free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
An Account of the Passover. Judas engageth to betray Christ. The Lord's Supper instituted. Christ apprehended, and led away to the High Priest's House. Peter denieth Christ. The Lord Jesus brought before the Council.
"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. (2) And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people."
We are now entering upon the most sublime, the most solemn and interesting subject which the mind of a truly regenerated child of God can possibly contemplate. It is indeed endeared to every heart. I have been always led to consider the wonderful events recorded in this chapter as of the tenderest nature, since the Lord brought me in any measure acquainted with himself. And at every renewed opportunity of going over the sacred contents, I would look up for renewed teachings of God the Holy Ghost, that I may discover somewhat increasingly precious to my view, in the person and offices of Jesus, that may render the subject increasingly interesting. Lord! I would say, shed those sweet influences in the present moment!
Of the Passover I have already had occasion to notice, Matthew 26:0 . and shall again have somewhat further to offer as we enter upon it. But for the present I pass it by, in order to attend to what is related of Judas in the following verses.
"Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. (4) And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. (5) And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. (6) And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude."
I beg the Reader to be particular in remarking what is here said of the traitor; in relation to the time, in which Satan is said. to have entered into him. If the Reader compares what is here said with the other Evangelists' account, he will discover that it was two days before the Passover. Matthew saith, that Christ was then in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Matthew 26:2-6 . And John saith, that Christ and his disciples were at supper. John 13:2 . Now this Supper could not have been the Lord's Supper, for Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper in the room of the Jewish Passover: and this he did not do before that he had, according to his earnest desire, celebrated it once more with his disciples. Neither could this Supper have been the Passover, for it was two days after this, when the Lord sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. And, moreover, this Supper was at Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem. And the Passover could nowhere be observed but in Jerusalem. See Deuteronomy 16:16; Deuteronomy 16:16 . So that all these circumstances are in full proof, that the Supper John speaks of was not the Passover, neither the Supper of the Lord.
Now John is express to declare, that it was at this Supper in Bethany, Jesus gave the sop to Judas Iscariot, after which Satan entered into him. And Luke in this place saith, that this was before the Passover; and Matthew dates the time; it was two days before the Passover. Matthew 26:16-17; Matthew 26:16-17 . If the Reader be careful to put all these things together, he cannot hesitate to conclude, that Satan's entrance into the traitor was two days before the Passover.
And this point being very fully ascertained and confirmed, we shall next as completely discover, notwithstanding weak and injudicious Christians would wish to have it otherwise, that Judas, after this, partook both in the Passover and the Lord's Supper." And here again I request the Reader's close attention, in order to have a clear apprehension of the fact.
When the disciples, which had been sent from Bethany to prepare the Passover, had made all things ready, we are told, that, in the evening; Jesus came with the twelve, Mark 14:17 . And both Matthew and Luke are express, in saying, that, when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve Apostles with him. Mark 14:14 .Matthew 26:20 . And the relation, as given by the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, of the services, both of the Passover, and the Lord's institution of his Supper, very fully prove the presence and participation of Judas, in common with the rest of the Apostles. The ordinance of the Passover is related in this chapter, from Mark 14:15-18 . Then commenceth the service of the Lord's Supper. At the close of which, and not before, Jesus declares that the hand of the traitor was then with him on the table. How long after Judas remained is not said; but this statement by those three Evangelists, most decidedly prove, that the traitor took his place at the table, perhaps the better to cover his design, and was a partaker in both ordinances.
And, indeed, I cannot discover the shadow of a reason, wherefore any of the Lord's faithful ones should take offence at it or wish it otherwise. Nay, I humbly conceive, that the Lord Jesus had a special design in it, for his own glory, and his Church's happiness. I will explain myself--
It is certain, that when the Lord chose Judas to the office of an Apostle, he knew him to be a devil, for so the Lord said, Have not I chosen you twelve? and one of you is a devil! He spake (said the Evangelist) of Judas Iscariot, the Son of Simon, for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. John 6:70-71 . If therefore the Lord chose him into the Apostleship, under such circumstances, shall it appear surprising, that he admitted him to the Passover and Supper? Having granted the greater, can we wonder at the less.
Moreover, we find, that during the whole time of our Lord's ministry, Judas exercised the commission of an Apostle, in common with the rest. We read, (Luke 9:1-6 .) that the Lord sent out the twelve to cast out devils, heal the sick, and preach the kingdom of God; consequently Judas must have been included. Had this man been restrained from the exercise of the same power as the eleven, surely it must have been perceived by the rest, and they would have known it. And yet we find that Judas, though all the while, as our Lord termed him, a devil, had carried himself so deceitfully, (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 .) that when at the table, and at the close of Christ's ministry, Jesus declared that one of the twelve would betray him, they were so unconscious of his real character, that they anxiously enquired which of them it should be?
Now then, if the Lord Jesus, (who, as John saith, knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man. John 2:25 .) was thus pleased, for wise and great purposes, though unknown to us, yet well known to him, to choose a devil to mix up with his Apostles, yea, for aught we know to the contrary, to exercise the same functions as they did; what greater causes could there be to keep him from ordinances than from the Apostleship? Did he not enjoy higher privileges as all Apostle, than in partaking of the Passover, or Supper of the Lord? And is it not highly probable that our adorable Jesus had some gracious design in the appointment, which, instead of militating to evil should be overruled to good. I humbly conceive this to be the case; and I beg the Reader's patience while I state my further views upon this part of the subject also.
And here, first, I would remark, that this traitor, this devil, as the Lord called him, though chosen to be a Minister, and an Apostle, was never called to be a partaker of grace, neither he himself ever regenerated by the Holy Ghost. Let this be well considered. And, that the Church of God might not err in forming just views of his real character, God the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of Peter, was pleased to show to what the Apostleship of Judas extended. He was numbered with us, (said Peter,) and had obtained part of this ministry. Acts 1:17 . Part of this ministry! Yes! such a part, and such only, as a devil might obtain. And what is that? An outside part; the form of office; the mere exercise of the function. Nothing of grace. Not one gift of the Spirit. Such as men, unordained by the Holy Ghost, unregenerated in heart may, and the Lord only knows how often do exercise; but which have no tendency to their own sanctification. Such was Judas! A devil he was, and a devil he remained, notwithstanding his associating with the Apostles while on earth, until the measure of his iniquity was filled; and then, as we are told, he went to his own place! Acts 1:25 . And, however awful the view to the Church of Jesus, yet, the Great Head of it hath prepared his redeemed to expect similar instances, and by our Lord's manner of speaking, not a few beside that of Judas, which shall be unfolded at the last day. Many (saith Jesus) will say to me in that day, Lord! Lord! have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works. And then will I profess unto them I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22-23 .
But it were not doing justice to the subject to stop here. May we not also suppose, that the Lord Jesus had a further design of mercy to his Church and people in the appointment of a Judas among his Apostles? He well knew that his Church would never be free, while in a militant state, from false Apostles, and false Prophets. Jesus not only foretold his redeemed this, but prepared them how to form conclusions concerning them. Tares, he said, should grow together with the good seed, until the harvest. Goats should be found with the sheep. But, in the midst, the precious and the vile are still perfectly distinct; and never, no never can coalesce. Tares never can become good seed, neither can sheep become goats. The seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent cannot join. Hence therefore, if Jesus, in that little handful of his people, the eleven Apostles, purposely chose a Judas to mingle, well may the Church be satisfied in the midst of the heathen, when they consider that the Lord endured such a contradiction of sinners against himself, lest they should be weary, and faint in mind.
Reader! learn from hence, that the Church of Christ is not polluted from the mingling of the ungodly in her sweetest and most sacred ordinances. The Passover, and the Supper of the Lord, lost no savor to the Apostles, from the presence of Judas! They had Jesus with them, and that was all they needed, And if you or I, in his house, or at his table, meet Jesus in the ordinance, our joys will suffer no lessening from any unhallowed objects around. If God the Holy Ghost will lead my way forth by the footsteps of the flock, where the Great Shepherd feeds his sheep; Song of Solomon 1:8 . though Judas himself dared to be present, there my soul should be found. Job 1:6 . And however I would seek out that ministry, and that people, where Christ alone is exalted, yet sure I am, however barren the means, yet led by the Lord, I shall go in and out, and find pasture. Jesus will prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, he wilt anoint my head with oil, and make my cup run over. Psalms 23:5 .
"Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. (8) And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. (9) And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? (10) And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. (11) And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? (12) And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. (13) And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. (14) And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. (15) And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: (16) For I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. (17) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (21) But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. (22) And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! (23) And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. (24) And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. (25) And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. (26) But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (27) For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (28) Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. (29) And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (30) That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (31) And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: (32) But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (33) And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (34) And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. (35) And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. (36) Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (37) For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. (38) And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. (39) And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him."
I have not interrupted the precious narrative, both of the celebration of the Passover, the institution of the Lord's Supper, and the Redeemer's divine discourse, both before, and with those services, and after. The account, as here given by Luke, carries on the subject to the moment when the Lord Jesus arose from the table, and went for the last time to the Mount of Olives. But, the Reader must be aware, that numberless incidents beside those which Luke hath here recorded, took place at this memorable season. Here it was, at this table, Jesus delivered in part that sweet discourse which John hath recorded in John 14:0 ; John 15:0 , and John 16:0 of his Gospel. According to my apprehension of those solemn transactions, I conceive that Jesus, viewing the deep sorrow of heart expressed in the countenances of the eleven Apostles, after the traitor was gone out, begun that most blessed Sermon, as related by John 14:0 . Let not your heart be troubled, etc. And when the Lord had concluded that chapter, he arose, as Luke here describes, and went forth towards the Mount of Olives. And I am inclined to suppose, that, as Jesus was passing along, beholding the rich luxuriant vines which spread their branches on the ground, he continued his discourse, and took occasion to describe himself under this similitude with his people, and then begun at the words John hath recorded in the opening of John 15:0 , and thus prosecuting his blessed Sermon through the whole to the end of John 16:0 . And then offered up the prayer John 17:0 . Whether this be rightly placed, according to order, I venture not to determine. But, certain it is, that somewhere about this time the Lord Jesus preached this farewell Sermon to his dear disciples; and as a dying Father, encircled by his family, the Lord thus took leave of them as a body together. I remember, in the writings of Luther, that highly honored servant of the Lord, concerning this loving Sermon of Jesus, he saith, "Never since the world began was there such a precious, costly, sweet, and heavenly banquet feast conversation and discourse, as this of Jesus' Supper with his disciples."
The Reader will observe, that I have not ventured to say more on the services of the Passover, and the Institution of the Supper, than barely to point out, according to Luke's account of it, at what verse the service of the Passover ended, and that of the Holy Supper began. But I leave him to his own meditations on both, under the hope that God the Holy Ghost will unfold and explain to him the whole in order. Christ was here doing away forever the one, and establishing the other. It was the last Passover ever to be observed in the Church of God; for Christ the true Passover was now come; and the shadow of the ordinance wholly ceased. And it was the first Supper in commemoration of Christ's death, and which was instituted for a perpetual remembrance of the same, until time should be no more. Under the impressions of all these high ideas, and infinitely more than our faculties are competent to conceive, the Lord Jesus abolished the one, and established the other; and enjoined the sweet service of the Supper in those endearing words, This do in remembrance of me!
In remembrance of thee! O Lamb of God! I would say in words similar to the Church, as she spake of her beloved Jerusalem; If I forget thee, let my right hand forget her cunning! If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; yea, if I prefer not the meditation of Jesus and Gethsemane above my chief joy! Psalms 137:5-6 .
For observations from Luke 22:23-30 , inclusive, see Matthew 26:27 to the end.
On the subject of Peter's temptation, fall, and recovery, I purpose to gather the whole into one view, in the latter part of this chapter, where we have the circumstances more fully recorded; and offer a few observations. But I would in this place just remark, what a most interesting view is given the Church in this short but striking account of Peter's danger, and Christ's all-sufficiency. Think how the Lord's eye is everlastingly watching over his redeemed. This was an hour of deep sorrow; but Jesus forgets his own sorrows, to attend to the exercises of his tried ones. Satan desired to have Peter, that he might sift him as wheat, Yes! that deadly foe desires to cast the whole Apostles, yea, the whole Church of Christ into hell. Revelation 2:10 . And observe Peter's, and the whole Church's safety, I have prayed for thee! Reader! above all things keep this in everlasting view. It is not our prayers, our tears, our strivings, our strength! The devil laughs at the whole, for they are no more than a feather to the wind, in the hour of temptation! Precious Lord! it is thy Advocacy, thy Blood, thy Covenant righteousness, which becomes the security of thy people! And what a sweet thought to every child of God in a trying hour; there is more in Jesus: in point of descryings for his redeemed, than there is of undeservings in all their persons. Jesus hath more to plead in himself and his merit for poor sinners, whom the Father, hath given to him, than all their unworthiness hath to say against them! Reader! never lose sight of this!
"And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. (41) And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, (42) Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (43) And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. (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. (45) And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, (46) And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
I enter upon those verses with an holy awe and reverence! Who is competent to apprehend, much less to explain, the soul-agony of Christ, in this tremendous season. Jesus himself called it the hour of the enemy's triumph, and the power of darkness. His disciples were withdrawn from him: Satan desperately bent against him - and Jesus bearing the whole sins of his redeemed in his own person. And, as if that was not enough, the justice of God beholding him, as the sinner's Surety, voluntarily coming forward, the Representative and Head of his Church, to be made both a sin and a curse for his people, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. These outlines of the subject, (for our present capacities are incapable of apprehending anything more, than the merest outlines of a subject whose dimensions are infinite,) may, in some measure, serve to show what an unequalled season of agony and soul. conflict this was to the Great Redeemer. We are told, that, on Christ's entrance upon his public ministry, after his baptism, when led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, when the devil had ended those temptations, he departed from him for a season. Luke 4:13 . And now, at the close of his ministry, the devil came again with tenfold fury.
But, had the temptations of hell been all which the Lord Jesus sustained in those tremendous hours, these might easily have been borne, compared to what the Son of God in our nature, and as the Surety of his Church and people, had to encounter. The dreadful part the Lord fell under, and which brought him to the ground in agonies and prayer, was, the frowns of Heaven; in the curse he bore, and the Father's judgment due to sin in consequence of it. The Holy Ghost hath in one short verse described it, and none but God the Holy Ghost could describe it: when under the Spirit of prophecy, Jesus said, Thy rebuke hath broken my heart! Psalms 69:20 . It is impossible in our researches on this subject to go very far. We know that the curse pronounced on the fall was, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. Genesis 3:19 . But, in sustaining this curse, who would have concluded, that a bloody sweat should follow? All men, more or less, taste of the fruit of Adam's sin, and not only the laboring part eat bread in the sweat of the brow; but the rich and the mighty, some way or other, know the bitterness of it. But while the earth brings forth thorns to all, Jesus only was crowned with them. While men sweat in sorrow, Jesus only sweats a bloody sweat. Precious Lord! in all things thou must bare the pre-eminence! Colossians 1:18 . I have, in the best manner I am able, noticed the different terms the Evangelists make use of concerning Christ's agony in the garden of Gethsemane. See Matthew 26:38 . He calls it the soul of Christ being exceeding sorrowful even unto death. Mark expresses it, being sore amazed, and very heavy. Mark 14:34 . And Luke renders it agony, as one that was at strife, for such is the original. And yet Christ was alone. What strife then could this be? Nay, who shall answer the question. An angel appeared from heaven to strengthen him. An angel! Did He who was the image of the invisible God, and with whom it was no robbery to be equal with God, need aid from his creatures? So the word of truth states it; but who is competent to explain a fact so mysterious. Reader! ponder well the subject. Angels desire to look into it. 1 Peter 1:19 . surely never, never was there a period in all the annals of mankind, since time began to be numbered, (the cross of Christ excepted, and this was but the close to it) of equal moment with this soul conflict of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane!
Reader! would you see sin in its true light! This is the mirror. The drowning of the whole world at the flood; the destruction of Sodom by fire; the ten thousand hospitals of mankind; yea, the whole earth considered, as one great, mass of misery; and even hell itself, with its everlasting burnings, all form no equal manifestations of the malignity of sin, compared to Christ bearing the curse and punishment of sin, when in the garden he bore agonies, and on the cross he died, the just for the unjust, to bring his people to God. And, therefore, let my soul, let your soul, yea, let every reflecting soul, think what ultimately must be the everlasting state and condition of every sinner who dies out of Christ, with his sins unpardoned, his soul uncleansed, his spirit unregenerated, and the whole weight and pressure of his iniquity bearing upon his own soul! If Christ was thus brought into such an agony, while bearing only the transgressions of others; what must be the terrors of those who bear their own? If, to use our Lord's own words, such things were done in the green tree, where there was nothing to give fuel to fire, what shall be done in the dry? where, like combustible matter, it wants but the spark to set the whole in a blaze, to burn forever! Luke 23:31 .
I feel constrained to detain the Reader one moment longer over this most solemn passage, just to observe the state of the disciples at this awful crisis. When Jesus, in the midst of his agony, came to them who had been withdrawn from him by some supernatural power, it is said, that he found them steeping for sorrow! And both Matthew and Mark have recorded, that, , at this time this was repeatedly the ease, at Christ's going from them, and returning to them again. Matthew 26:45; Matthew 26:45 ; Mark 14:40-41; Mark 14:40-41 . Reader! observe the expression, sleeping for sorrow! We know full well, that sorrow, deep sorrow, will prevent sleep; but it must be unusual sorrow indeed to induce sleep. But it should seem very plain, that the Apostle's sleep was a sleep into which they were cast by the powers of hell. Jesus himself said, that this was the hour of the enemies' triumph, and the powers of darkness; and it, seems more than probable, that Satan had drenched those few faithful servants of the Lord in a stupidity and heaviness to sleep on purpose, that all human comfort should be withdrawn at this awful time from Christ; and Christ left alone to combat in this unparalleled struggle!
"And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. (48) But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? (49) When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? (50) And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. (51) And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. (52) 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? (53) 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. (54) Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off."
We now are called upon to another view of the Redeemer. I beg the Reader's close attention. Every word is big with importance. And, first, Judas, with the band coming to apprehend Christ. But what a band of such armed men to lay hold of one poor unarmed man? Had they conceived that Jesus was nothing more than man, is it likely that they would have taken so great a body? And wherefore did Judas give such a signal for the apprehension of Christ? And Matthew adds to this account, that Judas, who made this the signal for the seizing of Christ, said to the soldiers, that when he had kissed Christ, they should hold him fast. Matthew 26:48 ; Wherefore were all these precautions, but from a conviction, that Christ was more than man. Surely, in the very moment they seized the Lord of life and glory, the minds of the greater part of the party were struck with condemnation. Judas could not forget the miracles of Christ. He had known his Master escape from the hands of his enemies, when they sought to throw him over the hill of the city. Luke 4:29-31 . Hence he charged them to bind him, and lead him away safely. Mark 14:44 . Reader! pause here to remark, how the Lord was overruling their malice to his own glory. Christ was now accomplishing the whole predictions of the prophets. Though the voluntary of offering of the Lord Jesus formed a most momentous part in the great efficacy of his sacrifice, yet the sacrifice, according to the law, must be bound. Psalms 118:27 . Hence Isaac, a type of Christ, was bound and laid upon the altar. So that to answer both purposes, Christ's willingness, and their holding him fast, we have Jesus' voluntary surrender of himself, and their binding him.
And, secondly, I beg the Reader not to overlook what is said of the whole band, both of Jews and Gentiles, as engaged in this apprehension of Christ. By the spirit of prophecy, ages before these events came to be fulfilled, it was said, that, the kings of the earth, and the rulers, should take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed. Psalms 2:1-2 . Here we behold the accomplishment. And God the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of Peter, sweetly explains the whole, and applies it. Acts 4:19-28 . Compare with Psalms 22:0 the title of it, and Psalms 22:19 and Psalms 22:16 explain each other.
And, thirdly, I pray the Reader to observe, that though all along, as the mock trial which follows proves, their intention was to deliver Christ over to the Roman power; yet to the High Priest he shall be first led. And wherefore? Aye! there's the point. They saw not the Lord's hand in all this; but the sacrifice of Christ must be bound, must be led away, as all sacrifices under the law were, to the High Priest, and both Jew and Gentile must be engaged in the great work. So that the hurrying the Lord Jesus, from the High Priest to the Governor, and from the hall of Pilate, to the Mount of Calvary, shall be in confirmation of that glorious scripture, He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 .
"And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. (56) 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. (57) And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. (58) And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. (59) 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 Galilaean. (60) And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. (61) 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. (62) And Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
The subject of Peter's fall, and recovery by grace, which the sacred historian hath so particularly noticed in those Verses, both merit our most earnest attention. There can be no doubt, but that the Holy Christ meant it should be held forth to the Church, for the special improvement of the Lord's people in all ages; and it would be an unpardonable neglect under such an impression, if we were to pass it by.
The best service, I apprehend, which I can do the Reader, will be by a short commentary to mark under both parts in his fall, and in his recovery by sovereign grace, the striking features contained in the history; looking to the Lord the Holy Ghost to make the review of it profitable to both Writer and Reader.
And here, in respect to the subject of Peter's fall, I would observe the greatness of that fall. everything tended to aggravate it. The person of Peter, so dear to Jesus; the time and place in which this foul denial was committed; the little provocations to it at the instance of a poor servant maid, and such like characters add to these, the peculiar privileges Peter had enjoyed above all the other Apostles, excepting dames and John . He had seen Christ's glory in the Mount. He had been an eye witness to his agonies in the garden. One or two miracles of a private nature, which Jesus wrought, he had been present at; and once, at the command of Christ, his faith had been so strong in the first warmth of his love, that he had attempted to walk to Jesus on the water. And yet, amidst all these distinguishing mercies, and forewarned as he was by Christ, he not only denied Christ, but persisted in the denial, though the first crow of the cock told him of his perfidy; yet on he went, and at length proceeded by oaths to such a desperate state of confirmation to the lie, as took off all pretence that it might have been the effect of surprise or inadvertency. Reader! behold in this instance what man is in his highest attainments! Surely, in the view of so great an Apostle, (for a great Apostle he was,) we cannot but learn, that the best of men are but men, and the greatest of men may fall. The corruptions of nature are the same in all. And the only (difference between one man and another, is what grace makes, and not man's merit. Lord Jesus! impress this great truth on my heart, that I may have a full sense of that sweet scripture, and which Peter, in the after stages of life more fully learnt under the Holy Ghost, they are kept are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. 1 Peter 1:5 .
Let us attend now, in a few words, to the improvements to be drawn from Peter's recovery. From whence we no less learn, that as the best of men cannot keep themselves from falling, so neither, when fallen, can they raise themselves, but their recovery is the sole effect of sovereign grace. In proof of this, in the instance of Peter, we are told, that he heard the first crowing of the cock without manifesting any emotion. But, when at the second crowing of the cock, the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, that look entered his soul. He went out and wept bitterly. That his repentance was true and sincere, all the after events in the Apostle's life proved. But these were the effects, and not the cause. One of the Fathers, (I think it was Chrysostom) hath made a beautiful observation upon the blessings which accompanied the Lord's word with the Lord's power. For, as Peter heard the cock crow, and seemingly unconcerned, so sinners hear the, word of God, and remain regardless. But when the Lord's grace enters the heart, as the eye of Jesus darted upon Peter, then all the blessed effects follow. Reader! do not overlook the gracious, tender, loving, (what shall I call it,) forgiving look of Jesus to Peter. Surrounded as Christ then was, with the hell-hounds waiting for his blood, still he forgot not poor Peter! Oh! the compassions of Jesus Lord! manifest them to my soul!
"And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. (64) And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? (65) And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. (66) 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, saying, (67) Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: (68) And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. (69) Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. (70) Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. (71) And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth."
I will only for the present in this place beg the Reader to notice the cruelties exercised on Christ's person, and the blasphemy they were guilty of to his divine offices. In their mockery, they insulted his Kingly office. In their blindfolding him, his Priestly: for there were to be no blemishes in those who ministered in holy things. And in demanding who smote him, they did despite to his Prophetical. But, amidst all these reproaches, we hear no murmur. Yea, no answer, until demanded whether he was the Son of God. And, oh! how blessed the good confession; Ye say that: I am. For so it should be stopped. Precious Lord! in what a blessed view is this testimony of the Lord in all the hearts of his redeemed!
Reader! let us ponder well the precious contents of this most precious Chapter. Behold! how Jesus delighted in his last Passover, and first Supper! With desire (said that dear Lord,) I have desired to eat it with you before I suffer. And doth he not still desire sweet communion with his people now, as he did then? Doth not Jesus say the same concerning his Word, his Ordinances, his Table, his Supper? And doth not the Lord, from the first moment of beholding his Church, long for the season of the conversion of each, and the comfort of all, until the whole redeemed are brought home to glory? Oh! then how sweet to follow up the Lord's desires with our own; and while Jesus is coming forth to bless, You and I may, through his grace, be going forth to meet him.
Reader! pause over the awful character of Judas! Behold the different features of Peter! Contemplate from everlasting the cause in the sovereignty of grace, and if so be we can find in our own souls, tokens of rich, free, unmerited love, causing us to differ from the traitor, in being children of promise; oh! for grace to ascribe all the glory to Him, to whom alone all is due. Lord! how is it, we may well say, that thou hast manifested thyself unto us, and not unto the world!
Praised be thy dear name, in that Jesus the Son of God took upon him to answer for his people, by which the Holy One of Israel was reckoned among the transgressors. And shall not thy redeemed be accounted righteous in thee, before God? My soul! all the ransomed in Zion are authorized to this conclusion. Bless thy God and Savior for this unspeakable mercy. It is Jehovah that hath so concluded, and therefore make it thy conclusion also; for so the charter of grace runs to the Church's joy. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany