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22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I ?
If we heard Christ saying, One of you is my deadly enemy, would it not strike cold to our hearts, and put us upon saying, one by one, Woe is me, is it I ?
23. And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
24. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed. It had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Mark it for your own use and instruction. Judas' guilt was of an extraordinary kind, but the words are spoken of all hardened, impenitent sinners. Though thou dippest thy hand with him in the dish, hast been baptized in his name, called thyself his disciple, and eaten at his table, they may be spoken of thee.
25. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
It may seem almost impossible that Judas should have persisted in his design, after being so plainly told of it, and the conviction he had thereby of Jesus being privy to his thoughts. Nevertheless, so did Peter, though a much better man, sin against warning; and this knowledge and belief in us, does not restrain us, in various instances, from sinning against him.
Chap. xxvi. ver. 26–30.
CHRIST INSTITUTES HIS HOLY SUPPER.
26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
That is, this represents my body broken ; and eating it, is, in effect, eating my body, and thereby having communion with, and life, by me. O taste and see how gracious the Lord is! Turn the eye of your soul this way. Admire this great, crowning work of the Saviour, in which he has contrived and appointed the means of changing our souls into his own nature, in the same manner as our souls are nourished by, and have the nature of, that which they feed upon ; but with this difference, that in corporal eating, the body changes the food into its own substance, and in this spiritual eating we are changed into the nature of the food. O Jesus, wonderful in thy love, the giver and the gift, increase our faith in thee; give us a hunger and thirst for thee; give us thyself, or we die.
27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
You, and all others, that are my disciples, to the end of the world. You, who hear this. These are Christ's words
28. For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
“ For this is my blood of the New Testament.” By which it is purchased, sealed, and ratified ; testament and covenant, both : testament, as we are confirmed by it in a state of son-ship, and as conveying our inheritance to us : covenant, as it is a declaration of the means, by which that inheritance is to be secured.
“ Which is shed for many." For many effectually, when seen and trusted in as the blood of atonement. “For the remission of sins." This is properly gospel-comfort, and life from the dead to a soul awakened to a sense of sin. Blessed be God!
29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
Who can tell what that new wine will be ? Not the delights of sense; though the senses are here made our instructors, to give us some faint conception of the joys of heaven. The expression of “ drinking it new" seems to be taken from the festivity and rejoicing at the time of vintage. But observe, he says, “ with you.” What a sweet meditation it is, whenever you partake of the sacrament of his body and blood, to think that you will surely be admitted to the joy of feasting with him in his Father's kingdom !
30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Chap. xxvi. ver. 31–56.
CHRIST'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.
31. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night :
Little did they think how near they were deserting him by a shameful fight. As little do we know what we are, till we are tried.
31. For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
This is spoken in the person of God the Father, smiting Christ for our sakes, and our sin in him.
32. But after I am risen again, I will go Galilee.
As the shepherd goes before his sheep. How unpardonable dves their desertion of Christ seem to us! And
here is not one word of upbraiding or resentment; but instead
of it, an assurance of his resurrection, and a promise that he would not forsake them.
33. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
34. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
- Before the cock crow." That is, before three o'clock in the morning, which they called cock-crowing. St. Mark says, before the cock crows twice; and accordingly a cock did crow once before the usual time. “ Thou shalt deny me thrice." As he did, though he had three several warnings given him of it in the compass of a few hours ; in the morning of this day, John xiii. 38; at the supper, Luke xxii. 34; after the supper here, and Mark xiv. 30.
35. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
In the confidence of an outward profession, but untried faith. “ Be not high-minded, but fear.”
36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go
and pray yonder.
37. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy,
38. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death : tarry ye here, and watch with me.
He was sorrowful, not merely with the fear of death, but the sin of the world, now lying heavy upon him. O what a burden, and how hard to bear, even to the God-man! How could the guilt of it be more emphatically declared, and how can we help feeling it in this description of his agony under it, which is recorded for our instruction ?
39. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
“ Let this cup pass from me,” is the expression of what he felt, and not what he wished. Certainly it was no part of his will, neither did he pray to be delivered from his passion.
"Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Ah ! there is but one perfect will in the universe, and all opposition to it, or deviation from it, is certain misery. And, therefore, to bring us to an union with it, was one great end of all that Christ did and suffered.
40. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour ?
41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
If we do watch and pray, we shall not enter into temptation, that is, fall by it. For the words from Christ's mouth have the nature of a promise, and cannot fail us. Come to this test. Though you may deceive yourselves by a course of formal, unmeaning prayer, yet, on the other hand, if you do not watch unto prayer, and watch over your hearts with a godly jealousy, you may know, with infallible certainty, that you are not striving against sin, nor desirous of the blessings of the gospel. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This may not be mentioned as the ground of an excuse, but to put us upon our guard; and is strongly expressive of the danger of not watching against temptation, and the misery of being overcome by it. And whenever we are, I believe we shall find that this direction has been neglected.
42. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O
my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Because the disposition and distress continued the. So the penitent, guilt-confounded soul can say nothing but