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THE MALICE OF THE SEWS IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE
RAISING OF LAZARUS, AND THE DETERMINATION OF THE SANHEDRIM TO PUT JESUS TO DEATH.
From John, Chap. xi.
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many
miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.
And one of them named Caiaphas, being the highpriest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all.
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole na. tion perish not.
And this spake he not of himself: but being highpriest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation:
And not for that nation only, but also that he should gather together in one, the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Then from that day forth, they took counsel together, for to put him to death.
Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence into a country near to the wil. derness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand; and many
went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
Now both the chief priest and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he was, he should shew it, that they might take him.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The chief priests and Pharisees assembled the Sanhedrim, under pretence that the Romans would bring an army and destroy their nation, if a report should prevail that the promised Messiah was come. But there was no real danger that the Romans would be irritated against the Jewish nation on account of the Gospel, for it was no ways prejudicial to them, neither had they at that time any jealousy of the growing interest of CHRIST. Had the Jews kept their fidelity to God, they would have had no occasion to fear the greatest power on earth ; but by their desertion and rebellion against their true King, they exposed themselves to the very evils they sought to avoid, as will appear in a future part of their history.
The Jewish state was in a very unsettled condition, so that the high priesthood, instead of descending in succession, and continuing for life, was frequently transferred from one person to another. Caiaphas being in the office at the time this matter was debating, it was suddenly suggested to hini by Divine inspiration, that Jesus should die for the Jewish nation. Unconscious of the prophetic meaeing of the words he uttered, Caiaphas reasoned on them according to the principles of human policy: inferring that the extreme danger of the
state, would justify the taking away the life even of an innocent person, for the security of the people. Caiaphas as high priest of the Jews, should have acted from better motives : his crime in consenting to murder an innocent man by force of law, was a violation of truth, honour, and conscience. We must not suppose that his malice was suggested by the Holy Spirit, though he spake prophetically; but he was inspired to utter those words, that the innocence of Jesus might appear in the strongest light; and the comment of the Evangelist implies, that he, who certainly knew the truth, considered our Lord's death as a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of all who should believe on him, wheresoever dispersed.
It is plain that the chief priests and rulers had no real piety, or they would have been otherwise employed, when the passover was so near, than in holding councils to put to death a person who they confessed performed many miracles, and against whom they could find no just cause of accusation. It is very remarkable, that notwithstanding their command for apprehending Jesus, he was not delivered up; nothing but a Divine power could have thus restrained the people : this circumstance affords further confirmation that he was the Son of God.
Our Lord certainly could have defeated entirely the evil counsels of the Jewish Sanhedrim, but knowing that what they endeavoured to effect for the advance. ment of their own interest, would, though they knew it not, promote the gracious design of God for the sal. vation of mankind, he resolved to let them take their own wicked course: but as his ministry on earth was not yet fully completed, our Lord determined to avoid the immediate effects of their malice: therefore, in. stead of visiting Jerusalem, he went from Bethany to a Little city called Ephraim, on the confines of the tribe of Benjamin; and afterwards, it is supposed, took a short journey to the banks of the river Jordan, from whence he before went to Bethany, for the purpose of raising Lazarus. Here, instead of preaching publicly, our Lord instructed his disciples in private conversations.
Those Jews, who were strict observers of the ceremonial law, being under particular circumstances, which, according to that law, required purification, chose to perform some preparatory sacrifices at Jerusalem, that they might be ready at the solemn feast of the passover. These were in general enemies to Christ, and probably looked for his going to Jerusalem, with the hope that he would be apprehended and condemned to death.
JESUS ON HIS WAY TO JERUSALEM PROPHESIES OF
HIS SUFFERINGS, AND REPROVES THE AMBITION
From Luke, Chap. xviii.-Matthew, Chap. xx.
AND they were in the way going up to Jerusalem ; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed, and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him.
Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes : and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles ;
And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him ; and the third day he shall rise again.
And they understood none of these things : and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children, with her sons worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with ? They say unto him, We are able.
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great, exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you : but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many.