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some specious pretences, that they may hide the odiousness of their practices from the eye of the world, and may not be openly seen to fight against God. Thus the Pharisees here persecute our Saviour, not as the Messias, (though the miracle he wrought were a sufficient evidence that he was such,) but as one who would bring ruin upon their nation. If we let him alone, the Romans -will come and take away both our place and nation.
49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, saiil unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied, That Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
The foregoing verses acquainted us with the apprehension which the chief priests had of the necessity of taking away the life of our blessed Saviour: Lest the Romans should take away both their place and nation. Now here in these verses Caiaphas the high priest delivers his opinion for preventing of this danger; he tells the rest, that they ought not to boggle at the matter, but come to a positive and peremptory resolution to provide for the public safety, right or wrong ; and that it is a great folly to prefer one man's life, though never so innocent, before a nation's welfare: a most wicked and devilish speech. As a judge he regarded not what was lawful, but as a wicked politician he consulted what was expedient; he declares, that one man, though never so good and holy, though never so just and innocent, had better die, than a whole nation suffer; whereas it is in any case unlawful to do evil that good may com«. Learn hence, That although it be the duty of all persons to pray for, and endeavour after, the public welfare of a church and nation, whereof they are members; yet it is altogether unlawful to promote the greatest national good by wicked and unlawful means. Observe farther, How God overruled the tongue of Caiaphas be
yond his own intention, prophetically to foretell that great good, which by our Saviour's death should redound to the world, and that the fruit and benefit of his death should not only extend to the Jews, but to the Gentiles also; and that he should gather in one body, or church, all that truly believe in him, though far and wide dsupon the face of the earth. Hence 4. That the spirit of prophecy did fall sometimes upon very bad men, and God has been pleased to reveal some put of his mind to the worst of men. Thus Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar had in thai dreams a revelation from God, what things he intended to do. Learn, 2. That it B consistent with the holiness of God, sometimes to make use of the tongues of the worst of men, to publish and declare his will. Caiaphas here, though a vile and wicked man, was influenced by God to prophesy and speak as an oracle. Almighty God may, when he pleases, employ wicked men this way, without any prejudice to his holiness. This Caiaphai spake not of himself; but, bring highpriest that year, he prophesied that Jesvs should die for that nation.
53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly anions the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. 55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 50 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.
Observe here, 1. How baneful and destructive evil counsel is, especially out of the mouths of leading men, and how soon embraced and followed. Caiaphas no sooner propounds the putting of Christ to death, but from that day forward they lie in wait to take him. The high-priests had satisfied their consciences, and now they nude all possible speed to put their malicious designs and purposes in execution. Observe, 2. The prudential care and means which our Lord used for his own preservation, to avoid their fury: he withdraws himsell privately into a place called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. Learn, As Christ himself fled, so is it lawful for his servants to flee, when their life is conspired against by their bloody enemies, and the persecution is personal. Observe, 3. When the time was come that he was to expose himself; when the time of thepassover drew near, in which he, being the true Paschal Lamb, was to be slain, to put an end to that type; he withdrew no more, but surrenders himself to the rage and fury of his enemies, and dies a shameful death for shameless sinners, as the next chapter more at large informs us.
TPHEN Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
The latter end of the foregoing chapter acquainted us with the prudential care of Christ in withdrawing from the fury of his enemies in and about Jerusalem, who were consulting his destruction; his time not being fully come, he gets out of the way of his persecutors. But now the passover being at hand, which was the time that this Lamb of God was to die as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, our Lord comes forth first to Bethany, and then to Jerusalem, not fearing the teeth of his enemies, but with a fixed resolution to encounter death and danger for the salvation of his people. His example teacheth us, that although we are bound by all lawful means and prudential methods to preserve ourselves from the unjust violence of our persecutors, yet when God's time for our sufferings is come, and we evidently see that it is his will that we suffer for his sake, we ought to set our faces very cheerfully towards it, and resign up ourselves to the wisdom and will of God. Thus did Christ here: chap. xi. 54. we find he withdrew from suffering, his hour not being then come; but now, when the passover was nigh at hand, which was the time when he was to suffer, he sets his face towards Jerusalem, and withdraws no more.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor 1 0 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
In these verses, an account is given of our Saviour's entertainment at Bethany after he had raised Lazarus. A supper is made for him, at which Martha served, and Lazarus sat with him, but Mary anoints Christ with precious ointment. Where note, I. The action which this holy woman performed: she pours a box of precious ointment upon our Saviour's head, as he sat at meat, according to the custom of the eastern countries at their feasts. I do not find that any of the apostles were at thus much charge and cost to put honour upon our Saviour, as this poor woman was. From whence we learn, 1. That where strong love prevails in the heart, nothing is adjudged too dear for Christ, neither will it suffer itself to be outshined by any examples. The weakest woman that strongly ioves her Saviour will vie with the greatest ppostle, and piously strive to express the fervour of her affection towards him. Observe, 2. How this action was resented and reflected upon by murmuring Judas, who valued this ointment at three hundred pence, and grudged the bestowing of it upon Christ. He accused this hoiy woman of needless prodigality. Lord! how doth a covotous heart think every thing too good for thee! He that sees a pious action performed, and seeks to lessen or undervalue it, shows himself possessed with a spirit of envy. Judas's invidious spirit makes him censure an action which Christ highly approved. Hence learn, That men who know not our hearts, may through ignorance or prejudice censure and condemn those actions which God doth commend, and will graciously reward. Happy was it for this poor woman that she had a more righteous judge to pass sentence upon her action than wicked Judas. Observe, 3. How readily our holy Lord vindicates this poor woman; she says nothing for herself, nor need she, having an advocate, who gives the reason for her action: She did it for my burial. As kings and great persons were wont in those eastern countries, at their funerals, to be embalmed with odours and sweet perfumes; so, saith our Saviour, this woman, to declare her faith in me as her King and Lord, doth with this box of ointment, as it were before-hand, embalm my body for its burial. True faith will put honour upon a crucified as well as a glorified Saviour. This holy woman accounts Christ worthy of all honour in his death, believing it would be a sweet-smelling sacrifice unto God, and a savour of life unto his people.
0 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they canie, not for Jesus' sake only, hut that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
Observe here, It was not zeal but curiosity, which brought these persons at this time to Christ; they had an itching desire to see Lazarus, to inquire after the truth of his death, and possibly after the state of the dead, and the condition that separate souls are in after death. Thus the miracles of Christ drew many followers after his person who were never converted by his doctrine. It was the sin of many, when Christ was here upon earth, that they flocked after him, lather out of curiosity than out of conscience, and chose rather to gaze upon his works, than to fall in love with the worker. The multitude here came to Bethany, not fur Jesus' sake only, but that tficy might see Lazarus also.
10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus.
Observe here, 1. the unreasonableness of that rage and madness, which was found in the chief priests against Lazarus: They consulted together how they might put Lazarus to death. But supposing that Christ had spoken blasphemy, in making himself equal with God, or supposing that he had broken the sabbath by curing the man that was bora blind, on that day; yet what had Lazarus done, that be must be put to death? But from hence we team, That such as have received special and favour from Christ, or are' instruments of his glory, must expect to be made the mark and the butt of malicious enemies. Christ had highly honoured Lazarus, by raising him from the grave; and here there is a resolution against his life whom Christ had thus highly honoured; The chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death. Observe, 2. The cause why the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death; namely, Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus. That is, many of the Jews, seeing the miracle of Christ's raising Lazarus from the grave, were drawn thereby to believe in Jesus Christ; and this so enraged the chief priests against Lazarus, that they sought to put him to death. Learn hence, That nothing so enrages the enemies of Christ, as the enlargement of his kingdom, and the sight of the number of believers daily increasing. This provokes the devil's wrath, and his servants' rage.
12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord! 14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon ; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and iAar they had done these things unto him.
Here we have recorded the carriage of the multitude towards our Saviour, when he came near the city of Jerusalem: they take palms in their hands, and go forth to meet him, and cast their garments on the ground before him to ride upon: yea, 1 hey do not only disrobe their backs, but expend their breath in joyful acclamation and loud Hosannas, wishing all manner of prosperity to their meek, but mighty King. In this prince-like, yet poor and despicable pomp, doth our Saviour enter the famous city of Jerusalem. Lord! how far wast thou from affecting worldly greatness and grandeur! Thou despisest that glory which our hearts fondly admire. Yet because Christ was a King, he would be proclaimed such, and have his kingdom confessed, and applauded, and blessed; yet that it might appear that his kingdom was not of this world, he abandons all worldly magnificence.
17 The people, therefore, that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how yc prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. 20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast. 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
Observe here, 1. How the multitude at Jerusalem came forth to meet Christ, when lie was making his public entry into the city, hearing the fame of his miracles: For this cause the people also met him, for that they had heard that he had done this miracle. Observe, 2. How amongst others who came forth to meet our Saviour, certain Greeks, or Gentile proselytes, who came up to worship in the outward court of the temple, apply themselves to Philip, that he would help them to a sight of Jesus: Sir, we would see Jesus. It is probable that this desire to see Christ in these persons , proceeded from curiosity only. But if it did produce true faith in them, we may hence infer, that a spiritual sight of
Christ, by the discerning eye of a believer's faith, is the most glorious, and consequently the most desirable, sight in the world; and so must needs be, for it is a soul-ravishing, a soul-satisfying, soul-transforming, and a soul-saving sight. This sight of Christ by faith will constrain a soul highly to admire and greatly to condemn him. It will incline a soul to choose him, and cleave unto him, and will set a soul a longing for the full fruition and final enjoyment of him, Luke ii. 29. Mine eyes have seen thy salvation; Now let thy servant depart. Observe lastly, How the envious Pharisees were galled, and cut to the heart to see such a multitude both of Jews and Greeks crowding out of the city to meet Jesus in his triumphal entrance into the city. The Pharisees said, Behold, the world is gone after him. Learn hence, That in the day of Christ's greatest solemnity and triumph, there will not be wanting some persons of such a cankered disposition, that they will neither rejoice themselves, nor can they endure that others should. This was the case of the wicked Pharisees here.
23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, 1 say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it ahideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
Observe here, 1. How our blessed Saviour entertains his followers with a discourse concerning his approaching death and sufferings; The hour is coming that the Son of man shall he glorified. Observe, 2. How he arms his disciples against the scandal of the cross, by showing them the great benefit that would redound by his death unto all mankind: and this by a similitude taken from grain. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. That is, as corn unsown, lodged in the barn, or laid up in the chamber, never multiplies nor increases: but sow it in the field, and bury it in the earth, and it multiplies and increases, and brings forth a plentiful crop: so if Christ had not died, he had remained what he was, the eternal Son of God, but he had had no church in the world; whereas his
death and sufferings made him fructify; that brought a plentiful increase of exaltation to himself, and salvation to his people. Observe, 3. How plainly our Saviour dealt with his followers: he did not deceive them with a vain hope and expectation of temporal happmess, but tells them plainly, that all that will be his disciples must prepare for sufferings, and not think their temporal life too dear to lay down for him when he calls them to it, this being the surest way to secure unto themselves life everlasting. He that Joveth his life shall lose it; but he that haleth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. Learn hence, That the surest way to attain eternal life is cheerfully to lay down our temporal life, when the glory of Christ, and the honour of religion, require it at our hand.
26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
That is, If any man assumes the title, and enters into the sacred engagement, of being Christ's servant, let his conversation correspond with his profession, and let him be willing to follow me in the thorny path of affliction and sufferings; from this assurance, that all his grievous sufferings shall end in eternal joys : Where I am, there shall my servant be, and him will my Father honour." Learn hence, 1. That all that will be Christ's servants, must be his followers; they must obey his doctrine, and imitate his example. 2. That Christ's servants must not expect better usage at the hand of an unkind world, than he their Master met with before them. 3. That such as serve Christ by following of him, shall at death see him as he is, and be with him where he is: Where I am, there shall also my servant be. 4. That God will crown the fidelity and constancy of Christ's servants, with the highest dignity and honour; If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have
both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
Whilst our Saviour was thus preaching of his own death and sufferings, a natural horror of his approaching passion ^hough such as was without sin) seizes upon him; his Father giving him a taste of that wrath which he was to undergo upon the cross for our sins. Hereupon he betakes himself to prayer. Father, save me from this hour; this was the harmless inclination of his sinless nature, which abhorred lying undo wrath, and therefore prays against it; jet (as it were) recalling himself, he submits to what his office, as our surety, required of him, and prays again unto his Father to dispose of him as may most and best conduce to the purposes of his glory; Father, glorify thy name. Learn hence, 1. That mere' trouble is no sin ; Christ's soul was troubled : christianity doth not make men senseless; grace introduced no stoical stupidity. 2. That fear of death, especially when accompanied with apprehensions of the wrath of God, is most perplexing and soul-amazing. My soul is troubled; mi what shall I say? 3. No extremity of sufferings ought to discourage us from living claim to that relation which God stands in to us as a Father. Our Saviour in the midst of his distress calls God, Father: Father, save me from this hour. 4. In the extremity of our sufferings, we may be importunate, but must not be peremptory, in our prayers; as Christ in his agony prayed more earnestly, so may we in ours, but always submissively; Father, rare me from this hour; but for this came came I unto this hour. 5* That our exemption from suffering may sometimes be inconsistent with the glory of God: father, save me from this hour; Father, pom thy name. Observe lastly, The Fathers answer to the Son's prayer: There came a voice from heaven, saying, I hase glorified it, and will glorify it againThat is, as God the Father had been already glorified in his Son's life,doctrme, arm miracles; so he would farther glorify toself inhisdeath, resurrection, and»«.ns""'i as also by the mission of the Holy Obost, and the preaching of the gospel for the copversion of the Gentiles to the ends ot me earth. Learn hence, That the whole wort of Christ, from the lowest degree of his Humiliation, to the highest degree of his exaltation, was a glorifying of his Father: heg»rifled his Father by the doctrines which «