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St. Luke xxii. 24-30.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 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. 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. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Strange that there should be strife among such, and at such a time. It was the old question of precedence. As Simon Peter had overlooked the Lord's latest words to go back to something He had said before, so these go back to their old bone of contention,' forgetful of that love which should have laid such a quarrel at rest for ever. The Lord replies to it in language which He has employed before, and on a different occasion.3 It must not be among Christians as it is among heathens. Tyrants with these called themselves Benefactors. But with them true greatness consists in genuine condescension. The greatest must be ready to discharge the office which usually falls to the youngest; the Master make himself as a Servant.5 The Lord refers to the lively example He had come from giving them, that acted
3 St. Matt. xx. 25, 26.
Ptolemy and others took this very
5 1 Cor. ix. 19.
St. John xiii. 13-15.
parable of washing His Disciples' feet. He might have claimed the honour due to the guest at table, but He chose rather to stand and wait. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. He took upon Him the form of a servant. Yet while reproving, He encourages them. To the human heart of Jesus their fidelity was dear. They shared His Cross; they shall share His Crown. As surely as the Father had covenanted to give His humanity a kingdom, so surely does He covenant a share in it to His faithful adherents. He is ever coupling the two together, and making His connection with the Father the pattern of theirs with Him.3 He encourages them with the prospect of the rest and refreshment which await His soldiers and servants, of which that Bread and Wine they had been partaking of were the pledge and promise. He reminds them of His former promise to them of precedence and promotion. They shall be Elders of the Church of the New Testament, heads of the tribes of the spiritual Israel.
SIMON PETER WARNED THE SECOND TIME.
St. Luke xxii. 31-38.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath
1 St. Luke xii. 37.
2 See the original word.
3 St. John vi. 57; xvii. 21-23; Rev. iii. 21.
St. Matt. xix. 28.
For I say
no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
From the prospect of coming greatness the Lord turns to a present danger. He warns that same one to whom the promise He has just renewed was first addressed.1 Satan, the adversary of their souls, not content with Judas,2 had desired to try them all,-as he had been allowed to try Job of old, to sift or shake them as corn is shaken in a sieve, in the hope of doing them some harm. Simon, by reason of his self-confidence, seemed in special danger. For him therefore in particular our Lord had prayed, in words which recall a former passage of his history,3 and He anticipates the answer to His prayer. Let him when turned from his presumptuous but timid temper, mindful of his own weakness, strengthen his brethren. Let him learn from his own fall to keep others from falling. But as yet he feels no need of this conversion. Again he professes, in his lack of self-knowledge, what he is prepared to do. Before he was willing to die for Him; * now he is ready to die with Him. And again the Lord foretells what that same day should come to pass. He who boasted that he was ready to accompany his Master not only to prison, but even to death, should even thrice deny all knowledge of Him.5 Such is even an Apostle when left to himself. The Lord proceeds to remind them of a former passage in their history, "the mysterious charge which He had given to the Twelve, and again repeated to the Seventy." " But now times are changed. Different emergencies must be met differently, as different diseases require Plain Commentary.
1 St. Matt. xix. 27.
2 Bengel. The you is in the plural.
5 "It is remarkable that on this occasion, (and no other,) our Saviour should be related to have addressed Simon by his name of strength."—A
A Plain Commentary. The Author adds, "As if He had said,When I bade you provide yourselves with no human aids, did ye not find my words come true that neither would ye require any?" St. Matt. x. 9, 10; St. Luke x. 4.
different treatment. What suited a time of peace, will not suit a time of war. The Scrip was a sort of wallet or bag for carrying food needed by warriors and wayfarers. The Lord, still speaking figuratively, indicating by such proverbial sayings the sort of times in store for them, bids those who have no money for the purpose even to part with their overcoat to provide them a weapon. The one at such a time is more necessary than the other. A soldier must at any rate be armed. Thus He intimated "that a season of exceeding trial was at hand." For when the Commander is
captured, what shall become of those under him? Our Lord quotes certain well-known words of Prophecy as still requiring fulfilment; for that is the meaning of the expression have an end.'" His words as to preparing for war were symbolical. But they understood Him literally. And the two probably who had been sent on ahead,3 and who after the manner of the Jews when on a journey had thus equipped themselves, give Him the scanty inventory of their armoury, as once before of their provision. The Lord breaks off the subject with a common formula. Time will show them soon enough how they have misapprehended Him.
St. John xiv. 1-3.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place
1 A Plain Commentary. The
Author adds, "When the lives of the Apostles would be endangered, and when every other personal concern would be swallowed up by the need of providing for the preservation of life." 2 A Plain Commentary. The Author reminds us that St. Mark (xv. 28) points out how, on the morrow, this
for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Their Lord's words had filled His Disciples with strange forebodings Sadly they sounded in His servants' ears. An atmosphere of gloom seemed to be settling down over them. A cloud overshadows them. Then the merciful Lord speaks to their heart, once and again,2 words of strength and consolation; as a tender Parent might cheer his children in the prospect of his approaching departure. And what is the remedy He recommends for this trouble of heart? It is Faith, that is trust or confidence. "Believe in God, believe also in me." It is a double imperative.3 Believe in God, for your faith is at present very feeble, and you get less comfort from it than you might. Believe also in me, who came forth from the Father, and am returning to the Father, and for your sake. So He comforts their hearts, and raises their thought from earth to Heaven. Now in the Temple at Jerusalem, with which those whom He was addressing were familiar, were numerous chambers, prepared originally for the multitude of Levites engaged in the Temple-service.* Already we have heard Him call that building by this same title. And in that "house not made with hands," of which this was but the imperfect pattern, are "many mansions;" not temporary, transient resting-places, soon to pass away, as "the earthly house of this tabernacle," but lasting abodes; many in number, durable in their nature; "a building of God, eternal in the heavens." "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are
1 Compare St. John xvi. 6.
2 V. 27 below.
3 Erasmus notes four interpretations. (1) Ye believe in God and ye believe in me.
So Chrysostom seems to have read it. The faith which they had in God and in the Son of God should be sufficient safeguard against the coming storms of persecution. (2) Believe in God, and believe in me. Hilary (de Trinitate, 1. 9) cites it thus.
(3) Ye believe in God, believe also in me. Ye believe in God as Jews, believe in me that ye may be Christiaus. (4) Believe in God, and ye believe in me. Faith in God is faith in Christ.
1 Ki. vi. 5; 1 Chron. ix. 26, 27; xxiii. 28; Jer. xxxv. 1-4; Eze. xl. 7, 10; xli. 5-7; xlii. 1-14.
5 St. John ii. 16.