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MATTHEW CHAPTER 26
Matthew 26:1,Matthew 26:2 Christ again foretells his own death.
Matthew 26:3-5 The rulers conspire against him.
Matthew 26:6-13 A woman poureth precious ointment upon his head.
Matthew 26:14-16 Judas bargains to betray him.
Matthew 26:17-25 Christ eateth the passover, and points out the traitor.
Matthew 26:26-30 He institutes his last supper,
Matthew 26:31-35 foretells the desertion of his disciples, and Peter’s denial of him.
Matthew 26:36-46 His agony and prayer in the garden.
Matthew 26:47-50 He is betrayed and apprehended.
Matthew 26:51-56 One of the servants of the high priest hath his ear cut off; Jesus forbiddeth opposition.
Matthew 26:57-68 He is carried to Caiaphas, falsely accused, examined, pronounced guilty, and treated with indignity.
Matthew 26:69-75 Peter’s denial and repentance.
Mark saith, Mark 14:1. After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread. Luke saith, Luke 22:1, Now the feast of unleavened drew nigh, which is called the passover. For our better understanding of what the evangelists say here, and in the following part of this history, we will consider the law of the passover in its institution, which we find in Exodus 12:3 &c., Leviticus 23:4 &c., Numbers 28:16 &c., In Exodus 12:1-51, we find its first institution, and the occasion of it. Upon the tenth day of the month Nisan, they were to take up a lamb for every household; or if the household were too small, they might take in their neighbours. This lamb was to be a male without blemish, and to be kept up to the fourteenth day; then to be killed in the evening; or between the two evenings, that is, as is most probably judged, some time that day after the sun began after noon to decline, before the sun did set. The flesh of this lamb was that night to be eaten, neither raw, nor sodden, but roasted with fire, with unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs: nothing was to remain till the morning; and if any did remain, it was to be burned. They were to eat it with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hands. They were to strike the blood of the lamb on the two first posts, and on the upper doorposts, of the houses where they did eat it. Seven days they were to eat unleavened bread, beginning on the fourteenth day of the month at even, and ending the one and twentieth at even. This was to be to them for a memorial of their deliverance in Egypt upon God’s destroying the firstborn of the Egyptians and sparing them, and their deliverance and coming out of Egypt; and was to be an ordinance unto them for ever. This may be read at large, Exodus 12:3-20. This also was a figure of the true Passover Jesus Christ, whom the apostle calleth our Passover, and the evangelist calls the Lamb of God. The law of the passover was again repeated, Leviticus 23:5-8; Numbers 28:16-25. The first and last of the days of unleavened bread (as may be seen there) were to be days of an holy convocation. There were some differences between the observation of the first passover in Egypt and their after observations of it. At the passover in Egypt the blood was to be sprinkled on the doorposts; in following times the blood and the fat were to be sprinkled upon the altar: at the passover in Egypt every paschal society slew the passover in their own house; but afterwards they were all slain in the temple, and then carried to be roasted and eaten by the several societies. The passover in Egypt was to be eaten standing, with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet and staves in their hands, in token of their being ready to take their journey out of Egypt; but in their following passovers they (in token of the liberty into which God had brought them) did eat it sitting: hence we shall find that Christ sat down with the twelve when he ate the passover. In other things the observation was much alike. They strictly kept to the time, the fourteenth day of the month Nisan or Abib, which answereth to part of our March and April. This great festival was to be kept after two days, saith our Saviour. Whether the two days are to be understood as including or excluding the day when he spake is uncertain, and not material for us to know; probably he spake this on the Tuesday, (as we call it), Friday being to be the passover day.
And the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Though he was not yet actually betrayed that we read of, yet he knew both what counsels his adversaries had already been taking, and were further about to take, and what was in the heart of Judas; he therefore forewarns his disciples, that when the thing should come to pass they might not be surprised, and might know that he was the Son of God, who could foretell future contingencies, though he was also as the Son of man to be crucified.
Mark 14:1, saith, The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. Luke saith much the same with Mark. They had before this been seeking how to destroy him, Luke 19:47; nor was it the first time they had made a formal council about it, John 11:47; but now again they met. The place is named, that was the high priest’s hall; the councillors were the chief priests, scribes, and elders. The matter of their deliberation was to kill Christ, and how they might do it by subtlety, for they were afraid of the people, who had a great esteem for our Saviour, because of the many miracles he had wrought.
But they said, Not on the feast day: that was now within two days, and in order to it the city was full of people, and they were afraid (as they were concerned, being a conquered people, and having but a precarious liberty for their religion) of causing any tumults: this awed them, not any great religion for the festival, for all things now were out of order with them. Their high priest was chosen annually, and at the will of their conquerors; some little appearance they had of their ancient religious government, but it was in no due order.
This piece of history (or one very like it) is recorded by the three other evangelists. Mark hath it with very little difference, Mark 14:3-9. Instead of for much, Mark 14:9, Mark hath a precise sum, three hundred pence, and adds, they murmured against her; and some other little differences he hath in words rather than in sense. In Luke, Luke 7:36-38, we read, One of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. This seemeth not to be the same history, though some think it is. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. It is plain this Pharisee’s name was Simon, by Luke 7:40. Luke further addeth a discourse between our Saviour and this Pharisee, Luke 7:39-50, which I shall in its order consider. John relates it, John 12:1,John 12:2, &c.: Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them which sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. Whether all the evangelists relate one and the same or divers stories is the question. Luke’s relation seemeth the most different; he saith nothing of this Simon being a leper, and relates this history immediately after things done in Galilee. All the other three agree this passage to have fallen out at Bethany, within two miles of Jerusalem. It is very probable that Matthew, and Mark, and John recite the same story. They agree it to have happened in Bethany, at a supper in Simon’s house; they agree in the kind of the ointment, and in our Saviour’s discourse upon the thing. The difference in the time, John mentioning six days before the passover, and Matthew two days, will be cleared by considering, that St. John sets down the precise time when our Saviour came to Bethany, which was six days before the passover; St. Matthew sets down the time when the feast was made, which was two days before the passover; so that our Saviour had been four days in Bethany before he was entertained in the house of Simon, and anointed by Mary for his burial. When Christ came out of Galilee toward Jerusalem, he came (as we heard before) to Bethany, Mark 11:1. There he was entertained at a supper by one Simon, who had formerly been a leper, and probably had been cured by Christ, who therefore in gratitude entertained him, and made him a supper; where (saith John) Martha served, Lazarus sat at meat, whom he had newly raised from the dead, John 11:1-57. There comes a woman, John saith her name was Mary, and takes a pound of the ointment of spikenard; Matthew and Mark say it was in an alabaster box. John saith she did anoint his feet, and wiped them with her hair. Matthew and Mark say nothing of her anointing his feet, but of his head only. Though therefore opinions both of ancient and modern divines be very various, some thinking that the evangelists speak but of one anointing, others, that they speak of two, others, that they speak of three; yet it seems most probable that they speak of two, one of which is mentioned by Luke a year before this, the other is mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and John. Whoso deliberately reads over the history in Luke, and compares it with the record of it in the three others, will see reasons enough to conclude that Luke speaketh of another person, and another time, and another place; for certainly Simon the Pharisee and Simon the leper were not the same: besides, we read in Luke that Simon carped at our Saviour for letting such a sinful woman come near him; here is nothing like it in this story. I shall therefore here consider the history as reported by our evangelist, taking in what Mark and John have to make it complete. Matthew and Mark say it was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. John mentions not the house, but adds that Lazarus was at the same time at supper with our Lord and that Martha waited. It will not from hence follow that our Saviour was at the house of Lazarus, (as some think), for as the other evangelists express another house, so John gives no suspicion of any such thing, but by mentioning the presence of Lazarus and his two sisters there, which might be and one of them wait, though they were at the house of a friend.
There came unto him a woman, ( so say Matthew and Mark; John saith it was Mary, one of the sisters of Lazarus), she having an alabaster box of ointment very precious, poured it on his head as he sat at meat. John saith the ointment was of spikenard, very costly; and that she anointed his feet, and wiped them with her hair; and that the quantity of it was a pound, so as the odour of it did fill the room. She did certainly anoint both his head and his feet. It is certain that in those Eastern countries this was a usual fashion, to entertain their guests at banquets by anointing them with oil, to which the psalmist alludes, Psalms 23:5. This woman seemeth to have exceeded the usual compliment of this nature, in the kind of oil she used, the quantity of it, and in her anointing his feet (which she possibly did instead of washing his feet, which was very usual with them); in these things she showed the greatness of her love to this guest.
When his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? Mark adds, they murmured at the woman. They said, This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. Mark and John say, for three hundred pence. John saith it was Judas Iscariot that spake the words, and gives the reason for it, because he bare the bag, into which the price of the ointment (had it been sold) must have come; and he was a thief, he spake not this out of any regard to the poor, but to himself: it is likely other of the disciples might also think that it was too great a waste upon such a compliment. Our Lord understanding of it, vindicates the woman.
1. He tells them that she had done a good work. Actions not forbidden by the Divine law, nor commanded in it, take up their goodness or badness from their principles and ends; what she had done was done out of a principle of love to Christ, and for his honour and glory, so it was a good work.
2. He tells them that they had the poor with them always, but they should not have him always. A work may be good done at an extraordinary time, and upon an extraordinary occasion, which is not so if brought into ordinary practice. Christ here declares that he had no design to discourage the relief of the poor, but they would have daily occasions to do them good, but he was not long to be with them.
3. He tells them that she had poured this ointment upon him against his burial. That is, if this cost had been spent upon my dead body you would not have blamed her; for those kind of perfumes, both moist and dry, were much used in their embalming dead bodies. I am about to die, I have often told you so; you believe it not; she believeth it, and hath, out of her love to me, but bestowed such a cost upon my dying body, as you would not have blamed had it been bestowed upon my dead body: so she showed her faith in Christ’s words as well as his person.
Or, if this woman did not do it with any such intention, yet (saith our Saviour) she hath done the thing; I shall suddenly die, and she hath but anointed me aforehand, and is certainly as much excusable as those that spend more about bodies already dead. Finally, he tells them, that wheresoever this gospel should be preached, what she had done should be told to her honour and praise, for a memorial of her. Christ, seeing that her action proceeded from a hearty and burning love to him, accepteth her act as an extraordinary act of kindness to him, and proportions her a reward. Without love, if a man give all his goods to the poor, it signifieth nothing; but if there be love in the heart, it makes the gift acceptable. Love seldom underdoes in an act of kindness, and it cannot overdo where Christ is the true object of it. Men, who know not our hearts, may be ready to blame us for actions which God will highly commend and reward.
The evangelist having thus far digressed from his discourse, (probably to give us an account of the reason of Judas’s disgust to our Saviour), he now returneth to a discourse about what was done at the council he had told us of, Matthew 26:3-5. The fear of an uproar amongst the people seemed to be that alone which made them shy of apprehending him on the feast day.
Mark saith, Mark 14:10,Mark 14:11, And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him. Luke hath this yet more fully, Luke 22:3-6, Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. While they were busy in council, (viz. the chief priests, and scribes, and elders), how they might surprise Christ without making a tumult, Judas surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples of our Lord, instigated by the devil, who possibly did take advantage of Judas’s discontent that the ointment was not sold, and he had not the money to put into the bag, or that Christ checked him so openly before the disciples, goes to the council, and offereth them to betray him unto them, without making any noise in the city. This being what they desired, and were consulting how to effect, they were glad of such an offer, and agreed with him for a sum of money. No evangelist but Matthew, in this place, mentions the particular sum, which was thirty pieces of silver. Interpreters do very probably think that these thirty pieces were thirty staters or shekels of the sanctuary, which being but of the value of two shillings and six pence apiece, amounted but to three pounds fifteen shillings in our money, which was the sum appointed by the law, Exodus 21:32, to be paid for a servant gored to death by the beast of another, the poorest and meanest price of any person’s life: Judas left it to them, and they set the meanest price imaginable. There are other opinions about the value of these pieces of silver, but this is the most probable, especially considering the mean opinion these men had of Christ, and their design and interest to depreciate him as much as might be, and that the priests were the great men in this council, who most probably agreed with him for such pieces of money as were most in use amongst the Jews. It may be a just matter of admiration that they should make so cheap a bargain with him, considering that they doubtless (had he insisted upon it) would have given him more; but there was a prophecy to be fulfilled, which we find Zechariah 11:12,Zechariah 11:13, So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. I shall have occasion, when I come to Matthew 27:9, to discourse that text further. The price was set by the council of Heaven, which had determined this degree of our Lord’s humiliation, that as he took upon him the form of a servant, so his life should be valued at the rate of an ordinary servant’s life. Though therefore Judas was covetous enough to have asked more, and it is like the malice of those councillors would have edged them to have given more, yet it was thus ordered by the Divine council. Christ must be sold cheap, that he might be the more dear to the souls of the redeemed ones. For thirty pieces of silver he covenanted with them, and they promised it to him; whether it was now paid, or when he had done his work, appeareth not. From that time, (saith Mark), he sought how he might conveniently betray him. Luke expounds this ἄτερ ὄχλου, without tumult, Luke 22:6. He was now fixedly resolved upon his villany; his lust wanted but opportunity, which soon after offered itself.
No one of the evangelists relates this history fully, but Mark relates the former part more fully than Matthew: Mark 14:12-16 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendet forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say you to the good man of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. Luke 22:7-13, differeth a little in the former part of this relation: he saith, Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, &c.; so he goeth on, Luke 22:10-13, varying scarce at all from what Mark saith. The variations of the evangelists are of no moment, none contradicts the other, only one hath some circumstances omitted by the other. Our Lord was now at Bethany, whither he went every night from Jerusalem. The day was come for the killing of the passover. What that day was, the law hath fixed, Exodus 12:6; the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan) in the evening; or, between the two evenings, that is, as is mostly agreed, betwixt the declining of the sun after noon and the setting of the sun; for they counted one evening began when the sun was declined, which was the second evening of that day, and another evening (belonging to the ensuing day) beginning at sunset. Between these two evenings the passover was to be killed. Now this fourteenth day was called the first day of unleavened bread, though strictly it was not so, according to the Jewish account of days, from sunset to sunset; but it was so after the Roman account, who count the days as we do, from midnight to midnight. For the Jews began their feast of unleavened bread from their eating the passover; so as their fourteenth day must needs take in so many hours as were betwixt the setting of the sun and midnight of the first day of unleavened bread, which held to the end of the twenty-first day; so were seven entire days with a part of another. Matthew and Mark bring in the disciples first asking our Saviour (knowing his resolution to keep the passover) where he would have it prepared. He said (Luke saith) to Peter and John, Go into the city to such a man, &c. Mark and Luke here supply something omitted by Matthew, for Matthew only mentions their going to the master of the house, and telling him from Christ, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. The other two evangelists mention more in their instructions; telling us that he told them, that when they came into the city, they should see a man carrying a pitcher of water, whom they should follow into what house soever he should go in, and there they should say to the master of the house, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. Mark and Luke add, Where is the guest chamber? No doubt but at that time most householders who had convenient houses did prepare chambers for the several passover companies. Our Lord here gave his disciples an eminent proof of his Divine nature in so particularly telling them what they should meet with in the city, and disposing the heart of this householder to so free a reception of him. For all three evangelists agree, that the disciples did as Jesus commanded, and found as he had said unto them. And they made ready the passover. There was a great deal of work to be done, of which none of the evangelists say any thing. Some upon the reading of this may be thinking, Where had they the lamb? When was it offered? &c. According to the law, in Exodus 12:3, the lamb was to be taken up the tenth day, and kept to the fourteenth; it might either be brought by those that did eat it, or bought at Jerusalem, for They had great markets for that purpose some days before the passover. Whether all the lambs thus eaten by the paschal societies were first to be brought to the temple, and then killed, and the blood sprinkled on the altar, and poured out at the foot of it, and their fat and entrails offered, I much doubt; I rather think this was only to he done with some of them, instead of all. That some were so killed by the priests, their blood so sprinkled and poured out upon and at the foot of the altar, I doubt not, though God having no temple nor altar built at that time, there be no such thing in the law, Exodus 12:1-51; but at Hezekiah’s passover, 2 Chronicles 30:16,2 Chronicles 30:17, we find the Levites killing the passover, and the priests sprinkling the blood; but, as I said before, I do not think that the priests and Levites killed the lambs for all the passover societies. The great time that it must have taken, and the vast quantity of blood there would have been, the long time it must have taken to cleanse the entrails, makes it appear impossible to be done in four or five hours, for they had no longer time to kill it in. They did not begin to kill till after the evening sacrifice, for the day was done with, and that was between two and three of the clock, and they were to finish by sunset, for then the other evening began. This inclineth me to think that every lamb was not so killed and offered, only some instead of all. But what the disciples did as to these matters, the Scripture hath not told us. It is enough for us that we are told the passover was made ready, and we may be assured that nothing in the preparing of it was omitted, which by the law of God was required as to this sacred action. It was not the business of the evangelists to acquaint us with every particular circumstance, only to let us know that our Lord did keep the passover, and in the close of that feast institute his supper, to which relation our evangelist now comes.
Mark hath the same, Mark 14:17-21; And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, one of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born. Luke saith, Luke 22:14-16, &c., And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. Then Luke passeth to our Lord’s institution of the supper. Luke mixes the discourse about the person that should betray him with the relation about the institution of the supper, contrary to the relation both of Matthew and Mark, and John, so as we may reasonably think that Luke misplaces it, giving us an account of that passage, Luke 22:21-23, within his relation of the history of his receiving the passover, and instituting of the supper, which immediately followed each other, but not strictly in that order in which our Saviour spake them, which appeareth plainly by the other three evangelists to have been during the eating of the passover, and before the institution of the Lord’s supper. For the understanding of the history, we must understand something of the Jewish order in their eating of the passover: which was this, as we have it described by the learned Doctor Lightfoot;
"Their sitting at meat was commonly upon beds or couches, made for that purpose, with the table before them. Now at other meats they either sat, as we do, with their bodies erect, or when they would enlarge themselves to more freedom of feasting, or refreshing, they sat upon the beds, and leaned upon the table on their left elbow; and this or the other posture they used indifferently at other times, as they were disposed, but on the passover night they thought they were obliged to use this leaning composure, and you may take their reason for it in some of their own words. They used their leaning posture as free men do, in memorial of their freedom. And Levi said, Because it is the manner of servants to eat standing, therefore now they eat sitting and leaning, to show that they were got out of servitude into freedom... Upon this principle and conceit of freedom they used this manner of discumbency frequently at other times, but indispensably this night, so far different from the posture enjoined and practised at the first passover in Egypt, when they ate it with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, their staves in their hands, and in haste, Exodus 12:11. And as the thought of their freedom disposed them to this leaning, reposed, secure composure of their elbow upon the table, and their head leaning on their hand, so, to emblem out the matter the more highly, they laid their legs under them, sitting on them, and laying out their feet behind them."
(Thus the woman, Luke 7:38, could conveniently come at our Saviour’s feet to wash, anoint, and wipe them).
"Thus removing and acquitting their legs and feet, as far as possible, from the least show of standing to attend, or readiness to go upon any one’s employment, which might carry with it the least colour of servitude, or contrariety to their freedom. Now according to the manner of sitting and leaning are the texts to be understood, about the beloved disciple’s leaning in the bosom of Jesus, John 13:23, and on the breast of Jesus, John 13:25
John 21:20. ’Aνακειμενος εν κολπω και επιπεσαν, or επιπεσων επι το στηθος, which some translators not having observed, or at least not expressed, they have intricated the reader in such gross conceptions about this matter, as that some have thought, and some have pictured, John reposing himself or lolling on the breast of Jesus, contrary to all order and decency: whereas the manner of sitting together was only thus, Jesus leaning upon the table with his left elbow, and so turning his face and breast away from the table, on one side; John sat in the same posture next before him, with his back towards Jesus, his breast or bosom not so near as that John’s back and Jesus’s breast did join together, and touch one another, but at such a distance as that there was space for Jesus to use his right hand upon the table, to reach his meat at his pleasure, and so for all the rest, as they sat in like manner. For it is but a strange fancy with which some have satisfied themselves about this matter, conceiving either that they lay upon the beds before the table, one tumbling upon or before the breast of another; or if they sat leaning on the table, that they sat so close that the back of one joined to the breast of another: they sat leaning, but with such distance between each other, that the right hand of every one of them had liberty to come and go between himself and his fellow, to reach his meat, as he had occasion."
Thus far that learned man, in his discourse of the temple service, in the time of our Saviour, in John 13:1-38. By which discourse we may learn;
1. That the Jews at the eating of the passover used the very same posture as at other times they did eat their meat in.
2. That this was not lying along, but sitting upon their legs, and sometimes leaning their head upon their left elbow, yet at such a distance one front another, as every one that sat might freely use their right hand to take their meat, and reach it to their mouths: nor did they always sit at meat so leaning, but at their pleasure leaned or not leaned; only at the paschal supper they always leaned, as an emblem of their more perfect liberty. By this we easily understand what is meant by Christ’s sitting down with the twelve, after the manner of that country in eating their meat.
And as they did eat, he said. For the understanding of this we must a little inquire into the Jewish manner of eating that holy supper, which I will take out of the aforementioned learned author in the same book and chapter, paragraph third.
"They being thus set, the first thing towards this passover supper that they went about was, that they every one drank off a cup of wine."
So do their own directories and rituals about this thing inform us. Now the consideration of this is of mighty use to us to help us to understand the two cups mentioned by Luke, Luke 22:17, and again Luke 22:20. The latter was the cup which our Saviour consecrated for the institution of his supper, as is plain by the consecration of the bread mentioned immediately before it, Luke 22:19. The cup mentioned Luke 22:17 was their first cup of wine, which they drank before the passover supper, mentioned by Luke only. Our Saviour’s giving thanks when he took it, was but his blessing of the whole paschal supper. Luke before this mentions some words of our Saviour, Luke 22:15,Luke 22:16, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not eat any more thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God: that is, I am now about to suffer, I know that I am betrayed, I have therefore earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I die, to put an end to this legal service, which hath now continued so many years, and hath all this time been but a type of me and my death, and oblation for sin, John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7. For this is the last passover I shall eat with you or that you shall eat before you see those things fulfilled in gospel providences which this service doth but typify. This indeed was but the preface to the paschal supper, nor doth Luke mention more of it, only addeth, Luke 22:18, For I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come; of which words I shall here say nothing, for they are doubtless by Luke put out of the true order, being both by Mark and Matthew mentioned as spoken after that our Saviour had blessed and taken the sacramental cup. So as, questionless, Luke 17:21,Luke 17:22 should have been before the Luke 17:18, according to the order in which Matthew and Mark put them, and Luke 22:18 should be put after Luke 22:20, and so also both Matthew and Mark do place them. Luke mentions no more of the paschal supper; let us therefore return to our evangelist.
And as they did eat, that is, the paschal supper, which (according to the law, Exodus 12:8) was the lamb or kid roasted, which they were to eat with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The Jews had a hundred traditional rites, which they observed about the paschal supper; but there seems to have none of them been of any Divine institution. The law required no more than the eating of the lamb or kid roasted, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. As to their drink, it prescribed nothing, they were left to liberty: for their tradition of four cups of wine to be drank, &c., I cannot find any of the evangelists mentioning our Saviour’s usage of any such thing, but very probably he drank wine at his pleasure, as at other meals, keeping only to the rule of the law. Now saith Matthew and Mark, And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. He had before told them the Son of man should be betrayed, Matthew 17:22; Matthew 20:18, where he had also told them he should be scourged, mocked, and crucified; but he now cometh to discover the traitor to them, One of you. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one to say unto him, Lord, is it I? They were sorrowful that he should be betrayed by any, but more troubled that one of themselves should be so accursed an instrument: every one mistrusts his own heart, and saith, Is it I? Christ replies, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The dish here could be no other than the dish at the passover supper; probably the hand of Judas was at that time with our Saviour’s in the dish, for we read of no more reply from any but from Judas. Our Saviour addeth, 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. By these words our Saviour dooms the traitor, though withal he tells them, that for his suffering it was determined by God, foretold by the prophets, and so eventually necessary; he was not dragged to it, The Son of man goeth. But God’s decree as to the thing did neither take away the liberty of Judas’s will in acting, nor yet excuse the fact he did. Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! A text worthy of their study, who will not understand how God should decree to permit sin, and make a sinful act as to the event necessary, without being the author of sin. As to our Saviour’s death, God had determined it, foretold it, it was necessary to be; but yet Satan put the evil motion into the heart of Judas, and Judas acted freely in the doing what he did.
Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. This (as I said) maketh it very probable that the hand of Judas was in the dish with our Saviour’s, dipping in the sauce, when our Saviour spake these former words. That Judas, as well as the other disciples, was with our Lord at this action, is out of doubt. That he stayed any longer may very well be questioned, not only because John 13:30, He then having received the sop went immediately out; but because one cannot in reason think that his guilty conscience should suffer him to stay beyond that word, or that our Saviour would have admitted of the society of so prodigious a traitor at his last supper, the institution of which immediately followed.
Mark relates this with no considerable difference, Mark 14:22-26; only he saith, they all drank of it, and, shed for many for the remission of sins. Luke saith, our Saviour upon his giving the bread, said, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:24-30 gives us some further discourses of our Saviour with Peter, and to his disciples; but no other evangelist mentioning them in this place, and Luke no where saying that they were spoken in the guest chamber, I shall not consider them till I come to that chapter in Luke.
And as they were eating, that is, while they were yet in the guest chamber, where they had eaten the paschal lamb, (for we must not think that our Saviour interrupted them in their very act of eating the paschal lamb, with these words, and another institution), Jesus took bread; without doubt unleavened bread, for this night there was no other to be found in the house of any Jew, nor yet for seven days which began from the sunset of this night. But it will not from hence follow, that the Lord’s supper must be eaten with unleavened bread. For though our Saviour be to be imitated in his actions relating to gospel worship; yet not in such of them which had a plain reference to the Jewish worship, and were there instituted for a special reason, as unleavened bread was, to put them in mind of the haste in which they came out of Egypt. Our Saviour at this time could use no other than unleavened bread, for no other was to be had.
And blessed it: he did not only give thanks to God for it, and beg his blessing upon it, which (as we have before observed) was our Saviour’s constant practice where he did eat bread, but he set it apart, and consecrated it for a part of his last supper. It seemeth very probable that this is to be understood here in the word blessed it. For although the Jews, and our Saviour, ordinarily used a short prayer and thanksgiving before they did eat meat, thereby showing that they owned God as the Giver of those things, and depended upon him for a blessing upon them, yet we no where read, that they did so during the same meal, as often as they put bread into their mouths. Luke (as we heard before) made a particular mention of our Saviour’s blessing the paschal supper. The mentioning of our Saviour’s blessing of this bread manifestly leadeth us to a new notion and institution; and the repeating of it again, Matthew 26:27, upon his taking the cup, doth yet further confirm it: That our Saviour’s blessing both the one and the other signifieth to us not only his giving thanks to God, and begging of God’s blessing, as upon ordinary food, but his sanctifying the one and the other to be used as a new gospel institution, for the remembrance of his death.
And brake it, and gave it to the disciples. Whether (as some say) the master of the Jewish feasts was wont, after begging of a blessing, thus to break bread and to give it to all the guests, I cannot tell, I know no scripture we have to assure us of it; certain it is our Saviour brake it, and did give it to his disciples. That he gave it into their mouths, they not touching it with their hands, or that he gave it into every one of their particular hands, the Scripture saith not, nor is it very probable, except we will admit that he changed the posture he was in; for let any judge how probable it is that one sitting upon his legs, leaning or not leaning, (the constant posture they used in eating, whether the paschal supper or any other meals), keeping his posture, could reach it to eleven persons in the same posture, to put it into their several mouths, or give it particularly into every one of their hands; it is therefore more probable, that he put the dish or vessel in which the bread was from him to him that sat next to him, and so it was conveyed from hand to hand till all had taken it, after he had first spoke as followeth. Those who can think otherwise, must presume that our Lord changed his posture, which I am sure is not to be proved from any place of holy writ.
And said, Take, eat; this is my body; Luke adds, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Paul puts all together, 1 Corinthians 11:24, only for given he saith broken. What contests have been and yet are betwixt the papists, Lutherans, and Zuinglians (since called Calvinists) about the true sense of those words, This is my body, every one knows. The papists make the sense this; This bread, once consecrated by the priest, is presently turned into the very body and blood of Christ, which every communicant eateth. Hence are their adorations to it, their elevations of it, their carrying it about in solemn processions, &c. The Lutherans, though they see the gross absurdities of this sense, yet say, That the true and real body and blood of Christ, in its true substance, is present with the bread and wine in the sacrament, and eaten by every communicant. Both these opinions agree in this absurdity, that Christ’s body now must be no true human body; for we know that all true human bodies are subject to our senses, and so in one place that they cannot at the same time be in another, much less in a thousand or ten thousand places at the same time. But neither the papists nor the Lutherans will hear of any arguments from that head, but stick to the letter of our Saviour’s words. The Zuinglians say the meaning is; This signifieth my body. In the same sense as it is said, Christ is the way, a door, a vine, a shepherd; and as it is said of the lamb, Exodus 12:11, It is the Lord’s passover: yet they are far from making this ordinance a bare empty sign, but do acknowledge it a sacred institution of Christ in the gospel, in the observation of which he doth vouchsafe his spiritual presence, so as every true believer worthily receiving, doth really and truly partake of the body and blood of Christ, that is, all the benefits of his blessed death and passion, which is undoubtedly all intended by our Saviour in these words: and when he saith, Take, eat, he means no more than that true believers should by the hand of their body take the bread, and with their bodily mouths eat it, and at the same time, by the hand and mouth of faith, receive and apply all the benefits of his blessed death and passion to their souls; and that they should do this in remembrance of him, that is, (as the apostle, 1 Corinthians 11:26, expounds it), showing forth the Lord’s death till he come.
It followeth, And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Christ’s taking of the cup, and giving of thanks, were actions of the same nature with those which he used with a relation to the bread, of which I spoke before. Let the papists and Lutherans say what they can, here must be two figures acknowledged in these words. The cup here is put for the wine in the cup; and the meaning of these words, this is my blood of the new testament, must be, this wine is the sign of the new covenant. Why they should not as readily acknowledge a figure in those words, This is my body, I cannot understand; the pronoun this, in the Greek, is in the neuter gender, and applicable to the term cup, or to the term blood; but it is most reasonable to interpret it, This cup, that is, the wine in this cup, is the blood of the new covenant, or testament, that is, the blood by which the new covenant is confirmed and established. Thus the blood of the covenant signifieth in several texts, Exodus 24:8; Zechariah 9:11; Hebrews 9:20; Hebrews 10:29.
Which is shed for many for the remission of sins; to purchase remission of sins; and this lets us know, that by many here cannot be understood all individuals, unless we will say that Christ purchased a remission of sins for many who shall never obtain it, which how he could do, if he died in their stead, suffering the wrath of God due to them for sin, is very hard to understand.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine. I observed before, that Luke puts these words before the institution of the supper, and some think that they properly belong to that place; but I understand no reason for it, Matthew and Mark both placing it here; nor doth it seem probable, that after these words our Saviour should presently drink of it in the institution of his supper. Some here object our Saviour’s drinking after his resurrection; but besides that, it cannot be proved that he drank any wine; neither did he otherwise eat or drink at all, but to show that he was indeed risen, for he hungered and thirsted no more after his resurrection. Or else by this phrase our Saviour only meant, I will no more participate in this ordinance with you.
Until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom, that is, in heaven. Some will say, Shall there then be drinking of wine in heaven?
Answer. No; neither doth the particle until signify any such thing. But the joys and pleasures of heaven are often metaphorically set out under the notion of sitting down to banquet, Matthew 8:11, supping, Revelation 3:20, eating and drinking, Luke 22:30. Our Saviour calls this new wine, to signify that he did not by it mean such wine as men drink here: I will not henceforth drink of the fruit of the vine, but both you and I, in my Father’s glory, shall be satisfied with rivers of pleasures, which shall be far sweeter, and more excellent, than that which is but the juice of the grape, and the fruit of the vine.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives. That the Jews were wont to close their passover supper with singing a hymn I do not doubt; nor that they had some particular psalms or hymns which they used at that time to sing: but whether it were any of these that our Saviour at this time praised God with I cannot tell, much less whether he designed this praising of God with particular relation to the paschal supper, or his supper, which he had now instituted, or both. The inquiries after these things are but insignificant curiosities, fit for such as have more mind to look into the skirts of holy writ, than to find out of it what may be of profit and advantage to them. Our Saviour doubtless intended by this to instruct us, that the ordinance of his supper is a eucharistical service, wherein our souls are most highly concerned to give thanks unto God; and as singing is an external action which God hath appointed to express the inward joy and thankfulness of our hearts, so it is very proper to be used at that holy institution.
They went out into the Mount of Olives. Our Lord knew that his time was now come when he must be actually delivered into the hands of his enemies. That he might not therefore cause any disturbance either to the master of the family wherein he was, or to the city, though it was now midnight, he goeth out of the city (the gates being either open, because of the multitude of people, very late, or else easily opened to him) to the Mount of Olives; a mountain in the way betwixt Jerusalem and Bethany, so called, as is thought, from the multitude of olive trees growing upon and about it. The evangelist as yet mentions nothing of Judas, who now was gone to plot his work, and will anon return to accomplish it. In the mean time let us follow our Saviour, attending to his discourses and actions.
See Poole on "Mark 6:41".
Mark hath the same, Mark 14:27-31, only he saith, Mark 14:30, This day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. Luke hath it not entire, but he hath something of it, Luke 22:31-34, with some addition, thus, And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. Those who read the evangelists, must remember that they did not write our Saviour’s words from his mouth, but from their memories; and therefore must be allowed to vary in their expressions, and in circumstances, giving us only an account of the substance of words and actions, as their memories served them; from whence also it is that some of them have some circumstances not in the others. Our Saviour’s design here in general, is to inform his disciples of something which would happen by and by.
All ye (saith he) shall be offended because of me this night. The word offended is of a very large signification in holy writ; here it seems to signify disturbed or troubled, though if we take it strictly for stumbling, so as to sin, it was true enough, for that happened, (as we shall see anon), which made them to forsake Christ and flee, which doubtless was their sin.
For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock; shall be scattered abroad. The words are Zechariah 13:7. The words there are imperative, Smite the shepherd. There are different opinions, whether that text is primarily to be understood of Christ, or it be only a proverbial speech, which the prophet made use of with another reference, which yet Christ doth apply unto himself. I do more incline to think, that Christ here interprets the prophecy to relate primarily to himself, for he doth not say, As it is said, but, It is written; yet, consider it as a proverbial speech, it is true of others also. But certainly our Saviour designed to uphold the spirits of his disciples, by letting them know, that though they should see the Shepherd smitten, that is, himself, who is the good Shepherd, John 10:11; and is called by the apostle, the great Shepherd of the sheep, Hebrews 13:20, the chief Shepherd, 1 Peter 5:4; yet they should not be disturbed, for:
1. It was no more than was prophesied concerning him, Zechariah 13:7.
2. Though at present they were scattered, yet it should not be long, for he should rise again, and then he would go before them into Galilee; which was fulfilled, as we read, Mark 16:7.
Upon these words, Peter, whom by all the gospel history we shall observe to have been of the highest courage, and most forward to speak, saith, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. These doubtless were his present thoughts, this his sudden resolution. Here now seem to come in our Saviour’s words to Peter, mentioned by Luke only, Luke 22:31, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
You is in the plural number, and to be interpreted by you all, though our Saviour directeth his speech only to Peter, who first spake, whom he calleth by his own name, and doubles it, to signify his earnestness in giving him warning. To sift you.
In sifting there are two things:
1. The shaking of the corn up and down.
2. The separation of the grain from the dust, or the seeds mixed with it: Satan hath desired, or hath obtained leave of my Father, to trouble you all, shaking your faith this and that way.
But I have prayed, that although the workings of your faith be suspended, and the habit of your faith be shaken, yet it may not utterly fail, but the seeds of God may abide in you: you shall not wholly fall away, but be renewed again by repentance; and when thou art converted, when thou hast fallen, and shalt have a sight of thy error, and be humbled for it, endeavour to strengthen thy brethren’s faith.
We may observe from hence:
1. That temptations are siftings. God sifts us to purge away our dross. Satan sifts us, if it were possible, to take away our wheat.
2. That the devil is the great tempter. Others may hold and move the sieve, but he is the master of the work.
3. That he hath a continual desire to be sifting in God’s flour.
4. That he hath a chain upon him; he must ask God’s leave to trouble his people.
5. That God often giveth him leave, but through Christ’s pleadings he shall not conquer: he may sift and trouble a believer, but the believer’s faith shall not fail.
6. That in the hour of temptation we stand in Christ’s strength, by the virtue of his intercession.
7. That lapsed Christians, when the Lord hath restored them, ought to endeavour to strengthen and establish others.
Jesus saith to Peter,
Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Luke saith, thou shalt deny that thou knowest me. Mark saith, before the cock crow twice; and so interprets Matthew, for he denied Christ but once before the cock did crow once. How little do we know ourselves, that cannot tell what our hearts will be three or four hours! Peter was too confident of the contrary, and replies again upon our Saviour, telling him, that if all should deny him, he would not. So also they all said, but what happened we shall hear more by and by.
Mark leaveth out yonder, Mark 14:32. Luke saith, Luke 22:39-41, He came out, and went, as he was wont, to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Whether this Gethsemane were the name of a garden, or of a village wherein was a garden, is not much material for us to know. In Jerusalem, they say, they had no gardens, but their gardens were without the gates. Certain it is, it was on the other side of the brook Cedron, John 18:1, and either in or at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Thither Christ went with his disciples, that is, eleven of them; we shall hear of the twelfth by and by. Luke saith, that he bade his disciples pray that they might not enter into temptation: these words Matthew and Mark have, after Christ’s first return to them; they say he now said only,
Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Mark names the three disciples, Mark 14:33,Mark 14:34; And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. The three witnesses of his transfiguration, Matthew 17:1, he takes also to be witnesses of his agony. He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy. The words in the Greek are expressive of the greatest sorrow imaginable, which he further expresses Matthew 26:38, saying,
My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. This was not wholly upon the sense of his approaching death, for he laid down his life, no man took it from him; nor yet to consider how his disciples would be left; but in the sense he had of the wrath of God due to man for sin, which he now felt, bearing our sins. So as this was a part, and a great part, of his suffering as appears by his following earnest prayers for the passing away of that cup, his sweating as it were drops of blood, Luke 22:44, the angels coming and ministering unto him, Luke 22:43. Luke saith, he was in an agony, which signifieth a great inward conflict.
Mark saith, Mark 14:35,Mark 14:36, He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from, me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. Luke saith, Luke 22:41,Luke 22:42, He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Here are three distinct forms of words, but all agreeing in one and the same sense. Matthew saith, He went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed. He at his first motion carried but three with him, Peter, James, and John; now he leaves them, but not far, Luke saith, about a stone’s cast.. Fervent prayer loves privacy, and Christ by this teacheth us that secret prayer is our duty. He fell on his face; Luke saith, he kneeled; he possibly at first kneeled, then fell on his face. We read in Scripture of sitting, standing, kneeling, and prostration used in prayer; the first and last rarely; standing and kneeling were the most ordinary postures. David prayed sitting in his house, 2 Samuel 7:18. Abraham fell on his face, Genesis 17:17. So did Moses and Aaron, Numbers 16:22,Numbers 16:45. Prostration was ordinarily used in great passions; hardly otherwise in prayer.
Saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Mark first tells us the sum of his prayer, then saith he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. Luke saith he said, If thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke’s if thou be willing expounds Matthew’s if it be possible. A thing in itself may be possible which considered in its circumstances is not so: thus, as it is in Mark, all things are to God possible; but yet it is not possible for God to alter any thing which he hath decreed, or said shall come to pass; because God is not as man, one that can lie, or repent. But it will be objected, Did not Christ know that it was not possible? Did not he himself, Matthew 26:54, say,
thus it must be? I answer, It is one thing what he knew as he was God, and of counsel with the Father; and another thing what he prayed for as man. Besides, our Saviour’s saying, if it be possible, doth not suppose that he knew it was possible; it signifieth no more than this, Father, my human nature hath an aversion from this heavy stroke, so as, if it were possible, it craves of thee a discharge from this curse: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. The first clause is but the expression of the natural (but not sinful) infirmity of his flesh; the latter a perfect resignation of his will to God. In the first he tells his Father what his natural flesh would crave, if it might consist with the will of God. In the second he begs that, whatsoever his flesh craved, yet the will of God might be done. And herein he sets us a perfect pattern for our prayers for deliverance from temporal evils, viz. with a submission to the will of God. By this our Saviour doth not declare himself ignorant or uncertain of the Divine will: only as, though the person that died was God man, yet the human nature only died; so, though the person that prayed was God man, yet he only prayed as he was man.
Mark hath the same, Mark 14:37,Mark 14:38. Luke hath nothing of our Saviour’s going the second or third time, but hath some other passages, which we shall consider by and by; and telleth us but once of his finding the disciples asleep, which we shall also take notice of in their order. Whether Christ came this first time only to Peter, and James, and John, whom he had left nearer to him, or to the other eight, left at a farther distance, I cannot determine, but think the first most probable. He
saith unto Peter, and so to James and John,
What, could ye not watch with me one hour? You, Peter, that even now wert so resolute for me; and you, James and John, that told me, you could drink of the cup whereof I drank, and be baptized with the baptism I should be baptized with; what, do you faint the first time?
Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation. Here he calls them to a greater watching, spiritual watching, in opposition to security, that they might not fall under their temptations. By watching, he directeth them to the use of such means as were within their power to use; by adding
pray, he lets them know, that it was not in their power to stand without God’s help and assistance, which must be obtained by prayer, and upon their praying should not be denied them.
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak: the spirit, sanctified by Divine grace, is resolved with constancy to perform its duty; but the flesh, the sensitive part, is apt to faint and fall away when terrible temptations assault us: therefore you should earnestly pray for supernatural strength, and be vigilant, lest you be surprised and overcome by them. The words also may have an immediate respect to their being overtaken with sleep in this hour of Christ’s summons, though they resolved affectionately to attend him and cleave to him.
Mark saith Mark 14:39,Mark 14:40, And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy), neither wist they what to answer him. Saying the same words. How our translation came to translate this so I cannot tell, in the Greek it is τον αυτ ον λογον, which must be translated, the same word, or the same speech, not words (if that were the evangelist’s sense). But that it is not, for, as it is plain our Saviour used more than one word, so it is as plain it was not the same speech, or form of words, for we have met with four different forms already: our Lord prayed but thrice, so as he could not say the same speech. But λογον here signifies matter—speaking the same matter, or to the same sense, and this we translate it, Mark 1:45; Mark 10:10, and in a multitude of other texts, in correspondence with the Hebrew דבר he comes to them a second time, and findeth them asleep. So quickly did they find the truth of what he had but now taught them, that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, for there is no doubt but they did what they could to keep themselves awake.
Mark saith nothing of this third praying, but saith, Mark 14:41,Mark 14:42, And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betray me is at hand. What the meaning of saying the same words is, we heard before; praying to the same sense, or saying the same thing, or matter, though using other words, as it is plain he hid. Luke tells us, Luke 22:43, there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. This is not the first time we read of angels appearing and ministering to Christ. They did so, Matthew 4:11, after his conflict with the devil in the wilderness. Now an angel appeared to him in the hour of temptation. Then he had without, troubles; but now he hath within, fears, being in a great agony.
Thus it is said, John 12:27,John 12:28, that he being in a conflict, and praying, Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. A voice was heard, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. There the answer was testified by a voice from heaven; here it is by an angel. So God, Daniel 9:21, let Daniel know his prayer was heard. Hannah knew another way, by the peace of her spirit after prayer—her countenance was no more sad, 1 Samuel 1:18. How the angel did strengthen him we are not told. Let no man think that he who was the Son of God needed an angel to strengthen him: he was not now exerting his Divine virtue, but by his suffering showing that he was truly man, and, as to that nature, made lower than the angels.
Luke addeth, Luke 22:44, And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. These words are expressive of the great conflict of our Saviour’s spirit, which was such as thrust out sweat like great drops of blood: whether they were very blood, or sweat with some mixture or tincture of blood, is very hard to determine, nor of any consequence for us to know: it is no unusual thing for bodies to breathe out sweat in ordinary conflicts of spirit; this was much more than ordinary. Luke saith, Luke 22:45,Luke 22:46, that when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. All three evangelists agree, that Christ coming the third time found them sleeping. Luke gives one reason of it, for sorrow. Their sorrow, added to their watching, may be some excuse for their sleeping, though otherwise it was a time which called for more waking.
The evangelists do not so well agree in what Christ said to his disciples. Luke saith, Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Matthew and Mark say he said, Sleep on now, and take your rest, &c. He might say both. Nor can we determine whether he spake those words seriously, as willing that they should take their rest, for they could be no further useful to him, whose time was now come; he was betrayed, and the traitor was at hand: or, with some reflection upon them for their drowsiness, which the words going before, What, could ye not teach with me one hour? Seem to hint us.
Mark saith the same, Mark 14:43, adding also the scribes. Luke saith there was a multitude, and Judas went before them, adding, that he drew near to Jesus to kiss him, Luke 22:47. If any ask how Judas knew where Jesus was at that time of the night, or rather so early in the morning, John satisfieth us, John 18:2, And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oft times resorted thither with his disciples. And then goeth on, John 18:3, Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Those skilled in the Jewish learning tell us, that the ordinary guard of the temple belonged to the priests, and such officers as they employed; but upon their great festivals, the Roman governor added a band of his soldiers, who yet were under the command of the priests. It is thought these officers, soldiers, and others came with a warrant to apprehend our Saviour from the Jewish sanhedrim, or highest court, which was made up of chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, and the elders of the people: they had torches and lanterns, because it was yet dark, before the day was broke; swords and staves, to be ready against any opposition. Judas the traitor comes before as their leader.
Mark, Mark 14:44,Mark 14:45, differs not, only instead of hold him fast, he hath, lead him away safely; and instead of
Hail, master, he saith, Master, master. There is in these words nothing difficult or doubtful: Judas had given them a sign how to know Christ, that was his kissing of him: being come where he was, he steps to our Saviour and kissed him, by which he let them know that he was the person against whom their warrant was.
Mark saith nothing of what Christ said to him. Luke, Luke 22:48, adds, that Christ said to him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? Whether Christ used this compellation of friend to Judas, to mind him what he formerly had been, and still ought to have been, or as a common compellation, (as we oft use it), is not much material. A kiss is the symbol of friendship and kindness, and therefore very improperly used by a traitor and professed enemy; yet so used by Joab to Amasa, 2 Samuel 20:9. That makes our Saviour ask him if he were not ashamed to betray the Son of man by a kiss. Judas, by calling him Master, master, acknowledged he had been once his disciple. By his kiss he pretended friendship to him, yet betrayed him. Oh the depth of desperate wickedness which is in the heart of man! Especially such as apostatize from a former profession; they are commonly the worst and most false enemies of Christ and his gospel.
Matthew relates this history shortly, but Mark much more, Mark 14:47; he saith no more than this, And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Luke also relates something of it, Luke 22:50,Luke 22:51, And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. John relates the same passage with some more particulars, John 18:10. 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. 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? If any ask, how Christ and his disciples came to have a sword, he may be satisfied that they had two, from Luke 22:35-38, which verses being in none of the other evangelists, I have left to be spoken to in their order. The disciples seeing the officers laying hands on Christ, as was said Matthew 26:50, knowing what would follow, as Luke saith, one of them (St. John tells us it was Peter) drew a sword, and smote off the right ear of one of the high priest’s servants. John tells us his name was Malchus. Our Saviour reproveth Peter, commanding him to put up the sword again into its sheath, and telling him,
1. That he who taketh the sword should perish with the sword. It is to be understood of private persons taking up the sword to destroy their lawful magistrates; and this lesson it teacheth all Christians. Men must have the sword given orderly into their hands, before they may use it, and that no private person can have against the supreme magistrate.
2. Secondly, (saith our Saviour), I needed not thy help to defend me. If I were to make any defence, I could
pray to my Father, and he should
give me more than twelve legions of angels; there is therefore no need of thy drawing a sword in my defence.
3. The Scripture (saith he) must be fulfilled; it was prophesied of me that I should be thus used, and those prophecies must be fulfilled. Having reproved Peter, and silenced his passion, Luke tells us, he begged leave so far as to touch his ear, and he healed it; thus doing good to those that hated him, and working a miracle in the sight of them, which (had not their hearts been hardened) might have convinced them both of his innocency and his Divine power; but they take no notice of his kindness. Now he applies himself to the multitude of his enemies.
Mark hath the same, Mark 14:48-50. Luke, Luke 22:52,Luke 22:53 hath it thus: Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. What our evangelist reports as spoken to the rabble, Luke reports as spoken to the chief priests and captains of the temple, (that is, of the soldiers, who at that time were the guard of the temple), some of which, it should seem, came along with the rabble, to whom our Saviour directeth his speech.
I sat daily with you teaching in the temple. I observed before, that it was their usual manner for those that taught in the temple to sit while they taught, to testify their authority; Christ, when he came up to the passover, was wont to teach in the temple.
And ye laid no hold on me: I did not hide myself, nor go about to raise a party to defend myself, but quietly taught in the temple. If I had been guilty of any crime, you might easily have taken me; why are you now come out against me as against a thief, upon whom you had need to raise the country? Why come you against me with swords and staves, as if you thought I would make some resistance to defend myself? You never saw any such thing in me as should give you a jealousy of such a thing.
But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled, the many scriptures which spake concerning the sufferings of Christ. Luke addeth, but this is your hour, and the power of darkness, that is, this is that which God hath determined. Wicked men and persecutors of Christ and his gospel have their hour. There is a time which God in his wise counsels hath set and determined, when, for the trial of his people’s faith and patience, he suffers the devil, by vile and wicked men, who are his instruments, to imprison and otherwise vex and molest his people. That such a time is their hour, and what they do is by the permission and according to the counsel of God, and but an hour, a determined and short time, are great arguments to persuade us to the exercise of faith and patience.
And the power of darkness; a time when the prince of darkness is putting forth his power: or, the power of darkness, that is, a time of exceeding great darkness, of affliction to me and my disciples. Wicked men’s hour is always to Christ’s disciples the power of darkness.
Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. Probably all of them fled at first, though Peter and another came back again: or, all here signifieth the most of them. We never know our hearts upon the prospect of great trials, until we come to grapple with them, and to be engaged in them. These disciples had all said they would not forsake him; when it comes to the push, not one of them stands by him. But although they shrunk at first, not without the providence of God permitting them thus to fail in their duty, then governing their failures to his own glory; yet they again returned to their duty after Christ’s resurrection, owned Christ, preached his gospel, and at last drank of the cup, which he drank of first, and were baptized with the baptism wherewith he was baptized. All must not be condemned for flight in a time of persecution. We must observe whether they apostatize from their profession, or whether they do not return again, before we pass a judgment against them.
Mark saith, Mark 14:53, They led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests, and the elders, and the scribes. Luke saith no more but, Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house, Luke 22:54. John saith, John 18:12,John 18:13 Then the band, and the captain, and the officers of the Jews, took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. All things were now out of order in the Jewish church. Regularly, their high priests were to be such as derived from the eldest son of Aaron, and were to hold in their place for life; but they were now chosen annually, and their conquerors ruled the choice as they pleased. Yet some think, that in this the Jews kept something of their ancient form, and the high priest was chosen regularly of the house of Aaron and for life; but the Romans when they listed turned him out, and sold the place to another; and such a one was Caiaphas, who was at that time high priest, son-in-law to Annas. Their carrying of Christ first to Annas’s house, was no more than to stay there a while till Caiaphas, and the council, which was appointed to meet that morning at the house of Caiaphas, could assemble.
Mark adds, Mark 14:51, and warmed himself at the fire. Luke saith, Luke 22:51,Luke 22:55, Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off: And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. John gives us a more particular account how Peter came into the hall, John 18:15,John 18:16; 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. 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. Some think that this other disciple was John himself; but it is not probable that John and the high priest should be so well acquainted: it is more probably judged, that it was none of the twelve, but one who favoured Christ more secretly, some citizen of Jerusalem whom the high priest favoured, or at least knew by face, and had some respect for, and therefore he was admitted in, and he helped Peter in; who being come in, and a fire kindled in the hall, the rest of the company sat down and warmed themselves by the fire, Peter also sat down amongst them, being desirous to see the end.
Mark expounds this latter verse, Mark 14:56, For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. It is plain that they had taken up a resolution to destroy Christ one way or another, but they will make a show of justice in the execution of their malice. The council being set, it is not to be thought that they had then leisure to send about for witnesses, but out of their malice they screwed and sifted such witnesses as were brought, to see if they could get of them upon their oaths to affirm any thing against him which by their law was capital.
Many false witnesses came, yet they found none; that is, no two agreeing in the same story, as the law required, Deuteronomy 19:15, for a single testimony was none. Vox unius est vox nullius, A single witness is no witness, or none that could testify any thing of a capital nature. Many came and witnessed trivial things, but none witnessed any thing which touched his life; till
at last came two false witnesses.
Mark saith, Mark 14:57-59, And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. These are called by the evangelists, false witnesses. Our Saviour said, John 2:19, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, speaking of his body, as John tells us there, John 2:21. He did not say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But Mark saith these witnesses could not agree in their tale, or their testimony, though agreeing was not sufficient to make him guilty of a capital crime. The high priest must use some other arts.
Mark speaks to the same purpose, Mark 14:60,Mark 14:61. The high priest expected a long defence, and so to have had matter of accusation against him out of his own mouth. Christ disappointeth him, saying nothing at all, either out of modesty, or not thinking what they said of any moment, or worthy of any reply, or perhaps seeing that they could not agree in their tale, so as what they said was of no force against him. The high priest therefore comes at last to examine him, ex officio. Mark saith, Mark 14:61, Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. Luke, to give us the story of Peter, from his first coming into the high priest’s hall to his going out, entire, interrupts himself a little in his relation of their dealings with Christ, and then relates some indignities offered him which the other evangelists do not mention; which seem to have been offered him where the soldiers and the rabble had been before he appeared in the council: Luke 22:63-67, And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people, and the chief priests, and the scribes came together, and led him into their council. Then he mentions nothing of what the witnesses said, possibly because it was nothing of moment, nothing upon which they proceeded against our Saviour for his life, but goes on, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. Matthew saith, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the living God? Mark, the Son of the Blessed. It is plain both from this text, and from John 1:49, that the Jews did expect a Messiah who should be the Son of the ever living and blessed God; but whether they understood that he should be the Son of God by nature and eternal generation, or only by a more special adoption, than the whole Jewish nation was, (to whom the apostle saith belonged the adoption), I cannot say.
I adjure thee that thou tell us, that is, as some say, I charge thee upon thy oath to tell me; but it doth not appear that they had given any such oath to him, the guilty person was not wont to be forced by an oath to accuse himself, neither is it very probable that our Saviour would have taken such an oath. The sense therefore seemeth to be rather, I command, or require, or charge thee, as solemnly as if thou hadst taken an oath, (as in the presence of God), to tell us. Or, I charge thee with a terrible imprecation on thee, if thou speakest falsely, or wilt be silent, to declare if thou be the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mark saith, Mark 14:62, And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see, &c. Luke saith, Luke 22:67-69, And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. What all the evangelists say put together, makes up our Saviour’s perfect answer. To what purpose (saith Christ) should I answer you? This is now but a captious question, not propounded by you to that end that you might be satisfied as to the truth, but only to ensnare me, for if I should tell you I am, you would not believe it. If I should argue the matter with you, you would give me no answer. I have given you proof enough, but yet, Caiaphas, thou hast said the truth, I am the Christ, the Son of the ever living, blessed God; and, to confirm you further, hereafter you shall see me, whom you think to be no more than the Son of man, sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. There is a time for a man to speak, and a time for him to hold his peace; in the matter of confession of truth. The seasons for silence, or speech, are to be judged from the honour and glory of God; when we cannot be silent without betraying the truth, we are bound to speak. Our Lord therefore, being so solemnly adjured in the name of God to tell them what was the truth, now confesseth, and denieth not, that he was the Son of God, and tells them, hereafter they should see it. Whether the term hereafter refers to the time soon following, (as απ’ αρτι, in this evangelist, and ’Aπο του νυν, in Luke, seem to signify), and be to be understood of Christ’s resurrection, his ascension into heaven, the coming of the Holy Ghost, and the carrying of the gospel to all nations, or to the day of judgment (which the New Testament often speaks of as a thing at hand, and that phrase, coming in the clouds of heaven, seems rather to signify); or (as others think) to both, referring the sitting on the right hand of power to the former, and the coming in the clouds to the latter; is hard to determine.
Mark hath much the same, Mark 14:63,Mark 14:64, only he saith, they all condemned him to be guilty of death. Luke saith, Luke 22:70,Luke 22:71, Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am? And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. This rending of clothes was a thing very ordinary amongst the Jews, used by them in testimony of sorrow and of indignation. They used it in causes of great sorrow and mourning, even before the Israelites were formed into a nation; we find it practised by Reuben and Jacob, Genesis 37:29,Genesis 37:34, and by Jacob’s sons, Genesis 44:13; by Joshua and Caleb, Numbers 14:6, by Jephthah, Judges 11:35. Indeed he that was high priest was forbidden to do it, Leviticus 21:10, and, in order to it, to come near a dead body, Leviticus 21:11; which command yet the Jews restrain to his priestly garments, but upon other occasions he might rend his clothes, as Caiaphas here did. It was usual in case of blasphemy, both to show their sorrow for it and detestation of it, 2 Kings 19:1; Jeremiah 36:24; Acts 14:14. So as they convicted our Saviour, not upon oaths of witnesses, but upon words which they interpreted to be blasphemy. The high priest, being but the president in this council, asks the opinion of the rest of the council. They all condemn him as guilty of a capital crime, which is here phrased
guilty of death, that is, one who by their law ought to die.
Mark hath much the same, Mark 14:65; And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands. Though there be nothing more barbarous and inhuman than to add to the affliction of the afflicted, yet this is no more than we ordinarily see done by a rabble of brutish people; spitting in the face was but an ordinary token of contempt, Numbers 12:14; Deuteronomy 25:9. And perhaps in all these indignities Isaiah was a type of Christ, Isaiah 1:6, if that text be not to be understood of Christ immediately. In the mean time, it lets us see that there is no degree or mark of contempt, or shame, or suffering which we ought to decline and grudge at for the name of Christ; who, through much more excellent than us, yet for our sake endured the cross, and despised the shame.
Mark hath this, Mark 14:66,Mark 14:67, only he saith, Peter was beneath in the palace, and warming himself. Luke hath this whole story before what he saith of Christ’s examination and condemnation: Luke 22:56,Luke 22:57, But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. We before left Peter in the high priest’s palace, warming himself by the fire amongst the servants. It is a dangerous thing for Christians to come into places of temptation. A maid comes to him, and charges him to have been with Christ, whom she calls
Jesus of Galilee: so they called Christ sometimes Jesus of Nazareth, the city in Galilee where Christ lived the greatest part of his life.
He denied before them all; so loud that all heard it.
I know not what thou sayest, or, (as Luke saith), I know him not; I neither know him, nor what thou sayest.
Mark hath the same, Mark 14:70, more shortly. So Luke, Luke 22:58. It is like Peter, upon the first alarm, began to shift away, and was got into the porch, but there another meets him with the same charge. Here, to the former lie which he had told, and here repeateth, he adds an oath for the confirmation of what he had said. What are the best of men, when God leaves them to their own strength! But the temptation yet riseth higher.
Mark saith, Mark 14:70,Mark 14:71, And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. Luke hath it, Luke 22:59,Luke 22:60, And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. One spake in the name of the rest that were gathered about Peter, and he charges Peter confidently; and he might well, for John saith, John 18:26, that this was one of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off. He said, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Temptations always grow upon us in the company of wicked men. Here Peter adds to his lying, swearing and cursing; all confirming of what he had said in the denial of his Master; all in an exact fulfilling of what Christ had told Peter, Matthew 26:34, though he was then difficult to believe it; to teach us all not to presume too far upon our own strength, but to pray that we be not led into temptation; while we stand, to take heed lest we fall; and in order to it, to avoid the society of wicked men, and places in which we probably may be tempted. To teach us also charity to lapsed brethren, and not too hastily to condemn our brethren for falling a second and a third time into the same sin; especially, while the same fit of temptation holdeth. It is added, And immediately the cock crew, that is, the second time; so saith Mark, Mark 14:72, who had mentioned the cock’s first crowing, Mark 14:68, upon Peter’s first denial of his Master.
Mark saith, Mark 14:72, And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept. Luke saith, Luke 22:61,Luke 22:62, And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly. We have in this last verse Peter’s repentance and the occasion and cause of it. A good man may fall, and that foully, but he shall not fall so as to rise no more. David lay longer than Peter under the guilt of his sin, but both of them wept bitterly. He went out of the porch; whither he went is not said; possibly he was afraid to what this detection of him might rise, or else sought a place (as Joseph did) to weep more privately and plentifully than he durst do, or thought convenient to do, in the porch of the high priest. That which gave occasion to this reflection was the crowing of the cock the second time, and his remembrance of the words of Jesus, Matthew 26:34. Our memories serve us much in the business of repentance, and therefore that the soul should be without knowledge of the law of God is not good. Peter remembered what Christ had personally said to him. True penitents are still excited to repentance, by remembering the law of God, what Christ hath in his word said to them, and considering their own ways. The crowing of the cock the second time helped him to remember the words of Jesus, for he had said, Before the cock crow twice, &c. But the cause of his repentance is expressed by Luke, The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. More must be understood by this look of Christ upon him than the mere cast of Christ’s bodily eye: with that look there was a virtue which went from Christ which healed Peter, exciting his habit of grace, and assisting him in the exercise of it; which double influence of grace is necessary to every renewed soul. Christ looked upon Judas, when Judas kissed him; yea, and said to him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? Yet Judas went on in his villany without remorse. He looked upon Peter, and he went out and wept bitterly. He looked only upon the face of Judas, but he looked upon the heart of Peter, as well as upon his face.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Matthew 26". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30