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will try, contrary to the law of equity, to make him accuse himself. The high priest puts the question, Tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God? That is, Whether thou pretend to be so? For they will by no means admit it into consideration, whether he be really so or no. Though the Messiah was to be the Consolation of Israel, and glorious things were spoken concerning him in the Old Testament, yet so strangely besotted were they with a jealousy of any thing that threatened their exorbitant power and grandeur, that they would never enter into the examination of the matter, whether Jesus was the Messiah or no; never once put the case, suppose he should be so; they only wished him to confess that he called himself so, that they might on that indict him as a deceiver.
Thou hast said (ver. 64); that is, "It is as thou hast said;" for in Mark it is, I am. he seldom professed himself expressly to be the Christ, the Son of God. The tenor of his doctrine bespoke it, and his miracles proved it. But now he would not omit to make a confession of it, because that would have looked like a disowning of that truth which he came into the world to bear witness to; it would have looked like declining his sufferings, when he knew the acknowledgment of this would give his enemies all the advantage they desired against him. He thus confessed himself, for example and encouragement to his followers, when they are called to it, to confess him before men, whatever hazards they run by it.
He refers himself, for the proof of this, to his second coming, and indeed to his whole estate of exaltation. It is probable that they looked upon him with a scornful disdainful smile, when he said, I am; and to that this nevertheless (v. 64.) refers. "Though now you see me in this low and abject state, and think it a ridiculous thing for me to call myself the Messiah, nevertheless the day is coming when I shall appear otherwise." Hereafter-shortly; for his exaltation began in a few days; now shortly his kingdom began to be set up; and hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, to judge the world; of which his coming shortly to judge and destroy the Jewish nation would be a type and earnest.—The terrors of the judgment-day will be a sensible conviction to the most obstinate infidelity, not in order to conversion (that will be then too late), but in order to an eternal confusion.
The high priest rent his clothes (ver. 65), according to the custom of the Jews, when they heard or saw any thing done or said, which they looked upon to be a reproach to God, as Isa. xxxvi. 22, xxxvii. 1; Acts xiv. 14. He hath spoken blasphemy. That is, he hath spoken reproachfully of the living God; that is the notion we have of blasphemy, because we by sin had reproached the Lord, therefore Christ, when he was made sin for us, was condemned as a blasphemer for the truth he told them.
They answered and said, He is guilty of death; by the law he deserves to die. Though they had not power now to put any man to death, yet by such a judgment as this they made a man an outlaw among his people, and so exposed him to the fury either of a popular tumult, as Stephen was, or to be clamoured against before the governor, as Christ was. Thus was the Lord of life condemned to die, that through him there may be no condemnation to us. The abuses and indignities done to him after sentence passed (vers. 67, 68), then, when he was found guilty, they spat in his face. Because they had not power to put him to death, and could not be sure that they should prevail with the governor to be their executioner, they would do him all the mischief they could, now that they had him in their hands. Condemned prisoners are taken under the special protection of the law, which they are to make satisfaction to, and by all civilized nations have been treated with tenderness; sufficient is this punishment. But when they had passed sentence upon our Lord Jesus, he was treated as if hell had broken loose upon him—as if he were not only worthy of death, but as if that were too good for him, and he were unworthy of the compassion shown to the worst malefactors. Thus he was made a curse for us. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled (Isa. 1. 6), "He hid not his face from shame and spitting." Job complained of this indignity done to him, and herein was a type of Christ (Job xxx. 10), "They spare not to spit in my face." It is an expression of the greatest contempt and indignation possible; looking upon him as more despicable than the very ground they spit upon. They buffeted him, and smote him with the palms of their hands. This added pain to the shame. Now the Scripture was fulfilled (Isa. 1. 6), “I gave my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair;" and (Lam. iii. 30), “He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him; he is filled with reproach," and yet "keepeth silence" (ver. 28); and (Mic. v. 1), "They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek."
Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee? They made sport of him, as the Philistines did with Samson. It is grievous to those that are in misery, for people to make merry with them and their misery. Here was an instance of the greatest depravity and degeneracy of the human nature that could be, to show that there was need of a religion that should recover men to humanity. They made sport with his prophetical office. They had heard him called a prophet;
this they upbraideth him with, and pretended to make a trial of, as if the Divine omniscience must stoop to a piece of children's play.
Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy 'speech bewrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, 'Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
19 Mark xiv. 66: Luke xxii. 55; John xviii. 16, 17, 25. r Luke xxii. 59. s Mark xiv. 71. t Ver. 34; Mark xiv. 30; Luke xxii. 61, 62; John xiii. 33.
We have here the story of Peter's denying his Master, and it comes in as a part of Christ's sufferings. Our Lord Jesus was now in the high priest's hall, not to be tried, but baited rather; and then it would have been some comfort to him to see his friends near him. But we do not find any friend he had about the court, save Peter only, and it would have been better if he had been at a distance. Observe how he fell, and how he got up again by repentance.
The immediate occasion of Peter's sin was, that he sat without in the palace, among the servants of the high priest.-Bad company is to many an occasion of sin; and those who needlessly thrust themselves into it, go upon the devil's ground, venture into his crowds, and may expect either to be tempted and ensnared, as Peter was, or to be ridiculed and abused, as his Master was. He was challenged as a retainer of Jesus of Galilee; first one maid, and then another, and then the rest of the servants, charged it upon him. Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee, ver. 69. And again, This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth, ver. 71. And again (ver. 73), Thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee to be a Galilean (whose dialect and pronunciation differed from that of the other Jews). Thus he denied the charge, was ashamed and afraid to own himself a disciple, and would have all about him to believe that he had no knowledge of Christ, nor any kindness or concern for him. I know not what thou sayest. This was a shuffling answer. He pretended that he did not understand the charge, that he knew not whom she meant by Jesus of Galilee, or what she meant by being with him; so making strange of that which his heart was now as full of as it could be. Upon the next attack, he said plainly, I know not the man, and backed it with an oath, ver. 72. Upon the third assault, he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man, ver. 74. This was worst of all. The way of sin is down-hill. He cursed and swore, to gain credit for what he said, that they might not any more call it in question. He did not only say it, but swear it; and yet what he said was false. This is written for warning to us, that we sin not after the similitude of Peter's transgression; that we never, either directly or indirectly, deny Christ the Lord that bought us, by rejecting his offers, resisting his Spirit, dissembling our knowledge of him, and being ashamed of him and his words, or afraid of suffering for him and with his suffering people.
The cock crew (ver. 74); a common contingency; but, Christ having mentioned the crowing of the cock in the warning he gave him, that made it a means of bringing him to himself. The word of Christ can put a significancy upon whatever sign he shall please to choose, and by virtue of that word he can make it very beneficial to the souls of his people. The crowing of a cock is to Peter a voice calling to repentance.
He remembered the words of the Lord. This was it that brought him to himself, and melted him into tears of godly sorrow-a sense of his ingratitude to Christ, and the slight regard he had given to the gracious warning Christ had given him. He went out, and wept bitterly. His sorrow was secret, He went out, out of the high priest's hall, vexed at himself that ever he came into it, now that he found what a snare he was in, and got out of it as fast as he could. His sorrow was serious,-He wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight, but great and deep, like that for an only son. This deep sorrow is requisite, not to satisfy Divine justice (a sea of tears would not do that), but to evidence that there is a real change of mind, which is the essence of repentance, to
make the pardon the more welcome, and sin for the future the more loathsome. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denying Christ, never denied him again, but confessed him often and openly, and in the face of danger; so far from ever saying, I know not the man, that he made all the house of Israel know assuredly that this same Jesus was Lord and Christ. True repentance for any sin will be best evidenced by our abounding in the contrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our weeping, not only bitterly, but sincerely.
1 Christ is delivered bound to Pilate. 3 Judas hangeth himself. 19 Pilate, admonished of his wife, 24 washeth his hands: 26 and looseth Barabbas. 29 Christ is crowned with thorns, 34 crucified, 40 reviled, 50 dieth, and is buried. 66 His sepulchre is sealed, and watched.
WHEN the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the
people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; 2. And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, "The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
a Psal. ii. 2; Mark xv. 1; Luke xxii. 66, xxiii. 1; John xviii. 28. d 2 Sam. xvii. 23; Acts i. 18. e Acts i. 19.: f Zech. xi. 12, 13.
When the morning was come, ver. 1.
b Chap. xx. 19; Acts iii. 13. e Chap. xxvi. 14, 15. Or, whom they bought of the children of Israel.
This was not long after he had been condemned by the sanhedrim. Peter's last denial was probably not far from three o'clock, or near the break of day. As soon as it was light, they consulted together for the purpose of taking his life. The sun rose at that season of the year, in Judea, not far from five o'clock; and the time when they assembled was not long after Peter's denial. The chief priests-took counsel. They had agreed that he deserved to die, on a charge of blasphemy. Yet they did not dare to put him to death by stoning, as they did afterwards Stephen (Acts vii.), and as the law commanded in case of blasphemy, for they feared the people. They therefore consulted, or took counsel together, to determine on what pretence they could deliver him to the Roman governor, or to fix some charge of a civil nature, by which Pilate might be induced to condemn him. The charge which they fixed on was not that on which they had tried him, and on which they had determined he ought to die (chap. xxvi. 66); but that of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar. Luke xxiii. 3. On this accusation, if made out, they supposed Pilate could be induced to condemn Jesus. On a charge of blasphemy they knew he could not, as that was not an offence against the Roman laws, and over which, therefore, Pilate claimed no jurisdiction.
And when they had bound him, ver. 2. He was bound when they took him in the garden. John xviii. 12. Probably when he was tried before the sanhedrim, in the palace of Caiaphas, he had been loosed from his bonds-being there surrounded by multitudes, and supposed to be safe. As they were about to lead him to another part of the city now, they again bound him. The binding consisted, probably, in nothing more than tying his hands. Pontius Pilate, the governor. The governor appointed by the Romans over Judea. The governor commonly resided at Cesarea; but he came up to Jerusalem usually at the great feasts, when most of the Jews were assembled, to administer justice, and to suppress tumults if any should arise. The title which Pilate received was
that of governor or procurator. The duties of the office were chiefly to collect the revenues due to the Roman emperor, and in certain cases to administer justice. Pilate was appointed governor of Judea by Tiberius, then emperor of Rome. John says (xviii. 28) that they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment; that is, to the part of the pretorium or governor's palace where justice was administered. The Jews did not, however, enter in themselves, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover. In Numbers xix. 22, it is said that whosoever touched an unclean thing should be unclean. For this reason they would not enter into the house of a heathen, lest they should contract some defilement that would render them unfit to keep the passover.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, ver. 3. Judas, it is probable, expected that either Christ would have made his escape out of their hands, or would so have pleaded his own cause at their bar as to have come off, and then Christ would have had the honour, the Jews the shame, and he the money, and no harm done. This he had no reason to expect, because he had so often heard his Master say that he must be crucified; yet it is probable that he did expect it, and when the event did not answer his vain fancy, then he fell into this horror. He repented himself; that is, he was filled with grief, anguish, and indignation at himself, when reflecting upon what he had done. Now his conscience spoke to him: "What have I done! What a fool, what a wretch am I, to sell my Master, and all my comfort and happiness in him! All these abuses and indignities done him are chargeable upon me; it is owing to me that he is bound and condemned, spit upon and buffeted!" Now he curses the bag he carried, the money he coveted, the priests he dealt with, and the day that he was born. The remembrance of his Master's goodness to him, which he had so basely requited, the mercy he had spurned at, and the fair warnings he had slighted, steeled his convictions, and made them the more piercing. Now he found his Master's words true, "It were better for that man that he had never been born."
He brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests, when they were all together publicly. Now the money burned in his conscience, and he was as sick of it as ever he had been fond of it. If he had repented, and brought the money back before he had betrayed Christ, he might have done it with comfort-then he had agreed while yet in the way; but now it was too late-now he cannot do it without horror, wishing ten thousand times he had never meddled with it. I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood, ver. 4. He does not lay the blame on any one else; does not say, "You have sinned, in hiring me to do it ;" but takes it all to himself— I have sinned, in doing it." Thus far Judas went toward his repentance, yet it was not to salvation. He confessed, but not to God-did not go to him, and say, "I have sinned, Father, against heaven." He confessed the betraying of innocent blood, but did not confess that wicked love of money, which was the root of this evil. There are those who betray Christ, and yet justify themselves in it, and so come short of Judas.
What is that to us? Was it nothing to them that they had thirsted after this blood, and hired Judas to betray it, and had now condemned it to be shed unjustly? Is this nothing to them? Does it give no check to the violence of their prosecution, no warning to take heed what they do to this just man? Thus do fools make a mock at sin, as if no harm were done, no hazard run, by the commission of the greatest wickedness. Thus light do many make of Christ crucified; what is it to them, that he suffered such things?
He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, ver. 5. The chief priests would not take the money, for fear of taking thereby the whole guilt to themselves, which they were willing that Judas should bear the load of. Judas would not keep it; it was too hot for him to hold; he therefore threw it down in the temple, that, whether they would or no, it might fall into the hands of the chief priests. He went and hanged himself. He withdrew into some solitary place, like the possessed man that was drawn by the devil into the wilderness. Luke viii. 29. Woe to him that is in despair, and is alone. If Judas had gone to Christ, or to some of the disciples, perhaps he might have had relief, bad as the case was; but, missing of it with the chief priests, he abandoned himself to despair. He became his own executioner, he hanged himself. Judas had a sight and sense of sin, but no apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, and so he pined away in his iniquity. His sin, we may suppose, was not in its own nature unpardonable. There were some of those saved that had been Christ's betrayers and murderers; but he concluded, as Cain, that his iniquity was greater than could be forgiven, and would rather throw himself on the devil's mercy than God's. And some have said, that Judas sinned more in despairing of the mercy of God, than in betraying his Master's blood. Now the terrors of the Almighty set themselves in array against him. All the curses written in God's book now came upon him, and drove him to this desperate shift, for the escaping of a hell within him, to leap into that before him. Miserable is the case when a man must go to hell for ease!
It is not lawful, &c. It was forbidden to take what was esteemed as an abomination, and to offer it to God. The price of blood-that is, of the life of a man-they justly considered as an improper and unlawful offering. To put them into the treasury. The treasury was composed of a number of small chests placed in different parts of the courts, to receive the voluntary offerings of the people, as well as the half shekel required of every Jew. The original word here rendered treasury, contains the notion of an offering to God. What was given there was considered as an offering made to him. The price of blood. The word blood here means the same as life. The price of blood, means the price by which the life of a man has been purchased. This was an acknowledgment that, in their view, Jesus was innocent. They had bought him, not condemned him justly. It is remarkable that they were so scrupulous now about so small a matter, comparatively, as putting this money in the treasury, when they had no remorse about crucifying him who had given full evidence that he was the Messiah. Men are often very scrupulous in small matters, who stick not at great crimes.
And they took counsel, &c. They consulted among themselves about the proper way to dispose of this money. And bought with them. In Acts i. 18, it is said of Judas that "he purchased a field with the reward of his iniquity." By the passage in the Acts, is meant no more than that he furnished the means, or was the occasion of purchasing the field. It is very frequent in the Scriptures, as well as in other writings, to represent a man as doing that which he is only the cause or occasion of another's doing. See Acts ii. 23; John xix. 1. The potter's field. Probably this was some field well known by that name, some rich bed of clay, which was used for the purpose of making earthen vessels. The price paid for a field so near Jerusalem may appear to be very small; but it is not improbable that it had been worked till the clay was exhausted, and was neither fit for that business nor for tillage, and was therefore considered as of little value. To bury strangers in. Jews, who came up from other parts of the world to attend the great feasts at Jerusalem, and died there. The high priests, who regarded the Gentiles as abominable, would not be inclined to provide a burial-place for them.
The field of blood. The field purchased by the price of blood. The name by which this field was called was Aceldama. Acts i. 19. It was just without the walls of Jerusalem, on the south of mount Zion. It is now used as a burying-place by the Armenian Christians in Jerusalem, who have a magnificent convent on mount Zion. To this day. That is, to the day when Matthew wrote this gospel, about thirty years after the field was purchased.
Spoken by Jeremy the prophet. The words quoted here are not to be found in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Words similar to these are recorded in Zech. xi. 12, 13, and from that place this quotation has been doubtless made. Much difficulty has been experienced in explaining this quotation. Anciently, according to the Jewish writers, Jeremiah, was reckoned the first of the prophets, and was placed first in the Book of the prophets; thus, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve minor prophets. Some have thought that Matthew, quoting this place, quoted the Book of the Prophets under the name of that which had the first place in the book, that is, Jeremiah; and though the words are those of Zechariah, yet they are quoted correctly as the words of the Book of the Prophets, the first of which was Jeremiah. Others have thought that there was a mistake made by ancient transcribers, writing the name Jeremiah instead of Zechariah; and it is observed that this might be done by the change of only a single letter. It was often the custom to abridge words in writing them. Thus, instead of writing the name of Jeremiah in full, it would be written in Greek Iriou; so Zechariah would be written Zriou. By the mere change of Z into I, therefore, the mistake might easily be made. Probably this is the correct explanation. Others have supposed that the words were spoken by Jeremiah, and that Zechariah recorded them, and that Matthew quoted them as they were the words of Jeremiah. The price of him that was valued. That is, the price of him on whom a value was set. The word rendered valued here, does not, as often in our language, mean to esteem, but to estimate; not to love, approve, or regard, but to fix a price on, to estimate the value of. This they considered to be the thirty pieces of silver, the common price of a slave.
11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him,
Mark xv. 2; Luke xxiii. 3; John xviii. 33. h John xviii. 37; 1 Tim. vi. 13.
i Chap. xxvi. 63; John xix, 9,