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There is no death to put a period to the life itself, nor old age to put a period to the comfort of it, or any sorrow to embitter it. Thus life and death, good and evil, the blessing and the curse, are set before us, that we way choose our way. As we sow, so shall we reap.
1 The rulers conspire against Christ. 6 The woman anointeth his head. 14 Judas selleth him. 17 Christ eateth the passover: 26 instituteth his holy supper: 36 prayeth in the garden : 47 and being betrayed with a kiss, 57 is carried to Caiaphas, 69 and denied of Peter.
ND it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. 3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. 5 But they said, not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
a Mark xiv. 1; Luke xxii. 1; John xiii. 1. b Psal. ii. 2; John xi. 47; Acts iv. 25.
The festival of the passover was celebrated to preserve among the Jews the memory of their liberation from Egyptian servitude, and of the safety of their first-born in that night when the first-born of the Egyptians were slain. Exod. xii. The name Passover, was given to the feast because the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites without slaying their first-born, while the Egyptians were cut off. Exod. xii. 13. It was celebrated seven days, viz., from the 15th to the 21st of the month Abib or Nisan (April). Exod. xii. 15-20, xxiii. 15. During all this period the people ate unleavened bread, and hence the festival was sometimes called the feast of unleavened bread. Exod. xii. 18; Lev. xxiii. 6. On the evening of the 14th day, all the leaven or yeast in the family was removed with great care as it is to the present time; a circumstance to which the apostle alludes in 1 Cor. v. 7. On the 10th day of the month, the master of a family separated a lamb or a goat of a year old from the flock (Exod. xii. 1-6), which he slew on the 14th day before the altar. Deut. xvi. 2, 5, 6. The blood of the paschal lamb was in Egypt sprinkled on the door-posts of the houses; afterwards it was poured by the priests at the foot of the altar. Exod. xii. 7. The lamb thus slain was roasted whole-not a bone of it might be broken; a circumstance strongly representing the sufferings of our Lord Jesus, the passover slain for us. John xix. 36; 1 Cor. v. 7. Thus roasted, the lamb was served up with wild and bitter herbs. Not fewer than ten, nor more than twenty persons, were admitted to these sacred feasts. At first it was observed with the loins girt about, with sandals on their feet, and with all the preparations for an immediate journey. This, in Egypt, was significant of the haste with which they were about to depart from the land of bondage.
The order of the celebration of this feast was as follows:-The ceremony commenced with drinking a cup of wine mingled with water, after having given thanks to God for it. This was the first cup. Then followed the washing of hands, with another short form of thanksgiving to God. The table was then supplied with the provisions, viz., the bitter salad, the unleavened bread, the lamb, and a thick sauce, composed of dates, figs, raisins, vinegar, &c. They then took a small quantity of salad, with another thanksgiving, and ate it. After which, all the dishes were removed from the table, and a second cup of wine set before each guest, as at first. The dishes were removed, it is said, to excite the curiosity of children, and to lead them to make inquiry into the cause of this observance. See Exod. xii. 26, 27. The leading person at the feast then began and rehearsed the history of the servitude of the Jews in Egypt, the manner of their deliverance, and the reason of instituting the passover. The dishes were then returned to the table, and he said, "This is the passover which we eat, because that the Lord passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt;" and then, holding up the salad and the unleavened bread, he stated the design, viz., that the one represented the bitterness of the Egyptian bondage, and the other the suddenness of their deliverance. This done, he repeated the 113th and 114th psalms, offered a short prayer, and all the company drank the wine that had been standing some time before them. This was the second cup. The hands were then again washed, and the meal then eaten, with the usual forms and solemnities. After which they washed the hands again, and then drank another cup of wine, called the cup of
blessing; because the leader was accustomed in a particular manner over that cup to offer thanks to God for his goodness. This is the cup which our Saviour is supposed to have taken when he instituted the Lord's supper, called by Paul "the cup of blessing." 1 Cor. x. 16. There was still another cup, which was drunk when they were about to separate, called the Hallel, because in connection with it they were accustomed to repeat the lesser Hallel, or the 115th, 116th, 117th, 118th psalms. In accordance with this, our Saviour and his disciples sang a hymn, as they were about to go to the mount of Olives, ver. 30. It is probable that our Saviour complied with these rites, according to the custom of the Jews. While doing it, he signified that the typical reference of the passover was about to be accomplished, and he instituted in place of it the supper-the communion; and of course the obligation to keep the passover then ceased.
The office was at
Then assembled, &c., ver. 3. This was a meeting of the great council, or sanhedrim. high priest. Holding the office that was first conferred on Aaron. Exod. xxviii. first hereditary, descending on the eldest son. Num. iii. 10. Antiochus Epiphanes (B. c. 160), when he had possession of Judea, sold the office to the highest bidder. In the year 152 B. C., Alexander, King of Syria, conferred the office on Jonathan, whose brother Simon was afterwards created by the Jews both prince and high priest. His posterity, who at the same time sustained the office of kings, occupied the station of high priest till the time of Herod, who changed the incumbents of the office at pleasure; liberty which the Romans ever afterwards exercised without any restraint. The office was never more fluctuating than in the time of our Saviour. Hence it is said that Caiaphas was high priest for that year. John xi. 51. Persons who had been high priests, and had been removed from office, still retained the name. Hence more than one high priest is sometimes mentioned, though strictly there was but one who held the office.
Not on the feast-day, ver. 5. Not during the feast. The feast lasted seven days. A vast multitude attended from all parts of Judea. Jerusalem is said to have contained at such times three millions of people. Amidst such a multitude there were frequent tumults and seditions; and the sanhedrim was justly apprehensive there would be now, if in open day, and in the temple, they took away a teacher so popular and so much respected as Jesus, and put him to death. They therefore sought how they might do it secretly, and by guile.
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. 8 "But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and
given to the poor. 10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11 'For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
c Mark xiv. 3; John xi. 1, 2, xii. 3. d Chap. xxi. 17. e John xii. 4. f Deut. xv. 11; John xii. 8. g See chap. xviii. 20, xxviii. 20; John xiii. 33, xiv. 19, xvi. 5, 28, xvii. 11.
The singular kindness of a good woman to our Lord Jesus in anointing his head, is recorded, vers. 6, 7. It was in Bethany, a village hard by Jerusalem, and in the house of Simon the leper. Probably he was one who had been miraculously cleansed from his leprosy by our Lord Jesus, and he would express his gratitude to Christ by entertaining him; nor did Christ disdain to converse with him, to come in to him, and sup with him. The woman that did this is supposed to have been Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus: and Dr Lightfoot thinks it was the same that was called Mary Magdalene. She had a box of very precious ointment, which she poured upon the head of Christ, as he sat at meat. Alabaster is a species of marble, distinguished for being light, and of a beautiful white colour, almost transparent. It was much used by the ancients, for the purpose of preserving various kinds of ointment in. Of very precious ointment. That is, of ointment of much value; that was rare, and difficult to be obtained. Mark (xiv. 4) and John (xii. 3) say that it was "ointment of spikenard." In the original it is nard. It was procured from an herb growing in the Indies; chiefly obtained from the root, though sometimes also from the bark. It was liquid, so as easily to flow when the box or phial was open, and was distinguished particularly, for an agree
able smell. See Cant. i. 12. The ancients were much in the habit of anointing or perfuming their bodies; and the nard was esteemed one of the most precious perfumes.
This act may be looked upon as a proof of faith in our Lord Jesus-the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed; as an act of love and respect to him. Where there is true love in the heart to Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good, no, nor good enough, to bestow upon him.
In the offence which the disciples took at this, they showed want of tenderness toward this good woman, in interpreting her over-kindness (suppose it was so) to be wastefulness. Charity teaches us to put the best construction upon every thing that it will bear,-especially upon the words and actions of those that are zealously affected in doing a good thing, though we may think them not altogether so discreet in it as they might be. They also showed want of respect to their Master. The best we can make of it, is, that they knew their Master was perfectly dead to all the delights of sense; he that was so much grieved for the affliction of Joseph, cared not for being anointed with the chief ointments (Amos vi. 6), and therefore they thought such pleasures ill bestowed upon one who took so little pleasure in them. But supposing that, it did not become them to call it waste, when they perceived that he admitted and accepted it as a token of his friend's love.
They excused their offence at it, and said, This ointment, might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. It is no new thing for bad affections to shelter themselves under specious covers -for people to shift off works of piety under colour of works of charity.
The reproof Christ gave to his disciples, for the offence at this good woman, is recorded (vers. 10, 11),- Why trouble ye the woman? Observe his reason,- Ye have the poor always with you. There are some opportunities of doing and getting good which are constant, and which we must give constant attendance to the improvement of. Bibles we have always with us, Sabbaths always with us, and so the poor we have always with us. Those who have a heart to do good, never need complain for want of opportunity. The poor never ceased even out of the land of Israel. Deut. xv. 11. We cannot but see some in this world who call for our charitable assistance, who are as God's receivers-some poor members of Christ, to whom he will have kindness shown as to himself. There are other opportunities of doing and getting good which come but seldom, which are short and uncertain, and require more peculiar diligence in the improvement of them, and which ought to be preferred before the other-"Me ye have not always, therefore use me while you have me." From Christ's approbation and commendation of the kindness of this good woman, we learn, that the more his servants and their services are cavilled at by men, the more he manifests his acceptance of them. He calls it a good work (ver. 10), and says more in praise of it than could have been imagined; particularly-that the meaning of it was mystical (ver. 12),-She did it for my burial. Some think that she intended it so, and that the woman better understood Christ's frequent predictions of his death and sufferings than the apostles did-for which they were recompensed with the honour of being the first witnesses of his resurrection. However, Christ interpreted it so ; and he is always willing to make the best, to make the most, of his people's well-meant words and actions. We learn also, that the memorial of it should be honourable (ver. 13),—This shall be told for a memorial. This act of faith and love was so remarkable, that the preachers of Christ crucified, and the inspired writers of the history of his passion, could not choose but take notice of this passage, proclaim the notice of it, and perpetuate the memorial of it; and being once enrolled in these records, it was graven as with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever, and could not possibly be forgotten. The memorial of this woman was to be preserved, not by dedicating a church to her, or keeping an annual feast in honour of her, or preserving a piece of her broken box for a relic; but by mentioning her faith and piety in the preaching of the gospel, for example to others. Heb. vi. 12. 14Then one of the twelve, called 'Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief
priests, 15 And said unto them, *What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
h Mark xiv. 10; Luke xxii. 3; John xiii. 2, 30. i Chap. x. 4. k Zech. xi. 12; chap. xxvii. 3. Immediately after an instance of the greatest kindness done to Christ, follows an instance of the greatest unkindness; such mixture is there of good and bad among the followers of Christ-he hath some faithful friends, and some false and feigned ones. What could be more base than this agreement which Judas here made with the chief priests to betray Christ to them?
Judas went to the high priest, and those who had been high priests—the ruling men of the sanhedrim. Luke (xxii. +) adds, that he went also to the "captains." It was necessary, on account of the great wealth deposited there, and its great sacredness, to guard the temple by night. Accord
ingly, men were stationed around it, whose leaders or commanders were called captains. Acts iv. 1. These men were commonly of the tribe of the Levites, were closely connected with the priests, were men of influence, and Judas went to them, therefore, as well as to the priests, to offer himself as a traitor. Probably his object was, to get as much money as possible, and he may therefore have attempted to make a bargain with several of them apart from each other. And they covenanted with him, ver. 15. Made a bargain with him; agreed to give him. Mark says, they "promised" to give him money. They did not pay it to him then, lest he should deceive them. When the deed was done they paid him. See Matt. xxvii. 3; Acts i. 18. ¶ Thirty pieces of silver. This was the price of a slave. See Exod. xxi. 32. And it is not unlikely that this sum was fixed on by them to show their contempt of Jesus, and that they regarded him as of little value. There is no doubt, also, that they understood that such was the anxiety of Judas to obtain money, that he would betray his Lord for any sum.
17 'Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20 "Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? 23 And he answered and said, "He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but Pwoe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
Exod. xii. 6, 18; Mark xiv. 12; Luke xxii. 7. m Mark xiv. 17-21; Luke xxii. 14; John xiii. 21. n Psal. xli. 9; Luke xxii. 21; John xiii. 18. o Psal. xxii.; Isa. liii.; Dan. ix. 26; Mark ix. 12; Luke xxiv. 25, 26, 46; Acts xvii. 2, 3, xxvi. 22, 23; 1 Cor. xv. 3. P John xvii. 12.
We have here an account of Christ's keeping the passover. mitted to all the ordinances of it, and to this among the rest.
Being made under the law, he sub
The disciples took it for granted that their Master would eat the passover, though he was at this time persecuted by the chief priests, and his life sought. Those do not follow Christ's example who make it an excuse for their not attending on the Lord's supper, our gospel passover, that they have many troubles and many enemies-are full of care and fear; for, if so, they have the more need of that ordinance, to help to silence their fears, and comfort them under their troubles-to help them in forgiving their enemies, and casting all their cares on God.
They knew very well that there must be preparation made for it, and that it was their business, as his servants, to make preparation-Where wilt thou that we prepare? Before solemn ordinances there must be solemn preparation. They knew that he had no house of his own wherein to eat the passover. In this, as in other things, for our sakes he became poor. Among all Zion's palaces there was none for Zion's King; but his kingdom was not of this world. They would not pitch upon a place without direction from him; and from him they had direction. He sent them to such a man (ver. 18), who probably was a friend and follower of his, and to his house he invited himself and his disciples.-"Tell him, My time is at hand." He means the time of his death, elsewhere called "his hour" (John viii. 20, xiii. 1); the time, the hour, fixed in the counsel of God, which his heart was upon, and which he had so often spoken of. He knew when it was at hand, and was busy, accordingly. We know not our time (Eccles. ix. 12), and therefore must never be off our watch; our time is always ready (John vii. 6), and therefore we must be always ready. Because his time was at hand, he would keep the passover. The consideration of the near approach of death should quicken us to a diligent improvement of all our opportunities for our souls. Is our time at hand, and an eternity just before us? Let us then keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity.
The preparation was made by the disciples (ver. 19),-They did as Jesus had appointed. Those who would have Christ's presence with them in the gospel passover, must strictly observe his instruc
tions, and do as he directs,-They made ready the passover. They got the lamb killed in the
We have here Christ's discourse with his disciples at the passover-supper, ver. 21, &c. The usual subject of discourse at that ordinance, was the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt (Exod. xii. 26, 27); but the great Passover is now ready to be offered, and the discourse of that swallows up all talk of the other. Christ gives his disciples notice of the treachery that should be among them (ver. 21),— One of you shall betray me. Christ knew it. We know not what troubles will befall us, nor whence they will arise; but Christ knew all his,-which, as it proves his omniscience, so it magnifies his love, that he knew all things that should lefall him, and yet did not draw back. He foresaw the treachery and baseness of a disciple of his own, and yet went on; took care of those that were given him, though he know there was a Judas among them; would pay the price of our redemption, though he foresaw some would deny the Lord that bought them; and shed his blood, though he knew it would be trodden under foot as an unholy thing.-When there was occasion, he let those about him know it. He had often told them that the Son of man should be betrayed; now he tells them that one of them should do it, that when they saw it, they might not only be the less surprised, but have their faith in him confirmed. John xiii. 19, xiv. 29.
They were exceeding sorrowful. It troubled them much to hear that their Master should be betrayed; it troubled them more to hear that one of them should do it; it troubled them most of all, that they were left in uncertainty which of them it was, and each of them was afraid for himself. Those that know the strength and subtlety of the tempter, and their own weakness and folly, cannot but be in pain for themselves, when they hear that the love of many will wax cold.
They began every one of them to say, Lord, is it I? They were not apt to suspect Judas. Though he was a thief, yet it seems he had carried it so plausibly, that those who were intimate with him were not jealous of him: none of them so much as looked upon him, much less said, "Lord, is it Judas?" It is possible for a hypocrite to go through the world, not only undiscovered, but unsuspected. They were apt to suspect themselves,-Lord, is it 1? Though they were not conscious to themselves of any inclination that way, yet they feared the worst, and asked Him who knows us better than we know ourselves, Lord, is it I?
Judas also asked, Is it I? to avoid coming under the suspicion of guilt by his silence knew very well that it was he, and yet wished to appear a stranger to such a plot. Many whose consciences condemn them, are very industrious to justify themselves before men, and put a good face on it, with. Lord, is it I? Christ soon answered this question,-Thou hast said. That is, "It is as thou hast said." This is not spoken out so plainly as Nathan's, "Thou art the man ;" but it was enough to convict him, and, if his heart had not been wretchedly hardened, to have confounded his plot, when he saw it discovered to his Master, and discovered by him. They who are contriving to betray Christ, will, some time or other, betray themselves, and their own tongues will fall upon
26 And as they were eating, 'Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For "this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, "until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. 30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
9 Mark xiv. 22; Luke xxii. 19. r1 Cor. xi. 23-25. † Many Greek copies have, gave thanks. See Mark vi. 41. s1 Cor. x. 16. t Mark xiv. 23. u See Exod. xxiv. 8; Lev. xvii. 11. * Jer. xxxi. 31. y Chap. xx. 28; Rom. v. 15; Heb. ix. 22. z Mark xiv. 25; Luke xxii. 18 a Acts x. 41. b Mark xiv. 26. Or, psalm.
We have here the institution of the great gospel ordinance of the Lord's supper. It was instituted at the latter end of the passover-supper, before the table was drawn, because, as a feast upon