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1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
Ver. 1. Over the brook Cedron ] This was the town ditch, 2 Chronicles 30:14 , and had its name from its darkness or muddiness; for it received the baggage, as a common sink. Not far from hence was the valley of Hinnom, wherein there was kept a continual fire for the burning of dead carcases and other garbage, as Kimchi notes upon Psalms 27:0 . Hence hell is called Gehenna.
2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
Ver. 2. And Judas also which betrayed him ] No such danger to Christ’s Church by any as by apostates and false brethren,Galatians 2:4; Galatians 2:4 . Julian of a forward professor became a furious persecutor, and drew more from the faith by fraud and craft than all the heathen emperors before him had done by their force and cruelty. He persecuted by his persuasions, as Nazianzen witnesseth, and called back the bishops that were banished by Constantine, that, by their mutual wranglings among themselves they might embroil and overthrow the Church. Eo tantum fine ut ipsi ob mutuam inter se contentionem bello intestine oppugnarent ecclesiam. (Sozom.) About the year of grace 1240, one Robert, a Bulgarian, fell away from the Waldenses, and, turning to be a Dominican, he proved to be a sore enemy to the Church of Christ, in Flanders especially. Bishop Bonner was at first advanced by Cromwell, and seemed much to dislike Stephen Gardiner for his Popery. His words to Grafton at Paris when he was newly made bishop of London were these, Before God, the greatest fault that I ever found in Stokesly (who was his predecessor) was for vexing and troubling poor men for their religion, as Lobly the bookbinder, and others, for having the Scripture in English and (God willing) he did not so much hinder it, but I will as much further it, &c. Baldwin the renegade and Bolsecus (that was hired by the Papists to write Calvin’s life) were desperate enemies to the truth they had formerly professed. Harding, that had conference with Jewell, was once a zealous Protestant, and chaplain to Lady Jane Grey. Champian of St John’s college in Oxford, proctor of the University, 1568, dissembled the Protestant religion, which he afterwards opposed to his utmost. So did Parsons, who was of Baliol college, till he was for his dishonesty expelled with disgrace, and fled to the Papists. Christ’s greatest enemies are usually those of his own house. He was of the society of Jesus that betrayed him.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Ver. 3. Judas having then received a band ] These are the enemies’ best arguments, and those they flee to when all is done. So the Jesuits, those sworn swordsmen of Satan, give out that their weapons are only preces et lachrymae, prayers and tears; and that it is unlawful for them to use any other, even then when they are about their most bloody designs. (Camd. Eliz. Epist. to Reader.) A late king of France (after his revolt to Popery) being persuaded by a great duke about him not to readmit the Jesuits, which had been justly banished the realm, he answered suddenly, "Give me then security for my life." He therefore admitted them, even into his bosom, giving them his house for a college; and in a public speech, saying, That they were Timothies in the house, Chrysostoms in the chair, Angustines in the schools, &c. But what came of it? One of the pope’s slaughter slaves, by the instigation of the Jesuits, stabbed him to the heart: these Timothies proved Judases; these Chrysostoms, Catilines; these Augustines, assassins. (Vita David Patti, Operib. praefix.)
Cometh thither with lanterns, &c. ] Hypocrites may be compared (saith one) to those soldiers in the Gospel which came to seek Christ with lights and lanterns, as if they meant not to miss him; yea, they brought clubs and staves, as if they would fight for him: yet, when he saith, Here I am, take you up my cross, they stumble at the cross, and fall backwards. (Essays Divine and Moral.)
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
Ver. 4. Went forth and said unto them ] Met his enemy in the face, after he had prayed; whereas, till then, he feared. See the power of prayer. So Esther, when she had fasted and prayed, found her heart fortified against the fear of man; and putting her life in her hand, went boldly to the king. So Hudson the martyr, of whom before.
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he . And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
Ver. 5. Jesus of Nazareth Jesus saith, I am he ] They called him Jesus of Nazareth by way of reproach. He takes it upon him, and wears it for a crown. And should not we do likewise?
And Judas also, &c. ] With what face could the traitor stand there? But being full of the devil he was past grace, and could blush no more than a sackbut. Effraenis et effrons.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he , they went backward, and fell to the ground.
Ver. 6. As soon then as he had said, &c. ] Here our Saviour let out a little beam of the majesty of his Deity, and 500 men fell before him. Quid autem iudicaturus faciet, qui iudicandus hae fecit? saith Augustine. "The wicked shall not stand in judgment," saith David, Psalms 1:5 . Christ shall "smite the earth with the rod of his mouth," saith Isaiah; and with "the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked," Isaiah 11:4 . Godly men (who have but a drop of Christ’s ocean, a spark of his flame) have a daunting presence. When Valens the persecuting emperor came to St Basil, while he was in holy exercises, it struck such a terror into him, that he reeled, and had fallen, had he not been upheld by those that were with him. And another time, when he should have subscribed an order for St Basil’s banishment, such a sudden trembling took his right hand, that he could write never a good letter, whereupon he tore the order for anger, and there was an end of the business. When an officer was sent to apprehend a godly deacon at Miltenberg (a town in the territory of Mentz), the deacon, embracing him, said, Salve, frater, frater enim veto meus es, en adsum, transfode me, suffoca me, Here I am, brother, stab me, hang me, do what you will with me. The officer, as if changed from heaven, answered, Sir, you shall receive no hurt from me. Domine, a me quidem nihil mali expectes. (Scultet. Annal.) And when the boars ran in to kill the deacon, he delivered him, and set him safe out of danger. Judas dealt not so by Jesus, but as he fell with the rest, so rose with the rest, who desperately went on with their devilish design, nothing daunted by their recent disaster.
7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
Ver. 7. Then asked he them again ] Though struck to the earth they desist not: so the Sodomites, smitten with blindness, grope for the door. Pharaoh, in that palpable darkness, rageth against God, and menaceth Moses. Monoceros interimi potest, capi non potest: the unicorn is able to be killed bt not able to be captured; stubborn men will sooner break than bend. Man, saith Polybius, is held the wisest, but to me he seemeth the most foolish of all creatures; for they, where they have miscarried once, will not easily be driven thither again. Solus homo ab aevo ad aevum peccat fere in iisdem: only man will not be warned, though he have soundly smarted. (Solinus.) We load an ass (saith Bernard) and he cares not, because he is an ass and born to bear burdens; but if you would drive him into a ditch, or thrust him into the fire, he shuns it as well as he can, because he loves life and fears death: Caret quantum potest, quia vitam amat, et mortem timer. Yet silly man fears not his eternal bane.
8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he : if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
Ver. 8. Let these go their way ] This seems to indent with the Jews ere he yielded himself their prisoner. As a good shepherd, he interposeth between the wolf and the flock: as a heavenly eagle, he hath ever an eye to his nest, when he flieth highest from it.
9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
Ver. 9. That the saying might be fulfilled, &c. ] Christ spake it of their souls, it is here applied to their bodies. God hath a fatherly care of both, and will not lay more upon the outward man than the inward shall be enabled to undergo. Hence that of the prophet, "Behold, I have tried thee, but not as silver," Isaiah 48:10 . Why so? because God’s weak children having far more dross in them than good ore, would never be able to abide a strict trial.
10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
Ver. 10. The servant’s name was Malchus ] A busy fellow belike in surprising our Saviour. But it was a sad omen (saith a noble and renowned writer, Lord Brook) that Peter’s sword should cut off the ear of Malchus, which signifies a king or kingly authority. How the pope hath lifted up himself, επι παν σεβασμα , above all that is called Augustus, or emperor, is better known than that it need be here related. And if bishops forbear (saith he) to touch the sceptre (which they strive to sway), it is but as once Mercury spared Jupiter’s thunderbolts, which he dared not steal, lest they should roar too loud, or at least burn his fingers.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Ver. 11. Put up thy sword ] Our Saviour checks him for his inordinate zeal; wherein to be overly carried, is easy and ordinary. The memorable story of William Gardiner, martyr in Portugal, who in the very presence of the king and his nobles could not forbear, but fell upon the cardinal, as he was acting a mass. See Acts and Monuments, fol. 1242. So William Flower, upon an Easter day at Westminster, seeing a priest ministering the sacrament of the altar to the people, struck and wounded him upon the head, and also upon his arm and hand, with a wood knife. In the which so doing, as indeed he did not well, nor evangelically; so being afterwards examined by Bishop Bonner, he did no less confess his not well doing in the same, submitting therefore himself willingly to punishment, when it should come. Howbeit, touching his belief in the sacrament and Popish ministration, he neither did nor would submit himself. But when he was tempted to turn, and also threatened, he answered, Do what ye will, I am at a point; for the heavens shall as soon fall, as I will forsake mine opinion, &c. At his execution, first his hand being held up against the stake, was stricken off. At the which, some that were present affirmed that he shrunk not, but once a little stirred his shoulders. (Acts and Mon.)
12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
Ver. 12. Took Jesus and bound him ] This was done του λογου ησυχαζοντος , as Irenaeus hath it, while the Deity rested; for he could as easily have delivered himself as he did his disciples, but this sacrifice was to be bound with cords to the altar; he was pinioned and manacled, as a malefactor. So was not Abner; "his hands were not bound, nor his feet put into the fetters," 2 Samuel 3:34 . But Christ was bound for our transgressions, he was "bruised for our iniquities." Paul, by his privilege, was freed from whipping; but we by Christ’s bondage, from those chains of darkness, 2 Peter 2:4 , σειραις ζοφου ταρταρωσας , from those scourges and scorpions in hell.
13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
Ver. 13. And led him away to Annas first ] Who would not go to bed (late though it were) till he had seen Christ brought bound before him, and then cried out, likely, as Hannibal did, when he saw a pit full of man’s blood, O formosum spectaculum! Oh beautiful sight! So Stephen Gardiner would not sit down to dinner till the news came of the good bishops burnt at Oxford. Then he came out rejoicing, and saying to the Duke of Norfolk, Now let us go to dinner; but it was the last that ever he eat for it. "Shall they escape by iniquity?" No, "in anger cast them down, O God,"Psalms 56:7; Psalms 56:7 .
14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Ver. 14. Now Caiaphas was he, &c. ] So Balaam, the devil’s boggyman, spake excellently of the star of Jacob. See Trapp on " Joh 11:51 " See Trapp on " Joh 11:52 "
15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
Ver. 15. That disciple was known to the high priest ] Perhaps for that he and his father Zebedee were wont to serve the fat priests with the best and daintiest fish (for this other disciple was John, who had first fled with the rest, and now came sculking in to see what would become of his master). Of the ass-fish Aristotle affirmeth (De Nat. Animal.) that he of all other creatures hath his heart in his belly; such a thing was this priest.
16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Ver. 16. But Peter stood at the door ] Better he had kept him further off. He that will not fall into the ditch, must not walk too near the brim. Peter might better have bestowed himself somewhere else. Longe utilius fuisset, gemere, et precari in obscuro aliquo angulo, saith Musculus. It had been better for him to have been praying in a corner than thus to put himself upon a danger, unless he had known himself the stronger. Luther comforted the men of Miltenberg by an epistle; and because they were forbidden to meet and talk together about matters of religion, upon pain of death, he adviseth those of them that were strong in the spirit to do their duty, notwithstanding the danger. But for the weaker sort he exhorteth them to rejoice secretly in the Lord and to pray to him for further strength, that they may be able to make a bold and wise profession of his truth. Qui infirmiores sunt, tacite in Domino gaudeant, Deumque rogent, ut se quoque animet ad publicam veritatis professionem.
17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.
Ver. 17. He saith, I am not ] False dissimulation is true denial. A silly wench is too hard for this stout stickler, who was alway Melius animatus quam armatus, as one observeth of him; Sic Elias fulminator ad Iesebelis minas trepidat, factus seipso imbecillior. "Thou also standest by faith: be not highminded, but fear," Romans 11:20 .
18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
Ver. 18. And warmed himself ] But while he warmed without, he cooled within. Evil company is a great quench coal, an ill air for zeal to breathe in, it casts a damp. "For the abundance of iniquity, the love of many waxeth cold," Matthew 24:12 . Peter’s evil example was a compulsion to other good people, Galatians 2:14 . What marvel then if the swearing, cursing soldiers compelled him to do the like? They were the trunks through which the devil delivered himself, jeering at and railing upon Christ, no doubt, &c.
19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
Ver. 19. Asked Jesus of his disciples ] Questioned him in the spiritual court first, as a heretic; as afterwards in the temporal court, for a seditious person. So the Papists condemned married priests for Nicolaitanes, in the Synod of Milan, A. D. 1067. Virgilius, a German bishop, and a great mathematician, they condemned for a heretic, for affirming that there were antipodes. a Paulus II, pope, pronounced them heretics that did but name the name Academy, either in jest or in earnest. Innocent II condemned Arnoldus Brixius of heresy, for saying that the clergy should have their temporalities taken away, and be tied to their spirituals only. Bonner objected to Philpot the martyr, that he found written in his book, In me Ioanne Philpotto ubi abundavit peccatum, superabundavit et gratia. And when the bishop of Worcester exhorted Philpot, before he began to speak, to pray to God for grace: Nay, my lord of Worcester, said Bonner, you do not well to exhort him to make any prayer; for this is the thing these heretics have a singular pride in, that they can often make their vain prayers, in the which they glory much: for in this point they are like to certain arrant heretics, of whom Pliny makes mention, that they sing Antelucanos hymnos, &c. Was not this well aimed? Those he spoke of were the primitive Christians, whom Pliny excuseth to Trajan the persecutor. But it is easy for malice to make heresy what it pleaseth, when it is armed with power, and can make havoc at pleasure.
a Those who dwell directly opposite to each other on the globe, so that the soles of their feet are as it were planted against each other; esp. those who occupy this position in regard to us. ŒD
20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
Ver. 20. I spake openly to the world ] Truth is bold and barefaced; when heresy hides itself, and loathes the light, Veritas abscondi erubescit truth loaths to hide. What said John Frith, martyr, to the archbishop’s men, that would have let him go and shift for himself? If you should both leave me here, and go to Croydon, declaring to the bishops that you had lost Frith, I would surely follow as fast after as I might, and bring them news that I had found and brought Frith again. Do ye think that I am afraid to declare my opinion to the bishops of England in a manifest truth?
21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
Ver. 21. Why askest thou me? ] We are to be ready always to give an answer to those that ask us a reason of our hope, so they do it to learn of us, and not to ensnare us. Thus I kept the ban-dogs a at staves’ end (saith Nicholas Shetterden, martyr), not as thinking to escape them, but that I would see the foxes leap above ground for my blood, if they can reach it (so it be the will of God), yet we shall then gape and leap for it. Mr Hawks, martyr, asked a parson that examined him, what kin he was to the weathercock of Paul’s? And told one Miles Huggard, a hosier b in Pudding Lane, who began to question him, that he could better skill to eat a pudding and make a hose, than in Scripture either to answer or oppose.
a A dog tied or chained up, either to guard a house, or on account of its ferocity; hence gen. a mastiff, bloodhound. ŒD
b One who makes or deals in hose (stockings and socks) and frame-knitted or woven underclothing generally. Also used more generally for a men’s outfitter or haberdasher. ŒD
22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
Ver. 22. One of the officers ] Because our Saviour gave not the high priest his usual titles, but dealt freely with him, this officer, to curry favour, Veluti pontificii honoris vindex, beats our Saviour with his hand or stick, and is the better thought of. Like master, like man. So the bishop of Geneva’s servant discharged his pistol at Farellus (that faithful man of God) when he was convented before his Lord; but by God’s good providence missed him. Disploso sclopeto a Vicarii famulo, sed frustra impetitur. (Scultet.) Great men’s vices go as seldom unattended as their persons; they shall be sure of such about them as will lick up their spittle, and load the mouse with the lion’s praises. Ne leonum laudibus murem obruas.
23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
Ver. 23. If I have spoken evil ] Christ bears with the officer’s insolence, but forbears not to clear his own innocence. We must, when aspersed, labour as the eclipsed moon, by keeping our motion, to wade out of the shadow and recover our former splendour.
24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
Ver. 24. Bound to Caiaphas the high priest ] Who should have done our Saviour better justice than to have suffered him, bound and uncondemned, to be injuriously beaten before his face. But the times were then lawless and licentious for the sins of the people. Tales sunt principum mores, quales subditorum humores, ut malo nodo non desit malus cuneus.
25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it , and said, I am not.
Ver. 25. He denied it, and said, I am not ] Take heed by this example, Patres nos instruunt tum docentes, tum labentes, saith Augustine. Seest thou such as Peter to make shipwreck? Look well to thy tackling. They that will not profess Christ (unless they repent with Peter, which Stephen Gardiner said at his death that he could not) shall be sorted with such in participation of plagues, as through excess of pain and defect of patience, gnaw their own tongues, Revelation 16:10 .
26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
Ver. 26. Whose ear Peter cut off ] A great mercy it was that Peter had not then been hewed in a hundred pieces, by the ruffianly soldiers. But God had designed him to a further service. "My times are in thy hand," saith David. They were deceived, that swore to kill Paul by such an hour,Acts 23:12; Acts 23:12 .
27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
Ver. 27. Peter then denied again ] He that is fallen down one round of hell’s ladder, knows not where he shall stop or stay, till he come to the bottom. Sin is of an encroaching nature, medest and maidenly at first; but yield to it once, and there is no ho with it.
The cock crew ] And also Christ looked back upon him, as a piece of his suffering, with και συ τεκνον Πετρε , What thou, my friend, Peter? Scipio had rather Hannibal should eat his heart with salt than Laelius give him a cross word.
28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
Ver. 28. Lest they should be defiled ] Putrid hypocrisy! they stand upon legal defilements, and care not to defile their consciences with innocent blood. What is this, but to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel? τον ανδριανταγαργαλιζειν . So Saul seemed to make a heinous matter of eating the flesh with the blood,1 Samuel 14:33; 1 Samuel 14:33 , when it was nothing with him to spill the blood of innocent Jonathan. Nay, he was so scrupulous, that he would not so much as name a guilty man or sinner, but, in casting of lots, instead of saying, Show the innocent or guilty, he said, Show the innocent or upright person, as Tremellius reads it; yet at the same time (as is well observed) he made no conscience of bloody oaths. So Doeg was detained before the Lord, either because it was the sabbath, or his vow was not finished, &c. But when he went thence, he became death’s man to the Lord’s priests.
29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
Ver. 29. Pilate then went out unto them ] It was much he would gratify them so far in their "Stand further off, for I am holier than thou;" that he would yield to their superstition, which he could not but contemn. But the very Turk, so the Christians pay him his yearly tribute (which is one fourth part of their increase, and a Sultan for every poll), permitteth them the liberty of their religion.
30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
Ver. 30. If he were not a malefactor ] Why? what evil had he done them? Might he not have said to them, as Themistocles to his Athenians, Are ye weary of receiving so many benefits by one man?
31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
Ver. 31. It is not lawful for us ] That is, upon this or any such like day, upon a holy day, or holy day eve. For otherwise they had power, or at least took it at their pleasure, as when they stoned Stephen, Acts 7:58-60 , and would have killed Paul, Acts 23:20-21 . But note, that they would seem to do all according to law by any means; so would their successors, the Catholics. Which, if it be so (saith Mr Fox), how did they then to Anne Askew, whom they first condemned to death, and then set her on the rack? By what law did they call up Master Hooper, and imprison him for the Queen’s debt (when the Queen in very deed did owe him eighty pounds), and kept him a year and a half in prison, and gave him never a penny? By what law did Bishop Bonner condemn and burn Richard Mekins, a lad of fifteen years, when the first jury had acquitted him, and at the stake he revoked all heresy, and praised the said Bonner to be a good man; and also, having him in prison, would not suffer his father and mother to come to him, to comfort their own child? What law had they to put Mr Rogers, our proto-martyr, in prison, when he did neither preach nor read lectures after the time of the Queen’s inhibition? And when they had kept him in his own house half a year, being not deprived of any living, yet would not let him have one half-penny of his own means to relieve him, his wife and eleven children? By what law was Thomas Tompkins’ hand burned, and after his body consumed to ashes? What good law or honesty was there to burn the three poor women at Guernsey, with the infant child falling out of the mother’s womb, whereas they all before recanted their words and opinions, and were never abjured before. So, what right or order of law did Stephen Gardiner follow, in troubling and imprisoning Judge Hales, when he had done nothing either against God’s law or man’s, proceeding in order of law against certain presumptuous persons, which, both before the law and against the law then in force, took upon them to say their mass?
32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
Ver. 32. Signifying what death he should die ] This shows that the Jews had power to put to death, but by a providence he was brought to Pilate, that according to the manner of the Romans he might be crucified; that kind of death being not, otherwise, in use among the Jews. Hence our Lord is said to have been crucified at Rome, Revelation 11:8 .
33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
Ver. 33. Entered into the judgment hall again ] For without, among the people, there was nothing but clamour and confusion; much like to that regnum Cyclopum, ubi ουδεις ουδεν ουδενος ακουει . Pilate therefore retires himself into the palace, that he might more sedately set himself to sift the business.
34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
Ver. 34. Sayest thou this of thyself ] As who should say, If thou dost this of thyself, what reason is it that thou shouldest be both judge and witness? if others have done it, why are not mine accusers brought face to face? If to be accused be enough to make a man guilty, none shall be innocent. Judges are to proceed secundum allegata et probata. acording to the chages and what can be proven.
35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
Ver. 35. Am I a Jew? ] This he asketh in scorn of that nation; hateful among the heathens for their difference from them in religion. Gaius the emperor cast them out with their orator Philo, who came to make apology for them against Appion of Alexandria, their adversary and accuser. Strabo, for mere spite, saith that Judea is a dry and barren country, when the Scripture calleth it a land flowing with milk and honey, plenty and dainty; and Tacitus cannot but grant as much. (Aug. Civ. Dei.) Florus calleth the temple at Jerusalem, impiae gentis arcanum, a sanctuary for rogues, as the Papists say of Geneva. Seneca jeers them for casting away the seventh part of their time upon a weekly sabbath. Juvenal plays upon their circumcision. Plutarch tells a long story of their feast of tabernacles, which, saith he, they keep in honour of Bacchus ( συμπος ). Tacitus saith, they were called Asinarii, because they worshipped the golden head of an ass. (Annal. xxi.) No wonder though profane Pilate disdain to be held a Jew, when they were thus traduced!
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Ver. 36. My kingdom is not of this world ] Christ could not be received as a God into the Pantheon at Rome, for he lacked worshippers, preached poverty, and chose mean men for his disciples. Domitian the emperor, after he had banished John into Patmos, and Domicillia Flavia, his own sister’s daughter, with many more, into Pontus, and put various to death for that they were Christians, he commanded all such Jews as he could find to be put to death, that were of the stock of David. Among whom, meeting with some Christians also, that were allied to Christ, and understanding that they were poor harmless people, he dismissed them, and by proclamation forbade any more to be martyred. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, l. 3. c. 19,20. 1:237,239
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Ver. 37. That I should bear witness of the truth ] Our Saviour speaketh religiously to a profane person; so doth Jacob to Esau, Genesis 33:5 . Each countryman is known by his language. God will turn to all his people a pure lip, Zephaniah 3:9 . They are none of his that can shift their sails to the setting of every wind, tune their fiddles to other men’s bass, and as the planet Mercury, be good in conjunction with good, and bad with bad.
38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all .
Ver. 38. What is truth? ] In a scornful, profane manner. As indeed profane spirits cannot hear savoury words, but they turn them off with a scorn. What is truth? Fastidientis atque irridentis vox, non interrogantis, In a scornful and mocking voice not sincerely seeking, saith Beza. Some think it is vox admirantis; voice of wonder as if Pilate wondered at Christ, that when his life was in question he should talk of truth, q.d. Your life is in danger, and talk you of truth? Politicians think religion niceness. However it was, or with what mind soever, out he goes, and stays not an answer; as Saul bade the priest bring to him the ark, but, ere that could be done, draws forth his army, 1 Samuel 14:18-20 .
39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
Ver. 39. But ye have a custom ] An ungain, ungodly custom it was, Proverbs 17:15 , whatever were the ground of it. In ista consuetudine turpe et crassum fuit vitium. In such a disgraceful custom, it was gross and criminal, (Calvin) Some think it was in memory of Jonathan, rescued from his father by the people. Others, that the feast might be celebrated with the greater joy and gladness. Others, more probably, in remembrance of their deliverance from the Egyptian bondage. But why should any Barabbas escape by it? "A bloody man shall flee to the pit, and no man may stay him," Proverbs 28:17 .
40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Ver. 40. Now Barabbas was a robber ] And a murderer too, Acts 3:14 , yet preferred before Christ, who was also crucified in the midst of two thieves, as the worst of the three. Thus he was peccatorum maximus, greatest of sinners, both by imputation, for he bore our sins, which were all made to meet upon him, Isaiah 53:6 , and by reputation, for he was "numbered with the transgressors,"Isaiah 53:12; Isaiah 53:12 , and made "his grave with the wicked,"Isaiah 53:9; Isaiah 53:9 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29