صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

his death would be an atoning sacrifice, as well as a sacrifice of the covenant, is entirely foreign to the context; for Jesus simply declares that his sublime mission of establishing the covenant or the kingdom of God would be fulfilled at the very moment when his enemies imagined they were crushing him, and that he would triumph in his fall. possess yet another account of this symbolical action, however, from the . pen of an earlier authority than our Evangelists; for Paul mentions it in the first “ Epistle to the Corinthians,”1 and the version given by Luke agrees with his. This account differs from the other in several points of minor importance. For instance, Luke at any rate makes Jesus drink no more wine even at that same supper, - so that he literally tasted wine for the last time when he uttered the memorable words ; both Luke and Paul imply that a considerable interval, if not the whole meal-time, elapsed between the breaking and distribution of the bread, — as a symbol of his body that would be given up for men, and the passing round of the cup “ of the blessing,” ? which pointed to the covenant established by the pouring out of his blood ; and, more in the spirit of Paul than that of Jesus, they both make the Master speak not of the covenant, the only one that ever was or is, but of the new covenant in contrast with the old covenant of Moses. But the really important peculiarity of their version is that they make Jesus say, as he gives his disciples the bread, “ Do this in remembrance of me;” and again, as he passes the cup, “Do this, as often as you drink, in remembrance of me.” This points to an express institution initiated by Jesus, of which there is not a hint in Matthew or Mark.

An institution ! but not, as is often supposed, the institution of the “ Lord's Supper. If these words are genuine, and we cannot definitely say that they are not, — they probably convey no more than a simple request on the part of Jesus that when his friends met together at meals they would think of him, of this last meeting, and of his death. Hence arose the custom, not only among the Twelve but among all the believers, of celebrating " the meal of the Lord,” 4 in commemoration of his death, whenever the community assembled. We need not do more than indicate in a single word how this solemnity gradually degenerated in the Christian Church, under the influence of growing superstition, until the words “ This is my body” were taken literally, — till the 1 Corinthians xi. 20 ff.; compare s. 16 ff.

2 1 Corinthians x. 16. 8 Compare vol. ii. p. 385.

4 1 Corinthians xi. 20.

bread, or “ wafer," and the wine were supposed to change, under the blessing of the priest, into the veritable body and blood of Christ; till the sacrifice of the “ mass had assumed its full proportions as the bloodless repetition of Christ's atoning death.

It is at least equally probable, however, that Jesus did not really use these words at all. In that case, the deep impression which his symbolical action had made upon his disciples that evening was itself enough to establish the usage among them of thinking more especially of his death as they broke the bread and passed round the cup at their brotherly meetings; and then this usage, which they felt to be completely in his spirit, reacted upon the history till the words “Do this in remembrance of me were put into the mouth of Jesus himself. For we must remember that Paul himself was not present; and though he is the earliest witness we have, yet even his account dates from twenty years after the event itself. The stream of tradition from which he drew may therefore have been troubled already.

So much is certain, that the impression was indelible. It was the farewell meal of Jesus with his friends; and when the event had brought home this fact to them, how vividly his image must have risen up before them as he reclined at meat with them, and visibly presented his death before their

And all Christendom, not wishing to fall short of the disciples and first confessors in rendering the tribute of rererence to Jesus, has rightly held the memory of that last gathering sacred, — has kept that evening, and the mage of that noble Friend and Brother, who stands prepared to offer himself up for the world, in imperishable honor!


eyes ! 1

i See Luke xxiv. 3:1, 31.





ND now, as usage required, the festive meal was ended

(before midnight) by the chanting of the second part of the Hallel, during which all stood up; and then the party left the hospitable roof. They followed the usual road out of the city, across the Kidron and up the Mount of Olives. In the street Judas succeeded in stealing away unmarked, unless, as is hardly probable, he had found some earlier opportunity of quietly withdrawing. As soon as Jesus missed him, he suspected that he had gone to put his unhallowed scheme into execution. Should he take to flight? It would only avail him for a moment, if at all; and besides he was already committed to stand his ground. The attempt to escape would now be unworthy of him, and the voice within forbade it. But, on the other hand, he must instantly prepare his followers for the worst. 66 When I sent you out,” he said, “ with neither purse nor wallet nor sandals, did you want for any thing?" 2 " Nothing," they replied at once. " But now," he said, “ whoever has a purse or wallet let him take it; and whoever has none let him sell his very coat and get a sword. For I tell you that that text — • He was reckoned among the transgressors - must be now fulfilled in me; for my end is near at hand.” Master, we have two swords,” answered the disciples - as if that would have helped them! and Jesus seeing that they did not understand broke them short abruptly.

We can by no means vouch for every word of this conversation, least of all for the citation from the Second Isaiah ; but in the main it seems to be authentic. It is only given in Luke. The other two Gospels, in their turn, put the following prediction upon the Master's lips : “You will all uisown me this night, for it is written, “I will sinite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered ;'4 but when I have risen again I will go before you into Galilee.” Whereupon 1 Mark xiv. 26–52; Luke xxii. 31-53.

2 See pp. 182-184. & Isniah liii. 12.

4 Zechariah xiii. 7.


[ocr errors]

Peter answers : “ Though every one should disown you, I never will !” Alas! his very confidence would make him first to fali ! “ This very night,” said Jesus, " before cock-crow, you will deny three times that you know me!” "Though 1 must die with you, yet will I never deny you !” cried the disciple; and all the others joined in his protestation of invincible fidelity. Then Jesus seeing how little Peter and the others knew themselves, and how they threw to the winds his exhortation to redoubled vigilance, urged it no more.

According to the third Gospel, he clothed his warning in the following words: “Simon, Simon! Satan has demanded you all [as he once demanded Job from God], to winnow you like wheat [and make you desert me). But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And do you, when once you have come to repentance, strengthen your brothers !” Upon which the other answered : “ Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death !”

Unquestionably there is truth at the foundation of this narrative, but we cannot accept it as it stands. Jesus, we may well believe, expressed his fear that when he fell for a time, as he soon must do, his disciples' faith in him would be shaken, and they would even desert him ; and he warned Peter more especially, since he was the most impetuous, and therefore the most in danger of them all. But Peter would not take the warning. Jesus probably seized this same opportunity to testify his firm belief in the revival of the disciples' faith, and it is even possible that he advised them to retreat to Galilee. But when the Gospels make him definitely declare that that very night they will all desert him ; that Peter will deny that he knows him, not once only, but three times over, before the end of the third night-watch, that is to say before three o'clock in the morning; when Mark, who takes the reference to the hour in a slavishly literal sense, makes him specify that the triple denial will take place “ before the cock has crowed twice;” when all three Evangelists make him directly afterwards predict his resurrection quite incidentally, as if it were a matter of course or a thing of no importance, -- then we are safe in concluding that the predictions are framel to correspond with the actual, or rather with the supposed, results.

But we do not in the least require these later elaborations to enable us to comprehend all the depth of sadness and ansiety with which the thought of his disciples' weakness must have inspired Jesus at this moment; how far he was from cheating himself by a flattering and shallow confidence that

all would yet go well; and how great that faith in the power of truth and love must have been which enabled him to over: come his fear, to rest assured of the renewed allegiance of his disciples, and know that his toil and conflict and selfsacrifice could not be in vain.

oil press,"

Meanwhile the company had reached the estate of Gethsemane, on their way to Bethany. This place must have belonged to some friend of Jesus, and from its position on the Mount of Olives, and its name, which signifies we may conclude that it was an olive-yard provided with the necessary offices. Here Jesus turned aside. Was he seeking a safer refuge than his usual lodging gave him? It hardly seems probable. Did he intend to spend the night there in the open air I because it was so late, or because the Law prescribed the custom of remaining in the holy city till the morning after the Paschal meal?? This portion of the western slope of the hill was indeed regarded as within the precincts of Jerusalem, but the commandment in question does not seem to have been strictly observed, and Jesus would in no case recognize its binding force. It is more probable that, in consequence of his conversations with the disciples and the danger which threatened him at every step, he was overcome by violent emotions which he felt he could control no longer, and so withdrew for a few moments to recover his equanimity and self-command before pursuing his way to Bethany. This agrees with the words he addressed to the disciples as he entered the garden : “ Sit down here while I go in to pray.” The presence of his disciples at the entrance would also serve as a precaution against surprise.

But this time, contrary to his wont, he did not wish to be alone as he prayed. In his terror and oppression of heart he needed the companionship and support of his nearest friends, and he took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. In deep dejection he entered the garden with them, and then he could contain himself no longer. He wrung his hands in an agony of sorrow and dismay, and then cried to his disciples with an appeal to their friendship : “My soul is sorrowful, to the very death! Stay here and watch with me.” So the three lay down while he went on a few steps further, threw himself uot only on his knees, but with his face upon the ground.

1 Compare Matthew xxvi. 45; Mark xiv. 41. 2 Deuteronomy xvi. 7.

3 See p. 360. 4 Compare pp: 215, 216.

« السابقةمتابعة »