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MARK xiv. 11. "And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money.'
MATTHEW xxvi. 15, 16. "And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."
Thirty pieces of silver ! the price of a slave! That Judas should have agreed to take this sum, seems to tell us that all belief that Jesus was the Messiah had died out of his mind. It is very probable that hatred instead of love had arisen in his heart. He had looked for great things in the new kingdom; what had be found ? poverty and contempt. Bitter thoughts, no doubt, swept through his mind as he listened to the offer made to him—the price of a slave-for Him whom he had expected to be a King, and in whose service he had hoped to grow rich! He took it, and sold his Lord for thirty pieces of silver! Is this wonderful ? Does not the love of money grow into a sort of madness ? Have we not heard of name, and fame, and health, and happiness being sacrificed to it? Has not the miser pined for want amid his boards of wealth ? * The love of money is like what has been believed of the Upas tree; it is said, that where it is allowed to grow, all dies within its shade ; it poisons the very air around it. So does avarice make the heart a desert. May God deliver us from its power.t
* I myself knew a person who died worth nearly half a million, of an illness the physicians did not believe would have been fatal, could she have been persuaded to allow herself the expense of wine and proper nourishment !
† The stories told of the Upas tree are not strictly true; but like many others, they arise from other truths. All plants and animals do not die beneath its shade, but its juices are a deadly poison ; and in the same island where it grows, (Java) there is a poisoned tract of land, in which neither plant nor animal can live. It is a small valley, from which vapours that destroy all life, are continually rising.-See Journal of the Geographical Society, vol. ii. p. 60.
MARK XIV. 1
And now the morning of the day before the great feast of the Passover has come.* The public ministry of Jesus is ended. He no more seeks the Temple, but remains in the bosom of the small circle wbich was to Him as His family.
Alone with His Apostles, He spends his last day; and the words then spoken to comfort them have been blessed to many a breaking heart.
On the first day † of the feast of unleavened bread, when the (lamb for the) Passover must be killed,
MARK xiv. 16."His disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare, that thou mayest eat the passover ?”
LUKE xxii. 8–11. "And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said, Where wilt thou that we prepare ? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water ; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the good man of the house, The Master saith unto thee,”
Matthew xxvi. 18. "My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.”
LUKE xxii. 1l--13. “Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples ? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished; there make ready. And they went and found as he had said, and they made ready the passover."
* This was Thursday morning. † We must remember that each new day began at sunset, about 6 o'clock in the evening, according to the reckoning of the Jews.
The time was come.
That which had been appointed from the beginning was about to be accomplished. The master of that house little knew for what purpose he had prepared his large upper chamber ; yet had it been ever present in the sight of Christ. In it the two ends of time were to meet; for in it was to be celebrated the last real Jewish Passover, and the first Christian Sacrament.
There is no human habitation that may not be made a Temple of the Lord. Where man lives and dies, (it matters not whether it be in a princely palace or in a humble cot) there the great interests of eternity are carried on ; for there man, if he worship God, is prepared for his Father's kingdom ; or there he passes on to that outer darkness which is the portion of those who forget God. This is an awful thought, and gives a solemn interest to all human habitations. The sight even of à ruin will press these thoughts upon the mind. All that was ever hoped, feared, enjoyed, or suffered therein, has long since passed away, but the record is written in heaven, and on earth, for none can leave this world without leaving behind an influence for good or evil.
Ages have passed since the time when Jerusalem was left a heap of ruins, not one stone standing upon another ; but the influence shall never pass away of the deeds that were done, and the words that were spoken in the house in which, when the hour was come, Jesus sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.
" The hour” here spoken of, must mean that hour which had been appointed from the beginning, for the solemn service about to be established, when the yet living Christ was to shew that He was Himself the Lamb of the Passover, by the shedding of whose blood, His people were delivered from the power of the angel of death. The time fixed for the great Jewish Passover was not till the next day; and our Lord, for a great purpose which was ever present to His mind, seems to have kept the Feast on the day before its usual time. This purpose was, that His blood might be shed at the same moment when the lambs of the passover were slain in the Temple, that in His death its true meaning might be shown. For this cause he has been called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Remembering them, how deep is the interest with which we sball read His words, when He said,
Verses 15, 16. “ With desire have I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer : for I say unto you, that I will no more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Who may tell the meaning of these mysterious words ? Are there festivals in heaven, in which the glorious things that have been dimly shadowed forth on earth are shown in their bright reality? Shall the fulfilled passover be kept in the kingdom of God ? Shall all His saved people then see the angel of death who passed by each dwelling that was sprinkled with the blood of the lamb, point to the eternal Saviour “who was dead, and is alive” upon His Father's throne, and learn by sight, no more by faith, with joy unutterable, how they have been saved from the beginning ?
We cannot answer questions such as these; but many things in Scripture seem to say, that the life of the blessed in heaven, will be the fulfilment of their hopes and joys on earth; and that except in its freedom from sin, and the blessed enjoyment of the presence of God, it may not be so very different from what our lives here might be.* How bright the light this sheds on earth! How completely does it banish from religion each thought of gloom! It is written, that “at God's right hand there are pleasures for evermore," and if we examine into the history of those that He appointed for His people Israel, when He ruled as their acknowledged King, we shall find that they were festivals indeed, suited to all the joyous feelings of our nature while they tuned each heart to the praise of God. Oh world ! how different are thy pleasures now! How do vice, folly, vanity, pride, ambition chase away all real joy. Few can lift their eyes to heaven, and say, When I am there, I trust to find the completion, the fulfilment of my present hopes and joys!” Therefore, because sin fills the world, we must be content here to endure, willing with Christ our Lord to suffer all things, if only the will of God be done.
* See Chalmers'. Sermon on the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Jesus knowing the agony and shame, a few hours more was to bring upon Him, and that in their last passover, He as it were began His death, having said "with desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you, for I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God,"
Verses 17, 18. “Took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves, for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shæll come.”
I think that the account given by the Jews themselves of the manner in which they kept the feast of the passover, before the destruction of Jerusalem, will help us more clearly to picture to our minds all that took place on this last solemn evening of our Lord's mortal life.
The head of every family gathered those belonging to him round the table prepared for the passover, and with prayer and blessings, drank from the cup of wine which He had handed round to all. This was followed by a solemn washing of hands. The paschal lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread or cakes, and a sauce made of pressed fruits in which the bread and the bitter herbs were dipped as they were eaten; were brought in, and their meaning explained in answer to the question of the son of the family, or whatever young persons might be pre