« ElőzőTovább »
escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, that is through Adam's fall.
THE TREACHERY OF JUDAS.
St. John xiii. 18-20.
I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
The Lord is speaking to them all, words which seem to imply some distrust. So, for the comfort of the sincere, He assures them that, in the announcement He is about to make, He speaks not of them all. Not concerning all is He so speaking. Only at the one sad case of apostasy in that otherwise faithful band is He here glancing. He had chosen them all to this ministry and apostleship, and He knew the hearts of all whom He had chosen. He knew that even among these there was one unsound, covetous, a traitor, ready to betray, waiting only for opportunity. And the treachery of Judas was the fulfilment of the Scripture.3 Not that Judas must needs sin because the Scripture foretold his fall, but the Scripture foretold his fall because he would sin. And the special Scripture this miserable man all unwittingly fulfilled was that prophetic passage of the Psalm,* in which David speaks of Ahitophel, once his counsellor, afterwards his enemy; fit type of this traitorous one, who,
1 Compare vv. 10, 11 above.
a pause after the "but," a sort of
2 Compare St. John vi. 70, 71; aposiopesis. Acts i. 25.
3 The style of v. 18 is abrupt, suiting the awful subject. There seems
Ps. xli. 9. Compare Ps. lv. 12. It is the same Hebrew word in both places.
after having partaken of his Lord's hospitality' (which thing, according to Eastern ideas, would greatly aggravate such conduct), had lifted up the heel against Him; endeavouring, as a wrestler, to trip Him up, to work His fall. Such seems the import of this proverbial expression. Our Lord too Himself foretold it, and the event would prove His Divine foreknowledge. When the event verified the prediction, they would acknowledge that He knew all things; 5 they would recognize Him as the eternal Son of God. Then the Lord returns to a subject He had been speaking of before. He had read them a lesson of humility; now He speaks to them of their exaltation: for "before honour is humility," and "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." They were ambassadors of Christ. In the person of an ambassador, the Sovereign himself may be either received or set at nought. Thus, in words already familiar to them," the Lord instructs both His Church and them. As He was sent of the Father, so are they sent of Him. By this gracious analogy He arms them with authority and inspires them with courage. To receive them, let the Church know, is to receive and honour God Himself.10
THE SAME SUBJECT continued.
St. John xiii. 21, 22.
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of
you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
There is a melancholy emphasis upon this "you;" one of you who these three years have enjoyed my intimacy and instruction, one of you to whom I am come from ministering, one of you whom I have been thus addressing, one of you who are even eating with me, that ancient and sacred sign of friendshp,'-one of you shall betray me; shall take advantage of your intimacy with me, your knowledge of my ways and my whereabout, to guide the enemy to my retirement, and deliver me into their hand who seek to take away my life. Not for Himself was the Lord thus disturbed in mind, but at the baseness of him whom not all this could move, or turn from his covetousness. Even in Pagan story the name of Ephialtes obtained a bad pre-eminence, and could hardly be mentioned without horror; bribed by Persian gold to betray his countrymen. Sad indeed that in Christian annals it should have its more than parallel. Now we may see the Disciples exchanging doubtful glances one with another; scarcely daring to surmise which of them it could be who should do this thing. From which we gather that, however deep-seated was the covetousness of Judas, he had managed hitherto to conceal his propensity from his fellows. They, we find, at this announcement "were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I?" 2 "And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish."3 This general announcement, it seems, the Lord first made. But as more than one, probably, had thus shared His dish, they are still left in uncertainty. Then the Lord adds that word of woe, which might well give the traitor pause, "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born." He became
man that He might die, but His disciple need not therefore betray Him. Judas was under no necessity to be a traitor
2 St. Matt. xxvi. 22.
3 St. Mark xiv. 20.
4 St. Mark xiv. 21.
because it had been foretold that Jesus should be a victim. He had the same opportunities as the rest, but while their names are had in honour for evermore, his conduct justifies the solemn proverb. Born he had been for the highest opportunity, but so had he abused it that he might well wish that he had been never born; never been known than known only for this.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xiii. 23–26.
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.
This incident can only be understood by a reference to the manners and customs of the East, where at their feasts the guests reclined on couches placed round the table, so that the head of one would naturally be towards the breast of another. Thus placed, nearest to his Lord, and at His right hand,' was our Evangelist himself; who, it must be observed, never mentions himself by name, but prefers to use this distinguishing phrase. And indeed, though the Lord loved them all, there seems to have been some especial tenderness in His regard for this particular Disciple; so much so as, without envy, to
1 For the manner at table was to lean on the left elbow, and as our Evangelist's head reclined on his Master's breast, it is plain that he must have been also at His right hand. In the famous picture by Leonardo da Vinci, in the Convent of Le Grazie at Milan, our Evangelist is thus on our Lord's right; next to him is Judas Iscariot;
have obtained for him this
behind whom Peter leans forward to communicate with John; James, the brother of John, is on our Lord's left. Lampe says, "Let the Papacy look to it how it claims primacy for Peter, when John obtains the first place at the table and in the heart of Christ, and Peter himself needs his patronage."
Nor until towards the Saviour's Passion did he come to know how much he was beloved. Now first, when death is drawing nigh, we hear this term.2 Between this Disciple also and St. Peter there seems to have existed a strong friendship. We find them continually, as here, associated together. So, as in any doubtful matter, friend generally has recourse to friend, Peter's natural impulse here is to apply first to John. Their eyes met. They exchanged glances of mutual surprise. And as the latter was nearest to their Lord, and known to be especially dear to Him, there would be special reason, as there was special facility, for him to become the mouthpiece of his brethren, and to propose the question which all longed to ask. So Peter makes a sign to John, which he readily understood; and availing himself of his position in the affections, and nigh unto the person, of his Lord,-a thrice recorded fact,'- he leans back, and lays his head upon that gentle breast, and whispers, probably, "Lord, who is it?" And the Lord answers, not aloud probably, but to the ear of the questioner, in the same manner as the question was proposed; answers, not by giving the dishonoured name, but by giving a sign which would sufficiently indicate who it was that was about to do this deed. For to call by name was a mark of friendship and of favour, or it was the manner of calling to account and of rebuke. But the former, this treacherous one had already forfeited; and the time for the latter was not yet come. Not yet therefore will the Lord name him by his name, though afterwards we find Him in the garden using in sternness and just reproach this very compellation. But our Evan
St. John xix. 26, 27; xxi. 20-24. Bengel characteristically remarks, “It is better to be loved by Jesus than to be celebrated by name." 2 Bengel.
Chrysostom notes that if, after telling us that Peter had nodded to John to ask, our Evangelist had added nothing more, we should have been casting about for reasons why he should thus apply in particular to him; but by mentioning these circum
stances as to position, all is made plain.
Vv. 23, 25; ch. xxi. 20.
The word in v. 23 denotes simply the act of reclining at table with the head towards the breast of the neighbour on the left hand. The word in v. 25 denotes the falling back in a mood of affection on that breast. Compare Pliny, Ep. iv. 22.
6 St. Matt. xxvi. 50; St. Luke xxii. 48.