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Having thus devised an imaginary evil, he flies to injustice to remove it. It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. It could never be really expedient to commit an unjust deed, and shed innocent blood. And we cannot help remarking, that by this very injustice he made that danger real which he pretended to be avoiding. "When the lord of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto these husbandmen," who cast out his son and slew him? "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen. And then it was that the Romans did come, and take away their place and nation.
There was, however, in the words of Caiaphas, a deeper meaning than he knew. It was not, in the strict sense of the term, a prophecy: but it told beforehand that which proved true, that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. St. John, in his Revelation, describes one of the visions granted him. "I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb." This multitude are the children of God, then and now scattered abroad: living in distant ages and in distant places, differing in every outward cir
1 Matt. xxi. 40, 41.
2 Rev. vii. 9.
cumstance, but gathered together in one: having "one Lord, one faith, one baptism;" united in a common bond on earth, that they "believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;" and hereafter to be united for ever in the kingdom prepared for them. Wherever the gospel is faithfully set forth, we find that God has children who answer to the call of his word, and do not receive his grace in vain." Those, for example, were children of God, whom the Lord spoke of to St. Paul in a vision, saying, (Acts xviii. 9,) "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace for I have much people in this city." On that encouragement, he continued at Corinth " a year and six months, teaching the word of God amongst them." And we know how large a congregation of Christians was there "added to the Lord."
Those, however, are not always among his children, who in regard of outward privileges are nearest to their heavenly Father. That mercy which many of the heathen" received gladly," the Jews themselves were now putting from them.
53. Then from that day forth they took counsel together or to put him to death.
54. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
55. And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
56. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
57. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.
MARY ANOINTS THE FEET OF JESUS.
JOHN xii. 1-8.
1. Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2. There they made him a supper; and Martha served : but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5. Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6. This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but be
cause he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
It is seen in this transaction by a very vivid example, what it is to be alive unto God, and what it is to live to this present world. The nature of all life is eagerly to seize whatever nourishes it or is congenial to it. This sister of Lazarus was so conscious of the benefits which she had received from the Lord Jesus, and so filled with her love towards him, that she was sensibly alive to every opportunity of doing him honour. Such an opportunity now offered; he was entertained at a friendly neighbour's house and it was a custom on great occasions, to show respect for distinguished guests, by anointing them with perfume. So she hastened for an alabaster box of ointment which she had, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. Had she been alive to the opinion of others, she would not have risked their censure; and they did blame her. Had she been alive to her personal gratification, she would have kept this ointment for herself. But her heart was bound up with her Saviour, and only alive to any means of honouring him, at whose feet she had often sat, and received the words of eternal life. The heart of Judas was in a state entirely differ
He was alive only to this present world and its gains. So that when this box of spikenard was broken and emptied of its valuable contents, he at once perceived how his own advantage might have been served by it. The perfume might have been
1 See Matt. xxvi. 6.
sold its produce entrusted to his charge: and an opportunity of fraudulent profit would have been given him. He could not restrain his murmur of indignation: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
How wise in their generation are the children of this world! How keenly sensible to the objects before them
7. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Jesus, as might be expected, approves and defends the affection and zeal of his disciple. Even if there had been any reasonable ground of blame, the occasion and the intention would have excused what was done. Against the day of my burying
hath she kept this. Mary could not be aware of his approaching death: but she would lose no opportunity of displaying her love, and it would prove, that no other would remain to her. She would not always, nor indeed ever again, have him with her as now; and could not do him honour when she pleased. The poor always ye have with you, and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good but me ye have not always.?
More, surely, is intimated by this remark, than the mere fact that "the poor shall never cease throughout the land." Is it not intended, that
Compare Mark xiv. 7.