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§ 263. Machinations of Christ’s Enemies.

The few hours that intervened between the end of Christ’s public ministry and his arrest were devoted to instructing and comforting his disciples in view of his approaching departure, and the severe conflicts they were to undergo. In these conversations he displayed all his heavenly love and calmness of soul; his loftiness and his humility. In order that our contemplation of these sweet scenes may not be interrupted, we shall, before entering upon them, glance at the machinations of his enemies which brought about his capture and his death.

As we have seen, the Sanhedrim had resolved upon his death; all that remained was to decide how and when it should be brought about. The time of the feast itself would have been unpropitious for the attempt;698698   Matt., xxvi., 5, implies that Jesus was arrested before the commencement of the Jewish Passover. I do not see the justice of Weisse’s (i., 444) assertion, that this view of the passage is opposed to its natural sense. The passage certainly implies (what is most important for my purpose) that he was not apprehended on the feast-day; whether before or after is left undecided. But this information is not sufficient to show an inaccuracy in the chronology of the first three Gospels. For we might suppose that the Sanhedrim were led, by the opportunity afforded by the treachery of Judas, to seize Jesus quietly at night, abandoning their original design. It would therefore follow, at any rate, that they had not decided to effect their purpose during the feast; and they may have made up their minds to wait until its close, when the unexpected proposition of Judas led them to attempt it during the feast. But it is not probable that they would allow Christ, unmolested, to make use of the time of the feast to increase his followers among the multitude. We shall see hereafter that there are strong objections to the opinion that Christ was crucified on the first day of the feast; and these, if valid, will confirm our supposition that he was arrested on the day before its commencement. Cf. Gförer, iii, 198. it must be made, therefore, either before or after. The former 379was the safest, and therefore the favorite plan. An unexpected and most favourable opening as afforded, by the proposition of Judas Iscariot, to deliver him into their hands.699699   Matt., xxvi., 14-16; Mark, xiv., 10, 11; Luke, xxii., 3-6. These passages agree in showing that Judas made his bargain with the Sanhedrim before the night on which he consummated his treachery. It might be inferred from John, xiii., 26, that he only imbibed the Satanic thought on rising from the Last Supper; but how could he have negotiated with the Sanhedrim so late in the night, and just before the fatal act? John himself says (xiii., 2) that the devil had before put it in his heart to do it. We conclude, therefore, that v. 26 refers to the last step—the execution of his evil purpose; and this agrees very well with the supposition that he had previously arranged all the preliminaries. A favourable moment only was wanting; and this he found during that last interview with Jesus.


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