“a great multitude.” This shows that there was a huge crowd of people who did follow Jesus Christ, and did not agree with his crucifixion. It shows that the people in Jerusalem were divided into two camps: the group of people who shouted “Hosanna” and “Son of David” when Jesus entered Jerusalem some days earlier (Matt. 21:9; Mark 11:9; John 12:13), and the group of people who had shouted “Crucify him” (Matt. 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:21; John 19:15). The great multitude who was following Jesus seemed to genuinely sympathize with him, but it was to the women who were so emotional that he addressed himself.
“the People.” In this context “the People” refers to the people who were Jews (see commentary on Matt. 2:4).
“were beating themselves on the chest.” The Greek is koptō (#2875 κόπτω), and it means, to cut, strike, smite, or to beat one’s breast for grief.