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26. Plot Against Jesus
1And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these words, he said unto his disciples, 2Ye know that after two days the passover cometh, and the Son of man is delivered up to be crucified. 3Then were gathered together the chief priests, and the elders of the people, unto the court of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas; 4and they took counsel together that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. 5But they said, Not during the feast, lest a tumult arise among people.
6Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7there came unto him a woman having an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, and she poured it upon his head, as he sat at meat. 8But when the disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10But Jesus perceiving it said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12For in that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15and said, What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that time he sought opportunity to deliver him unto them.
17Now on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt thou that we make ready for thee to eat the passover? 18And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Teacher saith, My time is at hand; I keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19And the disciples did as Jesus appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
20Now when even was come, he was sitting at meat with the twelve disciples; 21and as they were eating, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began to say unto him every one, Is it I, Lord? 23And he answered and said, He that dipped his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24The Son of man goeth, even as it is written of him: but woe unto that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had not been born. 25And Judas, who betrayed him, answered and said, Is it I, Rabbi? He saith unto him, Thou hast said.
26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. 29But I say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
30And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives.
31Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended in me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee. 33But Peter answered and said unto him, If all shall be offended in thee, I will never be offended. 34Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35Peter saith unto him, Even if I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I go yonder and pray. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and sore troubled. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: abide ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42Again a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44And he left them again, and went away, and prayed a third time, saying again the same words. 45Then cometh he to the disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Arise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that betrayeth me.
47And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priest and elders of the people. 48Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he: take him. 49And straightway he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Rabbi; and kissed him. 50And Jesus said unto him, Friend, do that for which thou art come. Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51And behold, one of them that were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear. 52Then saith Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53Or thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54How then should the scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be? 55In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and staves to seize me? I sat daily in the temple teaching, and ye took me not. 56But all this is come to pass, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him, and fled.
57And they that had taken Jesus led him away to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58But Peter followed him afar off, unto the court of the high priest, and entered in, and sat with the officers, to see the end. 59Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death; 60and they found it not, though many false witnesses came. But afterward came two, 61and said, This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62And the high priest stood up, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God. 64Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. 65Then the high priest rent his garments, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy: what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard the blasphemy: 66what think ye? They answered and said, He is worthy of death. 67Then did they spit in his face and buffet him: and some smote him with the palms of their hands, 68saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ: who is he that struck thee?
69Now Peter was sitting without in the court: and a maid came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilaean. 70But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and saith unto them that were there, This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. 72And again he denied with an oath, I know not the man. 73And after a little while they that stood by came and said to Peter, Of a truth thou also art one of them; for thy speech maketh thee known. 74Then began he to curse and to swear, I know not the man. And straightway the cock crew. 75And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Christ Anointed at Bethany.
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. 8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 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.
In this passage of story, we have,
I. The singular kindness of a good woman to our Lord Jesus in anointing his head, v. 6, 7. It was in Bethany, a village hard by Jerusalem, and in the house of Simon the leper. Probably, he was one who had been miraculously cleansed from his leprosy by our Lord Jesus, and he would express his gratitude to Christ by entertaining him; nor did Christ disdain to converse with him, to come in to him, and sup with him. Though he was cleansed, yet he was called Simon the leper. Those who are guilty of scandalous sins, will find that, though the sin be pardoned, the reproach will cleave to them, and will hardly be wiped away. The woman that did this, is supposed to have been Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. And Dr. Lightfoot thinks it was the same that was called Mary Magdalene. She had a box of ointment very precious, which she poured upon the head of Christ as he sat at meat. This, among us, would be a strange sort of compliment. But it was then accounted the highest piece of respect; for the smell was very grateful, and the ointment itself refreshing to the head. David had his head anointed, Ps. xxiii. 5; Luke vii. 46. Now this may be looked upon,
1. As an act of faith in our Lord Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed. To signify that she believed in him as God's anointed, whom he had set king, she anointed him, and made him her king. They shall appoint themselves one head, Hos. i. 11. This is kissing the Son.
2. As an act of love and respect to him. Some think that this was she who loved much at first, and washed Christ's feet with her tears (Luke vii. 38, 47); and that she had not left her first love, but was now as affectionate in the devotions of a grown Christian as she was in those of a young beginner. Note, Where there is true love in the heart to Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good, no, nor good enough, to bestow upon him.
II. The offence which the disciples took at this. They had indignation (v. 8, 9), were vexed to see this ointment thus spent, which they thought might have been better bestowed.
1. See how they expressed their offence at it. They said, To what purpose is this waste? Now this bespeaks,
(1.) Want of tenderness toward this good woman, in interpreting her over-kindness (suppose it was so) to be wastefulness. Charity teaches us to put the best construction upon every thing that it will bear, especially upon the words and actions of those that are zealously affected in doing a good thing, though we may think them not altogether so discreet in it as they might be. It is true, there may be over-doing in well-doing; but thence we must learn to be cautious ourselves, lest we run into extremes, but not to be censorious of others; because that which we may impute to the want of prudence, God may accept as an instance of abundant love. We must not say, Those do too much in religion, that do more than we do, but rather aim to do as much as they.
(2.) Want of respect to their Master. The best we can make of it, is, that they knew their Master was perfectly dead to all the delights of sense; he that was so much grieved for the affliction of Joseph, cared not for being anointed with the chief ointments, Amos vi. 6. And therefore they thought such pleasures ill bestowed upon one who took so little pleasure in them. But supposing that, it did not become them to call it waste, when they perceived that he admitted and accepted it as a token of his friend's love. Note, We must take heed of thinking any thing waste, which is bestowed upon the Lord Jesus, either by others or by ourselves. We must not think that time waste, that is spent in the service of Christ, or that money waste, which is laid out in any work of piety; for, though it seem to be cast upon the waters, to be thrown down the river, we shall find it again, to advantage, after many days, Eccl. xi. 1.
2. See how they excused their offence at it, and what pretence they made for it; This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. Note, It is no new thing for bad affections to shelter themselves under specious covers; for people to shift off works of piety under colour of works of charity.
III. The reproof Christ gave to his disciples for the offence at this good woman (v. 10, 11); Why trouble ye the woman? Note, It is a great trouble to good people to have their good works censured and misconstrued; and it is a thing that Jesus Christ takes very ill. He here took part with a good, honest, zealous, well-meaning woman, against all his disciples, though they seemed to have so much reason on their side; so heartily does he espouse the cause of the offended little ones, ch. xviii. 10.
Observe his reason; You have the poor always with you. Note,
1. There are some opportunities of doing and getting good which are constant, and which we must give constant attendance to the improvement of. Bibles we have always with us, sabbaths always with us, and so the poor, we have always with us. Note, Those who have a heart to do good, never need complain for want of opportunity. The poor never ceased even out of the land of Israel, Deut. xv. 11. We cannot but see some in this world, who call for our charitable assistance, who are as God's receivers, some poor members of Christ, to whom he will have kindness shown as to himself.
2. There are other opportunities of doing and getting good, which come but seldom, which are short and uncertain, and require more peculiar diligence in the improvement of them, and which ought to be preferred before the other; "Me ye have not always, therefore use me while ye have me." Note, (1.) Christ's constant bodily presence was not to be expected here in this world; it was expedient that he should go away; his real presence in the eucharist is a fond and groundless conceit, and contradicts what he here said, Me ye have not always. (2.) Sometimes special works of piety and devotion should take place of common works of charity. The poor must not rob Christ; we must do good to all, but especially to the household of faith.
IV. Christ's approbation and commendation of the kindness of this good woman. The more his servants and their services are cavilled at by men, the more he manifests his acceptance of them. He calls it a good work (v. 10), and says more in praise of it than could have been imagined; particularly,
1. That the meaning of it was mystical (v. 12); She did it for my burial. (1.) Some think that she intended it so, and that the woman better understood Christ's frequent predictions of his death and sufferings than the apostles did; for which they were recompensed with the honour of being the first witnesses of his resurrection. (2.) However, Christ interpreted it so; and he is always willing to make the best, to make the most of his people's well-meant words and actions. This was as it were the embalming of his body; because the doing of that after his death would be prevented by his resurrection, it was therefore done before; for it was fit that it should be done some time, to show that he was still the Messiah, even when he seemed to be triumphed over by death. The disciples thought the ointment wasted, which was poured upon his head. "But," saith he, "If so much ointment were poured upon a dead body, according to the custom of your country, you would not grudge it, or think it waste. Now this is, in effect, so; the body she anoints is as good as dead, and her kindness is very seasonable for that purpose; therefore rather than call it waste, put it upon that score."
2. That the memorial of it should be honourable (v. 13); This shall be told for a memorial. This act of faith and love was so remarkable, that the preachers of Christ crucified, and the inspired writers of the history of his passion, could not choose but take notice of this passage, proclaim the notice of it, and perpetuate the memorial of it. And being once enrolled in these records, it was graven as with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever, and could not possibly be forgotten. None of all the trumpets of fame sound so loud and so long as the everlasting gospel. Note, (1.) The story of the death of Christ, though a tragical one, is gospel, glad-tidings, because he died for us. (2.) The gospel was to be preached in the whole world; not in Judea only, but in every nation, to every creature. Let the disciples take notice of this, for their encouragement, that their sound should go to the ends of the earth. (3.) Though the honour of Christ is principally designed in the gospel, yet the honour of his saints and servants is not altogether overlooked. The memorial of this woman was to be preserved, not by dedicating a church to her, or keeping an annual feast in honour of her, or preserving a piece of her broken box for a sacred relic; but by mentioning her faith and piety in the preaching of the gospel, for example to others, Heb. vi. 12. Hereby honour redounds to Christ himself, who in this world, as well as in that to come, will be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.