« AnteriorContinuar »
the wicked with disgrace and shame. He will then invite the righteous, and say to them, “Come, ye blessed "-and introduce them to his heavenly kingdom; while to the wicked he will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed!" He will even notice and reward the acts of kindness done to those who love him, as if done to himself, and will say, “ Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” While neglect, unkindness, and cruelty, shown towards those who love him, will equally be marked and punished ; for he will say to the guilty, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." “ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."
The Passover-The Sufferings of Christ.
When our blessed Jesus came into the world to save sinners, he knew what he had to suffer. He was to die that we might live. And now the time of his death began rapidly to approach : and he told his disciples that in two days the passover was to be eaten, in remembrance of the eating of the lamb at the escape of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and that then he was to be betrayed, that he might be crucified.
The disciples soon found that it was but too true they must lose their beloved Lord and Master. For “ the chief priests, Scribes, and elders of the people," who had so often shown their hatred to Jesus, because he exposed their wickedness to the people, and reproved them for their hypocrisy and other crimes, now assembled together in the palace of the High Priest, called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill him. They, however, did not like to venture to do so just at the passover, for they feared lest there should be “
an uproar among the people.” The people had received great benefits from Jesus; many of them and their friends, who would travel from all parts of Judea to the feast, had been cured of their diseases by his kindness, and had seen the miracles which he had done, and it was, therefore, natural to suppose that if they had any gratitude about them, they would avenge any insults offered to him.
A few days before the passover, Jesus came to Bethany, a village near Jerusalem, and was invited to eat at the house of Simon the leper ;-very
likely one who had been a leper, and whom he had cured, and so he showed him this gratitude for his kindness. At all events he entertained Christ, and it is here related to his honour.
While Jesus was eating, a woman approached him, and poured some precious ointment on his head, which she had brought in an alabaster box. According to our customs, this would seem very rude, and particularly free behaviour in a female. But it was different in the Jewish country, and was a mark of very high respect, the ointment being expensive, and the fragrant smell proceeding from it most grateful to all present. Some of the disciples thought the woman was extravagant; but Christ knew her motive in what she did, and commended her love. Who she was is not exactly certain, as some suppose she was Mary Magdalene, out of whom Christ had cast seven devils, and others that she was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The fame of her kind act-her liberal token of love to Jesus—was, however, well known and spread abroad at that time; and wherever the gospel was preached this was mentioned to her praise.
And now the moment arrived when the sufferings of our gracious Saviour began. One of his disciples, Judas, the wretched man! went to the chief priests, and offered to deliver up Christ to them for thirty pieces of silverthe paltry price paid for a purchased servant,-about three pounds fifteen shillings ! They durst not take Christ publicly for fear of the people, but Judas offered to take them to one of his private retreats, and there to deliver him up; and with the greatest care, he watched for the most favourable opportunity.
There were seven days in which the Jews ate their unleavened bread, or bread not made of yeast or anything to ferment it, and during this time the passover was celebrated. You remember that the reason of eating this bread, was to keep the Jews in mind, that they were delivered from Egyptian bondage in the greatest haste, so that they had not even time to mix the leaven with their dough, ready made in their troughs.
Jesus sat, or more properly, leaned or laid down at the passover with his disciples. The first passover was eaten standing, as another additional sign of the haste in which the people were to escape, but this sign was afterwards not used, and now they lay down, leaning on their elbows, just as we do on a sofa, this being the fashion in the Jews' country, and is still so in that part of the world. While our blessed Saviour took the passover, he said to his disciples, “One of you shall betray me." So that he showed that he knew what wickedness was in the heart of Judas, and that he could have escaped from his treachery if he pleased; but he came into the world to give his precious life a ransom for sinners.
His disciples were very sorrowful, and all were afraid lest they should be tempted to do so wicked a thing as to betray their beloved Lord; and they asked with great concern, “Lord, is it I ?" Then he said to them, “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me." They would all do this, for this was the way of eating, taking it out of one dish with their fingers, and not with knives and forks as we eat; but then this was to show how villanous the man would be ; for to eat together was the greatest sign of friendship, and so this showed his conduct to be as bad as it possibly could be. Yet Judas, in order to disguise himself before the other disciples, daringly asked, “Master, is it I ?" and Christ said it
Jesus then took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, as is now done, after his example, at the Lord's Supper ; and in like manner he took the cap. When he gave the bread, he said, “ This is my body"-meaning, this represents my body to be broken for you, it could not actually be his body, for his body remained the same. So, also, he said, when he took the cup,
" This is my blood, of the New Testament "—that is, this represents my blood to be shed for sinners, and represents it by a different sign from that which has been used ; hitherto the blood of beasts was shed as the sign that he was to die, but now and henceforth wine, the blood or juice of the grape, was to be the sign. Both of these—the bread and the wine—were to be taken, and afterwards to be continued in the Church, and received by Christians in remembrance that Christ died for them—" for the remission of sins," that is, the pardoning of sins.
It was now evening, and supposed, from the time of year, to have been moonlight. Jesus proposed to take a cooling walk to the mount of Olives, near Jerusalem, and at a place called Gethsemane, that is, an olive-mill, s place to press the sweet oil out of olives, such as we use in our salads—at this place he desired his disciples to sit down, while he retired to pray. He took, however, Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee,"—that is, James and John, that they might see and bear witness of what he endured to save sinners.
Then he told them that his soul was exceedingly sorrowful."
And now the dear Saviour began to feel that human nature which he had taken, shrink from the tortures which he knew it must endure, and he prayed that “the cup might pass from him "—that he might not suffer.
He, however, only prayed in submission to the will of his Father. His human will would fain have escaped the suffering, but that must yield to his divine will, in which all was determined for the salvation of guilty men : and so he said, “Not as I will," in the form of weak man, “but as thou wilt," that God may be glorified, and sinners be saved.
Our Lord's disciples were wearied, and fell asleep ; but he continued to pray, and again and again repeated the same affecting prayer.
Judas had not been with the party, he was absent, and Jesus knew why. He awoke his disciples and said, "Rise, let us be going : behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.” They did not exactly know which was Jesus, and so Judas said he would go up to him and salute him, and then they would know. How strangely hardened his heart must have been, and how blinded, after Jesus had told him he was about to be betrayed, and that he would be the betrayer, to suppose that our Lord should not see through his hypocritical design, in kissing him only to betray him! And a worse sign he could not have given, for it only served to show his baseness in the strongest light. Had he struck him it would have been very bad, but to kiss him only to show his enemies which was he, was the height of wickedness! Those who now pretend to love Christ, and yet do not faithfully give themselves up to his cause, do but too much resemble Judas : this is like kissing Christ and betraying him.
Moreover, Judas added, " Hail, Master !" that is, peace be to thee, or health and happiness, as we say, “and kissed him." And all this he did from the love of money.
The poor disciples showed too, that while Jesus was so ready to die for them, they were then afraid to lose their lives for him ; they all “ forsook him and fled !"
Peter was always very zealous and forward in danger, and when Christ was taken, he did not quite like to leave him in the hands of his enemies without seeing what they were about to do, so he “followed him afar off anto the High Priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.”
In the meantime the priests and elders tried to get some persons to bear witness that Christ had said something in their hearing that was very wicked, and according to their law deserved death. Now none could say this in truth; so they were obliged to get false witnesses-that is, pay some bad men to say anything they pleased, to make a reason for pronouncing sentence on him. These vile men then declared that they had heard Christ say, that he could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Christ had, indeed, said something like such a thing, but he spake only of the temple of his body;" that is, that when he should be put to death he would “rise again the third day." And he did not say, “I am able to destroy the temple," but only, “ destroy this temple,” meaning, as I have just said, his body. This was, however, too trifling to affect his life; so the High Priest tried if he could get Christ to say something that would suit their purpose better, and adjured him to tell them whether or not he was “the Son of God." “Thou hast said,” said Jesus ; that is, thou art right—"I am the Son of God.” Then the High Priest rent his clothes, declared he had spoken blasphemy, and that there was no further need of witnesses. Had he not been the Son of God, he would, indeed, have spoken blasphemy; but they did not know that he was so, though he had done miracles enough in the land to prove it, and therefore, they now seized the opportunity of putting to death the Lord of Life and Glory.
And now the servants and soldiers spit in his face, struck him, slapped his cheeks, and having blindfolded him, asked him to tell them who did it.