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ciples, as an example of humility, which He told them it would be their happiness to follow, instead of setting up themselves one above another. The minds of the disciples were blinded by the ideas of temporal exaltation which they had indulged as the result of their connexion with the Lord Jesus; so that they were totally unprepared to meet the loss which they were about to sustain. And perhaps the reproof which they had received from Him on account of their strife for pre-eminence, made them feel a more than usual awe of Him, and prevented them from asking for an explanation of His meaning; notwithstanding He was all kindness and affection, as if He sympathised with them in the disappointment which they would so soon experience. But He was observant of every thing that passed among them, although they might not notice it.
The Evangelist relates, Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me? It appears that He had wished to fix their attention, by speaking to them in this manner. Having gained this, He told them plainly what they were to expect; not that worldly greatness, and prosperity, and pre-eminence, to which their minds had been directed, but the reverse. He was going to be
separated from them; and in consequence of it they would be plunged into grief, and sorrow, and distress. The effect of the fulfilment of His declaration, A little while, and ye shall not see Me, would be, He solemnly assured them, Verily verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful. This was what they had to look forward to immediately; weeping, and lamentation, and grief of heart. His separation from them would prove a death-blow to all their hopes; and instead of there being a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest, the only consideration would be, which should best provide for his own safety. What consternation seized them when He was apprehended by the band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees !29 At once, all the disciples forsook Him and fled.30 What weeping and lamentation, and sorrow affected them, when they found that He was condemned to death, and was soon after actually nailed to the cross! The conversation of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, as they walked, and were sad,31 showed the state of mind in which they all were. From the time of His apprehension, to that of His crucifixion, we read of only Peter and John who ventured to be in the way.
29 John xviii. 3. 30 Matthew xxvi. 56.
And so terri
31 Luke xxiv. 17.
fied was Peter, that although he had said to Jesus, Lord, I will lay down my life for Thy sake,32 yet when the time of trial came, he not only denied that he was a disciple of Jesus, but he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man:33 a circumstance which afterwards made him weep bitterly, whenever it was brought to his mind. And of all the disciples, John only is mentioned as having appeared at the foot of the cross. He seems to have taken courage because he was known unto the high priest.32
From the time of our Saviour's apprehension and crucifixion, it was a season of weeping, and lamentation, and sorrow to His disciples. But during that time the world was rejoicing. In what a tone of sarcastic triumph do we find various descriptions of persons uniting! They that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads.33 The rulers also derided Him.34 Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders said, He saved others, Himself He cannot save.33 And the soldiers also mocked Him.34 And they that were crucified with Him, reviled Him. Those whom He had reproved and condemned, then rejoiced; they exulted over Him, as if the tremendous woes which He had denounced against them would have no effect. But they were mistaken. The triumphing of the
32 John xiii.37, xviii. 15 33 Mat. xxvi. 74, xxvii.39. 34 Luke xxiii. 35.
wicked is short; and so it was found to be in this instance. Their joy was short-lived indeed. Their fears soon discovered themselves again. Notwithstanding they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch,35 their precautions only served to prove that their rejoicing had been premature; for they were soon informed that the stone was rolled away from the sepulchre; and that He, whose body had been deposited in it, was gone, that He had risen from the dead. It was in reference to His resurrection, that our Saviour said to His disciples, Again a little while, and ye shall see Me; and, Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. With what joy did the account of His resurrection inspire them, when they were assured that it had actually taken place. It is said, They believed not for joy, and wondered; and, then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.37
Our Saviour made use of a similitude to show what would be the depth of their sorrow, while it lasted; and what would be the height of their joy which would follow. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. The pain of child-bearing is repeatedly employed in the prophetical
35 Matthew xxviii. 66. 36 Luke xxiv. 41.
37 John xx.
writings, to describe sudden and grievous distress. When the disciples of Christ saw their Master put to a cruel death, they were in the greatest anguish and distress. But when they saw Him again, they were overjoyed to find that He was risen from the dead. Of the women who were first informed of His resurrection, it is said, that they departed from the sepulchre with fear and great joy. The joy of the disciples when He appeared in the midst of them at supper-time, on the day that He rose from the dead, has been mentioned. And when
Thomas was assured of it by the evidence of his own senses, he joyfully exclaimed, My Lord, and my God.39
But at this season, as the time of our Saviour's apprehension was quickly approaching, and sorrow had filled the hearts of His disciples at the idea of His going away from them to Him that sent Him; He added in the words of the text, Ye now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. If the idea of Hist separation from them was painful beforehand; how much greater must their sorrow have been when it actually took place under circumstances so overwhelming, whether they considered the treatment which He received, or their own con
38 Matthew xxviii. 8.
39 John xx. 28.