Luke 22





1  “Now the Feast of unleavened Bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.”

These words show that many of the readers for whom this Gospel was intended were

foreigners, who were unacquainted with Jewish terms such as the “Passover.”

(τὸ πάσχα  - to pascha -  פסח) means, literally, “a passing.” The feast so named

commemorated the manner in which the chosen people were spared in Egypt when the

destroying angel of the Lord passed over all Israelite houses, which had

been sprinkled with the blood of the lamb, without slaying the firstborn. Dr.

Farrar suggests that the Greek word πάσχαpascha – Easter; Passover - is a                                                            

transliteration, with a sort of alliterative allusion to the Greek πάσχαpascho

“I suffer.” This greatest and most important of the Jewish feasts, which ever

brought a great host of pilgrims to Jerusalem, was kept in the first month of the

Jewish year (Nisan), from the 15th of the month, the day of full moon, to the 21st.

Roughly, this corresponded to the end of our March. 


2  “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Him; for

they feared the people.”  The determination, long maturing, had,

during the last few days of public teaching, been come to on the part of the

Sanhedrin. They had determined to put the dangerous public Teacher to

death. The bitter hatred on the part of the Jewish rulers had been gradually

growing in intensity during the two years and a half of the public ministry

of Jesus of Nazareth. The raising of Lazarus seems to have finally decided

the governing body with as little delay as possible to compass the

Reformer’s death. The temporary withdrawal of the Lord after the great

miracle deferred their purpose for a season; after, however, a retirement for

a few weeks, Jesus appeared again, shortly before the Passover, and taught

publicly in the temple, at a season when Jerusalem was crowded with

pilgrims arriving for the great feast. Never had His teaching excited such

interest, never had it stirred up such burning opposition as at this juncture.

This decided the Jewish rulers to carry out their design on the life of the

Galilaean Teacher with as little delay as possible. The only thing that

perplexed them was how this could safely be accomplished, owing to the

favor in which He was held by the people, especially by the crowds of

pilgrims from the provinces then in Jerusalem.



                                    Piety, Pedantry and Formalism (v. 2)


Of all those who in any and every way were responsible for the death of

Jesus Christ, the largest share of guilt lies at the door of the religious

leaders of the time. The Roman soldiers were only the immediate

instruments of it; the Jewish populace were only the blind agents of it; but

these scribes and chief priests were the guilty instigators of it: they brought

it about. It was they who first conceived the idea; it was they who

suggested and urged it; it was they who ceased not to agitate and direct

until the dark deed was done. How came they to go so far astray? How

came it to pass that while (<422138>Luke 21:38), “all the people came early in the

morning to Him in the temple for to hear Him” thus bearing witness to the

sincerity of their discipleship and their desire to know the truth He taught,

they, the leaders of the land — scribes who were familiar with every letter

of the Law, priests who were daily occupied in the services of the

sanctuary, learned doctors, and pious ministrants — were actively and

earnestly compassing His death? The fact is that:


·         RELIGIOUS PEDANTRY (excessive concern with minor details and rules)


knew their Scriptures with a fullness and nicety of detail that surpasses the

knowledge we have of our sacred writings; and they had also a perfect familiarity

with the teachings of traditional lore. They despised the ignorance of the common

people in these respects (see John 7:47). Yet they were not wise with the wisdom

of God; they entirely failed to understand the Divine will and the way to

eternal life. The religion they taught and lived was utterly heartless; it was a

service without any soul in it, a mechanism without any life in it; it was an

elaborate error, a great and sad misconception of the mind of God; it was a

surrender of freedom that did man no good and gave God no pleasure; it

was a toilsome and torturing imposition that neither satisfied the intellect,

nor cleansed the heart, nor elevated the life. And it so perverted the

judgment that, when the Truth Himself came to reveal the Father, these

learned but unwise leaders, instead of being eager to hear Him like the

people (ch. 21:38), were “seeking how they might kill Him.”



WRONG-DOING. If the scribes were men of pedantry, the chief priests

represented the evil and error of religious formalism; and the latter were in

no way behind the former in either spiritual blindness or malevolence.

They, too, failed to recognize their Messiah, and were actively engaged in

compassing His murder. In every age and land religious formalism has been

blind and cruel; it has failed to recognize the reformer when He has come to

speak in God’s name; and it has been forward to accuse and to slay Him.

Such has been its spirit and its course, that the home of love and mercy has

been converted into the hotbed of hatred and of cruelty. It is another

illustration of the truth that the corruption of the best becomes the worst of

all; the piety that runs into ordinances, utterances, abstinences, formalities,

will in time degenerate into utter error and shameful wrong. This is a truth

which applies to many more Churches than one; it is, indeed, more or less

applicable to all religious circles. There lies a deep-seated tendency in our

nature which accounts for the facts in our Lord’s time and in every age

since then. Let us, therefore, learn that:



Not in holding and professing certain correct formulae; not in going

through certain ceremonies or observing a number of rules and regulations.

These have their place in the kingdom of God, but they do not by any

means assure us of our place in it. It is rightness of heart toward God our

Father and our Savior, and consequent integrity of life, which make us to

“stand before God” as His loyal subjects now, and will make us “worthy to

stand before the Son of man” when He shall call us to HIS NEAR





Judas Iscariot Betrays His Master (vs. 3-6)


3 “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number

of the twelve.   4  And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests

and captains, how he might betray Him unto them. And they were glad,” –

This was their chance. In the very heart of the Galilaean Teacher’s own company a

traitor showed himself, one who knew well the plans of his Master. With his help

the Sanhedrin and the priestly party would be enabled to effect the arrest

privately. They then must trust to Roman jealousy to help them to carry

out their evil design. The expression, “Then entered Satan into Judas,” is a

strong one, and definitely shows that, in the opinion of these inspired

compilers of the Gospels, there was a person who bore rule over the

powers of evil. The character and history of the faithless friend of Jesus is

mournfully interesting. For one to whom such splendid chances were

offered to fall so low, is an awful mystery. It is clear that the betrayal was

no sudden impulse. He set up self as the one object of all his thoughts, and

followed Jesus because he believed that, in following Him, he could best

serve his own interests. His ambition was cruelly disappointed by his

Master’s gradual unfolding His views respecting His kingdom, which was

not to be of this world. He was still further shocked by the undisguised

announcement on the part of his Master, whose greatness and power Judas

recognized from the first, that He would be rejected by the nation, and even

put to death, has been suggested, as an explanation of the betrayal, that at

the last he seems to have fancied that he could force the manifestation of

Christ’s power by placing Him in the hands of His enemies; but the

acceptance of a reward, miserable though it was, seems to point to vulgar

greed, and to the idea of making friends with the dominant party in the

state now that his Master evidently looked forward to a violent death, as

the real motives of the betrayal – “and covenanted with him to give him

money.  6  And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto

them in the absence of the multitude.”




                                    The Deepest Wound (vs. 3-6)


When everything has been allowed for Judas that the most ingenious and

the most charitable have begged us to consider, we must judge him to be a

man whose conduct is to be solemnly and seriously condemned. It is Divine

Love itself that decides this question (see v. 22; Matthew 26:24; John 17:12).

The text suggests to us:



THE HAND OF OUR NEAREST FRIENDS. How much force is there in

the parenthesis, “being of the number of the twelve”! What deep pathos is

in those sad words of the Lord, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you

shall betray me” (<402621>Matthew 26:21)! This was a “sword that entered into

his soul,” a keen distress, one of the very bitterest of all the sorrows of the

Son of man. That one whom He had admitted to His intimate fellowship, of

whom He had made a friend, who had partaken of His confidence and

shared His strong affection, — that he should be the one to betray Him to

His foes! There is no trouble possible to us so great as that which lies open

to us on the side of our purest and strongest affections. It is not our

avowed enemy, nor the man to whom we are indifferent, but it is our

dearest friend, who has it in his power to lacerate our soul with the

sharpest thrust, and to spoil our life by throwing over it the darkest shadow

(see Psalm 41:9).


Ø      Be slow to admit to the inner sanctuary of the heart; for he who has

entrance there holds your happiness in his own right hand.


Ø      Realize the responsibility of intimate friendship; it is not only a

      privilege, but an obligation; it gives you power to gladden and to bless,

      but also opportunity to mar and to destroy.



IN HUMAN LIFE. They “covenanted to give him money.” It seems hardly

credible that any man who had lived in the society of Jesus Christ, and had

witnessed His kindness and His purity, should take money for betraying Him.

Other motives — those of resentment or ambition- are far less shocking

and revolting than this mercenary one. To betray his Master, his Friend, for

thirty pieces of silver, fills us with wonder and excites the deepest

reprobation. But for what has not money been responsible in human

history? How large a part it plays in the great drama! What untold good it

is instrumental in effecting! What admirable virtues it is the means of

illustrating I To what deeds of folly and even of infamy the desire to obtain

it has conducted! It is clear that men who have been trained to hate

immoral and criminal behavior with an intense hatred have been induced to

part with every principle they have honored, and to do the worst deeds

they have denounced, in order to obtain money, when they have found

themselves pressed for its possession. Probably no man who has not felt it

knows the deadly force of the temptation. Who shall say that he is safe

from this powerful snare? It is probable that to obtain money more evil

deeds have been done than under any other inducement whatever.

Therefore let every man beware lest he subjects himself to this strong and

fell temptation. Let neither an overweening ambition nor extravagance of

habit lead where the possession of more money becomes an imperative

demand.  (There seems to be no place where this filthy lucre is felt than

in the halls of Congress and the Oval Office in Washington, D. C. - CY -

2021)   Moderation in desire and economy in habit save men from a

temptation in which, it may be, their souls would be entangled and their

very life taken away.



UNTIL IT FINDS IT. He sought opportunity to betray Him.” By

whatever motives inspired, Judas was intent on compassing the act he had

undertaken. And he did not wait idly until an opportunity offered itself. He

sought it. If evil is thus in earnest, how much more so should righteousness

and mercy be! These should surely be about their holy and loving work

“with both hands earnestly.” Opportunity to raise, to help, to redeem, to

restore, — this is not to be passively waited for, but to be actively sought

out. There is a very marked difference between readiness to work when we

are invited and even urged to do so, and that noble zeal which will not be

contented without finding material for activity. It is the difference between

a goodness that you do not blame and a goodness that you admire;

between a life that will not stand condemned and a life that will be crowned

with victory and honor. If there are those who, in the interest of error and

of evil, will set about diligently to promote these ends. shall we not put

forth our utmost energy on behalf of truth and heavenly wisdom? If men

can be found who will “seek opportunity” to betray, shall not we with

            deeper devotedness “seek opportunity” to honor our Lord?



The Disciples Peter and John

    are Directed to Prepare for the Last Passover (vs. 7-13)


7 “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be

killed.”  This was the Thursday, Nisan 13. On this afternoon all leaven was carefully

and scrupulously put away; hence the name.


8 “And He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that

we may eat.”  The three synoptists unite in describing this solemn meal, for which

Peter and John were sent to prepare, as the ordinary Paschal Supper. But, on

comparing the record of the same Supper given by John, we are irresistibly led to a

different conclusion; for we read that on the following day those who led Jesus into

the Praetorium went not in themselves, “lest they should be defiled; but that

they might eat the Passover” (John 18:28); and again it is said of the same day,

that “it was the preparation of the Passover” (John 19:14). So the time of the Supper

is described by John (John 13:1) as “before the Feast of the Passover.” It appears

that our Lord was crucified on the 14th of Nisan, on the very day of the sacrifice

of the Paschal Lamb, a few hours before the time of the Paschal Supper, and

that His own Last Supper was eaten the night before, that is, twenty-four

hours before the general time of eating the Passover Supper. The most

venerable of the Fathers preserved this as a sacred tradition. So Justin

Martyr: “On the day of the Passover ye took Him, and on the day of the

Passover ye crucified Him” (‘Dial. cum Trypho,’ ch. 3.). To the same effect

write Irenaeus (‘Adv. Haer.,’ 4:23) and Tertullian (‘Adv. Judaeos,’ ch. 8).

Clement of Alexandria is most definite: “The Lord did not eat His last

Passover on the legal day of the Passover, but on the previous day, the

13th, and suffered on the day following, BEING HIMSELF THE

PASSOVER!   (Fragment from ‘Chron. Paschal.,’ p. 14, edit. Dindorf).

Hippolytus of Portus bears similar testimony. The question — as to whether

the famous Last Supper was the actual Passover Supper, or the anticipatory

Paschal Feast, which we believe it to have been — is important; for thus the

language of Paul (I Corinthians 5:7), “Christ our Passover is sacrificed

 for us,” is justified. “The apostle regarded not the Last Supper,

but the death of Christ, as the antitype of the Paschal sacrifice, and the

correspondence of type and antitype would be incomplete unless the

sacrifice of the Redeemer took place at the time on which alone that

of the Paschal lamb could legally be offered.”


9 “And they said unto Him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?”

It is probable that the disciples, in asking this question, concluded that the

Passover was to be eaten by them and their Master at the same time with

the rest of the Jews on the following day; but our Lord gave directions for

its being eaten the same evening.


10 “And He said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into

the city, there shall a man meet you,” -  The name of the man who should

meet them was omitted — purposely,  as some think, lest the place of meeting

should be prematurely known to Judas – “bearing a pitcher of water; - This

would be an unusual sight in an Oriental city, where the water is drawn by women.

It is probable that the “man” whom the Master foretold John and Peter would

meet, was the master of the house, who, according to the Jewish custom on the

13th of Nisan, before the stars appeared in the heavens, had himself to go to

the public fountain to draw the water with which the unleavened bread for the

Passover Feast was kneaded - “follow him into the house where he entereth in.

11  And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith

unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with

my disciples?”


12 “And he shall show you a large upper room furnished:  there make

ready.”  The house which possessed so large an upper chamber must have been

one of considerable size, and evidently belonged to a man of some wealth and

position, possibly to Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea. That it perhaps

belonged to Mark’s family has also been suggested. It had evidently been

prepared beforehand for the purpose of the feast, in obedience to a previous

direction of Jesus. (ἐστρωμώνονestromonon -  furnished ) applies specially

to carpets spread over the couches for the reception of guests. “In this large upper

chamber thus prepared,’’ said the Lord, “make the necessary arrangements for

the Paschal Supper; procuring and preparing the lamb, the unleavened bread, the

herbs, and other customary dishes.” It seems probable that this “large upper room,”

evidently belonging to a disciple, or at least to one friendly to Jesus, was the same

room which, in the happier hours after the Resurrection, witnessed the appearance

of the Risen to the eleven, and, later, the descent of the Holy Ghost at

Pentecost.  13 “And they went, and found as He had said unto them: and they

made ready the passover.”



The Last Supper (vs. 14-38)


14 “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve

apostles with Him.”  The preparation had been made in the “large upper

room,” and the Lord and the twelve sat down, or rather reclined on the

couches covered with carpets, the tables before them laid with the dishes

peculiar to the solemn Passover Supper, each dish telling its part of the old

loved story of the great deliverance. There was the lamb the Paschal

victim, and the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread and the reddish sweet

conserve of fruits — commemorating, it is said, by its color the hard labors

of brickmaking, one of the chief burdens of the Egyptian bondage — into

which the Master dipped the sop, and gave it to the traitor-apostle (John 13:26).

The Lord reclined, probably, at the middle table; John next to Him; Peter most

likely on the other side; and the others reclining in an order corresponding more

or less closely with the threefold division of the twelve into groups of four. The

Supper itself had its special forms and ceremonies, which the Lord transformed

as they proceeded in such a way as to change it into the sacred Supper of the

New Testament.


15 “And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat

this Passover with you before I suffer.”  This peculiar expression, “with

desire,” etc., is evidently a reproduction by Luke of the Lord’s very

words repeated to him originally in Aramaic (Hebrew), They seem to be a

touching apology or explanation from Him to His own, for thus anticipating

the regular Passover Supper by twenty-four hours. He had been longing

with an intense longing to keep this last Passover with them: First as the

dear human Friend who would make this His solemn last farewell. (Do not

we, when we feel the end is coming, long for a last communion with our

dearest ones?) And, secondly, as the Divine Master who would gather up

into a final discourse His most important, deepest teaching. We find this

teaching especially reported by John in his Gospel (13-17.). And

thirdly, as the Founder of a great religion, he purposed, on this

momentous occasion, transforming the most solemn festal gathering of the

ancient Jewish people, which commemorated their greatest deliverance,

into a feast which should — as age succeeded age — COMMEMORATE

A FAR GREATER DELIVERANCE,  not of the old chosen race only,

BUT OF EVERY RACE UNDER HEAVEN!   These were three of the

reasons why He had desired so earnestly to eat this Passover with them.

“To-morrow, at the usual hour, when the people eat their Passover, it will be

too late for us.” This he expresses in His own sad words, before I suffer.


16 “For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in

the kingdom of God.” There was yet one other reason for the Master’s special

desire once more to eat the solemn Passover with His chosen disciples. He would,

by some significant action and word, show that the great Jewish feast, for so many

centuries the central act of the ritual observances under the Mosaic Law, from

henceforth would be superseded by a new and a yet more solemn religious

rite. The Jewish Passover was to give place to the Christian sacrament. He,

their Master, would with them share in the Passover meal that evening for

the last time. The next time that He would partake would be still with them,

but it would be in the kingdom of God, that is to say, in the Church of

God, which was to be founded after His resurrection. The kingdom of God

commenced with the resurrection of Jesus. The constant celebration of the

Holy Eucharist commenced from that time; it is more than probable that

our Lord partook of it, after His resurrection, with His own (see ch. 24:30;

Acts 10:41).  17 “And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take

this, and divide it among yourselves: 18  For I say unto you, I will not drink

of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.”  These statements,

which speak of a final partaking (eating and drinking), are closely parallel to the

command contained in vs. 19-20. The first statement seems solemnly to close the

celebration of the Passover Feast; the second, to institute with equal solemnity a

new feast in its place:


“With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer

(v. 15); for:


The Passover Feast is solemnly                      The Holy Eucharist is solemnly

 put an end to.                                                 Instituted.


“I will not any more eat thereof,                     “He took bread and gave unto

 until it be fulfilled in the kingdom                   them:…This do in remembrance

 of  God” (v. 16).                                            of me.  (v. 19)


 “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine,        “Likewise also the cup after

until the kingdom of God shall come” (v18). Supper (v. 20)


It was in the course of the great ritual Supper on some of the occasions

when the cup was passed round, and the unleavened bread formally broken

or dipped in one of the Passover dishes, that the Lord found His

opportunity solemnly to announce the formal abrogation of the old Paschal

Supper and the institution of the new communion feast. The above literal

interpretation of the Lord’s mystic words, “until that day when I drink it

new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29), or, as Luke

reports them, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the

kingdom of God shall come” does not exclude a yet deeper and more spiritual

meaning which lies beneath the surface, and which speaks of another and spiritual

banquet in the heavenly realm, which not only the Redeemer, but also His

redeemed, will partake of. Heaven-life under the form of a banquet was

imagery well known and often painted by the Jewish masters in the old

rabbinic schools before and contemporary with the earthly life of Christ.

The New Testament writers in several places have adopted the similar

imagery, notably in Matthew 8:11;  v. 30 here; Revelation 19:9.

How widespread and well loved was this Jewish representation of the

heaven-life under the form of a banquet is clear from the three above

quoted references taken from Matthew, Paul (Luke), and John.







                        The Passion, from Two Standpoints (vs. 15-16)



IT. It was to Him a terrible trial, which He was eager to reach and pass

through. “With desire He desired” (v. 15) the time to arrive when He should

suffer and should complete His work. He did not wish to escape it; He was not

looking about for an alternative; He knew that He could not save Himself if

He would save the world; and He longed for the trial-time to come and to

be passed. Here was the heroic, and here was also the human. Here was the

determination to endure, and, at the same time, the natural, human anxiety

to know the worst and to exchange an almost intolerable suspense for the

suffering that awaited Him.


Ø      Having chosen the path of self-sacrifice, and having entered upon and

pursued it, it behoved Him to continue and to complete His appointed

work. He could not turn back without suffering defeat; He accepted the

dark future that was before Him as a sacred duty. From it there must be

no turning aside to other ends; and there was none. He never wavered

in His purpose from beginning to end. “This shall not be unto thee,”

from Peter, appears to have been. a strong shock of temptation to Him

(Matthew 16:21-23). But nothing induced Him to turn aside by a single

step from the path of sacrificial service.


Ø      Yet we have here a glimpse of the extreme severity of the trial He

underwent. He knew that His “suffering” would immediately follow this

Passover, and He “earnestly desired” that Passover to come, that the

sufferings might follow. With perfect reverence we may say that He could

not realize what they would include, for they had never before been

experienced; they stood absolutely by themselves, and could not be known

until they were actually felt. And this element of suspense and uncertainty

must have added a great weight of trouble to the sorrows of our Lord.

“How bitter that cup no heart can conceive;” not even His heart did

conceive until it was in His hands.


Ø      Like our Lord, we should go on without faltering to the darkest future

which we feel it becomes us to face.


Ø      As with Him, the uncertainty of the actual elements of our grief may

oppress our spirit and fill us with eager desire for its coming (see also

ch. 12:50).


Ø      We shall find, as He found, all needful Divine help when the hour

      does actually arrive.


·         AS HE WOULD HAVE US REGARD IT NOW. That is, as a

completed work of redeeming love. That last Passover has been “fulfilled

in the kingdom of God.” All that the Passover prophesied HAS BEEN

FULFILLED!  The “Lamb of God” has been slain — that Lamb “which taketh

away the sin of the world.” Everything in the way of sacred endurance, of

Divine preparation, is now completed, and THE WAY INTO THE KINGDOM

IS OPENED!  Those sufferings to which Jesus was so eagerly looking forward,

to which had now come, with nothing between them and Him but that

Passover Feast, had to he endured (see ch. 24:26); and now they

have been endured. EVERYTHING predicted in sacred rite or solemn utterance

has been fulfilled, and we wait for nothing more. We sit down to no

predictive Passover Feast, because Christ, our Passover, is slain for us.”

(I Corinthians 5:7)  What we have to do is gratefully and eagerly to avail

ourselves of the “FINISHED” work of our REDEEMING LORD; to let

that suffering, that death, that sacrifice,


Ø      evoke our humility;

Ø      call forth our faith;

Ø      kindle our love and command our obedience;

Ø      inspire us with sacred and abiding joy, inasmuch as His “sorrow

            unto death” is the source of OUR ETERNAL LIFE!


19 “And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them,

saying, This is my body which is given for you:  this do in remembrance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament

in my blood, which is shed for you.”  Around these words, and the parallel

passages in Matthew and Mark, for more than a thousand years fierce theological

disputes have raged. Men have gone gladly to prison and to death rather than

renounce what they believed to be the true interpretation. Now, a brief exegetical

commentary is not the place to enter into these sad controversies. It will be

sufficient here to indicate some of the lines of thought which the prayerful

earnest reader might wisely follow out so as to attain certain just ideas

respecting the blessed rite here instituted — ideas which may suffice for a

practical religious life. Now, we possess a Divine commentary on this

sacrament instituted by our Lord. It is noticeable that John, whose

Gospel was the latest or well-nigh the latest of the canonical writings of the

New Testament, when at great length he relates the story of the last

Passover evening and its teaching, does not allude to the institution of that

famous service, which, when he wrote his Gospel, had become part of the

settled experience of Church life. He presupposes it; for it had passed then

into the ordinary life of the Church. In another and earlier portion of his

Gospel, however, John (John 6:32-58) gives us a record of the

Lord’s discourse in the synagogue of Capernaum, in which Jesus, while

speaking plainly to those who heard Him at the time, gave by anticipation a

commentary on the sacrament which He afterwards instituted. The truth

which was taught in thin discourse is presented in a specific act and in a

concrete form in the Holy Communion. In the fifty-third verse of that sixth

chapter we read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of

the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” How is this

now to be done? We reply that our Lord has clothed these ideas and

brought them near to us in this sacrament; while, by His teaching in the

sixth chapter of John, He guards this sacrament from being regarded on

the one hand as an end in itself, or on the other as a mere symbol. Certain

truths, great landmarks laid down in this discourse, have to be borne in mind.


  • The separation of the flesh of the Son of man into flesh and blood

(John 6:53) presupposes a violent death submitted to for the sake of

others (Ibid. v.51).

  • Both these elements, the flesh and the blood, are to be appropriated

individually by the believer (Ibid. v.56).

  • How is this appropriated? What is it to eat His flesh and to drink His blood,

but to share in His sufferings and to imitate the life He lived when with

us in the flesh?” (St. Bernard, on Psalm 3:3). “If ye suffer with Him, ye

 shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:12).  The Holy Eucharist is from

one point of view a great truth dramatized, instituted for the .purpose of bringing

before men in a vivid manner the great truths above alluded to. But it is

something more. It brings to the believer, to the faithful communicant, to the

one who in humble adoring faith carries out to the best of his ability his Master’s

dying charge — it brings a blessing too great for us to measure by earthly

language, too deep for us to fathom with human inquiry. For the partaking

of this Holy Communion is, first, the Christian’s solemn public confession

of his faith in Christ crucified; his solemn private declaration that it is his

deliberate wish to suffer with his Lord and for his Lord’s sake; that it is,

too, his firm purpose to imitate the earthly life lived by his Lord. The

partaking of this Holy Communion, too, is the Christian’s most solemn

prayer for strength thus to suffer and to live. It is, too, his fervent

expression of belief that this strength will be surely given to him. Further,

the partaking of this Holy Communion is, above all, the Christian’s most

solemn prayer for living union with Christ — “that Christ may dwell in

his heart by faith” (Ephesians 3:17).  It is, too, his fervent expression of

belief that “then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with. Christ,

and Christ with us.” This confession, declaration, and prayer he constantly

renews in obedience to the dying command of his Master. It is difficult to

understand how any belief in a physical change in the elements of bread and

wine, such as is involved in the theory of transubstantiation held in the Roman

Church, or of consubstantiation in the Lutheran community, can be supposed to

enhance the reverence of the communicant, or to augment the blessing

promised. The words of the Lord, “This is my body… my blood,” cannot

surely be pressed, seeing that the same Divine Speaker was in His

discourses in the habit of using imagery which could not literally be

pressed, such as “I am the Bread of life,” “I am the Door of the sheep,”

 “I am the true Vine,” etc. Nothing that can be conceived is more solemn

than the simple rite, more awful in its grandeur, more Divine and far-reaching

in its promises to the faithful believer. Human imaginings add nothing to this

Divine mystery, which is connected at once with the Incarnation and

The Atonement. They only serve to envelop it in a shroud of earth-born

mist and cloud, and thus to dim if not to veil its Divine glory.




                                    The Lord’s Supper (vs. 19-20)

A very simple rite as first observed was the Lord’s Supper. But for certain

passages in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we should not

have known that Jesus Christ intended to create a permanent institution.

But though the simpler the ceremony is the more scriptural it is, yet are the

ideas associated with it and suggested by it many and important. They are



·         THE NEAR PRESENCE OF OUR LORD. Not in the elements but

presiding over the company. It is a table at which He entertains His friends;

and can He, the Divine Host, Himself be absent?


“Around a table, not a tomb,

He willed our gathering-place should be;

When going to prepare our home,

The Savior said, ‘Remember me.’”


And at that table, meeting and communing with His friends, we may feel

sure and can realize forcibly that our living Lord is, in spirit and in truth,

“in the midst of us.”


·         CHRIST OUR STRENGTH AND OUR JOY. The chosen elements

are bread and wine, the sources of strength and of gladness. He, our Lord,

is the one constant Source of our spiritual nourishment and strength, of the

joy with which our hearts are for ever glad.


·         CHRIST OUR PROPITIATION. The broken bread, the outpoured

wine — of what do these speak to our hearts? Of the “marred visage,” of

the weariness, of the poverty and privation, of the toiling and loneliness

of that troubled life, of the griefs and pains of that burdened and broken

heart, of the shame and the darkness and the death of the last closing

scene. We stand with bowed head and reverent spirit at that cross and see:


                        “Sorrow and love flow mingled down.”


And our hearts are full as we ask:


“Did e’er such love and sorrow meet;

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”


And we realize that that sorrow was borne, that death died for us. “This is

my body, ‘given for you;’ my blood, ‘shed for you.’” It is the Propitiation

for our sins.



WORK. Each one eats of that bread and drinks of that cup. As he does so,

in and by that act he declares his own personal need of a Divine Savior; he

affirms his conviction that the sacrifice was offered for him; he renews his

faith in the Divine Redeemer; he recognizes the claim of Him that loved him

unto death; he rededicates himself to Jesus Christ and to His service; he

rejoices, in spirit, in his reconciled Father, in his Divine Lord and Friend.



Gathered round one table, in the felt presence of our common Lord, all

invited to drink of the same cup (Matthew 26:27), we are drawn to one

another in the bonds of Christian love. We realize our oneness in Him as a

strong bond which triumphs over all the separating influences of the world.

Faith, joy, love, are kindled and” burn within us;” and we are strengthened

and sanctified, built up, enabled to “abide in Him.”




          The Lords Sorrowful Allusion to Judas the Traitor (vs. 21-23)


21 “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.”

This is the second mention of the traitor in Luke’s account of the Last Supper.

From John’s recital, we gather that Jesus returned several times in the course of that

solemn evening to this sad topic. That one of his own little inner circle, so closely

associated with Him, should so basely betray Him, was evidently a very bitter drop

in the Lord’s cup of suffering. In His dread experience of human sorrow it was

needful that the Christ should fulfill in His own experience what even the noblest of

the children of men — David, for instance — had felt of the falseness of

friends. What suffering can be inflicted on a generous heart comparable to

it? Surely He of whom it was written, “Whose sorrows are like unto my

sorrows?” (Lamentations 1:12) must make trial of this bitterness. Chrysostom

thinks that the Master, in some of these repeated allusions during the “Supper,”

tried to win Judas over to a better mind.


22 “And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that

man by whom He is betrayed!”  We seem to hear a wailing in this woe, although

the denunciation was so firmly pronounced. Matthew, in his account, here adds some

more words spoken by the Master, “It had been good for that man if he had not

 been born” (Matthew 26:24).   Awful as the words were, they have their bright as

well as their dark side. According to the estimate which men commonly form, the

words are true of all except these who depart this life in the faith and fear of God. In

His applying them to the case of the traitor in its exceptional enormity, there is

suggested the thought that for others whose guilt was not like his, existence even in

the penal suffering which their sins have brought upon them may be better than never

to have been at all!!!???




                        Jesus and Judas; our Lord and Ourselves (vs. 21-22)


The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was closely connected, not only in time but in

apostolic thought, with the act of the betrayal (see I Corinthians 11:23) — the

institution of the greatest privilege with the commission of the darkest crime.

Our Lord’s demeanor on this occasion is well worthy of our most reverent thought.


·         JESUS AND JUDAS.


Ø      His length of sufferance. After knowing that Judas was seeking to

betray him (v. 6), Jesus might well have expelled him from his society.

He might have done so, acting judicially, as being no longer worthy to be

classed among His apostles. He might have done so, acting prudentially, as



o        whom it was not wise to admit to His counsels and His plans; and

      as one:


o        whose association with the eleven would be a source of evil. He might

very appropriately have declined to acknowledge him as an officer and a

friend. But Jesus did not press His right. On the contrary, He let him

continue as one of the twelve, he let him come under the same roof with

Himself, He permitted him to share the Paschal feast: the hand of him

that was betraying Him was “with him on the table.” To such a length

as that His longsuffering went.


Ø      His dignity in rebuke. He did not break forth into passionate invective;

He did not use words of natural and permissible vehemence; He quietly said,

“Woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!” Matthew tells us that he

added, “It had been good for that man if he had not been born.”

(Matthew 26:24)  What a transcendent calmness and serenity of spirit we

have here! What a contrast between two children of men! One man preparing

to betray his Teacher, his Friend, his Master; the other compassionating His

betrayer for the depth of his fall and the sadness of his doom. Jesus went on

to His sacrificial death and to His throne; Judas went out into the night

(John 13:30) — into the dark night of guilt, of shame, of despair, of death.


·         ONE LORD AND OURSE  The wrong against our Lord it is still open to us to

      commit. We cannot betray Him as Judas did; yet may we do that which answers

to, and is almost if not quite as deplorable as that sad and shameful act. Let us

consider that:


Ø      We know more about Jesus than Judas then did; for we have all the light

of His resurrection and of the teaching of His apostles.


Ø      He has granted to us mercies as many and as great in intrinsic value as

those He bestowed on Judas.


Ø      Owing Him as much as Judas did, we may do even greater injury to His

cause than the traitor did. The act of Iscariot ultimately issued in the

all-sufficient sacrifice; this did not extenuate or lessen his guiltiness by

a simple grain; but it nullified the mischief of the crime. We may do

incalculable and irreparable mischief to the cause of our Master by our:


o       unfaithfulness,

o       infidelity,

o       disobedience, and

o       our criminal negligence.


Ø      By such disloyalty we may wound and grieve His Spirit almost as

severely as His betrayer did. Wherefore let us:


o       Be humble-minded. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take

      heed, lest he fall.”  (I Corinthians 10:12) If we could find the

man who has smitten Christ and His cause the severest blow

that was ever struck, it is probable that we might easily find an

hour in that man’s history when he would have shrunk with holy

horror from such a guilty act.


o       Be prayerful; ever looking heavenward with the supplication,

      “Hold thou me up,” (Psalm 119:117)


o       Be diligent in the field of earnest Christian work. It is the idler

      in the vineyard whom the tempter will assail. It is the faithful

workman who is in a position to say, after his Lord and Leader,

“The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me”

(John 14:30).


23 “And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that

should do this thing.”  That all the disciples, on hearing this statement of their Master,

should at once question their own hearts with the “Is it I?” (Ibid. v. 22), shows with

what cunning skill the arch-traitor must have concealed not merely his plans but his

very sentiments. No suspicion on their parts ever seems to have fallen on Judas,

their companion for so long a time. The direct colloquy of the Lord with

the traitor, reported at length in the other Gospels on the occasion of dipping the

sop into one of the Paschal dishes, was most probably carried on in a whisper

(see John 13:26-29, where mention is specially made of the disciples’ ignorance

of the dread meaning of their Master’s words to Judas).




                        The Last Passover of Our Lord (vs. 1-23)


After the significant survey of Jerusalem’s fate which is given in the

previous chapter, Jesus seems to have remained quietly at Bethany, or in

the Mount of Olives, until the time for the Passover. The season of solitude

was brief, but all the more important in consequence. Every moment was

utilized by our Lord that He might be ready for His great ordeal. But if He

was making preparations, so were His enemies. Accordingly, we have an

account here of the treason which led up to His sacrifice. We have,

consequently, to consider:


·         THE TREASON OF JUDAS. (vs. 1-6.) The Sanhedrin was in

session, anxious to seize on Jesus and get Him removed; for they feared

that an attached populace would declare for Him rather than for the old

leaders. It was a vain fear. The people were fickle, and as ready to cry out

for His crucifixion as they had been to cry “Hosanna!” Yet the fear of

losing popularity goaded the Church leaders to desperation. Being beaten

in debate by the Master-Mind who tabernacled among them, they can only

expect by treachery to secure their purpose. They find their ready

instrument in Judas. And here consider:


Ø      The worldliness of Judas. He had evidently joined the cause of Jesus in

hope of a place in a world-kingdom. But our Lord’s prophecies of His

speedy suffering and death have blighted all these hopes. How can he best

make his peace with the world, which is getting the upper hand, and before

which Jesus is going down? Judas believes that he can best do this by

betraying Jesus to His enemies, and, to make the transition the easier for

himself, he consents to do the shameful work for thirty pieces of silver —

the mean price of the life of a slave! It was not covetousness pure and

simple which led Judas to such a bargain, but astute worldliness. He was

making his peace with the world on the most liberal terms.


Ø      Notice the Satanic inspiration under which Judas acted. It is evident

that Scripture represents the sphere of evil as under the domination of a

great personality called Satan. He can enter into men and take possession

of them. But we are not to suppose that he has the same intimate access to

the human spirit which God the Holy Ghost enjoys We have reason to

believe that Satan moves men by presenting in all their attractiveness the

worldly motives such as we have noticed. Further, the Satanic impulse is

such as in no way to relieve the subject of it from responsibility. No one

will be able to plead “not guilty” on the ground of Satanic temptation.


Ø      Notice the mean prudence under which the traitor acted. Had the band

come in open day, when the entranced populace hung upon the lips of

Jesus, there would have been a dangerous emeute (uprising or rebellion),

and life been lost.  Accordingly, Judas seeks to betray Jesus “in the

 absence of the multitude.” There is a meanness and cowardice about

most of the diabolic wickedness which goes on in the world; a cowardice,

moreover, which is generally overtaken by just and terrible retribution.


·         PREPARATIONS FOR THE LAST PASSOVER. (vs. 7-13.) Jesus

meanwhile directs the two disciples, Peter and John, to make ready the

Passover. He so times the celebration as to have it over on the Thursday

night of the Passover week, and without haste, to secure the further

preparation which His spirit required. And here we have the facts set before



Ø      that He owed accommodation to the consideration of a stranger; and

Ø      that His supernatural knowledge guided the disciples in their quest of a

guest-chamber. There, then, in the guest-chamber of a stranger, without

taking the lamb to the temple, but in the primitive fashion, the two

faithful men made ready for their Master. It was a recurrence to the

primitive ritual.


·         THE PASSOVER FEAST. (vs. 14-18.) With the twelve

accordingly He comes at the appointed hour, and sits down to the

significant feast. He tells them with what desire He had contemplated this

last Passover before He should suffer. He will not again eat of it till it is

fulfilled in the kingdom of God. The order of celebration was first the

passing round of the wine-cup; next, the bitter herbs, dipped, as salad

would be, in a red sauce made of almonds, nuts, figs, and other fruits; next,

another wine-cup, after which the father of the family explained the nature

of the rite; then came the morsel of unleavened bread and the piece of the

roast lamb, made palatable by the aforesaid sauce; the last act was the

passing round of a third wine-cup. It must have been a touching and tender

type in the eyes of Him who was so soon to be offered.  We should have

listened to His explanations on that occasion with peculiar interest. His

references must have been somewhat veiled in presence of the

betrayer, yet sufficiently explicit to have broken ordinary hearts. It was a

marvelous feast — the Paschal Lamb Himself partaking of the Passover;

the Antitype experiencing a special benefit through the study of the type!

What a solemnity, moreover, is thrown over the whole scene through His

indication that it is all shortly to be fulfilled!


·         THE INSTITUTION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER. (vs. 19-20.)

Upon the more formidable feast, which is to pass away on fulfillment, Jesus

founds a simpler feast, to be celebrated till He comes again. It is to consist

of bread and wine, two of the elements there at the table. The bread is to

represent His body, which is to be broken for His people; and the wine His

blood, which is for them to be shed. In this way a memorial more lasting

than brass or marble is to be reared, and His gracious presence is to be

experienced in the Christian Church. The new institution was a promise of

the most gracious kind, regarding the season when He would be absent

from them.


·         THE INTIMATION OF THE BETRAYAL. (vs. 21-23.) Along with

the solemn joy there is dashed profoundest sorrow at the intimation of

betrayal by one of the apostolic band. A traitor is there, and they should

know it. Good sign in that each man suspects himself! They all, except

Judas, ask Christ if it is he. Last of all, it would seem, came the inquiry of

the real traitor. But this unearthing of the false one does not shake him

from his foul purpose. Christ could not do more for him than He here does,

even though it does not save him. How salutary is self-suspicion! How

dangerous self-confidence!




The Jealousy Among the Disciples (vs. 24-30)


24 “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted

the greatest.”  The Lord’s words in these verses are peculiar to Luke. The strife

among the disciples which suggested the Lord’s corrective sayings was evidently no

mere dispute as to precedence in their places at the supper, but some question as to

their respective positions in the coming kingdom of which their Master had said so much

in the course of His later instructions. It is closely connected with the footwashing

related at length in John 13:4-17). This has been well described as a parable in action,

exhibited to illustrate forcibly the novel and sublime truth which He was teaching them,

the world-teachers of the future, that in self sacrifice consisted the secret of true

greatness. In the kingdom of heaven this would be found to be conspicuously the case.



25 “And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over

them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”

(εὐεργέταιeuergetai - benefactors). Those who were listening knew well how

utterly false these high-sounding human titles often were. Eὐεργέτης - Euergetaes)

 benefactor, was the well-known title appropriated by Ptolemy Euergetes and other

hated royal tyrants well known to the Jewish people.  26 But ye shall not be so:

but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is

chief, as he that doth serve.  27  For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat,

or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as He

that serveth.”    





                                    Greatness after Christ (vs. 24-27)


Three things claim our attention.


·         APOSTOLIC FAILURE. When the apostles of our Lord came to look

back on this most memorable evening, how pained and how ashamed they

must have felt as they recollected this unseemly contest (v. 24)! At the

very hour when their Lord was .manifesting His love and His forethought

for His Church in two most striking and touching ways — at the very hour

when His heart was torn with distracting sorrow by the desertion and

treachery of one of His chosen band, and when He might well have been

looking for some consolation in the attachment and the obedience of the

others, they must needs show their unlikeness to Himself and their

unworthiness of their position by an untimely dispute about their own

importance in connection with that condescending service of their Lord’s,

how small such a controversy seems! And in connection with such a trial as

that through which He was passing, how unbecoming and ill-timed was any

anxiety about their own affairs! It was in their power to render to Jesus

Christ a most helpful sympathy, and, instead of doing that, they grieved

Him by the exhibition of a contentious and an ambitious spirit. It was a sad

failure on their part. How often do His disciples fail Him now! How often

do they let the opportunity of loving and effective service pass unused!

When the hour strikes for faithfulness, or for courage, or for self-sacrifice,

or for humility, or for energetic action, is there not found unfaithfulness, or

timidity, or selfish time-serving, or pride, or a culpable inactivity, that loses

everything and leaves behind nothing but failure and regret?


·         WORLDLY VANITY. (v. 25.) What a poor thing indeed is mere

official dignity, or even arbitrary power, or servile flattery! Official dignity

without moral worth is a miserably hollow thing. Arbitrary power,

exercised in caprice and apart from a pure desire to do good and to enrich,

is an evil thing; it is injurious to the possessor and it is burdensome to the

objects of it. Servile flattery is a false thing. It is simply contemptible on

the part of those who pay it; it is morally ruinous to those who accept it.

Let the “Gentiles” act thus if they must; but “ye shall not be so.” Ye who

care to be true, to be loving, to be humble — ye shall not sit on that seat of

honor, ye shall not run into that serious temptation, ye shall not pursue

such a worthless prize. Other and better things are within your reach; for

you there is:


·         CHRISTIAN GREATNESS. (vs. 26-27.)


Ø      Jesus Christ, the greatest One, was the Servant of all. He came to serve;

it was His holy, heavenly errand; He came to seek and to save the lost. He

lived to serve. That act of menial service in which He had just been

engaged (John 13:1-5) was only a picture and illustration of the whole

spirit and substance of His life; to bear the burden of others was the law

of His life (Galatians 6:2). He lived to heal, to help, to comfort, to

enlighten, to redeem; his life from end to end was a loving ministry,

a gracious and generous service (Mark 10:45). He suffered to serve.

He died to serve. He had a perfect right to say, I am among you as he

that serveth.”


Ø      We are nearest to our Lord as we live to serve; we rise towards the

spiritual stature of Jesus Christ as we are filled with this His spirit and as

we live this His life. There is a path for ambition to tread in the kingdom

of Christ; but it is not the path that leads to high office and official dignity

and popular applause: these things may come unsought, and be used for

good.  But the one road along which true Christian greatness travels is the

way of self-forgetting service. To be touched and moved by the sorrows

and the sins of our fellow-men; to be stirred to helpful, earnest, sacrificial

effort on their behalf; to pity the poor and needy; to seek and to save the

lost; to breathe the air and to do the work of an unpretentious but

effective kindness, to have the right to say, “I am among you as he

                        that serveth; that is greatness after Christ Himself.


28 “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.”  But after

the gentle rebuke of their jealous ambition, whichrebuke was veiled in the great

instruction, their Master, with most tender grace, referred to their unswerving loyalty

to Him. Their faithfulness stood out at that hour in strong contrast with the

conduct of Judas. It is always thus with their Master and ours. Every good deed,

every noble thought, each bit of generosity and self-forgetfulness on our part, is at

once recognized and rewarded a hundredfold now as then.


29 “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.”

This promise refers to earth and this life. They and their successors in His Church

would bear sway over men’s hearts, His kingdom would be administered by them.

With strangely literal accuracy has this promise been fulfilled. From the hour when

the despised Master, already doomed to a shameful death, uttered this seemingly

improbable prediction, his kingdom over men’s hearts has been extending. Then

 at most the kingdom numbered a few hundreds; now it can only be reckoned

by millions. For centuries the story of the civilized world has been THE



30 “That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones

judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  While the words just considered (v. 29)

referred to a success and a reward, the scene of which was to be this world, the

Master now continues His promises of reward to His chosen faithful followers —

a reward which will be their blessed portion IN ETERNAL LIFE  which will

follow this. First, the endless bliss to be shared with Him is pictured under the old

favorite Jewish image of the heavenly banquet; and second, in that heavenly realm

a special place of honor and a distinct work is promised to these His chosen faithful




Wednesday and Thursday of Passion Week (vs. 1-30)


Look at that picture — the Son of God awaiting the hour; spending the

last day before the arrest and the trial in the deep seclusion of the Bethany

home. Over that day the veil of an impenetrable secrecy hangs. One thing

only is certain — it was a time in which the shrinking spirit, whilst feeling

even unto death the shadow of the exceeding heaviness, nevertheless drank

of the brook by the way (Psalm 110:7), the comforting “I am not alone, for

the Father is with me” (John 16:32).  Look at this picture — the priests and

scribes, defied and denounced in the temple and in the presence of the people,

have resolved that, by fair means or by foul, they must get rid of this “Swift

Witness” against them. These men, united by a common hatred, consult (v. 2)

how they may kill Him. We can imagine the conferences in the dimly lighted

chamber — the partial light only casting deeper shadows, and bringing into

fuller relief the lines of fierce resentment on the faces of the councilors.

There is no debate as to the object; the only and the long debate is simply

as to the means of accomplishing the object. Their deliberations are

unexpectedly aided. The evangelist informs us of the satisfaction which

lightens their countenances as they conclude the bargain with Judas of

Karioth, and receive from him the assurance that he will find “the

opportunity to betray him to them” (v. 6) without the risk of exciting a

tumult. Thus, whilst heaven is calm, hell is agitated at its depths; whilst

love is directing its prayer and looking up, pride and envy are laying their

plots and meditating the darkest crime which blots the page of history.

“Mark the perfect, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is

peace”  (Psalm 37:37).  “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when

it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt”  (Isaiah 57:20).  The early

hours of Thursday swiftly pass. The next day is the great Passover day; and

the disciples have begun to press the inquiry, “Where shall we keep it?”

In the forenoon (v. 8) Jesus gives Peter and John His instructions. A place

is in the Lord’s view.  That the one to whose house the apostles are directed

was a believer may be inferred:


  • from the word which the three synoptists represent the Lord as using,

“The Master saith (v. 11); and

  • from the confidential character of the message.


The two are commanded to go in advance of the party, and have all in readiness

for a celebration of the Paschal meal, which probably anticipated by one day

the usual celebration of the Lord’s Passover. Christ and the remaining ten

apostles follow in the evening. Nothing is told us of that journey, whether,

e.g., it was private, or whether, as usual, Jesus was accompanied by a

multitude of people. It is the last time on which the feet of the Christ who

had been known after the flesh shall press the grassy slope of the hill He

loved. But He had spoken to His own of another day, that foretold in

prophecy, when “His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which is

before Jerusalem on the east… the day when the light shall not be clear nor

dark, but one day known to the Lord. And living waters shall go out from

Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the

hinder sea;… and the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zechariah

14:4-9). All that is reported is this: “When the hour was come, he sat

down, and the twelve apostles with him” (v. 14). The details of that

memorable evening are full of interest; and, regarding them, the narratives

of the evangelists are singularly explicit. The four streams that go forth to

water the earth in that tale meet in a common channel; the four winds of

the Spirit are in it, united and one. The scene is (vs. 11-12) “a large

upper room” — the guest-chamber of the house.


  • Its object. To receive and entertain the Friend, the one to be honored.

Is not Christ the Guest (Revelation 3:20)?


  • Its characteristics. The best room. Is He not entitled to the best? A large

room. The whole breadth of the life’s aims, the whole strength of the

heart’s love, is due to Him. An upper room. Poor and sorry is the life that

has no upper room; blessed is the life whose upper room is reserved for

Him. A furnished room, all in readiness for His presence — a heart and

will furnished for every good work.


  • Its consecration. How realized? On our side, by an unreserved

surrender: “The Master saith;” and by the ready-making of faith and

love, as symbolized in Peter and John. On His side, by the coming as

the Lamb of God with the gospel of forgiveness, and as the Bread of

life to have communion with us and we with Him.


When Jesus enters the room there is a strife for precedence, for the places nearest

Him.  Luke places the strife (v.24) along with the questioning among themselves

who would be false to Christ; but his language, “there was also,” is inexact, and

it seems consistent with the fitness of things that the contention should occur

when seats were being taken. The Master, observing it, administers the rebuke

recorded in vs. 26-27; and, having so done, He proceeds to comply with

the ceremonial of the feast. It was wont to begin with the passing of a cup

of wine, blessed and hallowed. The word recorded in vs. 15-16 is spoken

before the dispensation of the cup; the word in vs. 17-18 accompanies

the dispensation; both words intimating the declinature to partake of the

shadowy rite when the substance is so soon to be realized. “Suffer it to be

so now,said Jesus to John at the baptism. The now is exhausted. “I will

not any more” is the sentence of the supper-table. As they divide the cup,

He rises. He is minded to give them the lesson never to be forgotten, as His

sharpest rebuke of all their contentions for priority — the lesson so

graphically related in John 13:1-17. Resuming His place at the table, lo!

a troubled look flits across the countenance. A little later in the evening He

can no longer refrain. There is one seated near Him over whom the heart

yearns, though it recoils from his baseness (v. 21). The hand of the

betrayer is with Him. “One of you,Startled, deeply moved, the question

passes from one and another, “Lord, is it I?” Simon whispers to John, “Ask

who it is;” and John, leaning forward, his head close to Jesus, puts the

question. He gets the sign by which the one will be identified — a morsel

to be dipped in the dish that is before the Lord will be given to him. It is

given to Judas, hitherto silent, something of the better self still struggling

within. But, after the sop, the Satanic spirit gains in boldness. He has the

effrontery to ask, “Is it I?” What is the answer? “Thou hast said… That

thou doest do quickly.” O Judas, there is no need to linger; thou art

detected. “The Son of man goeth, as it is written: but woe unutterable to

thee!” It is difficult to determine the precise stage in the keeping of the

feast at which the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was instituted. Matthew

makes the departure of the traitor precede the appointment of the

ordinance. Luke seems to place the institution of the Supper at an earlier

period than the departure. But the fact of the institution is beyond doubt

(vs. 19-21). The Christian Church, in all ages, has obeyed the command

of her beloved Lord, spoken in the guest-chamber when keeping the

Passover with His disciples: “This do in remembrance of me.” The central

point of the interest attaching to the Thursday evening is this consecration

of the bread and the cup as the abiding pledges of redeeming love. It is sad

to think that over the gracious words of Christ in the consecration so many

controversies should have been waged. Why cannot men recognize the

language of figure and symbol? Those who insist that in the sentence,

“Take, eat; this is my body” there is implied the transubstantiation of the

cake of bread held in the hand, claim for that sentence a narrow literalism

which they themselves do not observe when they read, “I am the true

Vine,” or “I am the Door.” Let us receive, with all possible oblation of

praise, the earthly creatures as, in sacramental use, the hallowed

representations to the eye and pledges to the soul of the never-failing

nourishment of the body that was broken and the blood that was shed for

us. Let all who would feed on Jesus in their heart with thanksgiving reflect

on the words of the Thursday evening which mirror His consciousness, and

let them examine themselves in the light of this consciousness. “With desire

I have desired” (v. 15). O my Lord, if thy desire was thus vehement; if,

because of it, thou didst overlook all that lay in the immediate future; if

thou didst so long to share thy feast with men, why the want of desire in

me? why the backwardness and slowness of my soul to receive thee in the

mysteries of thy love? Lord, lead me in thy truth, and teach me. “Until the

kingdom of God shall come” (v. 18). O my Lord, how vivid to thee was

the future consummation of thy sacrifice! As, in perspective, the distant is

often near, the intervening spaces being lost to sight, so was it with thee.

Thou didst behold thy kingdom in glory as at hand. and thy soul stretched

forward whither thy prayer afterwards pointed, — “Father, that which thou

hast given me, I will that where I am they also may be with me” (John 17:24).

Why beats my pulse so slow and feeble in response to the hope of thy kingdom?

Why is my Lord’s Supper so much of a mere commemoration, so little of a

prophetic joy, of a prayer, as already in the vision of the kingdom? “Come,

Lord Jesus, come quickly.”  (Revelation 22:20)


“Thou strong and loving Son of man,

   Redeemer from the bonds of sin,

Tis thou the living spark dost fan

   That sets my heart on fire within.

Thou openest heaven once more to men —

   The soul’s true home, thy kingdom, Lord;

And I can trust and hope again,

   And feel myself akin to God.”




                                    Fidelity and its Reward (vs. 28-30)



 The lesson of the text is the bountiful reward of faithfulness to Jesus

Christ; but taking these words of His in connection with the position in

which He well knew Himself to be, they speak to us of:



[bequeath] unto you a kingdom… that ye may sit on thrones.” And who is

this thus calmly disposing of kingdoms and thrones? — a reigning emperor,

a brilliant conqueror? Only a poor, homeless, soldierless Prophet! One who

knew that He was about to be taken, tried, convicted, scourged, crucified!

Yet He meant it all. What majestic confidence in God, in the power of His

gospel, in His own integrity! With what reverent homage shall we bow

before Him who could make such royal offers when the shadow of the

cross already rested on His path! And what nobler sight is there to be seen

among men than that of one (missionary, minister, teacher, reformer, etc.)

calmly going on his way when every one and when everything is against

him, confident in the triumph of the cause for which he pleads] Taking

these words of Christ in connection with the preceding verses, we see:



CORRECTION TO COMMENDATION. Seeing that His apostles were

not only silenced, but humbled by the rebuke He had administered to them

(vs. 24-26), and wishing to reassure and revive them, our Lord turned to

the fidelity they had shown toward Himself, and spoke words of praise and

of promise. “You are wrong altogether in your spirit and behavior in this

matter; I blame you for this. But be not cast down; I do not forget your

constancy toward me in all my times of trial, and I will reward you.” Such

was, such is, the gracious, considerate, generous Master.


“His anger is so slow to rise.

So ready to abate.”


It is the flying shadow which the wind-driven cloud casts upon the field,

chased by the hastening sunshine. “O slow to strike and swift to spare!”

might well have been written of Him. Can it be said or sung of us, in our

relations with one another? But the main truth here is:



Our Lord wished to assure His disciples that He was by no means unmindful

or unappreciative of their faithfulness; and He found the best proof of this

in their constancy toward Himself in His times of trouble. Through all

poverty, all persecution, all desertion, all apparent failure, they had been

true and loyal — they had shared His sorrows, had kept step with Him

through the dark shadows; they had ministered to His bodily necessities

(John 4:8), and (so far as they could) had sympathized with Him in his

spiritual conflicts. “Ye are they who have continued with me in my trials.”

And what a reward He was prepared to give them (vs. 29-30)! Not

understanding these words literally, we take it that their Lord held out

before them:


Ø      Fullness of joy. “Eat and drink at my table.”


Ø      Signal honor. “Sit on thrones.”


Ø      Large and abiding power and influence.

“I appoint unto you a kingdom.” This promise has been already fulfilled,

though in a different form from that which they then expected — in the

exalted privilege of being the first to publish the gospel of His grace to

mankind; in the glorious work of writing those memorials and letters

which show no sign of age and are esteemed the one absolutely

invaluable literature of the world; in the celestial joy, dignity,

influence, which they have long inherited.


o       What are the best proofs of loyalty we can give? These are


§         showing tender sympathy and untiring helpfulness

      towards His people (see Matthew 25:40);

§         having continual regard to His will in all the duties and

      details of our life (see John 14:15, 21, 23);

§         being practically concerned for the progress of

§         His kingdom.


o       What is the reward He will grant us? A goodly measure:


§         of joy,

§         of sacred joy in worship,

§         fellowship,

§         work,

§         life;

§         of honor,


the esteem which purity and love rarely, if ever, fail to win;

of quiet power, — the holy and blessed influence which

spiritual beauty and earnest testimony exert on heart and life,

which they transmit from generation to generation. This

reward here; and hereafter joy, honor, power, such as we

                                    must wait to see and must resolve to experience.




 The Lord Foretells Simon Peters Fall and Warns of Hard Times Coming

(vs. 31-38)


31 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have

you, that he may sift you as wheat.”  The majority of the more ancient authorities

omit the words, “and the Lord said.” These words were possibly inserted at an

early date to obviate the abruptness of this sudden change in the subject-matter of

the Lord’s discourse. The more accurate translation would be, “Satan obtained

you by asking that he may try you,” not content with Judas. This saying of Jesus

is a very mysterious one; it reveals to us something of what is going on in the

unseen world. A similar request was made by the same bitter, powerful foe

in the case or Job (Job 1:12). Are we to understand that these are

examples of what is constantly going on in that world so close to us, but

from which no whisper ever reaches our mortal ears? Such grave thoughts

lend especial intensity to those words in the prayer of prayers, where we

ask “our Father which is in heaven” to deliver us from evil, or the evil

one, as so many of our best scholars prefer to translate ἀπὸ τοῦ πονήρου

apo tou ponaeroufrom the wicked one.   Satan asks that he may test and try

the apostles. Judas he had already tempted, and he had won him. Possibly this

signal victory emboldened him to proffer this request. We may imagine the evil

one arguing thus before the Eternal: “These chosen ones who are appointed to

work in the future so tremendous a work in thy Name, are utterly unworthy.

Let me just try to lure them away with my lures. Lo, they will surely fall. See,

one has already.”  (Our pastor, Bro. David Tucker, taught about this on

Wednesday night, May 2, 2012 – One can only imagine the fall-out from

Such a person as Peter would engender if he had succumbed to Satan!

Thankfully, the Lord prayed for him (v.32).  May He pray for us “seeing

He ever liveth to make intercession” in His intercessions before God’s

throne! – Hebrews 7:25) - CY – 2012)


32 “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:” - The

prayer of Satan apparently was not refused. Jesus, however, says, that for

one of that loved company, who He knew from his peculiar temperament

was in especial peril, He had prayed. The prayer was answered thus: the

temptation came to all the apostles; all fell; Peter, though, more

disastrously by far than his brethren, but the result of the fall was not

hopeless despair as in the case of Judas, but bitter remorse and a brave

manly repentance. It is said by Roman divines (e.g. Maldonatus, a Lapide,

and Mai, here) that this prayer and precept of our Lord extends to all

bishops of Rome as Peter’s successors, and that in speaking to Peter

our Lord spoke to them. Would they be willing to complete the parallel,

and say that the bishops of Rome specially need prayer, because they

 deny Christ? Let them not take a part of it and leave the rest” (Bishop

Wordsworth) - “and when thou art converted.”  “Converted” must not be

understood here in its technical sense; it should rather be translated, “And

thou, when thou hast turned (i.e. to God) “strengthen thy brethren.”




                                    The Worth of Man (vs. 31-32)


These verses afford incidental but valuable evidence of the surpassing

worth of the human spirit, and should help us to feel of how much greater

account are we ourselves than anything that merely belongs to us. This is

brought out by:


·         THE DESIGNS THAT ARE LAID AGAINST US. It was evidently in a

very solemn and earnest strain that Jesus said, “Satan desired to have you

[plural], that he may sift,” etc. The evil one longed with eagerness, and

strove with strength, to pass the apostles of Christ through the sieve of

temptation, that he might compass their overthrow. And Peter, at a later

hour, tells us that that is his attitude and habit in regard to all Christian

disciples (I Peter 5:8). We may take it that:


Ø      All the unholy intelligences of the spiritual realm are bent on

      securing our overthrow.


Ø      In this malign intention they are supported by human agents. And this,

not only because evil naturally propagates evil, and because the wicked

feel stronger and more secure as they are more numerous, but because

they recognize the value of one human spirit and the advantage secured

by gaining it to their side. Hence there is a deliberate and determined

design often made upon the individual man by the forces of evil. This

is a fact by no means to be overlooked. As we go on our heavenward

way there may be an ambush laid for us at any point; at any time strong

spiritual foes may do their utmost to contrive our fall. The possibilities

of evil and of ruin are manifold. We may fall by:


o       error and unbelief,

o       pride,

o       selfishness,

o       worldliness and vanity,

o       intemperance,

o       impurity,

o       by departure in spirit from the fear and love of God.


There is room, there is reason, for vigilance on the part of him who

believes himself well on the way toward or even nearing the gates

of the celestial city.  (I Corinthians 10:12)



prayed for thee.” The strain of our Lord’s address, “Simon, Simon,” and

the fact of His interceding on Peter’s behalf, speak of a tender solicitude on

His part for His disciple. Jesus knew well all Peter’s infirmities; but He also

knew how ardently he could love, how devotedly he could serve, how

much he could be. Hence the intensity of His desire that he would not be

overcome. And for this reason we may be sure that our Lord is regarding

us all with a Divine interest. He knows the worth of any and every human

spirit — how much it can know and can enjoy; whom and what it can love;

what graces it can illustrate, and what truth adorn; what influence it can

instill; what good, and even great, work it can accomplish for God and man.

He knows also what sorrow it may bring upon itself, what shame, what

ruin; and also what irreparable injury it may do. We need not hesitate, but

should accustom ourselves to think that Jesus Christ is regarding us with a

very tender interest; is following the choices we are making and the course

we are pursuing with holy and loving solicitude; is grieved when He sees us

wander from the way of wisdom, rejoices in us and over us when He sees

us take the upward path.             



prayed that Peter’s faith might not fail. And it did not — we should

naturally expect. But in part it did. It did not utterly break down as that of

Judas did, but it failed to keep him loyal in a very trying hour. It did not

save him from the act of denial and from the sorrow which succeeded the

sin. It did not in any way relieve the apostle of his individual responsibility.

He continued to “bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:5), as every man must.

Not the very highest privilege, not even the intercession of the Lord Himself,

will relieve us of that. It must rest with us, in the last resort, whether:


Ø      we will strive and win, or

Ø      whether we wilt yield and be lost.




                        The Privilege of Spiritual Maturity (v. 32)


“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” This forward-looking

injunction of Christ reminds us of:


·         OUR NEED OF STRENGTHENING POWER. Such are the manifold

and effective forces opposed to us, invisible as well as visible and human

(see Ephesians 6:12 - “.....spiritual wickedness in high places..” - especially

in this day - CY - 2021); so strong and so subtle are the temptations that

beset us on every side; that we urgently need, not only the presence of

resisting principles within us, but the aid of friendly and helpful auxiliaries

around us. We want, indeed, the help which is from above - Holy Spirit;

that is the first Person to seek. And, having besought Him, we do well to avail

ourselves of all the strength we can gain from other sources. For the battle is

severe, and we are often hard pressed by our vigilant and relentless foes.


·         THE HELP WE CAN FIND IN MAN. God is, as stated, the Source of

spiritual strength. He renews our strength by the direct communications of

His Divine Spirit. But man helps us also. “A man shall be as an hiding place…

as rivers of water… as the shadow of a great rock.” (Isaiah 32:2) Paul went

through the region of Galatia, “strengthening the disciples” (Acts 18:23).

Peter was to “strengthen his brethren.” We can and we should do

much to strengthen one another, to build one another up on our holy faith.

We can do this:


1. By the force of a beautiful and attractive example.

2. By the utterance of invigorating truth.

3. By the inspiration of a cheerful, hopeful, loving spirit.


·         THE INCOMPETENCE OF INEXPERIENCE. Peter was not in a

position to afford spiritual strength then. He was too inexperienced. He

had not yet learned what the fierceness of the fire of temptation meant. He

did not then understand where his true strength lay. He had not yet

graduated in the school of experience. It is they, and only they, who know

what spiritual struggle means who can impart to others the help they need.

We must have passed through the waters before we can undertake to teach

others how to swim the strong stream of trial and temptation.


·         THE UNFITNESS OF UNFAITHFULNESS. Peter was about to fall.

A few hours would find him in the power of the adversary. Before another

day dawned he would have to reproach himself as a disloyal disciple. He

was about to rest under the shadow of great guilt, and he would have to

wait until he came forth from that shadow. Not until he “was converted,”

not until the spirit of overweening self-confidence had given place to that

of humble trust in God, not until the knowledge of Christ “after the flesh”

had passed, had risen into a knowledge of Him that was truly spiritual and

real, — not till then would he be fitted to strengthen his brethren.” His

case was strikingly parallel with that of David (see Psalm 51:11-13).

We have similar experiences now. When the Christian disciple loses ground

spiritually and morally, it becomes him to return unto the Lord” himself,

and then to teach transgressors” the way of God; it becomes him to

undergo a change of spirit, to be “renewed in the spirit of his mind”

(Ephesians 4:23) and then to speak the helpful and sustaining truth of Christ.

Unfaithfulness to our Lord, departure and distance from Him, — this has no

teaching function; its first duty is penitential; then it may think of useful work.

But we should understand that all true usefulness rests on the foundation of

spiritual integrity; it can find no other footing.


·         THE PRIVILEGE OF CHRISTIAN MATURITY. Peter was to look

forward to a not distant future, when, having learned truth by what he

suffered, he should strengthen his brethren in all that was true and wise and

good. This he did, and in this he found a noble heritage. To this we may

look forward as the reward of spiritual struggle, as the goal of earthly

good. What better portion can we ask for than to be the source of spiritual

strength to our brethren and sisters as they bear the burdens and fight the

            battles of their life?


33 “And he said unto Him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into

prison, and to death.”  This kind of confident enthusiasm is usually a sign of

weakness. Jesus, the Heart-reader, knew too well what such a wild protestation

was worth, and went on at once to predict his friend’s and servant’s awful fall,

that very night.  34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow

this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”



The Special Word to Simon (vs. 31-34)


Its solemnity is indicated by the twice- repeated “Simon.” Observe, when

the warning is given, this is the name used; afterwards (v. 34), in reply to

the disciple’s protestation, “I am ready to go both to prison and to death,”

the name is changed, “I tell thee, Peter. How gentle, how pathetic, the

irony! Of the Peter, the rock, it is to be said, “The cock shall not crow until

thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” Note three points in the

word of Christ.


  • THE TEMPTATION. To Him the personality of the tempter is always

real. Real, in respect of His own temptations: “Get thee hence, Satan;”

           (Matthew 4:10); “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in

           me” (John 14:30).  Now we are reminded that it is real in respect of

           the temptations of men. Beware of foolish speaking and jesting

in connection with the actual existence of the Satan. “Behold!” says

Jesus.  All is vividly present to Him; he would have the agency of the

adversary vividly present to His follower. The expression employed is

very striking (see the Revised Version, “Satan asked to have you”).

The phrase recalls the scene in Job 2. But this is memorable — the

tempter recognizes the proprietary of the Lord. Of Judas it is said,

“Satan entered into him.” Of Simon it is said, “He asked to have you.”

This is one over whom he has no right. He belongs to the Son of God

a man given Him by the Father.  And he makes request that the

disciple be sifted. In the margin of the Revised Version it is put as an

alternative reading: “He obtained you by asking.” All is so suggestive.

The Christian Father speaks of the Christians fasting-days. Such days

are often part of the experience of God’s people. The sieve, as if with

God’s permission, is applied. The tempter obtained the Lord Himself by

asking, and the sieve was applied to Him. It was similarly applied to His

apostle; it is similarly applied, in one form or another, to those who are

His. God will have His wheat winnowed.  Remember, there is the sieve:



  • THE INTERCESSION. It is spoken of (v. 32) as past, and as a

transaction accomplished in the invisible world. And who knows what

transactions are there realized? How blessed is the assurance that


“Where high the heavenly temple stands.

The house of God, not made with hands,

A great High Priest our nature wears,

The Guardian of mankind appears”!


I made intercession for thee.” Ah! in the day when all secrets are

declared, with what marvelous light will this word be illumined! Ye

Simons of all ages, thyself, O my soul, what a reflection it is that

between the one tempted and the outer darkness there is the intercession

of the ever-living and ever-mighty One, who is able to “save to the

uttermost”!  (Hebrews 7:25)  What is the intercession? Not that the sieve

be withdrawn, that the sifting fail? It is needful. Simon would not have

been the Peter he became without the sieve and without the discipline.

The tempter and the trial are used as discipline. He who world not pray

that his own be taken out of the world, will not pray that the Satan-request

be refused. No; but He intercedes that the “faith fail not” (v. 32). The great

feature of Simon was his confidence in Christ. Why should he have been

selected as the Rock-man, who was so often rash, and who so weakly

denied his Master? Through all there was still the faith. He had quicker

insight into the secrets of his Master’s power and presence than any of

His fellows; he had a higher and fuller perception of and trust in Him.

Were this to fail, all would fail. And the fruit of the intercession was

evidenced in the springing back of his faith — nay, in its rising to a still

higher measure of knowledge on the ruins of the old self-confidence;

there was created the new heart that by-and-by was ready to

go to prison and death.


  • THE EXHORTATION. Simon will turn again. When the Lord turns,

in the day of the trial, and looks on the apostate disciple, there is born a

godly sorrow which works repentance not to be repented of  

(II Corinthians 7:10)  Out of this repentance there comes the earnest,

“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17).

And the charge is, “Do thou, when once thou hast turned again, stablish

thy brethren” (v. 32, Revised Version). The most helpful man is he who

has himself been tempted, who has passed, not without scars, through the

fight of faith. It is the sympathy of the soul that has come through great

tribulation that has the delicate touch, the magnetic force, the faculty of

establishing the brethren. All discovery of the Lord is to be utilized in the

way of strengthening, cheering, building up human souls in the kingdom

of God. What we receive we hold in trust for others, and, in giving as we

receive, what we have gained becomes doubly ours.


“Heaven does with us as we with torches do.

Not light them for themselves.”


Experience of God and His love is the best teacher. What we learn, even

through falls and failures, turns most to the profit of poor human nature.

Simon, after the sifting, through the turning again, was the confirmer of the




                        The Apostle’s Fall (vs. 33-34, 55-62)


From this most memorable incident, recorded with noticeable candor by

all the evangelists, many lessons spring.



PROVE! (v. 33.) Peter believed himself to be capable of daring and

enduring the very last extremity in the cause of his Master. He would have

utterly ridiculed the idea that the sneer of a servant-girl could draw from

him a denial of his Lord. The event showed how entirely he mistook

himself. We ought to know ourselves well; but, in fact, we do not. We

suppose ourselves to be strong and steadfast, when we are feeble and

unreliable; or to be humble-minded, when we are proud of heart; or to be

generous, when we are essentially self-seeking; or to be devout, when we

are really unspiritual; to be near to God, when we are afar off

(Revelation 3:17; I Corinthians 10:12; Psalm 19:12-13; 139:23-24).



HEART AND LIFE! (v. 34.) Jesus knew how weak His disciple was,

and He foresaw his speedy failure. He knows us altogether. He knows our

heart; how sincere is our purpose, how frequent are our efforts, how many

our disappointments, how faulty is our nature, how wounded and weak is

our spirit. He knows also our life. He sees it as it lies before His all-beholding

eye; He “knows the way we take” (Job 23:10), the path we are about to

pursue. It is to One who has a thorough and complete knowledge of us

that we belong, and it is to Him we draw nigh in our best hours.



one is no other than the Apostle Peter, the very man who had made the

great confession, and upon whom or upon whose testimony Christ would

build his Church (Matthew 16:13-19). He also delivered the sermon on

the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down on them all! It is he who

had been admitted to such close fellowship with Christ, and been allowed the

high privilege of rendering Him constant personal service. There is no office,

however high it may be in the Christian Church, which will ensure to its

occupant spiritual integrity. And even he who has been “raised up to heavenly

places,” and has known even the raptures of an exalted spiritual experience,

may fall under the power of temptation. It is not the lofty but the lowly that

stand on safe ground in the kingdom of God.




Ø      From a presumptuous and blind self-confidence Peter fell to a

      half-hearted following (v. 54);

Ø      from that he fell to untruthfulness and denial of his Lord (v. 57);

Ø      from that to a more deliberate and repeated denial (vs. 58-59),


accompanied even (as Matthew tells us) with profanity. Sin is a slope which

seems slight at the summit, but it becomes steeper and yet steeper as we go

on our downward way. And it too often happens that we reach a point where

we cannot arrest ourselves, but are compelled against our own desire to

continue.  (A type of spiritual gravity - CY - 2021)  Shun the first step in

the downward course!



      Not a blow that smote him to the ground; not even burning words of

condemnation that should sound ever afterwards in his soul; but one

reproachful glance — the look of wounded love. So merciful and so pitiful

is our Lord when we are unfaithful or disloyal to Him now. He bears long

with us; He seeks to win us back through added privilege and multiplied

mercy; He deals very patiently and gently with us; only when other and

milder methods fail does He mercifully afflict us, that in some way and by

some means He may redeem us from folly and from ruin.



He seeks to lead us, as by His reproving glance He led His fallen disciple, to

a pure and saving penitence. He would have our hearts filled with a worthy

and a cleansing shame, with a purifying sorrow; that this may lead us into a

condition of


Ø      abiding humility,

Ø      living faith, and of

Ø      thorough reconsecration to Himself and to His cause.


35 “And He said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and

shoes, lacked ye anything. And they said, Nothing.  36 Then said He unto

them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip;

and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”  The Lord

speaks one more word to His own before leaving the upper room, More occupied

with the future trials of His disciples than with His own tragic destiny, which He knew

was about to be fulfilled, He reminds His friends of the comparatively quiet and serene

existence they had been spending during the last two years and a half with

Him. In that period, generally speaking, they had been welcomed and kindly

entertained by the people, sometimes, they would remember, even with

enthusiasm. But they must prepare now for a different life — cold looks,

opposition, even bitter persecution, would be their lot for the future.

They must order themselves now to meet these things. No ordinary prudent

forethought must be omitted by them. He had more than hinted that this

future lay before them in His words, “Behold I send you forth as lambs in

the midst of wolves”  (ch. 10:3); now He plainly tells them what kind of life

awaited them in the immediate future. Of course, the advice as to the sword was

not meant to be taken literally. It was one of those metaphors the Lord

used so often in his teaching. For a similar metaphor still more elaborately

developed, see Ephesians 6:17, and following verses.


37 “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in

me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors:” - Here He shows them

what He meant. They, as disciples of One treated as a malefactor, had surely nothing

to expect but hatred and persecution.  This is the first time that the Lord Himself

directs us to the Isaiah 53,  that most pre-eminent and complete text of the Passion -

“for the things concerning me have an end.”  The tragic end of His earthly

ministry is close at hand. The prophetic description of the suffering Servant of the

Lord will soon be found to have been terribly accurate.


38 “And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said unto

them, It is enough.”  As so often, the disciples took their Master’s words with

curious literalness, and, as a reply, produced two swords, as if these two poor

weapons could help them in the coming times of sore need. If they were to stand

firm in the long trial-season which lay before them, they must surely provide

themselves with very different weapons to these; their arms in the campaign of the

future must be forged in no earthly workshop. But our Lord sadly declined then to

enter into further explanation. His meaning would be all clear to them soon, so He

closed the dialogue with the words, “It is enough.”





                        The Proper Christian Spirit (vs. 24-38)


Through our Lord’s faithful dealing the disciples had been led to

wholesome self-suspicion. They cried out at the possibility of a betrayal of

the Master, “Lord, is it I?” But no sooner have their minds been relieved

through the singling out of Judas than they swing round again to self-confidence

and even base ambition. There, at the table of the Lord, in spite

of the hallowed associations, they speculate who is to be greatest in the

coming kingdom. Jesus has consequently to check this nascent ambition.

He does so by ennobling:


·         THE SPIRIT OF SERVICE. (vs. 24-27.) Now, the world’s idea is

that it is noble to exercise authority, to be able to order people about. In

fact, the world has come to call men “benefactors” who have done nothing

but command other people. What tributes are paid to princes, who have

done nothing all their lives but issue orders and receive the homage and

service of other people! A blear-eyed world is ready, as Christ here shows,

to pronounce such princes the benefactors of their age and country. But He

has come into the world to ennoble the opposite idea. Here at this very

feast He has been as one that serveth. His whole life, moreover, has been a

public service. Everywhere He has just considered how He could serve

others. To minister, not be ministered unto, was His continual care. To

make the service of others glorious in the eyes of discerning men was one

great purpose of His earthly life. This reveals also the very spirit of the

Divine life.  God is Lord of all because Servant of all. He sustains all, as He

has created all; and His greatness is the greatness of ministration. It is only

Oriental barbarism which supposes greatness to consist in indolent and

luxuriant state. Here, then, is the field of genuine ambition. Let us try to be

first in the field of service; let us do our best and most for the benefit of all

about us; and then alone shall we become noble and Christ-like.



      To these disciples, who continue with Christ in His temptations, He

appoints a kingdom. In this kingdom they are to have thrones, and to be

judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. In this way our Lord indicates the

influence which these men, who entertain His spirit of service, will acquire.

And when we consider the history of Christianity, we see that even in the

world of humanity these humble servants of God and mankind have

become kings and judges. It is by their deliverances in the primitive age

that men are judging themselves and being judged. The apostles are preeminently

the sovereigns of this new and better time. And this posthumous

influence on earth is only a faint reflection of their influence in heaven.

Now, is not this to encourage every serviceable soul? Let each of us be

only content to serve, to do whatever a brother needs, and by our service

we acquire influence and kingship. The world is really ruled by obliging,

serviceable, meek, and earnest men.




strange to say, temptation is overruled as well as service to the creation of

influence. There is in Peter’s nature a good deal of pride and vain-glory to

be winnowed out. There is wheat within him, but also chaff. Now, Satan

had set his mind upon the fall of Peter; but Jesus has already prayed for him

that his faith may not fail. Here was Peter’s safeguard in the timely

intercession of his Master.( How watchful the Lord was and is for souls!

Oh, how our want of watchfulness stands rebuked! Yet Peter was

permitted to fall under temptation; but he was won back again, converted

the second time, so to speak, by the loving look of Jesus; and thus destined

to become a strengthener of the brethren. So that our Lord’s prayers for us

may be that, through permitted humiliations and tears and penitence, we

may pass on to power. It is only when self-confidence, as in Peter’s case,

has been purged out of us by humiliating discoveries of our personal

weakness, that we are in a position to undertake the care and strengthening

of brethren. Broken-hearted Simon becomes, after Pentecost, the reliable

Rock-man, worthy of the new name, Peter.



PRUDENCE. (vs. 35-38.) In sending the disciples out on their first

missions, Jesus relied on the hospitality of the people as a fitting support

for His agents. Going to the people as philanthropists, working miracles,

preaching the advent of Messiah, they would meet with such support as

would be all-sufficient. This was the policy of confidence — the reliance on

the people for entire support. But when the world turned against Christ,

and realized how opposed He was to its worldliness, then the disciples

would require to exercise all possible prudence. They would require to

look out for themselves, and even to fight for their own hand. That is to

say, there are times when we may trust the world, and times when we are

warranted in distrusting it. When is it, we are inclined to ask, that the

prudential temper must take the place of confidence? When the world is

determined on injustice. Thus at this time the world is about to reckon

Christ among the transgressors, and to do Him manifest injustice. The fit of

unfairness was upon it, and the disciples should then stand in self-defense.

But other days would dawn again, when disciples will be warranted in

pursuing a policy of public confidence, and thus giving the world the

chance of compensation. Let us wisely consider the “signs of the times,”

and act accordingly. Christ will guide us to the policy which is best, if we

prayerfully ask Him.






                                    Misunderstanding Christ (vs. 35-38)


There is no teacher who has been so well heard, and none that has been so

much honored and obeyed, as Jesus Christ. Yet there can have been few

who have been so much misunderstood as He has been. We have our

attention drawn by the text to:




Ø      By the apostles themselves.


o        On this occasion their Lord wished to intimate to them, in strong and

forcible language, that to whatever perils and straits they had been

exposed before, the time was now at hand when, He Himself being

taken from their side and the saddest fore-shadowings being fulfilled,

they would be subjected to far severer trials, and would be (in a sense)

cast on their own defenses. The apostles, mistaking his meaning, put

a literal interpretation on His words, and produced a couple of swords,

as perhaps meeting the emergency!


o        On a previous occasion (Matthew 16:5-8) the Lord warned them

against “the leaven of the Pharisees;” and they supposed Him to refer

to their neglect in forgetting the bread!


o        They completely failed to apprehend His meaning when He foretold

      His own sufferings and death (ch. 18:31-34).


Ø      By His disciples generally.


o        They could not comprehend what He meant by “eating his flesh and

drinking His blood (John 6:53-60).


o        They completely misunderstood the end He had in view, the character

of that “kingdom of heaven” of which He spoke so much.


o        They did not enter into the great redeeming purpose for which He came.


Ø      By His enemies.


o       In so small a matter as His saying recorded in John 2:19;

o       in so great a matter as that recorded in ibid. ch.18:37.


·         SUBSEQUENT MISUNDERSTANDING. In how many ways has the

Church of Christ, since apostolic days, misunderstood its Lord! It has done

so in regard to the meaning of particular words; and in regard to the great

end He had in view (the nature of His kingdom); and in regard to the means

and methods He would have His friends employ. How pitifully and how

painfully has it misunderstood Him when it has interpreted His reference to

the sword of the text (v. 36), and His use of the word “compel” (ch. 14:23)

as justifying every conceivable cruelty in the furtherance of His cause!


·         MODERN MISUNDERSTANDING. Judging from what we know

has been, we conclude that it is likely enough that we also misunderstand

our Master.


Ø      We may fail to reach the true significance of His words; we may find out,

further on, that they have another and a larger meaning than that we have

been ascribing to them.


Ø      We may mistake His will as to the object we should work for, or as to

the right and the wise methods we should adopt to secure our end.


Ø      We may be wrong in our judgment of what Christ is doing with

ourselves and with our life; we may misread His Divine purpose

concerning us. There are three principles which we shall do well to

keep in mind in our endeavor to understand the Divine Teacher.

The thought of Christ is:


o       profound rather than superficial:

o       spiritual rather than sensuous;

o       comprehensive and far-seeing (reaching through time to

                                    immortality) rather than narrow and time-bounded.






                                                Gethsemane (39-45)


As we enter “the place which is called Gethsemane, we pass into the

“holy place,” the nearest of all to “the holy of holies” — that is, to Calvary

itself. Thither our Lord went on this most memorable evening; and “His

disciples followed Him” — the eleven who remained faithful to Him. But

even of these only three were counted worthy to attend Him into the secret

place of prayer and struggle, and to witness His agony. Such sorrow as He

was then to know seeks the secret place and chooses only the very closest

and dearest friendship for its ministry. Then fell upon our Divine Lord a

sorrow and a temptation; an agitation and agony of soul for which our

language has no name, our heart no room, our life no experience. We ask

— What was that intolerable and overwhelming anguish, which the Savior

asked might pass from Him, and which had so marvelous and so terribly

significant an effect on His bodily nature (vs. 42-44)? Our completest

answer leaves much to be said, much to be explained.


1. We barely touch the outer line of the whole circle of truth when we

speak of the apprehension of coming torture and death as events in the

natural, physical sphere. It is an irreverent and wholly unworthy conception

that what many men — many who have not even been good men — have

faced without flinching, our Lord and Master shrank from with an

overmastering dread.


2. We come nearer to the center of the truth when we think that the whole

shadow of the cross, with its spiritual darkness and desolation, then began

to rest upon Him… Something of that shadow had been darkening His path

before (Mark 10:38; here, ch. 12:50; John 12:27). And this shadow

darkened and deepened as He drew near to the dread hour itself. At this

point the cross immediately confronted Him in all its awful severity, and He

knew that this was the time when He must finally resolve to endure

everything or to retrace His steps. This, then, was the critical hour; then

was “the crisis of the world.” Great and terrible was the temptation to

decline the fearful future now at hand; it was a temptation He struggled

against with a spiritual violence that showed itself in the drops of blood;

it was a temptation he only overcame by tearful supplications to the Eternal

Father for His prevailing succor (Hebrews 5:7).


3. But we miss our true mark if we do not include the thought that He was

then bearing something of the burden of human sin. Whatever was

intended by bearing our sins in his own body,” by making his soul an

offering for sin,” and by expressions similar to these, we believe that Jesus

Christ was then in the very act of fulfilling these predictions when He thus

strove and suffered in the garden. As we look upon Him there we see “the

Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.” The scene may teach us

very varied lessons and affect us in many ways; but it is certainly well fitted

to be:



SAVIOUR. It says, “Behold how He loved you!”



HOUR OF TRIAL. Both before and after, the Master exhorted His

disciples to pray that “they entered not into temptation’’ (vs. 40, 46). He

Himself triumphed through the strong efficacy of prayer (v. 41). Prayer,

appropriate at all times, is urgently needed as we enter the shadow of

temptation; but it is positively indispensable when the greater trials of our

life assail us.



PERSEVERANCE. Christian pilgrim, Christian workman, do you weary

of your way or of your work? Does the one seem long and thorny, or the

other tedious and unsuccessful? Do you think you must sleep as the

disciples did, or that you must put down the cup as their Master did not?

Do you talk about giving up the journey, about retiring from the field?

Consider Him who went quite through the work the Father game Him to do,

who strove and suffered to the very last; consider Him, the agonizing but

undaunted, the suffering but resolving Savior; consider Him, lest ye be

wearied and faint in your minds.


“Go, labor on, spend and be spent,

Thy joy to do the Father’s will;

It is the way the Master went,

                                    Should not the servant tread it still?”



The Agony in the Garden (vs. 39-46


This eventful scene is recounted in detail by all the three synoptists. Matthew’s

account is the most complete. Mark adds one saying of the Lord’s containing a

deep theological truth, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee.”

(Mark 14:36)  These remarkable words, occurring as they do in the midst of the

most solemn scene of prayer in the Redeemer’s earth-life, tell of the vast possibilities

of prayer. What may not be accomplished by earnest supplication to the

 throne of grace?


Luke’s account is the shortest, but it contains the story of the angelic mission of help,

and the additional detail of the “bloody sweat”  (vs. 43-44).  While in ch. 12:23-28

he gives us, in his Master’s words, a new insight into that awful sorrow which was the

source of the agony in Gethsemane.


John alone of the four omits the scene; but, as in other most important recitals where

he refrains from repeating the story of things thoroughly known in his Master’s Church

at the period when he committed his Gospel to writing, he takes care, however, often

to record some hitherto unrecorded piece of the Lord’s teaching, which is calculated

to throw new light upon the momentous twice and thrice told incident, the story of

which he does not deem it necessary to repeat.


  • In ch. 2. he throws a flood of light upon Christian baptism.
  • In ch. 6. is a Divine commentary on the Holy Eucharist.


Canon Westcott suggests that the succession of the main events recorded

by the four evangelists was as follows:


Approximate time:


1 a.m.…The agony.

  The betrayal.

  The conveyance to the high priest’s house, probably

   adjoining “the Booths of Hanan.”


2 a.m.…The preliminary examination before Annas in the presence of



About 3 a.m.…The examination before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin

at an irregular meeting at “the Booths.”


About 5 a.m.…The formal sentence of the Sanhedrin in their own

proper place of meeting — Gazith or Beth Midrash

(ch. 22:66; Matthew 27:1, πρωι'´ας γενομένης;

proias genomenaeswhen the morning was

come – compare Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66,

ὡς ἐγένετο ἡμυέραhos egeneto haemuera

as soon as it was day -  The first examination

before Pilate at the palace.


5.30 a.m.…The examination before Herod.

       The scourging and first mockery by the soldiers at

       the palace.


6.30 a.m.…The sentence of Pilate (John 19:14, ὥρα η΅ν ὡς ἕκτη

       Hora aen hos hektaeabout the sixth hour).


7 a.m.…….The second mockery of the condemned “King” by the



9 a.m.…….The Crucifixion, and rejection of the stupefying draught

       (Mark 15:25, η΅ν ὥρα τρίτη - aen de hora tritae

      it was the third hour).


12 noon….The last charge.


12-3 p.m.…The darkness (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; ch.23:44 –

      η΅ν ὡσεὶ ὥρα ἕκτη ἑως ὥρας ἐννάτηςaen

     hosei  hora hektae……… hoes horas enataesit

     was about the sixth hour………until the ninth hour ).




39 “And He came out, and went, as He was wont, to the Mount of Olives;” –

In the other evangelists we find the place on the Mount of Olives described as

Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane signifies oilpress.” It was a garden; one

of the many charming gardens which Josephus tells us old Jerusalem abounded with.

It perhaps belonged to a friend of Christ, or else was with others of these gardens,

or “paradises,” thrown open at the great festival seasons to the faithful pilgrims

who on these occasions crowded the holy city and its suburbs. There is at the

present day just beyond the brook Kidron, between the paths that go up to the

summit of the mount, about three quarters of a mile from the Jerusalem wall, an

enclosed garden called Gethsemane. It belongs to the Latin community in

Jerusalem. In it are eight very ancient olive trees. When Henry Maundrell

visited the spot, in 1697, these eight aged trees were believed to be the

same that stood there in the blessed Savior’s time. Bove the botanist, in

Ritter’s ‘Geography of Palestine,’ vol. 4., quoted by Dean Mansel, says

these venerable olive trees are two thousand years old. Josephus, however,

relates that in the great siege the soldiers of Titus cut down all the trees in

the Jerusalem suburbs. Even if this be assumed, these soldiers, from some

feeling of awe stirred up by the tradition which hung, of course, round this

hallowed spot, might have spared this little sacred grove; or they might at

the time have been still young saplings, of no use for the purpose of the

siege operations. “In spite of all the doubts that can be raised against their

antiquity, the eight aged olive trees, if only by their manifest difference

from all others on the mountain, have always struck even the most

indifferent observers. They will remain, so long as their already protracted

life is spared, the most venerable of their race on the surface of the earth.

Their gnarled trunks and scanty foliage will always be regarded as the most

affecting of the sacred memorials in or about Jerusalem — the most nearly

approaching to the everlasting hills themselves in the force with which they

carry us back to the events of the gospel history – “and His disciples

also followed Him.”


40 “And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter

not into temptation.”  The temptation in question was the grave sin of moral

cowardice into which so soon the disciples fell. Had they prayed instead of

yielding to the overpowering sense of weariness and sleeping, they would

never have forsaken their Master in His hour of trial and danger.

(A lesson for us all! – CY – 2012)


41  “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled

down, and prayed,  42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup

from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” The three synoptists

give this prayer in slightly varying terms; but the figure of the cup is

common to all the three;  it was indelibly impressed on tradition. This cup,

which Jesus entreats God to cause to pass from before (παρά - para) His lips,

is the symbol of that terrible punishment, the dreadful and mournful picture

of which is traced before Him at this moment by a skillful painter with

extraordinary vividness. The painter is the same who in the wilderness,

using a like illusion, passed before His view the magical scene         Of the glories

belonging to the Messianic kingdom. If thou be willing.  He

looked on in this supreme hour, just before “the Passion” really began, to

the Crucifixion and all the horrors which preceded it and accompanied it —

to the treason of Judas; the denial of Peter; the desertion of the apostles;

the cruel, relentless enmity of the priests and rulers; the heartless

abandonment of the people; the insults; the scourging: and then the

shameful and agonizing lingering death which was to close the Passion;

and, more dreadful than all, the reason why He was here in Gethsemane;

why He was to drink this dreadful cup of suffering; THE MEMORY OF

ALL THE SIN OF MAN!  To drink this cup of a suffering, measureless,

inconceivable, the Redeemer for a moment shrank back, and asked the Father

if the cross was the only means of gaining the glorious end in view — the saving

the souls of unnumbered millions. Could not God in His unlimited power find

another way of reconciliation? And yet beneath this awful agony, the intensity of

which we are utterly incapable of grasping — beneath it there lay THE


SHOULD BE DONE.   That wish and will were in reality His own. The prayer

was made and answered. IT WAS NOT THE FATHER’S WILL THAT


ENTIRELY THE SAME!  it was answered by the gift of strength — strength

from heaven being given to enable the Son to drink the cup of agony to its

dregs. How this strength was given Luke relates in the next verse.




                                    Self-Surrender (v. 42)


“Not my will, but thine, be done.” These words are suggestive as well as

expressive. They suggest to us:


·         THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF SIN. Where shall we find the root of

sin? Its manifold fruits we see around us in all forms of irreligion, of vice,

of violence. But in what shall we find its root? In the preference of our

own will to the will of God. If we trace human wrong-doing and wrong-being

to its ultimate point, we arrived to that conclusion. It is because men

are not willing to be what God created them to be, not willing to do what

He desires them to do; it is because they want to pursue those lines of

thought and of action which He has forbidden, and to find their pleasure

and their portion in things which He has disallowed, — that they err from

the strait path and begin the course which ends in CONDEMNATION

and in DEATH!  The essence of all sin is in this assertion of our will against

the will of God. We fail to recognize the foundation truth that we are His;

that by every sacred tie that can bind one being to another we are bound,

and  we belong to Him from whom we came and in whom we live, and move,

and have our being. We assume to be the masters of our own lives and

fortunes, the directors of our own selves, of our own will; we say, “My

will, not thine, be done.” Thus are we RADICALLY WRONG; and being

radically wrong, the issues of our hearts are evil. From this fountain of error

and of evil the streams of sin are flowing; to that we trace their origin.



the human spirit return to God, and by what act? That hour and that act,

we reply, are not found at the time of any intellectual apprehension of the

truth. A man may understand but little of Christian doctrine, and yet may

be within the kingdom of heaven; or, on the other hand, he may know

much, and yet remain outside that kingdom. Nor at the time of keen

sensibility; for it is possible to be moved to deep and to fervent feeling, and

yet to withhold the heart and life from the Supreme. Nor at the time of

association with the visible Church of Christ. It is the hour at which and

the act by which the soul cordially surrenders itself to God. When, in

recognition of the paramount claims of God the Divine Father, the gracious

Savior of mankind, we yield ourselves to God, that for all the future He

may lead and guide us, may employ us in His holy service; when we have it

in our heart to say, “Henceforth thy will, not ours, be done;” — then do we

return unto the Lord our God, and then does He count us among the

number of His own.



When do we reach our highest point? Not when we have fought our

fiercest battle, or have done our most fruitful work, or have gained our

clearest and brightest vision of Divine truth; but when we have reached the

point in which we can most cheerfully and most habitually say, after Christ

our Lord, “Not my will, but thine, be done;” when under serious

discouragement or even sad defeat, when after exhausting pain or before

terrible suffering, when under heavy loss or in long-continued loneliness, or

in prospect of early death, we are perfectly willing that God should do with

            us as His own wisdom and love direct.


43  “And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.”

 The Lord’s words reported by Matthew were no mere figure of rhetoric. “My soul

 is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38).   The anguish and

horror were so great that He Himself, according to His humanity, must have before

the time become the victim of death had He not been SPECIALLY

STRENGTHENED FROM ABOVE, a Divine refreshing pervades Him, body

and soul, and it is thus He receives strength to continue to the last the struggle!  

This is the deep significance and necessity of the angel’s appearance.


44  “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was

as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”  Commentators

give instances of this blood-sweat under abnormal pathological circumstances.

Some, though by no means all, of the oldest authorities omit these last two

verses (43-44). Their omission in many of these ancient manuscripts was probably

due to mistaken reverence. The two oldest and most authoritative translations,

the Itala (Latin) and Peshito (Syriac), contain them, however, as do the

most important Fathers of the second century, Justin and Irenaeus. We have,

then, apart from the evidence of manuscripts, the testimony of the earliest

Christianity in Italy and Syria, Asia Minor and Gaul, to the genuineness of these

two famous verses. They are printed in the ordinary text of the Revised English

Version, with a side-note alluding to their absence in some of the ancient authorities.


45 “And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples,

He found them sleeping for sorrow,  46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye?

rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”  The events of the past evening;

the long excitement stirred up by listening to such words as their Master had been

speaking to them during the sad hours of the Last Supper; the sure consciousness

of coming sorrow; then the walk through the silent city: — all predisposed them to

sleep.  Commentators are never weary with pressing these excuses for the slumber

of the eleven at that awful moment. But all these things, though they may

well have predisposed them to slumber, are not sufficient to account for

that strange heavy sleep which seems to have paralyzed the eleven in

Gethsemane. In spite of their Master’s solemn injunction to watch and

pray, He finds them, several times during that dreadful watch of His in the

garden, asleep, in spite of His asking them for sympathy and prayer, in spite

of His evident longing for their sympathy — each time He cast his eyes on

them, He sees them, not watching, but sleeping! Many a time in their work

filled lives those fishermen He loved so well, John and Peter and Andrew,

had toiled all night with their nets; but on this night of sorrow, when their

pleading voices were listened for, possibly their hand-press waited for,

their silent sympathy certainly longed for, they slept, seemingly forgetful of

all save their own ease and comfort. Surely on this night of temptation they

were influenced by some invisible power, who lulled them to sleep during

those precious moments when they should have been agonizing with their

Master in prayer, and so arming themselves against the supreme moment of

temptation just coming upon them. But swayed by the power of evil of

whom the Lord had been warning them, but in vain, they let the moments

slip by, and the hour of temptation came on them unawares. We know how

grievously they all fell.


“‘Forsake the Christ thou sawest transfigured! Him

Who trod the sea and brought the dead to life?

What should wring this from thee?’ — ye laugh and ask.

What wrung it? Even a torchlight and a noise,

The sudden Roman faces, violent hands,

And fear of what the Jews might do! Just that;

And it is written, ‘I forsook and fled:’

There was my trial, and it ended thus .”

(Browning, ‘A Death in the Desert.’)



Gethsemane (vs. 39-46)


It is now dark. On the way to the Mount of Olives, the customary retreat

of Jesus (v. 39), at the point where the upward slope begins, there is a

shady place, belonging, perhaps, to one of those who believed in Him,

whither “Jesus had often resorted” (John 18:2). The site of the garden

of Gethsemane may, with sufficient accuracy, be identified. It may not have

been the exact spot, overshadowed by the eight venerable trees, which

immemorial tradition has distinguished as the scene of the lonely vigil, but

it must have been close to that spot. It was a place where there were many

olives, and, as the name suggests, an oil-press; a place of perfect quiet and

seclusion, where, beyond the voices of rude men, there was the peace of

heaven. To this place He who had uttered the high-priestly prayer brought

the high-priestly sacrifice; and there He began the walk through the valley

of the shadow of death. The tale of the sore amazement and exceeding

heaviness is told, with more fullness of detail, by the Evangelists Matthew

and Mark (see homiletics in loc.). Here, without enlarging on the meaning

and scope of the features of the narrative, note:


  • THE AGONY. (v. 44.) It has always been felt that in this there is

immeasurably more than a mere revolt from imminent pain and death. The

anguish is marked by an intensity for which this revolt cannot account. A

brave man, however sensitive, can face, with unflinching fortitude, a high

enterprise, even though its fatal consequence is evident. “The sweat

becoming as it were great drops of blood,” speaks of a conflict in the soul

for which the impending physical dissolution cannot account. Some

references supply us with suggestions.


Ø      The announcement made at the Supper-table (John 14:30), of the

coming of the prince of the world, speaks to us of a temptation,

intensified by the circumstances of the hour, in the line of the

wilderness-temptation, to grasp the power of the Messiah otherwise

than through the suffering of the cross (see, in this connection,

Matthew 26:53).


Ø      The sorrow which cast its shade over His countenance when the

betrayal was mentioned (John 13:21); the horror with which He

regarded the perfidy (v. 22; Matthew 26:24); the utterance by

which He awoke the disciples, marking out the betrayal as the

bitterness of the hour at hand (Ibid. v.45); the appeal to Judas

(v. 48); — these things indicate the amazement and pain caused

by the action of the son of perdition.


Ø      The word of the Son to the Father as to the cup so full of woe that

He humbly besought its removal, reminds us of a region beyond all

that our thought can trace, in which the Christ of God was treading

the wine-press alone (Isaiah 63:3).  Better, in view of this, a holy

reticence than a zeal which is eager with explanations. If we must

speak of the special fearfulness and trembling of Gethsemane, let us

simply say that there, in all its crushing weight, was realized THE





Ø      Observe its characteristics.


o       Humility. He kneeled down.” More strongly still Mark

14:35 says “He fell on the ground.” It was the attitude

of deepest reverence, of entire prostration. In the high-

priestly prayer, “He lifted up His eyes to heaven”

(John 17:1); but now, in human weakness and dependence,

He is prostrate before His Father. Sign of the “godly fear”

(Hebrews 5:7) for which He was heard.


o       Importunate repetition. Thrice He prayed, “saying the

same words” (Matthew 26:44). It is not the eloquence,

but the sincerity of desire in the prayer which God regards.


o       Increasing earnestness. “Being in an agony, he prayed

 more earnestly.”  The greater the pressure on the soul, the

more fervent became the cry. The sorrow of the disciples

sent them to sleep; His sent Him to the Father. “Love

overmasters agony,” not agony love. Let the disciple learn,



Ø      Observe its subject-matter. (v. 42.) “Remove this cup from me;

or (as in Matthew 26:30), “Let this cup pass from me.” It was the

pleading of the sensitive human soul. And we may be assured that

to plead for the removal of a cup of pain, for relief from burdens

which seem greater than we can bear, is in the way of the child’s

privilege; only there must be the spirit of entire dependence.

“If thou be willing.” There is to be no “if” where God’s promise

is absolute. We do not need to say, If thou be willing, make thy

grace sufficient.” His pledge as to this is distinct and unequivocal:

“My grace is sufficient’’  (II Corinthians 12:9).  From this, on this

resting, we pray.  But when we desire that concerning which we

have no definite assurance of the Father’s mind, then ALL IS TO

BE SUBORDINATED TO HIM!   This is to abide in the Son as

He is revealed in Gethsemane. “If we ask any thing according

to God’s will, He heareth us” (I John 5:14).  Getting into tune

for prayer is when we learn Christ’s “if it be possible;” “If thou

be willing.”


“Renew my will from day to day;

Blend it with thine,”


Ø      Observe its answer. The answer is manifest:


o       In the righting Nevertheless. (v. 42.) In the prayer the

soul realized “God my Rock.” From what might have

been self-seeking, it was delivered.


“Do thou thy holy will:

I will lie still; I will not stir,

Lest I should break the charm.”


“In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and

strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:3)


o       In the comforting angel. (v. 43.) The holy one, sign of the

sympathy in heaven above. For to the one who prays in an

agony the heavens are not brass. There are ministries of

love. God’s angels are all ministering spirits.  (Hebrews 1:14)

In visible form the angel may not appear; (and then again he

may since “some have entertained angels unawares”

Hebrews 13:2 CY – 2012) but we know that he is with us

in the comfort and peace. HAVE WE NOT THE



   “A gracious, willing Guest,

While He can find one humble heart

     Wherein to rest.”


And thus, though the cup does not pass, the will of the Son is strengthened

into perfect harmony with the will of the Father. He rises up from prayer,

ready, “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”


  • Finally, THE REMONSTRANCE. Very touching the word

to Peter  “Could ye not watch with me one  hour?” (Matthew 26:40).

The one hour never again to come, the one hour of watching, lost in sleep!

And now “Why sleep ye?” (v. 46). May not the pathetic question ring in

the ears of the Christian?  Why do we sleep — we whom the Son of man

has associated with Himself in His prayers and pains? We asleep, and He

toiling! We asleep, and THE WORLD LYING IN DARKNESS!!!!! Ah!

 in the solemn light of Gethsemane, what is the utmost Christian activity

but a slumber? and how many who claim to be Christ’s are fast asleep,

not for sorrow, but in SELF-INDULGENCE  and SIN! Oh that the

 gentle, reproachful “why?” may be as an alarm-clock to conscience,

a continual incitement to will and heart! The spirit may be willing,

but the flesh is ever weak (Matthew 26:41).  “Rise and pray, lest ye

enter into temptation!”  (v. 46)



The Arrest of Christ (vs. 47-53)


All the four evangelists tell the story of the last hours, in the main the same, though

the language is often quite different, and fresh and important details appear in each

memoir.  The general effect on the thoughtful reader is that the Crucifixion and the

events leading up to it were very far from being the result of the counsels

of the Jewish leaders, the outcome of their relentless enmity. The death and

all the attendant circumstances took place in their solemn order, then, when

the public teaching of the Redeemer was finished, because it had been

determined by a higher and grander power than was possessed by Jerusalem

Sanhedrin or Roman Senate.


So Matthew, in his account, twice (26:54,56) gives the ground for the

arrest, “That the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” And the Scriptures were

but the echoes of that other and grander power.


47 “And while He yet spake, behold a multitude,” – Different to His

disciples, their Master, who had prayed and received as an answer to His

prayer the angel’s visit, was now, when the hour of mortal danger struck,

in possession of the profoundest calm. Nothing disturbed His serenity any

more. With calm majesty He advanced to meet the traitor as he guided his

Master’s deadly enemies into the garden. From this hour Jesus welcomes

the cross, from which for a brief moment He had seemed to shrink. The

company who was thus guided to Gethsemane to effect the arrest in the

dead of the night was composed of Roman legionaries detailed for this

duty from a cohort on guard in the Antonia Fort by the temple, and of

Levitical guards belonging to the temple — an armed force of police, part

of the temple watch at the disposal of the priests - “and he that was called

Judas, one of the twelve,” - Each of the evangelists mention the presence of

the traitor. It was evidently a strange and startling detail for the writers of

these memoirs that one of the chosen twelve should have been the betrayer!  -

“went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him.” This was

the sign agreed upon between Judas and his employers. They knew that it would

be night, and that Gethsemane was shaded with olives, and that therefore some

conspicuous sign would be necessary to indicate to the guards which of the

company of twelve was the Master whom they were to seize. But the

signal was superfluous, for, as John tells us, Jesus of His own accord

advanced before the others, telling those who came for Him who He was.  (John

18:1-8)  Because of this kiss the early Christian Church discontinued the

customary brotherly kiss on Good Friday.  48 “But Jesus said unto him, Judas,

betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?  49  When they which were

about Him saw what would follow, they said unto Him, Lord, shall we smite

with the sword?”


50 “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and

cut off his right ear.”  The name of the disciple who smote the servant of

the high priest is given by John: it was Peter. He gives, too, the servant’s name,

Malchus (John 18:10),  John wrote many years later, when Jerusalem

had long ceased to exist; Peter, too, had passed away. Before this incident,

John relates how the Roman and Jewish guards “went backward, and

fell to the ground” (Ibid. v. 6).  Something of majesty in the Lord’s appearance

impelled these men to retire and reverently to salute Him they were ordered to

seize. John mentions this to show that it was of His own free will that He rendered

Himself up.  “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life,

that I might take it up again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down

of myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up

again.”  (John 10:17-18)


51 “And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far.” “Excuse this

 resistance.”  The exact meaning  of these words has been much debated.

They probably were addressed to the company of armed men, and contained a

plea for the mistaken zeal of His disciple Peter.  “And He touched his ear, and

healed him.”  This miraculous cure of the wound inflicted by the zealous disciple

is related by the physician Luke.  52  “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests,

and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to Him, Be ye

come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?”


53 “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands

against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”  These words

of the Lord may signify, “It was from a cowardly fear of the people whom you felt

were my friends that you did not dare to arrest me in the full light of day.” But it is

better to take the last clause as possessing a deeper meaning: “I have often been in

your power before, when, without concealment, I taught publicly in that sacred house

where you are the appointed guardians; you never dared to lay hands on me then.

But this, I know, is your hour, the moment God has given up to you to effect this

sad triumph, and this (i.e. the power by which you work) is the power of darkness

(i.e. the power of the spirit of darkness).”




                               Thursday Night (vs. 47-62 to ch. 23:46)


It is time to be going. The footfall of the coming host has already been

heard, and the gleam of the lanterns and the flashing of the swords have

been detected at no great distance. Guiltily, under shadow of night, the

conspirators have approached. “While Jesus is yet speaking.” (v. 47), the

traitor is bending forward to give the salute of friendship. Note the

question, so full of gentle dignity, “Companion, wherefore art thou come?

Betrayest thou the Son of man, with a kiss?” Note what follows down to

the flight of the apostles, when to them it seems that the end has come.

“We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel

(ch. 24:21); and now? Betrayed into the hands of sinners, He is “led as a lamb

to the slaughter, and as a sheep dumb before her shearers (Isaiah 53:7).

Priest, Pharisee, scribe, He who scourged you with the whip of His holy indignation

is now the Prisoner on whose bleeding body the furrows of your scourge may be

made long. No legion of angels will interpose. The Son of God only waits

to die.  There are:


                        (1) a precognition by Annas;

                        (2) an arraignment before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin; and,


                        (3) the deliverance to the judicature of the governor.


Briefly trace the narrative.


  • THE PRECOGNITION BY ANNAS. Annas, or Hanan, to whom first

the fettered Jesus is borne, occupied at the time a peculiar position. His

son-in-law, Joseph Caiaphas, was the actual high priest. But Annas, having

been deposed by the Roman governor, was still regarded as the priest jure

divino, and his influence seems to have been immense. Five of his sons and

his son-in-law were raised to the pontifical throne. It was under the last of

his five sons that James, the brother of our Lord, was put to death. He was

an unscrupulous, intriguer. A Sadducee, who had been mixed up in foul

plots and conspiracies, the head of “a viper brood,” as a Jewish chronicler

says, which amassed wealth by unlawful gains.  When the capture of Jesus is

determined, the Pharisees disappear from the scene; His implacable enemies

are the chief priests and scribes. Before this Annas Jesus stands (John 18:13-23).

Some questions are put as to His disciples and doctrine. And these, as has well

been remarked, Jesus answers “with dignified repulsion” — a repulsion so

sharp that the first blow inflicted on that sacred face was bestowed by one

of the menials of the court. Answerest thou the high priest so?” (Ibid. v. 22)

How complete the self-restraint expressed in the only action which followed —

the reply, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if not, why

strikest thou me?” (Ibid. v. 23) 




SANHEDRIM. All that Annas could do was to order his Prisoner to be

still more tightly bound, and to send Him to the portion of the temple court

which was occupied by the priest, his son-in-law, Caiaphas. The morning

had not yet dawned, and until dawn no meeting of council could be

convened. It was during this interval that the predicted denial of the Lord

by Peter occurred (vs. 54-62). The clock marks the hour of six, when

Caiaphas and his assessors confront the Nazarene. Their object is to

establish a charge of blasphemy, and suborned witnesses are cited. They

are clumsy perjurers, who contradict one another and contradict

themselves. And the evidence breaks down. Then the tactics are changed.

The high priest, directly addressing the Prisoner, demands a “yea” or “nay”

to the interrogation, “Art thou the Christ?” Jesus has been silent, but now

(vs. 60-71), calmly and solemnly, He answers, “Thou hast said;” and adds

that, by-and-by, they should see “the Sou of man sitting on the right hand

of the power of God.” It is enough. “Blasphemy!” is the shout, and He is

condemned as worthy of death. And there ensues a scene of brutal ferocity.

The wretches in attendance spit on the face, buffet, strike him with the

palms of their hands, and rend the air with ribald cries. For the world

shows its baseness when a man is down; then the many rush forward to

have their fling and kick.



GOVERNOR, What priests and elders could do has been done. The

procurator alone could inflict the sentence of death. Their next movement

must be to coerce him into the carrying out of their plan. And they know

that in Pontius Pilate, stained with violences the report of which to his

imperial master would cost him his government, if not his life, they have

the ruler whom they can rule. Two appearances (ch. 23.) of our Lord

before the governor are recorded, and between them stands the episode

with which the name of Herod is associated. There is nothing more sad

than the record of the expedients, the shufflings to and fro, the efforts to

save One whom Pilate felt to be guiltless, whilst yet he dared not give

effect to his convictions. (I wonder how many in Washington, D. C,

has succumbed to this weakness in the last four years?  CY - 2021)

A record most sad, but most instructive. Is it not a portrait, many of whose

features suggest cowardly concessions, timidities, struggles between conscience

and policy in which conscience is worsted, with which, in one form or another,

too many of us are familiar?  A character-sketch, like that of Pilate in the trial,

gauges the directions and the possibilities of the human nature which is common

to us all. In the afternoon of Friday the Savior of sinners was crucified. An

incident on the way to Calvary is related by the evangelist, which is touching

in itself, and which reminds us of the attitude of mind, the kind of feeling

towards Him, the Crucified, which He denies and accepts. We are told that

He was followed by a great company of women, who bewailed and

lamented him” (ch. 23:27-31). Observe His saying, most tenderly prefaced by

the phrase, “Daughters of Jerusalem.” Virtually, He declines tears and cries,

which express only sorrow over His fate. He wishes those who bewail to

estimate the significance of the spectacle, to realize what it foreboded for

them and theirs; to weep not for Him, but with Him in His sadness concerning

Jerusalem, in His baffled longing to gather its children together, in His

thwarted purpose to save and bless. The events of that day were the

prophecy of a doom not to be long delayed: in His thought and emotion as

to this doom, and in this alone, He sought their sympathy. And so,

remember, Christ desires not a luxury of sentiment, which ends in

lamentations on account of His suffering. He desires partnership in his

suffering. His cross is to be our cross. We are to hold ourselves identified

with him in it. The apostle’s words are the interpretation of the genuine

Christian sentiment: “I was crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet

not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live

by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me;”

(Galatians 2:20) “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our

Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and

I to the world.” (ibid. ch. 6:14)





                                                Gethsemane (vs. 39-53)


After the Passover and the address given in John 14., He led the disciples

out through the vineyards, where most likely John 15. was delivered to

them, and John 16., until He reached His usual rendezvous in Gethsemane,

part of the Mount of Olives. Here let us suppose the high-priestly prayer

given in John 17. took place, which being ended, He retired to an adjacent

and secluded place for further prayer. Gethsemane was thus His preparation

for suffering and death, as the Transfiguration had been for work. And here

we have to notice:



PHYSICAL PAIN AND DEATH. His cry for escape, if possible, was not

prompted by physical fear. He always showed Himself brave before danger

of a mere physical kind. Socrates seems the braver man before he drank the

hemlock, but this was because Socrates could not see the issues that were

before him as Christ foresaw His fate. The cup He shrank from was not like

that of Socrates. It was no literal cup, but THE APPREHENSION OF

ISOLATION FROM HIS FATHER.   Not the trial, nor the mockery, nor the

physical pain, but the isolation from God, the sense of forsakenness, the

constraint to cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” which

prompted the cry to escape. Now, the very elevation of His being rendered

the dread of separation even for the shortest season from His Father intensely

painful.  Vulgar souls can take separation from others quietly, but the elect souls

pass through deepest pains in consequence. That darkness which came on

when Son was separated from Father because of the sin-bearing was what

Jesus dreaded, and would gladly have escaped. Want of fellowship with the

Father seemed to this holy Child Jesus something to be escaped if at all




had to wrestle at Peniel to obtain the blessing, so had the Saviour in the

garden. He was in an agony of earnestness, and was in consequence bathed

in a bloody sweat. Time after time He prayed thus earnestly. And we are

expressly told, “He was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7). His

prayer was efficacious. Now, let us consider what He prayed for. It was for

deliverance from isolation from God — deliverance from death without a

sense of the Divine fellowship. And when we consider the sequel, we find

that He was heard, and His prayer answered. For:


Ø      He enjoyed an angelic visit and was strengthened by it (v. 43);

Ø      He was granted light and fellowship with the Father before death

supervened; and

Ø      He was saved from death by resurrection. In these ways the Father

undoubtedly heard and answered the cry of Christ in Gethsemane.


·         NOTICE THE DISCIPLES’ SLEEP OF SORROW. For sorrow often

induces sleep, while at other times it makes sleep impossible. In the present

case the disciples ought to have been praying for Jesus, for themselves,

seeking preparation for the trial He had forewarned them was at hand.

Instead of doing so they slept. Here we have to notice:


Ø      Opportunity for showing spiritual sympathy was missed. Jesus, as we

know, was most anxious they should watch with Him. He needed and He

sought their sympathy; but they, in thoughtlessness, denied it to Him. It

would be well if deepest consideration were exhibited for noble souls that

are greatly tried.


Ø      Opportunity for private preparation was missed. They themselves

needed spiritual help more than Christ. They could less afford than He to

meet the crisis prayerlessly. Yet this was their condition when the trial fell

upon them.


Ø      Physical effort was their only resource when the crisis came. They

could lay on with the sword. It does not take much prayer to help men to

fight. But other and better weapons were needed than Peter’s sword, but

they could only be taken out of the armory by prayer.


·         THE BETRAYAL. Judas and his band were upon them before the

sleepy disciples had time to pray. He had planned the capture as only a

coward can. He betrays Christ with the semblance of friendship, trying to

give the Master the usual kiss. To this offer Jesus simply replies, “Judas,

betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Force behind deceit is

apparently overpowering the spirituality which had its home in that place of




THE MASTER, The disciples, spiritually off guard, betake themselves to

the carnal weapon, and Peter lays round him with the sword. He succeeds

in cutting off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. Here is fresh trouble

created. If this servant has to go back thus wounded, a warrant will soon

be out for the disciples, and the whole issue thrown into perplexity. Our

Lord accordingly interposes, heals the sufferer’s ear, and advises Peter to

put up his sword. In this way Jesus rescues the disciples from the liability

incurred through their own imprudence. It was a wonderful consideration

manifested when His own troubles were rising to their height.



come out against Him as against a thief? Had He not confronted them time

after time in open day? They had not dared to lay hands upon Him then. He

thus convicted them of cowardice. It was “their hour, and the power of

darkness.” A deed of darkness dare not be done in open day. Thus was it

that our Lord bravely met His adversaries. He was prepared, though the

disciples were not.




                        The Power of Spiritual Darkness (v. 53)


As our Lord, declining to avail Himself of the physical forces at His

command, surrendered Himself to the will of His assailants, He used an

expression which was full of spiritual significance. “This is your hour,” he

said, “and the power of darkness.” By this He intimated:


(1) that the hour of his enemies’ triumph had arrived — the brief hour of

their outward success and inward exultation, the dark hour of His

humiliation and visible defeat; and


(2) that this passing hour was simultaneous with the prevalence of the

power of darkness. Wicked men were to triumph because the forces of

guilty error were for the time prevailing. We look at:




Ø      Its spiritual nature. It is a state of spiritual blindness. We may not, with

a great Greek philosopher, resolve all evil into error; but we may say that

sin is continually, is universally, springing from inward blindness. Men do

not see the truth; they call good evil, and evil good; they have the most

false imaginations concerning all objects, from the Divine Being Himself to

the lowliest human duty; and hence they go far astray.


Ø      Its most glaring manifestations. It lays its unholy hand on innocence, on

Divine Love itself, and leads it away to trial and crucifixion. It conducts the

devoted servant of Christ to the brutal judge, to the shameful scaffold, to

the devouring flame. It arms a vast multitude of men and leads them forth

to a vain and useless strife, shedding human blood and wasting human

labor, as if Christ would be pleased or could be served by such means as

these. It covers with the sacred name of religion a system that holds

millions of human beings in a degrading bondage. It sanctions all the sinful

institutions the world has seen and suffered from.


Ø      Its most deplorable effects. These are not found in the deeds and the

sufferings of men, but rather in their souls; the worst issue of spiritual

misconception is in the utter darkness of spirit in which it ends. “If the

light that is in us be darkness, how great must that darkness be!” It means:


o        False thoughts. Here were men who should have known better thinking

the worst things of Jesus Christ — judging Him to be a criminal, to be a

traitor, to be a blasphemer; and there are men amongst us who, under the

power of error, think altogether wrong thoughts of God and of the Savior

— thoughts which do Him wrong, which misrepresent Him to the mind,

which repel rather than attract the soul.


o        Bad feelings. Here were men indulging in feelings of positive and

perfect hatred against Jesus Christ; and there are men, misled by the

power of darkness, hating instead of loving the Father of spirits,

repelled from instead of being drawn towards good and true souls

whom they have grievously misunderstood.


o        Wrong purposes of heart. Under this malignant influence men are

purposing to injure their fellow-men. Instead of resolving to rescue, to

raise, to ennoble them, they determine to put them down or to hold

them down, to lay a hard hand upon them and keep them harmless

because helpless. It is in the blinding, misleading, deteriorating effects

upon the soul itself that the very worst results of darkness are to be



·         OUR HOPE CONCERNING IT. The “power of darkness” was

coincident with “the hour” of the enemies of our Lord. And that was but

an hour; it was limited to the brief period of the Passion. Then came

Christ’s glorious hour — the hour of His resurrection; the hour of His

ascent to the right hand of Power. The prevalence of this evil power of

darkness is limited in time; it will not last for ever. Innocence, purity, truth,

love, righteousness, may be led away to trial and death, as they were then

in the Person of Jesus Christ; but the hour of their resurrection and their

triumph will arrive. Let faithful labor do its noble part, and let calm and

Christian patience bring its priceless contribution, and another hour will

strike than that of the foes of Christ, and another power than that of moral

darkness will take the scepter and rule the world.





The Denial of Peter (vs. 54-62)


54 “Then took they Him, and led Him, and brought Him into the high priest’s

house. And Peter followed afar off.”  There has been some discussion here on the

question of harmonizing the separate accounts. There is, however, no real difficulty if

the following historical details be borne in mind. The actual high priest at this juncture

was Caiaphas, son-in-law to Annas, who was the legal high priest, but had been

deposed by the Roman power some time before. Annas, however, although

prevented by the Roman government from bearing the high priestly

insignia, was apparently looked upon by the people as the rightful

possessor of the dignity, and evidently exercised the chief authority in the

Jewish councils. It seems that he and his son-in-law Caiaphas, the Roman

nominee, occupied together the high priest’s palace. There were three trials

of our Lord by the Jews:


·         Before Annas (John 18:12-18).

·         Before Caiaphas and what has been termed a committee of the

Sanhedrm (Ibid. v.24; Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65).

·         Formally before the whole Sanhedrin at dawn (vs.66-71;

Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1).


The thrice-repeated denial of Peter took place:


·         On his first going in (he was admitted through the influence of John,

who was known to the officials) to the court-yard of the high priest’s

palace, in answer to the female servant who kept the door (John 18:17).

·         As he sat by the fire warming himself, in answer to another maid

(Matthew 26:69) and to other bystanders (John 18:25; v.58), including

the kinsman of Malchus (John 18:26).

·         About an hour later (v.59), after he had left the fire to avoid the

questioners, and had gone out into the porch or gateway leading into

the court-yard, in answer to one of the maids who had spoken before

(Mark 14:69; Matthew 26:71), and to other bystanders (v. 59;

Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70).


55 “And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall,

and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.” We know

that the arrest in Gethsemane was followed by the flight of the eleven

apostles. John and Peter, however, once out of reach of the armed band,

seem in some way to have recovered from their first panic, and to have

followed their Master and His guards into the city. Arriving at the high

priest’s house, John, who was known to the high priest, had no difficulty in

procuring admission for himself and his companion. Peter’s motive in

pressing into what he knew for him was a locality full of peril, is given

by Matthew (Matthew 26:58), “to see the end.” There was no doubt

there was in the heart of the impulsive, loving man, sorrowful anxiety and

deep sorrow for his dear Master’s fate. But, alas! with the feverish sad

expectation to see what he felt would be the end, there was no earnest

prayer for guidance and help. (A good lesson for us when we are prone

to go to places or to delve into things which are just as dangerous! – CY –

2012)  The fire is mentioned because, generally speaking, the nights in the

Holy Land about the Passover season are warm.  The cold on this night

appears to be spoken of as something unusual. Peter sat down among them.

John (it must be supposed) had passed on into the audience-chamber, so that

Peter was alone. John, who remained closest to the Lord, was unmolested;

Peter, who mingled with the indifferent crowd, fell!.


56 “But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked

upon him, and said, This man was also with Him.  57 And he denied him,

saying, Woman, I know Him not.  58  And after a little while another saw him,

and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.”

Comparing the several accounts of the evangelists together, we see how

naturally the incidents followed each other. As he entered, the portress first

thought she recognized him as one of the followers of the well-known

Teacher just arrested on a capital charge. Then as, weary and chilled, he

drew near the fire, the firelight shone on his face, a face known to many

who had listened during the last few days to his Master as He taught, with

His disciples grouped round Him in the temple-courts before crowds of

listeners. Thoroughly alarmed, he drew aside from the friendly warmth of

the fire into the outer shade of the gateway; yet he could not tear himself

away from the neighborhood of the spot where his dear Master was being

interrogated by His deadly foes; and even there, while lurking in the

shadow, he was recognized again, and then, just as he was in the act of

fiercely denying, with oaths and curses, his friendship for and connection

with Jesus, came the Master by, after the second examination before

Caiaphas and certain members of the Sanhedrin, being conducted by the

guard to another and more formal court. And as the Master passed, He

turned and looked upon His poor cowardly disciple.


59 “And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed,

saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with Him: for he is a Galilaean.”

The strong provincial dialect of the fisherman of the Lake of Galilee at once told

these Jerusalem Jews, accustomed to the peculiar pronunciation of the Galilee

pilgrims at the Passover Feast, that the man whom they suspected certainly came

from the same province as Jesus the Accused.  60  And Peter said, Man, I know

not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.”

61 “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.  And Peter remembered

the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou

shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

As He was passing from the interrogation before Caiaphas to be examined before

The Sanhedrin assembled in solemn council, He heard his servant’s well-known

voice raised and accompanied with oaths and curses, assuring the bystanders

he had no connection with and knew nothing of Jesus of Nazareth.

Then, as He passed, the Master turned and looked on His old friend, that

disciple who so lately had declared that even if all others deserted the Lord,

he never would! The glance of Jesus was full of the tenderest pity; it was

not angry, only sorrowful; but it recalled Peter to his better, nobler self.

Matthew and Mark (Peter’s own Gospel) record how, when he heard the

cock crow, which Luke tells us happened as our Lord turned to look on

the recreant disciple, he remembered all, and burst into bitter weeping. We

meet him again on the Resurrection morning in company with John

(John 20:3), whence, it would seem, that in his bitter sorrow he had

turned to his old friend, who had probably heard his denial. John, who

briefly in his narrative touches upon the “denial,” omits to mention the

repentance, but, according to his custom, specially illustrates it in the scene

by the lake (John 21:15-23).


Distant Discipleship (v. 54)   


“Peter followed afar off.”  In this we find something that was commendable.

The impulsive and energetic Peter did not exhaust his zeal in that unfortunate sword-

stroke of his; nor was it quenched by the rebuke of his Master. Though it was far

from an ideal discipleship to “follow afar off,it was discipleship still. We do not

read that the others did as much as that; they probably sought their own safety by

complete retirement. Peter could not do that; his attachment to Christ did not

allow him to disconnect himself any further than was involved in a distant

 following.   However,  we find something that was incomplete. The disciple

desired to be near enough to his Master to know what the end would be, but he

wished to be far enough off to be secure from molestation. He took counsel of

his fears, and was so far from the scene that he was showing no sympathy with

his Friend, and was running no risk from his enemies. It is not at all unlikely

that this timidity, from which he succeeded in partially and momentarily shaking

himself, was the beginning and the explanation of his subsequent failure.


·         GENUINE DISCIPLESHIP.   This is found in following Christ.


Ø      Owning His claim as Lord and Leader of the soul; owning it by

a willing and entire submission of our will to His will, a

consecration or our life to His service, a perfect readiness of heart

to say, “Lord, I will follow thee.”


Ø      Endeavouring to walk even as He walked — in reverence, in

righteousness, in love.


Ø      Striving to live this Christian life not only after Him, but unto



·         DISTANT DISCIPLESHIP. We follow “afar off” when we are:


Ø      Lacking in devotion, He who is only found irregularly and

Infrequently with God, in the attitude of praise and prayer, and

in the act of studying His holy will, must be at a great distance

from that “beloved Son” who spent so much time with His

Father, and found so much strength in His conscious presence

and loving sympathy.


Ø      Lacking in purity,  he whose spirit is much entangled with the

cares, absorbed in the pursuits and prizes, hungering and

thirsting for the pleasures of this world, and certainly he

whose soul is to any considerable degree affected and tainted

by the lower temptations of the flesh, — is a long way behind

the holy Savior; is far off from Him who was “holy,

harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” (Hebrews 7:26)

from Him “in whose mouth no guile was found.” (I Peter 2:22)


Ø      Failing in generous and practical kindness. He who is only

Sparingly offering his resources, spiritual or material, to the cause

of human comfort and elevation, who is drawing the line of his

service at the point of self-sacrifice, and declines to go across it,

is surely a very distant follower of that gracious and generous

Friend of man who suffered the very last and the very worst that

He might redeem us from sin and restore us to truth, to holiness,

to God. This distant discipleship is, in every aspect, to be deplored.


o       It is unfaithfulness to ourselves. A departure from the

position we took when we first “yielded ourselves unto

 God, as those alive from the dead.”


o       It is perilous to our own souls. That way failure lies; and

failure here means utter and disastrous defeat; it means

suffering and shame; it may even mean death.


o       It is disappointing to our Divine Lord. He looks for a close

following on our part; He wants us to be at His side, to be

serving Him with all our strength, to be like Him in spirit

and in character and in life.


And when He sees us “afar off,” he is grieved with us instead of

rejoicing in us.


o       Let those who have been abiding in Him, and therefore

following him closely, be watchful and prayerful that they

do not “drift away” and lag behind;


o       Let those who have to reproach themselves as distant

disciples draw near to their Lord in renewed penitence

and devotedness of spirit.





                                    The Look of Our Lord (v. 61)


“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.” What was there then, and

what is there now, in the glance of Jesus Christ?


·         HIS LOOK OF PENETRATION. We read of one of the earliest

disciples being convinced by our Lord’s discernment of him under the thick

foliage of the fig tree; he was then told to look for greater things than that

(John 1:50). And surely one of those greater things was found in that

penetration which saw through the thicker covering of the human flesh and

of human speech and demeanor to the very thought of the mind, to the

very desire of the heart, to the inmost secrets of the soul. He knew what

was in man. It was His knowledge of men that directed Him in His varying

treatment of them; it is His penetrating insight into men now that

determines His dealing with us all.


·         HIS LOOK OF COMPASSION. What did the sick and the suffering,

the fevered and the paralyzed and the leprous, the men and women who

had left afflicted ones behind them at their homes — what depths of tender

compassion did these sons and daughters of Israel see in the eyes of Jesus

Christ? And what inexhaustible fullness of pity, what unbounded sympathy,

may not the stricken and the sorrowing souls who are badly bruised and

wounded on life’s highway still find in “the face of Jesus Christ”!


·         HIS LOOK OF SAD REPROACH. Sometimes there was that in the

glance of Jesus Christ from which the guilty shrank. When “He looked

round about on them with anger” (Mark 3:5), we may be sure that His baffled

enemies quailed before His glance. And when “the Lord turned, and looked

upon Peter,” what keen sorrowful reproach was then apparent in the face of

Jesus Christ! how that look gathered up all possible words and tones of

solemn expostulation, of sad disappointment, of bitter sorrow! It was a

look which wrought great things in the apostle’s soul, the remembrance of

which, we may be sure, he carried with him to the end. Christ has all too

many occasions now to turn toward us that reproachful glance.


1. When we fail to keep the promises we made Him at the time of our   


2. When we fail to pay the vows we made Him in some hour of discipline.

3. When we fall seriously short of the allegiance which all His disciples owe

to Him:


a.      in reverence,

b.      in obedience,

c.       in submission.


Let us, who are professing to follow Him, ask ourselves what we should

see in His countenance if we stood face to face with Him today. Would

it be the benign look of Divine commendation? or would it be the pained

look of sorrowful reproach? To those who are inquiring their way to life

it is a source of blessed encouragement that they will see, if they regard

their Lord.


·         HIS LOOK OF TENDER INTEREST. When the rich young man

came and made his earnest inquiry of the great Teacher, he was not yet in

the kingdom, and was not yet fully prepared to enter it; but he was a

sincere and earnest seeker after God, and “Jesus, beholding him, loved

him” (Mark 10:21). With such tender regard, with such loving interest,

does He look down on every true suppliant who looks up to Him with the

vital question on his lips, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit

eternal life?”




Before the Sanhedrin the Second Time

The Mocking and Ill Treatment of Jesus (vs. 63-65)


63  “And the men that held Jesus mocked Him, and smote Him.”

The position of the Redeemer when the cruelties took place, described in

this and the two following verses, was as follows: After the arrest in

Gethsemane, the guards, Jewish and Roman, escorted the Prisoner to the

palace of the high priest in Jerusalem. There both Annas and Caiaphas

apparently lodged. In the first instance, Jesus was brought before Annas,

who was evidently the leading personage of the Sanhedrin of that day.

Details of the preliminary examination are given apparently by John 18:13,19-24.

In this first and informal trial Caiaphas was evidently present, and took part (v.19).

At the close of this unofficial but important proceeding, Annas sent him to Caiaphas.

The true reading in John 18:24 is ἀπέστειλεν οϋνapesteilen oun -  Annas

therefore “sent Him.”  That is, at the close of the first unofficial examination, which

 took place in Annas’s apartments in the palace of the high priest, Annas sent Him

to be examined officially before Caiaphas, the reigning high priest, and a committee

of the Sanhedrim This, the second trial of Jesus, is related at some length by Matthew

26:59-66) and Mark 14:55-64). The priests on that occasion sought false witnesses,

but their witness did not, we know, agree. Jesus kept silence until Caiaphas arose,

and with awful solemnity adjured Him to say whether He was the Christ, the

Son of God.  So adjured, Jesus answered definitely in the affirmative. Then Caiaphas

rent his robe, and appealed to the assembly, who answered the appeal by a

unanimous cry, “He is guilty of death.” After this hearing before Caiapnas

and a committee of the Sanhedrin, the condemned One was conducted

before the full assembly of the Sanhedrim While being led across the court,

He heard Peter’s third denial. It was during the interval which elapsed

before the great council assembled, that the mocking related in these verses

(63-65) took place.  64 “And when they had blindfolded Him, they struck

Him on the face, and asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?

65  And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him.”

The Jews, in this terrible scene (see, too, for further details of the outrages,

Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65), were unconsciously working out a literal fulfillment

of Isaiah’s picture of the righteous Sufferer (Isaiah 50:6; 53:3-7).




SANHEDRIN   The clock marks the hour of six, when

Caiaphas and his assessors confront the Nazarene. Their object is to

establish a charge of blasphemy, and suborned witnesses are cited. They

are clumsy perjurers, who contradict one another and contradict

themselves. And the evidence breaks down. Then the tactics are changed.

The high priest, directly addressing the Prisoner, demands a “yea” or “nay”

to the interrogation, “Art thou the Christ?” Jesus has been silent, but now

(vs. 60-71), calmly and solemnly, he answers, “Thou hast said;” and adds

that, by-and-by, they should see “the Son of man sitting on the right

 hand of the power of God.” It is enough. “Blasphemy!” is the shout, and

He is condemned as worthy of death. And there ensues a scene of brutal

ferocity.  The wretches in attendance spit on the face, buffet, strike Him with

the palms of their hands, and rend the air with ribald cries. For the world

shows its baseness when a man is down; then the many rush forward to

have their fling and kick.



Christianity and Violence (vs. 47-52,63)


The use of the sword by Peter, and the presence of “swords and staves” in

the hands of the officers, suggest to us the connection between Jesus Christ

(and His disciples) and the employment of violence; and this both by them

and against them.



CHRIST AND HIS DISCIPLES. It is true that there was something

worse than the weapons of violence in that garden; the traitor’s kiss was

very much worse. We may be sure that Jesus was conscious of a far

keener wound from those false lips of Judas than He would have been

from the hands of those armed men had they struck Him with their

strength. The subtle schemes and the soft but treacherous suggestions

of false friends are deadlier in their issue, if not in their aim, than the

hard blows of open adversaries. But:


Ø      How unseemly was open violence shown to Jesus Christ!

To come with  sword and stick against the Gentle One from

heaven; against Him who never used His omnipotence to

harm a single adversary; against Him who “would not break

 the bruised reed” (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20) among the

children of men; against Him who had been daily employing

His power to relieve from pain, to raise from weakness, to

remove privation, to restore from death!


Ø      How unseemly is such violence shown to Christs true disciples!

His true disciples, those who are loyal and obedient to their Lord,

are men and women in whom a patient and loving spirit is prevailing;

they are peacemakers among their brothers and sisters; they have

“put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, railing” (Ephesians

4:31); they walk in love; they seek to win by a gentle manifestation

and by a gracious utterance of the truth. How entirely

inappropriate and unseemly is violence shown to them! And it may

be added, how useless is such violence employed against the cause

they advocate! It has never happened yet that sword and stave have

 crushed the living truth. They have smitten its champions to the

ground, but they have only brought out into the light the heroic

courage and noble unselfishness which that truth inspires. “So that

those things [those persecutions] have fallen out rather unto the

furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).  Cruelty strikes at

its enemy, and smites itself.



BEHALF OF CHRISTIANITY. How vain and how foolish the act of

“smiting with the sword” (v. 49)! It was an act of intemperate and ill-

considered zeal; it was calculated to do much more harm than good. Its

effects had to be undone by the calm interposition and the healing

power of Christ (v. 51). It was rebuked by the Master in decided terms

(Matthew 26:52). And from that hour to the end of apostolic history

the use of physical violence disappears. Well would it have been for the

cause and kingdom of our Lord if it had never been revived. The sword

and the stave have no place in the Christian armory. The weapons of its

warfare are not carnal (II Corinthians 10:4).  Such instruments do not,

they cannot, serve it; they gain a momentary victory at the sad and great

expense of entirely misrepresenting the spirit and the method of

Jesus Christ. Compulsion is utterly out of place in connection with

the Church of Christ; it loses immeasurably more than it gains by

that resource. Let the disciples of Christ be assured that:


Ø      the utterance of Divine truth, especially the truth that relates

to the redeeming love of the Savior Himself;

Ø      living a life of blamelessness and beauty, of integrity and


Ø      dependence on the aid of the Divine Spirit to make the

spoken Word and the living influence effectual and mighty;


that THESE ARE THE WEAPONS  which will conquer the

enemies of Christ,  and will place Him upon the throne of the world.





                                    The Patience of Christ (vs. 63-64)


In these touching words, which we cannot read without a sentiment of

shame as members of the human race, we have:


·         A PICTURE OF SUPREME ENDURANCE. How much our Lord was

called upon to endure, we shall be best able to realize when we consider:


Ø      The greatness of which He was conscious (see v. 70). He knew and felt

that He had a right to the most reverent homage of the best and highest,

and was thus treated by the worst and lowest.


Ø      The power which He knew He wielded: with what perfect ease could

      He have extricated Himself from these cruel insults!


Ø      The character of the men who were maltreating Him — the lowest

amongst the low.


Ø      The nature of the indignities to which they subjected Him; these went

from bad to worse:


o       from binding Him to beating Him,

o       from beating Him to spitting upon Him,

o       from this most shameful indignity to the yet more cruel

            sneer at His holy mission,


“Prophesy unto us.” They vented upon Him the very last extremes

of human insults and shame.


·         A PICTURE OF SUBLIME PATIENCE. He bore it all with perfect

calmness. Here shone forth in its full luster “the meekness of Jesus Christ.”

“When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he

threatened not;” “As a sheep before her shearers, so openeth not His

mouth.” And wherein shall we find the source and explanation of this

sublime patience?


Ø      He was bent on bearing, to the full and to the end, His Father’s will.

Ø      He was determined to complete the work He had undertaken, and of

      that work those sufferings were a part. He was then “wounded for our

trangressions,” then He was “bruised for our iniquities,” and by those

“stripes were we healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5)


·         APPLICATION.


Ø      Like our Divine Master, we ore called upon to endure. In doing those

things we believe to be right of which others do not feel the obligation,

also in abstaining from those things we feel to be wrong, which other

people allow, we come into conflict, we excite displeasure, we incur

disdain, we suffer censure, opposition, ridicule; we “bear His reproach.”

Thorough loyalty to our Lord and to our own convictions means

exposure to the assaults and indignities of the world.


Ø      We have the highest incentives to endure.


o       As with our Master, it is the Fathers will that we should suffer.

o       As with Christ, it is an important part of the testimony we are

      to bear and the work we are to do in this world.

o       Only thus can we completely follow our great Leader; He who

      does not go with Christ into the valley of humiliation does not

follow Him all the way He trod.

o       So doing, we are building up a strong Christian character, and

      are thus preparing for fuller and higher service.

o       Then are we especially, pleasing our Master, and “great is our

      reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12).



The Third Trial Before the Sanhedrin (vs, 66-71)


66 “And as soon as it was day,” -  The Sanhedrin as a council could

only meet by day; all the preliminaries had been settled and the course of

procedure fully arranged when the legal time for the meeting of the state

council arrived -  “the elders of the people and the chief priests and the

scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying.”  These were

the three constitutional parts of the Sanhedrin. The name of the famous

Sanhedrin, curiously enough, is a Greek, not a Hebrew or Aramaic word,

being derived from συνέδριονsunedrion -  an assembly. We first come

on the word when this state council summoned before them Hyrcanus II., son of

Alexander Jannaeus. In the time of our Lord, the Roman government had taken

from them the power of carrying out capital sentences; hence their bringing Jesus

before Pilate. There is a remarkable tradition that the council left their proper place

of assembly, Gazith, and sat in another chamber (forty years before the destruction

of the temple).  Now, it was forbidden to condemn to death except in Gazith

(see ‘Avoda Zara,’ pp. 61, etc.).   It is probable that  the night sitting of Annas

and Caiaphas and the members of the Sanhedrin favorable to their policy

(the second trial) was held at “the Booths of the Sons of Hanan” (Annas),

These booths, or shops, were under two cedars on the Mount of Olives

(Jerusalem Talmud, ‘Taanith,’ 4:8). There were four of these booths, which

were for the sale of objects legally pure. In one of these pigeons were sold for

the sacrifices of all Israel.   It is conjectured that these booths on the Mount

of Olives were part of the famous Booths of the Sons of Hanan (Annas), to

which the Sanhedrin retired when it left the chamber Gazith.


67 “Art thou the Christ? tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you,

ye will not believe.”  In His answer Jesus evidently refers to

something which had preceded this interrogation on the part of the

Sanhedrim He referred, no doubt, to that night examination before

Caiaphas and certain chosen members of the council — the meeting passed

over by Luke, but recounted by Matthew and Mark. In this earlier

trial, which we (see above) termed the second, a similar question had been

put to Jesus, but now the political significance of the charge, the claim to

Messianic royalty, is brought into prominence. They were desirous to formulate

an accusation which they could bring before the Roman tribunal of Pilate. The

words, “Son of God, which the fury of jealous anger had wrung from Caiaphas

(Matthew 26:63), is here left out of sight, and is only brought forward again by the

fierce Jewish wrath excited by the Lord’s quiet words telling of His sitting

“on the right hand of the power of God” (vs. 69-70). If I tell you, ye will

not believe. If you, who have seen my life, have heard my words, and seen my

works, believe not, to what end is it to say it again now?


68 “And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.”  The Lord

here especially refers to those public questions of His put to members of the

Sanhedrin and others in the last days of His public ministry, “If David then call

Him Lord, how is He his son?” -  such as we find in Matthew 22:45, to which

the rulers had attempted to give no answer.


69 “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

Jesus decided to put an end to this weary and useless trial, and supplied His judges

with the evidence they were seeking to extort from Him. The Master’s words would

recall to the teachers of Israel, sitting as His judges, the words of their loved prophet

Daniel  - “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man

came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they

brought Him near before Him.  And there was given Him dominion, and

glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should

serve Him:  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not

pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel

7:13-14).  These solemn words of His were, and they perfectly understood them as

such, a claim on the part of the Prisoner who stood before them — a direct

claim to Divine glory.


70 “Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God?”  Now

bringing forward the loftier title formerly suppressed (in v. 67). “And art

thou, then, dost thou, poor Man, vain in thy imagining, dost thou assert

thyself to be the Son of God?” – “And He said unto them, Ye say

that I am.”   This form of reply is not used in Greek, but is frequent in

rabbinic. By such an answer the one interrogated accepts as his own

affirmation the question put to him in its entirety. We have, then, here, in

the clearest possible language:


·         A plain assertion by our Lord of His Divinity.

·         The reply of the Sanhedrists, showing that they for their part

distinctly understood it as such, but to make it quite clear they

asked Him if that was His meaning, i.e. the assertion of His Divinity.

  • We have the Lord’s quiet answer, “Yes, that was his meaning.”

Verse 71 shows that they were satisfied with the evidence which

They proceeded without delay to lay before the Roman governor,



71 “And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves

have heard of His own mouth.”





                        Christ’s Trials in the High Priest’s Palace (vs. 54-71)


The agony of Gethsemane is over, and our Lord has met His enemies in the

calmness of real courage. He allows Himself to be led to the palace of the

high priest, and we have now to consider all the trials through which He

passed there. The first of these is from Peter. Love to the Master keeps the

disciple in the train of the procession, and even leads him to linger without

until through John’s good offices he gets into the hall. But, alas! instead of

keeping near the Master, he lingers near the fire which was kindled in the

hall to keep the cold at bay. And here let us notice:


·         PETER’S TEMPTATION. (vs. 54-60.) It was identification with a

lost cause. Here is Jesus down; no hope apparently lingers about Him; He

cannot now be saved. What use is there in further identifying himself with

Jesus? Instead of responding boldly to the challenge and confessing Christ,

he is tempted to deny Him. And the denials are repeated, the last time with

an oath. Peter’s distant view of his Master and of His cause leads him to the

fatal conclusion that it is safest to cut the connection and deny that he has

ever known Him. It is, alas! the temptation of men still. In the blazing light

of society, when worldliness seems so strong and comfortable, it is

convenient to ignore the Master and His cause. Peter’s temptation is

constantly repeated, and his fall has its counterpart continually in the

cowardice of souls.


·         PETER’S RECOVERY AND REPENTANCE. (vs. 61-62.) The

Master in warning him had given him a sign, that of the cock-crow. It acts

as an alarum upon the dull ear of Peter. Along with this there comes the

look ineffable of the loving Lord. The great heart is broken, and Peter

passes out to weep bitterly. We have a great contrast between the sorrow

of Peter and that of Judas. It is the sorrow of the world which worketh

death in the one case; it is the sorrow which is godly and saving in the

other. As Gerok, in an admirable discourse upon the subject, says,


Ø      Peters sorrow proceeds upon his sin, Judas’s upon the consequences

of his sin;


Ø      Peter’s sorrow turns him from the world, Judas’s turns him towards the

world; and


Ø      Peter’s sorrow leads him to life, Judas’s leads him to death.  Peter’s

repentance was thus the consequence of his Master’s love, and the sign of

his recovery. How sensible he must have been of the mighty wrong he had

done the Master! Jesus knew when Peter slunk away out of the palace that

he was safe in his bitter sorrow, and that he would come forth from it a

better man. Our Lord’s trial through Peter’s faithlessness terminated when

the disciple’s heart was broken.


·         THE BUFFET-GAME. (vs. 63-65.) The heavy hours till morning

must be spent, and so the soldiers determine to get some amusement out of

their notable Prisoner. They make Jesus, consequently, the center in what

is now known as the buffet-game. Blindfolding him, they proceed to strike

Him, and call upon Him to tell who has inflicted the blows. They are terrible

liberties they thus take with the Son of God. But they are unable to irritate

this meek and lowly Man. Their blows are lost upon His magnificent

meekness. They must have been struck at the majestic carriage of the

Prisoner under their brutal horse-play. Yet the blows of the soldiers were

less a trial, we may be sure, than the faithlessness of the disciple. But we

are surely taught how essentially degrading it is to manufacture mirth out

of the humiliation of others! The soldiers never were so brutal as when

they treated Jesus in the style they did.


·         HIS TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN. (vs. 66-71.) In the

morning the Jewish authorities assembled, and their line of examination

was as to the nature of His Messiahship. As we have seen, it was not a

Divine, but a military Messiah the Jews desired. To their question He

replies first that they will not believe Him if He answers them truthfully.

They will only believe what they like. In other words, faith is largely a

matter of the will as influenced by emotion. They were not prepared to

accept truth and follow it to its consequences. After this preliminary, Jesus

goes on to declare, “From henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the

right hand of the power of God” (Revised Version). That is to say, His

Messiahship is to be a heavenly reign, not an earthly and temporal one. At

once they saw in this a claim to Divine Sonship. Hence they challenge Him

upon the point, and get His manly reply that He is. On this ground they

condemn Him. It is plain, therefore, that this Divine Messiah was not what

suited their fancy. It was not deliverance from such impalpable foes as sin

and anxiety and suffering they desired, but from the Romans. They wanted

a military leader — a pasha; and when God gave them His Son as their

heavenly King, they condemned Him to an ignominious death. It is thus that

men despise their greatest blessings, and do their best to put them out of

the way.




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