14) we read that when the Romans ruled they wore a crown and were clothed in purple. This clothing of Christ in purple fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah (63:2): "Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his that treads in the wine press?" At the same time it indicates the sufferings of the martyrs, which stains red the entire body of Christ, that is, the church.
2377 Thirdly, they mock him the way they address him: they came up to him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! It was the custom then, as it is now, for subjects to salute their king when they came into his presence: "And when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, 'Long live the king ! Long live the king!'" (2 Sam 16:16).
As for the mystical interpretation, those greet Christ mockingly who profess him with words "but deny him with their deeds" (Titus 1:16).
2378 Now he mentions the real dishonor shown to Christ, and struck him with their hands, in order to show that the honor they did gave him was in mockery: "I gave my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard" (Is 50:6); "With a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel" (Mic 5:1).
4 Pilate went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him." 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God." 8 When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; 9 he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave no answer. 10 Pilate therefore said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin." 12a Upon this Pilate sought to release him.
2379 Now the Evangelist treats of the crucifixion of Christ: first, the crucifixion itself; secondly, the death of Christ (v 28); and thirdly, his burial (v 38). As to the crucifixion, he first mentions the dispute Pilate had with the Jews; secondly, we have the sentencing of Christ (v 8); and thirdly, the sentence is carried out (v 17). Pilate, wanting to release Christ, began arguing with the Jews. First, the Evangelist shows how Pilate tried to release Christ by exhibiting him to the crowd; secondly, by declaring his innocence, I find no crime in him. As regards the first, the Evangelist shows Jesus being shown to the crowd; and secondly, the effect this had, Crucify him.
2380 Three things are mentioned concerning Christ's exhibition to the Jews. First there is the intention of Pilate, which was to free him. He says, Pilate went out again, from the praetorium, and said to them, to the Jews who were waiting there, Behold, I am bringing him out to you, for this purpose, that you may know that I find no crime in him, deserving of death. Why then, unrighteous Pilate, was there this shameful bargaining if there was no crime in him? Was it so the Jews would not believe that you would release him because you were partial to him? What kind of partiality is that when you give one so much thrashing? Or perhaps it was so that his enemies, gladly seeing his disgrace, would no longer thirst for blood. Pilate is saying in effect: If there were a reason for his death, I would condemn him just like I have scourged him. Perhaps he has committed some minor infraction of the law, which did deserve a scourging, but there was nothing deserving of death.
2381 Secondly, we see Christ being presented before the crowd, Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. He was exhibited in the same robe he wore when he was mocked by the officers in the hope that the crowd would be appeased when they saw him, not respected for his authority, but entirely dishonored: "For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face" (Ps 69:7). This teaches us that we should be ready to undergo any kind of disrespect for the name of Jesus Christ: "Fear not the reproach of men, and be not dismayed at their revilings" (Is 51:7).
2382 Thirdly, Christ's exhibition is further described through the words of Pilate, Here is the man! spoken in a sarcastic way, as if one so disgraced would dare to usurp a kingship. Look at the kind of person you are accusing of this! The words of the Psalm (22:6) apply to him: "I am a worm, and no man." And so, if you do hate your king, spare him now because you see him dishonored. "When disgrace increases, let your hatred decrease," as Augustine says.
2383 Now we see the effect of this exhibition on the Jews. No matter how disgraced and wretched and beaten he appeared, their hatred did not lessen, but was still burning and growing. When the chief priests and the officers saw him, when Jesus was brought out, they cried out, Crucify him, crucify him! Their desire was so strong that they shouted this twice. And they will not be satisfied with any kind of death, but demand the most dishonorable kind, crucifixion: "Let us condemn him to a shameful death" (Wis 2:20). He said, When they saw him, because the sight of the one they hated only served to incite and inflame their hearts with more hatred: "The very sight of him is a burden to us" (Wis 2:15).
2384 Now the Evangelist shows how Pilate tried to free Christ by declaring his innocence. As a result, a disagreement arose because, first, Pilate declared the innocence of Christ; while secondly, the Jews repeated his guilt, We have a law.
2385 As to Christ's innocence, Pilate said to them, Take him yourselves, and crucify him. It is like saying: I do not want to be a judge who judges unjustly. I will not crucify him. You crucify him if you want, but I find no crime in him, deserving of crucifixion: "The ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me" (14:30); Jesus "whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him" (Acts 3:13).
2386 But the Jews repeat Christ's offense: We have a law.... They seemed to understand from Pilate's response that he would not go against Christ because of a charge of claiming a kingdom, although they had thought he would be especially inclined by this to kill him. And since this crime was not enough to put Christ to death, the Jews thought that when Pilate said, Take him yourselves and crucify him, he was asking if they had another crime, a violation of the law, for which he could be condemned and for which they were condemning him. Thus they say, by that law he ought to die. First, they charge Christ with a crime against the law of the Jews; secondly, against the law of the Romans (v 12). In regard to the first, we see the accusation of the Jews against Christ; secondly, the effect of this on Pilate, he was the more afraid.
2387 The crime against the Jewish law that they charged Christ with was that he has made himself the Son of God, and for this he deserved death: "This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath, but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God" (5:18); and again, "We stone you for no good work but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God" (10:33). They always said that "he made himself the Son of God," assuming he was not. But this was not against the law, as Christ proved to them before (10:34), by citing the Psalm (82:6): "I say, You are gods." For if other people, who are adopted children, can call themselves children of God without blasphemy, how much more can Christ do this, who is the Son of God by nature. But they regarded him as a liar and blasphemer, each of which deserved death, because they did not understand his eternal generation [from the Father].
2388 Now the Evangelist mentions the effect the accusation of the Jews had on Pilate. The first was that it produced fear: When Pilate heard these words, that is, that Christ made himself the Son of God, he was the more afraid that it might be true and that it would be disastrous to proceed against him without cause.
2389 Secondly, he mentions another effect it produced: doubt and questioning (v 9). First, we have the question Pilate asked; secondly, the silence of Christ; and thirdly, the reproach of Pilate.
2390 In regard to the first he says, he entered the praetorium again, stricken with fear, and said to Jesus, whom he had led back with himself, Where are you from? trying to find out whether Jesus was God, with a divine origin, or a man, with an earthly origin. This could be answered by what was said before, "You are from below, I am from above" (8:23).
2391 Jesus, because he chose to, did not give an answer, so that he might show that he was unwilling to overwhelm by words and to make excuses, since he had come to suffer. At the same time he is for us an example of patience, and fulfilled what is found in Isaiah (53:7): "like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." It says, "like a sheep," to show that the silence of Jesus was not that of a man convicted of sin and aware of his evil, but the silence of a gentle person being sacrificed for the sins of others.
2392 Then the Evangelist shows how Pilate reproached him for his silence (v 10): first, we see Pilate boasting of his power; secondly, we have what Christ said about this power.
2393 Pilate was displeased that Jesus did not answer him, and said, You will not speak to me? He has condemned himself, for if this entire matter lay in his power, why does he not release Jesus since he has found him without crime? "I will condemn you out of your own mouth" (Lk 19:22); "Because you have authority among men, mortal though you are, you do what you please" (2 Mac 7:16).
2394 Pilate was boasting about his power, "Men who ... boast of the abundance of their riches" (Ps 49:6). So our Lord curbs him, saying, You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above. It was like Augustine said: "When Christ was silent, it was like a lamb; when he spoke, he taught as a shepherd." So, first Christ teaches Pilate about the source of his power; secondly, about the greatness of his sin.
2395 In regard to the first he says, You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above. He is saying in effect: If you seem to have some power, you do not have this from yourself, but it has been given to you from above, from God, from whom all power comes: "By me kings reign" (Prv 8:15). He says no power, that is, no matter how little, because Pilate did have a limited power under a greater one, the power of Caesar: "For I am a man under authority" (Mt 8:9).
2396 Therefore, he concludes, he who delivered me to you, that is, Judas or the chief priests, has the greater sin. He says greater, to indicate that both those who delivered him up to Pilate and Pilate himself were guilty of sin. But those who delivered him up had the greater sin because they delivered him up out of ill‑will, whereas Pilate did what he did because he was afraid of a superior power. This refutes those heretics who say that all sins are equal, for if they were, our Lord would not have said, the greater sin. "Woe to that man by whom the temptation comes!" (Mt 18:7).
2397 The effect of all this was that upon this Pilate
sought to release him. As we saw before, Pilate tried to release Christ
from the very beginning. Thus the upon this indicates he now sought it
for another reason, that is, to escape from sinning. Or, he had tried to
release him before, but upon this, from now on, he was fully and firmly
determined to release him.
12b But the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you
are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself
against Caesar." 13 When Pilate heard these words [he grew more fearful], he
brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat [tribunal] at a place
called The Pavement [Lithostrotos], and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the
day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the
Jews, "Here is your King!" 15 They cried out, "Away with him, away with him,
crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief
priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 Then he handed him over to
them to be crucified. 17 So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own
cross, to the place called the place of a skull [Calvary], which is called in
Hebrew Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on
either side, and Jesus between them.
12b But the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar." 13 When Pilate heard these words [he grew more fearful], he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat [tribunal] at a place called The Pavement [Lithostrotos], and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" 15 They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. 17 So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull [Calvary], which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
2398 Above, the Jews accused Christ of a crime against their law, but Pilate seemed to consider this a slight matter since he himself was not subject to this law. So they now accuse Christ of a crime against the Roman Law, hoping this would press Pilate into taking his life. First, they state the danger which is hanging over Pilate if he releases Christ; secondly, they give the reason for this danger (v 12).
2399 He says that after Pilate tried to release Christ, the Jews cried out, If you release this man, who is making himself king, you are not Caesar's friend, that is, you will lose his friendship. It frequently happens that we estimate others based on the way that we ourselves are. And since it was written of these Jews that "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (12:43), they thought that Pilate would prefer the friendship of Caesar to the friendship of justice ‑ even though the opposite is commanded: "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes" (Ps 118:9). The Philosopher says that truth is to be preferred to friendship.
2400 They add the reason for the danger which threatened Pilate when they say, every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar, for it is the nature of earthly power that one power cannot endure the presence of another power. And so Caesar did not allow another to rule: "Do not seek from men the highest office, nor the seat of honor from the king" [Sir 7:4].
2401 In treating the condemnation of Christ, the Evangelist mentions the place, secondly the time (v 14), and thirdly the manner of the condemnation (v 14b).
2402 In regard to the first, the Evangelist indicates the motive of Pilate when he says, When Pilate heard these words he grew more fearful, for it was not as easy for him to ignore Caesar, the source of his power, as it was to disdain the laws of a foreign people. So he says, he brought Jesus out. But there was no reason for Pilate to fear, because Jesus was not setting himself against Caesar. Christ had no purple, no scepter, no diadem, no chariots, no soldiers to indicate that he was seizing a kingdom. Rather, Christ always sat alone with his disciples, plain in food, in clothing and in dwelling. Yet as we read in Proverbs (28:1), "The wicked flee when no one pursues." "They trembled in fear when there was no fear" [Ps 53:5]; "Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks" (Ez 2:6).
2403 Then he mentions the place saying, and sat down on the tribunal. A tribunal is the seat of a judge, like the throne is the seat of a king, and the professor's chair is the seat of a master: "A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows all evil with his eyes" (Prv 20:8). It was called a tribunal because among the Romans it was the tribunes (named from the tribes they headed) who adjudicated in certain cases. This tribunal was at a place called Lithostrotos, that is, a pavement of stones. "Lithos" in Greek means the same as "stone," and the place where Pilate sat in his judgment seat had been paved with stones. In Hebrew this place was called Gabbatha, that is, a mound formed from stones.
2404 The time of the condemnation is given when he says, Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. Among the Jews the Sabbath was in some respects more solemn than any other feast, insofar as out of reverence for that day no food was prepared on the Sabbath; it was prepared on the preceding Friday. Thus this Friday was called the day of Preparation of the Passover. This practice had its origin when the Jews in the desert were forbidden to gather manna on the Sabbath, but were directed to gather a double supply the day before (Ex 16:24). In this matter they yielded to no feast. Accordingly, although the present Friday was a solemn feast for them, they still prepared the Sabbath food on that day.
2405 He adds, it was about the sixth hour. This does not agree with Mark (15:25), who says, "And it was the third hour, when they crucified him." It is clear that Christ was before the tribunal before he was crucified.
According to Augustine, there are two explanations for this. The first, and better, is that Christ was crucified two times: once by the tongues and words of the shouting Jews, "Crucify him, crucify him" (v 6), and the second time by the hands of the soldiers who nailed him to the cross. Now the Jews wanted to blame the crucifixion on the Gentiles. And so Mark, who wrote his gospel for the Gentiles, blamed it on the Jews, saying that Christ was crucified by the Jews when at the third hour they shouted, "Crucify him, crucify him." It is John who follows the real time and he says, it was about the sixth hour. For when Christ was on the cross it was at the end of the fifth hour and at the beginning of the sixth, when darkness came and lasted three hours, that is, until the ninth hour. He says, about the sixth hour because the sixth hour had not yet begun.
The second explanation is that the preparation of the Passover was mentioned, and our Passover, Christ, was about to be immolated. Thus the preparation of the Passover is the preparation for the immolation of Christ. This preparation began at the ninth hour of the night, when the Jews shouted, to the captured Christ, "He deserves death" (Mt 26:66). If to the three remaining hours of the night we add the three hours of the day, when Christ was crucified, we can see that he was crucified at the sixth hour of the preparation, although this was the third hour of the day, as Mark says. And it was appropriate that he was crucified at the sixth hour because by his cross he restored human nature which was created on the sixth day.
2406 Now the Evangelist tells us about the manner and order of the condemnation (v 14). Pilate still wanted to free Christ, although his fear of Caesar weighed upon him. First we see Pilate's attempt to free Christ; secondly, he consents to have him crucified. (v 16). Concerning the first, we see the attempt of Pilate; and then the malice of the Jews (v 15b).
2407 The Evangelist says that after Pilate sat down on the judgment seat, he said to the Jews, in exasperation, Here is your King! It was like saying: I am astonished that you fear to have this man, so humiliated and destitute, as your king. For only the wealthy and strong aspire to the throne, and this man is neither. As the Psalm [88:15] said: "I am poor and in labor from my youth."
2408 This did not lessen the malice of the Jews. In inexhaustible hatred they cried out, doubling their already great malice by repeating the words, Away with him, away with him, crucify him! This shows that they could not stand the sight of him: "They say to God, 'Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of thy ways'" (Job 21:14); "The very sight of him is a burden to us" (Wis 2:15). Therefore, "Let us condemn him to a shameful death" (Wis 2:20), which is the same as crucify him!
2409 Now we see how Pilate tried to free Christ by shaming the Jews. First, we see Pilate's attempt, Shall I crucify your King? He is saying in effect: If you are not affected by his humiliation, your own sense of shame should move you, because I am going to crucify the one who is trying to be your king. And this is to your disgrace since it is being done by a foreigner.
Secondly, we see how unyielding the Jews are when they say, We have no king but Caesar. By thus refusing to be subject to the authority of Christ, they have submitted themselves to perpetual subjection. And so even to this very day, they are strangers to Christ, and have become servants of Caesar and earthly powers: "For they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them" (1 Sam 8:7); "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water and hewed out cisterns for themselves; broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jer 2:13).
2410 Then the Evangelist mentions the consent of Pilate to the killing of Christ, Then he handed him over to them, to the Jews, who had been subject to the power and the will of the Romans, to be crucified. This was against the advice of Exodus (23:2): "You shall not follow a multitude to do evil." "The earth is given into the hand of the wicked" (Job 9:24); "I have given my dear soul into the hands of her enemies" [Jer 12:7].
2411 Now the Evangelist deals with the crucifixion of Christ: first, the dishonor of the cross; secondly, the events surrounding the crucifixion (v 19).
The dishonor of the cross is indicated by those who crucified Christ, by the way he was led to his death, by the place where this happened, and by those crucified with him.
2412 Those who crucified him were soldiers. So they took Jesus. This was done in deed by the soldiers ‑ for we read below (v 23), "When the soldiers had crucified Jesus" ‑ but done in desire by the Jews, because they brought about by threats what happened. For this they ought to lose the benefits of Christ's cross and have the Gentiles acquire them: "The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it" (Mt 21:43).
2413 The way Christ was brought to his crucifixion was a dishonor, bearing his own cross, for death on a cross was a disgrace: "A hanged man is accursed by God" (Deut 21:23). Avoiding the cross as something unholy, and fearing even to touch it, they laid the cross on the condemned Jesus. He went out, bearing his own cross.
2414 Matthew (27:32) says that they compelled a certain Simon of Cyrene, on his way from the fields, to carry Christ's cross. We should say that Christ carried his cross from the beginning, but as he went along they found Simon to help him.
This does not lack its own mystery: for although Christ was the first to endure the sufferings of the cross, others did so after in imitation of him, especially strangers, that is, the Gentiles: "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example" (1 Pet 2:21); "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24).
Although this seems extremely bizarre to the irreligious and to unbelievers, it is a great mystery for believers and the devout: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18). Christ bore his cross as a king does his scepter; his cross is the sign of his glory, which is his universal dominion over all things: "The Lord will reign from the wood" [Ps 95:9 sic]; "The government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'" (Is 9:6). He carried his cross as a victor carries the trophy of his victory: "He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in himself" [Col 2:15]. Again, he carried his cross as a teacher his candelabrum, as a support for the light of his teaching, because for believers the message of the cross is the power of God: "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light" (Lk 11:33).
2415 The place where Christ suffered was also dishonorable, and for two reasons. First, it was outside the city, he went out to the place called Calvary, which is outside the walls of the city: "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood" (Heb 13:12). This passion of Christ was outside the walls of the city to show that the effectiveness of his passion was not enclosed within the boundaries of the Jewish nation, and to indicate that those who want to obtain the fruit of his passion also have to go out from the world, at least with their affections. Thus the Apostle says in his next sentence, "Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp" (Heb 13:13).
2416 Secondly, this place was dishonorable because it was one of the lowest and basest, to the place called Calvary. "I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit" (Ps 88:4). Chrysostom tells us that there are some who say that Adam died and was buried at this very place. This is why it was called Calvary, from the skull (calvaria) of the first man. And just as death reigned there, so there also Christ erected the trophy of his victory.
However, as Jerome says, this is the popular interpretation and attractive to the people, but it is not true, because Adam was buried at Hebron: "Adam the greatest among the Anakim was buried there" [Jos 14:15]. So we should say that this place was outside the gate of Jerusalem, and it was there that the heads of the condemned were cut off. It was called Calvary because the skulls of the beheaded were strewn there.
2417 Those who suffered with him also added to his dishonor, for they crucified with him two others, who were criminals, as Luke mentions (Lk 23:33). One on either side, one on the right and one on the left, and Jesus between them, in the middle. Even in his suffering Christ stood in the middle, a fact that the Jews intended should add to his dishonor, for it implied that the cause of his death was similar to that of the criminals: "He was numbered with the transgressors" (Is 53:12).
But if we contemplate this mystery,
we see that it is related to the glory of Christ. It shows that by his
suffering Christ merited the authority to judge: "Your cause has been judged as
one of the wicked. You will recover cause and judgment" [Job 36:17]. And it is
the function of a judge to be in the middle of the parties; so the Philosopher
says that to go to a judge is to go to the middle.
Christ was also placed in the middle, one on his right, another on his left,
because in the judgment he will place the sheep on his right, and the goats on
his left. It was the criminal on his right who believed and was saved; the one
on his left, who reproached him, was condemned.
19 Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it
read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." 20 Many of the Jews read this
title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was
written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews
then said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man
said, I am King of the Jews.'" 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have
written." 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and
made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was
without seam, woven from top to bottom; 24 so they said to one another, "Let us
not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to
fulfill the scripture, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing
they cast lots." 25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of
Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and
Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved
standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!" 27 Then he said
to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took
her to his own home [to his own].
19 Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." 20 Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; 24 so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the scripture, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." 25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!" 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home [to his own].
2418 The Evangelist just told of Christ's crucifixion; now he mentions things that accompanied and followed it: first, as they relate to Pilate; secondly as they relate to the soldiers; and finally, he tells about Christ's friends who were standing by (v 25). Concerning Pilate, we see the title being written on the cross, its being read, and its retention.
2419 Two things are mentioned about the first of these. First, the writing of the title, Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross. This was understandable, for it was a way of getting back at the Jews by showing their malice in rising up against their own king. It was also appropriate for this mystery, for just as inscriptions are placed on trophies of victory so the people will remember and celebrate the victory ‑ "Let us make a name for ourselves, before we are scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" [Gen 11:4] ‑ so it was arranged that a title was put on the cross so that the sufferings of Christ would be remembered: "Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall!" (Lam 3:19).
2420 Secondly, he mentions the content of the title, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, words which are very fitting for this mystery of the cross. The word Jesus, which means Savior, corresponds to the power of the cross by which we have been saved: "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Mt 1:21). The word Nazareth, which means abounding in flowers, corresponds to the innocence of the one suffering: "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys" (Song 2:1); "A flower will rise up out of his root" [Is 11:1]. The words King of the Jews accord with the power, the dominion, which Christ earned by his suffering: "Therefore God has highly exalted him" (Phil 2:9); "He shall reign as King and be wise" (Jer 23:5); he will sit "upon the throne of David and over his kingdom" (Is 9:7).
2421 Through his cross Christ is not just the King of the Jews, but of all people ‑ for after we read, "I have set my king on Zion," there follows, "Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage" (Ps 6:8). Why then did the Evangelist write only King of the Jews? I answer that the Gentiles were grafted on to the abundant olive tree (Rom 11:17). And just like a graft comes to share in the abundance of the olive tree, and it is not the olive tree that acquires the bitterness of the graft, so those Gentiles who were converted to the faith were made spiritually Jews, not by a circumcision of the flesh, but of the spirit. And so in saying the King of the Jews, non‑Jewish converts are also included.
2422 Next we see that the title was read, Many of the Jews read this title. The fact that it was read signifies that more are saved by faith, by reading about the passion of Christ, than were saved by actually seeing it: "These are written that you may believe" (20:31). Secondly, the Evangelist mentions how easy this was to read: first, because Jesus was crucified near the city, the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, where many people passed; and secondly, because it was written in a number of languages, and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek, so that no one would fail to know it, and because these three languages were the most widely known. Hebrew was known because it was used in the worship of the one true God; Greek was known because it was used in the writings of the wise; and Latin was known due to the power of Rome. As Augustine says, these three tongues assumed a certain dignity by being associated with the cross of Christ. Further, the Hebrew tongue signified that by the cross of Christ those who were devout and religious were to be converted and ruled; and so were the wise, indicated by the Greek language; and so were those enjoying power, signified by the Latin language. Or, the use of Hebrew signified that Christ was to rule over theological teaching, because the knowledge of divine matters was entrusted to the Jews. The Greek signified that Christ was to rule over the knowledge of nature, for the Greeks were engaged in speculation about nature. Latin signified that Christ will rule over practical philosophy, because moral speculation was especially flourishing among the Romans. And so, all thought is brought into captivity and obedience to Christ, as we see in 2 Corinthians (10:5).
2423 We now read that this title was not changed (v 21). First we see the Jews trying to have the title changed, The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, Do not write, The King of the Jews, but, This man said, I am King of the Jews. The title King of the Jews was a praise for Christ, but a disgrace for the Jews, for it was a disgrace to the Jews that they had their king crucified. But if the title had read, This man said, I am King of the Jews, it would have been a taunting sarcasm against Christ and have indicated his crime. And this was what the chief priests wanted to do, to take away the reputation of the one they crucified as they had already taken away his life: "I am the talk of those who sit in the gate" (Ps 69:12).
2424 Secondly, we read that Pilate was insistent on keeping the title. He refused to change it because he wanted to disgrace them. He said, What I have written I have written. This did not happen by chance; it had been arranged by God and predicted long before. Certain Psalms have as a title, "Do not Destroy. For David, for an inscription of a title." Indeed, Psalm 59 especially concerns the passion, "Deliver me from my enemies, O my God." And so do the two preceding Psalms: "Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in thee my soul takes refuge" (Ps 57) and Psalm 58. And so it was folly for the chief priests to complain, for just as they could not destroy what the Truth had said, so also they could not destroy what Pilate had written. Pilate said, What I have written I have written, because what the Lord said, He said, as Augustine remarks.
2425 Now the Evangelist shows the role played by the soldiers (v 23): first, he mentions that Christ's garments were distributed among them; and secondly, we see that lots were cast for his tunic.
2426 He says, When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments. We can gather two things from this: the debasement of the dying Christ, for the soldiers stripped him, which was done only to those they despised; secondly, we see the greed of the soldiers, because they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier. Soldiers were a very rapacious group, and so John the Baptizer told them to "Rob no one ... and be content with your pay" (Lk 3:14); "They send men away naked, taking away their clothes" [Job 24:7].
2427 In regard to the second, he says, also his tunic. First, his tunic is described; and then lots are cast for it (v 24).
2428 He says, also his tunic, that is, they took that along with his other garments. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom. He says that it was without a seam to indicate its unity. Some say this shows how valuable it was. On the other hand, Chrysostom says that the Evangelist says this to suggest that it was common and ordinary; for in Palestine the poor wear clothing made from many pieces of cloth, one sewn over another: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor" (2 Cor 8:9).
2429 As for the mystical interpretation, this passage can be referred to the mystical body of Christ. Then Christ's garments are divided into four parts because the Church is spread over the four parts of the world: "As I live, says the Lord, you shall put them all on as an ornament, you shall bind them on as a bride does" (Is 49:18). The tunic without seam, which was not divided, indicates charity, because the other virtues are not united by themselves, but by another, because all of them are directed to the ultimate end, and it is charity alone which unites us to this end. While it is faith which makes known our ultimate end, and by hope we tend toward it, only charity unites us to it: "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together" (Col 3:14).
The tunic is said to be woven from the top because charity is above, at the top, of all the other virtues: "I will show you a still more excellent way" (1 Cor 12:31); "To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:19). Or, it is woven from the top because our charity does not come from ourselves, but from the Holy Spirit: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). The tunic woven from the top can also signify the real body of Christ, because the body of Christ was formed by a higher power, one from the top, by the Holy Spirit "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 1:20).
2430 The Evangelist says that lots were cast for Christ's tunic, they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be. There is one way of casting lots which is a form of divination; this is unlawful because there is no necessity for it. Sometimes lots are cast to know how things should be allotted or divided up; and this is lawful in earthly matters but not in spiritual things. The purpose of this is to submit to God's plan and will those matters that we cannot decide by ourselves. "The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord" (Prv 16:33); and again, "The lot puts an end to disputes" (Prv 18:18).
2431 Matthew says something different, that "they divided his garments among them by casting lots" (Mt 27:35). The reply is that Matthew does not say that they cast lots for all his garments. Indeed, while they divided some among themselves, they cast lots for his tunic.
2432 Mark is still more forceful, saying, "They divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take" of all his clothes (Mk 15:24). According to Augustine, this means they cast lots for one of his garments, to decide which one would take the tunic [which was left over].
2433 Now the Evangelist brings in the prophecy of this event (v 24). First, he mentions the prophecy. The prophet's exactness is remarkable, for he foretold in detail some of the things that were done to Christ. Clearly these things did not happen by chance; thus he says, this was to fulfill the scripture, one thing after another, which said (Ps 22:18) that they parted my garments among them, not saying garment, because there were more than one, and for my clothing, that is, for my tunic they cast lots.
Secondly, he states that the prophecy was fulfilled, So the soldiers did this. We can see from this that the divine Scripture is fulfilled even in its details: "Not an iota, not a jot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished" (Mt 6:18); "Everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled" (Lk 24:44).
2434 Thirdly, we see the part played by the friends of Jesus. First, the Evangelist mentions the women who were standing there; secondly, his eagerness for the care of his mother (v 26); thirdly, the ready obedience of the disciple (v 27).
2435 Three women are mentioned as standing by the cross of Jesus: his mother, then his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When the Evangelists mention the women who were standing with Christ, it is only John who mentions the Blessed Virgin. Two questions occur about this incident.
2336 Matthew (27:55) and Mark (15:40) say that the women were standing far off, while John says that they stood by the cross. One could say in answer that the women mentioned by Matthew and Mark were not the same as those mentioned by John. However, the difficulty with this answer is that Mary Magdalene is in the group mentioned by Matthew and Mark, and also in the group mentioned by John. So one should say that all were referring to the same women. But there is no contradiction. Near and far are relative; and nothing prevents something from being near in one sense and far in another. The women were said to be near because they were within the range of sight, and they could be described as afar because other people were between them and Jesus. Or, one could say that when the crucifixion was beginning, the women were standing near Christ and were able to speak to him; while later, when a number of people came forward to taunt him, the women withdrew and stood further away. Thus John is telling what happened at first, and the other Evangelists what happened after.
2437 The other issue is that John mentions Mary of Clopas, while in place of her, Matthew and Mark mention Mary, the mother of James, who is also described as Mary of Alphaeus. We should say about this that Mary of Clopas, mentioned by John, is the same as Mary of Alphaeus, mentioned by Matthew. For this Mary had two husbands, Clopas and Alphaeus. Or, one could say that Clopas was her father.
2438 The fact that the women stood by the cross while the disciples left Christ and ran away is an expression of their unfailing affection. As Job [19:20] says: "My flesh is consumed, my bones cleave to my skin," where the flesh can stand for the disciples, who ran off, and the skin can stand for the women, for they stayed close to Christ.
2439 The Evangelist now mentions Christ's concern for his mother (v 26). But first we see his solicitude for the welfare of his disciple, whom he entrusted to his mother; then we see his concern for his mother, whom he gave into the keeping of his disciple.
2440 As to the first he says, When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son! He is saying: Up to now I have taken care for you and watched over you. Now, you take care for my disciple. This shows the eminence of John.
Before, when the Mother of Jesus said, "They have no wine," (2:3), he replied, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come," that is, the hour of my passion, when I will suffer by means of what I have received from you [my human nature]. But when that hour comes I will acknowledge you. And now that the hour has come, he does acknowledge his mother. Yet I do not have the power to work miracles through what I have received from you [my human nature], but rather through what I have from the generation of the Father, that is, insofar as I am God.
2441 As Augustine says, Christ hanging on the cross is like a teacher in his teaching chair. He is teaching us to help our parents in their needs, and to take care of them: "Honor your father and your mother" (Ex 20:12); "If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8).
Why is the contrary found in Luke? "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14:26). I answer that when our Lord commands us to hate our parents and ourselves, he is commanding us to love them, their own individual nature and our own individual nature, and to hate moral evil and what turns our natures away from God. This means that we must aid our parents, love and reverence them as these human beings, but hate their moral vices and what in them turns us away from God.
2442 As to the second, he says, Behold, your mother! so that John will care for her as much as a son cares for his mother; and Mary is to love John as a mother loves her son.
2443 The Evangelist shows the obedience of the disciple when
he says, and from that hour the disciple took her to his own. For Bede,
this should read as his own (in suam); and so the meaning is, the
disciple, John, took her, the mother of Jesus, as his own,
But according to Augustine, and agreeing with the Greek text, we should read it
as to his own (in qua), not to his own home, for John was one of
those who said, "We have left everything and followed you" (Mt 19:27); Rather,
the disciple took Mary to his own guardianship, to eagerly and respectfully
care for her.
28 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished,
said (to fulfill the scripture), "I thirst." 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood
there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his
mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and
he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Since it was the day of
Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the
sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their
legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers
came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified
with him; 33 but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they
did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a
spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne
witness ‑ his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth ‑
that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the scripture
might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of him shall be broken." 37 And again another
scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced."
28 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), "I thirst." 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; 33 but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness ‑ his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth ‑ that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of him shall be broken." 37 And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced."
2444 After dealing with the crucifixion and the events that accompanied it, the Evangelist now describes the death of Christ, which we should reverence. First, he shows that it was at the appropriate time; secondly its manner, he bowed his head; and thirdly, the piercing of the dead body (v 31).
He shows that the time was fitting because all was now finished, accomplished. First, he mentions that Christ knew that all things had been accomplished; secondly, we see Christ doing what remained to be done (v 30).
2445 In regard to the first he says, After this, after the things that had just been mentioned, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, that is, all that the law and the prophets had foretold about him had now been accomplished: "Everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled" (Lk 24:44); "I have seen the end of every consummation" [Ps 119:96].
2446 But because another thing foretold in scripture had to be done, the Evangelist adds that Jesus said (to fulfill the scripture), I thirst. First, we see the words spoken by Christ; then, how his desire could be satisfied; and finally, he is given the vinegar.
2447 The Evangelist says that Jesus said this to fulfill the scripture. This indicates the sequence of events, and does not state the cause why Jesus spoke, for he did not speak in order to fulfill the scripture of the Old Testament. Rather, things were written in the Old Testament because they would be fulfilled by Christ. If we say that Christ acted because the scriptures foretold it, it would follow that the New Testament existed for the sake of the Old Testament and for its fulfillment, although the opposite is true. Therefore, it was because these things would be accomplished by Christ that they were predicted.
By saying, I thirst, he showed that his death was real, and not just imaginary. It also indicated his intense desire for the salvation of the human race: "God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4); "For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost" (Lk 19:10). Indeed, we express our intense desires in terms of thirst: "My soul thirsts for God" (Ps 42:3).
2448 This desire could be satisfied because a bowl full of vinegar stood there. This bowl signified the Jewish synagogue, in which the wine of the Patriarchs and Prophets had degenerated into vinegar, that is, into the malice and severity of the chief priests.
2449 Christ is given the vinegar, for they put a sponge full of vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. There is a question on the literal meaning. How could they put the sponge to Christ's mouth, since he was hanging high off the ground? This is answered by Matthew (27:48), who says that the sponge was put on a reed. Or, according to others, it was put on hyssop, which was long, and this is what Matthew called a reed.
2450 As for the mystical sense, these three things signify the three evils that were present in the Jews: the vinegar signifies their ill‑will; the sponge, full of crooked hiding places, signifies their craftiness; and the bitterness of the hyssop stands for their malice. Or, the hyssop represents the humility of Christ, for the hyssop is a bush used for purification, and our hearts are purified especially by humility: "Sprinkle me with hyssop and I will be cleansed" [Ps 51:7].
2451 The final fulfillment is mentioned when the Evangelist says, When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished. This can be understood to refer to the fulfillment accomplished by Christ by dying: "For it was fitting that the author of our salvation be fulfilled by glory through his passion" [Heb 2:10]. Or, it can be understood to refer to the fulfillment or accomplishment of our sanctification, which was brought about by his passion and cross: "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb 10:14). It can also refer to the fulfillment of the scriptures: "Everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished" (Lk 18:31).
2452 Then the Evangelist describes the death of Christ. First, he mentions the cause of his death, he bowed his head. We should not think that because he gave up his spirit, he bowed his head; rather, because he bowed his head, he gave up his spirit, for the bowing of his head indicated that he died out of obedience: "He became obedient unto death" (Phil 2:8).
Secondly, the Evangelist mentions the power of the one dying, for he gave up his spirit, that is, by his own power: "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (10:18). As Augustine says, we do not have the power to sleep when we will to, but Christ had the power to die when he willed to.
2453 Some think that the phrase, gave up his spirit, implies that man has two souls: an intellectual soul, which they call the spirit, and an animal soul, that is, a vegetative‑sensitive soul which gives life to the body and is called a soul in the proper sense. So they say that Christ gave up only his intellectual soul. This is false, both because the assertion that there are two souls in man is listed among the errors compiled in the book The Dogmas of the Church, and because if Christ had given up his spirit, and retained a soul, he would not have died.  Therefore, since in man the spirit and the soul are the same, we must say that Christ gave up his spirit, that is, his soul.
This also destroys the error of those who say that the human souls of those who have died do not go directly after death to paradise or to hell or to purgatory, but remain in the grave until the day of judgment. For our Lord immediately gave up his spirit to the Father, from which we see that "the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God" (Wis 3:1).
2454 Now we see the piercing of Christ's body: the act itself; and then the certainty of what the Evangelist tells us (v 35). With respect to the first he does two things: first, we see the intervention and intention of the Jews; secondly, this is partially accomplished; thirdly, how this was accomplished with regard to Christ.
2455 With respect to the first he says, Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day) the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. In Deuteronomy (21:22) we see that it is a precept of the law that the bodies of the dead who had been hanged for crimes were not to be left hanging until the morning, lest the land be defiled, and to blot out the disgrace of those who were hanged, for this kind of death was regarded as most disgraceful: "a hanged man is accursed by God" (Deut 21:23). Although the Jews did not now have the authority to inflict this punishment, they still tried to do what they could. And so because it was the Preparation day they asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away, so that Christ's body and those of the others would not remain on the cross on the sabbath, which was a very solemn day, and particularly this sabbath during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. They were careful to keep the law in small matters, but they ignored it in important things: "You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" (Mt 23:24).
2456 He says how this was done in part, So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first thief, to whom they had come first, and of the other who had been crucified with him, with Jesus. This shows their cruelty: "You eat the flesh of my people" (Mic 3:3).
2457 Why does the Evangelist add, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs? Surely Jesus was crucified between the two others? We should say that one soldier went to one of the criminals and another soldier went to the other one to break their legs, and when they were done with this they both came to Jesus. We are told why they pierced his side, because when the soldiers saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
2458 To make sure that Jesus was dead one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. It deserves notice that he does not say "wounded" but "pierced," that is "opened," because in his side the door of eternal life is opened to us: "After this I looked, and lo, in heaven, an open door!" (Rev 4:1). This is the door in the side of the ark through which those animals entered who were not to perish in the flood (Gen 7).
This door is the cause of our salvation; and so, at once there came out blood and water. This is a remarkable miracle, that blood should flow from the body of a dead person where blood congeals. And if someone says that this was because the body was still warm, the flow of the water cannot be explained without a miracle, since this was pure water. This outpouring of blood and water happened so that Christ might show that he was truly human. For human beings have a twofold composition: one from the elements and the other from the humors. One of these elements is water, and blood is the main humor.
Another reason why this happened was to show that by the passion of Christ we acquire a complete cleansing from our sins and stains. We are cleansed from our sins by his blood, which is the price of our redemption: "You know that your were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Pet 1:18). And we are cleansed from our stains by the water, which is the bath of our rebirth: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses" (Ez 36:25); "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness" (Zech 13:1). And so it is these two things which are especially associated with two sacraments: water with the sacrament of baptism, and blood with the Eucharist.
Or, both blood and water are associated with the Eucharist because in this sacrament water is mixed with wine, although water is not of the substance of the sacrament.
This event was also prefigured: for just as from the side of Christ, sleeping on the cross, there flowed blood and water, which makes the Church holy, so from the side of the sleeping Adam there was formed the woman, who prefigured the Church.
2459 Now the Evangelist shows that these events are certainly true: first, from the testimony of the Apostle himself; secondly, from a prophecy in the scriptures (v 36).
2460 He does three things about the first: he mentions the credentials of the witness, he who saw it has borne witness, and this is John himself: "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you" (1 Jn 1:3). Secondly, he affirms that this testimony is true, his testimony is true: "I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying" (Rom 9:1); "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (8:32). Thirdly, he asks us to believe, and he knows that he tells the truth that you also may believe: "These are written that you may believe" (20:31).
2461 This truth is not just guaranteed by the testimony of the apostle; there is also a prophecy of scripture. Thus he says, these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled. Here again, as before, the phrase that the scripture might be fulfilled, indicates the sequence of events. The Evangelist cites two authorities from the Old Testament. One refers to his statement that they did not break his legs and is found in Exodus (12:46), "You shall not break a bone if it," that is, the Passover lamb, which was a prefiguration of Christ, because as we read in 1 Corinthians (5:7), "Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed." It was commanded that the bones of the Passover lamb should not be broken in order to teach us that the courage of the true Lamb and unspotted Jesus Christ would in no way be crushed by his passion. The Jews were trying to use the passion to destroy the power of Christ's teaching, but his passion only made it stronger: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18). This is why Jesus said before: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he" (8:28).
2462 The second authority refers to his statement, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and is taken from Zechariah: They shall look on him whom they have pierced. Our text of Zechariah reads: "They will look on me whom they have pierced" [Zech 12:10]. If we join the statement of the Prophet to what the Evangelist says, it is clear that the crucified Christ is God, for what the Prophet says he says as God, and the Evangelist applies this to Christ.
They shall look on him, he
says, at the coming judgment. Or, they will look on him when they have been
converted to the faith, and so forth.
38 After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of
Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away
the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his
body. 39 Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a
mixture of myrrh and aloes about a hundred pounds' weight. 40 They took the
body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial
custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a
garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. 42 So
because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they
laid Jesus there.
38 After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes about a hundred pounds' weight. 40 They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
2463 After the Evangelist has told us about the crucifixion and death of Christ, he now turns to his burial: first, the permission for his burial; secondly, the care in preparing his body (v 40); thirdly, the place where Christ was buried (v 41); and, the burial itself (v 42).
2464 He says, After this, the passion and death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, this is the same city as Ramatha (1 Sam 1:1), who was a disciple of Jesus, not one of the twelve, but one of the many other believers, for at first all those who believed were called disciples, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, like many others were before Christ's passion: "Many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue" (12:42). We can see from this that while the other disciples, who went into hiding after the passion, lost their confidence, this man gained in confidence and openly tended to Jesus.
This man asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, take the body from the cross and bury it. He did this because the human laws required permission to bury the bodies of those who had been condemned. And Pilate gave him leave, because Joseph was an important person and known to Pilate; Mark refers to Joseph as "a respected member of the council" (15:42).
2465 In regard to the second he says, So he came and took away his body. Here we see Joseph's concern to prepare the body: first, the things used in the preparation; secondly, the preparation itself (v 40).
2466 The body of Jesus was prepared with a mixture of myrrh and aloes, which Nicodemus had purchased in large quantity. So the Evangelist mentions both of them: Joseph, who claimed the body, and Nicodemus, who brought the spices. This is the same Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night, but this was before the passion (3:2). The Evangelist commemorates Nicodemus here to show that even though he had been a secret disciple, now he became a public one ‑ and he had already mentioned that Joseph had been a secret disciple because he feared the Jews. But Nicodemus did not yet have true faith in the resurrection because he brought myrrh and aloes, thinking that the body of Christ would soon corrupt without them: "You will not give your holy one to corruption" [Ps 16:10].
As for the mystical sense, we understand from this that we should bury the crucified Christ in our hearts, with the sadness of contrition and compassion: "My hands dripped with myrrh" (Song 5:5).
2467 With the spices ready, they prepared the body of Jesus, they took the body of Jesus. There is a question here, for John says that they bound it in linen cloths, while Matthew (27:59) says that they wrapped it in a linen cloth. One can answer, according to Augustine, that Matthew speaks of one linen cloth because he only mentioned Joseph, and he brought this one cloth. John alone mentions Nicodemus, and so he says "linen cloths," because Nicodemus brought the other cloth. Or, again, the body of Christ was also wrapped in winding bands, as we read in the case of Lazarus, because this is the way the Jews buried their dead. A small cloth was also placed over his head. John includes all these in his words "linen cloths." From the fact that they anointed the body of Jesus with spices, we are taught that in the performance of such humane duties, we should follow the customs of each country.
2468 The place where Christ was buried is then mentioned, Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden. Christ was arrested in a garden, underwent his agony in a garden, and was buried in a garden. This indicates to us that by the power of Christ's passion we are freed from the sin which Adam committed in the Garden of delights, and that through Christ the Church is made holy, the Church, which itself is like a garden enclosed.
And in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. There are two reasons why Christ wanted to be buried in a new tomb. The first is literal, and was so that no one would think that some other body which had been buried there had risen, and not Christ, or think that all bodies were of equal power. The other reason was that it was appropriate that he who was born of a virgin should be buried in a new tomb, so that just as there was no one before or after him in the womb of Mary, so also in this tomb. This also indicates to us that by faith Christ is hidden in the newborn soul: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph 3:17).
2469 Now follows the burial. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, because evening was approaching when because of the sabbath no work was permitted, as the tomb, the new tomb, was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. Christ died about the ninth hour, but because his body had to be prepared for burial and other things had to be done, the day had grown into evening. As the tomb was close at hand, to the place where he was crucified, they laid Jesus there.
 Aristotle, Rhetoric.
 In Ioannem hom., 84, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 456; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:1-5.
 Tract. in Io., 116, ch. 1, col. 1941; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:1-5.
 St. Thomas refers to Jn 19:7 in the Summa Theologiae: q. 47, a. 4, obj. 3; Jn 19:11: ST I-II, q. 73, a. 2, s. c.; II-II, q. 67, a. 4; III, q. 47, a. 6, obj, 2; q. 49, a. 6.
 Tract. in Io., 116, ch. 2, col. 1942; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:1-5.
 Tract. in Io., 116, ch. 5, col. 1943; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:9-12.
 St. Thomas refers to Jn 19:14 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 83, a. 2, ad 3; Jn 19:16: ST III, q. 47, a. 3, obj. 3.
 Tract. in Io., 117, ch. 1, col. 1944; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:12-16.
 Commentarium in Matthaeum, 27; cf. Catena Aurea, 16-18.
 St. Thomas refers to Jn 19:25 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 28, a. 3, obj. 6; Jn 19:28: ST III, q. 46, a. 9 ad 1; Jn 19:30: ST I-II, q. 103, a. 3, ad 2; q. 47, a. 2, ad 1; Jn 19:32: ST III, q. 46, a. 5, s. c.; Jn 19:33: ST III, q. 46, a. 5, s. c.; q. 47, a. 1, ad 2; Jn 19:34: ST III, q. 79, a. 1; Jn 19:35: ST III, q. 74, a. 8, obj. 1; Jn 19:36: ST III, q. 59, a. 4, ad 1.
 Tract. in Io., 117, ch. 4, col. 1946; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:12-16.
 Tract. in Io., 117, ch. 5, col. 1946; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:19-22.
 Tract. in Io., 118, ch. 2, 3, col. 1947-9; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:23-4.
 Tract. in Io., 119, ch. 1, col. 1950; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:24-27.
 cf. Catena Aurea, 19:24-27.
 Tract. in Io., 119, ch. 2, col. 1951; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:24-27.
 St. Thomas quotes Jn 19:30 in the Summa Theologiae: I, q. 73, a. 1, arg. 1.
 The Dogmas of the Church.
 De consensus evangelistarum, 3, ch. 23; PL 34; cf. Catena Aurea, 19:38-42.