« AnteriorContinuar »
work upon me? She hath done a good deed for me. 11. For
For ye have the poor always with
you, but me ye have not always. That is, You blame this woman without reason, for that testimony of respect which she has shown to me. The action deserves rather to be commended than censured: for although I admit that the superfluities of life are not to be all expended upon ourselves, while the poor are in want, yet many opportunities will still occur to you of showing kindness to the necessitous, if you have ability; but to me, who am to be crucified in a very short time, you will have no opportunity again of showing respect: you cught not therefore to censure as an improper waste an action which, although expensive, is a suitable testimony of regard, when only once performed.
12. For in that she hath poured this perfumed ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Besides, you may consider what has been done to me as done for my burial, and in that view you cannot condemn it. You approve of much larger sums being expended in embalming the dead bodies of eminent personages: you ought not therefore to be displeased if this woman has performed that office for my body while living which you would applaud if performed when it is dead, but for which no opportunity may 13.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also 'this that this woman hath done be told for a memorial of her.
I myself approve of this token of respect which she has rendered me; and I assure you that the time is
coming, when it will be so far from being regarded as extravagant and undeserved, that it will be commended as having no small merit, and mentioned to her honour wherever my gospel is preached.
Judas, offended at the reproof which had now been given him, although delivered in the mildest language, and disappointed in not receiving the price of the perfumed ointment, resolves to recover, by selling his master, what he had lost.
14. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, whom he found assembled together with the elders.
15. And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him forthirty pieces of silver, i. e. three pounds, ten shillings and eight-pence half-penny of our money.
How Judas could be induced for so trifling a sum of money to deliver his master into the hands of his enemies, may appear surprising, especially when we know : that he believed him to be innocent: but it will lessen this surprise if we recollect that this disciple followed Jesus, from the first, from worldly motives, from a desire of obtaining some of those pleasures, emoluments and honours, which, he imagined, were to be enjoyed under the Messiah, as a great temporal prince. Being disappointed, however, in these expectations, by observing that Jesus rejected worldly honours when offered to him, and forbad his disciples to look for them, he was resolved to take the first opportunity of forsaking him. What urged him to it at this time was the disappointment which he had just met with. His mind was probably reconciled to this act of treachery, not merely by the reward which he received for it, although that was more considerable than appears to us, for it was sufficient to buy a field in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, where land must sell high, but likewise by the hope that his master, by working a miracle, or by some other means, would escape out of the hands of his adversaries; for when he perceived that Jesus was condemned to die, he repented of what he had done; showing hereby that he never expected so fatal an issue.
16. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
He had promised the chief priests to deliver him into their hands, in the absence of the multitude; and an opportunity of doing this was not long wanting.
In this short portion of the evangelical history we have exhibited to our view very opposite characters: we have before us the extremes of virtue and vice in the same picture. We see a friend of Jesus, impressed with his virtues, testifying her respect for him publicly and in the most expensive manner.
We see another friend, not less obliged by expressions of kindness, selling him to his enemy for money. We behold the Jewish council, consisting of expounders of the law, of the ministers of religion, and of the most respectable men in the nation in regard to property, consulting about the time and means of putting to death an innocent and excellent character; while Jesus, the object of their malice, speaks of his own crucifixion, which he knew was to take place in two days, with as much tranquillity as if it were the most ordinary event.
How different were the motives by which these persons were actuated! How much does human nature appear to be ennobled in the one instance and degraded in the other! It is difficult to say which is most deserve ing of our detestation, the temper of the chief priests and scribes, who are plotting against the life of Jesus; their envy of the reputation which he had acquired by his good works and excellent character; or Judas, who pretends a great concern for the interests of the
poor, only that he may have an opportunity of robbing them; who takes advantage of the intimacy of friendship to betray his friend.
Let us, my brethren, learn to guard against the first workings of envy in the breast; it deceives us at first by appearing to be only a desire of excelling others, which is commendable, but it leads to pride, hatred, malice; nor, as we see from the example of these persons, is there any deed, however atrocious, which men are not ready to perpetrate in order to gratify this odious passion. Be careful to suppress the first symptoms of it in the heart; instead of grieving at the reputation and prosperity of others, labour to rejoice in them, and do every thing in your power to promote both.
In the conduct of Judas we see to what the love of money leads: it not only makes men deaf to the calls of gratitude and to the obligations of friendship, but it hardens the hcart against the distresses of the poor,
and induces men to withhold from them that small portion which the charity of the beneficent allows for their subsistence. The observation of the apostle is here verified, that those who would be rich by unjust means fall into temptation and a snare, and into many hurtful and foolish lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition: for the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some have coveted after, they have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
If the testimony of respect shown to Jesus by Mary was commendable, as appears from his calling it a good work, from his not suffering her to be interrupted in it, and declaring that it should be celebrated wherever his gospel was preached, he is entitled to still greater respect from us. This action was an expression of her high esteem and ardent affection: she loved him because she was well acquainted with his excellent virtues; because she had received his instructions; and because her brother Lazarus had been raised from the dead. But we have still stronger motives for our affection: we have not only heard his invaluable doctrine, and seen his excellent character displayed before our eyes, in common with Mary and the first disciples, but have beheld him sacrificing his life, in the most painful and ignominious circumstances, for our benefit. This last favour more than doubles the weight of our obligations, and renders us totally inexcusable if we are, backward to testify our respect.
While others then treat Jesus with scorn and derision, as a weak enthusiast or crucified malefactor, let us show how high he stands in our esteem: let us daily read the history of his life, and joyfully embrace every opportunity of commemorating his death and sufferings: let us particularly give him that testimony of our regard which he himself has required from us, and which he values more than any personal respect----“If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Matthew xxvi. 17----35.
17. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, or the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
As the feast of the passover was succeeded by seven days in which the Jews ate unleavened bread, the passover itself is sometimes denominated, from that circumstance, the feast of unleavened bread; and that feast is said to begin on the day in which the paschal lamb was killed; although it did not begin till next day, Mark xiv. 1. Luke xxii. J. 7. The paschal lamb is here called the passover, although that name is usually given to the day on which it was to be eaten : this question was addressed to Jesus some time, probably, on Thursday morning.