In this chapter begins the account which this evangelist gives of the
death and sufferings of our Lord Jesus, which we are all concerned to
be acquainted, not only with the history of, but with the mystery of.
I. The plot of the chief priests and scribes against Christ,
II. The anointing of Christ's head at a supper in Bethany, two days
before his death,
III. The contract Judas made with the chief priests, to betray him,
IV. Christ's eating the passover with his disciples, his instituting
the Lord's supper, and his discourse with his disciples, at and after
V. Christ's agony in the garden,
VI. The betraying of him by Judas, and the apprehending of him by the
chief priests' agents,
VII. His arraignment before the high priest, his conviction, and the
indignities done him at that bar,
VIII. Peter's denying him,
Most of which passages we had before,
Christ Anointed at Bethany; Judas Engages to Betray Christ.
1 After two days was the feast of the passover, and of
unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought
how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an
uproar of the people.
3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he
sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of
ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and
poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves,
and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred
pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against
6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath
wrought a good work on me.
7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will
ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint
my body to the burying.
9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be
preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath
done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
10 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief
priests, to betray him unto them.
11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to
give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray
We have here instances,
I. Of the kindness of Christ's friends, and the provision made
of respect and honour for him. Some friends he had, even in and about
Jerusalem, that loved him, and never thought they could do enough for
him, among whom, though Israel be not gathered, he is, and will be,
1. Here was one friend, that was so kind as to invite him to
sup with him; and he was so kind as to accept the invitation,
Though he had a prospect of his death approaching, yet he did not
abandon himself to a melancholy retirement from all company, but
conversed as freely with his friends as usual.
2. Here was another friend, that was so kind as to anoint his
head with very precious ointment as he sat at meat. This was
an extraordinary piece of respect paid him by a good woman that thought
nothing too good to bestow upon Christ, and to do him honour. Now the
scripture was fulfilled, When the king sitteth at his table, my
spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof,
Song of Solomon 1:12.
Let us anoint Christ as our Beloved, kiss him with a kiss
of affection; and anoint him as our Sovereign, kiss him
with a kiss of allegiance. Did he pour out his soul unto death
for us, and shall we think any box of ointment too precious to pour out
upon him? It is observable that she took care to pour it all out upon
Christ's head; she broke the box (so we read it); but because it
was an alabaster box, not easily broken, nor was it necessary
that it should be broken, to get out the ointment, some read it, she
shook the box, or knocked it to the ground, to loosen
what was in it, that it might be got out the better; or, she
rubbed and scraped out all that stuck tot he sides of it.
Christ must have been honoured with all we have, and we must not
think to keep back any part of the price. Do we give him the
precious ointment of our best affections? Let him have them
all; love him with all the heart.
(1.) There were those that put a worse construction upon this
than it deserved. They called it a waste of the ointment,
Because they could not have found their hearts to put themselves to
such an expense for the honouring of Christ, they thought that she was
prodigal, who did. Note, As the vile person ought to be
called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful
so the liberal and bountiful ought not to be called
wasteful. They pretend it might have been sold, and
given to the poor,
But as a common piety to the corban will not excuse from
a particular charity to a poor parent
so a common charity to the poor will not excuse from a particular act
of piety to the Lord Jesus. What thy hand finds to do, that is good,
do it with thy might.
(2.) Our Lord Jesus put a better construction upon it than, for
aught that appears, was designed. Probably, she intended no
more, than to show the great honour she had for him, before all the
company, and to complete his entertainment. But Christ makes it to be
an act of great faith, as well as great love
"She is come aforehand, to anoint my body to the burying, as if
she foresaw that my resurrection would prevent her doing it afterward."
This funeral rite was a kind of presage of, or prelude to, his death
approaching. See how Christ's heart was filled with the thoughts of his
death, how every thing was construed with a reference to that, and how
familiarly he spoke of it upon all occasions. It is usual for those who
are condemned to die, to have their coffins prepared, and other
provision made for their funerals, while they are yet alive; and
so Christ accepted this. Christ's death and burial were
the lowest steps of his humiliation, and therefore, though he
cheerfully submitted to them, yet he would have some marks of honour to
attend them, which might help to take off the offence of the
cross, and be an intimation how precious in the sight of the
Lord the death of his saints is. Christ never rode in triumph into
Jerusalem, but when he came thither to suffer; nor had ever his head
anointed, but for his burial.
(3.) He recommended this piece of heroic piety to the applause of the
church in all ages; Wherever this gospel shall be preached, it shall
be spoken of, for a memorial of her,
Note, The honour which attends well-doing, even in this world, is
sufficient to balance the reproach and contempt that are cast upon it.
The memory of the just is blessed, and they that had trial of
cruel mockings, yet obtained a good report,
Thus was this good woman repaid for her box of ointment, Nec oleum
perdidit nec operam--She lost neither her oil nor her labour. She
got by it that good name which is better than precious ointment.
Those that honour Christ he will honour.
II. Of the malice of Christ's enemies, and the preparation made
by them to do him mischief.
1. The chief priests, his open enemies, consulted how they might
put him to death,
The feast of the passover was now at hand, and at that
feast he must be crucified,
(1.) That his death and suffering might be the more public, and that
all Israel, even those of the dispersion, who came from
all parts to the feast, might be witnesses of it, and of the wonders
that attended it.
(2.) That the Anti-type might answer to the type. Christ, our
Passover, was sacrificed for us, and brought us out of the house of
bondage, at the same time that the paschal lamb was sacrificed, and
Israel's deliverance out of Egypt was commemorated.
[1.] How spiteful Christ's enemies were; they did not think it
enough to banish or imprison him, for they aimed not only to
silence him, and stop his progress for the future, but to
be revenged on him for all the good he had done.
[2.] How subtle they were; Not on the feast-day, when the
people are together; they do not say, Lest they should be disturbed in
their devotions, and diverted from them, but, Lest there should be
lest they should rise, and rescue him, and fall foul upon those
that attempt any thing against him. They who desired
nothing more than the praise of men, dreaded nothing more than
the rage and displeasure of men.
2. Judas, his disguised enemy, contracted with them for the
betraying of him,
He is said to be one of the twelve that were Christ's family,
intimate with him, trained up for the service of the kingdom; and he
went to the chief priests, to tender his service in this
(1.) That which he proposed to them, was, to betray Christ to
them, and to give them notice when and where they might find him, and
seize him, without making an uproar among the people, which they
were afraid of, if they should seize him when he appeared in
public, in the midst of his admirers. Did he know then what help it
was they wanted, and where they were run aground in their counsels? It
is probable that he did not, for the debate was held in their close
cabal. Did they know that he had a mind to serve them, and make
court to him? No, they could not imagine that any of his intimates
should be so base; but Satan, who was entered into Judas, knew what
occasion they had for him, and could guide him to be guide to
them, who were contriving to take Jesus. Note, The spirit
that works in all the children of disobedience, knows how to bring them
in to the assistance one of another in a wicked project, and then to
harden them in it, with the fancy that Providence favours them.
(2.) That which he proposed to himself, was, to get money by the
bargain; he had what he aimed at, when they promised to give him
money. Covetousness was Judas's master-lust, his own
iniquity, and that betrayed him to the sin of betraying his Master;
the devil suited his temptation to that, and so conquered him.
It is not said, They promised him preferment (he was not
ambitious of that), but, they promised him money. See what need
we have to double our guard against the sin that most easily besets
us. Perhaps it was Judas's covetousness that brought him at first
to follow Christ, having a promise that he should be
cash-keeper, or purser, to the society, and he loved in his heart to be
fingering money; and now that there was money to be got on the other
side, he was as ready to betray him as ever he had been to follow him.
Note, Where the principle of men's profession of religion is carnal and
worldly, and the serving of a secular interest, the very same
principle, whenever the wind turns, will be the bitter root of a vile
and scandalous apostasy.
(3.) Having secured the money, he set himself to make good his bargain;
he sought how he might conveniently betray him, how he might
seasonably deliver him up, so as to answer the intention of
those who had hired him. See what need we have to be careful that we do
not ensnare ourselves in sinful engagements. If at any time we be so
ensnared in the words of our mouths, we are concerned to deliver
ourselves by a speedy retreat,
It is a rule in our law, as well as in our religion, that an
obligation to do an evil thing is null and
void; it binds to repentance, not to performance. See how the
way of sin is down-hill--when men are in, they must be
on; and what wicked contrivances many have in their
sinful pursuits, to compass their designs conveniently; but such
conveniences will prove mischiefs in the end.
The Institution of the Lord's Supper.
12 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the
passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go
and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?
13 And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto
them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing
a pitcher of water: follow him.
14 And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the
house, The Master saith, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall
eat the passover with my disciples?
15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and
prepared: there make ready for us.
16 And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and
found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
17 And in the evening he cometh with the twelve.
18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto
you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.
19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by
one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?
20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the
twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.
21 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.
22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and
brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my
23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave
it to them: and they all drank of it.
24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new
testament, which is shed for many.
25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of
the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount
27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because
of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd,
and the sheep shall be scattered.
28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into
29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet
will not I.
30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this
day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt
deny me thrice.
31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee,
I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.
In these verses we have,
I. Christ's eating the passover with his disciples, the night before he
died, with the joys and comforts of which ordinance he prepared himself
for his approaching sorrows, the full prospect of which did not
indispose him for that solemnity. Note, No apprehension of trouble,
come or coming, should put us by, or put us out of frame for, our
attendance on holy ordinances, as we have opportunity for it.
1. Christ ate the passover at the usual time when the other Jews
did, as Dr. Whitby had fully made out, and not, as Dr. Hammond would
have it, the night before. It was on the first day of that feast, which
(taking in all the eight days of the feast) was called, The feast of
unleavened bread, even that day when they killed the
2. He directed his disciples how to find the place where he intended to
eat the passover; and hereby gave such another proof of his infallible
knowledge of things distant and future (which to us seem altogether
contingent), as he had given when he sent them for the ass on
which he rode in triumph
"Go into the city (for the passover must be eaten
in Jerusalem), and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of
water (a servant sent for water to clean the rooms in his master's
house); follow him, go in where he goes, enquire for his
master, the good man of the house
and desire him to show you a room." No doubt, the inhabitants of
Jerusalem had rooms fitted up to be let out, for this occasion,
to those that came out of the country to keep the passover, and one of
those Christ made use of; not any friend's house, nor any house he had
formerly frequented, for then he would have said, "Go to such a
friend," or, "You know where we used to be, go thither and prepare."
Probably he went where he was not known, that he might be
undisturbed with his disciples. Perhaps he notified it by a
sign, to conceal it from Judas, that he might not know till he came
to the place; and by such a sign to intimate that he will dwell
in the clean heart, that is, washed as with pure
water. Where he designs to come, a pitcher of water must go before
3. He ate the passover in an upper room furnished,
estromenon--laid with carpets (so Dr. Hammond); it
would seem to have been a very handsome dining-room. Christ was
far from affecting any thing that looked stately in eating his common
meals; on the contrary, he chose that which was homely, sat down on the
grass: but, when he was to keep a sacred feast, in honour of that he
would be at the expense of as good a room as he could get. God looks
not at outward pomp, but he looks at the tokens and expressions
of inward reverence for a divine institution, which, it is to be
feared, those want, who, to save charges, deny themselves decencies in
the worship of God.
4. He ate it with the twelve, who were his family, to teach
those who have the charge of families, not only families of
children, but families of servants, or families of
scholars, or pupils, to keep up religion among them, and
worship God with them. If Christ came with the twelve, then
Judas was with them, though he was at this time contriving to betray
his Master; and it is plain by what follows
that he was there: he did not absent himself, lest he could have been
suspected; had his seat been empty at this feast, they
would have said, as Saul of David, He is not clean, surely he is not
1 Samuel 20:26.
Hypocrites, though they know it is at their peril, yet crowd into
special ordinances, to keep up their repute, and palliate their secret
wickedness. Christ did not exclude him from the feast, though he
knew his wickedness, for it was not as yet become public and
scandalous. Christ, designing to put the keys of the kingdom of
heaven into the hands of men, who can judge only according to
outward appearance, would hereby both direct and encourage them in
their admissions to his table, to be satisfied with a justifiable
profession, because they cannot discern the root of bitterness
till it springs up.
II. Christ's discourse with his disciples, as they were eating
the passover. It is probable that they had discourse, according to the
custom of the feast, of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the
preservation of the first-born, and were as pleasant as they used to be
together on this occasion, till Christ told them that which would mix
trembling with their joys.
1. They were pleasing themselves with the society of their
Master; but he tells them that they must now presently lose him;
The Son of man is betrayed; and they knew, for he had often told
them, what followed--If he be betrayed, the next news you will
hear of him, is, that he is crucified and slain; God hath
determined it concerning him, and he agrees to it; The Son of man
goes, as it is written of him,
It was written in the counsels of God, and written in the
prophecies of the Old Testament, not one jot or tittle of either of
which can fall to the ground.
2. They were pleasing themselves with the society one of
another, but Christ casts a damp upon the joy of that, by telling
them, One of you that eateth with me shall betray me,
Christ said this, if it might be, to startle the conscience of Judas,
and to awaken him to repent of his wickedness, and to draw back (for it
was not too late) from the brink of the pit. But for aught that
appears, he who was most concerned in the warning, was least
concerned at it. All the rest were affected with it.
(1.) They began to be sorrowful. As the remembrance of our
former falls into sin, so the fear of the like again, doth often much
embitter the comfort of our spiritual feasts, and damp our joy. Here
were the bitter herbs, with which this passover-feast was
(2.) They began to be suspicious of themselves; they said one
by one, Is it I? And another said, Is it I? They are to be
commended for their charity, that they were more jealous of
themselves than of one another. It is the law of charity, to
hope the best
(1 Corinthians 13:5-7),
because we assuredly know, therefore we may justly
suspect, more evil by ourselves than by our brethren. They are
also to be commended for their acquiescence in what Christ said; they
trusted more to his words than to their own hearts; and
therefore do not say, "I am sure it is not I," but, "Lord, is
it I? see if there be such a way of wickedness in us, such a
root of bitterness, and discover it to us, that we may pluck up
that root, and stop up that way."
Now, in answer to their enquiry, Christ saith that,
[1.] Which would make them easy; "It is not you, or you;
it is this that now dips with me in the dish; the adversary and
enemy is this wicked Judas."
[2.] Which, one would think, should make Judas very uneasy. If
he go on in his undertaking, it is upon the sword's point, for woe
to that many by whom the Son of man is betrayed; he is undone, for
every undone; his sin will soon find him out; and it were
better for him that he had never been born, and had never had a
being than such a miserable one as he must have. It is very probable
that Judas encouraged himself in it with this thought, that his
Master had often said he must be betrayed; "And if it must be done,
surely God will not find fault with him that doth it, for who
hath resisted his will?" As that objector argues,
But Christ tells him that this will be no shelter or excuse to him;
The Son of man indeed goes; as it is written of him, as a lamb
to the slaughter; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.
God's decree to permit the sins of men, and bring glory to himself out
of them, do neither necessitate their sins, nor determine to them, nor
will they be any excuse of the sin, or mitigation of the
punishment. Christ was delivered indeed by the determinate counsel
and fore-knowledge of God; but, notwithstanding that, it is with
wicked hands that he is crucified and slain,
III. The institution of the Lord's supper.
1. It was instituted in the close of a supper, when they were
sufficiently fed with the paschal lamb, to show that in the
Lord's supper there is no bodily repast intended; to preface it
with such a thing, is to revive Moses again. But it is food for the
soul only, and therefore a very little of that which is for the
body, as much as will serve for a sign, is enough. It was at the
close of the passover-supper, which by this was evangelized, and
then superseded and set aside. Much of the doctrine and duty of the
eucharist is illustrated to us by the law of the passover
for the Old-Testament institutions, though they do not bind us,
yet instruct us, by the help of a gospel-key to them. And these
two ordinances lying here so near together, it may be good to compare
them, and observe how much shorter and plainer the institution of the
Lord's supper is, than that of the passover was. Christ's yoke is easy
in comparison with that of the ceremonial law, and his ordinances are
2. It was instituted by the example of Christ himself; not with
the ceremony and solemnity of a law, as the ordinance of baptism was,
after Christ's resurrection
with, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, by a power given
to Christ in heaven and on earth
but by the practice of our Master himself, because intended for those
who are already his disciples, and taken into covenant with him: but it
has the obligation of the law, and was intended to remain in full
force, power, and virtue, till his second coming.
3. It was instituted with blessing and giving of thanks;
the gifts of common providence are to be so received
(1 Timothy 4:4,5),
much more than the gifts of special grace. He blessed
and gave thanks,
At his other meals, he was wont to bless, and give thanks
so remarkably, that he was known by it,
And he did the same at this meal.
4. It was instituted to be a memorial of his death; and
therefore he broke the bread, to show how it pleased the Lord to
bruise him; and he called the wine, which is the blood of
the grape, the blood of the New Testament. The death Christ died
was a bloody death, and frequent mention is made of the
blood, the precious blood, as the pride of our
redemption; for the blood is the life, and made atonement for
The pouring out of the blood was the most sensible indication of the
pouring out of his soul,
Blood has a voice
and therefore blood is so often mentioned, because it was to
It is called the blood of the New Testament; for the covenant of
grace became a testament, and of force by the death of Christ,
It is said to be shed for many, to justify many
to bring many sons to glory,
It was sufficient for many, being of infinite value; it has been
of use to many; we read of a great multitude which no man could
number, that had all washed their robes, and made them white in the
blood of the Lamb
and still it is a fountain opened. How comfortable is this to
poor repenting sinners, that the blood of Christ is shed for
many! And if for many, why not for me? If for
sinners, sinners of the Gentiles, the chief of sinners, then why not
5. It was instituted to be a ratification of the covenant made
with us in him, and a sign of the conveyance of those benefits to us,
which were purchased for us by his death; and therefore he broke the
bread to them
and said, Take, eat of it: he gave the cup to them, and
ordered them to drink of it,
Apply the doctrine of Christ crucified to yourselves, and let it be
meat and drink to your souls, strengthening, nourishing,
and refreshing, to you, and the support and comfort of your spiritual
6. It was instituted with an eye to the happiness of heaven, and to be
an earnest and fore-taste of that, and thereby to put our mouths out of
taste for all the pleasures and delights of sense
I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, as it is a bodily
refreshment. I have done with it. No one, having tasted
spiritual delights, straightway desires sensitive ones, for
he saith, The spiritual is better
but every one that hath tasted spiritual delights,
straightway desires eternal ones, for he saith, Those are
better still; and therefore let me drink no more of the fruit
of the vine, it is dead and flat to those that have been made to
drink of the river of God's pleasures; but, Lord, hasten
the day, when I shall drink it new and fresh in the kingdom
of God, where it shall be for ever new, and in perfection.
7. It was closed with a hymn,
Though Christ was in the midst of his enemies, yet he did not, for fear
of them, omit this sweet duty of singing psalms. Paul and Silas sang,
when the prisoners heard them. This was an evangelical
song, and gospel times are often spoken of in the Old Testament, as
times of rejoicing, and praise is expressed by singing. This was
Christ's swan-like song, which he sung just before he entered
upon his agony; probably, that which is usually sung,
IV. Christ's discourse with his disciples, as they were returning to
Bethany by moonlight. When the had sung the hymn, presently they
went out. It was now near bedtime, but our Lord Jesus had his
heart so much upon his suffering, that he would not come into the
tabernacle of his house, norgo up into his bed, nor give
sleep to his eyes, when that work was to be done,
The Israelites were forbidden to go out of their houses the night that
they ate the passover, for fear of the sword of the destroying angel,
But because Christ, the great shepherd, was to be
smitten, he went out purposely to expose himself to the
sword, as a champion; they evaded the destroyer, but Christ
conquered him, and brought destructions to a perpetual
1. Christ here foretels that in his sufferings he should be
deserted by all his disciples; "You will all be offended
because of me, this night. I know you will
and what I tell you now, is no other than what the scripture has told
you before; I will smite the shepherd, and then the sheep
will be scattered." Christ knew this before, and yet welcomed them
at his table; he sees the falls and miscarriages of his disciples, and
yet doth not refuse them. Nor should we be discouraged from coming to
the Lord's supper, by the fear of relapsing into sin afterward; but,
the greater of our danger is, the more need we have to fortify
ourselves by the diligent conscientious use of holy ordinances. Christ
tells them that they would be offended in him, would begin to
question whether he were the Messiah or no, when they saw him
overpowered by his enemies. Hitherto, they had continued with
him in his temptations; though they had sometimes offended him, yet
they had not been offended in him, nor turned the back upon him;
but now the storm would be so great, that they would all slip their
anchors, and be in danger of shipwreck. Some trials are more
The devil shall cast some of you into prison); but others are
more general, an hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the
The smiting of the shepherd is often the scattering of
the sheep: magistrates, ministers, masters of families, if these are,
as they should be, shepherds to those under their charge, when
any thing comes amiss to them, the whole flock suffers for it, and is
endangered by it.
But Christ encourages them with a promise that they shall rally again,
shall return both to their duty and to their comfort
"After I am risen, I will gather you in from all the
places wither you are scattered,
I will go before you into Galilee, will see our friends, and
enjoy one another there."
2. He foretels that he should be denied particularly by Peter.
When they went out to go to the mount of Olives, we may suppose
that they dropped Judas (he stole away from them), whereupon the rest
began to think highly of themselves, that they stuck to
their Master, when Judas quitted him. But Christ tells them, that
though they should be kept by his grace from Judas's apostasy, yet they
would have no reason to boast of their constancy. Note, Though God
keeps us from being as bad as the worst, yet we may well be ashamed to
think that we are not better than we are.
(1.) Peter is confident that he should not do so ill as the rest
of his disciples
Though all should be offended, all his brethren here present,
yet will not I. He supposes himself not only stronger than
others, but so much stronger, as to be able to receive the shock of a
temptation, and bear up against it, all alone; to stand,
though nobody stood by him. It is bred in the bone with us, to
think well of ourselves, and trust to our own
(2.) Christ tells him that he will do worse than any of them.
They will all desert him, but he will deny him; not once,
but thrice; and that presently; "This day, even this night
before the cock crow twice, thou wilt deny that ever thou
hadst any knowledge of me, or acquaintance with me, as one ashamed and
afraid to own me."
(3.) He stands to his promise; "If I should die with thee, I will
not deny thee; I will adhere to thee, though it cost me my life:"
and, no doubt, he thought as he said. Judas said nothing like this,
when Christ told him he would betray him. He sinned by contrivance,
Peter by surprise; he devised the wickedness
Peter was overtaken in this fault,
It was ill done of Peter, to contradict his Master. If he had said,
with fear and trembling, "Lord, give me grace to keep me from denying
thee, lead me not into this temptation, deliver me from this evil," it
might have been prevented: but they were all thus confident; they who
said, Lord, is it I? now said, It shall never be me.
Being acquitted from their fear of betraying Christ, they were now
secure. But he that thinks he stands, must learn to take heed lest he
fall; and he that girdeth on the harness, not boast as though
he had put it off.
The Agony in the Garden.
32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he
saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began
to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto
death: tarry ye here, and watch.
35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and
prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto
thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will,
but what thou wilt.
37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto
Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit
truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same
40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their
eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on
now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come;
behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
Christ is here entering upon his sufferings, and begins with those
which were the sorest of all his sufferings, those in his soul.
Here we have him in his agony; this melancholy story we had in
Matthew; this agony in soul was the wormwood and the gall
in the affliction and misery; and thereby it appeared that no
sorrow was forced upon him, but that it was what he
I. He retired for prayer; Sit ye here (saith he to his
disciples), while I go a little further, and pray. He had lately
prayed with them
and now he appoints them to withdraw while he goes to his Father upon
an errand peculiar to himself. Note, Our praying with our families will
not excuse our neglect of secret worship. When Jacob entered into his
agony, he first sent over all that he had, and was left
alone, and then there wrestled a man with him
though he had been at prayer before
it is likely, with his family.
II. Even into that retirement he took with him Peter, and James, and
three competent witnesses of this part of his humiliation; and though
great spirits care not how few know any thing of their agonies, he was
not ashamed that they should see. These three had boasted most of their
ability and willingness to suffer with him; Peter here, in this
chapter, and James and John
and therefore Christ takes them to stand by, and see what a struggle he
had with the bloody baptism and the bitter cup, to
convince them that they knew not what they said. It is fit that they
who are most confident, should be first tried, that they may be
made sensible of their folly and weakness.
III. There he was in a tremendous agitation
He began to be sore amazed--ekthambeisthai, a word
not used in Matthew, but very significant; it bespeaks something like
that horror of great darkness, which fell upon Abraham
or, rather, something much worse, and more frightful. The terrors
of God set themselves in array against him, and he allowed himself
the actual and intense contemplation of them. Never was sorrow
like unto his at that time; never any had such experience as he
had from eternity of divine favours, and therefore never any had, or
could have, such a sense as he had of divine favours. Yet there was
not the least disorder or irregularity in this commotion of his
spirits; his affections rose not tumultuously, but under direction, and
as they were called up, for he had no corrupt nature to mix with them,
as we have. If water have a sediment at the bottom, though it may be
clear while it stands still, yet, when shaken, it grows muddy; so it is
with our affections: but pure water in a clean glass, though ever so
much stirred, continues clear; and so it was with Christ. Dr. Lightfoot
thinks it very probable that the devil did now appear to our Saviour in
a visible shape, in his own shape and proper colour, to
terrify and affright him, and to drive him from his hope in God (which
he aimed at in persecuting Job, a type of Christ, to make him curse
God, and die), and to deter him from the further prosecution of his
undertaking; whatever hindered him from that, he looked upon as coming
When the devil had tempted him in the wilderness, it is said, He
departed from him for a season
intending another grapple with him, and in another way; finding that he
could not by his flatteries allure him into sin, he would try by
his terrors to affright him into it, and so make void his
IV. He made a sad complaint of this agitation. He said, My soul is
1. He was made sin for us, and therefore was thus
sorrowful; he fully knew the malignity of the sins
he was to suffer for; and having the highest degree of love to
God, who was offended by them, and of love to man, who
was damaged and endangered by them, now that those were set in order
before him, no marvel that his soul was exceeding
sorrowful. Now was he made to serve with our sins, and was
thus wearied with our iniquities.
2. He was made a curse for us; the curses of the law were
transferred to him as our surety and representative, not as originally
bound with us, but a bail to the action. And when his
soul was thus exceeding sorrowful, he did, as it were, yield to them,
and lie down under the load, until by his death he had satisfied for
sin, and so for ever abolished the curse. He now tasted death
(as he is said to do,
which is not an extenuating expression, as if he did but taste
it; no, he drank up even the dregs of the cup; but it is rather
aggravating; it did not go down by wholesale, but he
tasted all the bitterness of it. This was that fear which
the apostle speaks of
a natural fear of pain and death, which it is natural to human nature
to startle at.
Now the consideration of Christ's sufferings in his soul, and
his sorrows for us, should be of use to us,
(1.) To embitter our sins. Can we ever entertain a
favourable or so much as a slight thought of sin, when we
see what impression sin (though but imputed) made upon the Lord Jesus?
Shall that sit light upon our souls, which sat so heavy
upon his? Was Christ in such an agony for our sins, and shall we never
be in an agony about them? How should we look upon him whom we have
pressed, whom we have pierced, and mourn, and be
in bitterness! It becomes us to be exceeding sorrowful
for sin, because Christ was so, and never to make a mock at it.
If Christ thus suffered for sin, let us arm ourselves with the same
(2.) To sweeten our sorrows; if our souls be at any time
exceeding sorrowful, through the afflictions of this present
time, let us remember that our Master was so before us, and the
disciple is not greater than his Lord. Why should we affect to
drive away sorrow, when Christ for our sakes courted it, and
submitted to it, and thereby not only took out the sting of it,
and made it tolerable, but put virtue into it, and made
it profitable (for by the sadness of the countenance the
heart is made better), nay, and put sweetness into it, and
made it comfortable. Blessed Paul was sorrowful, and yet
always rejoicing. If we be exceeding sorrowful, it is but
unto death; that will be the period of all our sorrows, if
Christ be ours; when the eyes are closed, all tears are
wiped away from them.
V. He ordered his disciples to keep with him, not because he needed
their help, but because he would have them to look upon him and
receive instruction; he said to them, Tarry ye here and
watch. He had said to the other disciples nothing but, Sit ye here
but these three he bids to tarry and watch, as expecting more
from them than from the rest.
VI. He addressed himself to God by prayer
He fell on the ground, and prayed. It was but a little before
this, that in prayer he lifted up his eyes
but here, being in an agony, he fell upon his face,
accommodating himself to his present humiliation, and teaching us thus
to abase ourselves before God; it becomes us to be low, when we
come into the presence of the Most High.
1. As Man, he deprecated his sufferings, that, if it
were possible, the hour might pass from him
"This short, but sharp affliction, that which I am now
this hour to enter upon, let man's salvation be, if
possible, accomplished without it." We have his very words
Abba, Father. The Syriac word is here retained, which Christ
used, and which signifies Father, to intimate what an emphasis
our Lord Jesus, in his sorrows, laid upon it, and would have us
to lay. It is with an eye to this, that St. Paul retains this word,
putting it into the mouths of all that have the Spirit of
adoption; they are taught to cry, Abba, Father,
Father, all things are possible to thee. Note, Even that which
we cannot expect to be done for us, we ought yet to believe that God is
able to do: and when we submit to his will, and refer ourselves
to his wisdom and mercy, it must be with a believing acknowledgment of
his power, that all things are possible to him.
2. As Mediator, he acquiesced in the will of God
concerning them; "Nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou
wilt. I know the matter is settled, and cannot be altered, I
must suffer and die, and I bid it welcome."
VII. He roused his disciples, who were dropped asleep while he was at
He comes to look after them, since they did not look after him; and he
finds them asleep, so little affected were they with his
sorrows, his complaints, and prayers. This carelessness of theirs was a
presage of their further offence in deserting him; and it was an
aggravation of it, that he had so lately commended them for
continuing with him in his temptations, though they had not been
without their faults. Was he so willing to make the best of them, and
were they so indifferent in approving themselves to him? They had
lately promised not to be offended in him; what! and yet mind
him so little? He particularly upbraided Peter with his drowsiness;
Simon, sleepest thou? Kai sy teknon;--"What
thou, my son? Thou that didst so positively promise thou wouldest
not deny me, dost thou slight me thus? From thee I expected better
things. Couldest thou not watch one hour?" He did not require
him to watch all night with him, only for one hour. It
aggravates our faintness and short continuance in Christ's service,
that he doth not over-task us, nor weary us with it,
He puts upon us no other burthen than to hold fast till he
and behold, he comes quickly,
As those whom Christ loves he rebukes when they do amiss,
so those whom he rebukes he counsels and comforts.
1. It was a very wise and faithful word of advice which Christ here
gave to his disciples; Watch and pray, lest ye enter into
It was bad to sleep when Christ was in his agony, but they were
entering into further temptation, and if they did not stir up
themselves, and fetch in grace and strength from God by prayer, they
would do worse; and so they did, when they all forsook him, and
2. It was a very kind and tender excuse that Christ made for them;
"The spirit truly is willing; I know it is, it is ready,
it is forward; you would willingly keep awake, but you
cannot." This may be taken as a reason for that exhortation, "Watch
and pray; because, though the spirit is willing, I grant it
is (you have sincerely resolved never to be offended in me), yet
the flesh is weak, and if you do not watch and
pray, and use the means of perseverance, you may be overcome,
notwithstanding." The consideration of the weakness and
infirmity of our flesh should engage and quicken us to
prayer and watchfulness, when we are entering into
VIII. He repeated his address to his Father
He went again, and prayed, saying, ton auton
logon--the same word, or matter, or business; he spoke
to the same purport, and again the third time. This teaches us,
that men ought to pray, and not to faint,
Though the answers to our prayers do not come quickly, yet we must
renew our requests, and continue instant in prayer; for the
vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, and not
Paul, when he was buffeted by a messenger of Satan, besought the
Lord thrice, as Christ did here, before he obtained an answer of
2 Corinthians 12:7,8.
A little before this, when Christ, in the trouble of his soul,
prayed, Father, glorify thy name, he had an immediate answer by
a voice from heaven, I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it
yet again; but now he must come a second and third time, for the
visits of God's grace, in answer to prayer, come sooner or later,
according to the pleasure of his will, that we may be kept
IX. He repeated his visits to his disciples. Thus he gave a
specimen of his continued care for his church on earth, even when it is
half asleep, and not duly concerned for itself, while he ever
lives making intercession with his Father in heaven. See how, as
became a Mediator, he passes and repasses between both. He came
the second time to his disciples, and found them asleep
See how the infirmities of Christ's disciples return upon them,
notwithstanding their resolutions, and overpower them,
notwithstanding their resistance; and what clogs those bodies of ours
are to our souls, which should make us long for that blessed state in
which they shall be no more our encumbrance. This second time he spoke
to them as before, but they wist not what to answer him; they
were ashamed of their drowsiness, and had nothing to say in excuse for
it. Or, They were so overpowered with it, that, like men between
sleeping and waking, they knew not where they were, or what they said.
But, the third time, they were bid to sleep if they would
"Sleep on now, and take your rest. I have now no more occasion
for your watching, you may sleep, if you will, for me." It is
enough; we had not that word in Matthew. "You have had warning
enough to keep awake, and would not take it; and now you shall see what
little reason you have to be secure." Apekei, I
discharge you from any further attendance; so some
understand it; "Now the hour is come, in which I knew you would
all forsake me, even take your course;" as he said to Judas, What
thou doest, do quickly. The Son of man is now betrayed
into the hands of sinners, the chief priests and elders; those
worst of sinners, because they made a profession of sanctity.
"Come, rise up, do not lie dozing there. Let us go and
meet the enemy, for lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand, and I
must not now think of making an escape." When we see trouble at the
door, we are concerned to stir up ourselves to get ready for it.
The Treachery of Judas.
43 And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of
the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and
staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying,
Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead
him away safely.
45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and
saith, Master, master; and kissed him.
46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him.
47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a
servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as
against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me
not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.
50 And they all forsook him, and fled.
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen
cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
We have here the seizing of our Lord Jesus by the officers of
the chief priests. This was what his enemies had long aimed at, they
had often sent to take him; but he had escaped out of their
hands, because his hour was not come, nor could they now have
taken him, had he not freely surrendered himself. He began first to
suffer in his soul, but afterward suffered in his body, that he
might satisfy for sin, which begins in the heart, but afterwards makes
the members of the body instruments of unrighteousness.
I. Here is a band of rude miscreants employed to take our Lord
Jesus and make him a prisoner; a great multitude with swords and
staves. There is no wickedness so black, no villany so horrid, but
there may be found among the children of men fit tools to be made use
of, that will not scruple to be employed; so miserably depraved and
vitiated is mankind. At the head of this rabble is Judas, one of the
twelve, one of those that had been many years intimately conversant
with our Lord Jesus, had prophesied in his name, and in his name cast
out devils, and yet betrayed him. It is no new thing for a very
fair and plausible profession to end in a shameful and fatal apostasy.
How art thou fallen, O Lucifer!
II. Men of no less figure than the chief priests, and the
scribes, and the elders, sent them, and set them on work,
who pretended to expect the Messiah, and to be ready to welcome him;
and yet, when he is come, and has given undeniable proofs that
it is he that should come, because he doth not make court to
them, nor countenance and support their pomp and grandeur, because he
appears not as a temporal prince, but sets up a spiritual kingdom, and
preaches repentance, reformation, and a holy life, and directs men's
thoughts, and affections, and aims, to another world, they set
themselves against him, and, without giving the credentials he produces
an impartial examination, resolve to run him down.
III. Judas betrayed him with a kiss; abusing the freedom Christ
used to allow his disciples of kissing his cheek at their return when
they had been any time absent. He called him, Master, Master, and
kissed him; he said, Rabbi, Rabbi, as if he had been now
more respectful to him than ever. It is enough to put one for ever out
of conceit with being called of men Rabbi, Rabbi
since it was with this compliment that Christ was betrayed. He bid them
take him, and lead him away safely. Some think that he spoke
this ironically, knowing that they could not secure him unless
he pleased, that this Samson could break their bonds asunder as threads
of tow, and make is escape, and then he should get the money, and
Christ the honour, and no harm done; and I should think so too, but
that Satan was entered into him, so that the worst and most
malicious intention of this action is not too black to be supposed.
Nay, he had often heard his Master say, that, being betrayed, he
should be crucified, and had no reason to think otherwise.
IV. They arrested him, and made him their prisoner
They laid their hands on him, rude and violent hands, and
took him into custody; triumphing, it is likely, that they had
done that which has been often before attempted in vain.
V. Peter laid about him in defence of his Master, and wounded one of
the assailants, being for the present mindful of his promise, to
venture his life with his Master. He was one of them that stood
by, of them that were with him (so the word signifies), of
those three disciples that were with him in the garden;
he drew a sword, and aimed, it is likely, to cut off the head,
but missed his blow, and only cut off the ear, of a servant of
the high priest,
It is easier to fight for Christ, than to die for him;
but Christ's good soldiers overcome, not by taking other people's
lives, but by laying down their own,
VI. Christ argues with them that had seized him, and shows them the
absurdity of their proceedings against him.
1. That they came out against him, as against a thief,
whereas he was innocent of any crime; he taught daily in the
temple, and if he had any wicked design, there it would some time
or other have been discovered; nay, these officers of the chief
priests, being retainers to the temple, may be supposed to
have heard his sermons there (I was with you in the temple); and
had he not taught them excellent doctrine, even his enemies themselves
being judges? Were not all the words of his mouth in
righteousness? Was there any thing froward or perverse in
By his fruits he was known to be a good tree; why then did they come
out against him as a thief?
2. That they came to take him thus privately, whereas he was
neither ashamed nor afraid to appear publicly in
the temple. He was none of those evil-doers that hate the
light, neither come to the light,
If their masters had any thing to say to him, they might meet him any
day in the temple, where he was ready to answer all challenges, all
charges; and there they might do as they pleased with him, for the
priests had the custody of the temple, and the command of the guards
about it: but to come upon him thus at midnight, and in the place of
his retirement, was base and cowardly. This was to do as David's enemy,
that sat in the lurking places of the villages, to murder the
But this was not all.
3. They came with swords and staves, as if he had been in arms
against the government, and must have the posse comitatus raised
to reduce him. There was no occasion for those weapons; but they made
(1.) To secure themselves from the rage of some; they came armed,
because they feared the people; but thus were they in great
fear, where no fear was,
(2.) To expose him to the rage of others. By coming with swords and
staves to take him, they represented him to the people (who are apt
to take impressions this way) as a dangerous turbulent man, and so
endeavored to incense them against him, and make them cry out,
Crucify him, crucify him, having no other way to gain their
VII. He reconciled himself to all this injurious, ignominious
treatment, by referring himself to the Old-Testament predictions of the
Messiah. I am hardly used, but I submit, for the scriptures
must be fulfilled,
1. See here what a regard Christ had to the scriptures; he would
bear any thing rather than that the least jot or tittle of the word of
God should fall to the ground; and as he had an eye to them in his
sufferings, so he has in his glory; for what is Christ doing in the
government of the world, but fulfilling the scriptures?
2. See what use we are to make of the Old Testament; we must search for
Christ, the true treasure hid in that field: as the history of
the New Testament expounds the prophecies of Old, so the prophecies of
the Old Testament illustrate the history of the New.
VIII. All Christ's disciples, hereupon, deserted him
They all forsook him, and fled. They were very confident that
they should adhere to him; but even good men know not what they will
do, till they are tried. If it was such a comfort to him as he had
lately intimated, that they had hitherto continued with him in
his lesser trials
we may well imagine what a grief it was to him, that they deserted him
now in the greatest, when they might have done him some service--when
he was abused, to protect him, and when accused, to witness for him.
Let not those that suffer for Christ, think it strange, if they be thus
deserted, and if all the herd shun the wounded deer; they are not
better than their Master, nor can expect to be better used either by
their enemies or by their friends. When St. Paul was in peril, none
stood by him, but all men forsook him,
2 Timothy 4:16.
IX. The noise disturbed the neighbourhood, and some of the neighbours
were brought into danger by the riot,
This passage of story we have not in any other of the evangelists. Here
is an account of a certain young man, who, as it should seem,
was no disciple of Christ, nor, as some have imagined, a servant of the
house wherein Christ had eaten the passover, who followed him to
see what would become of him (as the sons of the prophets, when
they understood that Elijah was to be taken up, went to view
2 Kings 2:7),
but some young man that lived near the garden, perhaps in the house to
which the garden belonged. Now observe concerning him,
1. How he was frightened out of his bed, to be a
spectator of Christ's sufferings. Such a multitude, so
armed, and coming with so much fury, and in the dead of night, and in a
quiet village, could not but produce a great stir; this alarmed our
young man, who perhaps thought they was some tumult or rising in
the city, some uproar among the people, and had the curiosity to
go, and see what the matter was, and was in such haste to inform
himself, that he could not stay to dress himself, but threw a sheet
about him, as if he would appear like a walking ghost, in grave
clothes, to frighten those who had frightened him, and ran among the
thickest of them with this question, What is to do here? Being
told, he had a mind to see the issue, having, no doubt, heard much of
the fame of this Jesus; and therefore, when all his disciples had
quitted him, he continued to follow him, desirous to hear
what he would say, and see what he would do. Some think that his
having no other garment than this linen cloth upon his naked
body, intimates that he was one of those Jews who made a great
profession of piety that their neighbours, in token of which, among
other instances of austerity and mortification of the body, they used
no clothes but one linen garment, which, though contrived to be modest
enough, was thin and cold. But I rather think that this was not his
2. See how he was frightened into his bed again, when he was in
danger of being made a sharer in Christ's sufferings. His own
disciples had run away from him; but this young man, having no concern
for him, thought he might securely attend him, especially being so far
from being armed, that he was not so much as clothed; but the young
men, the Roman soldiers, who were called to assist, laid hold of
him, for all was fish that came to their net. Perhaps they were now
vexed at themselves, that they had suffered the disciples to run
away, and they being got out of their reach they resolved to seize
the first they could lay their hands on; though this young man
was perhaps one of the strictest sect of the Jewish church, yet
the Roman soldiers made no conscience of abusing him upon this
occasion. Finding himself in danger, he left the linen cloth by
which they had caught hold of him, and fled away naked.
This passage is recorded to show what a barbarous crew this was, that
was sent to seize Christ, and what a narrow escape the disciples had of
falling into their hands, out of which nothing could have kept them but
their Master's care of them; If ye seek me, let these go their
It also intimates that there is no hold of those who are led by
curiosity only, and not by faith and conscience, to follow Christ.
Christ Brought before the High Priest.
53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him
were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the
54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the
high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at
55 And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness
against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness
agreed not together.
57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him,
58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made
with hands, and within three days I will build another made
59 But neither so did their witness agree together.
60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus,
saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness
61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high
priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son
of the Blessed?
62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man
sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of
63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need
we any further witnesses?
64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all
condemned him to be guilty of death.
65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to
buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did
strike him with the palms of their hands.
We have here Christ's arraignment, trial, conviction, and condemnation,
in the ecclesiastical court, before the great sanhedrim, of
which the high priest was president, or judge of the court; the
same Caiaphas that had lately adjudged it expedient he should be put to
death, guilty or not guilty
and who therefore might justly be excepted against as partial.
I. Christ is hurried away to his house, his palace it is
called, such state did he live in. And there, though, in the dead of
the night, all the chief priests, and elders, and scribes, that
were in the secret, were assembled, ready to receive the prey;
so sure were they of it.
II. Peter followed at a distance, such a degree of cowardice was
his late courage dwindled into,
But when he came to the high priest's palace, he sneakingly
went, and sat with the servants, that he might not be suspected
to belong to Christ. The high priest's fire side was no proper place,
nor his servants proper company, for Peter, but it was his entrance
into a temptation.
III. Great diligence was used to procure, for love or money, false
witnesses against Christ. They had seized him as a malefactor, and now
they had him they had no indictment to prefer against him, no crime to
lay to his charge, but they sought for witnesses against him;
pumped some with ensnaring questions, offered bribes to others, if they
would accuse him, and endeavored to frighten others, if they
The chief priests and elders were by the law entrusted with the
prosecuting and punishing of false witnesses
yet those were now ringleaders in a crime that tends to overthrow of
all justice. It is time to cry, Help, Lord, when the physicians
of a land are its troublers, and those that should be the conservators
of peace and equity, are the corrupters of both.
IV. He was at length charged with words spoken some years ago, which,
as they were represented, seemed to threaten the temple, which
they had made no better than an idol of
but the witnesses to this matter did not agree
for one swore that he said, I am able to destroy the temple of God,
and to build it in three days (so it is in Matthew); the other
swore that he said, I will destroy this temple, that is made with
hands, and within three days, I will build not it, but
another made without hands; now these two differ much from each
other; oude ise en he martyria--their testimony was
not sufficient, nor equal to the charge of a capital crime; so Dr.
Hammond: they did not accuse him of that upon which a sentence of
death might be founded, no not by the utmost stretch of their
V. He was urged to be his own accuser
The high priest stood up in a heat, and said, Answerest thou
nothing? This he said under pretence of justice and fair dealing,
but really with a design to ensnare him, that they might accuse
We may well imagine with what an air of haughtiness and disdain this
proud high priest brought our Lord Jesus to this question; "Come you,
the prisoner at the bar, you hear what is sworn against you; what have
you now to say for yourself?" Pleased to think that he seemed
silent, who had so often silenced those that picked quarrels with him.
Still Christ answered nothing, that he might set us an example,
1. Of patience under calumnies and false accusations; when we
are reviled, let us not revile again,
1 Peter 2:23.
2. Of prudence, when a man shall be made an offender for a
and our defence made our offence; it is an evil time
indeed when the prudent shall keep silence (lest they make bad
worse), and commit their cause to him that judgeth righteously.
VI. When he was asked whether he was the Christ, he confessed,
and denied not, that he was,
He asked, Art thou the Son of the Blessed? that is the Son of
God? for, as Dr. Hammond observes, the Jews, when they named
God, generally added, blessed for ever; and thence the
Blessed is the title of God, a peculiar title, and applied
And for the proof of his being the Son of God, he binds them
over to his second coming; "Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on
the right hand of power; that Son of man that now appears so
mean and despicable, whom ye see and trample upon
you shall shortly see and tremble before." Now, one would think
that such a word as this which our Lord Jesus seems to have spoken with
a grandeur and majesty not agreeable to his present appearance (for
through the thickest cloud of his humiliation some rays of glory were
still darted forth), should have startled the court, and at least, in
the opinion of some of them, should have amounted to a demurrer,
or arrest of judgment, and that they should have stayed process
till they had considered further of it; when Paul at the bar reasoned
of the judgment to come, the judge trembled, and
adjourned the trial,
But these chief priests were so miserably blinded with malice and rage,
that, like the horse rushing into the battle, they mocked at fear,
and were not affrighted, neither believed they that it was the
sound of the trumpet,
VII. The high priest, upon this confession of his, convicted him as a
He rent his clothes--chitonas autou. Some think
the word signifies his pontifical vestments, which, for the greater
state, he had put on, though in the night, upon this occasion. As
before, in his enmity to Christ, he said he knew not what
so now he did he knew not what. If Saul's rending Samuel's mantle was
made to signify the rending of the kingdom from him
(1 Samuel 15:27,28),
much more did Caiaphas's rending his own clothes signify the rending of
the priesthood from him, as the rending of the veil, at Christ's death,
signified the throwing of all open. Christ's clothes, even when he was
crucified, were kept entire, and not rent: for when the Levitical
priesthood was rent in pieces and done away, This Man, because he
continues ever, has an unchangeable priesthood.
VIII. They agreed that he was a blasphemer, and, as such, was guilty of
a capital crime,
The question seemed to be put fairly, What think ye? But
it was really prejudged, for the high priest had said, Ye
have heard the blasphemy; he gave judgment first, who, as president
of the court, ought to have voted last. So they all condemned
him to be guilty of death; what friends he had in the great
sanhedrim, did not appear, it is probable that they had not notice.
IX. They set themselves to abuse him, and, as the Philistines with
Samson, to make sport with him,
It should seem that some of the priests themselves that had condemned
him, so far forgot the dignity, as well as duty, of their place, and
the gravity which became them, that they helped their servants in
playing the fool with a condemned prisoner. This they made their
diversion, while they waited for the morning, to complete their
villany. That night of observations (as the passover-night was
called) they made a merry night of. If they did not think it
below them to abuse Christ, shall we think any thing below us, by which
we may do him honour?
66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of
the maids of the high priest:
67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him,
and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what
thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that
stood by, This is one of them.
70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood
by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou
art a Galilæan, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not
this man of whom ye speak.
72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind
the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice,
thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
We have here the story of Peter's denying Christ.
1. It began in keeping at a distance from him. Peter had
followed afar off
and now was beneath in the palace, at the lower end of the hall.
Those that are shy of Christ, are in a fair way to deny
him, that are shy of attending on holy ordinances, shy of the communion
of the faithful, and loth to be seen on the side of despised
2. It was occasioned by his associating with the high priest's
servants, and sitting among them. They that think it dangerous to be in
company with Christ's disciples, because thence they may be drawn in to
suffer for him, will find it much more dangerous to be in
company with his enemies, because there they may be drawn in to sin
3. The temptation was, his being charged as a disciple of Christ;
Thou also wert with Jesus of Nazareth,
This is one of them
for thou art a Galilean, one may know that by thy speaking
It doth not appear that he was challenged upon it, or in danger
of being prosecuted as a criminal for it, but only
bantered upon it, and in danger of being ridiculed as a fool for
it. While the chief priests were abusing the Master, the servants were
abusing the disciples. Sometimes the cause of Christ seems to fall so
much on the losing side, that every body has a stone to throw at it,
and even the abjects gather themselves together against it. When
Job was on the dunghill, he was had in derision of those that were the
children of base men,
Yet, all things considered, the temptation could not be called
formidable; it was only a maid that casually cast her eye
upon him, and, for aught that appears, without design of giving him any
trouble, said, Thou art one of them, to which he needed not to
have made any reply, or might have said, "And if I be, I hope that is
4. The sin was very great; he denied Christ before men, at a
time when he ought to have confessed and owned him, and to have
appeared in court a witness for him. Christ had often given notice to
his disciples of his own sufferings; yet, when they came, they were to
Peter as great a surprise and terror as if he had never heard of them
before. He had often told them that they must suffer for him,
must take up their cross, and follow him; and yet Peter is so
terribly afraid of suffering, upon the very first alarm of it, that he
will lie and swear, and do any thing, to avoid it. When Christ was
admired and flocked after, he could readily own him; but now that he is
deserted, and despised, and run down, he is ashamed of him, and will
own no relation to him.
5. His repentance was very speedy. He repeated his denial thrice, and
the third was worst of all, for then he cursed and swore,
to confirm his denial; and that the third blow, which, one would think,
should have stunned him, and knocked him down, startled
him, and roused him up. Then the cock crew the second time,
which put him in mind of his Master's words, the warning he had given
him, with that particular circumstance of the cock crowing
twice; by recollecting that, he was made sensible of his sin and
the aggravations of it; and when he thought thereon, he wept. Some
observe that this evangelist, who wrote, as some have thought, by St.
Peter's direction, speaks as fully of Peter's sin as any of them, but
more briefly of his sorrow, which Peter, in modesty, would not
have to be magnified, and because he thought he could never sorrow
enough for great a sin. His repentance here is thus expressed,
epibalon eklaie, where something must be supplied. He
added to weep, so some; making it a Hebraism; he wept, and the
more he thought of it, the more he wept; he continued weeping; he
flung out, and wept; burst out into tears; threw
himself down, and wept; he covered his face, and wept, so
some; cast his garment about his head, that he might not be seen to
weep; he cast his eyes upon his Master, who turned, and looked
upon him; so Dr. Hammond supplies it, and it is a probable conjecture.
Or, as we understand it, fixing his mind upon it, he wept. It is
not a transient thought of that which is humbling, that will suffice,
but we must dwell upon it. Or, what if this word should mean his
laying a load upon himself, throwing a confusion into his own
face? he did as the publican that smote his breast, in sorrow
for sin; and this amounts to his weeping bitterly.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Mark' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".