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This order was probably accompanied with a threatening of some severe penalty to those who should not comply with it, and neglect to discover where he was, and with a promise of a large reward to any one who should give them information. But Jesus, although no doubt informed of the measures that were taken against him; although he well knew what the issue would be, was not deterred hereby from returning to Jerusalem, when called there to observe the passover, or by intimations of the divine will.
John sii. l-ll.
1. Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he had raised from the dead.
That is, on our Sunday of the week in which he suffered.
2. There they made him a supper, and Martha served.
This was a post to which her situation in life did not call her; but it was what she chose, in order to show her respect and gratitude to Jesus.
But Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with hini.
He showed to the whole company that he was restored to a sound and healthy state, by eating meat with them. This entertainment was not made at the house of Lazarus, as we might be led to suppose from this narrative, but at that of Simon the leper, as appears from the evangelist Matthew, who relates the circumstances about to be mentioned, as having happened there.
3. Then took Mary a pound of
ointinent, '“ of perfume," of spikenard, of unadulterated or liquid * spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her
and the house was filled with the sçent of the perfume.
Matthew says that Mary poured the perfume on the head of Jesus, 'which corresponds very well with the custom of eastern countries; but John might confine himself to the circumstances of anointing his feet and wiping them with her hair, in order to show the humility of Mary, and the warmth of her gratitude for the extraordinary favour of restoring her brother to life.
4. Then said one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
Judas began to censure, but others of the disciples joined him in it.
5. Why was not this perfume sold for three hundred pence, about nine pounds thirteen shillings and nine pence of our money, and given to the poor?
This was intended as a censure upon Mary; intimating that she had wasted, in a useless compliment, what, if it had been sold, and the price put into the common stock, might have been of great benefit. From this
it appears that although Christ and his disciples were maintained by the beneficence of others, yet they reserved something out of their little stock for the poor.
See Schleusner's Lexicon, on the word RIFIXYS. Vol. 2.)
6. This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, “ kept the purse,” and bare what was put therein, rather, so used to steal what was put therein.” This if put into the
purse, he thought he could, as in other instances, apply to his own private use.
7. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
Grudge not the expence which she has bestowed upon me on the present occasion: for, as I am soont to die, it is no more than embalming a dead body *. He now adds another reason, founded likewise upon the short time of his continuance in the world.
8. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Be not offended at the honour now paid to me: for there will not be many opportunities of repeating it, since I shall soon leave you ; but you will have frequent opportunities of showing kindness to the poor.
9. Much people of the Jews, therefore, knew that he was there, and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10. But the chief priests consulted that they might, rather, “ resolved that they would," put Lazarus also to death;
Lardner thinks that our Lord foresaw that, for want of oppore tunity, there would be a defect in respect to embalming him, and that he refers to this circumstance in this place. Vol. xi. p. 296.
11. Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, rather, " withdrew," that is, from the synagogues, and believed on Jesus.
In this part of the evangelical history there is something to give us pleasure, but much more to offend and give us pain.
1. We see the resurrection of Lazarus producing its proper effect upon many. From so wonderful a miracle, wrought at the instance of Jesus, they justly infer his divine mission and his claim to the character of the Messiah; they forsake the synagogues of the. Jews, to hear his instructions and to become his fol. lowers. The sisters of Lazarus also express their
gratitude for the restoration of their brother from the dead, in the humblest and most expensive manner which they could devise; and Jesus accepts of the honour intended him, as a proper return for his kind
Thus we are pleased to see him honoured by the faith and gratitude of the candid and the good: but,
2. This miracle produced a very different effect
Unconvinced by it themselves, they take the first opportunity of informing his principal enemies of what he had been doing, who, from the reality of the miracle, and the increasing faith which it produces, only infer the necessity of taking proper measures to stop the progress of his reputation; thus affording a dreadful example of, what we should hardly have been disposed to believe without such good proof, that some men are so fortified in prejudice, or hardened in vice, that no evidence is sufficient to pro
duce conviction in their minds. After such an example of unbelief among the witnesses of miracles, let us not be surprised, at any which modern times have produced; nothing can be more extraordinary than this. Let us learn from it never to shut our eyes against light, by refusing to hear evidence in favour of any doctrine, however improbable it may appear: for by doing so we may be rejecting important truth.
3. Observe how private interest biasses the conduct of men, and leads them to be guilty of the greatest crimes.
Of this we have an example in two striking characters which are here introduced-Caiaphas the high priest and Judas Iscariot.
The one solemnly advises the putting of Jesus to death, although convicted of no crime, from a pretended regard to the safety of the nation, but really from a concern for his own and his party's popularity and influence, which he found to decline as 'the fame of Jesus prevailed; thus acting in the true spirit of political profligacy; professing a regard to the public interest, while he was pursuing his own private ends. Judas also acted upon the same principle, when he professed a desire to serve the poor, only that he might have an opportunity to steal; and the only difference between the two characters seems to have been this, that Judas was a vil. lain in a private, but Caiaphas in a public station. The men were the same; and it is to be lamented that, notwithstanding the odiousness of their characters, they should have so many followers in all ages, both among statesmen and private persons.
4. Let us admire the wisdom of Providence, which takes advantage of the vices of men for accomplishing its purposes, and fulfils its designs by those very means which are employed to defeat them. Caiaphas proposed to save the temple and nation by putting Jesus to death; but that event proved the means of destroying both; thus God takes the wise in their own craftiness. In one sense, however, although not in that which Caiaphas intended, Jesus did die not for that nation only, but for all mankind, that he might unite