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state. There was an air of self-satisfied cunning
in their manner of proposing it, which showed
that they reallv supposed they had brought this
great teacher of immortality into an inextricable
difficulty. But they had only given him an op-
portunity to expose the shallowness of their wis-
dom, and to explain, that in the future life they
neither marry nor give in marriage, but are as
the ano-els of God in heaven. The listenino;
people were astonished and delighted at his reply.
Some of the scribes exclaimed, " Master, thou
hast said well." And one of them, pleased with
what he heard, asked him which he considered
to be the greatest commandment of the law. In
reply to this question, Jesus quoted from the Old
Testament, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with
all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy
neighbor as thyself;" adding, " there is no com-
mandment greater than these. " The scribe heart-
ily assented to this. Upon which Jesus, as ready
to commend the honest as to expose the hypocriti-
cal, said to him, " Thou art not far from the king-
dom of God."

Meantime the Pharisees, pleased at his si-
lencing tL^eir old opponents the Sadducees, had


gathered round him again. He turned to them
with a question on the great and engrossing sub-
ject of the expected Messiah. These bigoted
men professed to understand fully the prophecies
concerning him, and were obstinately confident
in their notions respecting his character. They
were particularly anxious at this moment to keep
the people persuaded of the correctness of their
own views. Jesus wished to show them, that,
after all, they were ignorant, and to expose them
for their presumption. He therefore asked, "What
think ye of the Messiah? Whose son is he.^"
Tiiey answered, " David's." " But David calls
him Lord," replied he; " how then is he his son? "
To this they made no reply. They could make
none, so long as they insisted that the Messiah
was to be a temporal prince. It was only by
acknowledging that his was a spiritual kingdom,
and his authority that of a religious sovereign,
that they could explain his superiority to David.
But this they would not do. They would not open
their eyes to their error. They were silenced;
but they refused to be convinced. Yet as they
found it vain to argue with him, and perceived,
that the more they strove to entangle him, the
more they were themselves perplexed and ex-
posed, they from that time asked him no more

But the common people, says Murk, heard


him gladly; and he immediately turned to them,
and, in strong and pointed language, warned
them against the example and influence of those
unworthy men. As they were authorized re-
ligious teachers, their lessons should be observed;
but their personal example should be shunned;
they were hypocritical, ambitious, and oppressive.
Then, boldly turning to the men themselves, in
the presence and hearing of the people, he de-
nounced them in a searching and solemn address,
than which nothing so fearfully tremendous has
been recorded in the history of eloquence. Its
boldness, its personality, its prophet-like tone of
urgent, yet unimpassioned rebuke, impart to it
such a power, that it can hardly be read without
trembling, and must have made it unspeakably
awful in the delivery. It seems to have been lis-
tened to in death-like silence. No one presumed
to interrupt it, or reply to it.

The next words uttered by him, as recorded
by the Evangelists, stand in striking and beautiful
contrast to those of this address. He was sitting
where he could observe the people depositing their
offerings in the treasury for the use of the Temple.
He saw a poor widow come with the rest, and
put in the trifling sum of two mites; amounting
in value to a little more than half a cent. He

Matthew xxiii. 1. Mark xii. 37. Luke xx. 45.


bade his disciples notice it. And they must have
felt how much worthier is humble goodness than
worldly honor or wealth, when they heard him
commend this poor woman as having made the
richest offering; others had but given something
from the midst of abundance, while she, from the
midst of penury, had given her all.

As they were leaving the Temple, some of the
disciples called their Master's attention to the
magnificence and riches of that noble building,
with its beautiful stones and splendid offerings.
It was indeed a sight well worthy of admiration.
It had been rebuilt by Herod with great splendor,
and for more than forty years had been receiving
continual additions to its ornaments and wealth.
Its spacious courts were paved with marble; its
extensive porticos were supported by marble pil-
lars; its massy gates were coated with gold and
silver; and it was, on the whole, one of the most
admirable buildings ever known. It stood on
the summit of the holy mountain, two sides of
which had been built up, from the valley below,
with perpendicular walls of huge, white stones, to
the height, in some places, of three hundred cu-
bits. Some of the stones are said, by Josephus,
to have measured twenty-five cubits in length,
eight in height, and twelve in breadth. A cubit

Matthew xxiv., xxv. Mark xiii. Luke xxi.


is equal to about a foot and a half. It is no won-
der that the disciples looked with admiration on
a building thus remarkable for its situation, its
wealth, its beauty, and its strength. But Jesus,
instead of responding to their remark, replied,
" Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left
here one stone upon another which shall not be
thrown down."

They proceeded on their way, went out of the
city, and seated themselves on the Mount of
Olives. Jerusalem lay directly before them, as it
were beneath their feet. It was probably toward
the close of the day; and the setting sun shone
bright upon its towers and pinnacles, its holy
Temple and gorgeous palaces. The disciples had
been musing of what their Lord had said of
its destruction; and now, as they sat looking
upon it in its beauty, they came to him and in-
quired when this destruction should take place,
and by what signs they might know of its ap-
proach; or, as they expressed it, " the sign o:*
his coming and the end of the world," meaning
the Jewish world, or dispensation. For they be-
lieved that the Messiah was to establish a new
dispensation or age, by which that of Moses would
be brought to an end.

Jesus replied to their question at great length.
He began Vvith warning them not to be deceived
by false Messiahs, who would arise, and lead


away many. Then he told them of the rise of
commotions and wars, and finally of the desola-
tion of the city by the Roman arms. He prophe-
sied respecting all these things w*ith minuteness,
and assured them that they should all take place
during that generation; as in fact came to pass
with wonderful exactness. He urged them to
watch and be prepared. He admonished them,
by solemn and striking figures and parables, of
the necessity of fidelity and perseverance. He
pictured forth their duty and responsibility under
the images of the thief in the night, of the ten
virgins, and of the talents entrusted to the servants.
And so passing from image to image, from one
solemn topic of warning and exhortation to anoth-
er, he led them on to the day of final retribution
and eternal judgment; he left the form of parable
and figure, and spoke in plain terms of the great
last day; he painted to them the process of the
judgment, described the characters of the blessed
and the rejected, and repeated the awful sentence
of final bliss and wo.

Nothing can be more impressive than this por-
tion of our Lord's instructions, addressed prima-
rily to his little band of followers on Olivet, but
of unspeakable interest to all in every age. From
their manner, it seems probable, that, although
they were begun " privately," in presence of the
Twelve, or perhaps of only four of them, yet


many persons collected around him before they
were concluded, and they formed a public dis-
course. It adds to the interest with which we
read it, to reflect, that it was his last public dis-
course. With these words of fearful warning,
and this affecting picture of the final judgment,
he closed his ministry. On the Mount of Olives,
over against the Temple, in full view of the city
for which he had toiled and prayed, over which
he had lamented and wept, and in which and for
which he was to suffer, were uttered the last public
counsels of his holy and benevolent voice. But few
heard them then, and fewer still understood them,
and treasured them up. But they have since been
repeated to thousands and millions in all the
languages of man. They have sunk deep into
the hearts of countless multitudes, who heard not
the Saviour's voice on earth, but who have learned
to love and obey him, and long to be united with
him in heaven. And when that great day arrives,
many will undoubtedly receive his welcome, whose
steps were led into the way of life and glory by
this description of the judgment with which he
closed his ministry among men.

When he had done speaking, he reminded his
disciples, that it was now but two days to the
Passover, when he was to be betrayed and put to

From the Mount of Olives they then departed,


and retired to Bethany. In the evening a supper
was made for him there,* in the house of Simon,
"the leper," as he is called. He probably had
been cleansed from his disease by Jesus, and show-
ed him this hospitality from a feeling of gratitude
and friendship. Lazarus was one of the company.
His sisters also were present, and Martha served.
During the repast, Mary gave a new proof of that
affectionate devotion to her Lord which she had
before exhibited. She had probably heard him
speak in the solemn way which impressed his fol-
lowers, of his approaching sufferings and death.
She was deeply affected by it. And under the
influence of her feelings, she came to him, as he
sat at supper, with an alabaster box of precious
perfume of spikenard, and poured it upon his
head. John says, that she also poured it on his
feet, and wiped them with her hair. This, ac-
cording to the notions of that part of the world,
was doing him a high and peculiar honor. It
was the second time that it had been offered him

Matt. xxvi. 6. Mark xiv. 3. John xii. 2.

* It might be inferred from John's account, that this took
place several evenings previous, viz. on our Lord's first arrival
in Bethany. But as both Matthew and Mark say it was two
days before the passover, I have placed it here ; understand-
ing John not to speak of the time, but simply to state that
they made the supper '■'there:' Otherwise we should have
two suppers and two anomtments precisely alike the same


in the course of his ministry. But there were
some present now, who felt, as the Pharisee did
on the former occasion,* no sympathy with the
deep reverence and affection which prompted the
act. Judas, with others of the company, ex-
claimed against the extravagance and wastefulness
of the deed. " It might have been sold," said
they, " for three hundred denarii " [about forty-five
dollars,] " and given to the poor." Their pre-
tended regard for the poor was ill-timed. TS'o one
had more of it than Jesus; but he felt, that, in
this instance, the expenditure was virtuous ; it
was the offering of sacred and reverential affec-
tion, excited by the approach of his death and the
feeling that the opportunity of showing him honor
would soon be past. He therefore defended her
against the attack of the cavillers; not only jus-
tifying, but applauding her; and assured them,
that wherever his gospel should be preached, this
deed of love should be celebrated.

Judas appears to have felt the rebuke keenly.
He was probably at once mortified and angered.
He knew how false were his own motives. He
had not spoken from any charitable purpose, but
for reasons simply selfish and criminal. He was
the keeper of the common purse, and would have
been glad to fill it with this goodly sum, that he

See page 118.
18*^ o


might take from it what his dishonest hand de-
sired. Perceiving himself detected, and the more
angry at the reproof, as bad men are apt to be,
because aware that he deserved it, he went im-
mediately to the chief priests, and offered to be-
tray his Master into their hands.

This was not the only instigating cause; others
were unquestionably working in his evil mind;
but this furnished the occasion. He was proba-
bly instigated to the treachery in part by cupidity,
and the desire to secure the pecuniary reward.
He had already, if we may judge from John's
calling him a thief, robbed the purse of the little
band, and doubtless, on this account, felt uneasy
in their company, and ill-disposed toward them,
as one is apt to do toward those whom he has
v/ronged. His base and selfish mind, too, could
have little sympathy with the severe and exalted
character of his Master. He was disappointed
in the ambitious expectations he had cherished.
He could not readily exchange the honors at
which he had been grasping, for the defeat and
disgrace which were now threatening him. And
as the time drew near, when even his Master
had assured him there was hope no longer, he
resolved to secure safety to himself, at any cost,
and not lose every thing in the inevitable ruin.

Matthew xxvi. 14. Mark xiv. 10. Luke xxii. 3.


It is not easy perhaps to enter fully into the mo-
tives which impelled him. Selfish, coarse, and
dishonest habits of mind and life are sufficient to
account for his conduct. If he had resisted the
influence of his Lord's society and character to
change them, it is not strange that he was ca-
pable of any baseness. If he could live with
Jesus, and not be transformed, he was just the
man to betray him. And if he had been revolving
it in his mind, the offence he received at Simon's
table was just the thing to goad him to the act.

Nothing could be more acceptable to the ruling
powers, probably nothing more unexpected, than
this ofler of one of the familiar adherents of Jesus,
to aid them in their designs. Their chief ob-
stacle was thus removed. They had long re-
solved to take him and put an end to his course.
They had issued a proclamation for information
respecting him. They had attempted to seize
him. But they had always found him during the
day surrounded by crowds of admiring listeners,
and had not dared to lay their hands on the
venerated prophet. " They feared the people."
Again and again, also, they had tried to circum-
vent him in his conversation, and lay hold of some
words for which he might be brought to prosecu-
tion. But these attempts had resulted in their
own shame. They were thus wholly at a loss
how to proceed. More than one meeting of the


great council seems to have been held; and
" they consulted how they might take Jesus by
craft, and put him to death." But they effected
nothing till Judas appeared before them, and
proposed to lead them to him in his retire-
ment; that is, as Luke expresses it, "in the
absence of the multitude." This was precisely
what they desired; and they contracted with him
to do it for thirty pieces of silver, probably
shekels, and equal in value, therefore, to about
fourteen dollars and seventy cents. For this pal-
try reward did the miserable man blacken himself
with infamy and guilt.




The feast of the passover began on Thursday.
On the morning of that day, the disciples inquired
of Jesus, where they should prepare for the eve-
ning festival. As none of them were inhabitants
of Jerusalem, they must depend on the hospitality
of some of the citizens for accommodation; and
as, at this season, the houses were freely thrown
open to the visiters from the country, there could
be no difficulty in finding a place. Jesus directed
them to the house of a person whom he pointed out,
probably one of his followers, who had a large up-
per room ready furnished; and directed Peter and
John to go thither, and make ready for the even-

Their principal duty was to prepare the paschal
lamb. This it was necessary for them to take to
the Temple, and slay before the altar with their
own hands. One of the priests received the blood
in a vessel, and it was poured out at the bottom
of the altar. The fat was consumed on the altar.
The time prescribed in the law for doing this, was
" at even, at the going down of the sun." Jose-
Matthew xxvi. 17. Mark xiv. 12. Luke xxii. 7.


phus says, that it was done between the ninth and
eleventh hours; that is, between three and five
o'clock in the afternoon. After that, the lamb was
to be roasted whole, not even a bone being allow-
ed to be broken, and to be entirely eaten before

The manner of conducting the supper appears
to have been somewhat as follows. The lamb was
placed upon the table, together with bitter herbs,
unleavened bread, and a sauce called charuseth, in
which the herbs and bread were dipped when
eaten. This sauce was composed of dates, figs,
and other fruits, beaten together, and is said to
have been designed to represent the clay or mor-
tar used by the Israelites in making bricks in
Egypt. The party being assembled at table, not
sitting, but reclining on couches, and leaning on
the left arm, the master of the family poured out
a cup of wine and water, gave thanks, and dis-
tributed it to all present. In the same way he af-
terward took a piece of the unleavened bread, pro-
nounced a blessing, and distributed it. Toward the
close of the meal a third cup of wine was drunk,
called the cup of blessing. The ceremony was
ended with a fourth, and by singing certain
Psalms, namely, the cxvi, cxvii, cxviii. We
shall find traces of this order in the account of
the last supper as observed by Jesus.

When the hour arrived, Jesus and the Twelve


sat down together. It was usual to assemble in
family parties; but, in the present instance, there
was a stronger bond than that of kindred to draw
these friends together. It was possibly to this
circumstance that Jesus alluded, when he said to
his disciples, that he had exceedingly desired to
keep this passover in their company; not with
his mother and kinsmen, but with his own chosen
few. It might remind them of his having for-
merly said, that he regarded those as most truly
his relatives, who were most devoted to his
Father's will.

It was probably in taking their places at the
table, that the contest for precedency, which is
mentioned by Luke, arose among the disciples;
"a strife which should be accounted greatest."
Jesus rebuked the unseasonable rivalry, reminded
them, that place was no true indication of worth,
that he himself had been with them as a servant,
and that it should be enough for them, who had
continued with him through his trials, to know
that they should share the honors of his kingdom
at last.

Being placed at the table, he expressed to them
his satisfaction at thus meeting them. He had
greatly desired it, he said, because it would be
the last opportunity. Then, taking the cup of
wine, with which it was customary to begin the

Luke xxii. 2.1.


ceremony, he gave thanks and distributed it
among them.

He then rose from his couch, laid aside his
upper robe, girded himself with a towel, and,
taking a basin of water, proceeded to wash the
disciples' feet. This service was usually per-
formed by menials; and accordingly when he
came to Peter, that ardent apostle, unwilling to al-
low such condescension in his Master, cried out,
*' Thou shalt never wash my feet." '' If I wash
thee not," replied Jesus, " thou hast no part with
me." Peter immediately went to the other ex-
treme; "Lord, not my feet only, but my hands
and my head." The answer of Jesus shows how
strongly his mind was affected by the sad circum-
stance, that one of his own Twelve would betray
him. He that has already bathed, he said, needs
only to wash his feet, for he is clean; ye, there-
fore, are clean; "but not all," he added, as the
thought of Judas came over him.

Resuming his place at the table, he explained
to them, that he had thus been setting them an
example of humility which they ought to follow.
He probably had in mind what had passed before
supper, and in this striking way endeavored to
impress permanently on their hearts his lessons
of humility and love.

John xiii. 1,


As the supper proceeded, his mind again turned
to the catastrophe, which Vvas near. He was
troubled in spirit, and said, " Verily I say unto
you, one of you is about to betray me." The
disciples looked at each other doubtingly and in
amazement. Then they began to inquire among
themselves whom he could mean. Then, unable
to satisfy themselves, they asked him one after
another, " Is it Ir" " Is it I? " l"he nearest of
them to Jesus was John, He is called " the dis-
ciple whom Jesus loved," and is said to have lain
in his bosom, because he reclined by his side on
the couch Peter beckoned to him, that he
should ask who it was, John accordingly put the
question in a whisper; and Jesus answered by
giving him a sign; — it was that person to whom
he should give the piece of bread which he had
dipped in the Passover sauce; for this is what is
meant by the sop in the Testament. He gave it
to Judas. That wretched man seems to have
borne this unexpected danger of exposure with a
bold face. He did not betray himself in any way
to his wondering companions. He even had the
assurance to ask with the rest, " Lord, is it I.''
Jesus must have answered him in a voice not to
be overheard by the others, for they did not learn

Mat. xxvi, 21, Mark xiv. 18. Luke xxii. 21.

John xiii. 21.


that he was the man. At length, however, either
because he could bear it no longer, or because
the hour on which he had agreed with the San-
hedrim had come, he rose from the table and left
the room. As he went out, Jesus said to him,
" That thou doest, do quickly." It is remarkable
that his departure excited no suspicion in the
minds of the other disciples. They merely sup-
posed, that, as Judas held the common purse, he
had received directions to purchase what was
necessary for the feast, or to give something to
the poor. This last supposition of theirs, it has
been remarked, shows that it was a custom with
Jesus to distribute charity in this way.

It is not perfectly clear at what period Judas
left the room; whether before the supper was
finished, or not until its close. Different opin-
ions have been entertained on the point. From
a comparison of the accounts of Matthew and
John, it seems probable that he left in the midst.
From Luke it might be inferred, that he remained
to the last. But as this writer was not present on
the occasion, it appears better to arrange the
narrative according to the testimony of the two
former who were eye-witnesses.

When Judas had gone, our Lord again advert-
ed to his sufferings in terms similar to those
which he had used when the Greeks applied to
him in the Temple. " Now is the son of man


glorified, and God is glorified in him." He
then, addressing his disciples affectionately as his
*' children," added, that his time was at hand, that
he must shortly go from them, and entreated them
to love one another as he had loved them. Peter^
not perceiving his meaning, asked him whither
he was going. Jesus repeated, that at present he
could not follow him, but should do so at some
future time. Still Peter did not understand; and
fearing that Jesus might say this because doubt-
ful of his courage or fidelity, he exclaimed,
'" Lord, why can I not follow thee now.-* I will
lay down my life for thy sake." "Wilt thou
lay down thy life for my sake?" said his Master;
" verily I say unto thee, the cock will not crow till
thou hast denied me thrice." The warm heart-
ed Apostle took fire at this, and cried out,
'' Though I die with thee, yet will I not deny
thee." The other ten joined him in this declara-

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Online LibraryHenry WareThe life of the saviour → online text (page 12 of 15)