Who Was Present at the Cross?

G. Campbell Morgan

We take it then for granted that four women are mentioned as being present at the crucifixion of the Lord. In John we see two pairs, the unnamed women, the mother of the Lord and her sister; and the two women who are named, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. As Luke records, there were many other women, but these stand prominently out, as having been most closely associated with Him.

All the evangelists speak of the presence of the soldiers, and of the two malefactors crucified one on either side of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke draw special attention to the centurion in charge of the carrying out of the crucifixion, and they give some account of how he was impressed in the presence of the Crucified. According to Matthew he said, "Truly this was a Son of God" ; according to Mark, "Truly this Man was a Son of God", according to Luke, "Certainly this was a righteous Man." Let me at once say that there is no contradiction between Matthew and Mark on the one hand, and Luke on the other. It is almost certain that the centurion said both of these things. It is certainly conceivable that as this man watched Jesus on the Cross, he gave utterance to more than one sentence, and we believe therefore that while Matthew and Mark chronicle the statement which impressed them, Luke chronicled what appealed to him, and was in perfect harmony with his whole scheme of teaching. The accounts are rather complementary than contradictory.

The presence of the chief priests is recorded by Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke making no reference to them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the scribes, elders, or rulers, comprising the Sanhedrin, while John ignores their presence.

Luke, who wanted to show the universality of the work and relation of Jesus, declares the presence of great multitudes of the people.

John alone tells us that the disciples were also there, and he only, moreover, refers to the fact of his own presence, and this in order that he may record Christ's committal of His mother to his care. Standing back and gazing out upon that mixed multitude, we notice the women, the soldiers, the malefactors, the centurion, the chief priests, the members of the Sanhedrin, the group of His own disciples, and in addition to these, the vast multitudes of people from the whole surrounding country. All sorts and conditions of men are gathered to the Cross, representative crowds, the whole scene being a picture and a prophecy of how, through all the centuries, every sort and condition would be gathered to the uplifted Cross of the Son of man.

Adapted from The Crises of the Christ, Book V, Chapter XXIV, by G. Campbell Morgan.

Originally published September 13, 2010.

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