« PreviousContinue »
has been one of the ordinary expressions of friendship. In forming associations, men had been also in the habit of sacrificing animals, sometimes human victims ; when they did eat together of the flesh, and drink of the blood, accompanying the action with curses on themselves, if they departed from their engagements. The Jews were allowed, nay, were commanded by divine authority, to partake of the sacrifices offered to the Deity, in testimony of their interest in his protection, and as a pledge of their fidelity..... When (therefore) we see Jesus taking the bread and wine, and offering them to his disciples, as the symbols of his body and blood, can we conceive it possible for him to have given a stronger or more tender declaration of that union between them, the bonds of which were indissolvable? What purpose could this institution serve, if his death should prove the grave of their hopes? Or in what sense could they be partakers of a body which was to moulder into dust? The institution was intended to be the pledge of his love, and the cherishing of their hopes, when they should behold him stretched out on the cross, or consigned to the tomb.......
This institution was a preparatory exbibition of his own sufferings. He engages in it with a soul, not only superior to all uneasiness, but full of joy, from looking forward to the effects of his sufferings..... He sits down with the twelve, having a cruel death before him. He had often told them of the event; but they would not believe it to be possible. In breaking the bread, and in pouring out the wine, he sets it most convincingly before their eyes. All this indicates an undisturbed state of mind. He offers to the disciples the sym
bols of his sufferings with the same composure which he displayed in enduring them; and concluded this solemnity with a hymn of praise, which, though an usual part of the passover service, enters into the other with great propriety; it reflects an agreeable light on the institution itself; it expresses the dignity of its Author, whose soul no fears, no certainties, could disquiet; especially if it be also remembered, that after singing the hymn, he immediately entered on the scene of his sufferings." (Observations on the Hist. of Jesus Christ, by the Rev. D. Hunter, D.D. of St. Andrews, vol. ii. p. 186-193.)
We must not omit to remark, that on this occasion Jesus gave the first intimation that one of the twelve apostles should betray him; on which occasion, Grotius well observes the three steps of the discovery. First the traitor is described as one of the twelve, then, that he was one who sat near him, and dipped his hand in the same dish; and lastly, to the beloved John, he pointed out the individual: "He to whom I shall give a sop"-and he gave it to Judas. When he said, "One of the twelve," each made the enquiry, "Master, is it I?" Judas was the last to put the question, when he received an answer in the affirmative. Those who are the last to suspect their own hypocrisy, are generally the first to prove it.
Drs. Lightfoot and Gill, who of all commentators were the most deeply read in the customs and manners of the Jews, have minutely detailed their forms in celebrating the passover; but as these savour much of Pharisaical superstition, we much doubt whether our Lord conformed to them, except it may be in the hymn chaunted on this occasion, which was called the Great
had talked so boastingly. It is not unlikely, that the homely proverb, that "great talkers do the least," might originate from this instance of Peter's cowardice.As it is written, &c.-See Zech. xiii. 7. Expos. and Notes.
Ver.34. Before the cock crow (Mark xiv. 30, crow twice).-Whitby has produced sufficient authorities to prove that there was a double crowing of the cock-at midnight, and at day-break; the latter answered, according to him, to the fourth watch of the night, though others say the third. Perhaps the
term twice only means "repeatedly." greater difficulty is, that the Jewish authorities did not allow poultry to be kept in their city: it might, however, be done; and it should be recollected, that the Romans had now a military guard there, which was not under Jewish control. On comparing the Evangelists, it appears to us that our Lord's meaning was, that Peter should deny his Master thrice between the present hour and that of the cock crowing; i. e, about the break of day.
Our Lord's agony]
deny thee. disciples.
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful, and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
[in the garden
ciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye no watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye ente not into temptation: the spirit indeer is willing, but the flesh is weak,
42 He went away again the secon time, and prayed, saying, 0 Fa my ther, if this cup may not pass awa from me except I drink it, thy will be u done.
43 And he came and found ther asleep again: for their eyes wel heavy.
44 And he left them, and we away again, and prayed the third tim saying the same words.
45 Then cometh he to his disciple
40 And he cometh unto the dis- and saith unto them, Sleep on not
EXPOSITION-Chap. XXVI. Continued.
Hallel, and comprized from the 113th to
greater part of the Christian church-th
Jesus predicted, not only that one of hi disciples should betray him, but also the another should deny him, and that r peatedly, within a few hours, and in th most awful manner. But the event co responded exactly with the predictio Peter, the zealous, the courageous Pete thrice denied his Master, and at last w oaths and curses! What a lesson d. this teach us! "He that trusteth his o
NOTES-Chap. XXVI. Con.
Ver. 36. Gethsemane-a private and retired garden at the foot of mount Olivet, whither Jesus often retired for prayer, and where (as the name implies) an oil press then, or formerly, had been used.
Ver. 38. My soul is exceeding sorrowful, &c.Doddr. "Surrounded with sorrow;" Camp. (connecting this with the preceding verse), "Being op. pressed with grief, he said to them, My sonl is overwhelmed with a deadly anguish." This is explained to mean, a grief of mind sufficient to kill the body; "a sorrow that worketh (or produceth) death." See 1 Cor. vii. 10. Likewise Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art. iv. Note on Matt. xxvi.
Ver. 39. Let this cup pass from me.-In passing through the Psalms and prophetic Scriptures, we have had repeated occasion to illustrate this poetical form of speech. Whatever portion, whether of joy or sorrow, peace or punishment, God assigns to
man, is "the portion of his cup." Ps. xxi
Ver. 40. One hour.-The Greek term, besid more limited meaning, is often used metaphori as with us, for any short time, or period. So v Ver. 43. Their eyes were heavy Doddr." we
Ver. 45 Into the hands of sinners.—Thoug word includes sinners generally, it often refer ticularly to notorious and to Gentile sinners, ii. 15), and will therefore here include the and his company of Jews, as well as the Roma whose hands he was subsequently delivered.
Ver. 49. Hail-a usual salutation. The Gr fies" Joy to thee." The Saxon kail means "In Master-Gr. Rabbi,
He is betrayed]
and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. (L) 47 ¶ And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now he that betrayed him gave
[with a kiss. them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he hold him fast.
49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
51 And, behold, one of them which
(L) Ver. 31-46. The agonies of Jesus in Gethsemane, and his earnest prayer. -Critics have remarked the very strong language of the original in these verses; and divines have speculated on the cause and nature of these sufferings of our Redeemer's soul: yet those who best know what soul-sufferings are, know but little, and can conceive but faintly, what our Saviour suffered "in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears God his heavenly Father. (Heb. v. 7.) Let us, with Bp. Hall, treat the subject more devotionally. "What was it, what could it be, O Saviour, that lay thus heavy on thy divine soul; was it the fear of death? Was it the forefelt pain, shame, and torment of thine ensuing crucifixion?
How many thousands of thy blessed martyrs have welcomed no less (bodily) tortures with smiles and gratulations, and have made a sport of those exquisite cruelties which their very tyrants thought unsufferable! Whence had they their strength, but from thee? If their weakness were thus undaunted and prevalent, what was thy power? No, no: it was the sin of mankind; it was the heavy burden of thy Father's wrath for our sin, that thus pressed thy soul, and wrung from thee these bitter expressions. "What can it avail, O Saviour, to tell thy grief to men? Who can ease thee, but He of whom thou saidst, My Father is greater than I? Lo! to him thou turnest :
O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass
But what means this prayer? Could not Jesus tell whether his petition were possible? Or could he pray for an impossibility? Neither of these circumstances must be supposed: but the extraordinary language here used may serve to teach us, 1. That our Lord deeply felt the extreme nature of the sufferings he was about to endure for our salvation: it is as if he had said, O that there were some other way in which God could be glorified and sinners saved, without my drinking of this fatal
cup! But, 2. That he felt the absolute necessity of his own obedience unto death for these ends; and therefore, though his flesh recoiled (as it were) from the impending stroke, his heart cheerfully_submitted: "Father, nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt!" 3. When he says, "Father, all things are possible unto thee," shall we say, There is no other possible way in which God could have pardoned sinners? We dare not say this;
but we think the result warrants us in believing, that this plan was the most honourable to God, and beneficial to us. Surely God would have "spared his only begotten Son," if our Redemption could with equal propriety have been purchased by an inferior price. On such subjects, however, it becomes us rather to adore than speculate. And while we humbly accept God's best gift to man, in the person of his Son, let us also "honour the Son as we honour the Father."
"This was compassion like a God,
We must not, however, leave this interesting topic without remarking the circumstances of our Lord's disciples at this most awful and afflictive period. While the Saviour was agonized in prayer for them and us, instead of watching and praying with him, they all fell asleepasleep for sorrow; for well we know that oppressive sorrow will sometimes stupify the faculties, and overwhelm with sleep. But where is Peter, who so lately vaunted his attachment to his Master? 66 Sleepest thou, Simon! Couldest thou not watch one hour?" Alas! Simon turns himself, and falls again, and again, to sleep. But still the merciful Saviour apologizes for them; "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." The only reproof is a gentle irony. At length the enemy approaches," Sleep on now, and take your rest!" But even this he suddenly recalls, "Let us rise, and go to meet him,"
were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the High Priest, and smote off his ear.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as
[himself to his enemies. against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
56 But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples for sook him, and fled.
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the High Priest, where the Scribes and the elders were assembled.
58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the High Priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants to see the end. (M)
EXPOSITION-Chap. XXVI. Continued.
(M) Ver. 47-58. Jesus surrenders himself to his enemies.-From the manner in which Peter here acted, it appears that he was perfectly sincere in his resolution not to deny his Lord; and had even resolved to risk his life in his defence, with the hope, probably, that his Master, whose amiracles he had often witnessed, would, when he saw his fidelity and zeal, in some way support him, and save both himself and his disciples. But Peter was grossly mistaken; his Master wrought no miracles but those of mercy; and even those not on his own behalf, but for others, even for his enemies, as in the case before us. Instantly he commands the rash disciple to put up his sword, and heals the wound he had made, by cutting off the ear of " the high priest's servant." At the same time he reproves his warlike disposition, and gives him to understand that those who use the sword must expect to perish by it; which applies particularly to the case of persons who, like Peter, have had recourse to it in order to defend themselves from persecution; as, for instance, the Hussites in Bohemia, and the Huguenots in France. Why Peter struck at the high priest's servant, does not appear; perhaps he was armed, and might threaten him; perhaps he had seized hold of his Master; or r pos
sibly the blow was not aimed at him, but fell promiscuously; for had he aimed at any one, he most likely would have attacked Judas. But we should recollect this was before daylight.
Judas has immortalized his infamy, not only by betraying his Master, but by betraying him with a kiss. Dr. Guise and others have reasonably supposed, that Jesus permitted his apostles thus to salute him, on returning to him after absence; he might therefore think it would excite no suspicion of his design; but he has thereby become, in the Hebrew idiom, "the father of all those who betray thei Master with a kiss:" a fraternity most un happily numerous in the Christian world and embracing all those who profess at tachment to the Saviour, merely to pro mote their secular interests; and especial those who partake of the sacred institutio of his supper, merely (as Cowper express it) as "the pick-lock of a place."
Our Lord Jesus is particularly care to have it understood that his surrend was voluntary, for he had only to addre his Holy Father, and were it consistent w his decree, an army of angels would assigned for his protection, to which human opposition would be utterly vain; and yet what protection could be
NOTES-Chap. XXVI. Con.
Ver. 54. That thus it must be?-See Acts ii. 22-24. Our Lord continually adverts to the necessity of the Scriptures being fulfilled. See ver. 56.
Ver. 55. As against a thief- Doddr." Robber;" ading to the chiefs of banditti, common in the mountains of Judea.Staves-namely, of office, like those of constables with us.
Ver. 56. That the Scriptures.... might be fulfilled.-This object we find traced through all the
evangelists, not as a motive of human action as a lending design of Providence. For the pi tion here alluded to, turn back to ver. 31. Ver. 58. And nent in-namely, into the cour fore the palace, which was always open to the though sometimes with piazzas round it. certain, however, that this palace was the p residence of Caiaphas (which is understood to been on Mount Sion), but rather his official ! or apartments in the temple, where the Sanh now sat, and into one of the courts of which and John obtained admission. So the late Ed Calmet, Fragments, No. cxxxvi.
59¶ Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
62 And the High Priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
63 But Jesus held his peace. And the High Priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the High Priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,
68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? (N)
69 Now Peter sat without in the
quired for him whom the winds and seas obeyed? for him who hath the keys of death and the grave suspended at his girdle? (Rev. i. 18.)
Jesus remonstrates with the guard sent to arrest him, on the method taken to pursue him into his devotional retreat, when they saw him daily teaching in the temple; but when he says, "Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves?" our Saviour plainly intimates that swords and staves may be necessary in treating with such characters; but surely not with him as a prophet and teacher of religion: and though indeed, he claimed a kingdom, it was of a nature so purely spiritual that it required no support from the sword, much less could it be propagated by it. He then adds, upon the officers stating that himself personally was the object of their search, "Let these (disciples) go their way' (John xviii. 8); and they took the opportunity to fly. One young man, in particular, having only a garment loosely thrown over him, left it in the hands of the officers and fled naked; and, one way or other, they all forsook him, and sought their own safety.
It has been thought strange, however, that Peter was suffered to escape, after cutting off the ear of Malchus, the high
priest's servant. But how was the charge to be maintained? The ear was cured, and to examine the charge, would only be to call evidence in proof of our Saviour's miracles and Malchus, we may well suppose, was too much affected with his cure to come forward as a witness against Peter.
As to Peter himself, though he deserted his Master for the present, he could not abandon him; but followed him afar off. It appears by John's gospel (chap. xviii. 13), that Jesus was first taken to Aunas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, to whom he immediately sent him; and thither Peter, and probably some other of the apostles, followed him at a distance, and by means of John, obtained admittance within the hall (or rather court) of the high priest. But we must leave Peter for the present, and attend to the circumstances of his divine Master, who is brought before the whole Sanhedrim, the highest court among the Jews, which, on this occasion, was hastily assembled in the high priest's palace.
(N) Ver. 59-68. Jesus arraigned at the bar of the Jewish high priest.-Behold the Son of God now undergoing a mock trial, to gratify the malice of his enemies!We call it a mock trial, because on the preceding day a council had been expressly
Ver. 61. This fellow.-This scornful term is supplied by our translators, and perhaps the common term man would be more warrantable.
Ver. 63. I adjure thee.-Thus the high priest, in his magisterial capacity, lays the Holy Jesus under a judicial oath, which in some cases, very different from the present, he was allowed to lay upon the accased party. See Num. v. 19, &c.
Ver. 64. Thou hast said.-See Note on ver. 25. The Son of man-See Dan. vii. 13, 14, and Exposition of chap. xxiv. 29.
Ver. 65. Rent his clothes.-It has been said, that the high priest might never rend his clothes; but that he might, and did on extraordinary occasions, Dr. Lardner has given several instances. Credib. vol. i. bk. i. ch. 7.