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the three apostles, who are particularly mentioned as having been with Him,- Peter, and James, and John. Their epistles, particularly those of St. Peter, are the best possible commentary upon this long discourse made by our Lord the evening before He was betrayed.
Night must now have been closing in, and Jerusalem was wrapped in darkness. Still there was burning one solitary light. Each evening the seven lamps of the golden candlestick in the Holy place were lighted, and they must have shone out amidst the gloom, from the Temple over against which Jesus and His disciples were sitting. Each morning at the rising of the sun, they were extinguished, -a striking emblem of the light that shines from Scripture through the darkness of the world, till the reality shall come, when He who is the “Light of the world,” yea “ the Light of life," shall rise in full glory upon a "new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness !” Each man who had a home would now return to it; but in the great city of Jerusalem, Jesus had no home, and at night "he abode in the mount, that is called the Mount of Olives.”
Prayer. “Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. Thou hast opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge. We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants : whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with Thy saints, in glory everlasting. O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine heritage.” Let the light of Thy love shine out in all lands. Make thyself known in every heart. Have pity on those who have not heard the joyful sound of Thy gospel. Make them to see Thee in the lovingkindness wherewith Thou hast surrounded them, so that they may seek Thee, and find Thee their Redeemer. And oh, for us who know Thy name, "have mercy upon us, for our trust is in Thee." Let Thy love so possess our hearts, that we may delight to do Thy will, that deeds of mercy may be a joy unto our hearts, and that we may prize above all earthly good, the power of helping the afflicted, and so of ministering to Thee our own ever-beloved Lord.
O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded. Amen.
That same night the enemies of Jesus met together in secret council, While He and His disciples were sitting on the Mount of Olives, they were at work to destroy Him.
MATTHEW xxvi. 345. “ Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas: And they consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people."
Long ago, ever since he had raised Lazarus from the dead, they had taken counsel together, to put Him to death ;* but he had avoided every snare they had laid for Him. The work was still to be done, and the time was come.
There were many difficulties before them, and the first that was to be overcome, was how to take Him quietly, without causing an uproar among the people, which was greatly to be dreaded in the crowded state of the city, to which the Feast of the Passover had drawn the whole Jewish nation. That we may fully understand the dangers of a tumult, we must consider the circumstances in which the priests and the people stood, at each moment in the very grasp of their Roman masters, who were ready to find an excuse for violence in everything that disturbed the public peace. A strong tower, called the Fortress of Antonia, was joined to the north-west corner of the Temple, by a gallery and great staircase, and an underground passage. It was always filled with Roman soldiers, ready at every moment to rushinto the courts of the Temple. Pilate, the Roman governor, had already shown what he could do. He had mingled the blood of certain Galileans even with their sacrifices; paying no respect either to the Temple, or to the solemn time of the Passover.
* John xi. 53.
It was no wonder that the Chief Priests and Scribes feared the uproar that was sure to arise among the people if they publicly made Jesus a prisoner. The power of His miracles, of His holy life, and of His teaching, had fixed upon Him the attention of the whole nation. They followed Him about with awe and with love. Many of them expected Him each moment to declare Himself the Messiah, King of Israel. To take Him prisoner would be to give the signal for the wildest scene of confusion. Jerusalem would in a moment be filled with violence and blood. Thousands of the people would be certain to rise in His defence, and the Roman guard would in an instant be let loose upon the city. Nothing would be clear to the Roman Governor but that the people were fighting for one Jesus, whom but a few days before they had proclaimed "the King of Israel,” coming in the name of the Lord. It was but too likely that any such step as this would bring down upon them the very thing they feared, and that the “Romans would come and take away both their place and nation.” The Chief Priests and Pharisees had in their secret councils long before doomed Jesus to death, but they had no power to take His life. The point that was now debated in the palace of the High Priest, was, “how that they might take him by subtilty and kill him. These words seem to shew that they had then no thought of a public trial, but step by step the Providence of God led them on to fulfil all that had been foretold by the Prophets,
* John xi. 48.
It appears that they would have taken the life of Jesus in their own way, but they were led to do it in the appointed way.
Thus we see that wickedness indulged in the heart causes men to put themselves forward in deeds of evil, and then they are used as instruments to bring about that which has been determined for the punishment of the nation. Oh ! blindness of man, still struggling against the laws of his Sovereign King ! Oh goodness of God, still bringing good out of evil, and forcing. even His enemies to bring about His purposes of mercy, yea mercy even to themselves, if they will but yield to the power of His love !
How solemn the thought, that when men are met in secret to plan their deeds of evil,—the Great God is looking on! It is an awful sign when all things seem to join together to help them to execute their wicked purposes.
The chief men of the Jewish nation were met to consider the ways and means by which they might, without raising a tumult, get Jesus into their power. They were sore perplexed : for in the day time he was surrounded by the people, and in the night season he withdrew beyond the walls of the city to the society of his peculiar friends.
Suddenly they are astonished by the appearance of one of the chosen twelve!
Judas Iscariot had heard of this meeting, and the dark depths of his heart were stirred within him. He had listened to all the warnings of his Master ; perhaps they were clearer to him than to the other Apostles ; for the single purpose of his soul was gain, and the words of Jesus plainly showed that poverty,
imprisonment, scourging, the hatred of all men, nay death itself, were all that were to be looked for as the present rewards of the followers of Jesus.* What cared he for the Kingdom of Heaven, if it were to be entered thus ? He had just witnessed the sort of value Jesus and His friends set on the good things of this life. Had he not seen Mary the sister of Lazarus pour out upon His head a very precious ointment worth more than two hundred pence, and had she not been praised instead of blamed for this waste ? Yet “ to what purpose was chis waste ?” why show her love for her Lord in such a way as this ?-it could do good to no one. What was to be gained in such a service as this ? Certainly nothing. It was time to be done with it. It was time to escape from its dangers, and, be.fore it was too late, to make friends with the party who were ready to crush both Jesus and His followers.
Oh Judas! miserable man! Traitor to thy Lord, worse traitor to thyself, for Him thou couldst not. harm, since He came expressly to suffer and to die that He might do His Father's will, but thyself thou hast ruined for ever, why needest thou have so sinned against thy Soul ? The plague-spot of thy, heart, like a canker, hath long been eating into the core, now it hath destroyed the very life of thy Spirit.
Thou hast been numbered with the Apostles; thou hast carried the lamp of thy profession, but long before the cry of "The Bridegroom cometh” thy light is gone out in utter darkness, thou art left a prey to the spirit of evil.
LUKE xxii. 3, 4. “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Jesus unto them."
MATTHEW xxvi. 15. “And he said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you ? "
Matthew xxiv. 9. Mark xiii. 9,