We remember, that 'Judas, the man of Kerioth,' was, so far as we know, the only disciple of Jesus from the province of Judea. This circumstance; that he carried the bag, i.e. was treasurer and administrator of the small common stock of Christ and His disciples; and that he was both a hypocrite and a thief - this is all that we know for certain of his history. From the circumstance that he was appointed to such office of trust in the Apostolic community, we infer that he must have been looked up to by the others as an able and prudent man, a good administrator. And there is probably no reason to doubt, that he possessed the natural gift of administration or of 'government.' The question, why Jesus left him 'the bag' after he knew him to be a thief - which, as we believe, he was not at the beginning, and only became in the course of time and in the progress of disappointment - is best answered by this other: Why He originally allowed it to be entrusted to Judas?
It was not only because he was best fitted - probably, absolutely fitted - for such work, but also in mercy to him, in view of his character. To engage in that for which a man is naturally fitted is the most likely means of keeping him from brooding, dissatisfaction, alienation, and eventual apostasy. On the other hand, it must be admitted that, as mostly all our life-temptations come to us from that for which we have most aptitude, when Judas was alienated and unfaithful in heart, this very thing became also his greatest temptation, and, indeed, hurried him to his ruin. But only after he had first failed inwardly. And so, as ever in like circumstances, the very things which might have been most of blessing become most of curse, and the judgment of hardening fulfills itself by that which in itself is good. Nor could 'the bag' have been afterwards taken from him without both exposing him to the others, and precipitating his moral destruction. And so he had to be left to the process of inward ripening, till all was ready for the sickle.
This very gift of 'government' in Judas may also help us to understand how he may have been first attracted to Jesus, and through what process, when alienated, he came to end in that terrible sin which had cast its snare about him. The 'gift of government' would, in its active aspect, imply the desire for it. From thence to ambition in its worst, or selfish, aspect, there is only a step - scarcely that: rather, only different moral premisses. Judas was drawn to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, and he believed in Him as such, possibly both earnestly and ardently; but he expected that His would be the success, the result, and the triumphs of the Jewish Messiah, and he also expected personally and fully to share in them. How deep-rooted were such feelings even in the best, purest, and most unselfish of Jesus' disciples, we gather from the request of the mother of John and James for her sons, and from Peter's question: 'What shall we have?' it must have been sorrow, the misery of moral loneliness, and humiliation, to Him Who was Unselfishness Incarnate, Who lived to die and was full to empty Himself, to be associated with such as even His most intimate disciples, who in this sense also could not watch with Him even one hour, and in whom, at the end of His Ministry, such heaviness was mentally and morally the outcrop, if not the outcome. And in Judas all this must have been an hundredfold more than in them who were in heart true to Christ.
He had, from such conviction as we have described, joined the movement at its very commencement. Then, multitudes in Galilee followed His Footsteps, and watched for His every appearance; they hung entranced on His lips in the Synagogue or on 'the Mount;' they flocked to Him from every town, village, and hamlet; they bore the sick and dying to His Feet, and witnessed, awestruck, how conquered devils gave their testimony to His Divine Power.
It was the spring-time of the movement, and all was full of promise - land, people, and disciples. The Baptist, who had bowed before Him and testified to Him, was still lifting his voice to proclaim the near Kingdom. But the people had turned after Jesus, and He swayed them. And, oh! what power was there in His Face and Word, and His look and deed. And Judas, also, had been one of them who, on their early Mission, had temporarily had power given Him, so that the very devils had been subject to them. But, step by step, had come the disappointment. John was beheaded, and not avenged; on the contrary, Jesus withdrew Himself. This constant withdrawing, whether from enemies or from success - almost amounting to flight - even when they would have made Him a King; this refusal to show Himself openly, either at Jerusalem, as His own brethren had taunted Him, or, indeed, anywhere else; this uniform preaching of discouragement to them, when they came to Him elated and hopeful at some success; this gathering enmity of Israel's leaders, and His marked avoidance of, or, as some might have put it, His failure in taking up the repeated public challenge of the Pharisees to show a sign from heaven; last, and chief of all, this constant and growing reference to shame, disaster, and death - what did it all mean, if not disappointment of all those hopes and expectations which had made Judas at the first a disciple of Jesus?
He that so knew Jesus, not only in His Words and Deeds, but in His inmost Thoughts, even to His night-long communing with God on the hill-side, could not have seriously believed in the coarse Pharisaic charge of Satanic agency as the explanation of all. Yet, from the then Jewish standpoint, he could scarcely have found it impossible to suggest some other explanation of His miraculous power. But, as increasingly the moral and spiritual aspect of Christ's Kingdom must have become apparent to even the dullest intellect, the bitter disappointment of his Messianic thoughts and hopes must have gone on, increasing in proportion as, side by side with it, the process of moral alienation, unavoidably connected with his resistance to such spiritual manifestation, continued and increased. And so the mental and the moral alienation went on together, affected by and affecting each other.
On Monday, April 3rd in 30 A.D. Satan entered into Judas. Christ would be crucified; this was quite certain. In the general cataclysm let Judas have at least something. And so, on that sunny afternoon, he left them out there, to seek speech of them that were gathered, not in their ordinary meeting-place, but in the High-Priest's Palace. There had previously been a similar gathering and consultation, when the report of the raising of Lazarus reached the authorities of Jerusalem. The practical resolution adopted at that meeting had apparently been, that a strict watch should henceforth be kept on Christ's movements, and that every one of them, as well as the names of His friends, and the places of His secret retirement, should be communicated to the authorities, with the view to His arrest at the proper moment.
It was probably in professed obedience to this direction, that the traitor presented himself that afternoon in the Palace of the High-Priest Caiaphas. Those assembled there were the 'chiefs' of the Priesthood - no doubt, the Temple-officials, heads of the course of Priests, and connections of the High-Priestly family, who constituted what both Josephus and the Talmud designate as the Priestly Council. All connected with the Temple, its ritual, administration, order, and laws, would be in their hands. Moreover, it was but natural, that the High-Priest and his council should be the regular official medium between the Roman authorities and the people.
In matters which concerned, not ordinary misdemeanours, but political crimes (such as it was wished to represent the movement of Jesus), or which affected the status of the established religion, the official chiefs of the Priest-hood would, of course, be the persons to appeal, in conjunction with the Sanhedrists, to the secular authorities. This, irrespective of the question - to which reference will be made in the sequel - what place the Chief Priests held in the Sanhedrin. But in that meeting in the Palace of Caiaphas, besides these Priestly Chiefs, the leading Sanhedrists ('Scribes and Elders') were also gathered. They were deliberating how Jesus might be taken by subtilty and killed. Probably they had not yet fixed on any definite plan. Only at this conclusion had they arrived - probably in consequence of the popular acclamations at His Entry into Jerusalem, and of what had since happened - that nothing must be done during the Feast, for fear of some popular tumult. They knew only too well the character of Pilate, and how in any such tumult all parties - the leaders as well as the led - might experience terrible vengeance.
It must have been intense relief when, in their perplexity, the traitor now presented himself before them with his proposals. Yet his reception was not such as he may have looked for. He probably expected to be hailed and treated as a most important ally. They were, indeed, 'glad, and covenanted to give him money,' even as he promised to dog His steps, and watch for the opportunity which they sought. In truth, the offer of the betrayer changed the whole aspect of matters. What formerly they dreaded to attempt seemed now both safe and easy. They could not allow such an opportunity to slip; it was one that might never occur again. Nay, might it not even seem, from the defection of Judas, as if dissatisfaction and disbelief had begun to spread in the innermost circle of Christ's disciples?
Yet, withal, they treated Judas not as an honored associate, but as a common informer, and a contemptible betrayer. This was not only natural but, in the circumstances, the wisest policy, alike in order to save their own dignity, and to keep most secure hold on the betrayer. And, after all, it might be said, so as to minimise his services, that Judas could really not do much for them - only show them how they might seize Him at unawares in the absence of the multitude, to avoid the possible tumult of an open arrest. So little did they understand Christ! And Judas had at last to speak it out barefacedly - so selling himself as well as the Master. It was in literal fulfilment of prophecy, that they gave him from the very Temple-treasury those thirty pieces of silver. And here we mark, that there is always terrible literality about the prophecies of judgment, while those of blessing far exceed the words of prediction.
Satan must once more enter the heart of Judas at the Last Passover before Judas can finally do the deed. But, even so, we believe it was only temporarily, not for always - for, he was still a human being, such as on this side eternity we all are - and he had still a conscience working in him. With this element he had not reckoned in his bargain in the High Priest's Palace. On the morrow of His condemnation would it exact a terrible account.
Preparations for celebrating the Last Passover
Tuesday, April 4th, 30 A.D.
"Then came the day of the unleaveneds in which it was obligatory to kill the Passover lambs. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us that we may eat." But they said to Him, "Where do You desire that we prepare it?"
"And He said to them, "Watch, and when you come into the city, you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters; And you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest chamber, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?" ' And he shall show you a large upper room furnished; there prepare." Then they went and found everything exactly as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover." (Luke 22:7-13, HBFV)
It was, therefore, with the view of preparing the ordinary Passover Supper that the Lord now sent Peter and John. For the first time we see them here joined together by the Lord, these two, who henceforth were to be so closely connected: he of deepest feeling with him of quickest action. And their question, where He would have the Passover Meal prepared, gives us a momentary glimpse of the mutual relation between the Master and His Disciples; how He was still the Master, even in their most intimate converse, and would only tell them what to do just when it needed to be done; and how they presumed not to ask beforehand (far less to propose, or to interfere), but had simple confidence and absolute submission as regarded all things. The direction which the Lord gave, while once more evidencing to them, as it does to us, the Divine foreknowledge of Christ, had also its deep human meaning. Evidently, neither the house where the Passover was to be kept, nor its owner, was to be named beforehand within hearing of Judas.
That last Passover was not to be interrupted, nor their last retreat betrayed, till all had been said and done, even to the last prayer of Agony in Gethsemane. We can scarcely err in seeing in this combination of foreknowledge with prudence the expression of the Divine and the Human: the 'two Natures in One Person.' The sign which Jesus gave the two Apostles reminds us of that by which Samuel of old had conveyed assurance and direction to Saul. On their entrance into Jerusalem they would meet a man - manifestly a servant - carrying a pitcher of water. Without accosting, they were to follow him.
There can be no reasonable doubt that, as already hinted, the owner of the house was a disciple, although at festive seasons unbounded hospitality was extended to strangers generally, and no man in Jerusalem considered his house as strictly his own, far less would let it out for hire. But no mere stranger would, in answer to so mysterious a message, have given up, without further questioning, his best room.
It matters little which it was, and, in fact, the impression on the mind almost is, that the owner of the house had not, indeed, expected, but held himself ready for such a call. It was the last request of the dying Master - and could he have refused it? But he would do more than immediately and unquestioningly comply.
The Master would only ask for 'the hall:' as He was born in a Katalyma, so He would have been content to eat there His last Meal - at the same time meal, feast, sacrifice, and institution. But the unnamed disciple would assign to Him, not the Hall, but the best and chiefest, 'the upper chamber,' or Aliyah, at the same time the most honorable and the most retired place, where from the outside stairs entrance and departure might be had without passing through the house.
From Jewish authorities we know, that the average dining-apartment was computed at fifteen feet square; the expression 'furnished,' no doubt, refers to the arrangement of couches all round the Table, except at its end, since it was a canon, that the very poorest must partake of that Supper in a reclining attitude, to indicate rest, safety, and liberty; while the term 'ready' seems to point to the ready provision of all that was required for the Feast. In that case, all that the disciples would have to 'make ready' would be 'the Passover Lamb,' and perhaps that first Chagigah, or festive Sacrifice, which, if the Passover Lamb itself would not suffice for Supper, was added to it. And here it must be remembered, that it was of religion to fast till the Passover Supper - as the Jerusalem Talmud explains, in order the better to relish the Supper.
If the view formerly expressed is correct, that the owner of the house had provided all that was needed for the Supper, Peter and John would find there the Wine for the four Cups, the cakes of unleavened Bread, and probably also 'the bitter herbs.' Of the latter five kinds are mentioned, which were to be dipped once in salt water, or vinegar, and another time in a mixture called Charoseth (a compound made of nuts, raisins, apples almonds, etc. ) - although this Charoseth was not obligatory. The wine was the ordinary one of the country, only red; it was mixed with water, generally in the proportion of one part to two of water. The quantity for each of the four Cups is stated by one authority as five-sixteenths of a log, which may be roughly computed at half a tumbler - of course mixed with water.
The Passover Cup is described (according to the rubrical measure, which of course would not always be observed) as two fingers long by two fingers broad, and its height as a finger, half a finger, and one-third of a finger. All things being, as we presume, ready in the furnished upper room, it would only remain for Peter and John to see to the Passover Lamb, and anything else required for the Supper, possibly also to what was to be offered as Chagigah, or festive sacrifice, and afterwards eaten at the Supper. If the latter were to be brought, the disciples would, of course, have to attend earlier in the Temple. The cost of the Lamb, which had to be provided, was very small. So low a sum as about threepence of our money is mentioned for such a sacrifice.
If we mistake not, these purchases had, however, already been made on the previous afternoon by Judas. It is not likely that they would have been left to the last; nor that He Who had so lately condemned the traffic in the Courts of the Temple would have sent His two disciples thither to purchase the Passover Lamb, which would have been necessary to secure an animal that had passed Levitical inspection, since on the Passover-day there would have been no time to subject it to such scrutiny. On the other hand, if Judas had made this purchase, we perceive not only on what pretext he may have gone to Jerusalem on the previous afternoon, but also how, on his way from the Sheep-market to the Temple, to have his lamb inspected, he may have learned that the Chief-Priests and Sanhedrists were just then in session in the Palace of the High-Priest close by.
On the supposition just made, the task of Peter and John would, indeed, have been simple. They left the house of Mark with wondering but saddened hearts. Once more had they had evidence, how the Master's Divine glance searched the further in all its details. They had met the servant with the pitcher of water; they had delivered their message to the master of the house; and they had seen the large Upper Room furnished and ready. But this prescience of Christ afforded only further evidence, that what He had told of His impending Crucifixion would also come true.
The two Apostles ascended the Temple-Mount, following a dense, motley crowd of joyous, chatting pilgrims, they must have felt terribly lonely among them. In all that crowd how few to sympathize with them; how many enemies! The Temple-Courts were thronged to the utmost by worshippers from all countries and from all parts of the land. The Priests' Court was filled with white-robed Priests and Levites - for on that day all the twenty-four Courses were on duty, and all their services would be called for, although only the Course for that week would that afternoon engage in the ordinary service, which preceded that of the Feast. Almost mechanically would they witness the various parts of the well-remembered ceremonial. There must have been a peculiar meaning to them, a mournful significance, in the language of Psalm 81, as the Levites chanted it that afternoon in three sections, broken three times by the threefold blast from the silver trumpets of the Priests.
Before the incense was burnt for the Evening Sacrifice, or yet the lamps in the Golden Candlestick were trimmed for the night, the Passover-Lambs were slain. The worshippers were admitted in three divisions within the Court of the Priests. When the first company had entered, the massive Nicanor Gates - which led from the Court of the Women to that of Israel - and the other side-gates into the Court of the Priests, were closed. A threefold blast from the Priests' trumpets intimated that the Lambs were being slain. This each Israelite did for himself.
We can scarcely be mistaken in supposing that Peter and John would be in the first of the three companies into which the offerers were divided; for they must have been anxious to be gone, and to meet the Master and their brethren in that 'Upper Room.' Peter and John had slain the Lamb. In two rows the officiating Priest stood, up to the great Altar of Burnt-offering. As one caught up the blood from the dying Lamb in a golden bowl. he handed it to his colleague, receiving in return an empty bowl; and so the blood was passed on to the Great Altar, where it was jerked in one jet at the base of the Altar. While this was going on, the Hallel was being chanted by the Levites.
As Peter and John repeated them on that afternoon, the words must have sounded most deeply significant. But their minds must have also reverted to that triumphal Entry into the City a few days before, when Israel had greeted with these words the Advent of their King. And now - was it not, as if it had only been an anticipation of the Hymn, when the blood of the Passover Lamb was being shed?
Little more remained to be done. The sacrifice was laid on staves which rested on the shoulders of Peter and John, flayed, cleansed, and the parts which were to be burnt on the Altar removed and prepared for burning. The second company of offerers could not have proceeded far in the service, when the Apostles, bearing their Lamb, were wending their way back to the home of Mark, there to make final preparations. The Lamb would be roasted on a pomegranate spit that passed right through it from mouth to vent, special care being taken that, in roasting, the Lamb did not touch the oven. Everything else, also, would be made ready: the Chagigah for supper (if such was used); the unleavened cakes, the bitter herbs, the dish with vinegar, and that with Charoseth would be placed on a table which could be carried in and moved at will; finally, the festive lamps would be prepared.
The streets must have been thronged with strangers, and the flat roofs covered with eager gazers, who either feasted their eyes with a first sight of the sacred City for which they had so often longed, or else once more rejoiced in view of the well-known localities. It was the last day-view which the Lord could take, free and unhindered, of the Holy City till His Resurrection. Once more, in the approaching night of His Betrayal, would He look upon it in the pale light of the full moon. He was going forward to accomplish His Death in Jerusalem; to fulfil type and prophecy, and to offer Himself up as the true Passover Lamb.
They who followed Him were busy with many thoughts. They knew that terrible events awaited them, and they had only shortly before been told that these glorious Temple-buildings, to which, with a national pride not unnatural, they had directed the attention of their Master, were to become desolate, not one stone being left upon the other. Among them, revolving his dark plans, and goaded on by the great Enemy, moved the betrayer. And now they were within the City. Its Temple, its royal bridge, its splendid palaces, its busy marts, its streets filled with festive pilgrims, were well known to them, as they made their way to the house where the guest-chamber had been prepared. Meanwhile, the crowd came down from the Temple-Mount, each bearing on his shoulders the sacrificial Lamb, to make ready for the Passover.
Jesus' Last Passover
Tuesday, April 4, 30 A.D. (at the start of Nisan 14)
7 - 7:30pm
"Now when the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said to them, 'With earnest desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you that I will not eat of it again until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.'" (Luke 22:14-16, HBFV)
"And after evening had come, He sat down with the twelve." (Matthew 26:20, HBFV)
Only one Sacrifice did the Lord offer. We are not thinking now of the significant Jewish legend, which connected almost every great event and deliverance in Israel with the Night of the Passover. But the Pascha was, indeed, a Sacrifice, yet one distinct from all others. It was not of the Law, for it was instituted before the Law had been given or the Covenant ratified by blood; nay, in a sense it was the cause and the foundation of all the Levitical Sacrifices and of the Covenant itself. And it could not be classed with either one or the other of the various kinds of sacrifices, but rather combined them all, and yet differed from them all. Just as the Priesthood of Christ was real, yet not after the order of Aaron, so was the Sacrifice of Christ real, yet not after the order of Levitical sacrifices but after that of the Passover. And as in the Passover Supper all Israel were gathered around the Passover Lamb in commemoration of the past, in celebration of the present, in anticipation of the future, and in fellowship in the Lamb, so has the Church been ever since gathered together around its better fulfilment in the Kingdom of God.
There is, we believe, ample evidence that Judas not only claimed, but actually obtained, the chief seat at the table next to the Lord. This, as previously explained, was not, as is generally believed, at the right, but at the left of Christ, not below, but above Him, on the couches or pillows on which they reclined.
From the Gospel-narratives we infer, that John must have reclined next to Jesus, on His Right Hand, since otherwise he could not have leaned back on His Bosom. This, as we shall presently show, would be at one end - the head of the table, or, to be more precise, at one end of the couches. For, dismissing all conventional ideas, we must think of it as a low Eastern table. In the Talmud, the table of the disciples of the sages is described as two parts covered with a cloth, the other third being left bare for the dishes to stand on. There is evidence that this part of the table was outside the circle of those who were ranged around it. Occasionally a ring was fixed in it, by which the table was suspended above the ground, so as to preserve it from any possible Levitical defilement.
During the Passover Supper, it was the custom to remove the table at one part of the service; or, if this be deemed a later arrangement, the dishes at least would be taken off and put on again. This would render it necessary that the end of the table should protrude beyond the line of guests who reclined around it. For, as already repeatedly stated, it was the custom to recline at table, lying on the left side and leaning on the left hand, the feet stretching back towards the ground, and each guest occupying a separate divan or pillow. It would, therefore, have been impossible to place or remove anything from the table from behind the guests. Hence, as a matter of necessity, the free end of the table, which was not covered with a cloth, would protrude beyond the line of those who reclined around it.
Jewish documents are equally explicit as to that of the guests. It seems to have been quite an established rule that, in a company of more than two, say of three, the chief personage or Head - in this instance, of course, Christ - reclined on the middle divan. We know from the Gospel-narrative that John occupied the place on His right, at that end of the divans - as we may call it - at the head of the table. But the chief place next to the Master would be that to His left, or above Him. In the strife of the disciples, which should be accounted the greatest, this had been claimed, and we believe it to have been actually occupied, by Judas. This explains how, Christ whispered to John by what sign to recognize the traitor, none of the other disciples heard it. It also explains, how Christ would first hand to Judas the sop, which formed part of the Passover ritual, beginning with him as the chief guest at the table, without thereby exciting special notice.
Lastly, it accounts for the circumstance that, when Judas, desirous of ascertaining whether his treachery was known, dared to ask whether it was he, and received the affirmative answer, no one at table knew what had passed. But this could not have been the case, unless Judas had occupied the place next to Christ; in this case, necessarily that at His left, or the post of chief honor. As regards Peter, we can quite understand how, when the Lord with such loving words rebuked their self-seeking and taught them of the greatness of Christian humility, he should, in his petuosity of shame, have rushed to take the lowest place at the other end of the table. Finally, we can now understand how Peter could beckon to John, who sat at the opposite end of the table, over against him, and ask him across the table, who the traitor was. The rest of the disciples would occupy such places as were most convenient, or suited their fellowship with one another.
The Lord commenced that Supper, which in itself was symbol and pledge of what He had just said and promised. The Passover Supper began, as always, by the Head of the Company taking the first cup, and speaking over it 'the thanksgiving.' The form presently in use consists really of two benedictions - the first over the wine, the second for the return of this Feastday with all that it implies, and for being preserved once more to witness it. Turning to the Gospels, the words which follow the record of the benediction on the part of Christ seem to imply, that Jesus had, at any rate, so far made use of the ordinary thanksgiving as to speak both these benedictions. We know, indeed, that they were in use before His time, since it was in dispute between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai, whether that over the wine or that over the day should take precedence. That over the wine was quite simple: 'Blessed art Thou, Jehovah our God, Who hast created the fruit of the Vine!' The formula was so often used in blessing the cup, and is so simple, that we need not doubt that these were the very words spoken by our Lord. It is otherwise as regards the benediction 'over the day,' which is not only more composite, but contains words expressive of Israel's national pride and self-righteousness, such as we cannot think would have been uttered by our Lord. With this exception, however, they were no doubt identical in contents with the present formula.
On this the second cup is filled, and the youngest in the company is instructed to make formal inquiry as to the meaning of all the observances of that night, when the Liturgy proceeds to give full answers as regards the festival, its occasion, and ritual. The Talmud adds that the table is to be previously removed, so as to excite the greater curiosity. We do not suppose that even the earlier ritual represents the exact observances at the time of Christ, or that, even if it does so, they were exactly followed at that Passover Table of the Lord. But so much stress is laid in Jewish writings on the duty of fully rehearsing at the Passover Supper the circumstances of the first Passover and the deliverance connected with it, that we can scarcely doubt that what the Mishnah declares as so essential formed part of the services of that night. And as we think of our Lord's comment on the Passover and Israel's deliverance, the words spoken when the unleavened cake was broken come back to us, and with deeper meaning attaching to them.
After this the cup is elevated, and then the service proceeds somewhat lengthily, the cup being raised a second time and certain prayers spoken. This part of the service concludes with the two first Psalms in the series called 'the Hallel,' when the cup is raised a third time, a prayer spoken, and the cup drunk. This ends the first part of the service. And now the Passover meal begins by all washing their hands - a part of the ritual which we scarcely think Christ observed. It was, we believe, during this lengthened exposition and service that the 'trouble in spirit' of which John speaks passed over the soul of the God-Man. Almost presumptuous as it seems to inquire into its immediate cause, we can scarcely doubt that it concerned not so much Himself as them. His Soul could not, indeed, but have been troubled, as, with full consciousness of all that it would be to Him - infinitely more than merely human suffering - He looked down into the abyss which was about to open at His Feet. But He saw more than even this.
Jesus institutes the New Covenant (Christian) Passover
Part 1 - The Footwashing Service
"And during supper (the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, that he should betray Him), Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, Rose from supper and laid aside His garments; and after taking a towel, He secured it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a washing basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel which He had secured. Then He came to Simon Peter; and he said to Him, "Lord, are You going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you shall know after these things." Peter said to Him, "You shall not wash my feet, not ever." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."
"Jesus said to him, "The one who has been washed does not need to wash anything other than the feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all." For He knew the one who was betraying Him; this was the reason He said, "Not all of you are clean." Therefore, when He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and had sat down again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me the Teacher and the Lord, and you speak rightly, because I am. Therefore, if I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also are duty-bound to wash one another's feet; For I have given you an example, to show that you also should do exactly as I have done to you. Truly, truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, nor a messenger greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'" (John 18:2-17, HBFV)
Again, the footwashing, which was intended as a lesson in humility and service (as well as a ceremony to be performed each year by believers), was evidently connected with the dispute ' which of them should be accounted to be greatest. ' If so, the symbolical act of our Lord must have followed close on the strife of the disciples, and on our Lord's teaching what in the Church constituted rule and greatness.
If what Satan had cast into the heart of Judas explains his conduct so does the knowledge which Jesus possessed account for that He was about to do. The footwashing was Christ's greatest act of humiliation and service, and yet He never lost in it for one moment aught of the majesty or consciousness of His Divine dignity; for He did it with the full knowledge and assertion that all things were in His Hands, and that He came forth from and was going unto God - and He could do it, because He knew this. Here, not side by side, but in combination, are the Humiliation and Exaltation of the God-Man. And so, 'during Supper,' which had begun with the first cup, 'He riseth from Supper.' The disciples would scarcely marvel, except that He should conform to that practice of handwashing, which, as He had often explained, was, as a ceremonial observance, unavailing for those who were not inwardly clean, and needless and unmeaning in them whose heart and life had been purified. But they must have wondered as they saw Him put off His upper garment, gird Himself with a towel, and pour water into a basin, like a slave who was about to perform the meanest service.
From the position which, as we have shown, Peter occupied at the end of the table, it was natural that the Lord should begin with him the act of footwashing. Besides, had He first turned to others, Peter must either have remonstrated before, or else his later expostulation would have been tardy, and an act either of self-righteousness or of needless voluntary humility. As it was, the surprise with which he and the others had witnessed the preparation of the Lord burst into characteristic language when Jesus approached him to wash his feet. It was an utterance of deepest reverence for the Master, and yet of utter misunderstanding of the meaning of His action, perhaps even of His Work. Jesus was now doing what before He had spoken.
But Peter had understood none of these things. And so the Lord, partly also wishing thereby to lead his impetuosity to the absolute submission of faith, and partly to indicate the deeper truth he was to learn in the future, only told him, that though he knew it not now, he would understand hereafter what the Lord was doing. Yes, hereafter - when, after that night of terrible fall, he would learn by the Lake of Galilee what it really meant to feed the lambs and to tend the sheep of Christ; yes, hereafter - when no longer, as when he had been young, he would gird himself and walk whither he would. But, even so, Peter could not content himself with the prediction that in the future he would understand and enter into what Christ was doing in washing their feet. Never, he declared, could he allow it. The same feelings, which had prompted him to attempt withdrawing the Lord from the path of humiliation and suffering, now asserted themselves again. It was personal affection, indeed, but it was also unwillingness to submit to the humiliation of the Cross. And so the Lord told him, that if He washed him not, he had no part with Him. Not that the bare act of washing gave him part in Christ, but that the refusal to submit to it would have deprived him of it; and that, to share in this washing, was, as it were, the way to have part in Christ's service of love, to enter into it, and to share it.
They were clean, these disciples, but not all. For He knew that there was among them he 'that was betraying Him.' He knew it, but not with the knowledge of an inevitable fate impending far less of an absolute decree, but with that knowledge which would again and again speak out the warning, if by any means he might be saved. What would have come, if Judas had repented, is as idle a question as this: What would have come if Israel, as a nation, had repented and accepted Christ? For, from our human standpoint, we can only view the human aspect of things - that earthwards; and here every action is not isolated, but ever the outcome of a previous development and history, so that a man always freely acts, yet always in consequence of an inward necessity.
The solemn service of Christ now went on in the silence of reverent awe. None dared ask Him nor resist. It was ended, and He had resumed His upper garment, and again taken His place at the Table. It was His now to follow the symbolic deed by illustrative words, and to explain the practical application of what had just been done. Let it not be misunderstood. They were wont to call Him by the two highest names of Teacher and Lord, and these designations were rightly His. For the first time He fully accepted and owned the highest homage. How much more, then, must His Service of love, Who was their Teacher and Lord, serve as example of what was due by each to his fellow-disciple and fellow-servant! He, Who really was Lord and Master, had rendered this lowest service to them as an example that, as He had done, so should they do. No principle better known, almost proverbial in Israel, than that a servant was not to claim greater honor than his master, nor yet he that was sent than he who had sent him. They knew this, and now also the meaning of the symbolic act of footwashing; and if they acted it out, then theirs would be the promised 'Beatitude.'
This reference to what were familiar expressions among the Jews, especially noteworthy in John's Gospel, leads us to supplement a few illustrative notes from the same source. The Greek word for 'the towel,' with which our Lord girded Himself, occurs also in Rabbinic writings, to denote the towel used in washing and at baths. Such girding was the common mark of a slave, by whom the service of footwashing was ordinarily performed. And, in a very interesting passage, the Midrash contrasts what, in this respect, is the way of man with what God had done for Israel. For, He had been described by the prophet as performing for them the service of washing, and others usually rendered by slaves. Again, the combination of these two designations, 'Rabbi and Lord,' or 'Rabbi, Father, and Lord,' was among those most common on the part of disciples. The idea, that if a man knows (for example, the Law) and does not do it, it were better for him not to have been created, is not unfrequently expressed.
But the most interesting reference is in regard to the relation between the sender and the sent, and a servant and his master. In regard to the former, it is proverbially said, that while he that is sent stands on the same footing as he who sent him, yet he must expect less honor. And as regards Christ's statement that 'the servant is not greater than his Master,' there is a passage in which we read this, in connection with the sufferings of the Messiah: 'It is enough for the servant that he be like his Master.'
The footwashing on the part of Christ, in which Judas had shared, together with the explanatory words that followed, almost required, in truthfulness, this limitation: ' I speak not of you all. ' For it would be a night of terrible moral sifting to them all. A solemn warning was needed by all the disciples. But, besides, the treachery of one of their own number might have led them to doubt whether Christ had really Divine knowledge. On the other hand, this clear prediction of it would not only confirm their faith in Him, but show that there was some deeper meaning in the presence of a Judas among them.
Judas receives the Sop, leaves to betray Jesus
"I am not speaking of you all; for I know whom I have chosen, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled: 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.' I am telling you at this time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I AM. Truly, truly I tell you, the one who receives whomever I send is receiving Me; and the one who receives Me is receiving Him Who sent Me." As He was saying these things, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and testified, saying, "Truly, truly I tell you, one of you shall betray Me."
"Then the disciples looked at one another, wondering of whom He was speaking. Now one of His disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was leaning on Jesus' chest. And so, Simon Peter motioned to him to ask who was the one of whom He was speaking. Then he leaned back on Jesus' chest and asked Him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I shall give a sop after I have dipped it." And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon's son.
"And after the sop, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly." But not one of those sitting at the table knew why He said this to him; For some thought, since Judas had the bag, that Jesus was telling him, "Buy the things that we need for the feast"; or that he should give something to the poor. So then, after receiving the sop, he immediately went out; and it was night. When he was gone, Jesus said, 'Now has the Son of man been glorified, and God has been glorified in Him. If God has been glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall immediately glorify Him.'" (John 13:18-32, HBFV)
The answer of Christ left the special person undetermined, while it again repeated the awful prediction - shall we not add, the most solemn warning - that it was one of those who took part in the Supper. It is at this point that John resumes the thread of the narrative. As he describes it, the disciples were looking one on another, doubting of whom He spake. In this agonising suspense Peter beckoned from across the table to John, whose head, instead of leaning on his hand, rested, in the absolute surrender of love and intimacy born of sorrow, on the bosom of the Master. Peter would have John ask of whom Jesus spake. And to the whispered question of John, ' leaning back as he was on Jesus' breast, ' the Lord gave the sign, that it was he to whom He would give ' the sop ' when He had dipped it. Even this perhaps was not clear to John, since each one in turn received 'the sop.'
At present, the Supper itself begins by eating, first, a piece of the unleavened cake, then of the bitter herbs dipped in Charoseth, and lastly two small pieces of the unleavened cake, between which a piece of bitter radish has been placed. But we have direct testimony, that, about the time of Christ, 'the sop' which was handed round consisted of these things wrapped together: flesh of the Passover Lamb, a piece of unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. This, we believe, was 'the sop,' which Jesus, having dipped it for him in the dish, handed first to Judas, as occupying the first and chief place at Table. But before He did so, probably while He dipped it in the dish, Judas, who could not but fear that his purpose might be known, reclining at Christ's left hand, whispered into the Master's ear, 'Is it I, Rabbi?' It must have been whispered, for no one at the Table could have heard either the question of Judas or the affirmative answer of Christ. It was the last outgoing of the pitying love of Christ after the traitor.
Coming after the terrible warning and woe on the Betrayer, it must be regarded as the final warning and also the final attempt at rescue on the part of the Savior. It was with full knowledge of all, even of this that his treachery was known, though he may have attributed the information not to Divine insight but to some secret human communication, that Judas went on his way to destruction. We are too apt to attribute crimes to madness; but surely there is normal, as well as mental mania; and it must have been in a paroxysm of that, when all feeling was turned to stone, and mental self-delusion was combined with moral perversion, that Judas took from the Hand of Jesus the sop. It was to descend alive into the grave - and with a heavy sound the gravestone fell and closed over the mouth of the pit. That moment Satan entered again into his heart. But the deed was virtually done; and Jesus, longing for the quiet fellowship of His own with all that was to follow, bade him do quickly that he did.
But even so there are questions connected with the human motives that actuated Judas, to which, however, we can only give the answer of some suggestions. Did Judas regard Christ's denunciation of 'woe' on the Betrayer not as a prediction, but as intended to be deterrent - perhaps in language Orientally exaggerated - or if he regarded it as a prediction, did he not believe in it? Again, when after the plain intimation of Christ and His Words to do quickly what he was about to do, Judas still went to the betrayal, could he have had an idea - rather, sought to deceive himself, that Jesus felt that He could not escape His enemies, and that He rather wished it to be all over? Or had all his former feelings towards Jesus turned, although temporarily, into actual hatred which every Word and Warning of Christ only intensified? But above all and in all we have, first and foremost, to think of the peculiarly Judaic character of his first adherence to Christ; of the gradual and at last final and fatal disenchantment of his hopes; of his utter moral, consequent upon his spiritual, failure; of the change of all that had in it the possibility of good into the actuality of evil; and, on the other hand, of the direct agency of Satan in the heart of Judas, which his moral and spiritual ship-wreck rendered possible.
Judas rushed into the dark night. Even this has its symbolic significance. None there knew why this strange haste, unless from obedience to something that the Master had bidden him. Even John could scarcely have understood the sign which Christ had given of the traitor. Some of them thought, he had been directed by the words of Christ to purchase what was needful for the feast: others, that he was bidden go and give something to the poor. The departure of the betrayer seemed to clear the atmosphere.
The New Covenant (Christian) Passover
Part 2 - Eating of Unleavened Bread
"And as they were eating, Jesus took the bread and blessed it; then He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.'" (Matthew 26:26, HBFV)
We also know, that, as the Jewish Law directed, they reclined on pillows around a low table, each resting on his left hand, so as to leave the right free. In the meantime the Passover Supper was proceeding. According to the Rubric, after the 'washing' the dishes were immediately to be brought on the table. Then the Head of the Company would dip some of the bitter herbs into the salt-water or vinegar, speak a blessing, and partake of them, then hand them to each in the company. Next, he would break one of the unleavened cakes (according to the present ritual the middle of the three), of which half was put aside for after supper. This is called the Aphiqomon, or after-dish. The dish in which the broken cake lies, is elevated, and these words are spoken: 'This is the bread of misery which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. All that are hungry, come and eat; all that are needy, come, keep the Pascha.' In the more modern ritual the words are added: 'This year here, next year in the land of Israel; this year bondsmen, next year free!'
The New Covenant (Christian) Passover
Part 3 - Drinking of Wine
"And He took the cup; and after giving thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'All of you drink of it; For this is My blood, the blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, from this time forward I will not drink at all of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew with you in the kingdom of My Father.'" (Matthew 26:27-29, HBFV)
Contention over who is the greatest
"And there was also an argument among them, even this: which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, 'The kings of the nations lord over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But it shall not be this way among you; rather, let the one who is greatest among you be as the younger, and the one who is leading as the one who is serving.'
"'For who is greater, the one who is sitting at the table, or the one who is serving? Is not the one who sits at the table? But I am among you as one who is serving. Now you are the ones who have continued with Me in My temptations. And I appoint to you, as My Father has appointed to Me, a kingdom; So that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and may sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'" (Luke 22:24-30, HBFV)
Jesus says Satan wanted Peter, prophesies he will deny him
"Then Jesus said to them, "All of you shall be offended in Me during this night; for it is written, 'I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.' But after I have been raised, I will go before you into Galilee." Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all shall be offended in You, I will never be offended." Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, during this very night, before the cock crows, you yourself shall deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I were required to die with You, in no way would I ever deny You." All the disciples also spoke in like manner." (Matthew 26:31-35, HBFV)
"Then the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, listen well. Satan has demanded to have you, to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren." And he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death." But He said, 'I tell you, Peter, the cock shall in no wise crow today before you have denied knowing Me three times.'" (Luke 22:31-34, HBFV)
As recorded by John, the words of the Lord were succeeded by a question of Peter, indicating perplexity as to the primary and direct meaning of Christ's going away. On this followed Christ's reply about the impossibility of Peter's now sharing his Lord's way of Passion, and, in answer to the disciple's impetuous assurance of his readiness to follow the Master not only into peril, but to lay down his Life for Him, the Lord's indication of Peter's present unpreparedness and the prediction of His impending denial. It may have been, that all this occurred in the Passover Chamber and at the time indicated by John.
But in that night they understood none of these things. While all were staggering under the blow of their predicted scattering, the Lord seems to have turned to Peter individually. What he said, and how He put it, equally demand our attention: ' Simon, Simon' - using His old name when referring to the old man in him -
"Satan has demanded to have you, to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail;"
This night seems to have been 'the power of darkness,' when, left of God, Christ had to meet by himself the whole assault of Satan, and to conquer in His own strength as Man's Substitute and Representative. It is a great mystery: but quite consistent with itself. This, then, was the first mystery that had passed. And this sifting would affect Peter more than the others. Judas, who loved not Jesus at all, has already fallen; Peter, who loved Him - perhaps not most intensely, but, if the expression be allowed, most extensely - stood next to Judas in danger. In truth, though most widely apart in their direction, the springs of their inner life rose in close proximity. There was the same readiness to kindle into enthusiasm, the same desire to have public opinion with him, the same shrinking from the Cross, the same moral inability or unwillingness to stand alone, in the one as in the other. Peter had abundant courage to sally out, but not to stand out. Viewed in its primal elements (not in its development), Peter's character was, among the disciples, the likest to that of Judas. If this shows what Judas might have become, it also explains how Peter was most in danger that night; and, indeed, the husks of him were cast out of the sieve in his denial of the Christ. But what distinguished Peter from Judas was his 'faith' of spirit, soul, and heart - of spirit, when he apprehended the spiritual element in Christ; of soul, when he confessed Him as the Christ; and of heart, when he could ask Him to sound the depths of his inner being, to find there real, personal love to Jesus.
We can understand the vehement earnestness and sincerity with which Peter protested against of any failure on his part. We mostly deem those sins farthest which are nearest to us; else, much of the power of their temptation would be gone, and temptation changed into conflict. The things which we least anticipate are our falls. In all honesty - and not necessarily with self elevation over the others - he said, that even if all should be offended in Christ, he never could be, but was ready to go with Him into prison and death. And when, to enforce the warning, Christ predicted that before the repeated crowing of the cock ushered in the morning, Peter would thrice deny that he knew Him, Peter not only persisted in his asseverations, but was joined in them by the rest. Yet - and this seems the meaning and object of the words of Christ which follow - they were not aware terribly changed the former relations had become, and what they would have to suffer in consequence. When formerly He had sent forth, both without provision and defense, had they lacked anything?
But now no helping hand would be extended to them; nay, what seemingly they would need even more than anything else would be 'a sword' - defense against attacks, for at the close of His history He was reckoned with transgressors. The Master a crucified Malefactor - what could His followers expect? But once more they understood Him in a grossly realistic manner. These Galileans, after the custom of their countrymen, had provided themselves with short swords, which they concealed under their upper garment. It was natural for men of their disposition, so imperfectly understanding their Master's teaching, to have taken what might seem to them only a needful precaution in coming to Jerusalem. At least two of them - among them Peter - now produced swords. But this was not the time of reason with them, and our Lord simply put it aside. Events would only too soon teach them.
Beginning of Final Message to the disciples during Passover
Tuesday, April 4th, 30 A.D.
Around 8 - 9 pm
"'Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were otherwise, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; so that where I am, you may be also. And where I am going you know, and the way you know." Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going; how then can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. But from this time forward, you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and that will be sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long a time, and you have not known Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; why then do you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I speak to you, I do not speak from My own self; but the Father Himself, Who dwells in Me, does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; but if not, believe Me because of the works themselves.'
"'Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me shall also do the works that I do; and greater works than these shall he do because I am going to the Father. And whatever you shall ask in My name, this will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.'
"'If you love Me, keep the commandments - namely, My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that it may be with you throughout the age: Even the Spirit of the truth,* which the world cannot receive because it perceives it not, nor knows it; but you know it because it dwells with you, and shall be within you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world shall see Me no longer; but you shall see Me. Because I live, you shall live also. In that day, you shall know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.'
"Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, what has happened that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word that you hear is not Mine, but the Father's, Who sent Me. I have spoken these things to you while I am yet present with you. But when the Comforter comes, even the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, that one shall teach you all things, and shall bring to your remembrance everything that I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it fear."
"'You have heard Me say to you that I am going away, and that I will come to you again. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I said, 'I am going to the Father' because My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it comes to pass, you may believe. I will not speak with you much longer because the ruler of this world is coming; but he does not have a single thing in Me. Yet he comes so that the world may know that I love the Father, and that I do exactly as the Father has commanded Me. Arise, let us go out.'" (John 14:1-31, Holy Bible in Its Original Order - A Faithful Version (HBFV))
At the outset we ought, perhaps, to remember the very common Jewish idea, that those in glory occupied different abodes, corresponding to their ranks. If the words of Christ, about the place whither they could not follow Him, had awakened any such thoughts, the explanation which He now gave must effectually have dispelled them. Let not their hearts, then, be troubled at the prospect. As they believed in God, so let them also have trust in Him. Surely, if it had been otherwise, He would have told them, and not left them to be bitterly disappointed in the end. Indeed, the object of His going was the opposite of what they feared: it was to prepare by His Death and Resurrection a place for them. Nor let them think that His going away would imply permanent separation, because He had said they could not follow Him thither. Rather did His going, not away, but to prepare a place for them, imply His Coming again, primarily as regarded individuals at death, and secondarily as regarded the Church.
Jesus had referred to His going to the Father's House, and implied that they knew the way which would bring them thither also. But His Words had only the more perplexed, at least some of them. If, when speaking of their not being able to go whither He went, He had not referred to a separation between them in that land far away, whither was He going? And, in their ignorance of this, how could they find their way thither? If any Jewish ideas of the disappearance and the final manifestation of the Messiah lurked beneath the question of Thomas, the answer of the Lord placed the matter in the clearest light. He had spoken of the Father's House of many 'stations,' but only one road led thither.
They must all know it: it was that of personal apprehension of Christ in the life, the mind, and the heart. The way to the Father was Christ; the full manifestation of all spiritual truth, and the spring of the true inner life were equally in Him. Except through Him, no man could consciously come to the Father. Thomas had put his twofold question thus: What was the goal? and, what was the way to it? In His answer Christ significantly reversed this order, and told them first what was the way - Himself; and then what was the goal. If they had spiritually known Him as the way, they would also have known the goal, the Father, and now, by having the way clearly pointed out, they must also know the goal, God; nay, He was, so to speak, visibly before them - and, gazing on Him, they saw the shining track up to heaven, the Jacob's ladder at the top of which was the Father.
Those words which had drawn them and made them feel that heaven was so near, they were not His own, but the message which He had brought them from the Father; those works which He had done, they were the manifestation of the Father's 'dwelling' in Him. Let them then believe this vital union between the Father and Him - and, if their faith could not absolutely rise to that height, let it at least rest on the lower level of the evidence of His works. And so would He still lead us upwards, from the experience of what He does to the knowledge of what He is.
While He had been with them, they had had one 'Advocate' Who had pleaded with them the cause of God, explained and advocated the truth, and guarded and guided them. Now that His outward Presence was to be withdrawn from earth, and He was to be their Paraclete or Advocate in Heaven with the Father, He would, as His first act of advocacy, pray the Father, Who would send them another Paraclete, or Advocate, who would continue with them for ever. To the guidance and pleadings of that Advocate they could implicitly trust themselves, for it was 'the Spirit of Truth.'
One outstanding novel fact here arrested the attention of the disciples. It was contrary to all their Jewish ideas about the future manifestation of the Messiah, and it led to the question of one of their number, Judas - not Iscariot:
"Lord, what has happened that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?"
Again they thought of an outward, while He spoke of a spiritual and inward manifestation. It was of this coming of the Son and the Father for the purpose of making 'station' with them that He spoke, of which the condition was love to Christ, manifested in the keeping of His Word, and which secured the love of the Father also. On the other hand, not to keep His Word was not to love Him, with all that it involved, not only as regarded the Son, but also the Father, since the Word which they heard was the Father's. And so at the end of this Discourse the Lord returned again, and now with fuller meaning, to its beginning.
In the economy of grace, then, the Father is greater than the Son. And the return of the Son to the Father marks alike the completion of Christ's work, and its perfection. Therefore, if, discarding thoughts of themselves, they had only given room to feelings of true love to Him, instead of mourning they would have rejoiced because He went to the Father, with all that this implied, not only of rest and triumph to Him, but of the perfecting of His Work.
With the meaning and the issue of the great contest on which He was about to enter thus clearly before Him, did He now go forth to meet the last assault of the 'Prince of this World.' But why that fierce struggle, since in Christ 'he hath nothing?' To exhibit to 'the world' the perfect love which He had to the Father; how even to the utmost of self-examination, obedience, submission, and suffering He was doing as the Father had given Him commandment, when He sent Him for the redemption of the world. In the execution of this Mission He would endure the last sifting assault and contest on the part of the Enemy, and, enduring, conquer for us. And so might the world be won from its Prince by the full manifestation of Christ, in His infinite obedience and righteousness, doing the Will of the Father and the Work which He had given Him, and in His infinite love doing the work of our salvation.
Some final instructions, disciples take two swords and leave for Mount of Olives
About 9 p.m.
"And He said to them, "When I sent you without purse and provision bag and sandals, did you lack anything?" And they said, "Nothing." Then He said to them, "Now, however, let the one who has a purse take it, and likewise his provision bag; and let the one who does not have a sword sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you, that which has been written must yet be accomplished in Me: 'And He was reckoned with the lawless'; for the things concerning Me have a fulfillment." And they said, "Lord, see, here are two swords." And He said to them, 'It is enough.'" (Luke 22:35-38, HBFV)
"And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." (Matthew 26:30, HBFV)
We turn once more to follow the steps of Christ, now among the last He trod upon earth. The 'hymn,' with which the Passover ended, had been sung. Probably we are to understand this of the second portion of the Hallel, sung some time after the third Cup, or else of Psalm 136, which, in the present Ritual, stands near the end of the service. The last Discourses had been spoken, the last Prayer, that of Consecration, had been offered, and Jesus prepared to go forth out of the City, to the Mount of Olives. The streets could scarcely be said to be deserted, for, from many a house shone the festive lamp, and many a company may still have been gathered; and everywhere was the bustle of preparation for going up to the Temple, the gates of which were thrown open at midnight.
Passing out by the gate north of the Temple, we descend into a lonely part of the valley of black Kidron, at that season swelled into a winter torrent. Crossing it, we turn somewhat to the left, where the road leads towards Olivet. Not many steps farther (beyond, and on the other side of the present Church of the Sepulchre of the Virgin) we turn aside from the road to the right, and reach what tradition has since earliest times - and probably correctly - pointed out as 'Gethsemane,' the 'Oil-press.' It was a small property enclosed (cwrion), 'a garden' in the Eastern sense, where probably, amidst a variety of fruit trees and flowering shrubs, was a lowly, quiet summer-retreat, connected with, or near by, the 'Olive-press.' The present Gethsemane is only some seventy steps square, and though its old gnarled olives cannot be those (if such there were) of the time of Jesus, since all trees in that valley - those also which stretched their shadows over Jesus - were hewn down in the Roman siege, they may have sprung from the old roots, or from the odd kernels. But we love to think of this 'Garden' as the place where Jesus 'often' - not merely on this occasion, but perhaps on previous visits to Jerusalem - gathered with His disciples.
It was a quiet resting-place, for retirement, prayer, perhaps sleep, and a trysting-place also where not only the Twelve, but others also, may have been wont to meet the Master. And as such it was known to Judas, and thither he led the armed band, when they found the Upper Chamber no longer occupied by Jesus and His disciples. Whether it had been intended that He should spend part of the night there, before returning to the Temple, and whose that enclosed garden was - the other Eden, in which the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, bore the penalty of the first, and in obeying gained life - we know not, and perhaps ought not to inquire. It may have belonged to Mark's father. But if otherwise, Jesus had loving disciples even in Jerusalem, and, we rejoice to think, not only a home at Bethany, and an Upper Chamber furnished in the City, but a quiet retreat and trysting-place for His own under the bosom of Olivet, in the shadow of the garden of 'the Oil-press.'
The sickly light of the moon was falling full on them as they were crossing Kidron. It was here, we imagine, after they had left the City behind them, that the Lord addressed Himself first to the disciples generally. We can scarcely call it either prediction or warning. Rather, as we think of that last Passover, of Christ passing through the streets of the City for the last time into that Garden, and especially of what was now immediately before Him, does what He spake seem natural, even necessary. To them - yes, to them all - He would that night be even a stumbling-block. And so had it been foretold of old, that the Shepherd would be smitten, and the sheep scattered. Did this prophecy of His suffering, in its grand outlines, fill the mind of the Savior as He went forth on His Passion? Such Old Testament thoughts were at any rate present with Him, when, not unconsciously nor of necessity, but as the Lamb of God, He went to the slaughter.