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Gospel narratives will show that they give three distinct pictures of the Passion. The first is drawn by St. Matthew and St. Mark, whose narratives, with the exception of a few details peculiar to each, are virtually one, seeming to represent the Passion as it might have been seen by one who stood afar off in the crowd. The second is that of St. Luke, which, having up to the time of the trial before Pilate nearly coincided with St. Matthew and St. Mark, suddenly changes to a narrative full of peculiar details, such as could be known only to one who stood near the Cross. The third is that of St. John, who (as we know) was at the foot of the Cross itself, and who (in accordance with the character of his Gospel as a Supplemental Gospel") fills up the other narratives with peculiar and characteristic details.
This Gospel is the second part of the general outline narrative of St. Matthew. It tells us (a) of the delivery of Our Lord by the Sanhedrim to Pilate; (b) the remorse of Judas, mocked by the chief priests, his suicide, and the destination assigned to the thirty pieces of silver as the price of blood. section is peculiar to St. Matthew, and the quotation presents some critical difficulty, for it only resembles (and this not very closely) a passage not in Jeremiah, but in Zechariah (xi. 12, 13).* Then (c) passing to the tribunal of Pilate out
side the palace (see John xviii.
In the Old Latin Version, and in some of the Fathers, the reading is simply by the prophet, "and it has been thought that "Jeremiah" is the gloss of some copyist, remembering confusedly Jer. xviii and xix. It is notable that the passage occurs in that part of our book of Zechariah which, by the strongest internal evidence, is referred to the age of Jeremiah, the eve of the Captivity; and St. Jerome declares that he had seen the quotation in an "apocryphal" book of Jeremiah, which may perhaps mean a writing of Jeremiah not included in the book bearing his name.
shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governour said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governour took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews. And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out they found a man of Cyrenc, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE
KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him; one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders said, He saved others, himself he cannot save: if he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
the graves, and the rising (for a time?) of the dead after His Resurrection, the symbol and earnest of the great Resurrection of the future.
Throughout, the history is of the Passion in its main visible
features, with none of the more solemn and pathetic details, as it might appear to one kept at a distance by the soldiers, mingling with the crowd, and not daring to associate himself with the Sufferer.
Monday before Easter.
THE EPISTLE (substituted in 1549 for Is. 1. 510) is one of the most magnificent passages in Isaiah, describing the Redeemer, not as a Sufferer, but as a Conqueror and Avenger. It opens (a) with a picture of One (vs. 1-6) coming from the vanquished stronghold of Edom, who, in answer to the prophet's enquiry who He is, and why He comes with garments dyed in blood, proclaims Himself the Righteous Saviour of His people, avenging their helplessness on their heathen oppressors, because the day of Redemption is come. To this succeeds (b) the answer of the Prophet in the name of the people (vs. 7-14), praising God for His lovingkindness and mercy, declaring that in their affliction He was afflicted, and was ever ready to save, acknowledging their sins and the following chastisement, but believing still in His remembrance of the Covenant with Moses, and of His tender care of them in the days of old. Finally (c) he turns to prayer, that God would look down upon them, outcasts though they are; that He would call them back from their wanderings and hardness of heart; that He would no longer treat them (for this is the true sense of the original) as "those over whom He never bare rule, those who are not called by His Name."
The whole is especially notable here as turning the thoughts to the Second Coming of Christ, which He Himself foretold in the hour of His rejection (Mark xiv. 61, 62).
THE GOSPEL is the first part of the "Passion of St. Mark" up to the condemnation of Our Lord.
It agrees almost exactly throughout with the record of St. Matthew, but adds (as is usual with St. Mark) some of the graphic touches which mark eye-witness, as, for example (in v. 13), the man bearing a pitcher of water;" (in v. 30)
the cock crowing twice;" (in vs. 51, 52) the curious episode of the young man who fled away naked; (in v. 54) Peter's warming himself at the fire." Some of these appear also in the narrative of St. Luke.
(a) As in the other Evangelists, the narrative begins with the FEAST AT BETHANY, which, as we learn from St. John (xii. 1), took place before the triumphal Entry, but which appears to be noticed here because the rebuke of Judas (see John xii. 7) for the cavil against the woman (Mary, the sister of Lazarus) probably first suggested the Betrayal, now plotted with the chief priests. Our Lord's commendation is
For the Epistle. Isaiah 63. 1.
WHO is this that cometh from
of Moses, with his glorious arm,
dividing the water before them,
to make himself an everlasting
Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel, which he hath AFTER two days was the bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? that led them by the right hand
feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an uproar of the people. And being in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? for it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor: and they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her?
of her loving delight in sacrifice, offering to Him without calculation of her best. It institutes no comparison in principle between the direct service of honour to Him and the service to the poor, His representatives (Matt. xxv. 40).
(b) The next scene is the celebration of the PASSOVER FEAST, in which (from comparison with John xiii. 1, 29 & xviii. 28 & xix. 14, 42) it seems clear that Our Lord anticipated the ordinary time, whether by Galilean custom or for some special reason of His own (see Luke xxii. 15). Here we have the prediction of the Betrayal, of the flight of the disciples, and the denial of St. Peter (the quotation is from Zech. xiii. 7); and the Institution of the Holy Communion, explaining the mysterious predictions of a year before (John vi. 53-58), shewing what it is to "eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man," superseding the Paschal Feast, which had hallowed the old Covenant, by the better Feast which hallows the New.
(c) Thence we pass to the AGONY IN GETHSEMANE - the shrinking of His human will from the Passion of body, soul, and spirit, and the bowing it by spiritual struggle to the Will of the Father. (In comparison with Matt xxvi. 39, 42, we see that St. Mark's narrative does not mark the subtle and instructive distinction between the first and second utterance of Our Lord.) We note also the failure of the disciples, in the "weakness of the flesh," leaving Him to the loneliness, with which He pathetically re
proaches all, and the eager St. Peter especially; the sad irony of the last words, "Sleep on now, and take your rest;" and the calm (as of victory) in the readiness to meet death, "Rise, let us be going."
(d) Immediately follows the BETRAYAL by the Judas-kiss of unspeakable treachery, the sudden attempt of St. Peter to resist, the remonstrance with His enemies, and the flight of the disciples. Then he is led away from the darkness of the Valley of Kedron up by the moonlit path to the gates of Jerusalem. Here occurs the peculiar episode, which, both in its picturesqueness and its apparent triviality, marks the vivid story of an eye-witness. Who the young man was, and why he followed with only the linen cloth round his naked body, we know not. Conjecture makes him St. Mark himself, Lazarus, or Simon of Bethany.
(e) The record of the CONDEMNATION BEFORE THE SANHEDRIM agrees almost exactly with St. Matthew, except that St. Matthew (xxvi. 63) supplies the solemn adjuration of the High Priest, under which Our Lord breaks the silence hitherto kept, in spite of the repeated false witness and previous question. Here it is notable that St. John's Gospel (ii. 19 -21) alone explains the accusation about the Temple -a perversion of words actually uttered by Our Lord. The answer of Our Lord-"I am"-is absolutely explicit in claim of Messiahship, and the words following clearly allude to the celebrated vision of Daniel