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with this act of condescension, and would have refused his offer; but Jesus desired him to accept it, promis ing, that when he had done he would explain the meaning of it; assuring Peter, that unless he complied in this instance he should no longer consider him as his disciple. On this, Peter most affectionately resigned himself to his Lord's good pleasure, requesting that he would wash not only his feet, but his head and hands also; but our Lord replied, that he did not imagine those members stood in need of washing now, for they had not, like the feet, been exposed to the dirt since they were made clean.
As in every action our Lord had a spiritual meaning, we cannot suppose that on the present occasion he meant merely to cleanse his apostles from the outward defilement they had contracted by walking to Jerusalem : we will, therefore, consider it in an allegorical sense, and as preparatory to the rite he was about to institute : and then it may be understood to intimate, that a thorough purification of mind is necessary in order to qualify Christians for receiving the sacrament of the Lord's. supper ; and that he intended to point out to his apostles in particular, that even after keeping the passover with the utmost solemnity, they were still deficient in righteousness. From his answer to Peter, He that is washed needed not, save to wash his feet, we may understand that those who are habitually pious do not need such a thorough repentance and change of life as those who are wicked and profane; though it is requisite to endeavour, before they approach the LORD's table, to examine themselves, and express contrition even for the sins of infirmity and ignorance. But there is no one who can say “ I am free from wilful sin.”
By our Lord's expression, Ye are clean, but not all, it appears that this action was figurative ; for, in a spiri. tual light, his apostles were all clean excepting the traitor Judas, whose heart was open to the inspection of his LORD, though he thought himself secure from discovery.
When our Lord had resumed his seat at the table, he, agreeably to his promise, explained his principal view-in performing this servile office, and enjoined them to do to others as he had done to them. Not that he required their imitation of this particular action, but that they should apply the instruction it afforded to every proper occasion; and think nothing beneath them that was conducive to the purification of others from the defilement of sin ; since the Divine Word himself who came down from heaven, and knew that he should return thither again, not only took the form of a servant, by assuming human nature, but even through that nature, condescended to perform an office of the most servile kind.
From Luke, Chap. xxiv.--Matt. xxvi. And Jesus said unto his apostles, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is given for you: do this in remembrance of me.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it : · For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine; until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Though our blessed Redeemer knew that this passover would lead to his death, so great was his love to mankind, that far from wishing to withdraw himself, he declared that he earnestly longed for its coming; and particularly des.red to eat it with his apostles, that it might give them every demonstration of his tender regard, and likewise instruct them in all things necessary for them to know and teach.
The Paschal Lamb was eaten in remembrance of the LORD's passing over the houses of the Israelites in that night when he destroyed the first-born of the Egyptians. And God commanded the Israelites, by Moses, to celebrate the passover every year, which they did with great solemnity.
The Lord's passing over the houses of the Israelites, and the drowning of the Egyptians, was a type of his spiritual dispensation towards mankind; and signified, that the incorrigibly wicked would be consigned to utter destruction, and the rest saved through faith. The paschal lamb was a type of the MESSIANI ; therefore, when he should have offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, the ordinance of the passover would be unnecessary; because a new COVENANT taking place in which all nations were included, that or. dinance, which related only to the Jews, was not sufficiently comprehensive for the commemoration of God's greater mercy : our Lord therefore appointed the Eco CHARIST, which we call the.“ Lord's Supper,
(on account of its having been instituted when he eat his last supper with his apostles), as the Sacrament of the NEW.COVENANT, designed to commemorate the death
of Christ, and give Christians an opportunity of expressing their faith in God's mercy through him : let us consider our SAVIOUR's actions on this occason, which will confirm what has been now said.
Having, in obedience to the law of Moses, divided the paschal lamb, and eaten of it with his disciples, our Lord intimated, that this ceremony would for the future be useless : for, instead of taking a cup of wine, distributing it to the rest, and imploring the divine blessing on that institution, as was usual for the master of the family to do after eating the passover, our LORD took bread, and, returning a solemn thanksgiving to God the FATHER, he brake the bread, and divided that amongst his disciples, desiring them to receive it as a representative of his body, which he should shortly offer as a sacrifice on the cross.
With the same solemnity our Lord took the cup, which we may suppose, represented the blood of the paschal lamb *, and presented it to his apostles ; desiring them, whenever they solemnized his death t, to make use of wine as a representative of his blood ; that blood, which was the seal of the new Covenant, by which God engaged, for the sake of the perfect obedience of CHRIST, to remit and pardon the sins of all who would repent
accept the terms of salvation. Our Lord did not himself partake either of the bread or wine; there would have been an impropriety in his doing it: but he intimated, that in a future state his true disciples should with him partake of that spiritual refreshment and joy, which bread and wine figuratively expressed
It was customary to sing an hymn of praise to God * As every part of the Jewish ceremonies was figurative, the above conjecture appears reasonable; for their writers inform us wine was drank at the passover in a solewu manner. + 1 Cor. xi. 26.
(consisting of some of David's Psalms) at the close of the passover. There was now an additional cause for thanksgiving; and the apostles by their LORD's direction, lifted up their voices together in strains of humble adoration and gratitude. There is great reason to believe, that Jesus himself joined with them, and selected one of the Psalms said to have been made use of at the passover, which were all very applicable to his own circumstances, viz. Psalms cxiii, cxv, cxvi, cxvii, cxviii.
This Section acquaints us with the manner in which our Lord instituted the EUCH A RIST. The nature and end of this institution were farther explained by the apostles, particularly by St. Paul, who informs us, that it was designed to commemorate our Lord's death till his coming again to judge the world, and receive his faithful people into his heavenly kingdom *. Such being the end of this divine institution, those who call themselves Christians are under an indispensable obligation to comply with it ; for all stand in need of that salvation which CHRIST purchased for mankind by his death, and all are bound to testify their gratitude for this inestimable benefit in the way which Christ himself has appointed. That person who neglects to perform the dying request of an earthly friend and bene.' ; factor is justly regarded as ungrateful; and surely the last injunctions of the ever-blessed Redeemer ought to be universally obeyed; yet how frequently do we see professed Christians turning their backs upon the table of the LORD, and thoughtlessly slighting the bread of life and the cup of salvation ! Not that any one can be saved merely by eating that bread, and drinking of that cup, unless the act is accompanied by repentance, faith, and thanksgiving: but this sacrament is the appointed means of obtaining salvation through Christ.
* 1 Cor. xi.