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courted it, and submitted to it, and thereby not only took out the sting of it, and made it tolerable, but put virtue into it, and made it profitable (for by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better); nay, and put sweetness into it, and made it comfortable. Blessed Paul was sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing. If we be exceeding sorrowful, it is but unto death; that will be the period of all our sorrows, if Christ be ours; when the eyes are closed, all tears are wiped away from them.
He ordered his disciples to keep with him, not because he needed their help, but because he would have them to look upon him and receive instruction. He said to them, Tarry ye here and watch. He had said to the other disciples nothing but, Sit ye here (ver. 32); but these three be bids to tarry and watch, as expecting more from them than from the rest.
He addressed himself to God by prayer (ver. 35)—He fell on the ground, and prayed. It was but a little before this, that in prayer he lifted up his eyes (John xvii. 1); but here, being in an agony, he fell upon his face, accommodating himself to his present humiliation, and teaching us thus to abase ourselves before God; it becomes us to be low, when we come into the presence of the Most High. As man, he deprecated his sufferings, that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him (ver. 35),—This short but sharp affliction, that which I am now this hour to enter upon, let man's salvation be, if possible, accomplished without it. We have his very words (ver. 36), Abba, Father. The Syriac word is here retained, which Christ used, and which signifies Father, to intimate what an emphasis our Lord Jesus, in his sorrows, laid upon it, and would have us to lay. It is with an eye to this, that St Paul retains this word, putting it into the mouths of all that have the Spirit of adoption; they are taught to cry, “Abba, Father.” Rom. viii. 15; Gal. iv. 6. Father, all things are possible to thee. Even that which we cannot expect to be done for us, we ought yet to believe that God is able to do; and, when we submit to his will, and refer ourselves to his wisdom and mercy, it must be with a believing acknowledgment of his power, that all things are possible to him. As Mediator, Christ acquiesced in the will of God concerning them,--Nerer. theless, not what I will, but what thou wilt. I know the matter is settled, and cannot be altered, I must suffer and die, and I bid it welcome. He roused his disciples, who had fallen asleep while he was at prayer. Vers. 37, 38.
He comes to look after them, since they did not look after him ; and he finds them asleep—so little affected were they with his sorrows, his complaints, and prayers. This carelessness of theirs was a presage of their farther offence in deserting him; and it was an aggravation of it, that he had so lately commended them for continuing with him in his temptations, though they had not been without their faults. Was he so willing to make the best of them, and were they so indifferent in approving themselves to him? They had lately promised not to be offended in him ; what! and yet mind hiin so little ? He particularly upbraided Peter with his drowsiness,—Simon, sleepest thou ? What ! thou, my son? Thou that didst so positively promise thou wouldst not deny me, dost thou slight me thus ? From thee I expected better things. Couldst thou not watch one hour? He did not require him to watch all night with him, only for one hour. It aggravates our faintness and short continuance in Christ's service, that he doth not over-task us, nor weary us with it. Isa. xliii. 23. He puts upon us no other burden than to hold fast till he comes (Rev. ii. 24, 25); and, behold, he comes quickly. Rev. iii. 11.
As those whom Christ loves he rebukes when they do amiss, so those whom he rebukes le counsels and comforts. It was a very wise and faithful word of advice which Christ here gave to his disciples,— Watch and
ye enter into temptation. Ver. 38. It was bad to sleep when Christ was in his agony, but they were entering into farther temptation, and if they did not stir up themselves, and fetch in grace and strength from God by prayer, they would do worse; and so they did, when they all forsook him and fed. It was a very kind and tender excuse that Christ made for them,—The spirit truly is willing ; I know it is, it is ready, it is forward ; you would willingly keep awake, but you cannot. This may be taken as a reason for that exhortation, Watch and pray; because, though the spirit is willing (i grant it is you have sincerely resolved never to be offended in me), yet the flesh is weak, and if you do not watch and pray, and use the means of perse: verance, you may be overcome, notwithstanding. The consideration of the weakness and infirmity of our flesh should engage and quicken us to prayer and watchfulness, when we are entering into temptation.
Christ repeated his address to his Father (ver. 39),—He went again, and prayed, saying the same word, or matter, or business ; he spoke to the same purport, and again the third time. This teaches us, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke xviii. 1. Though the answers to our prayers do not come quickly, yet we must renew our requests, and continue instant in prayer; for the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, and not lie
. Hab. ii. 3. Paul, when he was buffeted by a messenger of Satan, besought the Lord thrice, as Christ did here, before
he obtained an answer of peace. 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. A little before this, when Christ, in the trouble of his soul, prayed, " Father, glorify thy name," he had an immediate answer by a voice from heaven, “I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it yet again ;” but now he must come a second and a third time, for the visits of God's grace, in answer to prayer, come sooner or later, according to the pleasure of his will, that we may be kept depending.
He repeated also his visits to his disciples. Thus he gave a specimen of his continued care for his Church on earth, even when it is half asleep, and not duly concerned for itself, while he ever lives, making intercession with his Father in heaven. See how, as became a Mediator, he passes and repasses between both. He came the second time to his disciples, and found them asleep again. Ver. 40. See how the infirmities of Christ's disciples return upon them, notwithstanding their resistance; and what clogs those bodies of ours are to our souls, which should make us long for that blessed state in which they shall be no more our encumbrance. This second time he spoke to them as before, but they wist not what to answer him ; they were ashamed of their drowsiness, and had nothing to say in excuse for it. Or, they were so overpowered with it, that, like men between sleeping and waking, they knew not where they were, or what they said. But, the third time, they were bid to sleep if they would (ver. 41)—Sleep on now, and take your rest. I have no more occasion for your watching, you may sleep if you will, for me. It is enough (we had not that word in Matthew)—you have had warning enough to keep awake, and would not take it; and now you shall see what little reason you have to be secure. I discharge you from any farther attendance—so some understand it. Now the hour is come in which I knew you would all forsake me—even take your course ; as he said to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly.” The Son of man is now betrayed into the hands of sinners, the chief priests and elders ; those worst of sinners, because they made a profession of sanctity. Come, rise up, do not lie dozing there. and meet the enemy; for, lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand, and I must not now think of making an escape. When we see trouble at the door, we are concerned to stir up ourselves to get ready for it. 43 'And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the
twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. 45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. 46 | And they laid their hands on him, and took him. 47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 ’And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. 50 “And they all forsook him, and fled. 51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him : 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
Let us go
a Psal. xxii, 6; Isa. liii, 7;
y Matt. xxvi. 47; Luke xxii. 47; John xviii. 3. z Matt. xxvi, 55; Luke xxii. 52.
Luke xxii. 37, xxiv. 44. b Psal. lxxxviii. 8 ; Ver. 27.
We have here the seizing of our Lord Jesus by the officers of the chief priests. This was what his enemies had long aimed at, they had often sent to take him; but he had escaped out of their hands, because his hour was not come, nor could they now have taken him, had he not freely surrendered himself. He began first to suffer in his soul, but afterward suffered in his body, that he might satisfy for sin, which begins in the heart, but afterward makes the members of the body instruments of unrighteousness.
A band of rude miscreants were employed to take our Lord Jesus, and make him a prisoner-a great multitude with swords and staves. There is no wickedness so black, no villany so horrid, but there may be found among the children of men fit tools to be made use of, that will not scruple to be employed ; so miserably depraved and vitiated is mankind. At the head of this rabble is Judas, one of the twelve, one of those that had been many years intimately conversant with our Lord Jesus, had prophesied in his name, and in his name cast out devils, and yet betrayed him. It is no new thing for a very fair, plausible profession to end in a shameful and fatal apostasy. How art thou fallen, O Lucifer !
Men of no less figure than the cnref priests and the scribes and the elders, sent them, and set them on work ; who pretended to expect the Messiah, and to be ready to welcome bim; and ret, when he is come, and has given undeniable proofs that it is he that should come- -because he doth not make court to them, nor countenance and support their pomp and grandeur-because he appears not as a temporal prince, but sets up a spiritual kingdom, and preaches repentance, reformation. and holy life, and directs men's thoughts and affections, and aims, to another world—they set themselves against him, and, without giving the credentials he produces an impartial examination, resolve to run him down.
Judas betrayed him with a kiss ; abusing the freedom Christ used to allow his disciples of kissing his cheek at their return, when they had been any time absent. He called him, Master, Master, and kissed him ; he said, Rabbi, Rabbi, as if he had been now more respectful to him than ever. He bid them take him, and lead him away safely. Some think that he spoke this ironically, knowing that they could not secure him unless he pleased ; that this Samson could break their bonds asunder as threads of tow, and make his escape, and then he should get the money, and Christ the honour
, and no harm done ; and I should think so too, but that Satan was entered into him, so that the worst and most malicious intention of this action is not too black to be supposed. Nay, he had often heard his Master say, that, being betrayed, he should be crucified, and had no reason to think otherwise.
They arrested him, and made him their prisoner (ver. 46),—They laid their hands on him, rude and violent hands, and took him into custody; triumphing, it is likely, that they had done that which had been often before attempted in vain.
Peter laid about him in defence of his Master, and wounded one of the assailanst; being for the present mindful of his promise, to venture his life with his Master. He w one of them that stood by, of them that were with him (so the word signifies), of those three disciples that were with him in the garden; he drew a sword, and aimed, it is likely, to cut off the head, but missed his blow, and only cut off the ear, of a servant of the high priest. Ver. 47. It is easier to fight for Christ, than to die for him ; but Christ's good soldiers overcome, not by taking away other people's lives, but by laying down their own. Rev. xii. 11. Christ
argues with them that had seized him, and shows them the absurdity of their proceedings against him.
That they came out against him as against a thief, whereas he was innocent of any crime;
he taught daily in the temple, and if he had any wicked design, there it would some time or other have been discovered ; nay, these officers of the chief priests, being retainers to the temple,
be supposed to have heard his sermons there (I was with you in the temple); and had be not taught them excellent doctrine, even his enemies themselves being judges? Were not all the words of his mouth in righteousness ? Was there any thing forward or perverse in them? Prov. vii. 8. By his fruits he was known to be a good tree; why then did they come out against him as a thief? That they came to take him thus privately, whereas he was neither ashamed nor afraid to appear publicly in the temple. He was none of those evil-doers that hate the light, neither come to the light. John iii. 20. If their masters had any thing to say to him, they might meet him any day in the temple, where he was ready to answer all challenges, all charges; and there they might do as they pleased with him, for the priests had the custody of the temple, and the command of the guards about it; but to come upon him thus at midnight, and in the place of his retirement, was base and cowardly. This was to do as David's enemy, that sat in the lurking-places of the villages
, to murder the innocent. Psal. x. 8. But this was not all. They came with swords and stares, as if he had been in arms against the government, and must have its officers raised to reduce him. There was no occasion for those weapons; but they made this ado, in order to secure themselves from the rage of some; they came armed, because they feared the people ; but thus were they in great fear when no fear was. Psal. liii. 5. It was also in order to expose him to the rage of others
. By coming with swords and staves to take him, they represented him to the people (who are apt to take impressions this way) as a dangerous, turbulent man, and so endeavoured to incense them against him, and make them cry out, Crucify him, crucify him,-having no other way to gain their point.
He reconciled himself to all this injurious, ignominious treatment, by referring himself to the Old Testament predictions of the Messiaħ. I am hardly used, but I submit
, for the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Ver. 49. See here what a regard Christ had to the Scriptures ; he would bear any thing
rather than that the least jot or tittle of the Word of God should fall to the ground; and as he had • an eye to them in his sufferings, so he has in his glory; for what is Christ doing in the government
of the world, but fulfilling the Scriptures? See what use we are to make of the Old Testament; we
must search for Christ, the true treasure hid in that field: as the history of the New Testament expounds the prophecies of the Old, so the prophecies of the Old Testament illustrate the history of the New.
All Christ's disciples, hereupon, deserted him (ver. 50),— They all forsook him and fled. They were very confident that they should adhere to bim; but even good men know not what they will do, till they are tried. If it was such a comfort to him as he had lately intimated, that they had hitherto continued with him in his lesser trials (Luke xxii. 28), we may well imagine what a grief it was to him, that they deserted him now in the greatest, when they might have done him some service—when he was abused, to protect him, and when accused, to witness for him. Let not those that suffer for Christ, think it strange if they be thus deserted, and if all the herd shun the wounded deer; they are not better than their Master, nor can expect to be better used either by their enemies or by their friends. When St Paul was in peril, none stood by him, but all men forsook him. 2 Tim. iv. 16.
The noise disturbed the neighbourhood, and some of the neighbours were brought into danger by the riot. Vers. 51, 52. This passage of story we have not in any other of the evangelists. Here is an account of a certain young man, who, as it should seem, was no disciple of Christ, nor, as some have imagined, a servant of the house wherein Christ had eaten the passover, who followed him, to see what would become of him (as the sons of the prophets, when they understood that Elijah was to be taken up, went to view afar off. 2 Kings ii. 7), but some young man that lived near the garden, perhaps in the house to which the garden belonged. Such a multitude, so armed, and coming with so much fury, and in the dead of the night, and in a quiet village, could not but produce a great stir; this alarmed our young man, who, perhaps, thought there was some tumult or rising in the city, some uproar among the people, and had the curiosity to go and see what the matter was, and was in such haste to inform himself, that he could not stay to dress himself, but threw a sheet about him, and ran among the thickest of them with this question, What is to do here? Being told, he had a mind to see the issue, having, no doubt, heard much of the fame of this Jesus ; and, therefore, when all his disciples had quitted him, he continued to follow him, desirous to hear what he would say, and see what he would do. Some think that his having no other garment than this linen cloth upon his naked body, intimates that he was one of those Jews who made a greater profession of piety than their neighbours, in token of which, among other instances of austerity and mortification of the body, they used no clothes but one linen garment.
When he was in danger of being made a sharer in Christ's sufferings, he soon went away. His own disciples had run away from him; but this young man, having no concern for him, thought he might securely attend him, especially being so far from being armed, that he was not so much as clothed; but the young men, the Roman soldiers, who were called to assist, laid hold of him. Perhaps they were now vexed at themselves, that they had suffered the disciples to run away, and they being got out of their reach, they resolved to seize the first they could lay their hands on; though this young man was perhaps one of the strictest sect of the Jewish Church, yet the Roman soldiers made no conscience of abusing him upon this occasion. Finding himself in danger, he left the linen cloth by which they had caught hold of him. This passage is recorded to show what a barbarous crew this was that was sent to seize Christ, and what a narrow escape the disciples had of falling into their hands, out of which nothing could have kept them but their Master's care of them— “ If seek me, let these
go their way.” John xviii. 8. It also intimates that there is no hold of those who are led by curiosity only, and not by faith and conscience, to follow Christ. 53 °And they led Jesus away to the high priest : and with him were as
sembled all the chief priests and elders and the scribes. 54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest : and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. 55 . And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 56 For many bear false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. 57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, 58 We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. 59 But neither so did their witness agree together. 60 ' And the high priest stood up in the midst,
c Matt. xxvi. 57; Luke xxii, 54; John xviii. 13.
d Matt. xxvi. 59.
e Chap. xv. 29; John ii. 19. Matt, xxvi. 62.
& Isa. liii. 7.
h Matt. xxvi. 63.
and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing ? what is it which these witness against thee? 61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing . "Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed ? 62 And Jesus said, I am: 'and re shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, ani saith, What need we any further witnesses ? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face. and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy : and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
i Matt. xxiv, 30, xxvi. 64; Luke xxii. 69. We have here Christ's arraignment, trial, conviction, and condemnation, in the ecclesiastical court, before the great sanhedrim, of which the high priest was president, or judge of the court the same Caiaphas that had lately adjudged it expedient that Christ should be put to death, guilty or not guilty (John xi. 50), and who, therefore, might justly be excepted as partial.
Christ is hurried away to his house, his palace it is called,—such state did he live in. And there, though in the dead of night, all the chief priests, and elders, and scribes, that were in the secret, were assembled, ready to receive the prey-so sure were they of it. Peter followed at a distance, such a degree of cowardice was his late courage dwindled into
. Ver. 54. But when he came to the high priest's palace, he sneakingly went, and sat with the servant, that he might not be suspected to belong to Christ
. The high priest's fireside was no proper place, nor his servants proper company, for Peter, but it was his entrance into a temptation.
Great diligence was used to procure, for love or money, false witnesses against Christ. The had seized bim as a malefactor, and now they had him they had no indictment to prefer against him no crime to lay to his charge—but they sought for witnesses against him; perplexed some with ensnaring questions, offered bribes to others, if they would accuse him, and endeavoured to frighter others, if they would not. Vers. 55, 56. The chief priests and elders were by the law intrusted with the prosecuting and punishing of false witnesses (Deut. xix. 16, 17); yet those were now ring leaders in a crime that tends to the overthrow of all justice. It is time to cry, “ Help, Lord,” wher the physicians of a land are its troublers, and those that should be the conservators of peace and equity, are the corrupters of both.
He was at length charged with words spoken some years ago, which, as they were represented seemed to threaten the temple, which they had made no better than an idol of (vers. 57, 58); bu the witnesses to this matter did not agree (ver. 59), for one swore that he said, I am able to destros the temple of God, and to build it in three days (so it is in Matthew); the other swore that he said, I will destroy this temple, that is made with hands, and within three days I will build, not it, but another made without hands; now these two differ much from each other; their testimony was not sufficient, nor equal to the charge of a capital crime; they did not accuse him of that upea which a sentence of death might be founded, no, not by the utmost stretch of their law.
Christ was urged to be his own accuser (ver. 60),— The high priest stood up in a heat, and said Answerest thou nothing ? This he said under pretence of justice and fair dealing, but really with a design to ensnare him, that they might accuse him. Luke xi. 53, 54 ; XX. 20. We imagine with what an air of haughtiness and disdain this proud high priest brought our Lord Jesus to this question,-Come you, the prisoner at the bar, you hear what is sworn against you; what have you now to say for yourself ? Pleased to think that he seemed silent, who had so often silenced those that picked quarrels with him. Still Christ answered nothing, that he might set us an example,-1. Of patience under calumnies and false accusations ; when we are reviled
, let us not revile again. 1 Pet. ii. 23. And, 2. Of prudence, when a man shall be made an offender for a word (Isa. xxix. 31), and our defence made our offence; it is an evil time indeed when the pradent shall keep silence (lest they make bad worse), and commit their cause to Him that judgechi righteously. But,
When the high priest asked whether he was the Christ, he confessed, and denied not that he rius Vers. 61, 62. He asked, Art thou the Son of the Blessed ? that is, the Son of God; for, as Dr Hammond observes, the Jews, when they named God, generally added, blessed for ever; and thence “ The Blessed " is the title of God, à peculiar title, and applied to Christ. Rom. ix
. 5. And for the proof of his being the Son of God, he binds them over to his second coming—Ye shall