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Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.
For the exposition see the notes at Mark 14:1-41.14.2; Mark 14:10-41.14.11, with the corresponding Remarks at the close of that section.
We have now arrived, in the progress of the Redeemer's earthly history, at the fifth day of His last week-the Thursday-on which the preparations now to described were made. Here arises a question of extreme difficulty, a question very early discussed in the Church, a question which has divided and to this day divides, the ablest critics: 'Did our Lord eat the Passover with His disciples at all? and if He did, was it on the same day on which it was eaten by the rest of the Jews, or was it a day earlier? Had we only the testimony of the first three Evangelists, there could be no doubt both that He ate the Passover, and that He ate it on the usual statutory evening-on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan; for their testimony to this effect is concurrent and decisive (Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7; with which the whole of Matthew 26:17, etc., though less explicit, accords). But, on the other hand, if we had only the testimony of the Fourth Evangelist, we should not be perfectly sure that our Lord ate the paschal supper at all; or if it should seem clear enough, though not explicitly stated that the "super" of John 13:1-43.13.38 was no other than the Passover, one would certainly have been apt to conclude, from some expressions in that Gospel, that up to the morning of the Friday-when our Lord was before the ecclesiastical and civil tribunals for judgments-the Jews had not eaten their Passover, and consequently, that Jesus and His disciples, if they ate it at all, must have eaten it a day before the proper time.
One, general remark on this question may here be made: That from the nature of the case, a mistake on such a point by all the three first Evangelists, whose accounts coincide and yet evince themselves to be independent narratives, was hardly possible; and as to the Fourth Evangelist-who was himself so largely concerned in the whole transaction, and whose Gospel, written after the other three had been long in circulation, bears evidence of having been drawn up to supplement the others-it is not conceivable that there should have been any error on his part. And as there is not a trace in his Gospel of any design to correct an error on this subject in the other three, one is forced to conclude-apart altogether from the divine authority of the Gospels-that the first three Evangelists and the fourth must be at one on this important point. Now since the testimony of the first three is explicit and cannot be set aside, while that of the fourth is but general and presumptive, the conclusion to which we feel ourselves shut up is, that the Passover was eaten by our Lord and His apostles on the usual evening. The expressions in the Fourth Gospel, which seem to imply the reverse, but which may all, as we think, be interpreted consistently with the view we have stated, will be taken up at the places where they occur.
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed. The day here, alluded to - "the first day of unleavened bread" (Matthew 26:17) - was the 14th Nisan, when, about mid-day, labour was intermitted, and all leaven removed from the houses (Exodus 12:15-2.12.17). Then, "between the two evenings" (Exodus 12:6, margin) - or between three and six o'clock-the paschal lamb was killed, and in the evening, when the 15th Nisan began, was eaten. And though "the days of unleavened bread" properly began with the 15th, the preparations for the festival being made on the 14th, it was popularly called, as here, the "first" day of unleavened bread-as we learn from Josephus, whose way of speaking agrees with that here employed. The two disciples being sent from Bethany to make the necessary preparations on the Thursday, our Lord and the other disciples followed them to the city later in the day, and probably as evening drew near.
And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat.
And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
And they said unto him, Where? ...
And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest-chamber, Where, I shall eat the Passover with my disciples?
And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
And he shall show you a large upper room furnished, [ estroomenon (G4766)] - or 'spread;' with tables, and couches, and covering, all ready for supper. Such large apartments were set apart by the inhabitants of the city, for the accommodation of parties from the country.
And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. See the similarly minute directions to the two who were sent to procure the donkey on which He rode into Jerusalem, Luke 19:30-42.19.32.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
And when the hour was come - about six o'clock, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him - the whole twelve, Judas included.
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired, [ epithumia (G1939) epethumeesa (G1937)] - the strongest expression of intense desire. In Genesis 31:30 the same expression [ nikcop (H3700) nikªcapªtaah (H3700); epithumia (G1939) epethumeesa (G1937)] is rendered "thou sore longedst."
To eat this Passover with you before I suffer. The last meal one is to partake of with his family or friends before his departure even for a far distant land, in all probability never to see them again, is a solemn and fond one to any thoughtful and loving person. The last meal of a martyr of Jesus with his friends in the truth, before being led forth to execution, is still more touching. But faint are these illustrations of the emotions with which Jesus now sat down to supper with the Twelve. All the sweetness and all the sadness of His social intercourse with them, from the day that He first chose them to be with Him, were now to be concentrated and heightened to their utmost intensity during the brief hour or two of this their last meal together. But this was no common meal, nor even common Passover. It was to be the point of transition between two divine economies and their respective festivals; the one to close forever, the other to run its majestic career through all time, until from a terrestrial form it should dissolve into a form celestial. No wonder, then, that He said, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." This, as Alford remarks, is the only instance in the Gospels in which the word "suffer" [ paschoo (G3958)] is used in its absolute sense-as in the Creed, 'He suffered under Pontius Pilate.'
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
For I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God - or, as in Matthew 26:29, "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom," or "in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25). The primary application of this, no doubt, is to the new Gospel kingdom to be fully erected when the old economy, with its Passover and temple-rites, should disappear. But the best interpreters agree that its only full and proper application is to that celestial kingdom of which He speaks so beautifully in Luke 22:30 - "that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom," etc.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
And he took the cup. Several cups of wine were partaken of, or tasted, during the somewhat elaborate rites observed in the celebration of the Passover. This was probably the first one: but it is not to be confounded with the Eucharistic cup mentioned in Luke 22:29, and then partaken of for the first time; this Paschal cup was now partaken of for the last time.
And gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves. A false inference has been drawn from this by some expositors-that Christ did not Himself drink of it. The contrary is obvious from His earnest desire to "eat this Passover with them," and of course to drink the Paschal cup; and in what follows. He expressly says that He did drink of it.
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. See the note at Luke 22:16, of which this is but a repetition, in a form adapted to the cup, as there it was uttered in a form adapted to the paschal lamb and the bread eaten with it.
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
And he took bread, and gave thanks (see the note at Mark 6:41). In Matthew and Mark it is "and blessed it." The one act includes the other. He "gave thanks," not so much here for the literal bread, as for that higher food which was couched under it; and He "blessed" it as the ordained channel of spiritual nourishment.
And brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 'The expression, "This is my body,"' says Alexander most truly, 'which is common to all the accounts, appears so unambiguous and simple an expression, that it is hard to recognize in it the occasion and the subject of the most protracted and exciting controversy that has rent the Church within the last thousand years. That controversy is so purely theological that it has scarcely any basis in the exposition of the text; the only word upon which it could fasten (the verb is) being one which in Aramaic (or Syro-Chaldaic), would not be expressed, and therefore belongs merely to the Greek translation of our Saviour's language. [But this supposes our Lord now spoke in Aramaic-the contrary of which we believe.] Until the strong unguarded figures of the early Fathers had been petrified into a dogma, at first by popular misapprehension, and at last by theological perversion, these words suggested no idea but the one which they still convey to every plain unbiased reader, that our Saviour calls the bread His body in the same sense that He calls Himself a door (John 10:9), a vine (John 15:1), a root (Revelation 22:16), a star, and is described by many other metaphors in Scripture. The bread was an emblem of His flesh, as wounded for the sins of men, and as administered for their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.'
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
Likewise also the cup after supper - not after the Lord's Supper, as if the taking of the Bread and of the cup in it were separated so far as that; but after the paschal supper, and consequently immediately after the distribution of the bread. The accounts of Matthew and of Mark would seem to imply that He gave thanks on taking the cup, as well as with the bread; but here, at any rate, and in the most authoritative account, perhaps, which we have, in 1 Corinthians 11:23, etc., that is not said.
Saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. In Matthew 26:28, "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." In 1 Corinthians 11:25, "This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." Most critics now maintain that the word here rendered "testament" [ diatheekee (G1242)] should be rendered covenant, not only here but wherever else it occurs in the New Testament; being used in the Old Testament constantly by the Septuagint translators for the, well-known Hebrew word signifying 'covenant [ bªriyt (H1285)], which never signifies 'testament.' Here, in particular, there is a manifest allusion to Exodus 24:8, "Behold, the blood of the covenant [ daam (H1818) habªriyt (H1285)] which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words," Now it is beyond doubt that 'covenant' is the fundamental idea, and that in the Old Testament the word is correctly rendered "covenant." But let it be observed first, that 'testament' or 'will' is the proper classical sense of the Greek word, and 'disposition' or 'covenant' but a secondary sense; and next, that in Hebrews 9:15, etc., the sense of 'testament' appears to be so obviously what the apostle reasons on, that to exclude it there, and restrict the meaning to 'covenant,' can only be made to yield the harshest sense.
But the true harmony of both senses of the word, and how, in the case of Christ's death, the one runs into the other, will be seen, not by any criticism on the word, but by reflecting on the thing. If it be true that by 'covenant,' or eternal divine arrangement, all the blessings of salvation become the rightful possession of believers solely in virtue of Christ's death, does not this almost irresistibly suggest to every reflecting mind the idea of a testator's death as a most true and exalted conception of the virtue of it? What can be a more natural view of the principle on which the fruits of Christ's death become ours than that of a testamentary disposition? Then, observe how near to this idea of His death our Lord Himself came in what He said, when the Greeks sought to "see Jesus" on the eve of His last Passover, "The hour is come when the Son of man should be glorified: Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 13:23-43.13.24). Observe too, His mode of expression twice over at the supper table, "I appoint [ diatithemai (G1303)] unto you, as My Father appointed [ dietheto (G1303)] unto a kingdom" (Luke 22:29); "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you" (see the note at John 14:27): and it will be seen, we think how each, idea suggests the other. While that of 'covenant' is confessedly the fundamental one, that of 'testament' is accessory or illustrative only. Yet the one is as real as the other, and presents a phase of the truth exceeding precious. In this view Bengel substantially concurs, and Stier entirely.
But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table ... See the notes at John 13:21-43.13.26.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
And there was (rather, here, 'there had been') a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. Some symptoms of the former contention on this subject seem to have reappeared once more; probably just before sitting down to the paschal supper, and perhaps in consequence of seeing the whole paschal arrangements committed to two of the Twelve. (See the note at Mark 9:33, etc.) But of all occasions for giving way to such petty ambition and jealousy, this was the worst, and to our Lord must have been the most painful. And if so, who can but wonder at the gentleness with which He here rebukes it?
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors, [ euergetai (G2110)] - a title which the vanity of princes eagerly coveted.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. Of how little avail has this condemnation of "lordship" and other vain titles been against the vanity of Christian ecclesiastics!
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. See the notes at Mark 10:42-41.10.45, with Remarks 3 and 4 at the close of that section; also, on John 13:6-43.13.8, with Remark 2 at the close of that section.
Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
Ye are they which have continued with me, in my temptations. Affecting evidence this, of Christ's tender susceptibility to human sympathy and support! See the note at Luke 22:40; and at John 6:66-43.6.67; John 16:32.
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me - or, according to the order of the original text, 'And I appoint unto you, as My Father hath appointed unto Me, a kingdom.' Who is this that dispenses kingdoms, nay, the Kingdom of kingdoms, within an hour or two of His apprehension, and less than a day of His shameful death? These sublime contrasts, however, perpetually meet and entrance us in this matchless History. The 'giving of a given' Kingdom is in our Lord's usual style of speaking, in which He ever holds forth His oneness in counsel with the Father. 'So far from the high claims I advance being an unwarrantable usurpation of divine prerogatives, dishonouring to the Father, it is from Him I have My commission to be, here, to do all I do, and dispense all I bestow.' See the note at Matthew 28:18; and at John 5:19, etc.
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. See the note at Luke 18:29.
(1) The feelings of Jesus Himself have been too much lost sight of in attention to His work, in such portions of the History-a somewhat selfish way of reading it, which punishes itself by the dry and not very satisfactory views thence resulting. Blessed Jesus! Do I hear thee, on seating Thyself at the Paschal table, laying open the burden of Thy heart to the Twelve, saying, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer," telling them it was the last Passover Thou wouldst eat with them on earth, and the last time Thou wouldst drink with them here below of the fruit of the vine? In this I read, so as I am not able to express it, Thy oneness with us even in our social sympathies. All that makes a last meeting and a last meal with one's family, whole and unbroken, or with friends with whom one has gone in and out for years in joy and sorrow, alike in the commonest and the loftiest intercourse, an occasion of special solemnity and tender interest-all this, it seems, was felt by Thee; and if felt at all, felt surely on this occasion with an intensity unknown to us.
For it was more than Thy last meal-it was the last Paschal meal ever to be partaken of even by Thy disciples. Ere another such season came round, the typical Passover was to be exchanged for the commemorative Supper; and even at that very table, the one was sweetly to be transfigured into the other. One can understand, then, the emotion that filled Thy heart, when, surrounded by the Twelve in that upper room, Thou foundest Thyself arrived at this stage, And yet, how can we enough bless Thee for giving utterance to this; because who else would have ventured to presume it? But there is something else here, which is at least as noteworthy as this. The treason-hatching, the traitor, the plan, the end-and all so near, so very imminent-were full before Thee, blessed Saviour; yea, the traitor himself was sitting at that table: and yet, with what holy calmness Thou reclinest at this meal! One word Thou utterest of direct allusion to it - "Before I suffer" just to reveal the spring of surpassing interest Thou didst feel in that Passover; but only one.
When after this the new Feast was instituted for all that should believe on Thee through their word to the world's end, it was only to explain the deep intent of that Feast that the bloody scene was again alluded to-and so serenely! not at all in the light of the dishonour done to Thee, but of the benefit thereby accruing to thee-not in the light of Thy suffering, but of the expiatory virtue of that blood of Thine to the salvation of a lost world! But here I see another thing, which at once ravishes and melts me. This Feast Thou wouldst have kept up "lN REMEMBRANCE OF THEE" - not Thy death merely, and the benefits thence resulting, but Thyself. No one who has a heart at all would like to be forgotten of those he loves; everyone would like to be remembered when he is gone. And is it even so with Thee, O Thou whom my soul loveth? Thy love, it seems-like all other love-seeks a response; it will have itself appreciated and reciprocated, and in that Thou hast all Thy desire; thus to see of the travail of Thy soul is Thy satisfaction, Thy reward (Isaiah 53:11).
But had sufficient provision not been made for that without this Supper-in that Thy love is shed abroad in Thy people's hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto them-a love constraining them to live not unto themselves, but unto Him that died for them and rose again? True, but Thou art not yet contented. Thou wilt be enshrined in the Church's visible services-and that not in the glory of Thy Person, Thy character, Thy teaching, Thy miracles, or all of these together, but of that Decease which was accomplished at Jerusalem, of that dearest act of Self-sacrifice by which Thy people's ransom was paid; Thou wilt be held visibly up as the bruised Messiah, the bleeding Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world. And who shall say what shallow faith has not been deepened, what languishing affections have not been afresh enkindled by this most blessed ordinance, and how much of its spiritual nourishment in all time to come the Church of Christ will not owe to this ordinance? O yes, as we sit at that eucharistic table with robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, and as our faith gazes, through its instituted elements of bread and wine, on that bleeding Lamb, now in the midst of the Throne, does not the hymn of redeeming love go up to Him fresher and warmer than ever before, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen"?
(2) In the light of these views, what are we to think of the monstrous abuses of this ordinance, on the one hand by Unitarians-who can celebrate it and yet see in it no atonement, and nothing beyond a memorial banquet in honour of a most heroic sufferer for virtue-and, on the other hand, by Romanists, who bury its precious truths and destroy its quickening efficacy under the detestable abuses of transubstantiation and the mass! On the 'Real Presence' and other eucharistic controversies, see the note at 1 Corinthians 11:23, etc.
Here must be taken in an important particular, omitted by our Evangelist, but supplied in the first two Gospels.
DESERTION OF JESUS BY THE APOSTLES FORETOLD
(Matthew 26:31-40.26.32; Mark 14:27-41.14.28)
Had we only the first two Gospels, we ahould have concluded that this was spoken after our Lord had left the upper room, and either reached or was on His way to the Mount of Olives. But from the Third and Fourth Gospels, it would appear to have been spoken while they were yet at the supper table. Some suppose that part of it was spoken before they left the supper room, and the rest during that last and most mournful of all His walks with them, from the city to the Mount of Olives. But we prefer to conceive of that walk as taken in silence. Matthew 26:31, "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night" [ skandalistheesesthe (G4624) en (G1722) emoi (G1698)] - 'shall be stumbled in me;' temporarily staggered on seeing their Master apprehended. In the expression, "All ye," there may be a reference to the one who had just "gone out." Great as was the relief, now for the first time experienced by the Saviour Himself, on the traitor's voluntary separation from a fellowship to which He never in heart belonged, (see the note at John 13:31), even in those who remained there was something which burdened the spirit and wounded the heart of the Man of Sorrows.
It saddened Him to think that, within one brief hour or two of the time when their hearts had warmed toward Him more than ever at the Paschal and Communion Table, they should every one of them be 'stumbled' because of Him: "for it is written (Zechariah 13:7), I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad." Matthew 26:32. "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." He falls back upon this striking prophecy, partly to confirm their faith in what they would otherwise hardly think credible; and partly to console Himself with the reflection that it was but one of "the things concerning him" which "would have an end" - that they would be but links in the chain, "doing what God's hand and purpose determined before to be done." The whole of this marvelous prediction, as it stands in the prophet, runs thus: "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow [ `al (H5920) geber (H1397) `ªmiytiy (H5997)], saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones" Here observe, first, that in the prophet, Yahweh calls upon the sword to awake against His Shepherd and smite Him; here, Jesus receives the thrust direct from the Father's own hand: compare John 18:11, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" Each view of it presents an aspect of sublime and affecting truth.
Next, in the passage, as it stands in Zechariah, two classes are spoken of - "the sheep," who are "scattered" on the striking down of their Shepherd (as might be expected, whether literally or figuratively); and "the little ones," on whom Yahweh's hand is to be lovingly "turned," to gather or collect them. The former class are the unbelieving nation, who, being staggered and stumbled at a suffering Messiah, turned away from Jesus, and were thereafter nationally scattered or dispersed. The latter are, of course, the little flock of Christ's disciples, who, on the dispersion of the nation, were gathered not only into safety, but to honour and blessedness unspeakable as a redeemed Church. Now mark what turn our Lord here gives to the prophecy. Making no mention, at that solemn moment, of the dispersion of the unbelieving nation, He represents the disciples themselves as both the dispersed and the gathered.
When He their Shepherd, who up to that moment had been their one bond of dear union, should be smitten-even that night, when the first blow was to be struck at Him by His apprehension-their faith in Him would be momentarily shaken, and "for a small moment" their unbelief would have the same effect as on the nation at large, making them start back and run away, like a flock of sheep when their shepherd is struck down. "But" - now viewing them as "the little ones" on whom Yahweh was to turn His hand. - "after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee;" like a true Shepherd, who, "when He putteth forth His own sheep, goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him" (John 10:4). The scattered in Gethsemane were to be the gathered in Galilee! How very explicit He is in His announcements now, when on the eve of parting with them until after His resurrection. This manifest allusion to the remainder of the prophecy - "I will turn mine hand upon the little ones" - how beautiful is it! This He only began to do when He went before them into Galilee; for though after His resurrection He had several interviews with them at Jerusalem before this, it was in Galilee that He appears to have collected and rallied them, as the Shepherd of His lately scattered flock, and to have given them some at least of those parting instructions and commissions which maybe termed the initial organization of the Church. But to return to our Evangelist, whose narrative now is the fullest.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon. On this reduplication of the name, see the note at Luke 10:41, and at Matthew 23:37.
That he may sift you as wheat - is sifted. "The accuser of the brethren, who accuseth them before God day and night" (Revelation 12:10), is here represented as accusing these disciples of Christ of hollowness in their attachment to Him; and alleging that if, as in the case of Job (Job 1:6-18.1.12; Job 2:1-18.2.6), he were only permitted to "sift them," it would soon be seen that there was chaff enough among the wheat, if indeed there would be found, after that sifting, any wheat at all. So he first 'asks them,' and then he 'obtains them' (for both ideas are required to complete the sense of the word used) for this sifting purpose. And observe it is not 'hath obtained,' but 'obtained;' that is, it is a transaction past, and you are already given over to him-to the extent of his petition-to be allowed to sift you.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not, [ Egoo (G1473) de (G1161) edeeetheen (G1189) peri (G4012) sou (G4675) hina (G2443) mee (G3361) ekleipee (G1587) hee (G3588) pistis (G4102) sou (G4675)]. Here again, it is not, "I have, prayed for thee," but 'I prayed regarding thee.' The "I" too is emphatic: q.d., 'While Satan was soliciting and obtaining you all to sift you as wheat, I was engaged in praying regarding thee-as in greater danger than all the rest-that thy faith fail not; and when the transaction between God and SATAN was completed by your being, every one of you, given over for sifting purposes into the enemy's hand, the transaction between God and ME about thee, Peter, was a completed one too-for Me the Father heareth always.' Such is the import of these pregnant words of Jesus. But all this was not fully expressed. So far from that, it is not improbable that a misapprehension of what, our Lord meant by Peter's faith not "failing" helped to bolster him up in his false security. What, then, did our Lord mean by this? Not, certainly, that Peter's faith might not give way at all, or to any extent; for in that sense it did fail, and that foully enough. Clearly His prayer was that Peter's faith might not utterly fail-altogether give way-or perish. How near it came to that, and how it only stopped short of that, the sequel affectingly showed. See the note at Luke 22:62.
And when thou art converted (brought back afresh as a penitent disciple), strengthen thy brethren - `fortify them against like falls by holding up to them thine own bitter experience.'
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. In Matthew and Mark it was when our Lord told them they should all be stumbled in Him that night, that Peter said, "Though all men" - or rather, "all," meaning all that sat with him at the table - "shall be offended in Thee, yet will I never be offended" (Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29). But as the answer there given by our Lord is the same as that recorded by our Evangelist, he probably uttered both protestations in his vehemence at one time; his feeling being roused by our Lord singling him out from all the rest. Poor Peter, thou shalt yet pay dear for that unlovely elevation of thyself above the rest of thy brethren, when thy risen Lord shall wring thy heart by asking thee, in presence of these very brethren, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?" (see the notes at John 21:15-43.21.17). Yet no vain-glorious vaunt was this of Peter. It was just the outcoming of conscious attachment: insomuch that all the rest, feeling a cord touched in their own hearts by this protestation, immediately repeated it for themselves. For, add our two first Evangelists, "Likewise also said all the disciples." Dear disciples! Ye spoke out but the feelings of your heart then; your Lord knew that, and doubtless was comforted by it, as a spontaneous utterance of your hearts' affection. But little thought ye how seen it was to be seen-in all of you, but in Peter pre-eminently-that "he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. Most interesting and touching is the fact, that whereas in the first, third, and fourth Gospels only one crowing of the cock is mentioned as sounding the note of Peter's fall, in the second Gospel-which all ancient tradition proclaims, and internal evidence suggests, to have been drawn up under the immediate eye of Peter-it is said that two crowings of the cock would sound his fall. And as it is Mark alone who records the fact that the cock did crow twice-the first time after one denial of his Lord, and the second immediately after the last-we have thus an affecting announcement, almost from his own pen, that warning after warning passed unheeded, until the second knell rung in his ears and bitterly revealed how much wiser his Lord was than he.
The fourth Gospel gives all this in a somewhat different and beautiful connection - John 13:36-43.13.38. Our Lord had been saying (Luke 22:33), "Whither I go, ye cannot come. Simon Peter," not prepared for that, "said unto Him, Lord, where goest Thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterward" - meaning to glory through the gate of martyrdom (John 21:18-43.21.19). "Peter" - getting a glimpse of His meaning but only rising to a higher feeling of readiness for anything, "said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?" What deep though tender irony is in this repetition of his words, which Peter as he retraced the painful particulars, would feel for many a day after his recovery! "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow, until thou hast denied Me thrice."
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 'Ye see, then, your sufficiency in Me.'
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 'But now that ye are going forth, not as before on a temporary mission, provided for without purse or scrip, but into scenes of continued and severe trial, your methods must be different; for purse and scrip will now be needed for support, and the usual means of defense.'
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
For I say unto you, that this that is written (Isaiah 53:12 ) must yet be accomplished in me, [ eti (G2089)] - or, yet remains to be fulfilled.
And he was reckoned among the transgressors. This is among the very last and most pregnant of that most remarkable series of details which have made the 53rd chapter of Isaiah to read to the Church in every age more like a history, than a prophecy, of the sufferings of Christ and the glories that were to follow them (see the note at John 19:18).
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. Honest souls! They thought He referred to present defense, for which they declare themselves ready, no matter what might be the issue; though they significantly hint that two swords would make sorry enongh work. But His answer shows that He meant something else.
And he said unto them, It is enough - not 'Two will suffice, but 'Enough of this for the present.' The warning had been given, and preparation for coming dangers hinted at; but as His meaning had not been apprehended in the comprehensive sense in which it was meant, He wished to leave the subject.
The Evening in the upper room had now passed into night; because Jesus seemed to linger over that hallowed scene, breathing forth heavenly discourse after the Paschal and Eucharistic services were over, not caring to break up His last and sweetest fellowship with them a moment sooner than the dark work before Him required. But the closing act of that heavenly fellowship is omitted by our Evangelist, though happily supplied in the first two Gospels.
THE CLOSING HYMN
(Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26)
"And when they had sung an hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives [ humneesantes (G5214)]. literally, 'having hymned;' that is, having chanted, according to the Jewish practice at the close of the Passover, the second part of what the Jews call The Great Hallel. It consisted of Psalms 115:1-19.115.18; Psalms 116:1-19.116.19; Psalms 117:1-19.117.2; Psalms 118:1-19.118.29; the first part of it, embracing Psalms 113:1-19.113.9 and Psalms 114:1-19.114.8, having been sung during the Paschal supper. Or, if our Lord and His apostles sang the second part of this immediately after the Passover, and before instituting the supper, what they closed their hallowed meeting with may have been portions of Psalms 120:1-19.120.7; Psalms 121:1-19.121.8; Psalms 122:1-19.122.9; Psalms 123:1-19.123.4; Psalms 124:1-19.124.8; Psalms 125:1-19.125.5; Psalms 126:1-19.126.6; Psalms 127:1-19.127.5; Psalms 128:1-19.128.6; Psalms 129:1-19.129.8; Psalms 130:1-19.130.8; Psalms 131:1-19.131.3; Psalms 132:1-19.132.18; Psalms 133:1-19.133.3; Psalms 134:1-19.134.3; Psalms 135:1-19.135.21; Psalms 136:1-19.136.26, which were sometimes sung on that occasion. At any rate, the strain was from a portion of the Psalter eminently Messianic; a portion in which the mystery of redemption is richly conveyed to the spiritual mind. Bengel has a remark here more quaint than correct. 'That Jesus prayed,' he says, 'we often read; that He sang, never.' But to "sing forth the honour of God`s name, and make His praise glorious," is a duty so frequently and peremptorily inculcated on men, that it is inconceivable that "the Man Christ Jesus" should have passed His life without ever so using His voice; and the saints feel this independently of the command to be the most exalted and delightful exercise of heart and flesh, and a bright earnest of heaven itself, who shall say that Jesus, amidst the "sorrows" with which He was so familiar, and the "grief" with which He was "acquainted," did not get such "songs in the night," as turned His darkness into light? What a spectacle would that have been-the eleven disciples trying, as best they could, to cheer their sorrowing hearts with those songs of Zion which the Paschal season invariably brought round, and their level standing mute beside them. To me this is inconceivable. But the hymn is over. The scenes of the upper room have closed, and for the last time the disciples go forth with their blessed Master to the Mount of Olives, in whose garden was now to be transacted the most mysterious of all passages in the Redeemer`s History. Remarks:
(1) The heart-breaking reproach which Jesus had already experienced, but which was soon to come down upon Him in its cruelest and most cutting form would seem enough to bear without being aggravated by the desertion of His own disciples. But both these were in the cup which was given him to drink, and both seem to be comprehended in that affecting prophetic complaint, "Reproach hath broken My heart, and I am full of heaviness, and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none" (Psalms 69:20). See the note at John 16:32.
(2) Who can fathom the mingled bitterness and sweetness of the cup which was given to Christ to drink? That there were high ends of righteousness and grace which demanded that penal death, who can doubt with those words of Yahweh ringing in his ears, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd!" Jesus heard those words, and knew that, summoned by that call, the Jewish officers, with Judas at their head, were coming to apprehend Him, and even then making their arrangements. Little did anyone then think that Jewish malignity and the awful treachery of covetous Judas were but "doing what God's hand and counsel determined before to be done." But Jesus knew it, and knew that those unconscious instruments of His approaching apprehension, condemnation, and death, were only held back until the Voice should say, Awake now, and smite the Shepherd! Mysterious words, considering Whence they came, and against Whom they were directed! Who, in the view of this, shall say that the death of Christ had not penal ingredients, of bitterest taste? But O the sweetness of these words, "MY Shepherd-the Man that is MY FELLOW!" What inconceivable solace would they carry in their bosom to Him who now referred to them! Accordingly, as if this pretend smiting was hardly present to His mind at all, it is the desertion of Him by those whom most He loved-their being "stumbled in Him that very night-that seemed so painfully to occupy His thoughts. And yet with what affecting gentleness and love does He announce it-adding, as if unwilling to leave the wound sticking in them, "But after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee! a bright glimpse of the coming fruits of His sufferings which to Himself, who understood it better than they, would be like sunshine from out the cloud.
(3) After Peter, let none trust to the conscious strength of his attachment and the warmth of his love to Christ, as any security against the foulest denial of Him in the hour of trial. Of all the Eleven, Peter was foremost in these. Whatever others might afterward prove themselves to be, none up to that time had stood so high as he. Yet this is the disciple whom His loving yet penetrating and faithful Master singles out and warns as of all the Eleven in the greatest peril; and we know what an affecting commentary on this the reset gave. Yet the last to discern such danger as Peter was in are just those who are most exposed to it and least prepared successfully to meet it. 'Me, Lord, me? Why single out me? Once at least have I been singled out from all the rest for clear perception of Thy glory and firm attachment to Thy Person; and am I to be the one man to give way on the approach of danger? Others may, but I never.' This was just the stone at which Peter stumbled. Had he distrusted himself, and betaken himself to his knees, there he had gotten strength to stand. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 17:10). But what needed Peter this? He was safe enough-he knew it. His Master knew better, and bid him "watch and pray, that he enter not into temptation:" but we do not read that he did it. O if believers would but know that the secret of all their strength lies in that consciousness of their own weakness which sends them to the "Strong Tower" to find it, how many such falls would be averted!
THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN. (=Matthew 26:36-40.26.46; Mark 14:32-41.14.42; John 18:1)
This is one of those scenes in the Evangelical History which, to have been written, must have been real. If we could conceive the life of Christ to be but a pious Romance or a mythical Legend, such a scene would have been the last to be thought of, or imagined only to be rejected as a discordant note, a literary blemish. But the existence of such a scene in the Gospel History does more than prove the historic reality of the scene itself: it is a bright testimony to the severe fidelity of the Narrative that contains it. Had the three Evangelists who record this scene, and the fourth who has one remarkably like it (John 12:27, etc.), been guided in their selection of the materials before them by the desire to glorify their Master in the eyes of their readers, we may be pretty sure they would have omitted what could not fail to repel many well-inclined readers, to stagger for a time even attached disciples, and occasion perplexity and discordance among the most established in the faith. Certain it is that in t he age immediately succeeding that of the apostles, some vindication of it was felt to be necessary even for those who were well affected to Christianity (see a remarkable allusion to this scene in the Apocryphal "Gospel of Nicodemus," or "Acts of Pilate," Luke 20:1-42.20.47); while its enemies-as Celsus at the beginning of the second century, and Julian in the fourth-held it up to contempt for the pusillanimity which it displayed, in contrast with the magnanimity of dying Pagans. Some of the vindications of this scene in later times have laid themselves open to the hostile criticism of Strauss ("Leben Jesu," 3: 3, section 125, 4th edit.); although his own mythical theory cuts a pitiful figure when it has to deal with such unique materials as those of Gethsemane.
The three narratives of this scene, when studied together, will be found to have just that diversity which throws additional light on the whole transaction. That the fourth Evangelist, though himself an eye- witness. has not recorded it, is only, in accordance with the plan of his Gospel, which omits the other two scenes of which he was one of three chosen witnesses-the resurrection of Jairus' daughter, and the transfiguration. But just as in place of the one of these-the resurrection of Jairus' daughter-it is the beloved disciple alone who records the grander resurrection of Lazarus; and in place of the other of these-the transfiguration-that beloved disciple records a series of passages in the life, and discourses from the lips, of his Master, which are like a continued transfiguration: so it is he alone who records that mysterious prelude to Gethsemane, which the visit of the Greeks to Him, after His last entry into Jerusalem, seems to have occasioned, (John 12:27, etc.) In the three priceless narratives of this scene, the fullness of the picture is such as to leave nothing to be desired, except what probably could not have been supplied in any narrative; the lines are so vivid and minute and life-like, that we seem ourselves to be eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of the whole transaction; and no one who has had it brought fully before him can ever again have it effaced from his mind.
In this instance, we must deviate somewhat from our usual plan of comment first, and Remarks following. We shall try to sketch the scene, interweaving the triple text, with such slight expository remarks as it requires; and in place of closing Remarks, we shall expatiate at some length upon the successive phases of the scene as they open upon us.
Jesus had passed through every stage of His suffering history except the last, but that last was to be the great and dreadful stage. Nothing now remained but that He should be apprehended, arraigned, condemned, and led forth to Calvary. And how far off was this seizure? Not more probably than one brief hour. Like the "silence in heaven for the space of half an hour," between the breaking of the apocalyptic seals and the peal of the trumpets of war, so was this brief, breathless silence, before the final stage of Christ's career. How, then, was it spent? It was night. Men slept. A profound, Sodom-like security overspread the city that "killed the prophets and stoned them that were sent unto it." But our Shepherd of Israel slept not. "He went forth" - from the upper room and from the city - "over the Brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, with his (eleven) disciples.
And Judas which betrayed him knew the place; for Jesus ofttimes resorted there with his disciples" (John 18:1-43.18.2). With what calm sobriety does the basest of all treacheries begin here to be related! No straining after effect. The traitor knows His favourite resort, and takes it for granted he shall find Him there. Perhaps the family of Bethany were told the night before, in the hearing of the Twelve, that that night the Lord would not be with them. But this as it may, if Jesus had wished to elude His enemies, nothing would have been easier. But he would not. Already He had said, "No man taketh My life from me; but I lay it down of myself." So He "went as a lamb to the slaughter." The spot selected was well suited to His present purpose. The upper room would not have done; nor would he cloud the hallowed associations of the last Passover, and the first Supper, the heaven-breathing discourse at the supper table and the high-priestly prayer which wound up the whole, by discharging the anguish of His soul there. Nor was Bethany so suitable, But the garden was ample enough, while the stillness, and the shady olives, and the end eared recollections of former visits, rendered it congenial to His soul. Here He had space enough to withdraw from His disciples, and yet be within view of them; and the solitude that reigned here would only be broken, at the close of the scene, by the tread of the traitor and his accomplices.
The walk to Gethsemane, we incline to think, was taken in silence. But no sooner was He on the spot, than having said to the whole of them, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation" (Luke 22:40), the internal commotion-which may have begun as soon as the "hymn" that closed the proceedings of the upper room died away in silence-would no longer conceal. As soon as He was "at the place," having said to eight out of the eleven, "Sit ye here while I go anti pray yonder," He took Peter and James and John aside by themselves, or a little in advance of the rest, and "saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with Me" (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34). Not, Come and see Me, to be My witnesses; but, Come and watch with Me, to bear Me company. It did Him good, it seems, to have them by Him. For He had a true humanity, only all the more tender and susceptible than ours, that it was not blunted and dulled by sin. You may say, indeed, if company was what He wanted, He got little of it. True enough. They fell asleep. "I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none" (Psalms 69:20). It would have soothed His burdened spirit to have had their sympathy, contracted at its best though it behoved to be. But He did not get it. They were broken reeds. And so He had to tread the wine-press alone. Yet was their presence, even while asleep, not quite in vain. Perhaps the spectacle would only touch His sensibilities the more, and rouse into quickened action His great-hearted compassions. In fact, He did not want even them too near Him. For it is said, "He went forward a little;" or, as Luke (Luke 22:41), more precisely expresses it, "was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast." Yes, company is good, but there are times when even the best company can hardly be borne.
But now let us reverently draw near and see this great sight, the Son of God in a tempest of mysterious internal commotion - "the bush burning, and the bush not consumed." Every word of the three-fold record is weighty, every line of the picture awfully bright. "Let us put off the shoes from off our feet, for the place whereon we stand is holy ground." "He began," says Matthew, "to be sorrowful and very heavy," or, "to be sorrowful and oppressed" [ lupeisthai (G3076) kai (G2532) adeemonein (G85)], Matthew 26:37. Mark uses the last of these words, but places before it one more remarkable: "He began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;" or better, perhaps, "to be appalled and to be oppressed" [ ekthambeisthai (G1568) kai (G2532) adeemonein (G85)], Mark 14:33; and see the former word again in Luke 16:5-42.16.6. Although through life He had been "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," there is no ground to think that even the selectest circle of His followers was made privy to them, except on one occasion before this, after His final entry into Jerusalem, when, upon the Greeks "desiring to see Jesus" - which seems to have brought the hour of His "uplifting" overwhelmingly before Him-He exclaimed, "Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.
But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name" (John 12:27-43.12.28). This was just Gethsemane anticipated. But now the tempest rose as never before. He began to be sorrowful," as if until this moment unacquainted with grief. So new to Him, indeed, was the feeling, that Mark, using a singularly bold word, says, He was "appalled" at it; and under the joint action of this "sorrow" and "amazement,'" He was "very heavy," oppressed, weighed down-so much so, that He was fain to tell it to the three He had taken aside, and most affectingly gave this as His reason for wishing their company: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here and watch with me." 'I feel as if nature were sinking under this load-as if life were ebbing out-as if death were coming before its time-as if I could not survive this.' It is usual to compare here such passages as that of Jonah, "I do well to be angry even unto death" (Luke 4:9), and even some classical passages of similar import; but these are all too low. In dealing with such scenes as this, one feels as if even the most ordinary phraseology must be interpreted with reference to the unique circumstances of the case.
What next? He "kneeled down," says Luke; He "fell on his face," says Matthew; or "fell on the ground," as Mark expresses it (Luke 22:41; Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35). Perhaps the kneeling posture was tried for a moment, but quickly became intolerable: and unable to bear up under a pressure of spirit which felt like the ebbing out of life itself, He was fain to seek the dust! And now went up a cry such as never before ascended from this earth; no, not from those lips which dropt as an honeycomb: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Matthew 26:39). The variations in Mark (Mark 14:36) and Luke (Luke 22:42) are worthy of note. Mark's double form of the invocation, "Abba, Father," we may pretty confidently conjecture was the very one our Lord used-the hallowed, endeared form of the mother-tongue "Abba," followed emphatically by the term "Father," that of educated life (Romans 8:15).
Then Mark breaks up the one expression of Matthew, "If it be possible, let this cup pass," into these two, identical in meaning, "All things are possible unto thee; take away this cup;" while Luke`s expression, "If thou be willing to remove this cup" (as in the Greek), shows that the "possibility" of the other two Evangelists was understood to be purely of divine will or arrangement, insomuch that the one word came naturally to be interchanged with the other. (To suppose that our Lord used the identical words of all the three accounts is absurd.) That tears accompanied this piercing cry, is not reported by any of the Evangelists-who appear to give rigidly what was seen by the three favoured disciples in the clear moonlight, and heard by them in the unbroken stillness of the night air of Gethsemane, before sleep overpowered their exhausted frames. But those remarkable words in the Epistle to the Hebrews-which, though they seem to express what often took place, have, beyond all doubt, a special reference to this night of nights-leave no doubt of it, as a fact well known in the Christian churches, that on this occasion the tears of the Son of God fell fast upon the earth, while His cries rent the heavens: " Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears," etc. (Hebrews 5:7). Exquisite here are the words of old Traill, which, though before quoted, are peculiarly appropriate here: "He filled the silent night with Him crying, and watered the cold earth with His tears, more precious than the dew of Hermon, or any moisture, next unto His own blood, that ever fell on God's earth since the creation."
But now let us listen to the cry itself. "The cup" to which the Son of God was so averse - "the cup," the very prospect of drinking which so appalled and oppressed Him - "the cup," for the removal of which, if it were possible, He prayed so affectingly-that cup was assuredly no other than the death He was about to die. Come, then, thoughtful reader, and let us reason together about this matter. Ye that see nothing in Christ's death but the injustice of it at the hands of men, the excruciating mode of it, and the uncomplaining sub-mission to it of the innocent victim-put me through this scene of agonies and cries at the near approach of it. I will not ask you whether you go the length of those pagan enemies of the Gospel, Celsus and Julian, who could see nothing but cowardice in this Gethsemane scene, as compared with the last hours of Socrates and other magnanimous pagans; or whether you are prepared to applaud that wretch who, in the days of Henry IV of France, went to execution jeering at our Lord for the bloody sweat which the prospect of death drew from Him, while he himself was about to die unmoved.
But I do ask you, in view of hundreds, if not thousands of the martyrs of Jesus who have gone to the rack or to the flames for His sake, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name, Are you prepared to exalt the servants above their Master, or, if not, can you give any rational account of the amazing difference between them, to the advantage of the Master? You cannot, nor on your principles is the thing possible. Yet which of these dear servants of Jesus would not have shuddered at the thought of comparing themselves with their Lord? Is not your system, then, radically at fault? I am not now addressing myself to professed Unitarians, who, with the atonement, have expunged the divinity of Christ from their biblical beliefs. If any such would but give me a hearing, I think I have something to say which is not unworthy of their attention. But I address myself more immediately to an increasing class within the pale of orthodox Christianity-a class embracing many cultivated minds-a class who, while clinging sincerely, though vaguely, to the divinity of Christ, have allowed themselves to let go, as something antiquated and scholastic, the vicarious element in the sufferings and death of Christ, and now view them purely in the light of a sublime model of self-sacrifice.
According to this view, Christ suffered nothing whatever in the stead of the guilty, or in order that they might not suffer, but rather that men might learn from Him how to suffer: Christ simply inaugurated in His own Person a new Humanity, to be "made perfect through sufferings," and hath thus "left, us an Example that we should follow His steps." Now, I have no quarrel with this exemplary theory of Christ's sufferings. It is too clearly expressed by our Lord Himself, and by His apostles too frequently echoed, for any Christian to have a doubt of it. But my question is, Will it solve the mystery of Gethsemane? Will any one venture to say that for a Christian man, who would know how to suffer and die, the best model he can follow is Christ in Gethsemane-Christ, in the prospect of His own death, "sore amazed and very heavy, exceeding sorrowful even unto death" - Christ piercing the heavens with that affecting cry, thrice repeated, with His face upon the ground, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" - Christ agonizing until the sweat fell in bloody drops from His lace upon the ground: and all this at the mere prospect of the death He was going to die? But He added, you say, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." I know it well. It is my sheet-anchor. But for this, my faith in the Son of God as the Redeemer of the world would real to and fro and stagger like a drunken man. But with all this, will you affirm that these feelings of Christ in Gethsemane are those which best befit any other dying man? You cannot. And if not, does not the hollowness of this view of Christ's sufferings, as an exhaustive account of them, or even as the chief feature of them, stand frightfully revealed!
How, then do you explain them? may the reader ask. It is a pertinent question, and I refuse not to meet it. Tell me, then, what means that statement of the apostle Paul, "He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21); and that other, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). The ablest and most recent rationalizing critics of Germany-DeWette, for example-candidly admit that such statements can mean nothing but this, that the absolutely Sinless One was regarded and treated as the Guilty one, in order that the really guilty might in Him be regarded and treated as righteous. If it be asked in what sense and to what extent Christ was regarded and treated as the Guilty One, the second passage replies, "He was "made a curse for us" - language so appallingly strong, that Bengel with reason exclaims, as he does also on the other passage, 'Who would have dared to use such language if the apostle had not gone before him?' Says Meyer-a critic not over fastidious in his orthodoxy but honest as an interpreter-`The curse of the law would have had to be realized; all who render not complete satisfaction to the law (which no one can do) must experience the infliction of the Divine "wrath;" but that Christ, to rescue them from this outlawry by the curse, is introduced dying as the Accursed One, and as by a purchase-price, dissolving that curse-relation of the law to them. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23.
Now, is this to be regarded as a true representation of the character in which Christ suffered and died? With those who sit quite loose to apostolic authority, and regard all such statements as expressing merely Paul's opinions, we have here nothing to do. Strange to say we have now-a-days men high in our schools of learning and in ecclesiastical place, who scruple not to affirm this and many other strange things. But we write for those who regard the statements of the apostle as authoritative, and to them we submit this question: If Christ felt the penal character of the sufferings and death which He had to undergo-if, though feeling this more or less throughout all His public life, it was now borne in upon His spirit in unrelieved, unmitigated, total force, during the dread, still hour between the transactions of the upper room and the approach of the traitor-does not this furnish an adequate key to the horror and sinking of spirit which he then experienced? Just try it with this this furnish an adequate key to the horror and sinking of spirit which he then experienced? Just try it with this key.
In itself, the death He had to die-being in that case not the mere surrender of life in circumstances of pain and shame, but the surrender of it under the doom of sin, the surrender of it to the vengeance of the law, which regarded Him as the Representative of the guilty (to use again the language even of de Wette, could not but be purely revolting. Nor is it possible for us otherwise to realize the horror of His position, as the absolutely Sinless One, now emphatically made sin for us. In this view of it we can understand how He could only brace Himself up to drink the cup because it was the Father's will that He should do it, but that in that view of it He was quite prepared to do it. And thus have we here no struggle between a reluctant and a compliant will, nor between a human and a divine will; but simply between two views of one event: between penal sufferings and death considered in themselves-in other words, being "bruised, put to grief, made an offering for sin" - and all this considered as the Fathers will.
In the one view, this was, and could not but have been, appalling, oppressing, ineffably repulsive: in the other view, it was sublimely welcome. When He says, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me," He tells me He didn't like it, and couldn't like it; its ingredients were too bitter, too revolting; but when He says, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done," He proclaims in mine ear His absolute obediential subjection to the Father. This view of the cup quite changed its character, and by the expulsive power of a new affection-I will not say, turned its bitterness into sweetness, for I see no signs of sweetness even in that sense, but-absorbed and dissolved His natural repugnance to drink it up. If you still feel the theology of the matter encompassed with difficulty, let it alone. It will take care of itself. You will never get to the bottom of it here. But take it as it stands, in all its wonderful naturalness and awful freshness, and rest assured that just as, if this scene had not actually occurred, it never would nor could have been written down, so on any other view of the Redeemer's extraordinary repugnance to drink the cup than the penal ingredient which He found in it, His magnanimity and fortitude, as compared with those of myriads of His adoring followers, must be given up.
But to return to the conflict, whose crisis is yet to come. Getting a momentary relief-for the agitation of His spirit seems to have come upon Him by surges-He returns to the three disciples, and finding them sleeping, He chides them, particularly Peter, in terms deeply affecting: "He saith unto Peter, What! could ye not watch with me one hour?" In Mark (which may almost be called Peter's own Gospel) this is particularly affecting, "He saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." How considerate and compassionate this allusion to the weakness of the flesh was at that moment, appears by the explanation which Luke gives of the cause of it-an explanation beautifully in accordance with his profession as "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14) - "that He found them sleeping for sorrow" (Luke 22:45).
What now? "Again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words" (Mark 14:39). He had nothing more, it seems, and nothing else to say. But now the surges rise higher, beat more tempestuously, and threaten to overwhelm Him. To fortify Him against this, "there appeared an, angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him:" not to minister to Him spiritually by supplies of heavenly light or comfort-of that He was to have none during this awful scene; nor if it had been otherwise, would it seem competent for an angel to convey it-but simply to sustain and brace up sinking nature for a yet hotter and fiercer struggle. (On this interesting subject, see the notes at John 5:1-43.5.47, Remark 1 at the close of that section.) And now that He can stand it. "He is in an agony, and prays more earnestly" [ ektenesteron (G1617)], 'more intensely or vehemently.' What! Christ pray at one time more earnestly than at another? will some exclaim.
O if people would but think less of a systematic or theological Christ, and believe more in the biblical, historical Christ, their faith would be a warmer, aye, and a mightier thing, because it would then be not human but divine. Take it as it stands in the record. Christ's prayer, it teaches you, did at this moment not only admit of more vehemence, but demand it. For "His sweat was as it were great drops," literally, 'clots' [ thromboi (G2361)] "of blood falling down to the ground." [We cannot stay to defend the text here.] What was this? It was just the internal struggle, apparently hushed somewhat before, but now swelling up again, convulsing His whole inner man, and this so affecting His animal nature, that the sweat oozed out from every pore in thick drops of blood, falling to the ground. It was just shuddering nature and indomitable will struggling together. Now, if death was to Christ only the separation of soul and body in circumstances of shame and torture, I cannot understand this in one whom I am asked to take as my Example, that I should follow His steps. On this view of His death, I cannot but feel that I am asked to copy a model far beneath that of many of his followers. But if death in Christ's case had those elements of penal vengeance, which the apostle explicitly affirms that it had-if the Sinless One felt Himself divinely regarded and treated as the Sinful and Accursed One, then I can understand all this scene; and even its most terrific features have to me something sublimely congenial with such circumstances, although only its having really occurred could explain its being so written.
But again there is a lull; and returning to the three, "He found them asleep again (for their eyes were heavy), neither wist they what to answer Him" (Mark 14:40), when He chid them, perhaps in nearly the same terms. And now, once more, returning to His solitary spot, He "prayed the third time," saying the same words; but this time slightly varied. It is not now, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" but, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done," Had only one of those two forms of the petition occurred in the same Gospel, we might have thought that they were but verbal differences in the different reports of one and the same petition. But as they both occur in the same Gospel of Matthew, we are warranted in regarding the second as an intentional, and in that case momentous, modification of the first. The worst is over. The bitterness of death is past. He has anticipated and rehearsed His final conflict. The victory has now been won on the theatre of an invincible will-to "give His life a ransom for many." He shall win it next on the arena of the Cross, where it is to become an accomplished fact. "I will suffer" is the result of Gethsemane: "It is finished," bursts from the Cross. Without the deed, the will had been all in vain. But His work was then consummated when into the palpable deed He carried the now manifested will - "by the which WILL we are sanctified THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST ONCE FOR ALL" (Hebrews 10:10).
At the close of the whole scene, returning once more to His three disciples, and finding them still sleeping, worn out with continued sorrow and racking anxiety, He says to them, with an irony of tender but deep emotion, "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold he is at hand that doth betray me" (Matthew 26:45-40.26.46). While He yet spake, Judas appeared with his armed band, and so they proved miserable comforters, broken reeds. But thus in His whole work He was alone, and "of the people there was none with Him."
Much is said about the necessity of an atonement, some stoutly affirming it, while others accuse the thought of presumption. Of antecedent necessity, on such subjects, I know nothing at all; and it is possible that some who dispute the position mean nothing more than this. But one thing I know, that God under the law did so educate the conscience that there was seen written, as in letters of fire, over the whole Levitical economy --
WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD NO REMISSION
while the great proclamation of the Gospel is --
PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS
And ever as I deal with God on this principle, I find my whole ethical nature so exalted and purified-my views and feelings as to sin and holiness and the sinner's relation to Him with Whom he has to do, so deepened enlarged, and sublimed-while on no other do I find any footing at all-that I feel I have been taught what I am sure I could never have antecedently discovered, the necessity, in its highest sense the necessity, that is, in order to any right relation between God and me-of the expiatory death of the Lord Jesus; and when, thus educated, I anew approach Gethsemane, that I may witness the conflict of the Son of God there, and listen to His "strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death," I seem to myself to have found that key to it all, without which it is a blot in His life that will not wipe out, but in the use of which I can open its most difficult wards, and let in light upon its darkest chambers.
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
For the exposition, see the notes at John 18:1-43.18.12.
And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 14:53-41.14.72.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany