Matthew 26* The rulers conspire against Christ. (1-5) Christ anointed atBethany. (6-13) Judas bargains to betray Christ. (14-16) ThePassover. (17-25) Christ institutes his holy supper. (26-30) Hewarns his disciples. (31-35) His agony in the garden. (36-46) Heis betrayed. (47-56) Christ before Caiaphas. (57-68) Peterdenies him. (69-75)1-5 Our Lord had often told of his sufferings as at a distance,now he speaks of them as at hand. At the same time the Jewishcouncil consulted how they might put him to death secretly. Butit pleased God to defeat their intention. Jesus, the truepaschal Lamb, was to be sacrificed for us at that very time, andhis death and resurrection rendered public. 6-13 The pouring ointment upon the head of Christ was a tokenof the highest respect. Where there is true love in the heart toJesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good to bestow uponhim. The more Christ's servants and their services are cavilledat, the more he manifests his acceptance. This act of faith andlove was so remarkable, that it would be reported, as a memorialof Mary's faith and love, to all future ages, and in all placeswhere the gospel should be preached. This prophecy is fulfilled. 14-16 There were but twelve called apostles, and one of themwas like a devil; surely we must never expect any society to bequite pure on this side heaven. The greater profession men makeof religion, the greater opportunity they have of doingmischief, if their hearts be not right with God. Observe, thatChrist's own disciple, who knew so well his doctrine and mannerof his life, and was false to him, could not charge him with anything criminal, though it would have served to justify histreachery. What did Judas want? Was not he welcome wherever hisMaster was? Did he not fare as Christ fared? It is not the lack,but the love of money, that is the root of all evil. After hehad made that wicked bargain, Judas had time to repent, and torevoke it; but when lesser acts of dishonesty have hardened theconscience men do without hesitation that which is moreshameful. 17-25 Observe, the place for their eating the passover waspointed out by Christ to the disciples. He knows those hiddenones who favour his cause, and will graciously visit all who arewilling to receive him. The disciples did as Jesus hadappointed. Those who would have Christ's presence in the gospelpassover, must do what he says. It well becomes the disciples ofChrist always to be jealous over themselves, especially intrying times. We know not how strongly we may be tempted, norhow far God may leave us to ourselves, therefore we have reasonnot to be high-minded, but to fear. Heart-searching examinationand fervent prayer are especially proper before the Lord'ssupper, that, as Christ our Passover is now sacrificed for us,we may keep this feast, renewing our repentance, our faith inhis blood, and surrendering ourselves to his service. 26-30 This ordinance of the Lord's supper is to us the passoversupper, by which we commemorate a much greater deliverance thanthat of Israel out of Egypt. Take, eat; accept of Christ as heis offered to you; receive the atonement, approve of it, submitto his grace and his government. Meat looked upon, be the dishever so well garnished, will not nourish; it must be fed upon:so must the doctrine of Christ. This is my body; that is,spiritually, it signifies and represents his body. We partake ofthe sun, not by having the sun put into our hands, but the beamsof it darted down upon us; so we partake of Christ by partakingof his grace, and the blessed fruits of the breaking of hisbody. The blood of Christ is signified and represented by thewine. He gave thanks, to teach us to look to God in every partof the ordinance. This cup he gave to the disciples with acommand, Drink ye all of it. The pardon of sin is that greatblessing which is, in the Lord's supper, conferred on all truebelievers; it is the foundation of all other blessings. He takesleave of such communion; and assures them of a happy meetingagain at last; "Until that day when I drink it new with you",may be understood of the joys and glories of the future state,which the saints shall partake with the Lord Jesus. That will bethe kingdom of his Father; the wine of consolation will there bealways new. While we look at the outward signs of Christ's bodybroken and his blood shed for the remission of our sins, let usrecollect that the feast cost him as much as though he hadliterally given his flesh to be eaten and his blood for us todrink. 31-35 Improper self-confidence, like that of Peter, is thefirst step to a fall. There is a proneness in all of us to beover-confident. But those fall soonest and foulest, who are themost confident in themselves. Those are least safe, who thinkthemselves most secure. Satan is active to lead such astray;they are most off their guard: God leaves them to themselves, tohumble them. 36-46 He who made atonement for the sins of mankind, submittedhimself in a garden of suffering, to the will of God, from whichman had revolted in a garden of pleasure. Christ took with himinto that part of the garden where he suffered his agony, onlythose who had witnessed his glory in his transfiguration. Thoseare best prepared to suffer with Christ, who have by faithbeheld his glory. The words used denote the most entiredejection, amazement, anguish, and horror of mind; the state ofone surrounded with sorrows, overwhelmed with miseries, andalmost swallowed up with terror and dismay. He now began to besorrowful, and never ceased to be so till he said, It isfinished. He prayed that, if possible, the cup might pass fromhim. But he also showed his perfect readiness to bear the loadof his sufferings; he was willing to submit to all for ourredemption and salvation. According to this example of Christ,we must drink of the bitterest cup which God puts into ourhands; though nature struggle, it must submit. It should be moreour care to get troubles sanctified, and our hearts satisfiedunder them, than to get them taken away. It is well for us thatour salvation is in the hand of One who neither slumbers norsleeps. All are tempted, but we should be much afraid ofentering into temptation. To be secured from this, we shouldwatch and pray, and continually look unto the Lord to hold us upthat we may be safe. Doubtless our Lord had a clear and fullview of the sufferings he was to endure, yet he spoke with thegreatest calmness till this time. Christ was a Surety, whoundertook to be answerable for our sins. Accordingly he was madesin for us, and suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust;and Scripture ascribes his heaviest sufferings to the hand ofGod. He had full knowledge of the infinite evil of sin, and ofthe immense extent of that guilt for which he was to atone; withawful views of the Divine justice and holiness, and thepunishment deserved by the sins of men, such as no tongue canexpress, or mind conceive. At the same time, Christ sufferedbeing tempted; probably horrible thoughts were suggested bySatan that tended to gloom and every dreadful conclusion: thesewould be the more hard to bear from his perfect holiness. Anddid the load of imputed guilt so weigh down the soul of Him ofwhom it is said, He upholdeth all things by the word of hispower? into what misery then must those sink whose sins are leftupon their own heads! How will those escape who neglect so greatsalvation? 47-56 No enemies are so much to be abhorred as those professeddisciples that betray Christ with a kiss. God has no need of ourservices, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes.Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was voluntaryweakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing tosuffer, they could not conquer him. It was a great sin for thosewho had left all to follow Jesus; now to leave him for they knewnot what. What folly, for fear of death to flee from Him, whomthey knew and acknowledged to be the Fountain of life! 57-68 Jesus was hurried into Jerusalem. It looks ill, and bodesworse, when those who are willing to be Christ's disciples, arenot willing to be known to be so. Here began Peter's denyinghim: for to follow Christ afar off, is to begin to go back fromhim. It is more our concern to prepare for the end, whatever itmay be, than curiously to ask what the end will be. The event isGod's, but the duty is ours. Now the Scriptures were fulfilled,which said, False witnesses are risen up against me. Christ wasaccused, that we might not be condemned; and if at any time wesuffer thus, let us remember we cannot expect to fare betterthan our Master. When Christ was made sin for us, he was silent,and left it to his blood to speak. Hitherto Jesus had seldomprofessed expressly to be the Christ, the Son of God; the tenorof his doctrine spoke it, and his miracles proved it; but now hewould not omit to make an open confession of it. It would havelooked like declining his sufferings. He thus confessed, as anexample and encouragement to his followers, to confess himbefore men, whatever hazard they ran. Disdain, cruel mocking,and abhorrence, are the sure portion of the disciple as theywere of the Master, from such as would buffet and deride theLord of glory. These things were exactly foretold in thefiftieth chapter of Isaiah. Let us confess Christ's name, andbear the reproach, and he will confess us before his Father'sthrone. 69-75 Peter's sin is truly related, for the Scriptures dealfaithfully. Bad company leads to sin: those who needlesslythrust themselves into it, may expect to be tempted andinsnared, as Peter. They scarcely can come out of such companywithout guilt or grief, or both. It is a great fault to be shyof Christ; and to dissemble our knowledge of him, when we arecalled to own him, is, in effect, to deny him. Peter's sin wasaggravated; but he fell into the sin by surprise, not as Judas,with design. But conscience should be to us as the crowing ofthe cock, to put us in mind of the sins we had forgotten. Peterwas thus left to fall, to abate his self-confidence, and renderhim more modest, humble, compassionate, and useful to others.The event has taught believers many things ever since, and ifinfidels, Pharisees, and hypocrites stumble at it or abuse it,it is at their peril. Little do we know how we should act invery difficult situations, if we were left to ourselves. Lethim, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest hefall; let us all distrust our own hearts, and rely wholly on theLord. Peter wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight,but great and deep. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denyingChrist, never denied him again, but confessed him often in theface of danger. True repentance for any sin will be shown by thecontrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our sorrowing notonly bitterly, but sincerely.
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