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servant, and cut off his right ear. Then said Jesus unto Peter: Put up thy sword into the sheath. The cup, which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" John xviii. 10, 11. We must take a part of this history as related by others. In Matthew: "Then said Jesus unto him: Put up again thy sword into its 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 give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" Matt. xxvi. 52-54. In St. Luke: "And one of them," that is, of the disciples, "smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered, and said: Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him," Luke xxii. 51, 52. St. Mark: "And they laid their hands on him and took him. And one of them that stood by, drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear," Mark xiv. 46, 47.
Certainly Jesus appears great in this place. He had already done what might be sufficient to satisfy every one, that he was willing to submit to the trial that was coming upon him, how great soever it might prove, and whatever should be the issue of this attempt of his enemies upon his liberty. Nevertheless his faithful and affectionate disciples are still uneasy and perplexed to a great degree. And one of them makes resistance, takes the sword, and wounds one of the officers, who came to seize his Lord and Master. This was a testimony of sincere affection and zeal and our Lord must have been sensibly touched with it. This was one of the bitter ingre. dients of his cup: the sorrow and anguish of mind which his disgraces and other sufferings caused in his disciples. But observe the alacrity with which he takes it, and the superior regard which he has for the will of God above all private interests of his disciples, whom he tenderly loved, as well as above his own. "The cup, which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he would give me more than twelve legions of angels?" These things more especially concerning the disciples. However, the officers likewise, and all present, were hereby instructed.
Let us then take notice of this, as another proof of the fortitude and the meekness of Jesus, and his complete resignation to the whole will, and all the appointments of the Father.
Christ did not suffer as he did, because he could not save himself: but for great and valuable ends, the glory of God, the interests of truth, and the welfare of men, he submitted and acquiesced.
5. What follows is the actual apprehending of Jesus.
In St. John: " Then the band, and the captain, and the officers of the Jews, took Jesus, and bound him," John xviii. 12. In St. Matthew: "In that same hour said Jesus unto the multitudes: Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves, to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him and fled," Matt. xxvi. 55, 56. Compare Mark xiv. 48-50. In St. Luke thus: "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? 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," Luke xxii. 52, 53.
In this occurrence, I apprehend, we discern the sensibility of our Lord's frame, and that he was affected with this great indignity: that he was sought for, and taken up in the night as a thief, or ordinary offender against the peace of society. But though he is affected, he does not faint, or sink under the vile abuse. He teaches the men present the iniquity of their proceeding, and of the designs of those from whom they came. He also satisfies and composes himself, and likewise obviates their triumph on account of their seeming success in getting him into their hands, saying: "But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." You could not seize me before: nor until I had fully taught the will of God, and finished the work, which the Father had given me to do. But now is come the time when Divine Providence, for wise reasons and 'great ends and purposes, permits your wicked counsels to take place. And though the circumstances in which I now am, are indeed, as to outward appearance, dishonourable and disgraceful, I acquiesce, and yield myself to you, and even submit to be bound: though you have no 'reason to think that I should attempt to make an escape. It is not your power to which I am
subject, and by which I am overcome. But it is the will of God, to which I submit, and ' resign myself.'
It is not easy to proceed, without observing the sad instances which appear here of the hardness of men's hearts, and of an obstinate disposition of mind.
One instance is that of Judas, whom Jesus had kindly and solemnly warned more than once, intimating beforehand, that "one of the twelve would betray him," and saying: "Woe be to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed." Yet this wicked disciple proceeded to execute the base purpose which he had conceived in his mind.
Another is that of the Jewish servants and officers: who, notwithstanding the knowledge which they must before have had of the character of Jesus, and notwithstanding what they now heard from him, and saw in him, performed the orders which they had received, and laid hands on Jesus, and bound him, to carry him to the priests and elders. Some such officers, having formerly received a like order, returned without obeying it: and when asked: "Why they had not brought him," answered: "Never man spake like this man," John vii. 46. So might these have alleged this reason for not bringing him: "Never was there any man so great and excellent as he."
May we be always preserved from such hardness of heart. Let us not neglect the remonstrances of conscience. Let us submit to admonition. If we enter into wrong designs, let us not persist in them. Let us quit and forsake them when we find that they are disapproved of God, and contrary to reason.a
They who had apprehended our Lord, first had him to Annas, who sent him to Caiaphas, at that time high priest. Which is a particular related by St. John only: "Then the band and captain and officers took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first. For he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year- -Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest," John xviii. 12, 13, 24.
6. What we are therefore next to take notice of in the sixth place, is, what first happened at the house of Caiaphas the high priest. "The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him: I spake openly to the world, I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort. And in secret have I said nothing," John xviii. 19, 20. That is, I have taken all proper opportunities of speaking in the most public places. And if at any time I have taught my disciples privately, there is 'no reason to think, that any thing was then said by me different from the tenour of the doc'trine taught by me in places of the most general resort.' Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them. Behold, they know what I have said," ver. 21.
Every one must be sensible of the propriety of this answer. It was not a time for our Lord to rehearse the doctrine which he had taught, or to apologize for it, and demonstrate the innocence of it, or that it had no bad tendency. The high priest's question was improper and unseasonable. And our Lord justly exposed it by his answer.
Nevertheless, as it follows in St. John: "When he had thus spoken, one of the officers, who stood by, struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying: Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" ver. 22, 23. Which certainly shews full composure of mind, and great meekness. He does not exert his power for punishing so heinous an indignity; but calmly shews the iniquity of the treatment just given him: his answer to the high priest having been very just, implying the consciousness of his innocence, and the impropriety of the question put by the high priest to a person brought before him as upon trial.
7. In the next place, seventhly, we are to observe the farther proceedings before the high priest, which are rather more regular, though altogether unrighteous, they by whom they endeavoured to convict Jesus being false witnesses. "Now the chief priests and elders and all the council sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death; but found none. Yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said: This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him: Answerest thou nothing? What is it that these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace," Matt. xxvi. 59-62. St. Mark also relating this transaction, says, "But he held his peace, and answered nothing," ch. xiv. 60.
• If any should find the first part of this sermon too long to be read at once, here may be a proper pause.
The silence of our Lord upon this occasion deserves notice, as highly becoming a person of a distinguished character, and known innocence: especially when men, sitting in judgment as magistrates, shew themselves destitute of a regard to justice and equity, and betray a malicious design to put a man to death, though they have no evidence against him, and the witnesses that appear, at their procurement, are inconsistent, and do not agree together. We shall have occasion, as we proceed, to observe more than once this proof of our Lord's greatness: I mean his silence.
However it follows in St. Matthew: "And the high priest answered and said unto him: I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us, whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God? Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said:" Matt. xxvi. 63–66; that is, it is as thou hast said. You have rightly expressed the character which I claim. "Nevertheless I say unto you:" notwithstanding the meanness of my present appearance: and though at this present time I say and do nothing beside what has been manifested in my past life for justifying this claim and character, I do assure you: "Hereafter ye will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and said: He has spoken blasphemy. What further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered, and said: He is guilty of death;" or deserves to be put to death.
Here again we see our Lord's excellent behaviour. Though he had been silent hitherto, yet being adjured in the name of God, he answers readily and distinctly; even though he could not but very well know the perverse use which the council would make of it, and that they would charge him with blasphemy, as if the claim was without ground.
Here therefore we perceive the truth, and the courage of our Lord. In the time of his public preaching he proved himself to be the Christ, or the Messiah, by his discourses and his works. But he seldom said expressly, that he was the Messiah, for avoiding ostentation, and for preventing the abuse, which some might have made of such a declaration, and the bad consequences that might have ensued, considering how many supposed a temporal power and kingdom to be annexed to that character. But now, when the declaration could be attended with no bad consequences to others, he freely makes it: though it would soon expose him to à charge of blasphemy, which would be deemed worthy of death.
In this profession, now made, there is much majesty, unspeakable goodness, and admirable wisdom and discretion. The majesty is evident. There is also goodness, in foretelling the glory and power to which he should be advanced, and in which he should come to punish the determined and implacable enemies of truth and virtue. It was, I say, great goodness to warn and admonish those who had given such proofs of hardness of heart, of the guilt they would contract, and the miseries they would be in danger of, if they should proceed to condemn him. And the discretion is admirable, in delivering that kind and compassionate instruction and warning, without any diminution of his greatness.
8. Eighthly, the next thing which offers itself to us, is the behaviour of Peter, whose repeated denial happened at this season, whilst our Saviour was in the house of Caiaphas.
There is no need that I should insert here any of the accounts of this matter, in any of the Evangelists; it being well known to every one, that this disciple, partly out of curiosity, partly out of esteem and affection for Jesus, had followed him into the high priest's hall. At this time, when Jesus was before the high priest and elders and the council of the Jews, Peter at some small distance, in the lower part of the hall, as a stranger, and among persons chiefly of lower rank, being challenged as a disciple of Jesus, thrice denied it, or that he had any knowledge of him, and endeavoured to corroborate what he said with oaths and imprecations, the more effectually to secure his own safety.
This must have been very affecting to our Lord: that a disciple of his, and one of the chief, and most favoured, should act so unsuitably to his obligations and solemn professions. But behold the complete composure of our Lord's mind. He is not so offended at the bad conduct of his disciple, nor so concerned about the malicious and artful proceedings of the council, before whom he stood, but he takes care of Peter: "He turned and looked upon Peter," Luke xxii. 61, with earnestness and tenderness. And by that piercing and gracious look, he recovered this fallen disciple, who then, not being longer able to bear company, and wanting a
place of retirement to bemoan his own falsehood and inconstancy, “went out and wept bitterly,” ver. 62, and Matt. xxvi. 75.
9. In the ninth place we will observe the history of our Lord's first appearance before Pilate. "When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor," Matt. xxvii. 1, 2. And Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked him, saying: Art thou the king of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him: Thou sayest," ver. 11; that is, it is as thou sayest. You have rightly expressed my character. I acknowledge myself to be the king of the Jews. Thus our Lord here professes again plainly the same thing which he had said before the Jewish council: whatever bad use might be made of it, to his detriment.
St. Matthew's account is just, but it is very concise and summary. Therefore, though we ought to study brevity, I think we should take in also a part of St. John's account, which is more full. "Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered him: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest, that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this end came I into this world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice."
By which we perceive, that our Lord was not unwilling to speak when there was occasion: and that, being fully composed in his mind, when he speaks his words are wise and proper. He not only undauntedly acknowledges his character of the Messiah, but Pilate being a stranger, he condescends also to give him some information concerning the nature of his kingdom, and of the title which he assumed, of " the king of the Jews:" letting him know, that it was not a worldly kingdom, supported by sanctions of worldly rewards and punishments, human force and authority, but is a kingdom of truth: and that his design was to bear testimony to truth, especially religious truth; the interest of which is supported and carried on by reason and argument only, and by appeals to the understanding, judgment and conscience of men. Such a king I am and every one who is a lover of truth, will receive me for his Lord and Master, and become my disciple and follower. Thus, as St. Paul says, "Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession," 1 Tim. vi. 13.
It is added in St. Matthew, in the place before quoted: "And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then saith Pilate unto him: Hearest thou not, how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him never a word: insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly," Matt. xxvii. 12--14. Our Lord having said what was sufficient to give Pilate satisfaction concerning the nature of his claim, and the innocence of his behaviour, if Pilate was impartial and equitable, as related in St. John, he refused to plead any longer. That would have looked like disputing and arguing; which was below his dignity, and unsuitable to his present circumstances.
10. There is another thing, in the tenth place, mentioned by St. Luke, which we cannot overlook, the appearance of Jesus before Herod the Tetrarch. "Then said Pilate unto the chief priests, and to the people: I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, he stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee unto this place. As soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad : for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him, and he hoped to have seen a miracle done by him. Then he questioned him in many words: but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him: and Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate," Luke xxiii. 4—11.
Here we see our Lord's continued meekness and patience, in submitting to be thus sent from one to another, and enduring all manner of scoffs and insults without complaint. We likewise see his true greatness. He works not any miracle before Herod, either of salvation or
destruction; though this last might have been justly done. He says not a word by way of apology for himself, his innocence being conspicuous, and all the accusations brought against him false and groundless. Our Lord's behaviour is admirable. If he had not been a person of consummate wisdom, and had not now had the full command of himself, he might have been induced to exert his power in performing some work of an extraordinary kind, or to say something strongly in his own behalf: but his silence and inaction are more becoming. He behaves as one ought to do, who had wrought such miracles as he had done, many of them in the territories of Herod, who might have informed himself concerning them if he had pleased: and as became him in the presence of that man who had unrighteously put John the Baptist to death, and still lived in the sins for which he had been reproved by him, and now added the prodigious sin and folly of insulting, and contemptuously ridiculing and mocking a man, concerning whom many great things had been reported to him, and in whom no fault had been found, after a very public life, into which the strictest inquiries had been made.
11. Now we are led to take notice of the demand made by the people, at the instigation of the rulers, that Barabbas might be delivered to them.
For Pilate was convinced, that in this cause the chief men of the Jews had been actuated by envy: therefore he put the people in mind of a custom they had for him to release to them a prisoner at that feast. And the more to incline them in favour of Jesus, he proposed him to them, together with another, who was infamous, or as St. Matthew styles him, a "notable prisoner," Matt. xxvii. 16, or notorious transgressor, whose crimes are more particularly put down in the other Evangelists. Mark xv. 7; Luke xxiii. 25; John xviii. 40. The governor answered, and said unto them, Whether of the two will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate said unto them, What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? They all said unto him: Let him be crucified," ver. 21, 22.
How provoking is this! Yet not one word proceeds from Jesus. He might indeed justly have spoken out, and addressed himself to the people, and all present, saying, O shameful indignity! O unexampled preference! Do you not know the demerits of the prisoner, whom you 'desire to have released unto you? And do you demand that I should be put to death? Have 'you never been present at my discourses in the temple or the synagogues? Have you never seen or heard of any of the mighty works done by me, equalling or exceeding those done by any of your prophets, Moses himself not excepted? Have you forgot your own loud and 'cheerful acclamations, and the solemn and willing pomp with which you lately conducted me into this city, saying, "Hosannah to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name ' of the Lord!" These and other things might have been justly and properly said. But our Lord's silence is greater than all words; more significant and moving than the most pathetic speech that could be made.
12. The last thing to be mentioned here is the sentence pronounced by Pilate.
Says St. John: "When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat--Then delivered he him therefore to them to be crucified, John xix. 13, 16. To the like purpose in St. Matthew, chap. xxii. 26; and St. Mark, chap. xv. 15. Or, as in St. Luke, chap. xxiii. 24, 25. "And Pilate gave sentence, that it should be as they required-and he delivered Jesus to their will."
That is the sentence. But it may be perceived, that for the sake of brevity, I pass over divers things, which happened at this time: the scourging ordered by Pilate, the derisions and insults of the soldiers, "who platted a crown of thorns, and put it upon his head, and put on him a purple robe, and said: Hail, king of the Jews. And they smote him on the head with a reed, and spat upon him, and bowing their knees, worshipped him:" that is, derided him with many tokens of mock-honour and respect.
It was amazing meekness in our Lord, to bear all this treatment without punishing it: true greatness to make no remonstrances against such crying abuse. This was not a time for him to use earnest expostulations or loud complaints. His former life testified his innocence, and condemned all accusations brought against him, and covered with shame the indignities offered
* Ό μεν σατηρ και κύριος ημών Ιησες Χριςοί, ψευδομαρτυρεμενος μεν, εσιώπα κατηγορύμενος δε, εδεν απεκρίνατο· πειθόμενος, παντα τον βίον εαυτ8, και τας εν ιεδαίοις πράξεις,
κρειττως γεγονεναι φωνής ελεγχυσης την ψευδομαρτυρίαν, και λέξεων απολογεμένων προς τας κατηγορίας. Orig. Contr. Cels. 1. i. in.