John 18:1
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples across the Kidron Valley, where they entered a garden.
A Hallowed SpotD. Young John 18:1, 2
GethsemaneJ.R. Thomson John 18:1, 2
A Most Remarkable MeetingD. Thomas, D. D.John 18:1-14
All Sorrows Simultaneously Present to the Mind of ChristN. Hall, LL. B.John 18:1-14
Annas and CaiaphasC. Stanford, D. D.John 18:1-14
Christ and His CaptorsA. Maclaren, D. D.John 18:1-14
Christ BetrayedS. Lewis B. Speare.John 18:1-14
Christ Crossing CedronHomiletic MagazineJohn 18:1-14
Christ in Gethsemane, -- a Picture of JudgmentFamily ChurchmanJohn 18:1-14
Christ's Agony Arising from His PurityN. Hall, LL. B.John 18:1-14
Christ's CupT. Manton, D. D.John 18:1-14
Christ's Cup and OursM. Henry.John 18:1-14
Christ's Question to the HeartSt. J. A. Frere, M. A.John 18:1-14
Crossing CedronH. Macmillan, D. D.John 18:1-14
High Priest that YearS. S. TimesJohn 18:1-14
Jesus Before an Iniquitous and Incompetent TribunalG. J. Brown, M. A.John 18:1-14
Jesus Coming Forth from GethsemaneHomiletic MagazineJohn 18:1-14
Jesus JudgedC. Stanford, D. D.John 18:1-14
Life PicturesJ. Parker, D. D.John 18:1-14
One Sufficient for a SacrificeH. O. Mackey.John 18:1-14
Over CedronC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 18:1-14
Peter's SwordD. Thomas, D. D.John 18:1-14
Phases of a Corrupt Government in its Endeavours to Crush the LightD. Thomas, D. D.John 18:1-14
The Apprehension of ChristC. Bradley, M. A.John 18:1-14
The Arrest of JessieT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 18:1-14
The Bound Christ TriumphantN. W. Wells.John 18:1-14
The Captive Saviour Freeing His PeopleC. H. Spurgeon.John 18:1-14
The Cup of SufferingJohn 18:1-14
The Ecclesiastical Trial of JesusT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 18:1-14
The Father's CupT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 18:1-14
The I Ams of ChristW. H. Van Doren.John 18:1-14
The Majesty and Force of RightD. Thomas, D. D.John 18:1-14
The Manliness of ChristR. C. Ferguson.John 18:1-14
The Scene in GethsemaneT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 18:1-14
The Use of Force in ReligionT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 18:1-14


1. Anticipation. From the entrance of our Savior upon his public ministry his life was o

Jesus... went forth with ms disciples over the brook Cedron.
I. HEIGHTS OF PRIVILEGE MAY BE THE DIRECT COURSE TO THE LOWEST FALL. Any light may be resisted. Sun-blindness is the most incurable. Privileges misused foster pride of power and personal conceit. Promotion may inspire self-respect and unselfish devotion, but there is no certainty that human nature will so respond. In rich soil and under favouring skies weeds will thrive quicker and stronger than good seed. A loving Providence may appoint us lowly station because only there should, we be safe from fatal temptation.

II. THE POWERLESSNESS OF BRUTE FORCE OR ANGRY PASSIONS TO STAY THE MARCH OF REDEMPTION. The beaten brand flames the more. Ocean steamers turn the fury of headwinds upon their furnace fires and speed their way with accelerated motion. Heaven's resources are always equal to any emergency of earth's weakness or perfidy. There are no surprises in its one campaign.

III. GOSPEL METHODS HAVE PRIMARILY TO DO WITH PERSUASION AND NOT WITH FORCE, They that take the sword shall perish by the sword if weapons of force are used when the situation calls only for the power of example and the urgency of self-sacrifice.

IV. THE TRAITOR'S KISS DID NOT CEASE ON THIS NIGHT OF BETRAYAL. In all the years malice and hostile schemes use the same device of friendly approach as a cover and blind.



VII. NO AMOUNT OF SIN OR DEPRAVITY CAN PERMANENTLY BLIND THE SOUL TO ITS GUILT AND PROPER SELF-CONDEMNATION. Our lesson were incomplete did we not forecast the ending of the betrayer's earthly career. He, like every man, carried within his bosom all the materials and instruments of righteous judgment. The lost sinner is an eternal suicide: and he needs no other accuser than himself.

(S. Lewis B. Speare.)

Jesus went "over the brook Cedron."

I. IN THE MIDNIGHT AND ALONE. The disciples were with Him; but He was none the less alone for that. They did not share His purpose, or understand it; He always trod the wine-press alone. Sooner or later, every one who helps this race of ours must cross a Cedron with a Gethsemane beyond it; and this he will probably have to do in the midnight and unattended, in the soberness of a secret unshared.

II. UNDER PRESSURE OF A PROFOUND AND INTELLIGENT CONVICTION, He once told His disciples: "I know whence I came, and whither I go." His life was fashioned on a purpose. This is always essential to great achievement. An aged captain once said:" Where I could not be honest, I was never valiant." No man can ever do a worthy deed, who has not a conviction bestowed by his God.

III. DIRECTLY AFTER IMFORTUNATE PRAYER. No supplication ever left human lips so intense as that final intercession. He was going to His Father. Through the garden, the judgment-hall, Calvary, the grave, the mountain, the sky, He kept going to His Father. And it was the prayer that lifted Him; and He kept praying, and He is praying now at the Father's right hand.

IV. IN AN UNWAVERING COURAGE AND AN UNFALTERING TRUST. Why should He fear after a self-surrender so complete? It was His Father's responsibility for an anxious hour of peril and pain; no longer His own any more. Not long after this midnight priests were frightened, Judas dead, Roman guards prostrate, Satan baffled, the grave rended, the earth trembling, the skies parted, heaven ringing with triumph because of the Prince returned to His Father's love, and shining with glory. Oh ye who pause frightened and irresolute upon the brink of your Cedron, think of this Lord of ours in His dauntless decision then! Via crucis, via lucia! The call of duty is unyielding; but the reward of duty is reached when He, who went "over the brook Cedron" that night, says to you and me, "Well done."

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

(Text and 2 Samuel 15:23): —

1. On the eastern side of Italy there is a pretty stream called the Rubicon, falling into the Adriatic. This insignificant river has acquired a name in history and a place among the proverbs of mankind. When Caesar came with his army to its bank, he hesitated and said to his officers, "We can even yet draw back; but if we cross that stream, all must be decided by the sword." The night was passed in anxious deliberation, and at daybreak the legend says, a majestic form appeared to him playing on a flute. As the soldiers drew near, the angel snatched from one of them a trumpet, blew the signal for advance, and then plunged into the river. "The die is cast!" With that exclamation, Caesar boldly passed over the stream followed by his army. That was the decisive act which led to victory and the dictatorship of the Republic.

2. But long ages before we read of an older Rubicon, the crossing of which led to results more momentous. On the morning of the fatal day when Absalom seized the kingdom David passed over Cedron. "Cedron" means blackness or sadness. Some human tragedy must have left its impress upon it. When David passed over it he became a different man. It marked the crisis of his life. He bade adieu for ever to light-heartedness. A broken-hearted, sorrow-stricken man, he went down to the grave. But his inner life became tenderer and more beautiful.

3. And what happened to David happened to David's Son more than one thousand years after. The decisive moment came to Jesus when He passed over Cedron. He was no longer the great Teacher, but the great Sacrifice.

4. In every human life there is a Rubicon to cross, a critical moment in which we have to pass from the old life to the new. It will come in the shape of temptation, sorrow or change, and the way in which this crowning trial will be met will be determined by the training previously received. The best preparation is wrestling with God in prayer like our Lord.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

Homiletic Magazine.
The interest of our Saviour's life increases as we advance. With most men the reverse is the case. Interest is usually centred on the earlier period of a man's career when the greatest exploits are achieved and the highest fame reached. Afterwards they live on the reputation acquired. But as the sun looks greatest at its setting, so Christ is most majestic as He approaches death. Consider the spirit in which our Lord entered on His last sufferings.

I. IN A SPIRIT OF PRAYER. "When Jesus had spoken these words." If the words of a dying man are impressive how much more those of a dying Saviour. But as His agony was preceded by prayer, so He would encounter it in a place set apart for it (ver. 2). It becomes a soldier to die fighting, and a Christian to die praying. The garden of humiliation was at the foot of the Olivet of Ascension.

II. IN A SPIRIT OF VOLUNTARY SELF-DEVOTION TO THE INTERESTS OF THE CHURCH. "He went forth." It was reckoned an ill-omen when the victim struggled at the Altar, and a good omen when it came without reluctance. "Lo, I come," &c. To give the fullest proof that His sacrifice was voluntary, He put forth the energy of His power. This might have reminded them of the destruction of the captains of Ahaziah. But a greater than Elisha was here. Here we may learn that the word of Christ, however weak it may seem, is full o! terror to His adversaries. If it could do such things then, what will it accomplish at the Day of Judgment?

III. IN A SPIRIT OF TENDER LOVE TO HIS TERROR-STRICKEN DISCIPLES (ver. 8). He makes no stipulation for Himself, but only for them. This was not a request but a command. He submits as a Conqueror, dictating His own terms, and obtaining them. It was like Him to think of others even while enduring the most intense mental agony. Let us imitate Him. Conclusion: We must all cross Cedron: it will be well then for us to remember Him, and to imbibe His Spirit.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

Where was a garden.
I. SORROW EXPERIENCED. The agony and bloody sweat (Matthew 26:36; Luke 22:44).


1. The traitor's kiss (Matthew 26:49), and —

2. The soldiers' assault (vers. 3, 12).

III. MAJESTY DISPLAYED. Christ advances towards the bank (ver. 4), and announced Himself (ver. 5, 6).

IV. POWER EXERTED. The hurling of the band to the ground (ver. 6), and the restraining of them while the disciples escaped (ver. 8).

V. Love MANIFESTED. Christ's care for His own. Let these go their way (ver. 8).

VI. MERCY EXTENDED. The healing of the servant's ear (Luke 22:51).

VII. SUBMISSION RENDERED. The drinking of the Father's cup (ver. 11).

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

John records some most suggestive circumstances not recorded by the Synoptists, and omits some that they record. Fabricators of history would never have acted thus. Absolute uniformity would have implied collusion, and thus thrown a doubt upon the veracity of the evangelists, Many of the events of Christ's life occurred in connection with turbulent multitudes and immense excitement. Observers could not have detailed them in the same order. From the nature of the case each would have a standpoint peculiar to himself, would be struck with a circumstance which the other would not have an opportunity of observing, and be in a position to receive a deeper impression from some incident which the other, perhaps, would scarcely deem worthy of note. Note

I. — THE SCENE OF THE GATHERING. As it is in the reflective gospel only that the circumstance of Christ's crossing Cedron is mentioned, we can hardly doubt that to the Evangelist's own mind 2 Samuel 15:23 and 2 Kings 23:12 were present. Thus surrounded by such memorials and typical allusions, the Lord descends into the dust of humiliation and anguish. To this garden Jesus went forth with His disciples.

1. Whence (John 14:31)? From the room of feasting, discourse, prayer; from the city and the haunts of men.

2. Whither? Into the solemn grandeur and deep hush of nature. Some have supposed that this spot belonged to a friend, and was thus a favourite resort of Jesus and His disciples. Great souls often sigh for solitude, and all souls morally require it.

3. Wherefore? To commune with His Father; to realize His mission; to confront His doom. His going forth to this scene reveals —

(1)His sublime courage. Conscious virtue is always fearless.

(2)His social sympathy. As man He yearned for, and valued, the presence of His sympathetic friends in His great trials.

II. THE PERSONS IN THE GATHERING. In imagination enter this secluded spot. Though night it was not dark, the moon was at its full. The group is not large, but wondrously diverse in character, passion, purpose.

1. Christ and His disciples are there. He is the central figure, poor and sad in aspect, but divinely grand. Peter, James, and John are there. On them, in all probability, rests a heart-sinking impression, that something terrible is to happen to the one they love best.

2. Judas is there. In his case we find greed ("What will ye give me?") running into —

(1)Base ingratitude.

(2)Heartless cruelty.

(3)Atrocious treachery (Matthew 26:49).

3. Unprincipled hirelings are there (ver. 3) — a detachment of the Roman cohort on duty at the festival, for the purpose of maintaining order, and the officials of the ecclesiastical authorities, the captain of the Temple and armed Levites. These men, perhaps, had no hostile feeling, but were there to do their duty, i.e., the orders of their masters. In the sacred name of duty what crimes have been enacted! Soldiers rifle innocent homes, burn cities, shed oceans of blood, create millions of widows and orphans in the name of duty.

III. THE TRANSACTIONS AT THE GATHERING. Four classes of deeds were here enacted.

1. Those against a conviction of duty. Judas must have so acted. Well he knew that he was perpetrating an atrocious crime (Matthew 27:3, 4). To sin against conscience is to sin with aggravated heinousness.

2. Those without conviction of duty — "the band and the officers of the chief priests." These were like "dumb, driven cattle" — mere tools; men ready for anything at the bidding of their masters; with no will of their own, and no convictions concerning the right or wrong of their actions. How numerous are such in every age: wretched serfs on whom despots built their thrones.

3. Those by a right conviction of duty. Such were the deeds of Christ. Mark —(1) His intrepidity (ver. 4). He does not wait for their approach, nor does He ask for His own information. He questions them that they may confess their object, and to impress them with the fact that they could only attain their object by His voluntary submission.(2) His dauntless confession (ver. 5). "Here I am, not as victim but as Victor. Do your worst, My time has come."(3) The moral force of His expression (ver 6). They came with deadly weapons to seize His body; He by the moral majesty of His looks seized their souls, and they fell as Saul on his way to Damascus, and as the sentinels at the Tomb (Matthew 28:4).(4) His tender consideration (vers. 7, 8). They seem to have recovered from the shock, and were ready to lay hold of the disciples. Thus the "Shepherd seeth the wolf coming, and fleeth not because," &c. In all this our Lord acted by the conviction of right, i.e, that He was doing the will of His Father.

4. Those by a wrong conviction of duty (ver. 10). To which of these classes do our actions belong? Crucial question this!

(D. Thomas, D. D.)


1. To what place? Gethsemane, whither Christ had retired after leaving the city with His disciples.

2. At what time? Towards or after mid-night. The traitor had occupied the interval in mustering his regiment.

3. By whom attended? By a company of guardsmen with their chiliarch from the castle of Antonio, and a body of policemen from the Temple, the former with their swords, the latter with their batons, and both with lanterns and torches.

4. For what purpose? To apprehended Jesus. This "half army" to take a solitary prisoner from eleven men!

II. THE SURRENDER OF JESUS (vers. 4-11). That Christ was not forcibly taken, but self-delivered four things attest.

1. The impotence of His assailants. As if smitten by an invisible hand they recoiled. "Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all."

2. The submission of Himself (Matthew 26:53).

3. The command to Peter, which was meant to discourage all attempts at rescue.

4. The recognition of the Father's will.


1. A command issued. "Let these go their way." Not a wish but an order.

(1)Merciful with regard for the situation of His followers.

(2)Powerful, with an authority that Caesar's legions could not resist.


2. A prophecy fulfilled (ver. 12).Lessons:

1. The wickedness of the fallen heart exemplified in Judas.

2. The love of the Divine heart — pictured in Jesus.

3. The imperfection of the renewed heart — illustrated in Peter.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Jesus therefore, knowing all things
I. CHRIST'S CHALLENGE. An expression of outraged dignity, and wounded love. It must have filled the band with confusion and shame.

1. To save needless trouble.

2. To prove His willing surrender to God.

3. To provoke reflection.Christ's mission to men's thoughts — to test and put right. His anxiety not simply to be sought, but sought aright. To come thus! Was He not daily with them? His invitations are for all. The Czar Nicholas's desire for foreigners to visit St. Petersburg is remarked upon in Lord Bloomfield's Memoirs. He wished men to see the resources of His empire, and its advances in civilization. So with the King of Truth. The Christ in us challenges the world and our lower nature. And all professed Christians and would-be patrons of Christ are challenged as to their motives, spirit and manner of service.

II. ANSWERS IT MIGHT CALL FORTH They reply by a name, but without realization. This scene is enacted daily by Christ and the world.

1. "Him whom I hate."

2. "Him who disturbs My peace."

3. "Him who hinders and resists Me."


1. Inquiry as to our chief good.

2. Comparison of it with Christ.

3. Turning our whole nature and life toward Him.

4. This to become our one aim.A child had been lost in a crowd, and separated from her mother. Seeing her distress a man lifted her on his shoulder. What tearful, nervous, anxious eagerness in her eyes as she looked round on the sea of strange faces! What joy when at last her mother was descried and she was restored to her arms. So let us look for Christ until we find Him, and at Him until we know Him.

(St. J. A. Frere, M. A.)

Homiletic Magazine.
I. CHRIST'S DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE. Knowing all that should come He yet went forth. What deep aggravation and bitterness this would give to the whole course of His suffering life! Our trials are mostly unforeseen, hence there is room for the play of hope. This concealment of the future is merciful. The certainty of trouble would unnerve us, and the certainty of happiness intoxicate us. But Jesus knew all. What pathos in the phrase, "acquainted with grief."

II. HIS WILLING SELF-SURRENDER. This gave value to His sacrifice. He did not hide himself like Adam, flee like Jonah, shrink like the disciples, but openly avowed Himself ready to do or to bear what was necessary for the world's ransom. It was an evil omen when the victim struggled at the altar and a good one when he came willingly. Jesus was straitened until His baptism was accomplished.


1. There have been similar occurrences. Caius Marius, when reduced to the utmost misery was shut up in a private house in Minturnae, and an executioner was sent to kill him, but though old and unarmed, the man was so awed by his appearance, that "as if struck with blindness, he ran away astonished and trembling," on which the inhabitants released the great Roman and favoured his escape. But this is no parallel to the case of Christ. Remember it was trained Roman warriors and the trusted followers of the Sanhedrim who "went backward," &c. We cannot doubt that on this, as on other occasions, the glory of Christ's Divine nature shone out for great purposes, and was sufficient to effect them without the use of the secular sword which Peter drew.

2. Our Lord is at no loss for means to humble sinners at His footstool. Sometimes a clear view of the majesty and holiness of God will do it, as in Isaiah 6.; sometimes a vision of the glorified Christ, as in Revelation 1.; sometimes the still small voice of His pardoning mercy, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus; sometimes strange and stirring events in Providence.

IV. DIVINE UNPARALLED LOVE (ver. 8). Christ stipulated nothing for Himself, though His adversaries were at His mercy, only for His disciples' safety: so much dearer were their lives to Him than His own. It is remarkable that this injunction was complied with, especially as Peter must have given great provocation.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

This incident is narrated by John only, and well fits in with his purpose, viz., to supplement the other gospels with facts which set forth Christ's glory. Consider —

I. THE MOMENTARY MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST'S GLORY. "I am He." When they were doubly assured by the traitor's kiss and His own confession, why did they not arrest Him? Instead of that they fell in a huddled heap before Him.

1. Things of the same sort, though much less in degree, have been often enough seen when some innocent victim has paralyzed for a moment the hands of his captors, and made them feel "how awful goodness is." There must have been many who had heard Him, and others who had heard of Him, and suspected that they were laying hands on a prophet, and those whose conscience only needed a touch to be roused to action. And His calmness, dignity, and fearlessness would tend to deepen the strange thoughts which began to stir in their hearts.

2. But there was evidently something more here, viz., an emission of some flash of the brightness that always tabernacled within, and which shone so fully at the Transfiguration; and the incident is one of many in which Christ's glory is most conspicuously seen in moments of deepest humiliation.

3. We may well look on the incident as a prophecy of what shall be. What will He do coming to reign, when He did this going to die? What will be His manifestation as Judge when this was the effect of His manifestation going to be judged?

II. A MANIFESTATION OF THE VOLUNTARINESS OF CHRIST'S SUFFERING. When that terrified mob recoiled from Him, why did He stand there so patiently? The time was propitious for flight. It was not their power but His own pity which drew Him to the judgment hall.

1. The whole gospel story is conducted on the principle that our Lord's life and death was a voluntary surrender of Himself for man's sin. He willed to be born, and now He dies not because He must, but because He would. "I have power to lay down My life," &c. At that last moment, He was Lord and Master of death when He bowed His head to death.

2. If this be true, why was it that Christ would die? There are but two answers —

(1)"I must do the will of My Father."

(2)"I must save the world."

III. A SYMBOL, OF AN INSTANCE ON A SMALL SCALE OF CHRIST'S SELF-SACRIFICING CARE FOR US. "If ye seek Me," &c., sounds more like the command of a prince than the intercession of a prisoner.

1. It was a small matter that He secured. These men would have to die for Him some day, but they were not ready for it yet. So He casts the shield of His protection round them for a moment, in order that their weakness may have a little more time to grow strong. And though it was wrong and cowardly for them to forsake Him, yet the text more than half gave them permission.

2. John did not think that this small deliverance was all that Christ meant by ver. 9. He saw that this trifling case was ruled by the same principles which are at work in that higher region to which the words properly refer. Of course the words will not be fulfilled in the highest sense till all who have loved Christ are presented faultless before the Father. But the little incident is the result of the same cause as the final deliverance. A dew drop is shaped by the same laws which mould the mightiest of the planets.

3. Let us learn from such a use of such an event to look upon all common and transcient circumstances as ruled by the same loving hands, and working to the same ends, as the most purely spiritual. The redeeming love of Jesus is proclaimed by every mercy which perishes in the using, and all things should tell us of His self-sacrificing care.

4. Thus, then, we may here see an emblem of what He does for us in regard to our foes. He stands between us and them, receives their arrows into His own bosom, and says, "Let these go their way." God's law comes with its terrors and its penalties; the consciousness of sin threatens us; the weariness of the world, the "ills that flesh is heir to," and the last grim enemy, Death, ring you round. What are you going to do in order to escape them? I preach a Saviour who has endured all for us. As a mother might fling herself out of the sledge that her child might escape the wolves, here is One that comes and fronts all your foes, and says to them, "Let these go their way — take Me." "On Him was laid the iniquity of us all."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE MANNER IN WHICH HE WAS EMPLOYED WHEN THIS MULTITUDE CAME UPON HIM. St. John does not mention this. But all the other evangelists do.

1. Prayer was His last employment before His final sufferings began. Have we sufferings beginning? Our praying Master tells us here how to prepare for them. "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray."

2. But our Lord was praying for that which was not granted Him. "If it be possible," &c. And what was His Father's answer? In that very moment He mingled that dreaded cup and sent it Him. We hear much of the omnipotence of prayer, but we are plainly taught here that there is a limit to its power; that we may pray and pray fervently, as Christ did, and yet have our request denied. Generally God causes our prayers to fall in with His plans, and then He puts honour on prayer by sending us the blessings He designs for us as answers to it; but when our petitions would thwart His plans, He will not grant them. "I besought the Lord thrice," says the suffering Paul, "that it might depart from me"; but it did not. His Master would take him up unasked into the third heaven, would do any thing that was good for His faithful servant, but He would not remove from Him the affliction He had prepared for Him.

II. THE FRAME OF MIND IN WHICH OUR LORD RECEIVED THESE MEN WHEN THEY CAME TO TAKE HIM. But a few minutes before He was in a state of great mental agitation. But look at Him now. The thing He dreaded is come on Him, and what a change! Not a trace is left of fear, or agitation, or weakness. He comes forth to meet this armed multitude as unappalled and calm as though they were there to do Him honour. How like ourselves! Through God's abounding goodness, some of us have borne, and borne with calmness, the very troubles that in the distance we trembled to look at. The strength within us has astonished us. And we may trace this generally to the power of prayer. Had we seen this multitude, we should have said, perhaps, "Those earnest supplications have been all in vain." "Not so," says God. "Earnest prayer from one I love is never lost. I could not keep from Him the cup He dreaded; but I have done something better for Him — I have given Him strength to drink it." So with us. We go to God imploring Him to save us from the coming sorrow, and because He does not save us and the sorrow comes, we wonder. But He gives us a better thing than that we ask for; not deliverance from trouble, but power to bear it, and grace to profit by it, and a heart to thank Him for it. And this shows us the chief value and use of prayer. It is not so much to alter God's purposes, as to reconcile us to those purposes. We expect it to regulate God's providence; but, instead of this, it unlocks the treasures of God's grace.

III. THE MARVELLOUS EFFECT PRODUCED BY OUR LORD ON THESE MEN. Officers of justice, and brave Roman soldiers, a simple sentence uttered by the man they came to apprehend, strikes them all to the ground. Now why this display of power? It is clear that there was nothing vindictive in it — the men were not injured. Neither was it intended for our Lord's rescue — there He stands waiting for them to rise.

1. It vindicated Christ's greatness. He had just feared and trembled as a man; but He was more than man: there was the infinite Godhead within Him, and for an instant He discovers it; He lets the majesty of it beam forth. It is a miracle of the same kind as that He wrought on the cross. There He brought a hardened malefactor to repentance, working on His mind none could see how; here He touches the minds of a whole multitude together, producing in them, not repentance indeed, but confusion and terror; thus plainly showing us in both instances, that He can do with the mind of man whatsoever He will. And nothing manifests His greatness more forcibly than this.

2. It provided for the safety of His disciples. The hour of His sufferings was come, but not of theirs. At present, therefore, He will not have one of them touched; and when Peter wounded one of them they did not retaliate. And just as weak before Him are all the enemies of His people.

3. It manifests the voluntariness of our Redeemer's sufferings. And whence did this willingness proceed? From the love and pity of His heart; His own free, abounding, wonderful love to a world of sinners.

IV. THE CONDUCT OF THIS BAND OF MEN TOWARDS OUR LORD AFTER THEY HAD FELT HIS POWER. In the seventh chapter these officers return without their prisoner. "We heard Him talk, and we could not take Him." They preferred braving the anger of their rulers, rather than commit so great an outrage. Here they are again sent on the same errand. Endeavouring to seize our Lord, they are struck down to the earth at His feet. Surely they will rather die than touch Him. But look — they bind with cords the very Man before whom a few minutes ago they shrunk away in terror. See here, then, the hardness, the amazing stupidity of the human heart. We talk of miracles. We think that were they wrought around us, unbelief would every where give way, all men must believe and be saved. But Christ was not only born among miracles and lived amongst them, He was despised and rejected amongst them, He was apprehended amongst them, He was crucified amongst them.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

I. THE MORAL MAJESTY OF RIGHT. This is seen in two particulars.

1. In the heroic manner in which Christ, single handed, met His enemies. Jesus, instead of fleeing, or manifesting the slightest purturbation, goes forth magnanimously to meet them.

2. In His tender consideration for His friends. "Touch not Mine anointed." The question comes up, What was it that made Jesus so calm and powerful in this terrible hour?

(1)It was not ignorance of His perilous position.

(2)It was not stoical insensibility.

(3)It was the consciousness of rectitude.

II. THE MORAL FORCE OF RIGHT. The incident is not necessarily miraculous, because —

1. Christ's miracles were, with one exception, miracles of mercy.

2. We never find Him elsewhere putting forth His hand to resist.

3. It is not necessary to account for this phenomenon, for —

(1)Violent and sudden emotions always tend to check the current of life.

(2)These men must have known that they were doing wrong, and this ever makes men timid. "Conscience doth make cowards of us all."

(3)They expected resistance, and so were taken aback. It was the force of right that struck them down. Learn then —(a) The supreme importance of being right. This gives value to everything else. Apart from this, wealth, social influence, life itself, are worthless. Our great want is a "right spirit within us."(b) The Divine method of promoting right. How are men to feel its power? Not by force, but by a calm display of itself.(c) The ultimate triumph of right. The incident prefigures this. Right is Divine might, and the wrong in science, literature, government, religion, must fall before it.(d) The folly of opposing the right. Priests' opinions may rise up against it, intrigue and violence may be employed to put it down; but the triumphal Car of Right must roll over the dust of the Herods, Neroes, &c., of the world.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

If "the Christian is the highest style of man," it is because he copies a perfect model.

1. Christ knew how to bear prosperity. He who quails not before the angry mob may be led astray by the huzzas of the cheering crowd. How did Jesus endure this supreme test? In the palmy days of His public ministry, when multitudes came to hear Him, He never swerved from uprightness. To great and small He declared the same message.

2. But under circumstances of an opposite character does the text present the Man Christ Jesus. The manliness of Christ.

I. NEGATIVELY. Does not consist —

1. In physical strength, nor arise from the consciousness thereof. When Peter used his sword Jesus disclaimed all responsibility for the act, and refused to call the legions of angels that stood ready to do His bidding. In His own strength as a man He certainly was not stronger than others: and in the devoted, but defenceless, eleven He had but a poor dependence. Nor did He expect the Divine power to be put forth in His behalf, nor to escape through a panic of His foes. It was in the utter abandonment of all these things as a ground of fearlessness that His true nobility as a man appeared. It may seem needless to assert this; but when such stress is laid on physical culture, and some popular helps to this are glorified as "manly sports," it may not be amiss to estimate physical strength at its true value as related to manhood. A man may be the Samson of his neighbourhood, and be nothing but a bully and a coward after all. Let health and strength be sought, not to be deified, but to serve a manly spirit that resides within the sound body.

2. In mere hardihood. Fearlessness does enter into true manliness; but, if it stands alone, it comes far short of it. Emerson's sentiment, "Always do what you are afraid to do," must be taken with some allowance. To accustom one's self to face danger, when circumstances demand it, is an advantage; but to court it is scarcely justifiable. The same false principle underlies what is called the "code of honour." It applauds recklessness of danger at the expense of all moral considerations. We condemn the man who trifles with his own life and that of others by sporting on the edge of a precipice. Wherein does it differ from this, except in greater wrongdoing and guilt, when two men deliberately place each other's lives in peril firing at one another? To no such useless sacrifice did Jesus lend the sanction of His example. How careful He was to secure the safety of His disciples!

II. POSITIVELY. The manliness of Christ appeared —

1. In fearless action for what was worth the risk. We might see a reason sufficient for His conduct in His desire to spare His disciples. Like the mother-bird drawing attention to herself in order to protect her brood, He took the brunt of the attack upon Himself and averted it from them. But there was a reason of greater weight: He had a work to do that was not yet finished. He had undertaken to redeem the world, and He could not do this but by paying the price of His own blood. And now His hour was come, and "for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross, despising the shame." It is this, having an adequate reason for the risk we run, that raises freedom from fear into the region of true manliness. If, for the sake of truth, liberty or duty, we surrender life itself, we do well and nobly. "I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares do more is none." To do what conscience bids us do is always manly. And, though we may not be called to posts of peculiar danger, where gallantry may be conspicuous, we may each of us act bravely in our own sphere of labour and influence. "The every-day courage of doing your duty is the grandest courage of all." It is this that prepares one for the test of the day of special trial. Men do not spring suddenly into magnanimity. The act of Jesus, in this scene at the garden, was consistent with all that went before. It was life-long fearlessness, in behalf of the truth, that gained for John Knox, when he died, this encomium from his antagonist: "There lies one who never feared the face of man."

2. In His patient, single-handed endurance. He willingly trod the winepress alone. There was no sustaining excitement. Often the soldier gets credit for what is done in a spasm of enthusiasm that is out of all proportion to the actual courage exercised. The pilot at the helm of the burning ship, and falling headlong at the last; the French physician, recording the facts concerning the plague for the benefit of mankind, and then dying himself as its victim — as he expected to do — teach us the nobility of self-sacrifice. What we admire in them shines most conspicuous in the life and death of the Son of man.

(R. C. Ferguson.)

I am He
A great and significant expression, never without the most powerful effects. Spoken to His astonished disciples as He walked on the waves; and as at the sound, the raging storm instantly subsided, so a flood of peace and joy poured itself into their hearts (chap. John 6:20; Mark 6:50). Spoken to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well; and immediately she left her waterpot and became the first evangelist to the Samaritans (John 4:26-30). Spoken at the bar of the Sanhedrim; and the conviction that He was the Messiah smote His judges so powerfully that it was only by means of the stage trick of rending His clothes that the High Priest was able to save Himself from the most painful embarrassment (Mark 4:62). Spoken here, and the soldiers fall to the ground. Spoken to His terrified disciples after His resurrection, and the most blessed results followed (Luke 24:39). A word of unutterable comfort and joy to His friends, and alarm to His foes.

(W. H. Van Doren.)

As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward.
Great events develop man's true nature: this incident did Judas's in one direction, and Christ's in another. In this melancholy scene I behold five prominent pictures — some of them tinted with the hues of heaven, and others shaded with the blackness of hell.

I. A picture of THE SUBLIMEST SELF-POSSESSION. Christ did not retire into some deeper shade when the sanguinary band entered the garden. Guilt would have done so, but Innocence walked forth in conscious purity and power. Christ was the first to speak — He actually revealed Himself to the very men who were hired to shed His blood! What produced this holy calm?

1. Not ignorance of His true position.

2. Not weariness of life's scenes and labours.

3. But conscious innocence. Rectitude smiles at the storm, but there is no peace to the wicked. Guilt expects to confront a foe wherever it confronts a human being. Innocence is unsuspecting.

II. A picture of THE DIRECTEST SELF-CRIMINATION. "They went backward." Why?

1. Not because destitute of physical resources.

2. Not because they had seen a Being they did not seek. No apparition startled their nerves.

3. But because of conscious guilt. The ruffians saw themselves in contrast; they were embodied wrong, and Christ was embodied right. They felt the power of holiness as they had never felt it before, and realized the essential cowardice of guilt.

III. A picture of THE NOBLEST SELF-SACRIFICE. He, from whom these ruffians shrank, could have kept them prostrate.

1. Self-sacrifice is not retaliative. To Christ vengeance belongs — He had the power to avenge Himself, but forbore. Littleness demands measure for measure, but magnanimity promotes the right by patiently enduring the wrong.

2. Self-sacrifice is socially beneficent. Christ kindly said, "if therefore ye seek Me," &c. He sought no companionship in His suffering. He would tread the winepress alone! Fellowship might mitigate agony, but Christ would have no mitigation that occasioned pain in others.

IV. A picture of UNINTENTIONAL SELF-DEGRADATION. "Then Simon Peter," &c. Looking at this in the light of mere feeling we must pronounce it natural. Peter felt his obligations to the Being who was exposed to the most studied insult, and his soul burned with indignation against the degraded hirelings. Christ, however, gently rebuked him by healing the smitten foe. This may teach us —

1. That innocence has a sublimer defence than a sword. Innocence can do without the advocacy of steel. God is with the right, and to battle with Omnipotence is to be crushed into ruin.

2. That truth is not to be defended by physical weapons. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal." The throne of Truth is established on the immovable basis of eternal Right and infinite Love.

3. That innocence desires not the punishment of individuals. Christ was not gratified in seeing Malehus smitten. His kingdom was not extended because a foe was punished. Christ would destroy the errorist by curing the error, consume the sinner by taking away the sin of the world.

V. A picture of INTELLIGENT LOYALTY TO DIVINE PURPOSES. "The cup which My heavenly Father," &c. Learn —

1. That the Divine Being mingles bitter cups. We are not to accept prosperity alone as a proof of God's paternity; even adversity may be the best expression of His Fatherly care and wisdom. God leads into Gethsemane as well as into Eden.

2. That men must sometimes drink bitter cups for the good of society. Christ's drinking was substitutionary. He drank the cup of death that we might drink the water of life. In our little degree we, too, must drain bitter cups, that those around us may have opportunities of improvement.

3. Happy the man who can connect the cup he drinks with His Divine Parent. Christ did so. He did not regard Judas and his confederates as givers of this cup. Behind the ruffian God may stand. Our business, therefore, is to ascertain who is the giver of the cup, and whether it is the reward of our folly, or an element in the outworking of the Divine purposes.

4. There is one point most noteworthy, viz., that Judas had no power to capture Christ till He had explained His real position. "Shall I not drink it?" Then Judas, &c. (vers. 11, 12). Then Christ was taken — but up to that moment they had no power against Him.


1. That the holiest men may be placed in the most painful position.

2. That Innocence is the best defensive weapon.

3. That society escapes through the sacrifice of Jesus.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Family Churchman.

1. Going as a Lamb to the slaughter.

2. Hereafter to come as the Judge of the men for whom He was about to die. How marvellous the contrast.

II. WHY DID THESE MEN FALL BACK FROM HIM? Was there not a feeling of —

1. His personal holiness. How greatly will this be interrupted when He comes in His glory — the glory of His holiness.

2. His personal dignity. There was always, we may be sure, something in His look and mien of more than ordinary majesty. The great painter in His picture of Christ leaving the Pretorium has thrown a look of thrilling and unearthly dignity into the countenance of the sorrowful Redeemer. This is a great artist's conception. What was the reality?

3. His Divine Majesty. So great shall be the splendour of the Saviour that, "the heavens and the earth shall flee away," and even hide themselves from Him.

4. Terror of conscience. How shall we meet Him if loaded with guilt.


1. Judas. So shall all who have proved recreant to their faith when He says, "I am He," the long looked-for Comer to judgment.

2. Tools of others' wickedness (ver. 3).

3. But mark a difference, "Let these go their way," He said of the disciples. But more perfectly will He then fulfil the prophecy of ver. 9.

(Family Churchman.)

(see John 17:12). —

The captive Saviour freeing His people: —


1. A sure proof of the willingness of our Lord Jesus Christ to give Himself to suffer for our sins. Christ did not seek a hiding-place in Jerusalem, or Bethany. If He had chosen to wait until the day, the fickle multitude would have protected Him. Instead of this, Jesus boldly advanced to the spot where Judas had planned to betray Him, as calmly as though He had made an appointment to meet a friend there, and would not be behindhand when he arrived. He said twice, "Whom seek ye?" He had to reveal Himself, or the lanterns and the torches would not have discovered Him. He went willingly, for since a single word made the captors fall to the ground, another would have sent them into the tomb. There was no power on earth that could have bound Him had He been unwilling. He who said, "Let these go their way," could have said the same of Himself. There were invisible cords that bound Him; bonds of covenant engagements, of His love to us. Let us take care, then, that our service of Christ is a cheerful and a willing one. Let us never come up to the place of worship merely because of custom, &c. Let us never contribute to the Master's cause as though a tax-gatherer were wringing from us what we could ill afford. Let our duty be our delight. His willing sacrifice ought to ensure ours.

2. Our Lord's care for His people in the hours of His greatest disturbance of mind. That word was intended —(1) To be a preservation for His immediate attendants. It is singular that the Jews did not arrest that little band. If they had done so, where would have been the Christian Church? Why did not the soldiers capture John? He seems to have gone in and out of the palace without challenge. They were searching for witnesses, why did they not examine Peter under torture? The Jews did not lack will, for they were gratified when James was killed, and Peter was laid in prison — why were they suffered to go unharmed? Was it not because the Master had need of them?(2) A royal passport to all Christ's people in the way of providence. Fear not, thou servant of Christ, thou art immortal till thy work is done. When thou art fit to suffer, or to die, Christ will not screen thee from so high an honour. It is wonderful in the lives of some of God's ministers how strikingly they have been preserved from imminent peril. We cannot read the life of Calvin without being surprised that he should have been permitted to die peaceably, an honoured man. It is not less remarkable that Luther should seem as if he had carried a safe conduct which permitted him to go anywhere. So with John Wickliffe. Many times his life was not worth a week's purchase. When he was brought up for trial, it was a very singular circumstance that John of Gaunt should stand at his side fully armed, proudly covering the godly man with the prestige of his rank and power. I know not that Gaunt knew the truth, but vultures, when God has willed it, have protected doves, and eagles have covered with their wings children whom God would save.(3) Mystically understood the words have a far deeper meaning. The true seizure of Christ was not by Romans, but by our sins; and the true deliverance was not so much from Roman weapons as from the penalty of sin. The law of God comes out to seek us who have violated it, but Jesus puts Himself before the law, and He says, "Dost thou seek Me? Here I am; but let these, for whom I stood, go their way." But the text will have its grandest fulfilment at the last. When the destroying angel shall come, Christ shall stand forth in the front of all the blood-bought souls that came to trust in His mercy, and He will say to Justice, "Thou hast sought Me once, and thou hast found all thou canst ask of Me. Then let these go their way." Then shall the great manumission take place, because Christ was bound; then shall the deliverance come, because Christ slept in the prison-house of the tomb.

3. His saying concerning them.(1) Verbally understood, it could only relate to the souls of God's people; but here it is taken as though it related to their bodies. From which I gather that we are never wrong in understanding promises in the largest possible sense. It is a rule of law that if a man should get a privilege from the king, that privilege is to be understood in the widest sense; whereas a punishment, or penalty, is always to be understood in the narrowest sense. Now when the great King gives a promise, you may encompass everything within its range which can possibly come under the promise, and we may be sure that the Lord will not run back from His word. The grant of eternal life includes such providential protections and provisions as shall be necessary on the road to heaven. The house is secured for the sake of the tenant, and the body because of the soul.(2) It is not in the form of a promise at all. "Have I lost none." It relates to the past, but here it is used as a reason why none should be lost of the present. As Jesus has done in the past, so will He act in the future.


1. Many seek Jesus, but do not know who He is. So that Christ says to them, "Whom seek ye?" Some here this morning are seeking rest, but they do not know that Jesus is the rest.

2. Those who seek Christ will find Him, but only because He reveals Himself to them. These men sought Christ to kill Him, yet He came and said, "I am He." So He said to the Samaritan woman. Whoever seeks Jesus, Jesus will show Himself to them. They did not find Christ with lanterns and torches. And you may come with a great many of your own inventions, but you will not so find Him. How could you expect to find the sun with a lantern?

3. When Jesus is found, there is always much to be given up. "If ye seek Me, let these go their way." There are always many things that you will have to let go if you have Christ, and this is very often the testing point. Men would like to go to heaven, but they must let go evil occupations, worldly pleasures, self-righteousness, &c.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let these go their way.
When Wishart, the Scotch preacher, was seized and imprisoned by Bothwell, John Knox desired to share his fortunes; but Wishart, who had seen how precious a mind and heart lay behind the rugged features of his follower, would not allow it. "Gang home to your bairns," said he; "one is sufficient for a sacrifice." He accompanied Bothwell alone, and later on gave his life for a testimony.

(H. O. Mackey.)

Then Simon Peter having a sword, drew it.
I. UNAVAILING. The Church's feeble instruments can do as little against the world's battalions as Peter's sword could have done against the guardsmen of Caesar.

II. UNNECESSARY He who Gould have commanded twelve legions of angels had no need of Peter's rapier; the cause which is supported by "all power in heaven and earth" requires not to be furthered by carnal weapons.

III. UNCHRISTIAN. Peter's action was in flagrant opposition to the precept that Master had taught (Matthew 5:39). For the Church to employ force is in total contradiction to the character of Christ's kingdom (ver. 36.)

IV. UNREASONABLE. Had Peter been able to rescue Christ, that would not have proved either that he was right or that Christ's assailants were wrong. "Force is no remedy," and "no argument." So Christ said (ver. 23). Instead of resorting to magisterial authority, the Church should labour to convince and convert its opponents.

V. UNWISE. Could Peter have delivered Christ, he would have hindered the Father's purpose. The Church, when she unsheathes the sword, retards rather than advances the triumph of truth.

VI. UNSAFE. Peter's sword practice led to his identification, and to the suspicions and cross-examinations that brought about his fall. So when the Church resorts to violence, she may anticipate danger to herself.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Three things worthy of notice —

I. AN IMPULSE MANIFESTLY GENEROUS, WRONGLY DIRECTED. Peter was prompted, not by greed, ambition, or revenge, but by sympathy with his Master; a generous desire to protect Him. But this impulse, good in itself, was improperly directed; and how much good feeling is so still.

1. There is parental affection. How generally is this employed to the advancement of a child's temporal good, rather than to his spiritual; to pamper his appetite rather than to discipline his heart; to make him independent of labour, rather than to train Him to habits of honest industry.

2. There is religious sympathy. How often is this directed not to making our own characters so great and childlike as to be witnesses for God wherever we go, but to formulate and promote theological dogmas, and to establish and nourish littlesects.

3. There is the philanthropic sentiment. This, instead of being directed in endeavours first to improve the moral heart of humanity, and then working from the heart to the whole outward life, and from the individual to the race, is directed to the creation and support of costly machinery for lopping off branches from the upas, supplying salves to the ulcers, and whitening the sepulchres of depravity. No, man can be improved only by first improving his heart; the fountain must be cleansed before the streams can be pure.

II. A VIOLENCE ENTIRELY DEFENSIVE DIVINELY CONDEMNED. Did Peter expect his Master to say "Well done?" If so, he was disappointed; for Christ had only strong words of disapproval (cf. Matthew 26:52). The words in Matthew may be taken as a prediction or as the law of humanity. If taken in the former sense, history supplies abundant fulfilment. Nations that have practised war have ultimately been ruined by war. If in the latter sense, we find instincts in the soul which lead to the revolt. Anger begets anger; love begets love; and "with what measure ye mete," &c. How could Christ approve of Peter's deed? It was contrary to the old law, "Thou shalt not kill; and to the new, that we should return good for evil.

III. A RESIGNATION ABSOLUTELY FREE, SUBLIMELY DISPLAYED. "The cup," &c. The sufferings of the good —

1. Are a "cup," not an ocean. Happiness is an immeasurable sea, while misery is an exhaustible and exhausting quantity.

2. Are a gift from the Father, and not a curse from the devil. "What Son is He whom the Father chasteneth not."

3. Are to be accepted with filial resignation.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

The cup which My Father hath given Me.
In Peter's temerity, notice the difference between military valour and Christian fortitude. He that faltered and was blown down by the weak blast of a damsel's question has now the courage with a single sword to venture on a whole band of men. Military valour is boisterous, and depends upon the heat of blood and spirits, and is better for a sudden onset than a deliberate trial; but Christian fortitude depends on the strength of faith, and lies in a meek subjection to God, and will enable us to endure the greatest torments rather than encroach on the consciences of our duty to God. In the words note —

I. THE NOTION BY WHICH AFFLICTION IS EXPRESSED. In Scripture we read oral. A cup of consolation (Jeremiah 16:7), taken from the Jewish custom of sending it to mourners or condemned prisoners (Proverbs 31:6, 7; Amos 2:8).

2. The cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13) or of deliverance, used more solemnly in the Temple by the priests, or more privately in the family. Sometimes called the drink offering of praise, and to which the cup of blessing (1 Corinthians 10:16) has great respect.

3. The cup of tribulation (Psalm 11:6; Jeremiah 25:15; Psalm 75:8). It was to this that Christ referred here and in His agony.

II. GOD'S ORDERING OF IT. "Which My Father hath given Me." Christ mentioned not the malice of His enemies, but the will of God. His hand in Christ's sufferings is often asserted in Scripture (Isaiah 53:10; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28) God did not instigate those wicked wretches, yet it was predetermined by God for the salvation of mankind.

III. CHRIST'S SUBMISSION. "Shall I not drink it." If God puts a bitter cup into our hand, we must not refuse it; for we have here Christ's example. The meaning is: The bitter passion which the Father hath laid upon Me, shall I not suffer it patiently?


1. In all calamities we should look to God (Psalm 39:9; Isaiah 38:15).(1) Nothing falls out without God's particular providence (Lamentations 3:37, 38).(2) All cross issues and punishment, as well as benefits, come from God (Isaiah 45:7).

2. It is a great advantage to patience when we consider God, not as an angry Judge, but as a gracious Father (Hebrews 12:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 6:18).

3. It well becomes His people to endure willingly whatever God calls them to.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

1. It is but a cup; a small matter comparatively, be it what it will. It is not a sea, a Red Sea, a Dead Sea, for it is not hell; it is light, and but for a moment.

2. It is a cup that is given us. Sufferings are gifts (Philippians 1:29).

3. It is given to us by a Father, who has a father's authority, and does us no wrong — a father's affections, and means us no hurt.

We must pledge Christ in the cup that He drank of.

I.It is but A CUP — a small matter comparatively, be it what it will.

II.It is a cup that is GIVEN US.

III.It is a cup given us by OUR FATHER.

(M. Henry.)






(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

All these approaching agonies were simultaneously present to the Saviour's mind. To us sorrows come separately. We can bear, one by one, trials which, coming all at once, would be overwhelming. If we can anticipate a few, others are mercifully concealed from our wisest calculations or saddest forebodings. Looking backward, we wonder how we passed through such difficulties. One reason is that they did not, and could not, occur together. The path must have led us quite through the morass before it climbed the precipice; must have guided across the burning sand before it reached the roaring torrent. In His case all the distresses of the future were piled together to appal His soul. The water of the lake, which in its gradual descent by its torrent-outflow, rolls harmlessly along the well-guarded channels, will if bursting forth in sudden flood, strain to the utmost, or sweep away, the strongest barrier. No wonder that the human nature of Christ was in agony! Besides, our fear for the future is more or less mitigated by hope. What we dread most may not come to pass. Something may intervene to divert the peril. The dark cloud may disperse without breaking over us. Or the reality may prove far less injurious than the fear. But in the agony of our Lord all the foreboding was certain to be verified. His prescience was all comprehensive, distinct, and certain. Therefore His suffering was unexampled. "Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow."

(N. Hall, LL. B.)

In the case of this Sufferer, Divine purity was incarnated in a frail human body, which had come into close contact with sin. Absolute perfection was brought near to absolute depravity in its blackest phase — the approaching murder of the Just One, revealing intense hatred of goodness, cruel repulse of love, resolute rebellion against God. As a person in perfect health might be shocked when brought into a crowded fever or small-pox ward, when the habitual attendants, accustomed to the signs of sickness and the foetid air, might not suffer; as one coming out of the bright sunshine into a darkened room feels it to be blackness, while those dwelling there can see around them; as a virtuous woman would shrink with revulsion from the talk and the conduct of the utterly fallen and shameless — far more must the absolute Perfection of Divine holiness be in agony when brought face to face with deadliest depravity. Besides this, Divine love was brought into the presence of human misery. The holy God, hating sin, was the merciful God, loving the sinner; and therefore grieved .because of the evils sin was bringing on its victims.

(N. Hall, LL. B.)

Then the band... took Jesus and bound Him.
They bound Him only as to His hands, for they led — not carried, nor dragged — Him to the high priest. Those hands were the hands indeed of the Nazarene that had held the hammer and the chisel and the plane; but they were also the hands of the Christ that had been laid upon the sick to heal them; that had touched the bier on which the widow's son was being borne to his burial; that had taken hold upon the hand of Jairius's daughter and raised her to life; that had been laid upon the eyes of the blind to impart sight to them; that had touched the tongue of the dumb and restored to it its speech; that had blessed little children; that, but even now had been placed upon the wound of an enemy to heal it; that this very day should be nailed for their advantage to the bitter cross — hands full of mercy. Note —

I. CHRIST'S VOLUNTARY REPRESSION OF POSSESSED POWER. His enemies had often sought to take Him. They had even had Him in their hands — had been about to east Him over the brow of the hill; but with perfect ease He had passed through the midst of them and escaped. One word from His lips had just driven them back affrighted. One petition breathed in the ear of the Father would have brought to His aid "more than twelve legions of angels." These bound hands, then, teach the hollowness of the sentiment that "self-preservation is the first law of life." Self-renunciation is life's supreme law. Jesus saw before Him enemies. His law was, Love your enemies; and the law of His lips was the law of His life. He knew that hostility was conquerable, not by might, but by love. And so He offered no hindrance. Like the mighty Judge of Israel, He could without effort have snapped the cords that held Him. He would not. These His enemies were ignorantly the ministers of His to do His service, binding the sacrifice with cords, by whose death the world was to have life.


1. The triumph of the enemies of Christ seemed complete. Little thought this rabble, as they clamoured for the death of this prisoner, that when those hands should be unbound to be nailed to the cross, there would be an eternal unbinding of that truth which was to plunge the sword into the heart of Judaism. The binding of those hands was the accumulation of power within them. The bound Jesus was mightier than the unbound. Hearts that have not been touched by the words that He spoke, are broken to see Him led as a lamb to the slaughter.

2. Looking out upon the woful evils which ravage earth — physical, intellectual, moral; diseases, superstitions, sins — one can scarce forbear to cry: Are the hands to which all power in heaven and on earth is committed still bound? But ever cometh the answer, "What I do thou knowest not now," &c. And "we trust that, somehow, good will be the final goal of ill."

III. A MINORITY, WHILE SUBJECTED TO APPARENT DEFEAT, MAY CONTAIN THE PROMISE AND THE POTENCY OF VICTORY. The voice of a majority is not of necessity the voice of God. Mere might does not constitute right. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, 1800 years since, stood One against a crowd — against the world. With Him there was one thing which was not with them: not merely the conviction — for doubtless they had their convictions, as have all majorities — but the absolute knowledge that He was in harmony with the will of God. They were clamorous for political expediency and for the rights of their religion; He was silent for love. Jesus proclaimed the truth throughout His public life, and stood to it there in the garden — One against many — that the basis, the only true basis of the social structure, is self-renouncing love. True, His was not an enviable position regarded humanwise. But one with God is not merely a majority, but victory; which is not measurable by immediate results, but by the fruitage of eternity.

(N. W. Wells.)

(text and vers. 19-24): —


1. The dignity pertaining to Him.

(1)An innocent man.

(2)A religious teacher.

(3)A philanthropic citizen.

(4)A patient sufferer.

(5)Incarnate God.

2. The indignity put upon Him.

(1)Seized by those He had befriended.

(2)Bound by those He desired to liberate.

(3)Led away as a criminal by those who were themselves transgressors.

(4)Placed at the bar of one who should have been His advocate rather than His judge.

II. THE JUDGE. Annas or Caiaphas.

1. Head of the State, the high priest ought to have protected the interests of Jesus, as a member thereof; and, above all, ought to have dispensed justice and right judgment.

2. Holder of a sacred office, he ought to have been incapable of violating the claims of either truth or right.

3. Vicegerent of Jehovah, he ought to have stood forth the champion of God's law.


1. Its character. Preliminary, followed by a second (ver. 24; Matthew 26:57; Mark 14:53) and a third (Luke 22:66). The first was the practical, the second the potential, the third the actual and formal decision that sentence of death should be passed judicially upon Him. That of Annas was the authoritative praejudicium; that of Caiaphas, the real determination; that of the entire Sanhedrim at daybreak, the final ratification.

2. Its object. To entrap Christ into admissions which might afterwards be used against Him.

3. Its course.

(1)The crafty question (ver. 19).

(2)The prudent answer (ver. 20).

(3)The undeserved blow (ver, 23).

(4)The gentle response (ver. 23).


1. Symbolized; by replacing the fetters, which had probably been removed during the trial.

2. Interpreted. Equivalent to an intimation that Annas regarded Jesus as a dangerous character, an uncomfortable person for unscrupulous schemers to bare in their path, and, therefore, as one who had better be removed. It was so understood by Caiaphas.

3. Pronounced. Afterwards to the court of Caiaphas, and again in a full meeting of the Sanhedrim. Lessons:

1. The unspeakable condescension of Christ.

2. The infinite meekness of Christ.

3. The unflinching boldness of Christ.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Why did the government of Judaea plot for Christ's destruction?

1. Was there anything in His genealogy to account for it? No! He was one of their own race, descended from the most illustrious Hebrews.

2. Was there anything in His appearance? Certainly there was nothing repulsive in the fairest of the children of men.

3. It was because He was the embodiment and Advocate of Right — right between man and man, and man and God. The government was wrong to its very core. The right flashed upon its corrupt heart as sunbeams on diseased eyes. Hence as with all corrupt government they would put an end to it.

I. BY THE EMPLOYMENT OF HIRELINGS (ver. 12). There are under all governments multitudes so dead to the sense of justice and the instincts of manhood, that they are ready at any hour to sell themselves to services the most disreputable. These are the ready tools of despots.

II. IS THE NAME OF LAW (ver. 13). The greatest crimes have been perpetrated under the sanction of justice, "We have a law, and by our law He ought to die." Despots say that "law and order" must be respected. But no; if your law and order are built on moral falsehood, tread them in the dust. The progress of the world requires this. The heroes of unperishable renown have given themselves to this work. What is wrong in morals can never be right in government.

III. UNDER THE PRETEXT OF A MISERABLE EXPEDIENCY (ver. 14). In relation to that "counsel," note —

1. That it was apparently adapted to the end. Christ was alienating the people from the institutions of the country and shaking their faith in the authorities. The most effective plan for terminating the mischief seemed to be to put Him to death.

2. Though seemingly adapted to the end it was radically wrong in principle. The fitness of a measure to an end does not make it right. The only standard of right is God's will, and Christ had not contravened that.

3. Their policy being radically wrong, was ultimately ruinous. It hastened the flight of the Roman eagle. Eternal principle is the only pillar to guide short-sighted creatures. Let governments be warned by the policy of Caiaphas.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

That there should have been two high priests needs explanation. One of these was a famous man whose name was "Merciful." (Hebrews Chanan, here represented in a shortened form by the Gr. Annas). "Merciful" had once been the high priest according to Jewish law; but, more than twenty years before, Valerius Gratus, Pilate's predecessor, had put him out of office, and had put into it a nominee of his own. In the creed of every true Israelite this act was null. The law of God ordained that whoever was high priest was so for life; and a man could no more have two high priests at one time than he could have two fathers; therefore, "Merciful" was, in the sight of the orthodox, a great and sacred personage. More than this, we have reason to think that while his son-in-law held the post of high priest by the grace of the Emperor, he himself was by the same grace his sagan, or deputy; and this was an office so august that the person who held it might, on urgent occasions, go into "the Holy of Holies." He even received the appellation of high priest. So Luke uses the expression, "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests;" the one being so de jure, the other de facto. It is easy to understand how the senior was virtually the primate, and how he would naturally keep his official residence in the high priest's palace, on one side of its vast quadrangle. " Merciful" was an old man of seventy. While the Jews regarded him as a potent force in their national affairs, he was also eminently acceptable to the Romans, for he was a priest who was touched with no inconvenient convictions; he was also a capitalist, willing to oblige a needy nobleman with a loan on fair terms; in him, too, they had a gentleman and a man of the world to deal with; he was cool, politic, and safe; altogether, in the judgment both of Jews and Gentiles, "Merciful" was just then, probably, the first man in all Jerusalem. Leaders of history know that persons who have most reverence for the priestly office have sometimes less than the least reverence for some particular priest. It was so here. "Merciful" was detested. In the popular opinion, his nature belied his name. "Call that man 'Merciful!'" it was thought, "you might as well speak of a merciful 'viper;'" and "viper" seems to have become his common cognomen. When he passed along the road in his palanquin, here and there a citizen might crouch down to the dust before him as if in speechless worship, but would be likely to mutter under his breath, "Viper!" Subtle, deadly, gliding, tortuous, noiseless as the snake slipping along through the evening grass, and sometimes able to wait with wicked patience for his prey — thus we picture this "Merciful." The first old priest who saw Jesus in this world said of Him, as He lay across His mother's arms, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace," &c. Now another old priest looks on Him, but with cold, steely eyes that glitter and stab. The meaning of "Caiaphas, the name of this younger and more active representative of the sacerdotal party, is uncertain; but there is no uncertainty as to what manner of man he was. As to his theology, he was doubtless considered to be "liberal," or "broad;" for he "believed in neither angel nor spirit," and smiled at the doctrine of "a resurrection." Ostensibly, he was first of the priests, yet he cared more to work out problems in political mathematics than to ponder "the things into which angels desire to look." Although in every respect of the same party as the other priest, he was altogether different from him in his natural calibre, He wore no mask, he simulated no gentleness; but looked like the man he was, hard, bold, and unscrupulous. He was an intense Jew, and was ever on the watch to cross the plans of Pilate, but was also ever on the watch to avoid whatever might disturb safe relations with the Roman government.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Before this judge is brought, not to be judged but to be condemned, the Judge of quick and dead, by an ungrateful and passionate people. The faintest parallel to this may be found in the case of those mutinous rebels of India, who in their blind rage and unreasoning fury, in their reckless frenzy and fanaticism, arraigned before them in mock trial one of their own judges, one of the best and noblest of those who come from a better land to sojourn a while in that less favoured country; one who spent his strength in doing good, and was known as the friend of the native; and who moreover might have escaped, only that, hero that he was, he refused to quit the post of duty. And they took him, that great and good man, and hanged him, the upright judge, in front of his own house, whence he had so often dispensed justice and mercy. This was the return they made — the base and barbarous return — "him they slew, and hanged on a tree."

(G. J. Brown, M. A.)

For blind men to be fair critics of Turner, for bats to be fair critics of sunshine, for worms to be fair critics of the open air, would be more conceivable than the possibility of men like these being fair judges of Jesus! How could such sinners understand the Holy One of God? Besides their unfairness from natural unfitness, there was unfairness from the fact that they were desperate conspirators, plotting against His life.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

S. S. Times.
This expression used to be considered by commentators as proving that the Romans had made the high-priesthood an annual office: which we know to be contrary to the fact. In later years the true explanation has been hit upon which considers that "that year" denotes a memorable time, which distinguished the high-priesthood of Caiaphas among other terms held by other persons. That this is an old and an Oriental peculiarity of expression, and that the later explanation is the true one, appears from a parallel in the apocryphal book of Susanna (Sus. 1:5). These wicked elders were not judges of the people for that month only, but had been so for a long time: but they were the judges in the month which was signaled by the putting away of corruption, the vindication of Daniel as an upright and inspired judge, and by the rescue of the innocent from deadly calumny. So Caiaphas was the high-priest when that memorable year came round in which the one sacrifice for sin, for all time, was performed.

(S. S. Times.)

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