Chrysostom on John 84
"To this end was I horn, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My Voice."
[1.] A Marvelous thing is longsuffering; it places the soul as in a quiet harbor, fleeing it from tossings1 and evil spirits. And this everywhere Christ hath taught us, but especially now, when He is judged, and dragged, and led about. For when He was brought to Annas, He answered with great gentleness, and, to the servant who smote Him, said what had power to bring down all his insolence; thence having gone to Caiaphas, then to Pilate, and having spent the whole night in these scenes, He all through exhibiteth His own mildness; and when they said that He was a malefactor, and were not able to prove it, He stood silent; but when He was questioned concerning the Kingdom, then He spake to Pilate, instructing him, and leading him in to2 higher matters. But why was it that Pilate made the enquiry not in their presence, but apart, having gone into the judgment hall? He suspected something great respecting Him, and wished, without being troubled by the Jews, to learn all accurately. Then when he said, “What hast thou done?” on this point Jesus made no answer; but concerning that of which Pilate most desired to hear, namely, His Kingdom, He answered, saying, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” That is, “I am indeed a King, yet not such an one as thou suspectest, but far more glorious,” declaring3 by these words and those which follow, that no evil had been done by Him. For one who saith, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth,” showeth, that no evil hath been done by Him. Then when He saith, “Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice,” He draweth him on by these means, and persuadeth him to become a listener to the words. “For if,” saith He, “any one is true, and desireth these things,4 he will certainly hear Me.” And, in fact, He so took him by these short words, that he said,
Jn 18,38. “What is truth?”
But for the present he applieth himself to what was pressing, for he knew that this question needed time, and desired to rescue Him from the violence of the Jews. Wherefore he went out, and what said he?
“I find no fault in him.”5
Consider how prudently he acted. He said not, “Since he hath sinned, and is deserving of death, forgive him on account of the Feast”;6 but having first acquitted Him of all guilt, he asks them over and above, if they were not minded to dismiss Him as innocent, yet as guilty to forgive Him on account of the time. Wherefore he added,
Jn 18,39-40. “Ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the Passover”; then in a persuasory way, “Will ye therefore that I release the king of the Jews? Then cried they all, Not this man, but Barabbas.”7
O accursed decision! They demand those like mannered with themselves, and let the guilty go; but bid him punish the innocent. For this was their custom from old time. But do thou all through observe the lovingkindness of the Lord in these circumstances. Pilate scourged Him8 perhaps desiring to exhaust and to soothe the fury of the Jews. For when he had not been able to deliver Him by his former measures, being anxious to stay the evil at this point, he scourged Him, and permitted to be done what was done, the robe and crown to be put on Him, so as to relax their anger. Wherefore also he led Him forth to them crowned (Jn 18,5), that, seeing the insult which had been done to Him, they might recover a little from their passion, and vomit their venom. “And how would the soldiers have done this, had it not been the command of their ruler?” To gratify the Jews. Since it was not by his command that they at first went in9 by night, but to please the Jews; they dared anything for money. But He, when so many and such things were done, yet stood silent, as He had done during the enquiry, and answered nothing. And do thou not merely hear these things, but keep them continually in thy mind, and when thou beholdest the King of the world and of all Angels, mocked of the soldiers, by words and by actions, and bearing all silently, do thou imitate Him by deeds thyself. For when Pilate had called Him the King of the Jews, and they now put about Him the apparel of mockery, then Pilate having led Him out, said,
Jn 19,4-5. “I find no fault against him. He therefore went forth, wearing the crown.” 10
But not even so was their rage quenched, but they cried out,
Jn 19,6. “Crucify him, crucify him.” 11
Then Pilate, seeing that all was done in vain, said,
“Take ye him, and crucify him.”
Whence it is clear that he had permitted what had been done before, because of their madness.
“For I,” he saith, “find no fault in him.”
[2.] See in how many ways the judge makes His defense, continually acquitting Him of the charges; but none of these things shamed the dogs from their purpose. For the, “Take ye him and crucify him,” is the expression of one clearing himself of the guilt, and thrusting them forward to an action not permitted to them. They therefore had brought Him, in order that the thing might be done by the decision of the governor; but the contrary fell out, that He was rather acquitted than condemned by the governor’s decision. Then, because they were ashamed,
Jn 19,7. “We have,” they said, “a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
“How then when the judge said, ‘Take ye him, and judge him according to your law,’ did ye reply, ‘It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,’ while here ye fly to the law? And consider the charge, ‘He made himself the Son of God.’ Tell me, is this a ground of accusation, that He who performed the deeds of the Son of God should call Himself the Son of God?” What then doth Christ? While they held this dialogue one with the other, He held His peace, fulfilling that saying of the Prophet, that “He openeth not his mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away.” (Is 53,8 LXX).
Then Pilate is alarmed 12 when he hears from them, that He made Himself the Son of God, and dreads lest the assertion may possibly be true, and he should seem to transgress; but these men who had learnt this, both by His deeds and words, did not shudder, but are putting Him to death for the very reasons for which they ought to have worshiped Him. On this account he no more asks Him, “What hast thou done?” but, shaken by fear, he begins the enquiry again, saying, “Art thou the Christ?” But He answered not. For he who had heard, “To this end was I born, and for this came I,” and, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” he, when he ought to have opposed His enemies and delivered Him, did not so, but seconded the fury of the Jews. Then they being in every way silenced, make their cry issue in a political charge, saying, “He that maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar.” (Jn 19,12). Pilate ought therefore to have accurately enquired, whether He had aimed at sovereignty, and set His hand to expel Caesar from the kingdom. But he makes not an exact enquiry, and therefore Christ answered him nothing, because He knew that he asked all the questions idly. 13 Besides, since His works bare witness to Him, He would not prevail by word, nor compose any defense, showing that He came voluntarily to this condition. When He was silent, Pilate saith,
Jn 19,10. “Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?” 14
Seest thou how he condemned himself beforehand; for, “if the whole rests with thee, why dost not thou let Him go, when thou hast found no fault in Him?” When then Pilate had uttered the sentence against himself, then He saith,
Jn 19,11. “He that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
Showing that he also was guilty of sin. Then,to pull down his pride and arrogance, He saith,
“Thou wouldst have no power except it were given thee.” 15
Showing that this did not come to pass merely in the common order of events, 16 but that it was accomplished mystically. Then lest, when thou hearest, “Except it were given thee,” thou shouldest deem that Pilate was exempt from all blame, on this account therefore He said, “Therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin.” “And yet if it was given, neither he nor they were liable to any charge.” “Thou objectest idly; for the ‘given’ in this place means what is ‘allowed’; as though He had said, ‘He hath permitted these things to be, yet not for that are ye clear of the wickedness.’” He awed Pilate by the words, andproffered a clear defense. On which account that person sought to release Him; but they again cried out, saying, 17
Jn 19,12. “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend.”
For when they profited nothing by bringing charges drawn from their own law, they wickedly betook themselves to external laws, saying,
“Every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”
And where hath this Man appeared as a tyrant? Whence can ye prove it? By the purple robe? By the diadem? By the dress? 18 By the soldiers? Did not He ever walk unattended, save by His twelve disciples, following in every point a humble mode of living, both as to food, and clothing, and habitation? But O what shamelessness and ill-time cowardice! For Pilate, deeming that he should now incur some danger were he to overlook these words, comes forth as though to enquire into the matter, 19 (for the “sitting down” showed this,) but without making 20 any enquiry, he gave Him up to them, thinking to shame them. For to prove that he did it for this purpose, hear what he saith.
Jn 19,14-15. “Behold your king!” But when they said, “Crucify him,” he added again, “Shall I crucify your king?” But they cried out, “We have no king but Caesar.” 21
Of their own will they subjected themselves to punishment; therefore also God gave them up, because they were the first to cast themselves out from His providence and superintendence; and since with one voice they rejected His sovereignty, He allowed them to fall by their own suffrages. Still what had been said should have been sufficient to calm their passion, but they feared, lest, being let go, He should again draw the multitudes, and they did all they could to prevent this. For a dreadful thing is love of rule, dreadful and able to destroy the soul; it was on account of this that they had never heard Him. And yet Pilate, in consequence of a few words, desired to let Him go, but they pressed on, saying, “Crucify him.” And why did they strive to kill Him in this manner? It was a shameful death. Fearing therefore lest there should afterwards be any remembrance of Him, they desired to bring Him to the accursed punishment, not knowing that truth is exalted by hindrances. To prove that they had this suspicion, listen to what they say; 22 “We have heard that that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again” (Mt 27,63); on this account they made all this stir, turning things upside down, 23 that they might ruin matters in after time. 24 And the ill-ordered people, corrupted by their rulers,cried out continually, “Crucify him!”
[3.] But let us not merely read of these things, but bear them in our mind; the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on the cheek, the spittings, the irony. These things, if continually meditated on, are sufficient to take down all anger; and if we be mocked at, if we suffer injustice, let us still say, “The servant is not greater than his Lord” (c. xiii. 16); and let us bring forward the words of the Jews, which they uttered in their madness, saying, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil” (c. viii. 48); and, “He casteth out devils by Beelzebub.” (Lc 11,15). For on this account He bare all these things, in order that we might walk in His footsteps, and endurethose mockings which disturb more than anyother kind of reproach. Yet nevertheless He not only bare these things, but even used every means to save and deliver from the appointed punishment those who did them. For He sent the Apostles also for their salvation, at leastthou hearest them saying, that, “We 25 know that through ignorance ye did it” (Ac 3,17); and by these means drawing them to repentance. This let us also imitate; for nothing so much maketh God propitious as the lovingenemies, and doing good to those who despitefully use us. When a man insults thee, look not to him, but to the devil who moves him, and against him empty all thy wrath, but pity the man who is moved by him. For if lying is from the devil, to be angry without a cause is much more so. When thou seest one turning another into ridicule, consider that it is the devil who moves him, for mockings belong not to Christians. For he who hath been bidden to mourn, and hath heard, “Woe, ye that laugh” (Lc 6,25), and who after this insults, and jests, and is excited, demands not reproach from us, but sorrow, since Christ also was troubled when He thought on Judas. All these things therefore let us practice in our actions, for if we act not rightly in these, we have come to no purpose and in vain into the world. Or rather we have come to our harm, for faith is not sufficient to bring men to the Kingdom, nay, it even hath power 26 in this way most to condemn those who exhibit an ill life; for He “which knew his Lord’s will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Lc 12,47); and again, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.” (c. 15,22). What excuse then shall we have, who have been set within the palace, and deemed worthy to stoop 27 down and enter into the sanctuary, and have been made partakers of the releasing Mysteries, 28 and who yet are worse than the Greeks, whohave shared in none of these things? For if they for the sake of vainglory have shown so much true wisdom, much more ought we to go after all virtue, because it is pleasing to God. But at present we do not even despise wealth; while they have often been careless of their life, and in wars have given up their children to their madness about devils, 29 and have despised nature for the sake of their devils, but we do not even despise money for the sake of Christ, nor anger on account of God’s will, but are inflamed, and in no better state than the fevered. And just as they, when possessed by their malady, are all burning, so we, suffocated as by some fire, can stop at no point of desire, increasing both anger and avarice. On this account I am ashamed and astonished, when I behold among the Greeks men despising riches, but all mad among ourselves. For even if we could find some despising riches, we should find that they have been made 30 captive by other vices, by passion or envy; and a hard thing it is to discover true wisdom without a blemish. 31 But the reason is, that we are not earnest to get our remedies from the Scriptures, nor do we apply ourselves to those Scriptures with compunction, and sorrow, and groaning, but carelessly, if at any time we chance to be at leisure. Therefore when a great rush of worldly matters comes, it overwhelms all; and if there hath been any profit, destroys it. For if a man have a wound, and after putting on a plaster, do not tie it tight, but allow it to fall off, and expose his sore to wet, and dust, and heat, and ten thousand other things able to irritate it, he will get no good; yet not by reason of the inefficacy of the remedies, but by reason of his own carelessness. And this also is wont to happen to us, when we attend but little to the divine oracles, but give ourselves up wholly and incessantly to things of this life; for thus all the seed is choked, and all is made unfruitful. That this may not be the case, let us look carefully a little, let us look up to heaven, let us bend down to the tombs and coffins of the departed. For the same end awaiteth us, and the same necessity of departure will often come upon us before the evening. Prepare we then for this expedition; 32 there is need of many supplies for the journey, 33 for great is the heat there, and great the drought, and great the solitude. Henceforth there is no reposing at an inn, there is no buying anything, when one hath not taken all from hence. Hear at least what the virgins say, “Go ye to them that sell” (Mt 25,9); but they who went found not. Hear what Abraham saith, “A gulf between us and you.” (Lc 16,26). Hear what Ezekiel saith concerning that day, that Noah, and Job, and Daniel shall in nowise deliver their sons. (Ez 14,14). But may it never come to pass that we hear these words, but that having taken hence sufficient provision for our way to eternal life, we may behold with boldness our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
1 or, “waves,” or, “winds.”
2 Sav. conj). “up.”
3 al). “hinting.”
4 i.e. the things of truth.
5 “And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” N. T.
6 lit). “grant him to the feast.”
7 “Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” N. T.
8 Chap. 19,1–3). “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands.”
9 i.e. to the garden).
10 Ver. 4, 5). “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, and Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man.” N. T.
11 Ver. 6). “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him.” N. T.
12 Ver. 8, 9). “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment-hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.” N. T.
13 eijkh`/ pavnta ejrwtw`nta. Savile reads ejrwtw`n, with the conjecture ejrw`n. The reading rendered above best suits the sense, and is supported by mss.
14 Ver. 10). “Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” N. T.
15 “no power against Me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that,” &c. N. T.
16 th;n tw`n pollw`n ajkolouqivan, al). tw`n a]llwn.
17 Ver. 12). “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him; but the Jews cried out, saying.” N. T).
18 al). “the chariot.”
19 Ver 13). “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.” N. T.
20 al). “taking pains for.”
21 Ver. 14, 15). “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour; and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” N. T.
22 al). “one saith.”
23 or, “using every means.”
24 w(ste ta; meta; tau`ta lumhvnasqai.
25 “I,” N. T.
26 or, “the case admits,” e]cei).
27 or, “to peep,” diakuvyai.
28 Ben). “mysteries releasing from sins.”
29 i. e. their heathen worship.
30 al). “they are made.”
And He, bearing His Cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull, where they crucified Him."
[1.] ‘Successes’ have terrible power to cast down or draw aside those who take not heed. Thus the Jews, who at first enjoyed the influence3 of God, sought the law of royalty from the Gentiles, and in the wilderness after the manna remembered the onions. In the same way here, refusing the Kingdom of Christ, they invited to themselves that of Caesar. Wherefore God set a king over them, according to their own decision. When then Pilate heard these things, he delivered Him to be crucified. Utterly without reason. For when he ought to have enquired whether Christ had aimed at sovereign power, he pronounced the sentence through fear alone. Yet that this might not befall him, Christ said beforehand, “My kingdom is not of this world”; but he having given himself wholly up to present things, would practice no great amount of wisdom. And yet his wife’s dream should have been sufficient to terrify him; but by none of these things was he made better, nor did he look to heaven, but delivered Him up. And now they laid the cross upon Him as a malefactor. For even the wood they abominated, and endured not even to touch it. This was also the case in the type; for Isaac bare the wood. But then the matter stopped at the will of his father,4 for it was the type; while here it proceeded to action, for it was the reality.
“And He came to the place of a skull.” Some say that Adam died there, and there lieth; and that Jesus in this place where death had reigned, there also set up the trophy. For He went forth bearing the Cross as a trophy over the tyranny of death: and as conquerors do, so He bare upon His shoulders the symbol of victory. What matter if the Jews did5 these things with a different intent. They crucified Him too with thieves, in this also unintentionally fulfilling prophecy; for what they did for insult contributed to the truth, that thou mayest learn how great is its power, since the Prophethad foretold of old, that “He was numbered with the transgressors.” (Is 53,12). The devil therefore wished to cast a veil over what was done, but was unable; for the three were crucified, but Jesus alone was glorious, that thou mayest learn, that His power effected all. Yet the miracles took place when the three had been nailed to the cross; but no one attributed anything of what was done to either of those others, but to Jesus only; so entirely was the plot of the devil rendered vain,6 and all returned upon his own head. For even of these two, one was saved. He therefore did not insult the glory of the Cross,7 but contributed to it not a little. For it was not a less matter than shaking the rocks, to change a thief upon the cross, and to bring him unto Paradise.
Jn 19,19. “And Pilate wrote a title.”8
At the same time requiting the Jews, and making a defense for Christ. For since, they had given Him up as worthless, and attempted to confirm this sentence by making Him share the punishment of the robbers, in order that for the future it might be in no maws power to prefer evil charges against him, or to accuse him as a worthless and wicked person, to close moreover their mouths and the mouths of all who might desire to accuse Him, and to show that they had risen up against their own King, Pilate thus placed, as on a trophy, those letters, which utter a clear voice, and show forth His Victory, and proclaim His Kingdom, though not in its completeness. And this he made manifest not in a single tongue, but in three languages; for since it was likely that there would be a mixed multitude among the Jews on account of the Feast, in order that none might be ignorant of the defense, he publicly recorded9 the madness of the Jews, in all the languages. For they bore malice against Him even when crucified. 10 “Yet what did this harm you? 11 Nothing. For if He was a mortal and weak, and was about to become extinct, why did ye fear the letters asserting that He is the King of the Jews?” And what do they ask? “Say that ‘he said.’ For now it is an assertion, and a general sentence, but if ‘he said’ be added, the charge is shown to be one arising from his own rashness and arrogance.” Still Pilate was not turned aside, but stood to his first decision. And it is no little thing that is dispensed even from this circumstance, but the whole matter. For since the wood of the cross was buried, because no one was careful to take it up, inasmuch as fear was pressing, and the believers were hurrying to other urgent matters; and since it was in after times to be sought for, and it was likely that the three crosses would lie together, in order that the Lord’s might not be unknown, it was made manifest to all, first by its lying in the middle, and then by the title. For those of the thieves had no titles.
[2.] The soldiers parted the garments, but not the coat. 12 See the prophecies in every instance fulfilled by their wickednesses; for this also had been predicted of old; yet there were three crucified, but the matters of the prophecies 13 were fulfilled in Him. For why did they not this in the case of the others, but in His case only? Consider too, I pray you, the exactness of the prophecy. For the Prophet saith not only, that they “parted,” but that they “did not part.” The rest therefore they divided, the coat they divided not, but committed the matter to a decision by lot. And the, “Woven from the top” (Jn 19,23) is not put without a purpose; but some say that a figurative assertion is declared by it, that the Crucified was not simply man, but had also the Divinity from above. 14 Others say that the Evangelist describes the very form of the coat. 15 For since in Palestine they put together two strips of cloth and so weave their garments, John, to show that the coat was of this kind, saith, “Woven from the top”; and to me he seems to say this, alluding to the poorness of the garments, and that as in all other things, so in dress also, He followed a simple 16 fashion.
Jn 19,24. “These things the soldiers did.” But He on the Cross, committeth His mother to the disciple, 17 teaching us even to our last breath to show every care for our parents. When indeed she unseasonably troubled Him, He said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (Jn 2,4). And, “Who is My mother?”(Mt 12,48). But here He showeth much loving affection, and committeth her to the disciple whom He loved. Again Jn conceals himself, in modesty; for had he desired to boast, he would have also put in the cause for which he was loved, since probably it was some great and wonderful one. But wherefore doth He converse on nothing else with John, nor comfort him when desponding? Because it was no time for comforting by words; besides, it was no little thing for him to be honored with such honor, and to receive the reward of steadfastness. But do thou consider, I pray, how even on the cross He did everything without being troubled, speaking with the disciple concerning His mother, fulfilling prophecies, holding forth good hopes to the thief. Yet before He was crucified He appeareth sweating, agonized, fearing. What then can this mean? Nothing difficult, nothing doubtful. There indeed the weakness of nature had been shown, here was being shown the excess of Power. Besides, by these two things He teacheth us, even if before things terrible we be troubled, not on that account to shrink from things terrible, but when we have embarked in the contest to deem all things 18 possible and easy. Let us then not tremble at death. Our soul hath by nature the love of life, but it lies with us either to loose the bands of nature, and make this desire weak; or else to tighten them, and make the desire more tyrannous. For as we have the desire of sexual intercourse, but when we practice true wisdom we render the desire weak, so also it falls out in the case of life; and as God hath annexed carnal desire to the generation of children, to maintain a succession among us, without however forbidding us from traveling the higher road of continence; so also He hath implanted in us the love of life, forbidding us from destroying ourselves, but not hindering our despising the present life. And it behooves us, knowing this, to observe due measure, and neither to go at any time to death of our own accord, even though ten thousand terrible things possess us; nor yet when dragged to it, for the sake of what is pleasing to God, to shrink back from and fear it, but boldly to strip for it, preferring the future to the present life.
But the women stood by the Cross, and the weaker sex then appeared the manlier (Jn 19,25); so entirely henceforth were all things transformed.
[3.] And He, having committed His mother to John, said, “Behold thy Son.” (Jn 19,26). O the honor! with what honor did He honor the disciple! when He Himself was now departing, He committed her to the disciple to take care of. For since it was likely that, being His mother, she would grieve, and require protection, He with reason entrusted her to the beloved. To him He saith, “Behold thy mother.” (Jn 19,27). This He said, knitting them together in charity; which the disciple understanding, took her to his own home. “But why made He no mention of any other woman, although another stood there?” To teach us to pay more than ordinary respect to our mothers. For as when parents oppose us on spiritual matters, we must not even own them, so when they do not hinder us, we ought to pay them all becoming respect, and to prefer them before others, because they begat us, because they bred us up, because they bare for us ten thousand terrible things. And by these words He silenceth the shamelessness of Marcion; for if He were not born according to the flesh, nor had a mother, wherefore taketh He such forethought for her alone?
Jn 19,28. “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished.”
That is, “that nothing was wanting to the Dispensation.” For He was everywhere desirous to show, that this Death was of a new kind, if indeed the whole lay in the power of the Person dying, and death came not on the Body before He willed it; and He willed it after He had fulfilled all things. Therefore also He said, “I have power to lay down My life; and I have power to take it again.” (c. 10,18). Knowing therefore that all things were fulfilled, He saith,
“I thirst.” 19
Here again fulfilling a prophecy. But consider, I pray, the accursed nature of the bystanders. Though we have ten thousand enemies, and have suffered intolerable things at their hands, yet when we see them perishing, we relent; but they did not even so make peace with Him, nor were tamed by what they saw, but rather became more savage, and increased their irony; and having brought to Him vinegar on a sponge, 20 as men bring it to the condemned, thus they gave Him to drink; since it is on this account that the hyssop is added.
Jn 19,30. “Having therefore received it, He saith, It is finished.”
Seest thou how He doth all things calmly, and with power? And what follows shows this. For when all had been completed,
“He bowed His head, (this had not been nailed,) and gave up 21 the ghost.”
That is, “died.” Yet to expire does not come 22 after the bowing the head; but here, on the contrary, it doth. For He did not, when He had expired, bow His head, as happens with us, but when He had bent His head, then He expired. By all which things the Evangelist hath shown, that He was Lord of all.
But the Jews, on the other hand, who swallowed the camel and strained at the gnat, having wrought so atrocious a deed, are very precise concerning the day.
Jn 19,31. “Because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross 23 — they besought Pilate that their legs might be broken.” 24
Seest thou how strong a thing is truth? By means of the very things which are the objects of their zeal, prophecy is fulfilled, for by occasion of those things, this plain prediction, unconnected with them, 25 receives its accomplishment. For the soldiers 26 when they came, brake the legs of the others, but not those of Christ. Yet these to gratify the Jews pierced His side with a spear, and now insulted the dead body. O abominable and accursed purpose! Yet, beloved, be not thou confounded, be not thou desponding; for the things which these men did from a wicked will, fought on the side of the truth. Since there was a prophecy, saying, (from this circumstance, 27 “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” (Jn 19,37 Za 12,10). And not this only, but the deed then dared was a demonstration of the faith, to those who should afterwards disbelieve; as to Thomas, and those like him. With this too an ineffable mystery was accomplished. For “there came forth water and blood.” Not without a purpose, or by chance, did those founts come forth, but because by means of these two together the Church consisteth. 28 And the initiated know it, being by water indeed regenerate, and nourished by the Blood and the Flesh. Hence the Mysteries take their beginning; that 29 when thou approachest to that awful cup, thou mayest so approach, as drinking from the very side.
Jn 19,35. “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true.” 30
That is, “I heard it not from others, but was myself present and saw it, and the testimony is true.” As may be supposed. For he relates an insult done; he relates not anything great and admirable, that thou shouldest suspect his narrative; but securing the mouths of heretics, and loudly proclaiming beforehand the Mysteries that should be, and beholding the treasure laid up in them, he is very exact concerning what took place. And that prophecy also is fulfilled,
Jn 19,36. “A bone of Him shall not be broken.” 31 (Ex 12,46 Nb 9,12).
For even if this was said with reference to the lamb of the Jews, still it was for the sake of the reality that the type preceded, and in Him the prophecy was more fully accomplished. On this account the Evangelist brought forward the Prophet. For since by continually producing himself as witness he would have seemed unworthy of credit, he brings Moses to help him, and saith, that neither did this come to pass without a purpose, but was written before of old. And this is the meaning of the words, “A bone of Him shall not be broken.” Again he confirms the Prophet’s words by his own witness. “These things,” saith he, “I have told you, that ye might learn that great is the connection of the type with the reality.” Seest thou what pains he takes to make that believed which seemed to be matter of reproach, and bringing shame? For that the soldier should insult even the dead body, was far worse than being crucified. “But still, even these things,” he saith, “I have told, and told with much earnestness, ‘that ye might believe.’ (Jn 19,35). Let none then be unbelieving, nor through shame injure our cause. For the things which appear to be most shameful, are the very venerable records 32 of our good things.”
Jn 19,38. “After this came Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple.” 33
Not one of the twelve, but perhaps one of the seventy. For now deeming that the anger of the Jews was quenched by the Cross, they approached without fear, and took charge of His funeral. Joseph therefore came and asked the favor from Pilate, which he granted; why should he not? Nicodemus also assists him, and furnishes a costly burial. For they were still disposed to think of Him as a mere man. And they brought those 34 spices whose especial nature is to preserve the body for a long time, and not to allow it quickly to yield to corruption, which was an act of men imagining nothing great respecting Him; but anyhow, they exhibited very loving affection. But how did no one of the twelve come, neither John, nor Peter, nor any other of the more distinguished disciples? Nor doth the writer conceal this point. If any one say that it was from fear of the Jews, these men also 35 were occupied by the same fear; for Joseph too was, it saith, “A secret (disciple) for fear of the Jews.” And not one can say that Joseph acted thus because he greatly despised them, 36 but though himself afraid, still he came. But Jn who was present, and had seen Him expire, did nothing of the kind. It seems to me that Joseph was a man of high rank, (as is clear from the funeral,) and known 37 to Pilate, on which account also he obtained the favor; and then he buried Him, not as a criminal, but magnificently, after the Jewish fashion, as some great and admirable one.
[4.] And because they were straitened by the time, (since the Death took place at the ninth hour, and it is probable, that what with going to Pilate and what with taking down the body, evening would come upon them when it was not lawful to work,) they laid Him in the tomb that was near. 38 And it is providentially ordered, 39 that He should be placed in a new tomb, wherein no one had been placed before, that His Resurrection might not be deemed to be that of some other who lay there with Him; and that the disciples might be able easily to come and be spectators of what came to pass, because the place was near; and that not they alone should be witnesses of His burial, but His enemies also, for the placing seals on the tomb, and the sitting by of the soldiers to watch it, were the actions of men testifying to the burial. For Christ earnestly desired that this should be confessed, no less than the Resurrection. Wherefore also the disciples are very earnest about. this, the showing that lie died. For the Resurrection all succeeding time would confirm, but the Death, if at that time it had been partially concealed, or not made very manifest, was likely to harm the account of the Resurrection. Nor was it for these reasons only that He was laid near, but also that the story about the stealing might be proved false.
“The first day of the week” (that is, the Lord’s day) “cometh Mary Magdalene, very early in the morning, 40 and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher.” (Jn 20,1).
For He arose while both stone and seals lay over Him; but because it was necessary that others should be fully satisfied, the tomb was opened after the Resurrection, and thus what had come to pass was confirmed. This then was what moved Mary. For being entirely full of loving affection towards her Master, when the Sabbath was past, she could not bear to rest, but came very early in the morning, desiring to find some consolation from the place. But when she saw the place, and the stone 41 taken away, she neither entered in nor stooped down, but ran to the disciples, 42 in the greatness of her longing; for this was what she earnestly desired, she wished very speedily to learn what had become of the body. This was the meaning of her running, and her words declare it.
Jn 20,2. “They have taken away,” she saith, “my Lord, 43 and I know not where they have laid Him.”
Seest thou how she knew not as yet anything clearly concerning the Resurrection, but thought there had been a removal of the body, and tells all simply to the disciples? And the Evangelist hath not deprived the woman of such a praise, nor thought it shame that they should have learnt these things first from her who had passed the night in watching. Thus everywhere doth the truth-loving nature of his disposition shine forth. When then she came and said these things, they hearing them, draw near with great eagerness to the sepulcher, 44 and see the linen clothes lying, which was a sign of the Resurrection. For neither, if any persons had removed the body, would they before doing so have stripped it; nor if any had stolen it, would they have taken the trouble to remove the napkin, and roll it up, and lay it in a place by itself; but how? they would have taken the body as it was. On this account Jn tells us by anticipation that it was buried with much myrrh, which glues linen to the body not less firmly than lead; in order that when thou hearest that the napkins lay apart, thou mayest not endure those who say that He was stolen. For a thief would not have been so foolish as to spend so much trouble on a superfluous matter. For why should he undo the clothes? and how could he have escaped detection if he had done so? since he would probably have spent much time in so doing, and be found out by delaying and loitering. But why do the clothes lie apart, while the napkin was wrapped together by itself? That thou mayest learn that it was not the action of men in confusion or haste, the placing some in one place, some in another, and the wrapping them together. From this they believed in the Resurrection. On this account Christ afterwards appeared to them, when they were convinced by what they had seen. Observe too here again the absence of boastfulness in the Evangelist, how he witnesses to the exactness of Peter’s search. For he himself having gotten before Peter, and having seen the linen clothes, enquired not farther, but withdrew; but that fervent one passing farther in, looked at everything carefully, and saw somewhat more, and then the other too was summoned to the sight. 45 For he entering after Peter, saw the grave-clothes lying, and separate. Now to separate, and to place one thing by itself, and another, after rolling it up, by itself, was the act of some one doing things carefully, and not in a chance way, as if disturbed.
[5.] But do thou, when thou hearest that thy Lord arose naked, cease from thy madness about funerals; for what is the meaning of that superfluous and unprofitable 46 expense, which brings much loss to the mourners, and no gain to the departed, or (if we must say that it brings anything) rather harm? For the costliness of burial hath often caused the breaking open of tombs, and hath caused him to be cast out naked and unburied, who had been buried with much care. But alas for vainglory! How great the tyranny which it exhibits even in sorrow! how great the folly! Many, that this may not happen, having cut in pieces those fine clothes, and filled them with many spices, so that they may be doubly useless to those who would insult the dead, then commit them to the earth. Are not these the acts of madmen? of men beside themselves? to make a show of their ambition, and then to destroy it? “Yea,” saith some one, “it is in order that they may lie safely with the dead that we use all these contrivances.” Well then, if the robbers do not get them, will not the moths get them, and the worms? Or if the moths and worms get them not, will not time and the moisture of putrefaction 47 destroy them? But let us suppose that neither tomb-breakers, nor moths, nor worms, nor time, nor anything else, destroy what lies in the tomb, but that the body itself remains untouched until the Resurrection, and these things are preserved new and fresh and fine; what advantage is there from this to the departed, when the body is raised naked, while these remain here, and profit us nothing for those accounts which must be given? “Wherefore then,” saith some one, “was it done in the case of Christ” First of all, do not compare these with human matters, since the harlot poured even ointment upon His holy feet. But if we must speak on these things, we say, that they were done when the doers knew not the word of the Resurrection; therefore it saith, “As was the manner of the Jews.” For they who honored Christ 48 were not of the twelve, but were those who did not honor Him greatly. The twelve honored Him not in this way, but by death and massacre and dangers for His sake. That other indeed was honor, but far inferior to this of which I have spoken. Besides, as I began by saying, we are now speaking of men, but at that time these things were done with relation to the Lord. And that thou mayest learn that Christ made no account of these things, He said, “Ye saw Me an hungered, and ye fed Me; thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; naked, and ye clothed Me” (Mt 25,35); but nowhere did He say, “dead, and ye buried Me.” And this I say not as taking away the custom of burial, (that be far from me,) but as cutting short its extravagance and unseasonable vanity. “But,” saith some one, “feeling and grief and sympathy for the departed persuade to this practice.” The practice doth not proceed from sympathy for the departed, but from vainglory. Since if thou desirest to sympathize with the dead, I will show thee another way of mourning, and will teach thee to put on him garments which shall rise again with him, and make him glorious. For these garments are not consumed by worms, nor wasted by time, nor stolen by tomb-breakers. Of what sort then are these? The clothing of alms-doing; for this is a robe that shall rise again with him, because the seal of alms-doing is with him. With these garments shine they who then hear, “Hungering ye fed Me.” These make men distinguished, these make them glorious, these place them in safety; but those used now are only something for moths to consume, and a table for worms. And this I say, not forbidding to use funeral observance, but bidding you to do it with moderation, so as to cover the body, and not commit it naked to the earth. For if living He biddeth us have no more than enough to cover us, much more when dead; since the dead body 49 hath not so much need of garments as when it is living and breathing. For when alive, on account of the cold, and for decency’s sake, we need the covering of garments, but when dead we require grave-clothes for none of these reasons, but that the body may not lie naked; and better than grave-clothes we have the earth, fairest of coverings, and more suited for the nature of such bodies as ours. If then where there are so many needs we must not search for anything superfluous, much more where there is no such necessity, is the ostentation unseasonable.
[6.] “But the lookers-on will laugh,” saith some one. Most certainly if there be any laughter, we need not care much for one so exceedingly foolish; but at present there are many who rather admire and accept our true wisdom. For these are not the things which deserve laughter, but those which we do at present, weeping, and wailing, and burying ourselves with the departed; these things deserve ridicule and punishment. But to show true wisdom, both in these respects and in the modesty of the attire used, prepares crowns and praises for us, and all will applaud us, and will admire the power of Christ, and will say, “Amazing! How great is the power of the Crucified One! He hath persuaded those who are perishing and wasting, that death is not death; they therefore do not act as perishing men, but as men who send the dead before them to a distant and better dwelling-place. He hath persuaded them that this corruptible and earthy body shall put on a garment more glorious than silk or cloth of gold, the garment of immortality; therefore they are not very anxious about their burial, but deem a virtuous life to be an admirable winding-sheet.” These things they will say, if they see us showing true wisdom; but if they behold us bent down with grief, playing the woman, placing around troops of female mourners, they will laugh, and mock, and find fault in ten thousand ways, pulling to pieces our foolish expense, our vain labor. With these things we hear all finding fault; and very reasonably. For what excuse can we have, when we adorn a body, which is consumed by 50 corruption and worms, and neglect Christ when thirsting, going about naked, and a stranger? Cease we then from this vain trouble. Let us perform the obsequies of the departed, as is good both for us and them, to the glory of God: let us do much alms for their sake, let us send with them the best provision for the way. For if the memory of admirable men, though dead, hath protected the living, (for, “I will defend,” it saith, “this city for Mine Own. sake, and for My servant David’s sake”— 2R 19,34) much more will alms-doing effect this; for this hath raised even the dead, as when the widows stood round 51 showing what things Dorcas had made, while she was with them. (Ac 9,39). When therefore one is about to die, let the friend of that dying person prepare the obsequies, 52 and persuade 53 the departing one to leave somewhat to the needy. With these garments let him send him to the grave, leaving 54 Christ his heir. For if they who write kings among their heirs, leave a safe portion to their relations, 55 when one leaves Christ heir with his children, consider how great good he will draw down upon himself and all his. These are the right 56 sort of funerals, these profit both those who remain and those who depart. If we be so buried, we shall be glorious at the Resurrection-time. But if caring for the body we neglect the soul, we then shall suffer many terrible things, and incur much ridicule. For neither is it a common unseemliness to depart without being clothed with virtue, nor is the body, though cast out without a tomb, so disgraced, as a soul appearing bare of virtue in that day. This let us put on, this let us wrap around us; it is best to do so during all our lifetime; but if we have in this life been negligent, let us at least in our end be sober, and charge our relations to help us when we depart by alms-doing; that being thus assisted by each other, we may attain 57 to much confidence, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever and world without end. Amen).
1 “place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha.” N. T.
2 “Him, and two others with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” N. T.
4 i.e. only showed Abraham’s willingness.
5 al). “ordered.”
6 e]wlo", lit). “stale.”
7 al). “the Crucified.”
8 Ver. 19, 20). “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the Cross, and the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. This title then read many of the Jews, for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city, and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.”
9 lit). “inscribed on a pillar.”
10 Ver. 21, 22). “Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews, but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.” N. T.
11 to the Jews.
12 Ver. 23, 24). “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat; now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots.” N. T.
13 al). “of the prophetical.”
14 or, “from the first,” a]nwqen).
15 lit). “little coat.”
17 Ver. 25–27). “Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son. Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”
18 al). “all things are.”
19 “that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst,” N. T).
20 Ver. 29). “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.”
21 ajfh`ke, [parevdwke,] G. T.
22 i.e. naturally.
23 “Upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that day was a high day).” N. T.
24 “Be broken, and that they might be taken away.” N. T.
25 eJtevra aujtoi`" au(th proanafwvnhsi`".
26 Ver. 32–34). “Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.” N. T.
28 ejx ajmfotevrwn touvtwn hJ AEEkklhsiva sunevsthke.
29 i.e. to teach thee that.
30 “is true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe,” N. T.
31 Ver 36, 37). “For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone,” &c). “And again, another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” N. T.
33 Ver. 38–40). “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in the linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”
34 al). “such.”
35 i.e. Joseph and Nicodemus.
36 al). “that the greatly despising them effected this.”
37 al). “known in some way.”
38 Ver. 41, 42). “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation; for the sepulcher was nigh at hand.”
39 lit). “dispensed.”
40 o]rqrou baqevo" om. in Ben, N. T). “early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher and seeth,” &c.
41 al). “saw the stone.”
42 Ver. 2). “Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved.”
43 “the Lord out of the sepulcher,” N. T.
44 Ver. 3–7). “Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooping down, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie; and the napkin that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” N. T).
45 Ver. 8, 9). “Then went in also that other disciple which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.,” N. T.
46 al). “senseless.”
48 i.e. in His burial).
49 al). “body of the dead.”
50 or, “given over to,” lit). “spent upon.”
51 al). “stood by.”
52 or, “burial dress,” ta; ejntavfia.
53 i.e. by persuading.
54 Sav. reads, klhronovmon ajfievnai to;n C. ajfiventa may be conjectured. The Ben. ed. reads, peiqevtw kai; kl. k.t.l.
55 Ben). “leave very great safety.” One ms. has a slight variety of sense: “If they who write kings their heirs among their relations, leave that portion for the safety of the children.”
57 ejpituvcwmen without any conjunction preceding. Sav. conject). ejpiteuxovmeqa).
Chrysostom on John 84