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1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
Ver. 1. And it came to pass when, &c. ] This is our evangelist’s transition from the ministry of Christ’s doctrine to the mystery of his passion. He had hitherto taught salvation, and now is declared how he wrought it. He had done the office of a doctor, now of a redeemer: of a prophet, now of a priest.
2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Ver. 2. Is the feast of the passover ] At which feast, Christ our passover was sacrificed for us,1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 5:7 , and we were purchased by his blood, as Israel was typically out of the world by the blood of the paschal lamb; our hearts being sprinkled therewith by the hyssop bunch of faith, from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22 .
3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
Ver. 3. Then assembled together, &c. ] Here was met a whole council of caitiffs (wretches) to crucify Christ. General councils may err then in necessary and fundamental points: as the Council of Ariminum and Seleucia (held in two cities, because no one was able to contain them for multitude, yet) decreed for Arius against the deity of Christ. The truth of God may be locked up within the hearts of such a company, as in competition of suffrages cannot make a greater part in a general council.
4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him .
Ver. 4. Take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him ] Craft and cruelty go commonly coupled in the Church’s adversaries. Neither of them "wants their mate," as the Scripture speaks of those birds of prey and desolation, Isaiah 34:16 . These priests and elders were so bitterly bent against Christ, that nothing would satisfy them but his blood. All plants and other creatures have their growth and increase to a period, and then their declination and decay, except only the crocodile, who grows bigger and bigger, even till death. So have all passions and perturbations in man’s mind their intentions and remissions, except only malicious revenge. This dies not, many times, but with the man (if that), as nothing can quench the combustible slime in Samosaris, nor the burning flame of the hill Chimaera, but only earth, 1 Peter 2:23 . Saint Peter tells us, that our Saviour being reviled, did not only commit his cause to God, but himself to God: as expecting the increase of his enemies’ opposition, till they had put him to death.
5 But they said, Not on the feast day , lest there be an uproar among the people.
Ver. 5. Not on the feast day, lest, &c. ] But God would have it on that feast day, and no other, Acts 4:27 . And here these wicked ones fulfil the divine decree: but no thanks to them: more than to Haman for Mordecai’s advancement, whereunto Haman held the stirrup only. Divinum consilium dum devitatur impletur, saith a Father.
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
Ver. 6. Now when Jesus was in Bethany ] This history of a thing acted before Christ came to Jerusalem, comes in here somewhat out of place: to show the ground and occasion of Judas’ treason, which was discontent at the loss of such a prize, and our Saviour’s sharping him up for showing his dislike.
In the house of Simon the leper ] A leper he had been, but was now healed, and haply by Christ: whom therefore he entertaineth in way of thankfulness, as Matthew also did.
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat .
Ver. 7. An alabaster box of very precious, &c. ] Pliny telleth us that they were wont to keep the most costly ointments in boxes of alabaster. And Herodotus reckoneth μυρου αλαβαστρον , an alabaster box of ointment, among the precious things that Cambyses the Persian sent for a present to the king of Ethiopia. Mary thought nothing too costly for Christ. See Trapp on " Joh 12:3 "
8 But when his disciples saw it , they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
Ver. 8. They had indignation ] Not all, but one of them was displeased, viz. Judas (as John explains Matthew), who yet was of such esteem and authority among the disciples, that what he did they are all said to do, and possibly they might, some of them, be drawn to do the same by his example, and upon so specious a pretence of charity to the poor.
To what purpose is this waste? ] All seems to be lost to flesh and blood that is laid out upon Christ, his servants and services. "The people is idle," said Pharaoh, when they would needs go worship in the wilderness. And Seneca jeers the Jews for wasting a seventh part of their lives on a weekly Sabbath. (Aug. de Civ. Dei.)
9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
Ver. 9. For this ointment might have been sold ] True, and better it had been sold, had it been a superfluous and idle expence; such as is today ordinary in fine clothes, sumptuous feasts, over stately buildings, &c. Back, belly, and building, these three B B B, like the daughters of the horseleech, suck out the blood of men’s substance. But here it is a senseless sentence that Judas uttereth, out of discontent only, that he missed so fat a morsel. Avarice made Judas, as it did Sejanus, think all which he acquired not, to be lost, Quicquid non acquiritur, damnum est, whatever is not gotten is lost.
10 When Jesus understood it , he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Ver. 10. Why trouble ye the woman? ] Christ will patronize his welldoers, and stick to them, though all forsake them, 2 Timothy 4:16-17 . He many times pleads for them in the consciences of their greatest enemies, who spend more thoughts about such than the world is aware of: and are "afraid of the name of God, whereby they are called," Deuteronomy 28:9-10 .
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Ver. 11. The poor ye have always with you ] To try and to exercise your liberality, yea, your justice, Matthew 6:1 , as the Syriac calleth it, Proverbs 3:27 . Withhold not thy goods from these owners thereof.
But me ye have not always ] Christ dwelt in the flesh, as in a tent or booth, John 1:14 . He sojourned here for a while only; his abode with us was but temporary, as the Greek word there importeth ( εσκηνωσεν , ex quo intelligitur Christi moram apud nos temporariam fuisse. Beza).
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Ver. 12. She did it for my burial ] This Mary perhaps understood not. So things that we think come to pass by haphazard are preordained, and sweetly ordered by Almighty God in his secret counsel, and by his fatherly providence, to excellent ends many times, such as we never thought on.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Ver. 13. Be told for a memorial of her ] Though now she be sharply censured by the traitor for a waster of goods. "Do well and hear ill is written upon heaven gates," said that martyr. But God will both right his wronged and honour his disparaged. Mary’s name now smells as sweet in all God’s house as ever her ointment did; when Judas’ name rots, and shall do to all posterity. Yea, in the next world, Mary and such, we shall look upon, likely, with thoughts of extraordinary love and sweetness throughout all eternity: as Judas and such, with execrable and everlasting detestation.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
Ver. 14. Then one of the twelve, &c. ] sc. When he heard of the chief priests and elders meeting about such a matter, Satan sets him on, being now malcontent, to make one among them. That spirit of darkness loves to dwell in a soul that is clouded by passion: as in Saul when he was envious at David; and here in Judas, when defeated of his design, and fretted at his Master’s reprehension.
15 And said unto them , What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
Ver. 15. What will ye give me ] Take beed and beware of covetousness, saith our Saviour, Luke 12:15 ; for it is "the root of all evil," saith Paul,1 Timothy 6:10; 1 Timothy 6:10 : a breach of the whole decalogue, as some divines have demonstrated and universal experience hath confirmed. These sordida poscinummia, as one calleth them, are still found everywhere: a such as will sell their souls to the devil with Ahab, not for seven years’ enjoyment of the Popedom, as some have done, but for a few paltry shillings, as Judas here did, or some other piddling profit. This our Saviour calleth the "mammon of iniquity," which is the next odious name to the devil himself. Δεινος και παντολμος της φιλοχρηματιας ερως . Isid. Pelus.Luke 16:9; Luke 16:9 .
For thirty pieces of silver ] "A goodly price," as the prophet in scorn and detestation calleth it. It was a known set price for the basest slave, Exodus 21:32 ; Joel 3:3 ; Joel 3:6 . For so small a sum sold this traitor so sweet a Master, as had not only admitted him into his company, but committed the bag to him, and let him want for nothing. Quid non mortalia pectora cogis, Auri sacra fames? (Virgil.) Look well to it. For as there were many Marys in one Caesar, so are there many Judases in the best. Let patrons especially look to it: for many of them are worse than Judas. He sold the head, they the members; he the sheep, they the shepherd: he but the body, they the souls, as that scarlet strumpet,Revelation 18:13; Revelation 18:13 .
a See Mr Dike’s Caveat for the Covetous.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Ver. 16. And from that time he sought ] So it was no sudden, but a prepensed wickedness, done in cold blood, and upon mature deliberation. God’s people when they sin, they are surprised, and taken before they are aware, Galatians 6:1 . There is no way of wickedness in them, ordinarily,Psalms 139:24; Psalms 139:24 . It is of incogitancy: put them in mind, and they mend all. Or, it is of passion: and passions last not long. They deny not Christ that bought them: they can do nothing against the truth, they will not forego God upon any terms, they never sin with deliberation about this chief end: if they err, it is only in the way, as thinking that they may fulfil such a lust, and keep God too.
17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
Ver. 17. Now the first day ] That is, on the fourteenth day of the first month, according to the law. The priests, for political respects, had adjourned this feast to the sixteenth day, being the Sabbath, against the letter of the law, that the celebrity might be the greater; and the people were ruled by them. Our Saviour followeth not a multitude, nor observeth man’s tradition herein, but God’s prescription: no more must we. This St Luke plainly intimateth in his εδει, Luke 22:7 . Then came the day of unleavened bread when the Passover ought to be killed; though the custom were otherwise.
18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
Ver. 18. Go into the city to such a man ] Meaning some man of his special acquaintance, for so the Greek ( ο δεινα ) imports, though he named him not. So Palmoni hammedabber, " such an one the speaker," Daniel 8:13 .
19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
Ver. 19. Did as Jesus had appointed them ] With a kind of blind obedience; such as we must yield to God, notwithstanding all unlikelihoods or scruples whatsoever, cast in by carnal reason. This the Scripture calls the "obedience of faith," and commends it to us, in the examples of Abraham, Moses, others, Hebrews 11:1-40 .
20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
Ver. 20. He sat down with the twelve ] With Judas among the rest; though Hilary hold otherwise, for what reason I know not. Christ sat at the sacrament, when yet the gesture imported in the law was standing; and this sitting at the Passover was nowhere commanded, yet by the godly Jews was generally used. Let this "heap of wheat" (the Lord’s supper, as some interpret it) be "set about with lilies," Song of Solomon 7:2 , that is, with Christians, white, and of holy life; that is the main matter to be looked to.
21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Ver. 21. And as they did eat, he said ] With a great deal of detestation of so horrid a fact; to see the frontless traitor bear himself so bold among them, having now hatched so prodigious a villany.
One of you shall betray me ] But shall any therefore condemn the whole twelve, as if there were never a better? This were to "offend against the generation of the righteous,"Psalms 73:15; Psalms 73:15 . This were to match in immanity that cruel prince of Wallachia, whose custom was, together with the offender, to execute the whole family, yea, sometimes the whole kindred. And yet this justice is done God’s people many times by the Church malignant.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
Ver. 22. And they were exceeding sorrowful ] Not joyful (as some would have been) to find out other men’s faults, and to exagitate them. Not only those that make, but that love lies, yea, or unseasonable truths in this kind, are shut out of heaven among dogs and devils,Revelation 22:15; Revelation 22:15 .
Lord, is it I? ] He puts them all to a search, before the sacrament. Let "a man therefore examine himself," &c., 1 Corinthians 11:28 ; who knows the error of his life? saith David, Psalms 19:12 . In our hearts are volumes of corruptions, in our lives infinite erratas. Socrates would say, when he saw one drunk, or otherwise disordered, Num ego talis? Am I such a one? So would Mr Bradford, when he looked into the lewd lives of any others.
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
Ver. 23. He that dippeth his hand, &c. ] My fellow commoner, my familiar friend, Psalms 41:9 . This greatly aggravateth the indignity of the matter. He was ex societate Iesu from the company of Jesus that betrayed him. So do the pretended Jesuits, Jebusites, to this day. Julius Caesar was slain in the Senate house by more of his friends than of his enemies, quorum non expleverat spes inexplebiles, of whom he had not offended, saith Seneca. But the wound that went nearest his heart was that he received from his son Brutus. Και συ τεκνον βρουτε , this pierced him worse than any daggar. Queen Elizabeth’s grief and complaint was, that in trust she had found treason.
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Ver. 24. The Son of man goeth ] That is, dieth, suffereth. Death was to him but an εξοδος , exodus as it is called, Luke 9:31 ; that is, an out going, or a departure. It was no more between God and Moses, but "Go up and die," as it was said to another prophet, "Up and eat." He that hath conversed with God here, cannot fear to go to him; cannot hold death either uncouth or unwelcome.
But woe unto that man by whom, &c. ] He bewails not himself, but Judas. So should we do those by whom we are traduced and injured. They, poor wretches, have the worst of it. Let us pity them, and pray for them, as the holy martyrs dealt by their persecutors. Ah! I lament the infidelity of England, said Mr Philpot. Ah! great be the plagues that hang over England, yea, though the gospel should be restored again. Happy shall that person be whom the Lord shall take out of the world not to see them.
25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
Ver. 25. Master, is it I? ] Desperate impudency! debauched hypocrisy! Had he the face to ask such a question? He could not but know that Christ knew all; yet hoped he, perhaps, that of his wonted gentleness, he would conceal him still, as he had done for certain days before. But incorrigible and incurable persons are no longer to be borne with. He heareth, therefore, "Thou hast said it," that is, Thou art the man I mean. Thus Christ pulls off his vizor, washeth off his varnish, and maketh him to appear in his own colours, a covetous caitiff (wretch), an impudent dog, a breathing devil, as Chrysostom hath it, a mischievous monkey; which creature hath the gravest countenance of any other, but is incessantly doing mischief. Talis res est avaritia, amentes, stolidos, impudentes, canes pro hominibus, et daemones ex canibus facit. (Chrys.)
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it , and brake it , and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
Ver. 26. Jesus took bread ] From bread and wine used by the Jews at the eating of the paschal lamb, without all command of Moses, but resting upon the common reason given by the Creator, Christ authorizeth a seal of his very flesh and blood. And as the householder, at the end of that solemn supper, blessed God, first, taking bread, and again, taking wine; so that we should not turn his seal into superstition, he followeth that plainness: ne miseri mortales, in istorum mysteriorum usu, in rebus terrestribus haereant et obstupescant, as Beza gives the reason. For which cause also, saith he, even in the old Liturgy they used to cry out to the people at the Lord’s table, Sursum corda, Lift up your hearts; that is, Look not so much to the outward signs in the sacraments, but use them as ladders to mount you up to Christ in heaven. Ut in coelum usque ad Christum penetrarent. (Beza.)
This is my body ] "This is" referred to bread by an anomaly of the gender (the like whereof we find, Eph 5:6 ), and so the apostle interpreteth it,1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 10:16 ; 1 Corinthians 11:26 . The sense then is, This bread is my true essential body, which is given for you: that is, by an ordinary metonymy, a b This bread is the sign of my body, as circumcision is called "the covenant," that is, the sign of the covenant, and seal of the righteousness of faith, Romans 4:11 . And as Homer calls the sacrifices, covenants; c because thereby the covenants were confirmed. Virgil calleth it fallere dextras, to deceive the right hands, for to break the oath that was taken, by the taking of right hands, &c. Transubstantiation is a mere fiction; and the most learned Papists are not yet agreed whether the substance of the bread in this sacrament be turned into the substance of Christ’s body productive, as one thing is made of another; or whether the bread goes away, and Christ’s body comes into the room of it adductive, as one thing succeeds into the place of another, the first being voided. Suarez is for the first, Bellarmine for the latter sense. And yet because Luther and Calvin agree not upon the meaning of these words, "This is my body," the Jesuits cry out, Spiritus sanctus a seipso non discordat, Hoc interpretationes discordant, Ergo: for Luther interpreteth the words synecdochically, d Calvin metonymically, after Tertullian and Augustine; "This is my body," for this is a sign or figure of my body, a seal also to every faithful receiver, that Christ is his, with all his benefits.
a A figure of speech which consists in substituting for the name of a thing the name of an attribute of it or of something closely related. ŒD
b Τουτο refertur ad αρτος anomalia generis. Pasor.
c αυταρ κηρυκες αγαυοι ορκια πιστα θεων συναγον .
d A figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versa; as whole for part or part for whole, genus for species or species for genus, etc. ŒD
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
Ver. 27. And he took the cup ] Anciently of glass, afterwards of wood, and lastly of silver or gold. Whence that saying of a father, Once there were wooden cups, golden priests; now there are golden cups, but wooden priests.
Drink ye all of it ] This is express against that Antichristian sacrilege of robbing the people of the cup. Eckius a saith the people ought to content themselves with the bread only, because, Equi donati non sunt inspiciendi dentes, " A gift horse is not to be looked in the mouth." He thought, likewise, that laymen could not claim any right to the bread either. Bellarmine, a little wiser, grants they have a right to the bread, but adds, that in eating the bread transubstantiated by the priest into the body of Christ, they drink his blood also. But Lombard (his master) denies this: saying, that the bread is not turned but into Christ’s flesh; nor the wine, but into his blood. And thus these Babel-builders are confounded in their language, and hard it is to know what the Church of Rome holdeth. The Council of Constance speaketh out, and saith, That albeit Christ instituted, and accordingly administered, this sacrament in both kinds, tamen hoc non obstante, all this notwithstanding, the authority of the holy canons and the approved custom of the Church hath and doth deny the cup to the laity. And Nicolas Shetterden, martyr, in his answer compelled the commissary to grant that Christ’s testament was broken, and his institution changed from the way he left it. But he said, they had power so to do. Christ’s redemption is both precious and plenteous. He makes his people a full feast. Bread and wine comprehend entire food; for humidum et siccum, moist and dry, are all that is required unto food, Isaiah 25:6 . Therefore as he gave them in the wilderness the bread of angels, so he set the rock abroach for them, and so fed them with sacraments. They did "all eat the same spiritual bread, and they did all drink the same spiritual drink," 1 Corinthians 10:3-4 , that the ancient Church might give no warrant of a dry communion. The Russians a kind of mongrel Christians, communicate in both kinds; but mingling both together in a chalice, they distribute it both together in a spoon. (Breerwood’s Inquiries.)
a Apud Manlium in loc. com.
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Ver. 28. For this is my blood ] This cup is my blood, viz. in a sacramental sense; as before the bread is said to be Christ’s body. If the words of Christ when he said, "this is my body," did change the substance, then, belike, when Christ said, "this cup is my blood," the substance of the cup was likewise changed into his blood, said Shetterden the martyr to Archdeacon Harpfield. And you can no more enforce of necessity (said another martyr) from the words of Christ the changing of the bread and wine into his body and blood, than the wife’s flesh to be the natural and real flesh of her husband, because it is written, "they are not two but one flesh." Besides, whereas it is forbidden that any should eat or drink blood, the apostles notwithstanding took and drank of the cup, &c. And when the sacrament was administered, none of them all crouched down, and took it for his god. Quandoquidem Christiani manducant Deum quem adorant, said Averroes the Arabian, sit anima mea cum Philosophis. Since Christians eat their God, I’ll have none.
Which is shed ] That is, shall shortly be shed. But all is delivered and set down in the present tense, here and elsewhere in this business: because to faith (which at this sacrament we should chiefly actuate and exercise) all things are made present, whether they he things to come (as to these disciples) or things past, as now to us. A communicant must call up his faith, and bespeak it as Deborah did herself, Judges 5:12 . Awake, awake, Deborah, utter a song. Ascend up to heaven in the act of receiving, and fetch down Christ: lean by faith upon his blessed bosom, cleave to his cross, suck honey out of this rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, Deuteronomy 32:13 , et intra ipsa redemptoris vulnera figite linguam, as Cyprian expresseth it. Let faith have her perfect work, since she is both the hand, mouth, and stomach of the soul.
For remission of sins ] This includes all the benefits of the New Covenant, all the purchase of Christ’s passion, sweetly sealed up to every faithful receiver. Christ instituted his holy supper, tanquam καθαρτηριον αλεξικακον , a sovereign preservative or purgative, saith Ignatius. And by this sacrament we are fenced and strengthened against the devil and all his assaults, saith Chrysostom, Ita ut nos fugiat tanquam si leones ignem exspuentes essemus, so that he shunneth us, as if we were so many lions spitting fire at him.
29 But I say unto you, 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.
Ver. 29. I will not drink henceforth. ] So he takes his farewell of his disciples: alluding, likely, to that custom among them of drinking no mote till the next day after they had drunk each his part of the parting cup, Poculum απολυτικον .
Drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom ] Understand it either of the kingdom of grace (Peter saith that he and others did eat and drink with Christ after he rose from the dead, Acts 10:41 ; we also feast with him daily by faith, at his table especially, where he is both feast maker and feast master), or of his kingdom of glory, frequently and fitly set forth by the similitude of a sumptuous supper, Matthew 8:11 ; Luke 14:7-11 , &c., such as to which all other feasts are but hunger.
30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Ver. 30. And when they had sung an hymn ] The Jews at the Passover sang the great hallelujah, that is, the 113th Psalm with the five following Psalms. This they began to sing after that dismissory cup mentioned before. At all times we should sing hallelujahs, with grace in our hearts to the Lord; but at the sacrament the great hallelujah, the hosannah Rabbah. We should credit the feast by our spiritual jollity, shouting as a giant after his wine, singing and making melody to the Lord in our hearts. Chrysostom maketh mention of a hymn of thanksgiving, wont to be used by the monks of his time after they had supped: a and he calleth them angels for their holy and heavenly life and conversation. We should come from the Lord’s table, as Moses did from the mount, with our faces shining; as the good women, did from the sepulchre, "with fear and great joy;" as the people went to their tents from Solonmn’s feast, "joyful and glad of heart," 1 Kings 8:66 . If those in the wilderness were so cheered and cherished by their idolatrous feast before the golden calf; that they "eat and drink, and rise up to play," 1 Corinthians 10:7 , how much more should we by this blessed banquet? To whet our stomachs, let faith feed upon some promise before the sacrament. A moderate breakfast gets a man the better stomach to his dinner, &c.
a υμνος ευχαριστηριος . Hom. 55 in Matt.
31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
Ver. 31. All ye shall be offended because of me ] Why? what had that righteous one done? Nothing but that his cross lay in their way, whereat they stumbled shamefully, and left him to wonder that he was "left alone,"Isaiah 63:5; Isaiah 63:5 . Adversity is friendless ( αφιλον το ουστυχες ), saith one heathen (Ovid); Et cum fortuna statque caditque fides, saith another. Job found his friends like the brooks of Tema, which in a moisture swell, in a drought fail. Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris.
For it is written, I will smite ] This our Saviour purposely subjoineth, for their support under the sense of their base deserting him. A foul sin it was, but yet such as was long since set down of them; not without a sweet promise of their recollection, "I will turn my hand upon the little ones," Zechariah 13:7 ; or, I will bring back my hand to the little ones ( At reducam manum meam ad parvulos ), as Tremellius readeth it.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Ver. 32. But after I am risen again, &c. ] Infirmities bewailed, break no square. Peccata nobis non nocent, si non placent (Aug.): our sins hurt us not, if they please us not. The Church stands as right with Christ when penitent, as while innocent,Song of Solomon 7:12; Song of Solomon 7:12 ; cf. Matthew 4:1-2 , &c. Her hair, teeth, temples, all as fair and well featured as ever.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
Ver. 33. Though all men shouht be offended ] Peter spake as he meant, but his heart deceived him, as did likewise David’s,Psalms 39:1-3; Psalms 39:1-3 , and Orpah’s, Ruth 1:10 , and those Israelites in the wilderness, that were turned aside "like deceitful bows," Psalms 78:57 . They levelled both eyes and arrows (that is, both purposes and promises) to the mark of amendment, and thought verily to hit; but their deceitful hearts, as naughty bows, carried their arrows a clean contrary way. So did Peter’s here, so will the best of ours, if we watch them not.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Ver. 34. Before the cock crow, &c. ] Christ mentioneth the cock, quia tam strenuum pugnatorem decebat tale praeconium, saith one. The presumption of proud flesh never but miscarries; when humble self-suspicion holds out, and hath favour. The story of Pendleton and Saunders is better known than that it needs here to be related. (Acts and Mon.)
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
Ver. 35. Though I should die with thee ] Quot verba tot absurda, as one saith of Peter’s proposition of three tabernacles, &c. Sure it is he knew as little what he said here as there: how much more considerately those martyrs, who both said it and did it? "The heavens shall as soon fall, as I will forsake my faith," said William Flower. And "if every hair of my head were a man, I would suffer death in the opinion and faith that I am now in," said John Ardely.
Likewise also said all the disciples ] Misled, as Barnabas afterward was, Gal 2:11-13 by Peter’s example. "The leaders of this people cause them to err," Isaiah 9:16 . Our Saviour (to teach us what to do in like case) striveth not with them for the last word; but lets them enjoy their own overly good conceits of themselves, till time should confute them.
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Ver. 36. Unto a place called Gethsemane ] By Mount Olivet stood this garden; and there he began his passion, as well to expiate that first sin committed in a garden, as to sanctify unto us our repasts and recreations. Here, after our Saviour had prayed himself "into an agony," Λγωνιζομενος (to teach us to "strive also in prayer" as for life, and to struggle "even to agony," as the word signifieth, Col 4:12 ), he was taken quasi ex condieto, and led into the city through the sheep gate (so called of the multitude of sheep driven in by it to be offered in the temple) to be sacrificed, as a lamb undefiled and without spot.
Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder ] It may be lawful therefore in some cases to pray secretly in the presence or with the privity of others, so there be some good use of them.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Ver. 37. And he took with him Peter, &c. ] He took the same that had seen his glory in the mount, to see his agony in the garden, that they might the better stick to him. Let no man envy others their better parts or places; since they have them on no other condition but to be put upon greater temptations, hotter services. If we could wish another man’s honour, when we feel the weight of his cares, as David once did of Saul’s armour, we should be glad to be in our own coat.
And very heavy ] To faint, or fall away in his soul, to be out of the world, as we say; "He sitteth alone, and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him," Lamentations 3:28 . Αδημονειν , - hominum vestigia vitat.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
Ver. 38. My soul is exceeding sorrowful ] He had a true human soul then, neither was his deity to him for a soul, as some heretics fancied; for then our bodies only had been redeemed by him, and not our souls ( το γαρ απροσληπτον αθεραπευτον , as that Father hath it), if he had not in soul also suffered, and so descended into hell. The sufferings of his body were but the body of his sufferings; the soul of his sufferings were the sufferings of his soul, whch was now undequaque tristis, beset with sorrows, and heavy as a heart could hold, περιλυπος . The "sorrows of death compassed him, the cords of hell surrounded him,"Psalms 18:4-5; Psalms 18:4-5 , the pain whereof he certainly suffered, non specie et loco sed αναλογον τι και ανεκλαλητον , something answerable to hell, and altogether unspeakable. Hence the Greek Litany, "By thine unknown sufferings ( δι ’ αγνωστων σου παθηματων ), good Lord, deliver us." Faninus, an Italian martyr, being asked by one why he was so merry at his death, since Christ himself was so sorrowful? Christ, said he, sustained in his soul all the sorrows and conflicts with hell and death due to us; by whose sufferings we are delivered from sorrow and fear of them all.
Tarry ye here, and watch with me ] Yet not for my sake so much as for your own, that ye enter not into temptation,Luke 22:40; Luke 22:40 .
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt .
Ver. 39. And he went a little farther ] Amat secessum ardens oratio. St Luke saith he was violently withdrawn from them, about a stone’s cast, and there he kneeled down and prayed, for farther he could not go, through earnest desire of praying to his heavenly Father, Luke 22:41 . απεσπασθη . Illud desiderium precandi eum incessit, ut illum quodam modo truderet.
And fell on his face ] He putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope, Lamentations 3:29 . This and the like humble gestures in God’s service do at once testify, and excite inward devotion.
Let this cup pass ] In the time of execution, they gave the malefactor a cup of wine, mingled with myrrh, Mark 15:23 , to stupify his senses, and so to mitigate his pains. Hence the word calix or cup is put here and elsewhere for death itself, which, being terrible to nature, is therefore here with strong crying and tears deprecated by our Saviour, Hebrews 5:7 . This was natural in him, and not sinful in us, so it do not degenerate into that which is carnal fear of death.
Nevertheless not as I will, but, &c. ] Here Christ doth not correct his former request (for then there should have been some kind of fault in it), but explieateth only on what condition he desired deliverance, and becometh "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Philippians 2:8 , crying out, "not as I will, but as thou wilt," which shows that he had a distinct human will from the will of his Father, and so was very man as well as God. And here Aristotle, that great philosopher, is clearly confuted. For he denies that a magnanimous man can be exceeding sorrowful for anything that befalls him. a Our Saviour (his Church’s stoutest champion) was exceeding sorrowful even to the death; and yet of so great a spirit, that he yields up himself wholly to God. Magnus est animus, qui se Deo tradidit; pusillus et degener, qui obluctatur, saith Seneca. He is a brave man that trusts God with all.
a Μεγαλοψυχος ουκ εστι περιλυπος . Arist. Eth.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
Ver. 40. And he cometh unto the disciples ] They were his care in the midst of his agony. So was Peter, upon whom he found time to look back when he stood to answer for his life. So was the penitent thief, whose prayer Christ answered, even when he hung upon the tree, and was paying dear for his redemption. Our High Priest bears the names of all his people on his shoulders and on his breast, so that he cannot be unmindful of them. Behold he hath graven them upon the palms of his hands, their walls are continually before him, Isaiah 49:16 , he loveth to look upon the houses where they dwell.
And findeth them asleep ] When he should have found them at prayer for him. Prayer is the creature of the Holy Ghost; and unless he hold up men’s eyes therewhile, even Peter, James, and John will fall asleep in prayer, and put up yawning petitions to God.
And saith unto Peter ] Who had promised so much forwardness, and stood in so great a danger above the rest, Luke 22:31-33 . For Satan earnestly desired to deal with him ( εξητησατο ); he challenged Peter forth, as Goliath called for one to combat with. And was it for them to sleep then; or, with Agrippa’s dormouse, not to awake till boiled in lead?
What? could ye not watch with. me, &c. ] How then will ye do to die with me, as erst ye promised me? If the footman have wearied you, "how will ye contend with horses?" Jeremiah 12:5 . If you cannot endure words, how will you endure wounds? If ye cannot strive against sin, how will ye resist unto blood? Hebrews 12:4 . If ye cannot burn your finger with Bilney, your right hand with Cranmer, how will you bear the burning of your whole body? Alice Coberly, being piteously burnt in the hand by the keeper’s wife, with a hot key which she cunningly sent her to fetch, revoked.
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Ver. 41. Watch and pray ] Yea, watch, while ye are praying, against corruption within, temptations without. Satan will be interrupting as the Pythoness did Paul praying, Acts 16:16 ; as the fowls did Abraham sacrificing, Genesis 15:11 ; as the enemies did Nehemiah with his Jews, building, who therefore prayed and watched, watched and prayed. Among all actions, Satan is ever busiest in the best; and most in the best part of the best, as in the end of prayer, when the heart should close up itself with most comfort. Watch therefore unto prayer, προσκαρτερειτε , Set all aside for it, and wait on it, as the word imports, Colossians 4:2 . While prayer stands still, the trade of godliness stands still; let this therefore be done, whatever is left undone. Take heed the devil take you not out of your trenches, as he did David, likely, 2 Samuel 11:2 ; out of your stronghold, as Joshua did the men of Ai. "Little children," saith St John, "abide in God," 1 John 2:28 ; keep home, keep close to your Father, if you mean to be safe, if that evil one shall not touch you, 1 John 5:18 , nor thrust his deadly sting into you, &c.
The spirit indeed is willing ] q.d. Though the spirit purpose otherwise, yet the flesh will falter, and ye will be foiled else. Or, our Saviour speaks this by way of excuse of their infirmity, q.d. I see you are willing, so far as you are spiritual and regenerate; but the flesh is treacherous and tyrannical. It rebels ever and anon, and would gladly reign. It hangs off, when called to suffer, and makes shy of the business. So Peter was carried whither he would not, John 21:18 . So Hilarion chides out his soul (which plaid loth to depart) with Egredere o anima, &c. So Mr Sanders, martyr, in a letter to his wife, a little before his death, Fain would his flesh, said he, make strange of that which the spirit doth embrace. O Lord, how loth is this loitering sluggard to pass forth in God’s path, &c. So Mr Bradford going to his death. Now I am climbing up the hill, said he, it will cause me to puff and blow before I come to the cliff. The hill is steep and high, my breath is short, and my strength is feeble. Pray therefore to the Lord for me, pray for me, pray for me, for God’s sake, pray for me. See Trapp on " Joh 21:18 "
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Ver. 42. The second time, and prayed ] Prayer is that arrow of deliverance that would be multiplied, 2 Kings 13:17 . God holds off on purpose that he may hear often of us, that we may ply the throne of grace, and give him no rest. The Church commenceth thrice the same suit, but riseth every time in her earnestness. Psalms 80:3 ; Psalms 80:7 ; Psa 80:19 If thy petition be not lawful, never prefer it, as if it be, never give it over. God suspends you, to make you eager.
If this cup may not pass, except I drink ] It passeth then, even while we are drinking of it. Το ποκρον μικρον , hold out faith and patience. It is but a storm, and will soon be over. It is but a death, and that is but the daybreak of eternal brightness. It is but winking (as that martyr said), and thou shall be in heaven presently.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
Ver. 43. He came and found them asleep again ] After so sweet an admonition, so sovereign a reproof; who knows how often an infirmity may recur, even after repentance? See it in Samson, in Jonah, in those apostles, for their contention "who should be greatest," &c.
For their eyes were heavy ] For sorrow (saith St Luke, Luk 22:45 ), which, exhausting the spirits, renders a man more sluggish; and hindering concoction, sends up vapours to the brain, and so causeth sleep. This was somewhat, but not sufficient to excuse them. Christ took them with him into the garden for their society and prayers. But they not only not help him, but wound him by their dulness unto duty, and instead of wiping off his bloody sweat, they draw more out of him. Judas had somewhat else to do now than to sleep, when Peter was fast, and could not hold up. Zechariah the prophet lay under such a like drowsy distemper, Zechariah 4:1 , for though awaked and set to work, he was even ready to fall asleep at it.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Ver. 44. And he left them, and went away again ] A most memorable and imitable pattern of patience toward those that condole not, or that keep not touch with us, we must neither startle nor storm, but pass it by as a frailty.
And prayed the third time ] A number of perfection. And, Si ter pulsanti, &c. Paul prayed thrice, and gave over, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 , because he saw it was God’s will it should be otherwise: pardoning grace he had, but not prevailing, 2 Corinthians 12:9 . So our Saviour here had an angel sent from heaven to strengthen him, that he might the better drink that cup which he had so heartily deprecated, Luke 22:43 . Hence the apostle doubts not to say that he "was heard in that he feared,"Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 5:7 : he was, and he was not; there is no praying against that which God’s providence hath disposed of by an infallible order. And when we see how God will have it, we must sit down and be satisfied. That which he will have done, we may be sure is best to be done.
Saying the same words ] And they were no whit the worse for being the same. Let this comfort those that complain they cannot vary in prayer; though that be a desirable ability. The Corinthians were enriched by God in all utterance and knowledge, 1 Corinthians 1:5 . But the business of prayer is more despatched by inward groanings than outward garnishes.
45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, 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.
Ver. 45. Sleep on now, and take your rest ] q.d. Do so, if you can, at least. a But now the hour is come, wherein you shall have small either leisure or list to sleep, though never so drowsy spirited, for "the Son of man is betrayed," &c. Luther readeth the words indicatively, and by way of question, thus, Ah! do ye now sleep and take your rest? Will ye, with Solomon’s drunkard, sleep upon a mast pole? take a nap upon a weather cock? Thus this heavenly eagle, though he love his young ones dearly, yet he pricketh and beateth them out of the nest. The best (as bees) are killed with the honey of flattery, but quickened with the vinegar of reproof.
a Sarcasmus quo egebat discipulorum torpor. Beza.
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
Ver. 46. Rise, let us be going ] To meet that death which till he had prayed he greatly feared. So it was with Esther, Ezra 4:16 , and with David, Psalms 116:3-4 . See the power of faithful prayer to disarm death, and to alter the countenance of greatest danger. Quoties me oratio, quem paene desperantem susceperat, reddidit exultantem, &c.? How oft hath prayer recruited me? (Bern. Serm. 33 in Cant.)
Behold, he is at hand ] Behold, for the miracle of the matter, yet now no miracle.
" Tuta frequensque via est per amici fallere nomen:
Tuta frequensque licet sit, via crimen habet. "
47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Ver. 47. Lo, Judas, one of the twelve ] Lo, for the reason next mentioned before. The truth hath no such pestilent persecutors as apostates. Corruptio optimi pessima, sweetest wine maketh sourest vinegar.
With swords and staves ] What need all this ado? But that the hornet haunted them, an ill conscience abused them, Exodus 23:28 . When he put forth but one beam of his Deity, these armed men fell all to the ground: nor could they rise again till he had done indenting with them, John 18:6 .
48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
Ver. 48. Whomsoever I shall kiss ] Ah, lewd losel! betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? a Givest thou thy Lord such rank poison in such a golden cup? Consignest thou thy treachery with so sweet a symbol of peace and love? b But this is still usual with those of his tribe. Caveatur osculum Iscarioticum. Jesuits at this day kiss and kill familiarly; officiose occidunt, as one saith of false physicians. When those Rhemish incendiaries, Giffard, Hodgson, and others, had set Savage to work to kill Queen Elizabeth, they first set forth a book to persuade the English Catholics to attempt nothing against her. So when they had sent Squire out of Spain to poison the queen, they taught him to anoint the pummel of her saddle with poison secretly, and then to pray with a loud voice, God save the Queen. Lopez, another of their agents, affirmed at Tyburn, that he had loved the queen as he had loved Jesus Christ: which, from a Jew, was heard not without laughter. So Parsons, when he had hatched that nameless villany the gunpowder plot, set forth his book of resolution; as if he had been wholly made up of devotion, E societate Iesu fuit qui Iesum tradidit. He was from the fellowship of Jesus whom Jesus had taught.
a καταφιλειν ουκ εστι φιλειν . Philo.
b Sacramento pacis tradidit sacrificium pacis. Jerome.
49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
Ver. 49. Hail, Master, and kissed him ] But love is not always in a kiss, saith Philo the Jew; nor in crying Rabbi, Rabbi, as the traitor here did,Mark 14:45; Mark 14:45 , out of a seeming pity of his Master’s misery. There are those who think that he would have carried his treachery so cunningly, as if he had had no hand in it; and therefore kissed him as a friend, and so would still have been taken. (Aretius.)
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
Ver. 50. Friend ] Since thou wilt needs be so esteemed, though most unfriendly.
Wherefore art thou come? ] As a friend, or as a foe? If as a friend, what mean these swords If as a foe, what means this kiss? Christ knew well enough wherefore he came; but thinks good to sting his conscience by this cutting question.
Laid hands, on Jesus and took him ] By his own consent, and ησυχαζοντος λογου , as Irenaeus hath it, while the Deity rested, and refused to put forth itself.
51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
Ver. 51. One of them which were with Jesus ] This was Peter, who asked leave to strike, but stayed not till he had it, out of a preposterous zeal to his Master, and because he would be a man of his word. A wonderful work of God it was surely, that hereupon he was not hewn in a hundred pieces by the barbarous soldiers. Well might the Psalmist say, "He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death," Psalms 68:20 ; "My times are in thine hand," Psalms 31:15 . But this stout swordsman could not be found, when his Master was, after this, apprehended and arraigned. Plato hath observed, Peritissimi lanistae in ludo, sunt inertissimi in belle, the most skilful fencers are the most cowardly soldiers.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Ver. 52. Put up again thy sword ] See Trapp on " Joh 18:11 "
For all they that take the sword ] Without a just calling, as those sworn swordsmen of the devil, the Jesuits, whose faction (as one saith of them) is a most agile sharp sword; the blade whereof is sheathed at pleasure, in the bowels of every commonwealth, but the handle reacheth to Rome and Spain. Their design is to subdue all to the pope, and the pope to themselves.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
Ver. 53. Thinkest thou that I cannot pray ] q.d. Need I be beholden to thee for help? Luther very boldly told his patron and protector, the elector of Saxony, that he, by his prayers, gained him more help and safeguard than he received from him; and that this cause of Christ needeth not the help of man to carry it on, but the power of God, set to work by the prayer of faith. a And this way, saith he, I will undertake to secure your highness’s soul, body, and estate, engaged in the cause of the gospel, from whatsoever danger or disaster, Sive id credat C. V. sive non credat, whether your highness believe me herein or not.
More than twelve legions ] A legion is judged to be six thousand foot and seven hundred horse. And this great army of angels is by prayer despatched from heaven in an instant. Are we then in any imminent danger? send up to heaven for help by prayer, and God will send from heaven and help us. We need not help ourselves by seeking private revenge, as Peter here, or using sinister shifts, as David, Psalms 34:1 , for in the same Psalm men are exhorted to ensue peace and pass by private wrongs; because the "angels of the Lord encamp round about them that fear him, and deliver them."
a Iudico Celsitud. Vest. plus a me praesidii et tutelae habituram esse, quam mihi praestare. Huic causae nullus gladius consulere aut opem ferre potest, &c. Luth. epist,
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Ver. 54. But how then shall the Scriptures, &c. ] Why dost thou not then pray (might they object) for an army of angels, to rescue thee out of these wicked hands, that now hold thee prisoner, and will let out thy life blood? How then should "the Scriptures be fulfilled," saith he, "that have foretold my death?" This was his constant care, even when he hung upon the cross, to fulfil the Scriptures; and so to assure us that he was the very Christ.
That thus it must be ] Why must? but because it was, 1. So decreed by God. 2. Foretold by the prophets; every particular of Christ’s sufferings, even to their very spitting in his face. 3. Prefigured in the daily morning and evening sacrifice; this Lamb of God was sacrificed from the beginning of the world. A necessity then there was of our Saviour’s suffering. Not a necessity of coaction (for he died freely and voluntartly), but of immutability and infallibility, for the former reasons and respects.
55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
Ver. 55. Are ye come out as against a thief? ] Secretly, and by night, with all this clatter of people and clashing of arms, so to make the world believe strange matters of me? whereas, had your cause and conscience been good, you would have taken a fitter time, and I should have had fairer dealing.
And ye laid no hand on me ] Ye lacked no will, but ye could never find cause: and which of you now accuseth me of sin? It is doubtless very lawful, and in some cases needful for Christians to defend their own innocence, and vindicate their wronged credit, as did Moses, Samuel, Paul, Melancthon: "I never have sought profits, pleasures, nor preferments," saith he, "neither was I ever moved with emulation or envy against any man," Hanc conscientiam aufero, quocunque discedo. This conscience I carry with me withersoever I go. Christ of all that ever lived, might best challenge his adversaries of injury: for of him it might be truly affirmed, what Xenophon doth of Socrates, what Paterculus doth of Scipio, Quod nihil in vita nisi laudandum aut fecit, aut dixit, aut sensit, that he did all things well, as the people testified of him, and never said or thought anything amiss.
56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
Ver. 56. That the Scriptures, &c. ] Which yet were no more the cause of the Jews’ cruelty than Joseph was of the famine, than the astrologer is of the eclipse, or Tenterton steeple of the ebbing and flowing of the sea.
Then all the disciples forsook him and fled ] Then, when there was no such need or danger to enforce them, Christ having capitulated with the enemy for their safety. They had leave to go free before; what stayed they for then? or why flee they now? This was the fruit and punishment of their former sleeping, Matthew 26:43 . Had they watched and prayed then, they had not now thus entered into temptation.
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Ver. 57. Where the scribes and the elders were ] A full council then may err. See Trapp on " Mat 2:4 " See Trapp on " Mat 26:3 "
58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
Ver. 58. But Peter followed ] First, he fled with the rest, and then, remembering his promise, followed afar off; but better he had kept him away, for he sat with the servants, so venturing upon the occasion of sin, which he should have studiously shunned; and merely out of curiosity to see the end and issue of Christ’s captivity. We many times tempt Satan to tempt us by our imprudence. Evil company is contagious, and sin more catching than the plague. Israel going down to Egypt brought a golden calf from thence; Jeroboam brought two. A man may pass through Ethiopia unchanged; but he cannot reside there, and not be discoloured.
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
Ver. 59. Sought false witness ] Here Christ is convented and examined in the spiritual court with a great deal of injustice and subordination. They first sought false witness, as if they had obeyed our Saviour, who bade them ask those that heard him what he had said unto them,John 18:21; John 18:21 .
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
Ver. 60. Yea, though many false witnesses came ] So adultery was objected to Athanasius, heresy and treason to Cranmer. Also I lay to thy charge, said Bonnet to Philpot, martyr, that thou killest thy father, and wast accursed of thy mother on her death bed, &c. Queen Elizabeth wrote these lines in a window at Woodstock, -
"Much alleged against me,
Nothing proved can be."
Freedom of speech used by the Waldenses against the sins of those times, caused, Ut plures nefariae eis affingerentur opiniones, a quibus omnino fuerant alieni, saith Gerard, That many false opinions were fathered upon them, such as they never favoured. a So deal the Papists by us to this day; they tell the seduced people that we worship no God, count gain godliness, keep no promises, eat young children, make nothing of adultery, murder, &c. b Good people, these men deny Christ to be God, and the Holy Ghost to be God, &c., said White, Bishop of Winchester, concerning Woodman and other holy martyrs, in a sermon.
Yet found they none ] The enemies’ likeliest projects often fail. These false witnesses, as those Babel builders of old, disagreed in their language, which God confounded, and so he doth to this day.
a See Alex. Cook’s preface to his Abatement of Popular Brags.
b Eudaemon. Johan. contra Casaub.
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
Ver. 61. I am able to destroy the temple ] Novum crimen Caie Caesar. For, what if Christ had said so? Could not he as easily have reared a temple as raised the dead, restored the blind, &c.? But the truth is, he never said so, but was misreported and falsely accused (saith Father Latimer), both as touching his words and meaning also. He said Destruite, Destroy ye; they made it Possum destruere, I am able to destroy. He said Templum hoc, this temple, meaning his own body; they added manufactum, made with hands, to bring it to a contrary sense, &c. Thus mutilando vel mutundo, by chopping or changing, ill-minded men do usually deprave and wrest to a wrong meaning the most innocent passages and practises. So true is that of the comedian,
Nihil est quin male narrando possit depravarier:
Tu id quod boni est excerpis, dicis quod mali est.
62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
Ver. 62. Answerest thou nothing? ] No, nothing, unless it had been to better purpose; for σιγαν χρη, η κρεισσονα σιγης λεγειν , saith the wise heathen. Either hold thy peace or say something that is worth hearing. And, πασιν απολογεισθαι θεραπευτικον . (Plato.) To answer every slight accusation is servile. Some are so thin they may be seen through, others so gross that they need no refutation. a These hypocrites were not worthy of an answer from our Saviour, who knew also that now was the time not of apologizing, but of suffering; therefore "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth," Isaiah 53:7 . Besides, he saw that his enemies were resolved to have his blood, and therefore held it more glorious, τη σιωπη το ονειδος πνιγειν , as Basil hath it, to choke their spite with silence, et iniuriam tacendo fugere, potius quam respondendo superare, as another saith, to set them down by saying nothing.
a Tenue mendacium pellucet. Sen.
63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Ver. 63. I adjure thee by the living God ] So had the devil done once before, horrendo impudentiae exemplo, Mark 3:7 . Sed os Caiaphae et culeus Satanae in eodem sunt praedicamento. It is nothing with the devil and his to pollute and dishallow that nomen maiestativum, as Tertullian styleth it, that "glorious and fearful name of God," as Moses calleth it, Deuteronomy 28:58 ; and to call him in, at all turns, as an author or abettor, at least, of their abominable plots and practises. How much better that holy man that said, My heart, head, and tongue trembleth as often as I speak of God? a Yea, the very heathen sages had the same thoughts, that men ought to be better advised than to toss God’s reverend name upon their tongues as a tennis ball, or to wear his image for an ornament. b And surely, as St Mark relateth this history, one would think Caiaphas a very conscientious person. For he brings him in saying to our Saviour, "Art thou the son of that blessed one?"Mark 14:61; Mark 14:61 . So he calls God by. a periphrasis, as if he were afraid once to name God, ευλογητου . Baruch hu, quasi ipsum Dei nomen exprimere vereatur; when as yet presently after, he profanely adjureth our blessed Saviour "by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ," &c. And this he doth, not out of any desire to know the truth; but as seeking an occasion from his bold and free confession of the truth, to put him to death; so going about to entitle God himself to his villanous enterprizes. See here the hateful nature of damned hypocrisy, and abandon it.
a Lingua, mente, et cogitatione horresco quoties de Deo sermonem habeo Nazianzen.
b εν δακτυλιω εικονα θεου υν περιφιρειν Praecept. Pyth.
64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Ver. 64. Thou hast said ] That is, as St Mark expresseth the Hebraism in plainer terms, "I am," q.d. Thou hast said it, and I must second it, I am indeed the promised Messias, and the only begotten Son of God. This was the naked truth without equivocation; a device that the Jesuits have lately fetched from hell, for the consolation of afflicted Catholics, and for the instruction of all the godly, as Blackwel and Garnet blush not to profess in print. Let us learn here of our Saviour to make a bold and wise confession of the truth when called thereunto; although we create ourselves thereby never so much danger from the enemy, who shall so be either converted, or at least convinced, and left inexcusable.
Hereafter shall ye see, &c. ] q.d. Now I am in a state of abasement, God having hidden his Son under the carpenter’s son, whom ye have now bound, and shall shortly crucify. But not long hence ye shall see me in a state of advancement sitting on the right hand of power, pouring out my Spirit upon all flesh, Acts 2:33 ; and, after that, coming in the clouds of heaven, as in a chariot of state, to judge you that are now my judges, &c.
65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
Ver. 65. Then the high priest rent his clothes ] Which the high priest ought not by the law to have done, howsoever, Leviticus 10:6 ; Leviticus 21:10 , and here had no colour of cause at all to do; no, not so much as Joab had, when for company, and at his Lord’s command, he rent his clothes at Abner’s funeral, whom he had basely murdered, 2 Samuel 3:31 .
66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
Ver. 66. He is guilty of death ] Servile souls! they dare do no otherwise than concur with Caiaphas. So in Popish councils and conclaves the bishops and others (those aiones et negones aulici ) have no more to do, but simply inclinato capite to say Placet to that which in the pope’s name is proposed unto them. The envoys in the Council of Trent were blamed for suffering the article of priests’ marriage to be disputed. And in Colloquio Possiaceno, after that Beza had spoken much of the eucharist before the young king of France, the queen mother and the princess of the blood, a Spanish Jesuit, having reproached the Protestants, did reprehend the queen mother for meddling in matters that belonged not to her, but to the pope, cardinals, and bishops.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,
Ver. 67. Then did they spit in his face ] Condemned prisoners are sacred things; and by the law of nations, should not be misused and trampled on, but rather pitied and prepared for death. But these barbarous miscreants (not without the good liking of their lords the priests and elders) spare for no kind of cruelty toward Christ, who was content to be spit upon, to cleanse our faces from the filth of sin, to be buffeted with fists, and beaten with staves, a to free us from that mighty hand of God, 1 Peter 5:6 , and from those scourges and scorpions of infernal fiends.
a ερραπισαν , bacillis ceciderunt. Beza.
68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
Ver. 68. Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ ] This is daily done to Christ by the children of darkness, which sin securely, and say, Who seeth us? they put it to the trial, as Ananias and Sapphira did, whether they shall be detected.
69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
Ver. 69. And a damsel came unto him ] A silly wench daunteth and dispiriteth this stout champion. Sic et Elias ille fulminator ad mulierculae (Iesabelis) minas trepidat, factus seipso imbecillior. (Bucholcer.) What poor things the best of us are, when left a little to ourselves, when our faith is in the wane! Regulus erat cum audebat omnium audacissimus: cum timebat, omnium timidissimus; sic et Petrus.
Thou also wast with Jesus ] She was just of her master’s mind and making. We had need take heed where we set our children to service; for, like water on a table, they will be led any way with a wet finger; and as any liquid matter, they will conform to the vessel whereinto they are poured. Be sure to teach them God’s fear, and to pray, and then wherever they come to live, they shall do good, and find favour, as the captive children did in the court of Babylon, Daniel 1:9 , and as the Hebrew girl did in Naaman’s family; that great lord lighted his candle at his handmaid’s coal; so good a thing is it to acquaint our children with the works of God, with the praises of his prophets.
70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
Ver. 70. I know not what thou sayest ] He makes as if he understood not either her words or her meaning. And this false dissembling was a true denying. St Mark saith, that now the cock crew, Mark 14:68 . A fair warning to so foul a sinner; but he took no notice of it, till Christ looked back upon him; to teach us, that without the help of divine grace, no means can convert a sinner from the error of his way. God himself preached a sermon of repentance to Cain, but it prevailed not. Whereas Christ no sooner looked back upon this fallen apostle, but he went out and wept bitterly. Christ cured him with less ado than he did Malchus’ ear, -that was healed by a touch, this by a look only.
71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
Ver. 71. And when he was gone out, &c. ] The orifice of his wound was not yet closed, and therefore bled afresh so soon again. Thus Lot committed incest two nights together; &c. See Trapp on " Mat 26:43 "
72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
Ver. 72. And again he denied with an oath ] This was fearful; and the worse, because his Master, whom he forswore, was now (even as Peter’s faith was) upon his trial, and might say, with wounded Caesar, What, thou, my son Brutus! Is this thy kindness to thy friend? Scipio had rather that Hannibal should eat his heart with salt than that Lelius do him the least discourtesy.
73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
Ver. 73. For thy speech bewrayeth thee ] Jacob must name himself Esau, with the voice of Jacob. The Ephraimite must lisp out his Shibboleth in despite of his heart or habit. Each countryman is known by his idiom or dialect. The fool saith to every one, that he is a fool, Ecclesiastes 10:3 , when the wise man’s tongue "talketh of judgment," Psalms 37:30 .
74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying , I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
Ver. 74. Then began he to curse and swear ] This he had learned belike of the ruffianly soldiers, with whom, usually, execrations are but expletives, and horrible oaths interjections of speech. But though Israel play the harlot, yet why should Judah offend? come not ye to Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear "The Lord liveth," Hosea 4:15 . David swore once such an oath, and it was enough of that once, 1 Samuel 25:22 . But Peter swears and forswears again and again, and that after warning; as Aaron went down and did that in the valley which he heard forbidden in the Mount, and then excuseth it by his fear of the people. That cowardly passion is the mother of many sins, of lying especially,Zephaniah 3:13; Zephaniah 3:13 , and swearing too, to save the life. But better die than lie: and better bear than swear. We may not break the hedge of any commandment to avoid any piece of foul way, but go in a right line to God. Quas non oportet mortes praeeligere, quod non supplicium potius ferre, imo in quam profundam inferni abyssum non intrare, quam contra conscientiam attestari? saith holy Zuinglius in his third Epistle. What should not a man suffer, rather than sin? Peter sinned to some purpose, if it were, as some have thought, that he not only cursed himself, if he knew Christ, but also cursed Jesus Christ, that so he might appear to be none of his disciples.
And immediately the cock crew ] Gallicinium complevit Christi vaticinium. The cock proved a preacher to Peter. Despise not the minister though never so mean; it is the foolishness of preaching that must bring men to heaven. Cocks call men out of their beds, and there hence have their name in the Greek tongue, a They constantly keep the law of crowing at those set times that nature hath enjoined them; they cry loud and thick against a storm. So do faithful ministers, when gotten upon their battlements; they clap their own sides first, and then constantly call up others. They cry aloud, and spare not, but lift up their voice like a trumpet, to tell Judah of their sins, &c. The roaring lion of hell trembleth at their note: and the world’s Sybarites cannot bear their disturbances, and therefore wish them banished. But wisdom is justified of her children, and though fierce before, and untamable, yet now "a little child shall lead them,"Isaiah 11:6; Isaiah 11:6 .
a αλικτωρ , quod nos excitet e lecto.
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Ver. 75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus ] Here began his repentance. If we remember not what is preached unto us, all is lost, saith the apostle, 1 Corinthians 15:2 . If we leak and let slip, saith another, how shall we escape? Μηποτε παραρρυωμεν , Hebrews 2:1 ; Hebrews 2:3 . The Spirit shall be the saints’ remembrancer; and as the sea casts up her dead, so shall that come seasonably to mind, that was long before delivered, when God’s good time is come to work upon the dead heart. God will be found of his that seek him not. Surely, mercy and truth shall follow them all the days of their lives, as the sunbeams follow the traveller that turns his back on them. He will bring back his banished, he will reduce his rengades, he will not suffer any of his to be utterly drowned, though haply they have been drenched in the waves of sin, lain some while in them, yea, and have also sunk twice or thrice, as Peter, to the very bottom. Now then how can any either presume of not sinning, or despair for sin, when they read of Peter thus fallen, and now thus remembering, thus rising again by repentance, and received to mercy? The like instances we have not a few, of Origen and other primitive Christians, who, recanting for a season through fear of death, were therefore utterly excluded by Novatus from all hope of mercy; but not so by Christ. "Be not thou a terror unto me, O Lord," saith Jeremiah, and then I care not, though all the world condemn and cast me out. Bilney, Bainham, Benbridge, Abbes, Whittle, Sharp, and many other martyrs, having denied their Lord God, as they called it, for fear of the faggot, could have no rest till they had repented, and publicly revoked their much bewailed recantations. Stephen Gardiner, indeed, like another Ecebolius, cried out that he had denied with Peter, but never repented with Peter, and so both stinkingly and unrepentantly died, saith Mr Fox. It was a saying of the same Mr Fox, that his graces did him most hurt, and his sins most good. A paradox; but by our temptations, we know his meaning. As pain easeth a Christian, death revives him, dissolution unites him, so corruption clarifies him. I dare be bold to say (saith Augustine) that it is good for proud persons to fall into some foul sin, unde sibi displiceant, qui iam sibi placendo ceciderunt. Salubrius enim Petrus sibi displicuit quando flevit, quam sibi placuit quando praesumpsit, that they may be humbled, as Peter was, and so saved. (Aug. Civ. Dei. 14, 13.)
He wept bitterly ] That one sweet look from Christ melted him; as God’s kindness did the hard hearted Israelites at the meet of Mizpeh. In this troubled pool Peter washed himself, in this Red Sea the army of his iniquities was drowned. As once his faith was so great that he leapt into a sea of waters to come to Christ, so now his repentance was so great, that he leapt, as it were, into a sea of tears for that he had gone from Christ. There are those who say (and it may very well be) that henceforth he was ever and anon weeping; and that his face was even furrowed with continual tears. a He began soon after his sin, Mark 14:72 , cum se proripuisset, when he had thrown himself out, as Beza renders επιβαλων . He had no sooner took in poison, but he vomited it up again ere it got to the vitals. He had no sooner handled his serpent, but he turned it into a rod to scourge his soul with remorse. Peccatum tristitiam peperit, et tristitia peccatum contrivit, ut vermis is ligno natus, sed ipsum comminuit.
a Semper lachrymis suffusos habuisse oculos adeo ut etiam lachrymae cutem genarum exederint. Chrysost.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29