Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

are an carnest of future and everlasting deliverance. But the Lord who knew their present weakness,' while satisfied of their sincerity, knew what was necessary to develope in them future strength. Now He keeps them safe under His feathers, and shelters them under the shadow of His wing. When grown strong and as it were full-fledged, He sends them forth to overcome that wicked one," and even to lay down their lives for His sake.

DXXV.

THE APPREHENSION.

St. Matthew xxvi. 50 (latter clause)-54.

Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

3

Though their wicked will was to take Him, yet were they impotent till He surrendered Himself. Now the Disciples seem first to realize what was about to follow. "Lord," they ask, "shall we smite with the sword?" And without waiting for His answer, in an excess of misplaced zeal, one of them straightway proceeds to draw his sword and smite. It is impetuous Peter. Too literally had he interpreted his Lord's spiritual saying,-"proverbial, and prophetic of their approaching bereavement, and provided himself with a carnal weapon. He had boasted too, we may remember, what

11 Cor. x. 13.
21 St. John ii. 14.
3 St. John x. 18.

4 St. Luke xxii. 49.
5 St. John xviii. 10.
St. Luke xxii. 35-38.

3

4

he would be ready in such extremity to do;1 and now he rashly thinks to make proof of it. Forward where he should have been cautious, and timorous when he might have been bold. Thus he thought to show that he could follow Christ "now." " From another of the Evangelists also we learn the name of the man who thus received damage at the hand of Peter, and healing from the touch of Christ. He states also particularly that it was the right ear thus struck off and restored. The Lord, as it were, apologizes to His enemies for this act on the part of one of His followers,* whose safe dismissal He had just demanded. With a touch He heals the wound, and makes the maimed whole. Then He addresses Himself to His rash Disciple, and bids him sheath his sword." "Put up again thy sword into his place." Here it was plainly out of place. On the part of Peter this would be but prudence. Such rashness draws after it its own retribution. But as concerns himself, He needs no such intervention. He asks that question of noble sufferance, "The cup that my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" Against this band Peter was powerless. But a multitude of the Heavenly Host were ready, if need be, to be summoned. He had but to express the wish, and in the place of twelve poor Apostles, a more than equal number of legions of angels, more legions than Rome could muster,

1 St. Luke xxii. 31-36.

2 St. John xiii. 36, 37.

3 What a challenge is here concerning the credibility of the history! Could any but one well acquainted with the facts have thus ventured even to mention names? It is evident that this was a person of some consideration. It is not one of the servants," as afterwards (St. John xviii. 26), but "the servant of the High Priest."

+ St. Luke xxii. 51. 5 St. John xviii. 8.

66

6 It is curious and instructive to note the artifices and evasions of Roman apologists in their anxiety to defend St. Peter here, and also to justify their own persecution of here

8

tics. Some of these are cited by Lampe.

St. John xviii. 11. "An expression explained by His Prayer recited in the other Gospels, Matt. xxvi. 39; Mark xiv. 36; Luke xxii. 42."-Bp. Wordsworth. See also St. Matt. xx. 22, 23.

8 Grotius sees in it an allusion to the Roman military state, in which twelve legions constituted a perfect army. "What could this pitiful body of men have done to prejudice His life, who, with much more ease than Peter drew his sword, could have summoned more Angels to His assistance, than there were legions of men marching under the Roman eagles?" -South, Post. Ser. L.

2

would, by that Father whose will He came to do,1 be despatched to His rescue. This suppression of power is the fulfilment of prophecy. It was enough for the Son that the cup of suffering was held out to him by His Father. This alone would reconcile Him to any sorrow. He had put it to His lips: He will drink it to the dregs. He had counted the cost, and would not shrink from the contest. He had begun, and would make an end. He had opened His mouth to the Lord, and would not go back. Let this thought too reconcile us to our lot.3 If,-to compare for one moment small things with great, things human with things that are Divine,—if in old times the warrior must return victorious, or not return at all; bring his shield home, or be borne home upon it for his bier; if in days of yore, those to whom a charge of chivalry was given dare not in honour return till it was accomplished; if even now he who is sent forth by the Sovereign on any mission, or placed by his Commander in any post, may not shrink from the duty assigned, nor return with it undone ;-shall we be less. careful in the charges which our Heavenly Father and King assigns? How then should we lift up our head in the assembly of the Saints when we have fainted, or turned craven, or put aside the bitter cup which He appoints, for the pleasurable but deadly potion which the father of lies proffers in its place?

4

DXXVI.

THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.

St. Mark xiv. 48-52.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with stuves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me

1 Heb. x. 7; St. John vi. 38.

2 See Abp. Trench's sonnet beginning,

"He might have built a palace at a word."

St. Luke ix 62.

See Abp. Trench's lines beginning, "This or on this."

not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. And they all forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

The Lord does not oppose force to force, superior force to inferior. In that same hour of persecution, that "hour" to which He had all along been looking forward and which He knew was now "come"-He suppressed His conscious power, and contented Himself with simply answering the motley crowd, composed as it was of chief men among the priests, the custodians of the Temple, and other members of the Jewish Council,3 besides their creatures and the Roman soldiers; reasoning with them so far at least as to show the unreasonableness of their conduct. It is the language of lofty irony. One would think they were come to apprehend a dangerous bandit. So many men, and weapons! He had been calmly seated,' occupying the posture of a Teacher, daily in the Temple. Then they dared not touch Him. An invisible hand had held them back. But now the hour is come. Their hour who were leagued with the power of darkness; to which power, in His readiness to fulfil His predicted mission, He is prepared for the time to submit. These were men who "loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." Now Satan seems unchained. Fear seizes on all the Disciples; even on him who but now stoutly advanced to defend his Master and assail the enemy. The incident that follows further proves the general panic. This young man was probably one who lived near, lived possibly in some house or cottage in that garden. Roused it might be out of his sleep by the tumult and glare of the torches, he seems to have descended just as he was, without waiting to dress himself, to ascertain the cause. He, following Christ, who was probably not unknown to him, and whom he grieved to see thus led away, was laid hold of as a

1 St. Matt. xxvi. 55.

2 St. John vii. 30; viii. 40; xii.

27, 28; xvii. 1.

3 St. Luke xxii. 52.

See the original word.

5 St. Luke xxii. 53.

St. Johu xviii. 2.

supposed accomplice, or it might be out of mere wantonness, by some of the crowd who had by this time, in the absence of anticipated opposition, recovered their spirits. His narrow escape is graphically described, as he breaks away from his captors, leaving in their hands the sheet in which, after the manner of the East, he had been wrapped. It all marks the terror of that time.1

DXXVII.

CHRIST A CAPTIVE.

St. John xviii. 12-14.

Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

The band of Roman soldiers, at the bidding of their commander, assisted by the hirelings of the Jewish Council, now proceed to bind the willing Captive. He who, with more ease than the typical Samson of old, could have burst these bonds "as a thread when it toucheth the fire," suffers Himself to be "led as a lamb to the slaughter." Why the Lord should have been brought before Annas first, instead of being taken direct to Caiaphas,—who, as the Evangelist mentions this second time,3 was High-priest that same memorable year, we cannot tell. "The narrative evidently rests upon

1 Amos ii. 16.

2 Our rendering may mislead. The article is found also with the last of the three specified. The Cohort and the Chiliarch and the Servants of the Jews.

3 St. John xi. 49, 51. 4 " Annas was deposed by Valerius Gratus, and after several changes, Joseph or Caiaphas, his son

It

in-law, was made high-priest. would appear from this verse that Annas, as ex-high-priest, and possibly retaining in the view of the Jews the legitimate high-priesthood, was counted still as having the office; he

had influence enough to procure the actual high-priesthood for five of his sons, after his own deposition. Jos. Antt. xx. 9, 1. A substitute, or

« ElőzőTovább »