And when all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts.
I. IMMEDIATE EFFECTS PROBABLY PRODUCED.
1. There were physical elements sure to excite their wondering imagination. When an unnatural darkness brooded over the entire scene for three long dread hours, when the earth trembled, when the loud death-cry of the suffering Savior pierced the air, there was a combination of strange marvels and unusual experiences which must have shaken their souls and filled them with a great awe.
2. And there were moral elements there fitted to touch their hearts. There was the presence of death - death, "the great reconciler," that quenches strong animosities, that awakens an unwonted pity, that subdues the hardened soul to a surprising softness. There was the death of a Man still young, of a Man who had rendered undeniably great services to many hearts in many homes. There was death met with heroic fortitude, undergone with a calmness, a magnanimity, a moral greatness, such as their eyes had never seen before. These two elements together powerfully affected the people that drew to that sight; and with whatsoever thought in their mind they "came together," it is certain that a very great majority of them went home astonished, if not ashamed and alarmed; they returned "smiting their breasts." But what were -
II. THE ULTIMATE EFFECTS PRODUCED?
1. Some effects were permanently good. Surely it was partly, if not largely, the remembrance of what they had seen and done and felt on this great day that led to the "pricking of heart" they experienced when Peter spoke so faithfully, and led them to Christian baptism (Acts 2:22, 23, 37 11). Was not the "smiting of the breast" more than an antecedent in time to that being smitten in heart when they listened and responded?
2. Others, we may be sure, were evanescent and unfruitful. It would have been a very singular case if there were not many who felt much agitation that day, and the next, and, perhaps, the day after; but who soon allowed pressing cares or passing pleasures to drive convictions from the soul. They "smote their breasts, and returned;" but, instead of returning to God, they went back to the old routine and the old formalism and unspirituality. It is well to be affected by the facts of God's providence, whether these be simple and ordinary, or whether unusual and startling. It is well indeed to be affected by the view of a Savior's death, however that death may be presented to our souls. But let no man rest contented with such emotion as was in the breast of the people who "came together to that sight." It is wholly undecisive; if it lead not to something better than itself, it will bring forth no fruit of life. It must pass, and should pass quickly, into an intelligent conviction of sin, into a real and living faith in him who was then the Crucified One, and so into newness of life in him and unto him. - C.
Smote their breasts.I. BEHOLDING CHRIST ON THE CROSS. Look on the multitude now — see how they who before had triumphed in His misery, are struck with deep astonishment. One says, "Surely this was a righteous man." Another says, "This is the Son of God," "And all the people who came together to that sight seeing what had passed, smote their breasts and returned." They came to the execution with eager haste and bitter zeal. They retired slow, silent, and pensive, with downcast looks and labouring thoughts. Their smiting their breasts indicated some painful sensations within.
1. It expressed their conviction of the innocence and divinity of this wonderful sufferer. Whatever sentiments they bad entertained in the morning, they had now seen enough to extort from them an acknowledgment that this was a "righteous man" — this was the "Son of God." This character Jesus had openly assumed; and with unwavering constancy He maintained it to the last.(1) Observe His calmness. Amidst the rudest and most provoking insults, He discovered no malice or resentment toward His enemies; but all His language and behaviour was mild and gentle. When He was reviled, He reviled not again; but committed Himself to Him who judgeth righteously.(2) See His benevolence. He attended to the case of His afflicted mother, and commended her to the care of His beloved disciple. He wrought a miracle to heal an enemy wounded in the attempt to seize Him. He extended mercy to a malefactor who was suffering by His side.(3) Consider His humble piety. He maintained His confidence in God; called Him His God and His Father; and into His hands committed His Spirit. Such distinguished piety, benevolence, and constancy, under trials like His, showed Him to be a righteous man — to be more than man. And heaven itself bare solemn testimony in His favour. The darkness which overspread the land was evidently supernatural.
2. Their smiting their breasts was expressive of their compassion for this innocent and glorious Sufferer. Their rage, which had been wrought up to the highest strain, now began to subside, and give way to the tender feelings of humanity.
3. This action expressed a deep remorse of conscience.
II. BEHOLDING CHRIST IN THE HOLY COMMUNION. To behold this Divine Saviour in the flesh, and to see Him expire on the cross, was the lot only of those who lived in His day. But the frequent contemplation of His death is a matter of so much importance, that He was pleased, just before He suffered, to appoint an ordinance for the purpose of exhibiting His death to our view, and bringing it to our remembrance. Here He is set forth crucified before our eyes. Do we turn away from this ordinance? We have little reason to think we should have attended the crucifixion on any higher motive than mere curiosity. If a real regard to Him would have invited us to follow Him to the cross, the same regard will invite us to come and see Him at His table.
1. Have any of you entertained indifferent notions of Christ and His religion? Come here, and reflect on those characters of divinity which He exhibited.
2. Here meditate on the worth of your souls.
3. Here behold the great evil of sin.
4. Here meditate on the wonderful mercy of God.
5. Look here and behold an instructive example of patience and resignation.
6. Look to Christ and learn to despise the world.
7. Look to Christ, and learn meekness and forgiveness.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)I. THE SIGHT. It is the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. You have often heard of it; have you thought of it until you could see it? Have its different incidents been grouped in your mind so as to form a complete picture? Try to realize it.
II. THE LESSONS OF THE SIGHT.
1. The first lesson to which we beg your attention is the antagonism of sin to God. As if to show to the universe the true nature and tendency of sin in all its forms, all classes of worldlings were grouped around the Cross; each had an opportunity of expressing its feelings; and how awfully significant and awfully condemnatory was the part which they acted! All classes — the religious world, and the learned world, and the sceptical world, and the fashionable world, and the money-loving world, ay, and the ordinary working world — all combined to show the murderous nature and the God-defiant attitude of sin.
2. But if this sight teaches the antagonism of sin to God, it also teaches us God's hatred of sin. We cannot account for the Saviour's sufferings if they have not some connection with the sin of man. Even a heathen could understand, that if an innocent being suffers, it must be because of the sins of others. Kajarnak, a chieftain inhabiting the mountains of Greenland, notorious for the robberies and murders he had perpetrated, came down to where a missionary in his hut was translating the Gospel of John. His curiosity being excited by the process, he asked to have it explained; and when the missionary told him how the marks he was making were words, and how a book could speak, he wished to hear what it said. The missionary read to him the narrative of the Saviour's sufferings, when the chief immediately asked, "What has this Man done? Has He robbed anybody — has He murdered anybody?" "No," replied the missionary, "He has robbed no one, murdered no one; He has done nothing wrong." "Then why does He suffer? why does He die?" "Listen," said the missionary; "this Man has done no wrong, but Kajarnak has done wrong; this Man has not robbed any one, but Kajarnak has robbed many; this Man has murdered no one, bat Kajarnak has murdered — Kajarnak has murdered his wife, Kajarnak has murdered his brother, Kajarnak has murdered his child; this Man suffered that Kajarnak might not suffer; died that Kajarnak might not die." "Tell me that again," said the astonished chieftain; and by the repetition of the story the hard-hearted murderer was brought in contrition and tears to the foot of the Cross. Even so the Bible tells us, "He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; He bore our sins in His own body on the tree."
3. But if this sight teaches such a fearful lesson in reference to God's hatred of sin, thank God it also teaches that a way has been prepared by which men may escape from sin's consequences. He who became our Sin-bearer did not lay down the load till He had borne our sins away. He did not cease to suffer until He could say, "It is finished."
III. THE FEELINGS WHICH THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE SIGHT IS FITTED TO AWAKEN.
1. The first feeling which it naturally excites is that of which the bystanders were the subjects, when, "beholding the things which were done, they smote their breasts, and returned" — a feeling of shuddering horror at the magnitude of their offence.
2. But the sight is also fitted to awaken the apprehension of danger. This feeling, in the case of His murderers, mingled with the horror with which they regarded their crime. They did not understand the doctrine of the Messiahship sufficiently to know that even His death might become the ground of their pardon; and a fearful foreboding of punishment, as well as an appalling consciousness of guilt, led them to smite their breasts when they beheld the things that were done. And, no doubt, the Cross is fitted to awaken this feeling in every sinner to whom it has not imparted the hope of salvation. For nowhere is the evil desert of sin so strikingly exhibited.
3. But the sight is also fitted to awaken hopeful feelings. Whether any of the men who smote their breasts were led to cherish the hope of pardon, the narrative does not say; but we doubt not that some of them were among the three thousand who, on the day of Pentecost, found that the blood which they had shed was a sufficient atonement for the sin of shedding it, and that the death which they had been instrumental in effecting was the occasion of their endless life. Even so does the Cross proclaim pardon to you, and by it all who believe are justified from all things. The same sight which awakens in you an appalling sense of sin, and a fearful apprehension of punishment, tells you, that though you have done so wickedly and deserved to endure such suffering, there is pardon in Christ for you. Look at it until the peace which it speaks takes possession of your souls — look until you understand what Christ has done for you — look until your fears are dispelled — look until the boundless love which it reveals awakens in you the beginnings of a new and better life — look with the assurance that you cannot look in vain, for He, whose promise never fails, has said, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."
(W. Landels.)I. First, then, let us ANALYZE THE GENERAL MOURNING which this text describes. "All the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned." They all smote their breasts, but not all from the same cause. Others amongst that great crowd exhibited emotion based upon more thoughtful reflection. They saw that they had shared in the murder of an innocent person. No doubt there were a few in the crowd who smote upon their breasts because they felt, "We have put to death a prophet of God." In the motley company who all went home smiting on their breasts, let us hope that there were some who said, "Certainly this was the Son of God," and mourned to think He should have suffered for their transgressions, and been put to grief for their iniquities. Those who came to that point were saved.
II. We shall now ask you TO JOIN IN THE LAMENTATION, each man according to his sincerity of heart, beholding the Cross, and smiting upon his breast. I shall ask you first to smite your breasts, as you remember that you see in Him your own sins. Looking again — changing, as it were, our stand-point, but still keeping our eye upon that same, dear crucified One, let us see there the neglected and despised remedy for our sin. Still keeping you at the cross foot, every believer here may well smite upon his breast this morning as he thinks of Who it was that smarted so upon the Cross. Who was it? It was He who loved us or ever the world was made.
III. Remember that AT CALVARY, DOLOROUS NOTES ARE NOT THE ONLY SUITABLE MUSIC. After all, you and I are not in the same condition as the multitude who had surrounded Calvary; for at that time our Lord was still dead, but now He is risen indeed. Look up and thank God that death hath no more dominion over Him. He ever liveth to make intercession for us, and He shall shortly come with angelic bands surrounding Him, to judge the quick and dead. The argument for joy overshadows the reason for sorrow. Lastly, there is one thing for which we ought always to remember Christ's death with joy, and that is, that although the crucifixion of Jesus was intended to be a blow at the honour and glory of our God — though in the death of Christ the world did, so far as it was able, put God Himself to death, and so earn for itself that hideous title, "a deicidal world," yet never did God have such honour and glory as He obtained through the sufferings of Jesus. Oh, they thought to scorn Him, but they lifted His name on high!
(C. H. Spurgeon.)1. See here accumulated evidence of the truth of Christianity. Think of the fulfilled prophecies already noticed.
2. See here the true atonement for sin, and receive it by faith.
3. See here, and admire, the love of the Father, and of the Son to perishing sinners. This display of the Father's love far surpasses any other which He has given.
4. See here the certainty and the dreadful nature of the punishment of the obstinately wicked in the other world.
5. See here your example. What I chiefly refer to at present is His patient submission to His sufferings.
6. See here the most powerful motives to repentance, the mortification of sin, and the prosecution of holiness. In the last place, see here every encouragement to perishing sinners to come to Christ for safety, and to believers to rejoice more and more in confidence in His merits.
(James Foote, M. A.)
PeopleBarabbas, Herod, Jesus, Joseph, Pilate, Simon
PlacesArimathea, Cyrene, Galilee, Golgotha, Jerusalem, Judea
TopicsAssembled, Beat, Beating, Beheld, Beholding, Breasts, Crowds, Grief, Home, Making, Multitudes, Observed, Occurred, Pass, Return, Returned, Seeing, Sight, Signs, Smiting, Smote, Spectacle, Turn, Witness
Outline1. Jesus is accused before Pilate, and sent to Herod.
8. Herod mocks him.
12. Herod and Pilate become friends.
13. Barabbas is desired of the people,
24. and is released by Pilate, and Jesus is given to be crucified.
26. He tells the women, that lament him, the destruction of Jerusalem;
34. prays for his enemies.
39. Two criminals are crucified with him.
46. His death.
50. His burial.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLuke 23:48
LibraryA Soul's Tragedy
'Then Herod questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing.'--LUKE xxiii. 9. Four Herods play their parts in the New Testament story. The first of them is the grim old tiger who slew the infants at Bethlehem, and soon after died. This Herod is the second--a cub of the litter, with his father's ferocity and lust, but without his force. The third is the Herod of the earlier part of the Acts of the Apostles, a grandson of the old man, who dipped his hands in the blood of one Apostle, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
The Dying Thief
'The Rulers Take Counsel Together'
Jesus and Pilate
Words from the Cross
The First Word
The Second Word
The Seventh Word
March the Twenty-Seventh the Silence of Jesus
The Saviour's Last Hours.
The First Cry from the Cross
The Believing Thief
Christ's Plea for Ignorant Sinners
Exodus iii. 6
The Penitent Thief
Bourdaloue -- the Passion of Christ
The Hands of the Father.
The Last Season
Second Stage of the Roman Trial. Jesus Before Herod Antipas.
Dead with Christ.
Some More Particular Directions for Maintaining Continual Communion with God, or Being in his Fear all the Day Long.
The First Word from the Cross
Things Omitted from Mark's Gospel.
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