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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Luke 22



Other Authors


The Jews conspire against Christ: Satan by his temptations prepareth Judas to betray him. The apostles sent to prepare the passover. Christ instituteth his holy supper: covertly foretelleth of the traitor: dehorteth the rest of his apostles from ambition: assureth Peter that he should deny him thrice. He prayeth in the mount, and sweateth blood: is betrayed with a kiss: he healeth Malchus's ear: he is thrice denied of Peter, shamefully abused, and confesseth himself to be the Son of God.

Anno Domini 33.

Verse 4

Luke 22:4. And captains The captains with whom Judas communed, are here and elsewhere called captains of the temple, (see Luke 22:52.) and are joined with the priests as their companions; a circumstance, which proves that they were Jews, and not heathens. See Acts 4:1. From David's time the priests and Levites kept watch, first in the tabernacle, and then in the temple, night and day, as appears from 2 Chronicles 8:14. The guards of priests were stationed at three places; but those of the Levites at one-and-twenty. The Levites, while they performed this office according to their courses, under the first temple, were called porters, 2 Chronicles 8:14 and each of the watches had a chief or captain,— στρατηγος ; and over then all was one called, by way of eminence, αρχηγος, the chief leader or captain. That these names of military men should have been given to the priests and Levites, who were no soldiers, neither had soldiers under them, will not seem strange, when it is remembered, that the attendance of the Levites is called the warfare of the service; (see Numbers 8:24-25 in the original;) and that they performed all the offices of soldiers in garrisons. They kept guard at the gates of the temple, preserved the peace within its precincts, and brought such as were disorderly before the high-priests and council. But besides the Levite porters, there was another guard belonging to the temple, namely, the Roman garrison, in the tower or castle of Antonia, which was built very near the temple. Of this castle or garrison there is mention made, Acts 21:31-34. St. Matthew calls a detachment from it, appointed to guard our Lord's sepulchre, by the word κουστωδια, which was the proper name of such a body of Roman soldiers. But was not with the captains of the garrison of Antonia that Judas bargained to deliver up his Master; neither were they the persons to whom Jesus spake, when he addressed them who came to apprehend him, Luke 22:52. In both passages these captains are called by the name στρατηγοι ; whereas the captains of garrisons are termed by Josephus φρουραρχοι, and by St. Luke, Acts 21, 22. χιλιαρχοι. Besides, no heathens were ever admitted into the supreme ecclesiastical court of the Jews; not to mention that the latter shunned the company of the former as much as possible. It is plain therefore that the persons with whom Judas communed, and who are called the captains, and captains of the temple, were the priests who commanded the temple guard, and who were at the devotion of the high-priest and council, to execute whatever orders they thought fit to give them.

Verse 12

Luke 22:12. There make ready. See the note on Mark 14:13.

Verse 15

Luke 22:15. With desire I have desired This is a Hebraism, signifying a very fervent and longing desire: "I have longed greatly," said he, "to eat this passover with you before I suffer, because it is the last I shall ever celebrate with you, and because I desire, before my death, to give you the strongest proofs of my love." The proofs that he had in view were, his setting them pattern of humility and love, by washing their feet;—his instructing them in the nature of his death, as a propitiatory sacrifice;—his instituting the sacrament of the supper, in commemoration of his sufferings;—his comforting them by the tender discourses recorded by St. John, John 14:16 : in which he gave them a variety of excellent advice, and many gracious promises;—last of all, his recommending them solemnly by prayer to the protection and guidance of his heavenly Father. The magnanimity which our Lord discovers in the expression before us, is beyond conception: it implies, that although he knew this supper would be the last he should celebrate with his disciples, and that he should rise from it but a few hours before he suffered the most cruel insults and torments, which would end in his death; yet such was his love to his faithful people, such his desire to glorify his heavenly Father, that no passover was ever so welcome to him as this.

Verse 16

Luke 22:16. Until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. That is, "until the deliverance of all the faithful saints from the bondage of sin, is accomplished in the gospel dispensation; a deliverance typified by that of our fathers from the Egyptian bondage, to keep up the memory of which the passover was instituted." The particle until, used here and Luke 22:18 does not imply, that after the accomplishment of the salvation of the faithful, our Lord was to eat the passover; it was a Hebrew form of expression, signifying that the thing mentioned was no more to be done for ever. See on Matthew 1:25 and Mark 14:25.

Verse 19

Luke 22:19. This do, &c.— From our Lord's words here recorded, and from those wherewith the apostle has concluded his account of the sacrament, 1 Corinthians 11:26. (—for as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come, — καταγγελλετε, ye preach,—ye declare the Lord's death, ye assure the world of the truth of it,)—it appears that the sacrament of the supper was instituted, not only to bring Christ's sufferings, and the happy consequences thereof, to the remembranceof his disciples, but to demonstrate the truth of these things to the world in all ages. In this view the sacrament of the last supper is a most strong proof of our Lord's integrity, and of the truth of his mission. For if he had been an impostor, and was to have suffered death on account of his deluding the people, is it to be imagined that he would have instituted any rite with a view to preserve the memory of his having suffered punishment for the worst of crimes. This is beyond all human belief; and therefore, since by this institution he has perpetuated the memory of his own sufferings, it is a strong proof (though such proofs are not wanted) that he was conscious of his own innocence; that his character was really what the evangelists have represented it to be; and that our faith in him, as the Son of God,is well founded.

Verse 20

Luke 22:20. The new testament The new covenant.

Verse 21-22

Luke 22:21-22. The hand of him that betrayeth me, &c.— Our Lord, after delivering the sacramental cup, and telling them that his blood was shed for them, mentions the treachery of Judas a second time; and this second declaration came in with peculiar propriety after the institution of the sacrament, which exhibits the highest instance of love to mankind,—his dying to obtain a remission of their sins; for it shewed that the person who could deliberately do so great an injury to so kind a friend, must have been a monster, the foulness of whose ingratitude cannot be reached by the force of language. See the Inferences on Matthew 26.

Luke 22:23. And they began to inquire, &c.— Upon Christ's giving so plain and moving a hint concerning his betrayer, all the disciples, except Judas, were shocked and grieved to think that any one among them should ever commit so base a villainy against their Lord; they were humbly jealous of their own hearts, lest they should deceive them; and were exceedingly solicitous to clear themselves, and to know who it was that should be guilty of this horrible wickedness.

Verse 24

Luke 22:24. And there was Now, &c.

Verse 25-26

Luke 22:25-26. The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship, &c.— "Among the Gentiles, they are reckoned the greatest men who have the greatest power, and who exercise it in the most absolute manner. Such, however, have at times affected the pompous title of Benefactors, Ευεργετης, (a surname, which some of the kings of Egypt and of Syria assumed) and thereby have tacitly acknowledged that true greatness consists in goodness. But your greatness shall not be like theirs, shall not consist in the exercise of tyrannical power, though it should be joined with an affectation of titles, which denote qualities truly honourable. Whoever desires to be great or chief among you, let him be so by humility, and by his serviceableness to the rest; in imitation of me your Master, whose greatness consists in this,—that I am become the servant of you all." Instead of greatest, Luke 22:26 the original word might be rendered more properly eldest, as it is opposed to the youngest. Comp. Romans 9.

12. According to the manners of the Jews, the aged expected great service and submission from the younger. See the notes on Matthew 20:25; Matthew 20:34.

Verse 28

Luke 22:28. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations, &c.— In my trials, or afflictions.

Verse 29-30

Luke 22:29-30. And I appoint unto you, &c.— The kingdom which the Father bestowed on Jesus, as the reward of his humiliations, was his mediatorial kingdom, Philippians 2:9 not the happiness of heaven, which he enjoyed from eternity; wherefore, the kingdom which he bestowed on his apostles as the peculiar reward of their services, being of the same nature with his own, was the authority which they enjoyed next to him in the gospel dispensation. That ye may eat and drink at my table, &c. is evidently metaphorical, and signifies, that they were to share with him in the honours and pleasures of his high dignity; and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. We may just observe, that it is well known that the word διατιθεμαι, used Luke 22:29 and rendered appoint, properly signifies to covenant, or "to bestow in virtue of a covenant;" and therefore the last clause of this verse may properly allude to what divines commonly call, "the covenant of redemption," to which there are so many references in scripture, and concerning the reality of which we could have no doubt, if the references were not so express; considering, on the one hand, the great importance of that undertaking of our Lord's to which it refers; and, on the other, the plain declarations of those prophesies which his spirit suggested; and the confidence wherewith he has promised those blessings, which as Mediator it empowers him to bestow on all his faithful saints.

Verse 31-32

Luke 22:31-32. Simon! Simon! This repetition of the name of Simon, shews much earnestness in our Saviour, and intimates the great danger to which Peter was exposed. Our Lord speaks herein the plural,— υμας ; "You, my apostles in general."—That he may sift you as wheat, is an expression denoting the violent agitations, the formidable temptations, and numerous artifices, which the enemy of mankind would make use of to try their integrity. See Amos 9:9. "But, continues our Lord, I have prayed for thee,—Peter, in particular,—foreseeing the danger to which thou wilt be peculiarly exposed; and when thou art returned back to thy duty, [ επιστρεψας, ] from those wanderings into which I foresee thou wilt fall;—strengthen thy brethren, by setting them an example of eminent faith and fortitude; and do thine utmost through all the remainder of thy days, to engage all, over whom thou hast any influence, steadily to adhere to my cause, in the midst of the greatest difficulties." There can be no objection against taking the charge in this comprehensive sense; and as there can be no question but that Peter, after he had wept his fall so bitterly as we know he did, applied himself to rally his dispersed brethren, and to prevent their fleeing from Jerusalem till the third day was over,—in the morning of which he was up betimes, and early at the sepulchre of our Lord; (See John 20:3.)—so, indeed, the strain of his epistles shews his long and affectionate remembrance of this solemn charge. Many passages of the first are peculiarly intended to animate his Christian brethren to a courageous adherence to Christ amid the greatest dangers; and the second has several cautions to guard them against the seductions of error; in some instances more to be dreaded than the terrors of the severest persecution. See Acts 9:35; Acts 11:2., &c.

Verse 34

Luke 22:34. The cock shall not crow this day, &c.— As it is plain from this passage, and from the event, that the cock actually crew before Peter's third denial, we must certainly take the words of St. Luke and St. John for the common time of cock-crowing, which probably did not arrive till after the cock, which Peter had heard, had crowed the second time, and perhaps oftener; for it is well known, that those vigilant animals, on any little disturbance, often crow at midnight, or before it, though they do not quit their roost till about three in the morning, which was usually called the cock-crowing. See on Mark 13:35 and the Inferences on Mark, xi

Verse 36

Luke 22:36. But now he that hath a purse, Our Lord, having finished what he had to say to Peter in particular, turned to the other disciples, and put them in mind how they had been prohibited when they were first sent out, to make any provision for their journey, and directed to rely wholly on God; and that though they had gone away without purse, scrip, and shoes, they had never wanted any thing: but he told them that matters were now altered, they were to be violently assaulted by their enemies; were to meet with the strongest temptations, and to be so hotly persecuted bytheir countrymen, that they could no longer expect anysuccour at their hands; for which reason, he ordered them, in their future journeys, to provide money, and clothes, and a sword, for themselves: that is to say, besides relying on the divine Providence as formerly, they were to use prudent precautions in fortifying themselves against the trials which were coming on them; and our Lord tells them they were thus to arm themselves, because he was to be treated as a malefactor, condemned and crucified, agreeably to the predictions of the prophets. See Isaiah 53:12. He added too, that these misfortunes were not at a distance, but just at hand; for the things concerning me have an end; "They are just ready to be accomplished,—now you may easily guess at the reception you are likely to meet with, as my messengers and ministers, when you come to preach in the name and authority of one who has suffered as a malefactor, and yet demands faith and obedience as an Almighty Saviour."

Verse 38

Luke 22:38. Lord, behold, here are two swords. Our Lord's disciples, mistaking his meaning about the swords, replied, they had two: the reason why they had any at all, probably, was, that they might defend themselves against robbers in their journey from Galilee and Perea, and from the beasts of prey which in those parts were very frequent and dangerous in the night time: it afterwards appears, that one of these swords was Peter's. See John 18:10. Our Lord replies to the disciples, "It is enough for weapons of this sort; my chief intent is, to direct you to another kind of defence; even that which arises from piety and faith." This is strongly intimated by our Lord's saying that two swordswere sufficient; which, it is evident, they could not have been for so many men, had our Lord meant what he said in a literal sense.

Verse 42

Luke 22:42. If thou be willing, remove this cup, &c.— Oh that thou wouldst,—or, that thou wert willing to remove this cup from me! &c. Blackwall. Our Lord spoke this, not as desirous to be excused from sufferings and death, but in reference to the terror and severity of the combat in which he was now actually engaged. See on Matthew 26:39.

Verse 43

Luke 22:43. And there appeared an angel, &c.— As the sins of the world were laid upon Christ, and it pleased the Lord himself to bruise him, and to awaken the sword of justice against him (see Isaiah 53:5-12. Zechariah 13:7.); so, unless our great Lord had a present view and sensation of this, it is to me unaccountable, that he should be in such terrible distress before his external sufferings came upon him; especially considering, that, at this very time, an angel was sent from heaven to strengthen him, and that so many martyrs have thought of, and gone through as great corporal sufferings, with undaunted bravery and triumph.

Verse 44

Luke 22:44. And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood Some commentators have taken this expression in the metaphorical sense; fancying that as those who weep bitterly, are said to weep blood, so they may be said to sweat blood, who sweat excessively by reason of hard labour or acute pain. They explain it, "His drops of sweat were large and clammy, like drops of gore:" but others more justly affirm, that our Lord's sweat was really mixed with blood to such a degree, that its colour and consistency was as if it had been wholly blood; for the Greek particle ωσει, rendered, as it were, does not always denote similitude, but sometimes reality. See John 1:14. Matthew 14:5. Grotius espoused the metaphorical meaning of this passage; but Bartholinus (De Cruce, p. 134.) disputes against him, and gives examples of sweats which have actually been mixed with blood. Dr. Whitby observes, that Aristotle and Diodorus Siculus both mention bloody sweats, as attending some extraordinary agony of mind; and Leti, in his life of Pope Sixtus V. p. 200 and Sir John Chardin, in his history of Persia, vol. 1: p. 126 mention a like phenomenon: to which Dr. Jackson in his works, vol. 2: p. 819 adds another from Thuanus, lib. 10. However, that which puts this matter beyond all doubt, is a fact well known in history; namely, that Charles the IXth of France died of a malady, in which his blood gushed out of all the pores of his body. Voltaire describes it thus, in his Universal History, chap. 142. "Charles the IXth died in his five-and-twentieth year; the malady that he died of was very extraordinary; the blood gushed out of all his pores. This accident, of which there are some instances, was owing either to excessive fear, to violent passion, or to a warm and melancholy constitution." Many learned writers are of opinion, that our Saviour, during this extreme agony, struggled in a peculiar manner with the spirits of darkness; and that hence an angel appeared to strengthen hi

Verse 48

Luke 22:48. Judeas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? "Dost thou betray him, whom thou canst not but know to be the Son of man,—'the Messiah,' by that which all men use as the symbol either of love or homage,—making it a signal of thy treachery? And dost thou think that he can be imposed upon by this poor artifice, or that such baseness and cruelty will not be punished?"—There is great reason to believe that our Lord uses this phrase of the Son of man to Judas on this occasion, as he had done the same evening at supper twice in a breath, in the sense here given; see Matthew 26:24 and it adds a great spirit to these words; which the reader will discern to be attended with much greater strength and beauty, than if our Lord had only said Dost thou betray ME with a kiss?

Verse 51

Luke 22:51. Suffer ye thus far. The sense which has been affixed to this passage is various. Some have understood it as a request from Jesus, that the persons who had apprehended him, would oblige him so far as to let him go to the wounded man; and the context seems to countenance this opinion, representing him as immediately touching the ear, and healing it. Others, and among them the Syriac, suppose it to be spoken to the disciples, and to contain a prohibition against their offering any more violence; in which sense they paraphrase the words, "It is enough that you have opposed their violence so far; go no farther, but stop here." The circumstance of our Lord's healing Malchus's ear by touching it, seems to imply, that he created a new part in the room of that which was cut off; or if he performed the cure any other way, he equally demonstrated both his goodness and power. No wound or distemper whatever was incurable in the hand of Jesus, neither was any injury so great that he could not forgive it; and as this was an act of great compassion and forgiveness, so likewise was it an act of singular wisdom; for it would effectually prevent those reflections and censures on Jesus, which the rashness of Peter's attack might otherwise have occasioned. See the Inferences on Mark 14.

Verse 53

Luke 22:53. When I was daily with you in the temple, This was a proof of our Saviour's innocence; for had he been conscious of any crime which could render him obnoxious to punishment, he would not have exposed himself in this public manner; and had the Jews either thought him guilty, or been able to bring any accusation against him, it is evident that they wanted neither willnor power to have apprehended him. But the reason why they continued so long inactive, is intimated in the close of the verse. They were kept under restraint, till the time predicted for his sufferings was accomplished; and that being now come, power was allowed to the prince of darkness to instigate them to this crime, and opportunity was permitted them to perpetrate it. See on Matthew 26:56.

Verse 54

Luke 22:54. And Peter followed afar off. His love to his Master was not extinguished, yet it was exceedingly weakened; he followed, but afar off: he was here beginning to stagger; he had said that he would follow Christ, and he persuades himself that he is fulfilling his promise by thus following him afar off. St. John informs us with his usual modesty, that another disciple followed Jesus, John 18:15 who appears to have been himself; whence we may infer, that Peter and John returned quickly after their flight, or else they could not have followed at some distance, and yet be so near as to be ready to go into Caiaphas's house with him.

Verse 63-64

Luke 22:63-64. And the men that held Jesus, &c.— And the men who had Jesus in custody. Wynne. "Though St. Luke has told us how Jesus was insulted, before he describes his trial, contrary in appearance to the order observed by the other evangelists, who mention those insults as succeeding his being condemned, it does not follow that he meant to say, he was insulted before his trial. I acknowledge, indeed, that his judges and their retinue were abundantly capable of being thus unjust and barbarous towards him, even before they made a show of condemning him; nevertheless, what St. Luke has said here does not necessarily oblige us to suppose this. He might conclude his account of Peter's denials with relating what followed upon our Lord's being condemned, because it happened immediately after the last denial, and to shew what a load of indignity was laid at once on the Son of God;—while the most zealous of all his disciples was denying his Lord with oaths and imprecations, the servants and others insulted him in the most barbarous manner." See the notes on Matthew 26:67; Matthew 26:75 for a fuller view of this part of the gospel history.

Verse 65

Luke 22:65. Many other things blasphemously spake they There is something very remarkable in this expression. They charged him with blasphemy, Matthew 26:65 in asserting himself to be the Son of God; but the evangelist here fixes that charge on them, because he really was so.

Verse 66

Luke 22:66. As soon as it was day, When the band of soldiers arrived at the high-priest's with Jesus, they found many of the chief-priests, and scribes, and elders assembled there. Some persons of distinction however may have been absent, for whose coming they would wait; wherefore, although the soldiers brought Jesus to the high-priest's a little after midnight, his trial did not begin till about three in the morning; for if the passover this year fell late in April, the sun must at that season have arisen to the inhabitants of Jerusalem about twenty-three minutes after five, and the day have dawned about fifteen minutes after three: wherefore, since St. Luke fixes the appearance of Jesus before the council to the dawn, his trial must have begun about three in the morning. This is confirmed by the account which St. Matthew gives of the hour when Jesus was led away to the governor, ch. Matthew 27:1-2. The intermediate time between the taking of Jesus and his trial might have passed in procuring witnesses, in sending for the absent members, in gathering the clerks and officers of the court, and in sitting up an apartment for the trial; for that Jesus was tried by the council, not in the temple, as many suppose, but in the high-priest's palace, is evident from John 18:28 where we are told expressly that they led Jesus from Caiaphas's house to the praetorium.

Verse 68

Luke 22:68. If I also ask you, &c.— That is, "If I propose the proofs of my mission, and require you to give your opinion of them, you will overbear me with your renewed violence, and neither acquit nor release me." See on Matthew 26:64.

Verse 70

Luke 22:70. Ye say that I am. Ye say true; for I am. It follows; we have heard of his own mouth. See Mark 14:62.

Verse 71

Luke 22:71. We ourselves have heard It was customary for the Jews to suppress the word blasphemy in their discourses relating to it. St. Luke retains this custom; but St. Matthew and St. Mark have added the word, for the sake of perspicuity.

Inferences drawn from our Saviour's agony in the garden. Luke 22:39-46. What a preface do we here find to our Saviour's passion! a hymn, and an agony! a cheerful hymn, and an agony no less sorrowful. A hymn begins, both to raise and to testify the courageous resolution of his suffering; an agony follows, to shew that he was truly sensible of those extremities wherewith he was resolved to struggle.

All his disciples bore their part in that hymn; it was proper that they should all see his comfortable and divine magnanimity on entering those melancholy lists: only three of them shall be allowed to be the witnesses of his agony; only those three who had been the witnesses of his transfiguration. That sight should have well fore-armed and prepared them for this: how could they be dismayed at seeing his body now sweat, which they had then seen to shine? How could they be affrighted at seeing him now accosted by Judas and his train, whom they saw attended by Moses and Elijah? How could they be discouraged at hearing the reproaches of base men, when they had heard the voice of God to him, from that excellent glory,—This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased?

Now before these eyes the Sun of Righteousness begins to be overcast with clouds: He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Many sad thoughts for mankind had he secretly indulged, yet smothered in his own breast:—now his grief is too great for restraint: My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death. O Saviour, what must thou needs feel, when thy tongue uttered such a sentence! Feeble minds are apt to bemoan themselves upon light occasions; the grief must be violent, which causes a strong heart to burst forth into a passionate complaint. O what an expression was that for the Son of God to utter? Where is that Comforter whom thou promisedst to others? Where is that Father of all mercies, and God of all comfort, in whose presence is the fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore? Where are those constant, those cheerful resolutions of a fearless walking through the valley of the shadow of death?—Alas! if that face were not hid from thee, whose essence could not be disunited, these pangs could not have been. The sun was withdrawn for a while, that there might be night, as in the world around thee, so in thy breast; withdrawn, in respect not of being, but of sight;—it was the harshest portion of thy sufferings that thou wert thus disconsolate.

But to whom dost thou make this moan, O thou Saviour of men? What issue couldst thou expect? Thy disciples might be astonished with thy grief; but there is neither power in their hands to free thee from thy sorrows, nor efficacy in their compassion to mitigate them. What creature can help, when thou complainest?

What human soul is capable of conceiving the least of those sorrows which called forth this expression? Thou didst not only say, "My soul is troubled;" so it often was,—even to tears; but, My soul is sorrowful,—as if it had been before assaulted, but now possessed with grief,—and that not in any moderate way; it is exceeding sorrowful;—and yet there are with us degrees in the very extremities of evils: those that are most vehement, may still be capable of a remedy, at least of a relaxation; thine, however, was past all these hopes; exceeding sorrowful even unto death!

What was it, what could it be, O Saviour, that lay thus heavy upon thy divine soul?—Was it the fear of death?—Was it the anticipation of the pain, shame, torment of thy ensuing crucifixion?—O poor and base thoughts of the narrow hearts of cowardly and impotent mortals! How many thousands of thy blessed martyrs have welcomed no less tortures with smiles of gratulations? If their weakness was thus undaunted and prevalent, what was thy power? O no; it was the sad weight of the sins of mankind; it was the heavy burden of thy Father's wrath for our sins, which thus pressed down thy soul, and wrung from thee these bitter expressions of sorrow.

What can it avail thee, O Saviour, to tell thy grief to men?—Who can ease thee as man, but thy heavenly Father? Lo, to him thou turnest;—Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!

Was not this that prayer, O blessed Lord, which in the days of thy flesh thou offeredst up with strong crying and tears, to him that was able to save thee from death?—Never was cry so strong; never was God thus solicited. How could heaven but shake at such a prayer from the power that made it? How can my heart but tremble to hear this suit from the Captain of our salvation?

But, O thou that saidst, I and my Father are one,—dost thou suffer aught from thy Father, but what thou wouldst? Was this cup of thine or forced or casual? Far hence be these misraised thoughts of ignorance and frailty; thou camest to suffer, and thou wouldst do what thou camest for; yet since thou wouldst be a man, thou wouldst take all of man, but sin. Within this veil of thine thou wouldst exhibit what that nature of ours which thou hadst assumed, could incline to wish; but in thy resolution thou wouldst shew us what thy victorious thoughts, raised and assisted by thy divine power, had voluntarily submitted to;—nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. As man, thou hadst a will of thine own. No human mind can be perfect without that main faculty, that will, which naturally inclines towards an exemption from miseries. Those pains which in themselves are grievous, thou embracest, as agreeable to the divine will; so that thy fear gives place to thy love and obedience. How should we have known those evils to be so formidable, if thou hadst not in half a thought inclined to deprecate them? How could we have avoided evils so dreadful and deadly, hadst thou not willingly undergone them?

While the mind was in this fearful agitation, no wonder if thy feet were not fixed. One while thou walkest to thy drowsy attendants, and stirrest up their vigilancy; then thou returnest to thy passionate devotions. Thou fallest again upon thy face; thy prayers are so much more vehement than thy pangs, as thy soul is yet lower than thy humble body:—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.

O my Saviour! what an agony must every heart endure which thinks on thine? What pain, what fear, what strife, what horror was in thy sacred breast! How didst thou struggle under the weight of our sins, that thus thou didst sweat, that thus thou didst bleed!—All was peace with thee: thou wert one with thy co-eternal and co-equal Father;—all the angels worshipped thee; all the powers of heaven and earth awefully acknowledge thine infinity. It was our nature that enfeoffed and involved thee in this misery and torment; in that nature thou sustainedst thy Father's wrath, and the curse denounced on man. I wonder not if thou bleedest a sweat, if thou sweatest blood. If the moisture of that sweat be from the body, the tincture of it is from the soul.

But, O thou blessed angel, that camedst to comfort the afflicted Saviour, how didst thou look upon this Son of God, when thou sawest him labouring for life under these violent temptations? Luke 22:43. With what astonishment didst thou behold him bleeding, whom thou didst adore! Oh! the wise and marvellous dispensation of the Almighty! Whom God will afflict, an angel shall relieve. The God of angels droopeth; an angel of God strengthens him!

Blessed Jesu! if, as man, thou wouldst be made a little lower than the angels, how can it disparage thee to be attended and cheered by an angel? Thy humiliation would not disdain comfort from meaner hands. How free was it for thy Father to convey seasonable consolations to thy humbled soul, by whatever means! Behold, though thy cup shall not pass, yet shall it be sweetened. What though thou see not for a time thy Father's face, yet shalt thou feel his hand. What could that assistant spirit have done without the God of spirits? O Father of mercies, in the midst of the sorrows of my heart, thy comforts shall refresh my soul; and whatever be the means of my support, I know, and I adore the Author. Thou wilt not suffer us to be tried above what we are able; but wilt with the trial also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The aweful hour now approaches, when the great Redeemer must offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world. We have,

1. The chief priests and scribes consulting how to perpetrate the bloody deed, on which they had resolved. The fear of the people restrained them from open violence, and now they plotted how to take him off secretly.

2. Judas the traitor opportunely appeared to further their scheme. Satan now urged him on to the precipice of ruin; and going to the chief priests, in council assembled, who gladly embraced the offer he made, they soon struck up the bargain, and for thirty pieces of silver he engaged to betray his Master; and accordingly he watched for a secret opportunity, when, in the absence of the people, they might seize him without fear of a tumult. Note; (1.) All the malice of open enemies does not strike at the cause of Christ so deeply as the perfidy of false disciples. (2.) The devil watches the weak side of professors; and whether it be gold, or wine, or women, &c. he prepares the bait, and apostates readily catch at it.

2nd, The day of the preparation of the passover being come, we have,

1. The solemnization of it according to the law. His disciples, Peter and John, had been sent to make ready, and directed whither to go; and having followed the orders of their Master, and prepared the paschal lamb, at even he came and sat down with the twelve, Judas being still of the number, his treachery not having yet openly appeared. Being seated, with warm affection he addressed them, saying, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. He was happy to have this last meeting with them; he longed for the hour when the great work that he had undertaken should be accomplished, and that was now at hand. He welcomed those approaching sufferings which were to procure the salvation of all the faithful saints of God, and was now about to put a period to all the ceremonial institutions. Therefore, he adds, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God: for when, as the Lamb of God, he should be offered, who was the true passover, this typical ordinance must cease of course. In the gospel kingdom, the supper that he was now about to institute, would supersede the other; and in the great day of his appearing and glory, they, his faithful apostles, should most eminently rejoice together in the final accomplishment of their glorious liberty; when departed from this world, the house of their prison, they should enter with him into the heavenly Canaan of eternal rest. Presenting therefore the passover-cup to the disciples, in which it was usual for the company to pledge the master, he takes a solemn farewel of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come; either, when, after his exaltation, his gospel should be spread through the earth, and his presence be manifested in the midst of his church, where his disciples should assemble to partake of his supper; or, when the heavenly kingdom should come, where his faithful people shall be for ever satisfied with the pleasures that are at his right hand.

2. The institution of the Lord's supper, which should be continually celebrated in his church, in memory of a greater redemption than that from Egypt, even the deliverance which he has obtained for us by the sacrifice of himself, from Satan, sin, death, and hell. The bread is broken in token of his body being broken on the cross; it is given us as spiritual food for our immortal souls, that, by faith feeding upon the great doctrine of his atonement, we may be comforted and strengthened with might in the inner man. And the wine represents to us that Blood which he shed for the remission of our sins, and which seals to us the promises of the gospel covenant, of which we are assured partakers, when faith realizes the signs, and makes Christ's flesh meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed.

3rdly, Christ, having finished the supper, addresses himself to his disciples.

1. He admonishes them, that, though strange the relation, yet one of them should betray him; and dreadful would be the guilt of that wretch who should perpetrate the horrid deed. Astonished at the information, the disciples, with anxious solicitude, began to inquire which of them he pointed at, shocked with the thought of being guilty of such enormous wickedness. Note; (1.) There are in every age traitors, who eat of Christ's bread and yet betray him. (2.) Though God foresees and permits the wickedness of sinners, yet will not this at all exculpate them from their guilt. (3.) Holy jealousy over ourselves, lest we should be faithless, is the surest way to preserve our fidelity inviolable.

2. He rebukes the sinful affectation of precedency, for which his apostles, whose heads were still full of his temporal kingdom, had been disputing among themselves. He corrects their vain imaginations, and assures them, that the kingdom which he was about to erect, was in no wise like the kingdoms of the Gentiles, where the princes and rulers exercised despotic sway over their subjects, affected the title of benefactors, and were flattered with it by their people: but they who bore his commission, must not imitate such examples, nor think of lording it over their brethren. The only way in which his ministers can hope to rise in eminence, is by condescending to every work and labour of love; to serve the meanest and least of his disciples; in honour preferring others to themselves, and being ever little and low in their own eyes. His own example was a powerful argument to enforce humility upon them. Though he was their Master, and they his servants, he submitted even to wash their feet, that they might learn of him. Hitherto they had continued with him, during all his trials and humiliations; they have only to persevere in the same way, expecting nothing on earth but sufferings, and looking for higher honours than the fading ones of this world; either in the kingdom of grace, in which they should fill the most important stations, be made eminent instruments of God for good to men's souls, and partake of the rich provision of gospel ordinances: or, in the kingdom of glory, where they should reign with their exalted Lord, filled with eternal consolations; and sit down on thrones prepared for them at his right hand, assessors with him in the judgment, judging the twelve tribes of Israel: as he himself was now about to take the mediatorial throne appointed to him by his Father, and should reign over his faithful people in glory everlasting. Note; (1.) In Christ's kingdom humility is the only way to honour; and our ambition must be, not to be admired as great, but to lay ourselves out in doing good. (2.) They who faithfully adhere to the Saviour in the midst of manifold temptations, shall find, that as their tribulations abound for Christ, their consolations, even in this world, shall abound also, and that they shall, in the world to come, obtain a throne of glory that fadeth not away. (3.) The saints of God are now usually despised and trampled upon; but shortly their revilers and persecutors shall see them exalted to a throne, and assessors with the great Judge, (see 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.) before whose bar his enemies and theirs must stand trembling, and be covered with everlasting shame and contempt.

3. He warns Peter of his approaching fall; but foretels at the same time, that through his grace and intercession he will recover. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, even all of you: and his purpose is, to sift you as wheat, hoping to destroy them by apostacy: but I have prayed for thee, in particular, against whom the fiercest attack will be made, that thy faith fail not; though it will be grievously shaken. And when thou art converted, recovered from this dreadful temptation and fall, strengthen thy brethren: taught by experience, admonish others of the rock of self-confidence on which thou hast struck, and to beware of temptation. Note; if we have fallen, we must not lie down in despair, but arise, and return with shame and humble confession to a pardoning God, that we may find mercy.

4. He silences Peter's boasts, by expressly foretelling him that he would certainly deny him thrice. Peter resolutely declared, that neither a prison nor death should ever make him be false to his Master, or induce him to forsake him for a moment: but Christ assures him, that that night he would have a dire conviction of the weakness of his resolutions, and the strength of the tempter's power over him, even so far as to make him deny that he ever knew his Master.

5. He appeals to his disciples for his past care over them; and they own, that in all their journeys, when they travelled without money or provisions, they wanted nothing. Note; (1.) The more we reflect on the divine Providence in the days that are past, the more we shall be compelled to acknowledge, that in innumerable instances God hath helped us. (2.) Past experience of the Lord's goodness should engage our present confidence in his mercy. (3.) Christ's disciples must be satisfied with a little, and their Master will take care that they shall not be destitute.

6. He bids them now prepare for and expect more perilous times, and days of greater distress. He was about to suffer among transgressors, in the greatest torment and ignominy, according to the ancient prophesies concerning him; all which now were ready to be accomplished: and they, for the testimony of his gospel, would be exposed to want and suffering. They must now take all that they have, and employ it in providing those necessaries for themselves which they will want; and must, though, at the expence of their garments, purchase a sword, as more needful for their own defence against the perils of robbers, whom they may be called to encounter in their travels. Or, figuratively, this may rather refer to the persecutions and violence of their enemies, against which it would require all their fortitude and courage to bear up. The disciples, supposing him to mean literally, that they should repel force by force, replied, Lord, here are two swords, as if they wished to know whether they should procure more; but he said unto them, It is enough; these were sufficient to answer the instructive design for which he mentioned them. It was not by those weapons of war that his kingdom was to be spread, or their safety secured; but by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and the left.

4thly, We have Christ's agony in the garden, the account of which the former evangelists had given us in nearly the same words. See Matthew 26:36; Matthew 26:75. Mark 14:32; Mark 14:72. Three circumstances are particularly taken notice of by St. Luke:

1. That an angel appeared from heaven, strengthening him in his agony; probably suggesting to him, as man, some powerful inducements to encourage and support him under his unutterable distress; that the conflict would be short, the issue glorious, the victory sure, and the eternal salvation of the faithful be the great reward; So low did the son of God humble himself, as to need their services, who were the work of his own hands: and they who ministered to him, will not fail to perform the like kind offices for all believers. If the Lord lay upon us heavy burdens, he will send us help in the needful time of trouble.

2. That being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly. All the storms and billows of divine wrath were now going over him, and the great enemy of souls, with all his fury, hurled his fiery darts against him. With strong crying and tears he redoubled therefore his supplications, and was heard. Note; Prayer is at all times seasonable; but when we are under distress of body, or soul, we are peculiarly called to cry mightily to him, whose strength is made perfect in weakness; and every wrestling Jacob will be a prevailing Israel.

3. His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. The intenseness of his agony threw the humours of his body into so violent a fermentation, that though it was night, and he lay on the cold ground, the blood transuded with his sweat through the pores, and the reeking drops, trickling down, dyed the earth on which he lay. With what a bloody baptism was he baptized! My soul, behold, admire, and adore! It was love for thee, that brought thy Saviour thus low.

5thly, The traitor with an armed band now appears; and we have,

1. Christ betrayed. The signal given by Judas was a kiss. Adding hypocrisy to his treachery, he approached him; and Jesus, who well knew his design, with one kind word of expostulation on his baseness, readily surrendered himself into the hands of his enemies. Note; The Lord is privy to the secret thoughts of apostates in heart, and sees the traitor under all the specious profession that he makes.

2. The disciples, who instantly would have stood on their defence, and rescued him, asked his leave to unsheathe their swords; but Peter, too impatient to wait for an answer, drew, and aiming a blow at one of those who were active in seizing on his Master, a servant of the high priest's the sword glanced down the side of his head, and took off his right ear. But Christ rebuked Peter for his rashness, and desires his enemies not to resent the blow which Peter had struck, the damage of which he immediately repairs, and on the spot gave them an evidence of his power and grace, by healing the servant, and restoring his lost ear; which, if their hearts had not been hardened as the nether millstone, could not fail to have convinced them both of the wickedness and ingratitude of their conduct. May we learn of our Lord thus ever to render good for evil!

3. He expostulates with the chief priests, and the captains of the temple, and elders; some of whom, even at that unseasonable hour, forgetting their dignity, and instigated by their malice, now mingled with the soldiers, and came to make sure of their prey. Christ reasons with them on the inutility of such a military force, when he never would have attempted resistance, nor ever meant to abscond, since he appeared daily in public at the temple: But, says he, this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Till that hour came, all the powers of earth and hell could not prevail against him.

6thly, We have,

1. Peter's sad fall. Willing to see what would be the end of his Master's trials, he stole into the palace, and hoped to pass unperceived among the crowd; but his look, his behaviour, his speech, discovered him, and excited repeated charges from the by-standers, which he solemnly disowned, declaring that he did not know the man Jesus whom they spoke of, and confirming the horrid lie with the most profane oaths and perjury. One wilful lie has often led men to the most dreadful lengths. None know where they shall stop, when for a moment they deviate from the path of truth.

2. His gracious recovery. The cock crew to warn him of his guilt, and rung in Peter's ears a peal of loudest thunder; and one look of Jesus broke his heart with anguish. He turned, and looked upon Peter; and that glance spoke more than words could utter. It shewed him, that, though now on his trial, Christ was apprised of all that passed: it conveyed the deepest conviction, the tenderest expostulation, the kindest compassion, to his heart. Peter's guilt now rose in blackest colours to his view; his baseness, his ingratitude, every aggravating circumstance returned to his memory; and, overwhelmed with grief, anguish, horror, and shame, he went out, and wept bitterly.

7thly, Behold with horror and indignation,

1. The insults put on this innocent sufferer by the abjects who gathered themselves against him. The servants who kept Jesus in custody till the council met, mocked him, buffetted him; and blindfolding him, in derision of his prophetical character, struck him on the face, and bid him tell who smote him; with other blasphemies, which he silently and patiently endured. See the Annotations.

2. The injustice and cruel oppression which his judges, the chief priests and scribes, shewed at his trial. Early they arose, at break of day, eager to hasten his condemnation; and having brought him before them, demanded a direct answer whether he were the Messiah, or not. Christ knew that their wicked design was to employ his own words as the ground of his condemnation, and therefore expostulates with them on their unfair and unreasonable proceedings. If I tell you, ye will not believe; they were resolved at all events, in hardened obstinacy, to reject his pretensions; and if I ask you what you can object to the evidences of my divine mission which I have given, ye will not answer me, unable to refute them, yet determined not to be convinced by them, though reduced to silence: nor will you let me go, though not able to prove a single charge against me. Therefore he refers them for conviction to his coming with vengeance on the throne of judgment; when they should know, to their cost, whether he really was possessed of that character which he assumed. With indignation they tumultuously asked, whether he dared arrogate the title of the Son of God? he boldly replied in the affirmative—so they said, and so indeed he was. With one voice they instantly condemned him as a blasphemer, counting any farther witness unnecessary; when his own confession proved, as they concluded, the blasphemy of his pretensions. So were they given up to a reprobate mind, and, blind to the clearest evidence of truth, rushed on their eternal ruin, filling up the measure of their iniquities.


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 22:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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