THE discourse which the Lord had finished concluded his public ministry. He had commenced it by preaching the acceptable year of the Lord, and he ends it by declaring the certainty of a final judgment. Having delivered his last address to those who were without, he now addresses himself to those who were within.
1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. 3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
2, 24, 45. See Chapter XVII., 12, 22, 23. A. 9807. See Chapter XVII., 12, 22, 23. E. 63.
1, 2. And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. The passover was instituted to mark the Lord’s mercy in passing over the houses of the children of Israel on the night that he went through Egypt and slew all the first-born of the Egyptians. This last plague was the means of Israel’s deliverance, of which the passover was also the sign. The Holy Supper, which the Lord instituted instead of the Jewish passover, was a sign of the great redemption which he was about to complete, and by which the faithful were to be saved from a slavery more cruel than that of Egypt. The Lord thus kept the passover, because the deliverance of Israel from Egypt was typical of the redemption which he accomplished. The Lord says to the disciples, “Ye know that after two days is the passover.” Two signifies conjunction – the conjunction of good and truth, or the conjunction of evil and falsity, according to the nature of the subject. Here the two days signify both – the union of good and truth in the Lord’s humanity, and the conjunction of evil and falsity in the Jewish church. Both were ready – the one for glorification, the other for consummation. The betrayal and crucifixion of the Son of man were the means of completing both. This is expressed in the two acts that were to be committed by the Jews, as well as by the two days after which they were to be done; for it is the false principle that betrays the Lord, and the evil principle that crucifies him.
3, 4. While the Lord was instructing his disciples respecting his death, the Jewish council were plotting how to effect it. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. The prophetic Psalm was being fulfilled, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing”? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed” (ii. 1). The whole powers of evil and falsity in the church and in the world, represented by the Jews and the Romans, were combined against the Lord as the supreme good and truth; for everything they did to the Lord proceeded from, and therefore involved, opposition to the Word, as the expression of the Divine love and wisdom which Jesus was. The palace of the high priest was the place where the members of the Jewish hierarchy were assembled, and Caiaphas the high priest presided over them. As, in the Word, he who forms the first or the head of an assembly gives a character to the whole, we may judge of the character of the church which this council naturally represented, indicating a state of utter corruption and complete devastation.
A palace, as distinguished from a house, signifies the intellect, as distinguished from the will, thus the intellectual principle of the church. It is in the understanding that the thoughts assemble when they deliberate on anything either good or evil. And this character of the people and the palace is more clearly indicated by the object being, not simply to take Jesus, but to take him by subtilty, – attempt which expresses the idea that in the Jewish church they not only were opposed to the Word, but employed the subtilty of their intellects to pervert and destroy it.
The high priest, who headed and encouraged the council, deserves our especial attention. Caiaphas is one of those persons, several of whom are mentioned in the Scriptures, who unite high official gifts with degraded personal qualities. Caiaphas it was who spoke, not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John xi. 51). Yet he who uttered this great truth, when speaking under the inspiration of the Almighty, could conspire with the unprincipled Sanhedrim when they “consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.” He was like Balaam, “which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty,” uttering sublime truths while meditating a diabolical action, – willing to curse him whom it was his duty to bless. More effectually did the purpose of Caiaphas work against Jesus, as “the Star that should come out of Jacob, and the Sceptre that should rise out of Israel,” than did the will of Balaam, to use enchantment against Jacob and divination against Israel. But Providence had a beneficent end in preventing the one and permitting the other. In the time of Caiaphas it was expedient “that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not;” and the high priest himself was a suitable instrument for promoting the accomplishment of the prophecy he uttered. Can we, then, fail to see in Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jews, a type of the Jewish church, and of every corrupt member of the church, when intellectual enlightenment and moral corruption go hand in hand, when the understanding can see and speak from the light of heaven, while the will feels and acts from the fire of hell?
5 When the whole Sanhedrim had determined to take Jesus, their subtilty was displayed in the resolution they adopted to take him, not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people. The Lord was, however, taken on the feast day; but it was at the suggestion and through the agency of one still more wicked and subtile than themselves – Judas, the traitor. The feast day of the passover was a type of the Lord’s redemption, and the paschal lamb which was then killed and eaten was a type of the Redeemer himself. Appropriately was the Lord’s death accomplished during the celebration of the passover; and appropriately was he led as a Lamb to the slaughter on the day that the paschal lamb was killed. Yet the Jewish priesthood wished to avoid this day lest there might be an uproar among the people. The multitude, though often hostile to Jesus, were not actuated by the same deadly hatred against him as their rulers, nor did they deal with him with the subtilty of the priesthood. The rulers were like Pharaoh and his servants, who attempted to defeat the Divine purpose to redeem Israel, while the people, who inclined to follow the Lord, were like the mixed multitude that went up with the children of Israel out of Egypt.
6 A striking contrast to this wicked conspiracy of the rulers of the Jewish church to effect the Lord’s destruction, is presented in the tender and beautiful scene exhibited when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. As Bethany was the town of Lazarus, whose resurrection from the dead typified the raising up of a church among the Gentiles, the Lord’s presence in Simon’s house, and the anointing of his head with oil, are expressive of the loving reception of the Lord by the Gentiles when he was rejected by the Jews.
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.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
7, 12. By the head is meant the whole man, because from the head descends the all of the man, for the body is a derivation thence, wherefore also what man thinks and wills, which is done in the head, this is presented in effect in the body. Hence also it is evident that anointing the head is anointing the whole body. A. 10011.
7, 12, 13. By burial in the Word is signified resuscitation into life and resurrection. With regard to the Lord it signified the glorification of His Humanity, for the Lord glorified His whole Humanity, that is made it Divine, wherefore He rose again the third day with the Humanity glorified or made Divine. Unless this had been accomplished no man could have risen again to life, for the resurrection of man unto life is solely from the Lord, and indeed from the union of His Divine with His Human, which is properly understood by glorification, and by virtue whereof man has salvation. This also is involved in what the Lord said concerning the woman who poured balsamic ointment upon His head, that she did it unto His burial, for by conjunction is signified glorification. As by virtue thereof man has salvation, it is said (see Verse 13). E. 659.
7 When Jesus was in the house of Simon, 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. As Simon was a type of faith in the Lord, the woman was a type of love to him. This woman, as we learn from John xii. 3, was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Mary is the recognized type of those devoted souls who have chosen “the one thing needful,” the love of Jesus, as their all; and who sit at his feet, and hear his word. And such will imitate Mary, also, in the costly offering which she made to her Saviour. Mary’s pious act was a significant one. Anointing was practised in the representative church on all solemn and important occasions; in particular, it was employed in the inauguration of kings and priests. Types of the Lord, their unction was representative of his. He was truly the Lord’s anointed. The oil with which Jesus was anointed was the Divine love itself, of which the holy oil was the symbol. In the secondary sense, holy oil was the symbol of brotherly love. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments,” (Ps. cxxxiii.) Unity among brethren is cemented by brotherly love. The precious ointment brought by Mary was a symbol of her love to her Saviour; as it is love that unites man to man, it is love that unites man to the Lord. Love is precious in proportion as it has cost us much – as we have purchased it with much self-denial and devoted service, and have then enriched it with wisdom and experience. Mary brought her ointment in an alabaster box. True faith, filled with pure love, is the alabaster box of precious ointment which Mary poured upon the head of Jesus. Those whom Mary represents imitate Mary’s act of devotion when they reciprocate the love which they have received from Jesus; and they pour the precious ointment on his head when they seek conjunction with him in the celestial degree, of which the Lord’s head is the symbol. John (xii. 3) says that Mary anointed the feet of Jesus; and to reconcile the two statements, commentators offer the conjecture that Mary anointed both his head and his feet. Whether this be the case or not, there is a reason for the apparent discrepancy. The head signifies first principles, from which all lower principles are derived; and the feet signify lowest principles, in which all the higher are contained. The anointing of the head and the anointing of the feet have the same signification, so far as this, that the anointing of each signifies the sanctifying of the whole man – the one, all as proceeding from the first; the other, all as included in the last. And the anointing of the feet is recorded in John, because his gospel describes regeneration in its greatest fulness – when the first is in the last, the highest in the lowest.
8 This grateful tribute of tender love and exalted devotion on the part of Mary did not receive from all who witnessed it the approval it deserved. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation saying, To what purpose is this waste? This is not the only instance in which the disciples showed less love and devotedness to the Lord than the pious women who followed him. The different character of the male and female mind accounts for this. Women act more from affection, men more from intellect. Every one, indeed, has both these essentials of humanity in himself, although the sexes have not both in the same degree. The difference between Mary and the disciples may therefore be seen by every one in his own experience. Warm and generous impulses sometimes prompt us to noble or generous actions, but when the calculating faculty comes into play, it condemns as wasteful what the heart had conceived as necessary. Second thoughts are sometimes best; but in the present state of human nature they are often less disinterested than the first. It is for this reason that the church, when personified, is represented as a woman; because it is the will, and not the understanding – love, and not faith – that essentially constitutes the church, and which is the virgin daughter of Zion and Jerusalem, the bride and wife of the Lamb. Every true member of the church has both these elements of religion, but love is the essence of all his true worship, and the grace which unites his soul to his Saviour. Intellect, truth, faith, when alone, have nothing devotional or conjunctive in them, but tend rather to self-worship, and therefore to disjunction and division. The disciples on this, as on some other occasions, presented an image of the mind when too much under the influence of faith as a separate grace, and therefore of faith as opposed, rather than favourable, to true love and its precious offering. In regard to the conduct of the disciples on this occasion, Judas Iscariot was the author of this censure of waste, and according to John (xii. 4), he alone uttered the complaint and this he did, “not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” According to the rule that the first of a series marks the general character of the whole, we have here a representation of the intellectual state of the church, when self-love and self-interest are allowed to influence our thoughts. Even the man of the church, when he takes a merely intellectual view of divine worship, asks, “To what purpose is this waste? God cannot be exalted by our praise, nor persuaded by our petitions. The time and the means that are devoted to anointing him who in himself is holy might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” Yet acts proceeding from these nobler sentiments would frequently be acts done to the Lord himself, acts that had less of self and more of him – acts such as those which he himself ascribed to the righteous, when he said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
9 The difference between the woman and the disciples, as types of the celestial and spiritual, is further manifested in the remark, For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. She thought of the Lord; they thought of the neighbour. With the celestial the Lord is first; with the spiritual the neighbour is first. Do we not sometimes hear it objected, “To what purpose is this waste of time and energy which you devote to pious meditation and prayer? Why not give them to the poor? God does not require all this service. You cannot exalt him with your praises, nor move him with your prayers. Your brother can be benefited by your service, and requires all you can render him. That which is most beneficial to man is most serviceable to God.” True; but the highest form of love to the neighbour comes through love to God. True love to the neighbour is love to man from love to God. When the prophet would increase the famishing widow’s handful of meal, he required her first to make him a cake. And that he might bless the harvests of Israel, God required the first-fruits, the gleanings of which were left for the poor. Why was this! To teach us that the acknowledgment of the Giver sanctifies the gift, and makes its secondary use more excellent and beneficial. But the disciples thought it might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. We read, indeed, of something similar to this in the Lord requiring a would-be disciple to sell all that he had, and give to the poor. But his possessions were a hindrance to his becoming a disciple of Jesus. The woman had purchased the ointment to show her devotion to the Lord. To have sold it again, to give the money to the poor, would have been to forsake the Lord with the view of doing service to men. As this woman represents the church, and specifically the Gentile church, she is to be considered as standing between the Lord as the All-sufficient, and the poor as the destitute.
10 But when Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? Our Lord alludes to this good work in what follows. We may confine our attention at present to the inquiry how this act could operate as a good work upon him. As this woman pouring ointment on the Lord’s head represented the church seeking conjunction through love with the Lord’s divine humanity, the good work she wrought upon Jesus, in regard to herself, is the union effected with him, by the reciprocation of his love on the part of the church. The spiritual trouble the celestial when they judge of their state by their own, and insinuate their own spirit into them, or make them the subjects of their influx. The lower acting upon the higher causes them disturbance. For she hath wrought a good work upon me, said our Lord. This work is afterwards mentioned, and will be considered when we come to it.
11 The reason the Lord gives for not disturbing or hindering the woman in her pious work is, For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. There are two kinds of poor, and many degrees of poverty. There are the poor in the natural sense, who have a scant share of this world’s goods, and the poor in a spiritual sense, who have but a small share of heaven’s wealth. Of the spiritually poor there are some who, though yet poor, think they are rich, and in need of nothing; and there are some who are sensible of their poverty, and desire to receive the true riches. There are the poor distinct from ourselves, in the persons of others, and the poor within us, in our own impoverished faculties. These we too certainly have with us always. But Jesus we have not always. His spirit of meekness and lowliness of heart, of love and mercy, of forbearance, forgiveness, of patience and endurance, – this is not always with us. When the heavenly graces and virtues in which he dwells are active, then is he with us. And then is the time to pour out the affections of our love and devotion, as the woman poured upon his head the precious ointment – the sign of her grateful homage and profound adoration.
12 A further reason the Lord gave the disciples not to trouble the woman was, For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Burial is the symbol of resurrection for when the body dies and is buried, the soul rises into its true and complete life. But the Lord’s resurrection was also his glorification; and this is included in the signification of his burial. The angels know not about death and burial, but only about life and resurrection. Therefore, when the language of men is translated into the language of angels, mortality is changed into immortality. What, then, does our Lord mean when he said of the woman, “In that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial?” It is well known that Jesus was called Christ from his being the Anointed of Jehovah. The holy oil with which he was to be anointed signifies the Divine love. “The Lord alone, as to his divine humanity, was the anointed of Jehovah; for in him, from conception, was the Divine good itself of the Divine love, and from that he made his humanity Divine truth itself when in the world; and, moreover, by union with his essential Divinity he made that also the Divine good of his Divine love.” As Jesus was the anointed of Jehovah, so was he the anointed of heaven and the church. But the anointing by the church was only the reciprocation of his own gifts – the return of her love to him as the fountain as well as the object of her love. But this love was directed to the Lord in his humanity glorified; and as its glorification was about to be completed in his resurrection, therefore he said the woman had poured it on his body for his burial. To see this subject in its practical bearing, we must consider it in reference to the Lord’s resurrection and glorification in ourselves. It is by love from his Divinity that his humanity can be glorified in us, and become the true object of our love and worship. That love is the precious ointment which the loving and grateful disciple pours upon his head, as a sign of the heart’s acknowledgment of Jesus as the Author of the soul’s salvation.
13 The Lord further declares to his disciples respecting the woman, 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. Literally has this been fulfilled. And worthy must the deed have been to obtain the promise of an imperishable fame. But there is a promise within this promise, whose memorial is not on earth, but in heaven; not without in the world, but within in the heart. The Lord’s language seems to suggest another meaning. It is not the genius of his religion to promise temporal rewards for heavenly services. The record of the righteous is on high. According to the spiritual sense, the world signifies the world within – the human mind. Wheresoever here the gospel is preached, or the glad tidings of salvation are revealed and received – in a word, wherever the Lord’s saving truth is accepted – there the good to which it leads is made known; but made known as a memorial, a lesson impressed upon the outer man, of an act that has been performed in the inner man, and which is prospective to its being realized in the outer man also.
14 It is remarkable that this touching act of love to the Saviour should be immediately followed by the traitorous act of him who originated the complaint against the waste of the ointment. The Lord had spoken of the woman having by anticipation embalmed his body for burial; and then, as if the mention of the subject had awakened a slumbering idea, one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests. Taking the character and the act of Judas as they are represented to us in the plain and unqualified language of Scripture, we cannot imagine any consummation of iniquity more complete than we find it in him. It is needless to enlarge upon this. Every one sees it. Judas has become a name to express the lowest depth of humanity; and his case affords, if not an example, at least a type of the extremity of human degradation and depravity which rendered the Lord’s death at once inevitable and necessary; for the very evil which procured his death was that which his resurrection provided against. As the woman who poured the precious ointment on the Lord’s head represented the Gentile church, which in her representative act gave a token that that church was about to receive the Lord from the dead, so Judas represented the Jewish church, which was about to betray and crucify him, killing the Just One, whom they professed to be longing and looking for as their deliverer. But Judas, besides representing the Jewish church, represented a possible character in the Christian church, and still more a principle or element in human nature in every age of the church. He represented the lowest, and now the most degraded, principle of human nature. He was in the last age of the world what the serpent was in the first – the betrayer of innocence, the bringer-in of death. But there was this overruled difference; the last death was the conquest as well as the consummation of the first. By death Jesus overcame him who had the power of death, and opened again the way to the tree of life, which the fall of man had closed. Life and immortality, brought to light by the gospel, were realized in the resurrection. Thus did evil become the permitted means of working the overthrow of its own dominion. The principle in human nature which Judas represented is that which is called the sensual and corporeal, or what in the apostolic writings is called the carnal, which is in man’s fallen state hostile to the spiritual. This principle is therefore in deadly opposition to the Lord in man; it is the Judas of the human heart, and is ever ready and seeks opportunity to betray him. But this carnal principle seeks to effect its purpose by leaguing itself with, or rather becoming the willing instrument of the powers and principles of the corrupt and perverted church, as Judas did by acting into the hands of the chief priests.
15 But while Judas offers his services to the enemies of Jesus, he does it for the sake of reward. He says to the chief priests, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? It would appear from this and the subsequent part of Judas’s history, that he was not actuated so much by hatred of Jesus as by the love of himself. He appears rather as one who has given himself so entirely up to that all-devouring avarice which is the root of all evil, as to be willing to sacrifice his best friend to gratify his ruling passion, which indicates a state still worse than that of a personal enemy. “What will ye give me,” is the question and the object. We might well ask how could this be possible in a disciple of Jesus, if we did not see and do the like. For what is the sacrifice of acknowledged religious principle to avarice and selfishness but a betraying the Lord afresh, and putting him to an open shame? But there is an avarice of another and still deadlier kind than the sordid love of money – the sordid love of knowledge. Knowledge is to man spiritually what money is to him naturally – the means of life. Truth and goodness are the principles of life; but if these are sold for knowledge, knowledge becomes the means of death instead of life. The price for which Judas sold the Lord, and for which the chief priests purchased him for his destruction, implies the little value which the Jewish church attached to his merit, and his redemption and salvation. And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. This number signifies somewhat little in respect to that of which it is predicated. In the parable of the sower, the seed sown in good ground brought forth some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold, thirty being the measure of the least productive. Judas and the Jewish priests individually made no account of the Lord and his works; but what they did represented what the people thought the general estimation in which the Lord and his redemption were held. These thirty pieces of silver were the price at which the Saviour of the world was valued. Do we value him more? If so, how much is his price?
16 And from, that time he sought opportunity to betray him. The state, to which time corresponds, was the potential consummation of the Jewish church. In relation to individual life the state of mind which seeks opportunity to betray the truth and good, or to deliver them into the hands of their enemies, is one in which the proprium or selfhood is in intense activity, and tending to the ultimate destruction of the human principle.
17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
25Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
17 The pass-over represented the Lord’s glorification, and thus the conjunction of the Divine with the human race. As this conjunction is effected through love and charity, and faith therefrom, these celestial and spiritual things were represented by the unleavened bread. A. 2342.
17-30. We come now to a deeply important part of the gospel history – the account of the Lord’s eating the passover with his disciples, and his instituting the sacrament of the Holy Supper. The institution of the new ordinance on the occasion of celebrating the old was most appropriate and significant. The Jewish passover had been instituted to foreshadow what the Christian supper was instituted to commemorate: or rather, the passover was instituted to commemorate the shadow, while the supper was instituted to commemorate the substance. The redemption of Israel from the bondage of Egypt was a type of the redemption of mankind from the bondage of hell. The paschal lamb, the sprinkling of whose blood upon the door-posts made the angel of death pass over the houses of Israel, was a type of the Lamb of God, whose blood cleanseth from all sin; and the flesh of the paschal lamb, which the Israelites were to eat as the feast of their deliverance, was a type of the flesh of the Son of man, which he gives for the life of the world, as the food of the soul. We do not mean that the flesh and blood of the Lord’s natural body possessed these virtues. His words were spirit and life; and what is spiritually meant by the Lord’s flesh and blood we shall see when we come to the institution of the Lord’s Supper. It was well known by the apostles that the paschal lamb represented the Lord; for Paul says, Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. v. 7).
17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? The feast of passover was called sometimes the feast of unleavened bread, because bread unleavened was commanded to be eaten during its continuance. The feast lasted seven days. It commenced on the fourteenth day of the month Abib, which was thenceforward to be the first month of the Israelitish year, and ended on the twenty-first (Exod. xii. 7). The year of which the month Abib was to be the beginning represented the year of the Lord’s redemption, which commenced a new epoch in the spiritual history of the human race. “The passover represented the Lord’s glorification, and thereby the conjunction of the Divine Being with mankind. And since the conjunction of the Lord with mankind is effected by love and charity, and by faith derived from them, these celestial and spiritual principles were represented by the unleavened bread which was to be eaten on the days of the Passover. Bread signifies in general all food, both celestial and spiritual; thus all celestial and spiritual things. That these should be free from all impurities was represented by unleavened bread; for leaven signifies evil and falsity, by which celestial and spiritual principles are rendered impure and profane. It was to prevent the defilement of these principles by anything profane that leaven was forbidden, under the penalty of being cut off from Israel; for they who profane what is celestial and spiritual must inevitably perish.” The first day of unleavened bread was the first of the seven days during which the feast lasted. It therefore signified the beginning of a new state. In regard to the Lord himself, the new state, the beginning of which was represented by the feast of unleavened bread, was that full and final state of glorification which was completed by the passion of the cross. The Lord’s glorification was a successive as well as a continuous work. It advanced by distinct as well as by continuous degrees: and the last was that upon which he was now about to enter. The Lord therefore said to his disciples, “With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke xxii. 15). The bitterness of his trials, temptations, and sufferings, which were to form his dark passage into transcendent glory, was significantly pointed to by the bitter herbs which were to be eaten with the Paschal lamb. As with the Lord, so with the disciples who follow him in the regeneration. The Lord’s disciples asked him, “Where wilt thou that we prepare?” The question here is one which every true disciple requires to ask. Place signifies state. The question involves the desire to know the state which enables the disciple to unite with the Lord in eating the Christian passover, and to be directed and led by him to its attainment. And this is essentially necessary when we consider that the question is, “Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?” It is possible for the disciple to eat the passover without the Lord eating it with him or the feast being his. Unless the Lord is present, and eats with us, the feast is not his, and does not conjoin the soul with him.
18 To the disciples’ question, “Where?” the Lord answers, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. According to Luke xxii. 7, the disciples were not directed to the man of the house, but when they entered the city they were to meet a man bearing a pitcher of water, and to follow him into whatsoever house he entered. As the city, Jerusalem, in its genuine sense represented the doctrine of the church, a house in the city represented the good which all true doctrine contains. The disciples were to be led to the house in which the passover was to be celebrated, by following a man bearing a pitcher of water, to teach us, representatively, that if we follow where truth leads, we shall be introduced into a principle and state of goodness. Water being, the symbol of truth, he who bears the pitcher of water is the type of one who is instructed in the truths of the church, and possessed of spiritual intelligence. Thus understood, we can see a reason for the Lord directing the disciples to the city, besides the miraculous character of the transaction, for all the Lord’s miracles are instructive. When the disciples entered the house, they were directed to address the householder in these remarkable words, “The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” This is not the man whom Luke speaks of as guiding the disciples to the house, but him whom he calls the goodman of the house; he signifies, therefore, truth conjoined with good, or the understanding united to the will. What the Lord says to any one, spiritually means an inward perception or dictate from him of the truth expressed. The time of which our Lord speaks was not the time of eating the passover, but the time when he, as the true Paschal Lamb, was to be killed. The man probably understood not this saying; it was bid from the most privileged of the apostles. It was sufficient that his word had power, and that it has the power of spiritual instruction. Time, like place, is expressive of state, and the Lord’s death was also his glorification. Near at hand signifies proximity of state. To see the force of this practically, we must consider it experimentally. The Lord’s time is at hand with us when his glorification is about to be realized in our regeneration – he is about to be born again from the dead in our hearts and lives. The consent as well as the perception of the understanding is meant by the disciples announcing this to the man of the house, its consent that the will be the receptacle of the Divine love, and be conjoined, through love, with the Lord himself. Jesus does not, however, ask the man’s permission, but simply expresses his will to occupy his house. The Lord does not overbear our freedom; but when we are disposed to be the Lord’s, there is nothing more needed than to know his will, that we may do it. His will is expressed in his words, “I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” We have already remarked that the will is the place where the Lord dwells with man, and enters into conjunction with him; and this is expressed in the Lord’s message to the householder to whom his messengers were led. In the house the Lord was to eat the passover with his disciples. The disciples represented all the principles of goodness and truth which constitute the Lord’s kingdom in the human mind. To eat the passover with the disciples in the house, is to conjoin to himself, by his communication and their appropriation of good, all the principles of love and faith, when elevated into the human will.
19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. We are not informed here who these disciples were; but in Luke we learn they were Peter and John, who represent truth and goodness, or faith and love, and therefore stand for the disciples generally, for these are the general principles of which the others are the particulars. And these make ready the passover: they prepare the mind for the full reception of the Lord and heaven and for the confirmation of the principles of his kingdom of love and peace in the heart.
20 The celebration of the passover, as the last meal which the Lord partook with his disciples before his death, comes now to be considered. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. We have already spoken of the distinction between the passover and the Lord’s Supper. In their spiritual import the passover treats of the Lord’s work of redemption, and his supper of the work of salvation; or what is the same, the first treats of the work of reformation, the second of the work of regeneration. The one passes into the other, and in it finds its completion and fulness. We have therefore a deep and eternal interest in these two great representative feasts. And as the greater includes the less, we have in the Lords Supper all that was contained in the passover. Indeed, that sacred ceremonial of the Christian church includes all that was represented in the entire circle of feasts and sacrifices which belonged to the Israelitish church, all these being embodied in the sacrament of the holy supper, as all the washings were embodied in the sacrament of baptism. Although therefore, the ritual law was abolished, yet an epitome of the rituals of the law was preserved, to form the ceremonial worship of the Christian church. The even, in the Scripture sense, was the beginning of the day, which consisted of “the evening and the morning.” The even on which the Lord assembled with his disciples to keep the passover was the beginning of the new day, the day of salvation. To the Jewish church this even was the beginning of the night, for to it no morning ever dawned again. To the Lord it was the even of the night of his darkest and direst temptation, previous to the morning of his resurrection in transcendent glory.
21 In conformity with this, the first words that the Lord addressed to his disciples had immediate reference to this dark stage of his experience, and to the still darker part which one of their number was to act in regard to it. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. We shall not now speak of the crime itself which the Lord declares one of his disciples would commit, but of the Lord’s revealing this while they were eating the passover. As the even represented two opposite states, the feast represented two opposite things. It was eaten by the Israelites on that night when a complete and final separation was effected between them and the Egyptians, followed by a judgment which drowned their enemies in the Red Sea, and placed them in freedom on its opposite shore. A similar separation and judgment were signified by the passover which the Lord ate with his disciples. Judgment was about to pass on the Jewish church; the faithful and the unfaithful were about to be separated from each other – the former to be rejected and the latter saved. The unfaithful were represented by Judas, who, in the general sense, was a type of the Jewish church; and the faithful by the rest of the disciples. It was during the passover, therefore, that the character of Judas was developed, that his treason was foretold, and that the awful judgment of Divine Truth was pronounced upon him; and it was immediately after it that he went out and offered to the chief priests to deliver his Master into their hands. The subsequent history of Judas and the rest of the disciples further exemplifies their representative characters; for while the traitor, like the Egyptians, perished, the others, like the Israelites, passed through trials before they were established in righteousness. There was a peculiar propriety in the Lord being betrayed by one of his own disciples. The distinction between the true disciples and the false is, that the true are principled in faith grounded in charity, and the false are in faith without charity; and it is faith without charity that betrays the Lord.
22 When Jesus had declared that one of his disciples should betray him, they were exceeding sorrowful. Sorrow signifies temptation. The Lord is said to bear our sorrows, because be suffered temptations for our sake, when his soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. This sorrow leads to self-examination. And, indeed, one of the uses of temptation is, that evils may be excited, and so discovered, that they may be put away. The form of the inquiry of the disciples is most instructive. They individually ask, not “Who is it?” but, “Is it I?” They began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? True self-examination is not a general but a particular search, and with the view of discovering the particular evil that tempts us to sin, and where it lies concealed. This is a discovery that cannot be made by the light of our own reason, but by the light that comes from above; the Lord alone can reveal the hidden evil to our minds. To him every one must look and say, “Lord, is it I?”
23 To their question the Lord did not give a direct reply. And he answered and said, He that dippeth, his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The dish used at the passover is said to have contained a bitter sauce, in which the guests dipped their morsel before eating it. The bitter herbs used in this ritual signified, as we have seen, the bitterness of temptation. The word dip is derived from that which means to baptize, and baptism also includes the idea of temptation. The hand of Judas being with that of Jesus in the dish, tells us of the suffering which one was to inflict, and the other to endure, in the approaching day of trial. The hand is the symbol of power. The hand of Judas was the symbol of the power of hell itself, – for Satan had put it into his heart to betray him, and when he had taken the sop, Satan entered into him (John xiii. 27). The hand of Jesus was there, to resist and to overcome that power; for his hand was the symbol of that power which he possessed as the Word made flesh. This mutual dipping in the dish, no doubt, implies also the familiarity of friendship, as expressed by David in Psalm x1i. 9: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” Eating bread with one generally denotes communion with him by good. Of course, in the case of hypocrites, it can only denote simulated goodness and hollow profession. In regard to the Jews, whom Judas represented, their eating the Lord’s bread denotes their possessing and reading the Word; other expressions of friendship, such as taking sweet counsel together, and walking to the house of God in company, being expressive of the delight which that church took in external knowledge and worship, while at the same time they were in a state of inward rebellion against him, which showed itself in their cruel hostility to Jesus, whose destruction they breathed and finally effected.
24 The Lord continues. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. It had been foretold that the Messiah would be cut off out of the land of the living (Dan. ix. 26; Isa. liii. 3). Although Divine wisdom and mercy brought an infinite good out of the Lord’s death, it was no less criminal in those who compassed it. That wickedness reconciled upon the head of Judas, and upon the Jewish church, which Judas so fitly represented. But he also represented those by whom the truth is betrayed – those who know and profess themselves its disciples, and yet profane it by making it subservient to their own selfish and worldly purposes. They profane it to their own destruction. The “woe” of everlasting ruin hangs over them; and good would it have been for such if they had never been born. This does not signify natural but spiritual birth, for the real profaner is one who has been born from above, but has destroyed the life of heaven in himself Good had it been for this man if he had never been born.
25 When the Lord had spoken these terrible words against him who was to be his betrayer, Judas answered and said, Master, is it I? it seems extraordinary that Judas should ask this question, knowing that it was his settled purpose to betray his Lord. He might have known that Jesus also knew what his intention was. Perhaps in this Judas affords an instance of the double mindedness of those he represents. All who are in truth, and yet in evil, know and do not know that the Lord sees them. They know, but do not believe; and therefore their knowledge has no influence on their lives, nor even on their inward thoughts. Yet it was necessary, spiritually, that Judas should ask the question, and that Jesus should answer it. Self-examination would be fruitless if it did not result in discovering where the evil lurks. And now that it was brought to light, the evil could be separated from the good. Although there is no record of it here, we learn from John xiii. 30, that, “having received the sop, he went immediately out” to execute his purpose. And as, in relation to man, Judas represented the corporeal principle of human nature, it is here we are to find the root of evil, especially of the cupidity which would sell the Saviour and salvation for a base and momentary gratification.
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
26 See Chapter XIV., 19. A. 5405.
By the Lord’s body is meant the Divine love, in like manner as by His flesh. Moreover the Lord’s body itself since it was glorified, that is, since it was made Divine is nothing else. This is my body He said of the bread, because by the bread is also signified the Divine love. A. 6135.
By bread is signified all worship in general, also the good of love. From these things it will be evident what was meant by the Lord when He instituted the Holy Supper, that the bread was His body. A. 8682.
See Chapter XIV., 19. A. 9416.
That bread has a similar meaning with flesh is clearly evident from the Lord’s words. T. 707.
That it is the Lord Himself who is understood by manna and by bread He openly teaches for He says, I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. That it is the Lord as to His Divine human He also teaches. To eat of this bread is to be conjoined to Him by love, for to eat signifies to appropriate and be conjoined, and love is spiritual conjunction. E. 146.
26, 27. See John 1, 14. From this flesh all flesh is vivified, that is, from the Lord’s Divine human every man is vivified by the appropriation of His love, which appropriation is signified by eating the flesh of the Son of Man, and by eating the bread of the Holy Supper, for the bread is the body or flesh. A. 3813.
See Chapter XIV., 15-21. E. 340.
By eating bread and drinking wine, in the spiritual sense, in the Holy Supper the bread is the Lord’s body, and the wine His blood. E. 617.
26-28. Hence it is manifest what is meant by eating in the Holy Supper, namely to have communication, and to be conjoined, and to appropriate to one’s self. A. 2187.
By which is signified the appropriation of Divine good and Divine truth from Him, and this appropriation from the Lord cannot be given except to those who acknowledge the Divine of the Lord, for this is the first and the very essential of all things which are of faith in the church, for heaven cannot be opened to others. A. 10033.
The Lord’s doctrine concerning His flesh and blood, and the bread and the wine see John vi. 27, 32, 33, 35, 41, 47-51, 53-56. T. 703.
It may be seen that the bread and wine do not mean bread and wine, but in the natural sense the same as flesh and blood, that is, the passion of His cross. Therefore He also called the passion of the cross a cup. See Verses 39, 42. T. 704.
The blood of the New Covenant or Testament signified nothing else than the Word, thus the Divine truth therein. T. 706.
That the Lord is in the Holy Supper in His fulness, both as to the glorified Human, and as to the Divine from which the Human came, is evident from His own express words. That His Human is present in the Holy Supper is evident from Matthew, Mark xiv : Luke xxii. T. 716.
26-29. To break bread and to give to them in the spiritual world signifies to instruct in the good and truth of faith, by which the Lord appears. A. 9412.
Inasmuch as by wine is understood Divine truth nourishing spiritual life, therefore the Lord said to them (Verse 29). Hence it is evident that this is to be understood spiritually. E. 329.
26, 28. With doctrinals which are from the literal sense of the Word the case is this, that when man is in them, and at the same time in a life according to them, he has in himself correspondence, for the angels who are with him are in interior truths, while he is in exterior, and thus he has communication by doctrinals with heaven, but according to the good of his life. As, for example, when in the Holy Supper he thinks simply of the Lord, from the words then used, the angels with him are in the idea of love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbour, for love to the Lord corresponds to the body of the Lord and to bread, and charity toward the neighbour corresponds to blood and wine, and because there is such correspondence, there flows an affection out of heaven, through the angels into that holy feeling in which man then is, which affection he receives according to the good of his life A. 3464.
26 We now come to the institution of the holy supper. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. The holy supper, the most sacred solemnity of worship, was instituted as a perpetual remembrance of the Lord’s mercy in our redemption, and as a representative and a means of his giving himself to his people for their regeneration and salvation. It was instituted instead of the passover. By the holy supper we are to understand the same thing as by the paschal supper, bread and wine being received in the one instead of the lamb and herbs of the other. In instituting the supper, the Lord called the bread his body and the wine his blood. But what are the body and blood of the Saviour? They cannot be material; and if they were, they could not be received by the soul, nor could they, if their reception were possible, support its spiritual life. Nor are the Lord’s body and blood mere figures of speech. His humanity is no longer material, having been glorified and made divine. But it has in it divine principles corresponding to the flesh and blood of the material body which he had upon earth. These divine principles are goodness itself and truth itself. These constitute the very humanity of the Lord, the body and blood which the Christian can eat and drink, and without eating and drinking which he has no life in him. Of these divine principles in the Lord’s humanity the bread and wine used in the holy supper are the symbols. As bread and wine nourish the body, divine goodness and truth nourish the soul. Bread signifies the same as flesh, or the body, and wine the same as blood. It was for this reason that the Lord used these, and appointed their use, as the elements of the holy supper. But what connection is there between the natural reception of bread and wine in the outward ordinance, and the spiritual reception of goodness and truth from the Lord in the inward operation of his Spirit? There is a connection by correspondence. By correspondence earth is connected with heaven, and natural things with spiritual, and men with angels, and the body with the soul, and all with the Lord. When we devoutly and intelligently partake of the holy supper, assuming that our devotion rests upon holiness, without which there can be no true worship, we come into more immediate connection with the Lord and heaven, and more perfectly into the capacity of receiving the divine and heavenly principles to which the bread and wine correspond. The external man comes also into more perfect correspondence with the internal; and in these circumstances, what affects the lower disposes it to receive corresponding impressions from the higher. Thus is the devout recipient of the holy supper brought into a state in which the true bread, which cometh down from heaven, can enter into and strengthen his heart. From these general views let us turn to the divine narrative before us. When the Lord took the bread and blessed, he performed an act that signified, in respect to himself, the elevation of his humanity into union with his divinity, by which it was sanctified; and when he brake the bread, and gave it to the disciples, he performed acts which meant that his sanctified humanity is accommodated to the varying wants and capacities of his children, and imparted to them for their salvation. The Lord therefore said of the bread, “This is my body.” The form of this divine sacrament thus represented both the ascent and descent of the Son of man – the glorification of the humanity, and its descent as the Holy Spirit into the minds of men. The Lord’s body and the bread signify the humanity as to divine good, which is the principle received by the human will; and his asking the disciples to take and eat teaches what we have to do to realize the offered good. The Lord gave the bread to the disciples, but they had to take it. We have to co-operate with the Lord by freely and actively receiving what he freely gives. We have also to eat, to appropriate or make his good our own. As earthly food must be eaten, that it may enter into the body for its support, so must heavenly food be appropriated or made our own by use, that it may enter into the soul, and nourish it unto eternal life.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
27, 28. It is said the cup, and not the wine, because wine is predicated of the spiritual church, but blood of the celestial church, although both of them signify holy truth proceeding from the Lord, but in the spiritual church the holy of faith from charity toward the neighbour, and in the celestial church the holy of charity from love to the Lord. A. 5120.
By the blood of the New Covenant or Testament nothing else but the Word is signified, which is called the Covenant and Testament Old and New, and thus the Divine truth therein. Since that is signified by blood, the Lord therefore gave them the wine saying, This is my blood, and wine signifies Divine truth. R- 379.
See Chapter XX., 22, 23. R. 672.
That wine has a similar meaning with blood is clearly manifest from the Lord’s words in Matthew xxvi : Mark xiv: Luke xxii. Also from Genesis xlix. 11 : Isaiah xxv. 6. T. 708.
As blood signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and by the reception thereof by man conjunction with the Lord is effected, therefore blood is called the blood of the covenant, for covenant signifies conjunction. E. 329.
Here blood is called the blood of the new covenant, because blood signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and covenant signifies conjunction. E. 701.
By the Lord’s blood is signified Divine truth proceeding from Him, and in like manner by wine, consequently by cup, therefore it is said this is my blood, and since the conjunction of the Lord with the church is by Divine truth, therefore it is called the blood of the New Testament. E. 960.
27, 28. When the Lord had given the bread, he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. The same acts here have the same signification. We need only notice what in this is peculiar. Mention is here made of the Lord taking the cup, not the wine. It is true that the wine is understood. But the cup, as a vessel containing the wine, signifies the external, in which is the internal. In reference to the Lord, it implies that in the humanity the very recipient vessels of the truth were made divine; but in relation to the Word, it implies that the Lord never instructs his church and people by the internal sense immediately or alone, but gives them the spirit in and by the letter. As the Lord called the bread his flesh, so he calls the wine his blood. And although the wine is considered the symbol of his blood, yet both terms are symbolical, and each has a distinct though similar meaning. The wine is the symbol of spiritual truth, and the blood of celestial truth; and the same may be said of bread and body. And this duality is introduced, that the holy supper might represent the Lord’s love to the whole human race, both celestial and spiritual, and the reciprocal love of men towards him. The Lord therefore calls his blood “the blood of the new testament “- more correctly, of the new covenant. A testament is an instrument by which one bequeaths property to another; but a covenant is an agreement between two, implying conditions on both sides. This is the nature of the new covenant in the Lord’s blood, or in his divine truth. That covenant differs from the old covenant in this: the old covenant was made by the law written on tables of stone, but the new covenant was written on the heart (Jer. xxxii. 33). The sacrament of the holy supper is therefore a covenant; for to those who receive it worthily it is a signing, sealing, and testifying that they are the children of God, and heirs of his kingdom. But the Lord speaks of his blood of the new covenant as being “shed for many for the remission of sins.” The shedding of his blood upon the cross, as being the last of his sufferings, is put for the whole, and is an expressive and compendious phrase for all that he endured for his creatures’ sakes. The Lord’s sufferings were, in the first place, the means of overcoming the powers of darkness and perfecting his humanity; and, in the second place, are the means of perfecting his creatures, for he was tempted that he might succour them that are tempted. It is said that his blood cleanseth from all sin, and that the saints wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. vii. 14). This is figurative language. So far as it may be understood of the Lord’s material blood, it cleanses by enabling us, through the Lord’s sufferings and death, which are meant by the shedding of his blood, and the blood which he shed, to pass triumphantly through the sufferings of temptation and the death of sin, by which sin is removed or remitted. This is in agreement with what is said of those who had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, that “these are they that have come out of great tribulation.” Tribulation was the means of their purification, and this effect of Christian tribulation is the result of the tribulation which the Saviour himself passed through. But the Lord’s blood has a spiritual meaning. The blood of his material body was the symbol of the divine truth of his glorified body. This is the blood of the Son of man which the disciples must drink that they may live (John vi. 35), and which cleanses from all sin. This meaning of the Lord’s blood does not invalidate the other. It is within it, and concordant with it. The shedding of his blood on the cross was the necessary precursor and means of shedding forth his Spirit on the day of Pentecost – as necessary as it was for him to suffer those things, and to enter into his glory (Luke xxiv. 26). The regenerating spirit that the Lord then shed and now sheds forth, is that of his humanity, and, as a regenerating spirit, did not actually exist till the Lord was glorified. This blood of the now covenant is said to be shed for many. Does this mean that he died for and redeemed a certain number of the human race? The universality of redemption is too distinctly declared in Scripture to admit of such an interpretation.” He tasted death for every, man.” The many for whom the Lord’s blood is shed are those on whose hearts it is shed abroad; and this number is determined, not by a divine decree, but by human choice. The Lord foresees the number of those who will receive his truth, but he does not determine what that number shall be. God wills that all men should be saved; and if it depended only on his will, none would be lost. The Lord’s will towards the whole human race may be expressed in his words to the disciples, “Drink ye all of it.”
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
28 Blood was a covenant, or the token of a covenant, because it signified conjunction by spiritual love, that is by charity toward the neighbour, therefore when the Lord instituted the Holy Supper, He called His blood the blood of the new covenant. A. 6804.
The law was called a covenant, because covenant signifies conjunction, it is therefore said of the Lord that His blood is the blo’od of the covenant. Life 60.
Covenants are made for the sake of love, of friendship, of consociation, and thus of conjunction, therefore it is said of the Lord that His blood is the blood of the covenant. R. 529.
See Chapter XXVI., 28. R. 529 statement repeated. T. 285.
It is with the Holy Supper as with a covenant which, after the articles are settled, is agreed to, and finally signed and sealed. That the Lord’s blood is a covenant He Himself teaches, for when He took the cup and gave it He said (Verse 28). T. 730.
From these and such like passages it is simply believed that the Lord suffered the passion of the cross on account of our sins, and that hereby and by His blood He redeemed us from hell. As this is an apparent truth, and may be said and believed, therefore it does not condemn the simple in faith and heart, but to assume or make a principle from such appearances, and to confirm this so as to insist that God the Father was thereby reconciled to man, and is still so reconciled, and that by the faith hereof alone man is justified and saved, without the goods of charity, which are good works, and to be in that principle not only in doctrine but also in life, this cannot be remitted. E. 778.
Here drinking signifies instruction to the lite concerning truths, and giving perception of good and truth. A. 3069.
By eating and drinking in the Lord’s kingdom is not signified eating and drinking, but something which exists in that kingdom, and that is appropriation of the good of love and the truth of faith, thus it means that which is called spiritual and celestial food. A. 3832.
That a vine is the intellectual made new or regenerated by good from truth, and by truth from good, is evident from the Lord’s words to the disciples, after He instituted the Holy Supper. Good from truth and truth from good by which the intellectual is made new, or man is made spiritual are signified by the fruit of the vine, and the appropriation thereof by drinking. A. 5113.
That wine is the good of love and of faith is plain from the Lord’s words, which He said of wine when He instituted the Holy Supper. That He would not there (in His Father’s kingdom) drink wine maybe evident to every one, and thus that the good of love and faith is signified, which He would give to those who are of His kingdom. A. 6377.
These words the Lord spoke after He instituted the Holy Supper, in which the bread and the wine are those things which are of love and of faith, in like manner also the flesh and the blood. A. 9003.
The Holy Supper was instituted by the Lord, in which the bread signifies the Lord as to Divine good, and the wine the Lord as to Divine truth, and with the recipients the bread signifies holy good, and the wine holy truth from the Lord. R. 316.
The fruit of the vine which they were to drink new in the heavenly kingdom means no other than the truth of the New Church and of heaven. T. 708.
These words were spoken by the Lord after He instituted the Holy Supper, by the fruit of the vine is signified Divine truth from the Divine good, and beatitude and felicity thence derived. Similar to this is the signification of a feast in the Word, as in Isaiah xxv. 6, where the subject treated of is concerning the advent of the Lord. E. 252.
By the fruit of the vine, or the wine, which the Lord said He would drink new with them in the kingdom of His Father, or when the kingdom of God should come, is signified all Divine truth in heaven and the church, which would then proceed from His Divine Human, wherefore He calls it new and in Verse 28, His blood of the New Testament, the bload of the Lord signifying the same as wine. E. 376.
29 When the Lord had sent round the cup, he said, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. This was, literally, the last supper the Lord was to eat with his disciples upon earth; but the feast was to be renewed with them again in heaven. How beautiful the truth! how comforting the promise! The last supper on earth is the beginning of a perpetual feast in heaven. Yet this experience is not entirely limited to the other life. The Father’s kingdom is not heaven only, but the church, and the man of the church in whom are the Lord’s love and truth. In agreement with this the Lord speaks not of the cup, nor even of wine, but of the fruit of the vine; for wine signifies spiritual truth, and the fruit of the vine celestial truth; and the fruit of the vine is new when this new and higher state is attained; and this state and government of love is meant by his Father’s kingdom.
30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
30 See Chapter XXL, i. R. 336.
See Chapter XXL, i. R. 493.
See Chapter XXL, i. E. 405.
See Chapter XXL, i. E. 638.
30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. What a hymn was that which the Lord of life and glory sung with his humble followers in the upper room in Jerusalem! Angels had sung at his birth, when they announced that event as tidings of great joy which should be to all people; and they no doubt now took up this song of completed redemption – for the Lord’s supper celebrated by anticipation his finished work – a song that will never cease, but will for ever go on increasing in fervour and harmony on earth and in heaven. But what is expressed in the singing of this hymn? There are two elements in human language – sound and articulation. Sound is the expression of affection, articulation of thought. In sacred songs both those elements are present; and the true hymn is “perfect music set to noble words.” What a theme does redemption afford for this form of glorification! What is the thought that we should utter with the fervour of holy affection in contemplating the Lord’s divine work as celebrated by us in the sacrament? Is it not the Lord’s marvellous love, in doing and suffering, to save us from sin and its miseries? Our song should be praise to him who has brought us up out of an horrible pit, and set our feet upon a rock, and established our goings, and put a new song in our mouth, even praise to our God. But to praise the Lord we must sing with melody in our hearts. There is the seat of true harmony, the music of the affections, which brings them into unison with those of angels. When the Lord and his disciples had sung a hymn, they went into the mount of Olives. This mount, above all others, was the symbol of divine and heavenly love. Thither the Lord went, and led his disciples, to teach us that he ascends with his redeemed into a state of holy love, when they have received into their hearts and understandings the living principles of his redeeming goodness and truth.
31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
31 That these words (Zechariah xiii. 7) were spoken of the Lord, may be seen in Matthew. A. 7668.
Well-disposed men are also called sheep. A. 10132.
By sheep are signified those who are in the good of charity, and thence, in the abstract sense the goods of charity themselves. E. 1154.
31, 34. That it pleased the Lord to be taken at night signified, that Divine truth to them at that time was in the obscurity of night, and that falsity from evil was in its place. That Peter denied the Lord thrice that night represented also the last time of the church, when the truth of faith is indeed taught, but not believed. Such a time is night, because the Lord is then utterly denied in the hearts of men. A. 6000.
31 This love introduces the disciples into the mystery of the Lord’s sufferings and death, and of their own as the result of his. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night. Startling announcement to those who had risen from a feast in which all their best affections towards the Lord had been brought out, and the happiness of communion with him had been highly exalted! But how tenderly does our Lord proceed to speak of this defection! It is the fulfilment of prophecy, and comes rather from the loss of their divine Pastor than from any disposition of their own to wander. For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. Truly, those who rightly trusted so much to the care of their Shepherd might be excused for being unable to endure the shock of his apprehension. Their conduct is a lesson to us. These are the types of trials which fall to the lot of all true disciples. We have repeatedly had occasion to remark that the history of the Lord’s life in the world is spiritually the history of his life in us for we are regenerated as he was glorified. In a general sense, indeed, the Lord’s treatment by the Jews represented the manner in which the Jewish church had treated the Word, perverting and torturing it even to its entire destruction. But even this has its spiritual counterpart in each of us, our evil nature being still the origin of such rebellious passions as those which led the corrupt descendants of Israel to the great evils they committed against the Incarnate Word. When the Lord said to his disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night,” he alluded to the night of deep temptation, when the powers of evil stir up the dark and corrupt passions of the human heart, and cause them to assault the very life of love and truth in the soul. The disciples are the affections of goodness and truth, in which the Lord dwells within us; and these are offended because of the Lord when the power of evil has a temporary ascendancy over the power of goodness. This is expressed in the language of correspondence when the Lord adds, “for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” The Lord is our Shepherd as to his divine love, and the sheep of his flock are the affections of charity. When love is smitten, the affections of charity, in which that love dwells, are scattered. When in the hour of temptation love to God seems to fail, the affections and perceptions of charity to man have for the time no central power to sustain and unite them, they are scattered abroad, severed at once from the Lord and from each other. Such is the effect of that temptation which the Lord foretold would befall his devoted disciples.
32 The trial of which the Lord warned his disciples extended over the whole of his subsequent sufferings, including his crucifixion. But he did not leave them without promise and without hope. He directed their minds to his resurrection. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. This still is the promise and hope of the Christian disciple. “If we be dead with Christ, we shall also rise with him.” To die with the Lord is to realize his death in ourselves. The disciples of the Lord died with him when they laid down their carnal views of him and of his kingdom, and they arose with him when they received spiritual views of him and his kingdom. So is it in every renewed heart and mind. But the Lord promised to his disciples that after he was risen he would go before them into Galilee. Smitten by the Jews, he was, as a shepherd, to go before his flock into Galilee, as a sign that his church was transferred to the Gentiles; and, in reference to the Christian disciple, that when the Lord has risen in the heart, he goes before, and leads the principles of goodness and truth out into the affections and perceptions of the natural mind, there to manifest himself; for when the natural mind is regenerated, the whole man is new.
33 When the Lord had told his disciples of their coming defection, Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Self- confidence is the cause, and shows the need of trial. The Lord permits us to be tried, that we may see ourselves as we are, and be humbled by our experience. Before we are tried we cannot believe that our hearts contain evils so great as those of which experience makes us conscious. Peter therefore only expressed the common conviction of those in this condition of devoted and zealous but untried disciples, when be protested that though all men should be offended, he, at least, would not.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
34 Three signifies an entire period of the church and of affairs in the church, whether great or small and accordingly what is complete and also continuous to the end. A. 4495.
See Chapter XIII., 33. S. 29.
See Chapter XIIL, 33. R. 5)5-
See Chapter XIIL, 33. T. 211.
34 et seq. By this is signified that in the last time of the church there would be no faith in the Lord, because no charity, for cock-crowing as well as twilight signifies the last time of the church, and three or three times what is complete to the end. E. 9.
34, 69-75. That in the last time of the church there would be no faith in the Lord, because no charity is signified where it is written that Peter denied the Lord thrice before the cock crew. E. 250.
See Chapter XII., 40. E. S32.
34-69 et seq. The number three was representative, not only in the Ancient Church, and in the Jewish, but also among various nations. A. 2788.
34, 74, 75. By Peter was represented the faith of the chu _h, or what is the same thing the church as to faith, by the time when the cock crew — the last state of the church, which time was also called cock-crowing, by triple denial was signified the plenary denial of the Lord in the end of the church. A. 10134.
34 Our Lord repeated his prediction, but now addresses it, not to the disciples generally, but to Peter individually. Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. The others forsook the Lord. Peter denied him, not once only, but three times. The dawn, when the cock crows, is the commencement of a new state of light and love which follows the night of temptation. Thrice to deny the Lord implies complete denial. In regard to those who are being regenerated, Peter’s sin represents the Christian’s temptation, when, in the dark hour of trial, his faith in the Lord as his Saviour almost fails. But this prediction of our Lord, and Peter’s denial, have reference to the state of the church, and extend beyond the Jewish to the Christian dispensation. Peter represented the principle of faith and the night and the morning signified the end of the old church and the beginning of the new. Peter’s denying the Lord in the night represented that at the end of the church faith would utterly fail, even to an entire denial of the Lord as the God of heaven and earth.
35 If the Lord was more emphatic in his second declaration of Peter’s defection, that apostle was also more positive in his second promise of fidelity. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. We know how this promise was fulfilled. Yet Peter and the others were no doubt sincere in making it. Their defection was without premeditation and malice. In this respect their conduct was entirely unlike that of Judas. Their failure was caused not by the strength of bad principles, but by the weakness of good ones. Their love for Jesus was sincere, but it was feeble, because it was as yet more natural than spiritual. They confided in their own strength, and the result convinced them of their own weakness. A most necessary and useful lesson does this teach us. To die with Jesus is to die to self and the world – voluntarily to crucify our entire evil nature. Before the sacrifice has been demanded of us we may sincerely think that nothing could induce us to shrink from it when the trial comes. This is not the weakness of the Peters of the church only. All the disciples promised to die with the Lord rather than deny him. Yet it was just because they were unprepared to die with him that they forsook him and fled, and that he who had the greatest confidence in himself made the most signal failure. Naturally, it seems almost incredible that all the eleven, after being so distinctly and solemnly warned, should have so completely fulfilled the Lord’s prediction and falsified their own promise. They seem even to have forgotten both promise and warning. It is when truth is in the memory only that it is most readily forgotten. Adversity and trial remove it from the mind’s view. Only when it is rooted in the heart can it avail us in the hour of temptation. But in that dark hour, although the truth may vanish from the memory, if the good ground of faith is preserved, the truth will re-appear, and produce its fruits in repentance, when faith of the heart will succeed to faith of the understanding.
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
36-44. It may be evident from these passages what the Lord’s temptations were — that they were the most terrible of all, and that He had anguish from the very inmosts, even to the sweating of blood, that He then was in a state of despair concerning the end and the event, and also that He had consolations. A. 1787.
In the evangelists the temptations which the Lord endured from childhood up, are described in a summary by His temptations in the wilderness, by His being afterwards tempted of the devil, and the last by the things which He suffered in Gethsemane, and upon the cross. L. 12.
36-46. His last temptation was in Gethsemane, and afterwards the passion on the cross, that by it He fully subdued the hells He Himself teaches. A. 9937.
36 We now come to an event in the Lord’s life of the most solemn importance. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane. Gethsemane is only exceeded by Calvary in awful solemnity and moral grandeur. The Lord’s sufferings in the garden were mental – those on the cross were of the body also. Gethsemane signifies an “oilpress.” No name could be more expressive of the conflict of which it was the scene, and is now the memorial. The olivepress, like the winepress, was the symbol of temptation. No more expressive symbolism is employed in the Word to describe the Lord’s conflict with the powers of darkness, and his victories over them, than that in Isaiah. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury – and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come” (Isa. lxiii. 1-4). The olivepress only differs in its signification from the winepress in its being expressive of still deeper temptation. For while the vine, in relation to the Lord, signifies his divine truth, the olive signifies his divine love. Those, therefore, who are trodden in the olivepress are the powers of darkness who are more directly opposed to the Divine love, and who cause temptations of the most direful kind. Such was the character of the temptation which the Lord endured in Gethsemane. Jesus coming to Gethsemane implies his entering into that state in which his love for the human race was to be opposed by the powers of darkness from their deepest hatred to mankind, hell bringing its greatest power to bear upon the Redeemer, to prevent, if possible, the completion of his divine work. When the Lord came unto the place, he saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. Those who were desired to “sit here” were such of the disciples as represented the members of the Church who are not able to enter with the Lord into the interiors of that state to which such a temptation as he was now about to endure is incident. He desired them to sit where he left them – to remain steadfast in the state to which he had thus far mercifully conducted them. Some are able to go so far with him in his temptations; while others are able to follow him whithersoever he goeth. But while they patiently wait where, they are desired to remain, the Lord is preparing a higher and more interior place for them; therefore Jesus, when he said to his disciples, “Sit ye here,” added, “while I go and pray yonder.” His prayer, like his temptation, had for its end their redemption and salvation.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
37 That Peter, James, and John were with the Lord in Gethsemane, they signified faith, charity, and the works of charity in their order. E. 821.
37-39, 42, 44. As regards the Lord’s temptations in general, some were more external and some more internal, and the more internal they were, the more grievous. The inmost ones are described by Matthew xxvi. 37-39, 42, 44; and xxvii. 46. A. 2819.
37 But while the Lord desired certain of the disciples to remain where he appointed them, he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. On important occasions the Lord selected these three disciples to be with him. One of these occasions was his transfiguration. As they were the chosen witnesses of his transcendent glory, so were they the selected spectators of his deep humiliation. The reason of this selection, we have seen (ch. xvii. 1), had a spiritual ground. Peter, James, and John represented the three great essentials of religion – faith, charity, and good works and they were chosen to accompany the Lord on great occasions, to teach us representatively that those who have these essentials of religion enter with the Lord into the heights and depths of his experience; and that these principles in the individual mind are in more immediate connection with the Lord, and are the immediate recipients of his love and truth. In the presence of these three disciples Jesus began to be sorrowful and very heavy. The last and darkest cloud of temptation, which finally descended so low as to darken the earth at the crucifixion, began to gather around the Son of man. Hell, that had been moved to meet the Lord at his coming, was now moved to its lowest depths, to prevent, if possible, the completion of the Lord’s redemption and glorification which drew nigh. As the lowest hell is opposed to the highest heaven, as the worst evil is opposed to the greatest good, as the lowest affections of the natural mind are opposed to the highest affections of the spiritual mind, temptation, which consists in a conflict between those opposites, becomes more severe as the perfection of life increases. Lower states are opened, and lower evils are brought into activity, in the natural mind, as higher states are opened and become active in the spiritual; and as the opposition, is greater, the conflict is more severe. As the Lord was truly man, his temptations were of the same nature, and were subject to the same law as those of any other human being. But as humanity in him was infinitely and for ever perfected, whereas in us perfection is finite and progressive to eternity, his trials were infinitely more severe than ours. The severity as well as the nature of this temptation is indicated by the terms in which its effects upon the Lord are described. The expression, “to be sorrowful,” conveys, in the Greek, the idea, of horror; and the word translated, “to be very heavy,” implies the loss of pleasure derived from other objects. The horror which the Lord felt, like the horror of great darkness that fell upon Abraham (Gen, xv. 12), is expressive of the effect of temptation produced by the interception of divine light, as it descends from the internal into the external of the mind; while heaviness is expressive of the deprivation of delight, such as men feel in deep sorrow, when the world appears to them a blank, because they have no pleasure therein. What must have been the sorrow and heaviness felt by the Lord, whose “delight was with the sons of men,” as the objects of his redeeming love!
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
38, 39. The law from the Divine is the law of order, and the law of order concerning those who are in a state of infestations from falsities is that they should be infested even to despair, and unless they are infested to despair the end of the use of infestation is not attained. That temptation is increased to despair manifestly appears from the Lord’s temptation in Gethsemane, and also afterwards upon the cross, and the temptation of the Lord is a type of the temptation of the faithful. A. 7166.
38 The temptation increases. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. The nature of the Lord’s temptations may be understood, because in this respect they were like those of men; but their severity is above all human comprehension, for the love from which the Lord contended in his temptations was the love of the whole human race, which love in itself is divine. What must have been the anguish of the Lord when ever the sense of death came over him! His was not the fear of bodily death; it was his soul that was exceeding sorrowful. But it may be inquired, How could the Lord’s soul be sorrowful unto death, when his soul was the Divinity itself? The soul which was sorrowful was not, however, the soul or life which the Lord derived from the Father, but that which be inherited from the mother it was the life of his, external, not of his internal man. It was that of which the Lord spake when he said, “I lay down my life (or son) for the sheep” (John x. 15: see ch. x. 39). We know that divinity can neither be tempted, nor be sorrowful, nor die. That in the Lord which actually died, the life which he laid down, was the human principle and life which he inherited from the mother, and which was fallen and finite. But the sorrow which he experienced in temptation, like that which the regenerate man endures, did not originate in the maternal, but in the paternal soul – thus not in the old man, but in the new; not in the body, but in the soul; not in the external man, but in the internal. The natural man knows no temptation, and therefore no sorrow of soul in resisting evil. The anguish of temptation is caused by the love from which we resist evil being assaulted, and by the fear of losing the object for which we contend. That from which a mere man resists temptation is the love of eternal life, the danger of losing which makes his soul sorrowful, and, in extreme temptation, sorrowful even unto death. But this sorrow does not really invade the soul, but is the sorrow which is of the soul in the body. Whatever is of God, and therefore whatever is truly good, shrinks from evil, as the apple of the eye. The soul does not suffer with the body, but when the body suffers the soul mourns. So with the internal and external man. Evil and temptation do neither of them penetrate into the internal, but the internal is in the external, as the soul is in the body; and the anguish and sorrow which temptation produces are the external feelings that proceed from internal principles. When the Lord’s soul was thus sorrowful in an intensified degree, he said to the three, as he had said to the others, tarry ye here, and, he added, watch with me. Even these, the chosen three, were only able to see a certain amount of his sorrows. The disciples are to be with the Lord in his temptations, but there is a limit in their companionship with him in his tribulations beyond which the best and most perfected of them cannot go. “Sit here,” and “tarry ye here,” must ever be the law of progression in following the Lord in the regeneration. But the Lord said to his disciples, “Watch with me.” To watch is to keep the understanding awake to the concerns of eternity, guarding against the dangers that threaten the soul. But there must be something special in watching with the Lord. “Watch with me.” Watch while I watch; watch as I watch. The temptations that were then directed against him were directed also against his church; and as she participated in the danger, so ought she in the vigilance required to meet and avert it. But how are the disciples in our time to watch with him? The Lord still watches over us and in us. That his watchful Providence may turn aside the machinations of Satan, we must watch with him in his protecting and saving work. We must watch with him that He may guard us; as well as work with him, that be may bless us.
39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
39-44. See Chapter XIII., 33. S. 29.
See Chapter XIIL, 33. R. 505.
See Chapter XIIL, 33. T. 211.
39, 42. By not withholding thy son, thine only one from me (Genesis xxii. 12, 16, 17), which was hearkening to the voice, is signified the unition of the Human with the Divine by the last state of temptation. A. 3381.
39, 42, 44. Cup here stands for temptation. Likewise in John xviii. 11 : Mark x. 38, 39. A. 5120.
In prayer from the Divine it is always at the time thought and believed that the Lord alone knows whether it be conducive to the end or not, wherefore the supplicant submits the hearing to the Lord, and then immediately prays that the will of the Lord and not his own may be done, according to the Lord’s words in His awn most grievous temptation in Gethsemane. A. 8179.
See Chapter XX., 22, 23. R. 672.
See Chapter XXVI., 26-28. T. 704.
That the Lord prayed three times in the garden of Gethsemane, three signified what is complete even to the end. E. 532.
In these passages a cup signifies temptations. E. 960.
39 While the Lord desired his three disciples to tarry where they were, and watch with him, he himself went from them to pray. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. We have already spoken of the Lord’s deep temptation in Gethsemane; we will here direct our attention to some of the particulars respecting it. He “fell on his face.” Prostration is the posture expressive of the deepest humiliation; and humiliation is a sense of our own nothingness and vileness in the presence of the All-perfect One. It is deep humiliation that empties man of himself, that he may be filled with all the fulness of God. In mere man this humiliation and its results are but imperfect in degree at best, and limited in extent. Jesus became perfect man; we can never be more than images of his perfection. His humiliation was as much deeper than ours as his exaltation was greater. The depth of his humiliation is expressed by his falling on his face, for the face signifies the interior of the mind. To fall down in worship expresses humiliation; to fall on the face, interior humiliation. “And prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” This cup was, no doubt, naturally the passion of the cross; but this, the cup of the Lord’s sufferings, was not filled up by the apprehension of natural death, cruel as was its mode of infliction. Natural death was but the cup; spiritual death was the bitter draught which it contained, and which the Lord had to drain to the last drop. This spiritual death included in it all the evil of human suffering, especially the suffering of temptation; all the misery which the fall had introduced, and which then existed in the whole spiritual and in the natural world. The ground of all suffering the Lord took upon him, hereditarily, as the son of Mary; all hell pressed in upon him through that hereditary nature; all the power of hell he had to contend against; all in the humanity that formed the ground of infernal such assault he had to die to; all this, in dying, he had to overcome. Such was the cup the Lord had before him when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Can we be surprised at the tenor of his prayer: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” He well knew, and had repeatedly told his disciples, that this last trial awaited him. He had looked forward to it and spoken of it with the calmness of perfect composure. Can we imagine that its near prospect now appalled him? We may freely admit that there was some analogy between the Lord’s experience and that of man, in the near prospect of a violent death. The virtuous and innocent look death in the face with serenity. What must have been our Lord’s experience? The ground of his sorrow and of his serenity was far different from that of man. Human trial and sorrow, under the fear of spiritual death, can alone furnish a true image of our Lord’s. But our Lord’s fear was not for the loss of life to himself, but for the loss of the spiritual and eternal life of the whole human race, – fear lest the final cause of creation might be frustrated. This was the Lord’s fear. It was the fear lest the humanity which he bore might prove too weak for this great trial. As he said to his disciples, so he felt: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” But the Lord was at this time suffering from temptation. And the climax of every severe temptation is despair – that is, despair of the end or object contended for. In temptation we have to resist self and yet there is something of self in our resistance. We have to use God’s communicated power as if it were our own, and there is something of our own in using it. Despair is the prostration of this power – the feeling that we have no power to resist, but that the opposing power is about to overwhelm us. This is the horror of great darkness that falls upon the soul, which quenches hope, and leaves us a prey to blank despair. Such was the state through which our Lord passed in Gethsemane, and in the extreme of which he was when he prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” There was, indeed, a reservation. His prayer was not absolute, but conditional. He only asked for exemption, if within the range of moral possibility. Had he asked for it absolutely he would have failed absolutely. We see here the weakness of the flesh, but the strength of the spirit. This is still further evinced in the Lord’s words to the Father, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” We have the human will and the divine. There is a most important consideration here. The will of the humanity shrunk from the last trial, and at the same time submitted itself entirely to the supreme will of the Divinity. But it was not the same element in the will. In the Lord were the human and the divine; but in the human itself there were the flesh and the spirit – the external and the internal. The spirit in itself was willing, but the weakness of the flesh re-acted against the spirit, and for the time overshadowed it; but still the spirit was there, moderating and controlling, distinguishing between the desirable and the possible, between the will of the human and the will of the Divine. Many of our Lord’s sayings have come to be the universal language of Christian wisdom and experience. This is one of them, and one of the most expressive, because all who know what spiritual trial is, feel it to be the very language of their state and their duty. “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,” is expressive at once of the weakness of the flesh and the strength of the spirit – of the strong disposition to rebel, but the still stronger desire to submit to the will of him whose will ought to be supreme in all things.
40 When he had finished this prayer, he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? It is remarkable that both on the occasion of his transfiguration (Luke ix. 32), and on that of his great temptation, his disciples should have fallen asleep. They could not have been indifferent to the grandeur of the one and the solemnity of the other. The sleep was evidently supernatural. It was caused by the Lord’s divine sphere then acting immediately and powerfully – upon them, and which, after the Lord’s glorification, caused John to fall down at his feet as dead. While this sleep of the disciples had a supernatural cause, it had a spiritual signification. Sleep, as opposed to wakefulness, signifies a natural state of life as opposed to a spiritual state. The disciples being drowsy and asleep while the Lord was in states of wakefulness, implies that they were yet too external to be able to enter into those interior states in which the Lord then was. The Lord desires, indeed, that his disciples should be as their Master, even in his highest and deepest states of experience, and therefore he says unto them, “Watch with me.” And when he comes unto them and finds them asleep, and administers a gentle reproof, it is to express the desire of his love that they should be in a state of conscious and active co-operation with him, all whose works are for their salvation. This gentle and affectionate reproof is addressed immediately to Peter, implying that when faith is as yet natural, the mind is incapable of that sustained wakefulness and watchfulness which keep the disciple in the Lord. And furthermore, Jesus asks Peter if he could not watch with him one hour. Time is the symbol of state, and the hour of the Lord’s sufferings was the state itself of his watchfulness, lest he should yield in his awful temptation.
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
41See Chapter V., 3. A. 9818.
41 The Lord exhorts the disciples, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. If the disciple cannot watch with the Lord, he is exhorted to follow him – to watch with the understanding, and pray with the heart – and to do this, that he enter not into temptation. It is the duty of the disciple to watch and pray against being tempted. Temptation is indeed necessary, and therefore unavoidable; but it is equally necessary for us to have a salutary fear of a state of trial, which is attended with danger, and which is never so dangerous as when we brave or despise it. Let him who thinks he standeth take heed lest he fall. The reason of this danger, and of the necessity of watchfulness and prayer against it, our Lord explains. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. The weakness of the flesh is the ground of danger and of apprehension. The flesh is another and expressive name for the whole natural mind, with all its natural affections and appetites; and this mind is weak because the natural affections and appetites are of the earth, earthly. The spirit is the spiritual mind, consisting of all the new affections born of the spirit. This in its own nature is willing to do and submit to the Lord’s will but frail and deceitful nature is ever inclined to yield to the solicitations of the world and self.
42-44. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, 0 my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. The Lord, we find, goes away and prays “the same words” the second and the third time, returning after each to the disciples again. This iteration of the prayer implies, no doubt, as many distinct trials or temptations; yet there is more than the fact involved in the number of his conflicts. The number three signifies what is full, and what is progressive to the end of a complete state. These three acts of temptation, like the three temptations in the wilderness, represented the fulness of temptation, and the fulness of perfection resulting from his overcoming the tempter, and also the Lord’s endurance unto the end, by which redemption was accomplished, and his humanity fully glorified. There is another truth represented in this. The kingdom of darkness, which the Lord overcame in temptation, is a triple kingdom. Hell descends, as heaven ascends, by three distinct degrees. The Lord overcame the whole kingdom of darkness, but he did so progressively by three distinct series of temptations. These were his three temptations. And as he thus successively overcame hell, be successively opened heaven. While, therefore, the Lord went away three times into the depth of the garden to pray, he returned three times to the disciples, who represented the church and heaven; for as far as the Lord shuts hell, he opens heaven. And so does he in each of us. As he by regeneration overcomes the evil in the outer man, who is an image of hell, so he opens the inner man, who is an image of heaven.
45 Then cometh he to his 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.
45 See Chapter XX., 18, 19. A. 2813.
See Chapter XX., 18, 19. L. 24.
45 When the Lord had prayed for the third time, Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest. In Luke (xxii. 46) this is expressed interrogatively, “Why sleep ye?” and some are of opinion that this is its meaning here. As the evangelists wrote by Divine inspiration for different states of the church and of men, and for different steps of the regenerate life, such differences, if they exist, do not involve any internal discordance. Our Lord says, behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. The betrayal of the Son of man into the hands of sinners was a sign of the profanation of the Lord’s divine truth by the Jewish church. The Lord calls himself the Son of man when he is treated of as the Truth or the Word. The Jews treated him as they had treated his Word. The hour which was at hand was the hour, the state, of the church’s consummation, when it was about to fill up the measure of its iniquity – when hypocrisy was the instrument of violence.
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.
47 This was done, because all things relating to the Lord’s passion were representative of the destruction of all things appertaining to good and truth by the Jews. With the sons of Israel there were two general punishments, stoning and hanging upon wood. Stoning for the injury and destruction of truth, and hanging upon wood for the injury and destruction of good. E. 1145.
46 The Lord now says to his disciples, Rise, let us be going. Their sleep represented an external and obscure state so now he bids them rise, which always expresses spiritual elevation – rising out of sin and darkness. The present is like the exhortation of the apostle: “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life.” Rising signifies especially elevation of the affections of the heart; not elevation of feeling, but elevation from a lower into a higher state of goodness. Hence the Lord further says, “Let us be going;” for to go is spiritually to live, and, in this instance, to live a life of goodness – to act from that state of the love of goodness into which the disciples had risen. How necessary is this exhortation when danger is near as it was when our Lord added, behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. The betrayer is in the corrupt heart of each of us: how necessary is it, then, that the good and the faith that the Lord has implanted in our minds should rise out of sleep, and go forth into action, to form a countervailing force against the debased selfhood in the hour of trial.
47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Judas is here introduced as one of the twelve. The twelve apostles represented the church, and, abstractly, all the principles that constitute the church in man. Collectively, they thus represented the Lord’s mystical body, which in some measure and degree they formed. But the Lord’s mystical body is an image of his own body. The Lord’s temptations and sufferings had also their analogies or images, in those of his disciples. In the Lord’s humanity there was that which in prophecy is called the “heel” – the lowest and most vulnerable part, which the serpent was to bruise. Judas, as one of the twelve, was the heel which Satan was to bruise among the disciples and in the infant church. Judas represented the corporeal principle in man and in the Lord’s mystical body; and the heel, which the serpent bruised, represented the same principle in the Lord’s own body. This was the reason that Judas was chosen an apostle, and why he betrayed the Lord. The bruising of the Lord’s heel, or the corporeal principle of his humanity, was the extreme of his temptations, and had its cause in the perverted state of the corporeal principle of fallen human nature. Therefore Judas, who represented that principle, committed the crime of betraying the Lord. It is through the corporeal principle in us that the Lord is still betrayed, or that we are tempted to betray him. It is therefore written in Psalm xli. “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” But we have also said that Judas represented the Jewish church, because the church had become corporeal or carnal; and indeed the corporeal in the Jewish church, in the infant Christian church, and in individual man, and in the Lord himself, was simultaneously acted upon when redemption was being effected. The great multitude with swords and staves who came with Judas from the chief priests and elders of the people, represented the numerous affections and thoughts that originated in the ruling principles – the loves of self and the world – which the chief priests and elders represented; the swords and staves signifying the falsities and evils which were used as instruments of offence against him who was truth and goodness itself.
48, 49. Judas, in acting the part of a treacherous enemy, assumed the character of a loving friend. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith, he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. Kissing signifies conjunction by love. Hence it is said in Psalm ii., “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way.” That of Judas was a treacherous kiss, that feigned affection. The kiss of Judas has come to be an expression for the greatest of all hypocrisies the betrayal of innocence by simulated love. It is Satan as an angel of light seeking to compass hellish ends by heavenly means. His kiss was to be a sign to those who accompanied him. This was indeed a sign that all virtue was consummated – that falsehood imprinted its deceitful and polluted kiss upon the lips of truth, that death might seal them for ever in silence. Such was the object of those who were concerned intentionally in this diabolical plot to destroy him who was truly, as he had declared himself, the light of the world, to quench that light lest their deeds should be reproved. The kiss of Judas was indeed a sign of the seeming veneration for the Divine name, and reverence for his Word, that prevailed in the Jewish church, but under which there was the most malignant hatred of the Divine will and the principles of eternal truth. It was a sign of the ceremonial homage the priesthood paid to the letter of the law while they violated its spirit, leading the people by that very simulation to violate the law, as the multitude laid hands upon Jesus.
50 When Judas had kissed him, Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? There are two different words which our translators have rendered friend – one implying affection and regard, the other not. One is properly rendered friend, the other expresses more nearly what we mean by companion. It is this less endearing word which is given to Judas in this place. A friend, spiritually, is one who is in the good of charity and in the truth of faith; a companion is one who is in the truth of faith, but not in the good of charity. “Ye are my friends if Ye do whatsoever I command you.” Judas and those whom he represents are so far in the truths of faith as to know the Lord, but they use their knowledge to betray him. It is only those who know him that can act so directly and cruelly against him. But Jesus demanded of Judas, “Wherefore art thou come?” This searching question, which should lead us to reflect on the motives of our acts, does not seem to have received any answer but this. Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. The Jews had often attempted to lay hands on Jesus and take him. It was only now that they succeeded, and in this instance, it would seem, only through the treachery of one of his own disciples. It is not by hatred, but by simulated love – not by opposition, but by treachery – that the Son of man is delivered into the hands of sinners, to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified. This was the first act of that crime which the Jews had long meditated, and were now about to complete, in the death of Jesus.
51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
51, 52. See Chapter X., 34. R. 52.
It is manifest what is signified by the words of the Lord to Peter, that they who believe falsities, will perish by them. E. 131.
52 This was said to Peter because by him was represented the truth of faith, as also the false of faith, wherefore by taking the sword and perishing by it, was signified to receive the false of faith, and to perish thereby. E. 812.
52, 54, 56. That the Lord fulfilled all things of the law, means that He fulfilled all things of the Word. This is evident from the passages where it is said that the Scripture was fulfilled by Him. L. 11.
The previous statement repeated in T. 262.
53 By the twelve legions of angels here mentioned is understood the universal heaven, and by more than twelve is signified the Divine omnipotence. E. 430.
51 When the disciples saw what was done, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high, priest’s, and smote off his ear. This one was Peter (John xviii. 10). It might seem that the apostle who represented the grace of faith was here acting the part of one of the faithful, and used the sword of truth in defence of the Truth itself. But here Peter practically showed his offence at the cross of Christ. His sword was employed to defeat the permitted means of his Master’s glorification. And the sword of truth used falsely is turned into what is false. Peter did not indeed intend evil, but he acted from intemperate zeal undirected by knowledge; and such zeal, however well-intentioned, is often evil in its results. Such was Peter’s. Jesus submitted to the high priest’s authority, and his disciples should not with carnal weapons have opposed that of his servant. To show that he did not wish to be defended by such weapons, the Lord healed the servant whose ear Peter had cut off (Luke xxii. 51). But the cutting off of Malchus’ ear has a spiritual meaning The ear is a symbol of perception, and of hearkening and obedience, the right ear signifying the perception of truth from goodness. When the high priest was consecrated, the blood of the sacrifice was put upon his right ear (Exod. xxix. 20), this is a sign that the perceptive faculty should be consecrated to the hearing and obeying of the Word of God. The cutting off the ear of the high priests servant was a sign that in these last days of the church the perceptive faculty was destroyed, and with it all spiritual hearing and obedience. The prophet Ezekiel, treating of the corrupt church under the figure of a lewd woman, says to her of her lovers, “they shall take away thy nose and thine ears” (ch. xxiii. 25), meaning that her impure loves would deprive her of the perception of goodness and truth.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place. The place of the sword is its scabbard; and a scabbard, like a quiver, signifies doctrine, where truth should be put up when it has been used in opposing the purpose of divine mercy, for there it is in safety, and thence only should it be drawn forth to fight against the enemies of our own hearts. This, it would seem, was the first and the last time that the sword was employed by the immediate disciples of the Lord in the cause of the gospel; and, as in every other subsequent instance, it was used against the will of its divine Author. In all cases where faith draws the sword to defend the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ, his command is, “Put up thy sword into his place.” And this duty is enforced by a reason which ought to be a warning. For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Christianity perishes by the carnal sword that is used in its cause. But, spiritually, all who, by a false application of truth, obstruct the progress of regeneration by refusing to submit to the trials which lead to it, which is to refuse life by refusing the conditions on which its allotment depends, shall perish.
53 Had the Lord seen good to defeat the object of his enemies, he could have overwhelmed them by a display of his own divine power. Thinkest thou, he said in rebuking Peter, that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? Twelve legions means the whole angelic host; more than this is omnipotence. The Lord speaks of obtaining this power by praying to his Father. The divinity within him was the Father and had his divine power been exerted against his enemies, they would have been consumed like stubble.
54 But how then, as our Lord continues, shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? Peter knew not yet of this great mystery. But our Lord, in addressing these words to that zealous disciple, speaks to his disciples in all future ages who, in similar circumstances, act from zeal without knowledge. The disciples remained, even after the Lord’s crucifixion, in ignorance of what the Word taught on the subject; and one of his first acts after his resurrection was to teach them that “it behoved Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory” and to expound to them “in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke xxiv. 26). Such, no doubt, will ever be the disciples’ experience. The Scripture abundantly teaches this, that the way to glory is through suffering; but our human nature desires to have the end without this painful means. But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be.
55 From calmly commanding and reasoning with his disciple on the subject of his death, the Lord turns with equal calmness to the multitude, and says to them, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. They treated as a thief or a robber him who had come to restore that which he took not away (Ps. lxix. 4). They laid no hold on him in the temple, but sent to seize him in the garden. The temple was the seat of his power, and Gethsemane was the place of theirs. By the mere show of his power he had expelled the whole throng of sacreligious traders from his Father’s house. He who spake as never man spake, when he taught in the temple, must have unnerved and disarmed his enemies. The temple was the consecrated symbol of his humanity; and, considered in relation to the world without, was the type of his humanity, where his divinity more immediately dwelt. On the other hand, the wilderness and Gethsemane represented his humanity as to its exterior part, where infirmity resided and where temptation had place. In Luke’s account of this event the Lord adds, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.” And Gethsemane was the place, as the night was the hour; for both the time and the place were the suitable representatives of the state in which the powers of the world and of hell had the temporary ascendency which the end required, and which the Lord therefore permitted.
56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Of course, the prophecies were made for the event. Not the event for the prophecies. In the Lord’s case every prophecy was accomplished, every promise was performed. In a more comprehensive view, all that took place in the Lord’s history, as the means of his glorification, was written in the Word in its inmost sense; and all that takes place in the regeneration of man is written in the Word in its spiritual sense. Even the temptations of the Lord are described most minutely there; so that all which the Jews did to secure his death, partially revealed in the letter, is fully unfolded in the spirit. The fact of the disciples forsaking him in his hour of trial had been predicted in the prophets; for Zechariah (xiii. 7) had written, as our Lord had already declared, “I will smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered abroad.” The Jews were against him. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. Spiritually, good and truth in the Lord and his Word received no support from the goods and truths of the church. Not that the church can add anything to the Lord’s power, for the church derives all her power from him. When temptation is extreme, the internal and the external appear to be separated, as the Lord and his disciples were in his last and severest trial. This separation has place both as to will and understanding, or as to goodness and truth, as it is said of the disciples that they forsook him, and fled.
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. He who was the supreme good and truth was brought to be judged by the deepest evil and falsity. The Sanhedrim, or supreme council of the Jewish church, represented the ruling evils and falsities by which the Lord as the Divine truth was opposed, and they represented these principles as they existed in the church. The Lord’s being led away to Caiaphas and the scribes and elders, is spiritually descriptive of the Lord’s divine truth being brought under the power and dominion of the evil and false principles that ruled in the church, by which the whole Word was perverted and profaned.
58 Although, when the Lord was rudely seized by the multitude, the disciples had forsaken him and fled, yet, when he was led away, Peter followed him afar of, indicating that the young church, though too unstable to adhere to the Lord in his trial, was yet remotely connected with him by faith; and so, in the interior sense, is the external with the internal in states of temptation. Peter even went unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. The servant of Jesus and the servants of the high priest are seated together, the concealed friend with the open enemies. So strikingly is exemplified the character of the disciples, and the nature of the principles they represented. Truth and falsity are together in the external church and in the external man, but they are there not openly as opposites, but seemingly as associates. Peter only desires to see the end. His is the faith that looks forward to the end, but shrinks from the trial that leads to it. The trial now commences.
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death. To bear false witness, in the spiritual sense, is to declare, and try to persuade others, that what is false is true, and what is true is false; and also, that what is good is evil, and what is evil is good; and, in the highest sense, to blaspheme the Lord and his Word. The object of the council in seeking false witness against Jesus was to put him to death. And as all that the Jewish rulers and people did to the Lord represented how the church had come to treat the Word, their long-cherished purpose, now sought to be effected, of putting him to death, represented that last act of a corrupt church – the falsification of truth, and the consequent blaspheming of the Lord and his Word.
60, 61. But although they sought false witness against Jesus, they found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. It was a law of Moses that, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death” (Dent. xvii. 6). This law was enacted to teach us that no one is condemned to spiritual death for evil in one faculty only – n the will, or the understanding, or in the life – but that two or three of these must unite their testimony against any one to make him worthy of death. The two witnesses required are the will and the understanding, or evil and falsity. As the union of good and truth makes heaven, the union of their opposites makes hell. It was not possible to procure more than two false witnesses against the Lord. They accused him of saying “I am able to destroy the temple.” In this they accused him falsely, his words being, “Destroy (you) this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Their testimony was a perversion of his words, and represented falsification of his divine truth. Falsification of truth consists in putting a false construction on the declarations of the Word, so as to make them teach error instead of truth.
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
61 In three days. Day in the Word signifies state. Three signifies completeness and the beginning of sanctification. A. 2788.
See Maiachi iii. 1, 2. To the temple of the Lord is, to His Human, that this is His temple, the Lord teaches in Matthew. A. 9303.
Three —what is complete and perfect, also the whole together.
Three signifies complete, thus to the end. R. 505.
See Chapter XXVI., 61, under S. 29. Statement repeated) in T. 111.
That the temple represented the Lord’s Divine Human, is plainly taught by the Lord Himself. E. 391.
As the number three signified what is complete even to the tothe end, therefore that number was received in the representative church, and used as often as something complete; was represented. E. 532.
62 The high priest considered this accusation a sufficient charge against Jesus. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? It may be assumed that the high priest had waited a sufficient time to allow Jesus to speak, and at last demanded of him why he did not answer the accusation. The council had procured the false witnesses, and yet the high priest appeals to Jesus, as if he wished to give him an opportunity of vindicating himself. So those who in their own hearts have negatived the truth, even after they have made a foregone conclusion against it, profess to be willing to allow the Word to speak for itself.
63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
83 In the Jewish church by the Son of God was understood the Messiah, whom they expected, and concerning whom they knew that He was to be born in Bethlehem. L. 19.
That the Messiah is the Son of God appears from these passages. R. 520.
The reason why the Lord, when He was in the world, was called Christ, Messiah, Anointed, and King was, because in Him alone was the Divine good of the Divine Love from which proceeds Divine truth, and this was represented by anointing. E. 684.
63, 64. As Christ and Messiah are the same, and as Christ in Greek, and Messiah in Hebrew signify Anointed, it is evident that the Christ is the same as Anointed, and likewise the same as king, for kings in general were called the Anointed. A. 3008.
See Chapter XXII., 44. A. 4592.
By right hand in the Word is signified superior power, and by sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, omnipotence. A. 4933. See Chapter XXIV., 30. A. 8106.
To sit at the right hand of the power of God signifies Divine omnipotence which was to endure for ever. A. 9422.
By the right hand those who are in truth from good. A. 10061.
Here He first confessed that He was the Son of God, and afterwards said that they should see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven, by which is meant, that after the passion of the cross, He would be in the Divine power of opening the Word, and establishing the church, which could not be done before, because He had not before conquered hell and glorified His Human. L. 26.
See Chapter XXIV., 30. R. 24.
Since the right hand of God signifies omnipotence, therefore the Lord says that He is to sit at the right hand of power. T. 136.
Jesus Himself confessed before the high priest that He was the Son of God. T. 342.
By the Son of Man is here meant the Lord as to Divine truth.- To sit at the right hand of power signifies His omnipotence. To come in the clouds of heaven signifies revelation of Divine truth concerning Himself in the Word, for He has revealed Himself and has likewise fulfilled all things which are contained in the internal sense, which treat especially concerning the glorification of His Humanity.. E. 36.
To sit at the right hand of power and the right hand of God, signifies the omnipotence and omniscience pertaining to the Lord from Divine good by Divine truth. E. 298.
To sit at the right hand of power signifies the Divine omnipotence of the Lord over the heavens and over the earths, after He had subjugated the hells, and glorified His Humanity. E. 687.
63-65. When the Lord confessed that He was the Christ, the Son of God, that the high priest rent his clothes, saying He hath spoken blasphemy, signifies, that he had no other belief than that the Lord spoke against the Word, and thus against Divine truth. A. 4763.
63, 64. But Jesus held his peace. Why was this? It may seem as if the Lord encouraged the lie by saying nothing against it. This could not be his intention. We may presume that he held his peace because he knew that his assertion would go for nothing. But there is a deeper reason for his silence than this. The Lord, as the incarnate Word, did as his written Word does. The Word does not answer idle and insincere questions. It does not vindicate its own truth to those who have determined that its testimony shall not produce conviction. Even in respect to these, the letter of the Word is a sword that turns every way, to guard the way of the tree of life. Truths that could not be perverted would be blasphemed, and would increase men’s condemnation. Therefore the Word, in certain appeals to it, is silent. To sinister interrogations it gives no answer. Therefore it was that the Word made flesh was dumb before his unjust judges and false accusers. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet be opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. liii. 7). But even to the appeal of the high priest Jesus made no answer. “Jesus held his peace.” And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said. Why did the Lord now answer this question? It was because he was not now asked to admit or deny a false accusation, but to admit or deny a great truth – to confess whether he was the Christ or not. The Word, too, declares its own eternal and immutable truth, and the divinity of its Origin, as Jesus acknowledged himself to be the Christ, the Son of God. But the Lord added, Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming, in the clouds of heaven. “Nevertheless” should rather be “moreover, besides.” “Not only do I confess myself the Christ, but I tell you that the day is coming when you yourself will be compelled to confess it also, when he who now appears before you in human weakness will be revealed to you in divine power.” The event to which our Lord here refers in the general sense is his second coming; and at his second advent, it is said, “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” This advent of the Lord was a coming to judgment, not, indeed, in the natural, but in the spiritual world, at the end of the church; and when he would be manifested to the evil and the good. Regarded as a universal truth addressed to the high priest, and through him to all who belong to the church, these words of our Lord have an important meaning. We have already explained this imagery as, it occurs in chap. xxiv., where it is shown that the Lord’s coming in the clouds signifies a revealing of himself in his Word, even in the very letter. There are two additional particulars which our Lord here introduces. His sitting at the right hand of power means that his humanity was about to be made divine, and thus become omnipotent for the salvation of men; and his coming in the clouds of heaven means that he was about to open his Divine Word, and give men a clearer revelation of himself as their Saviour. The point here emphatic is, that even the evil would see him thus exalted and revealed. By this is meant that after his coming they should manifestly see the predictions concerning him in the prophetical parts of the Word which they had not seen before; and that they should see them still more manifestly at the time of his second coming, when the spiritual sense of the Word should be revealed.
64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
64 Sitting on the right hand, and also coming upon the clouds, are from the idea of place with men, but with angels the idea is of the power of the Lord. A. 3387.
What is signified by sitting on the right hand is the omnipotence which is the Lord’s, wherefore it is said, at the right hand of power. A. 7518.
The right hand of Jehovah means Divine power or omnipotence. A. 8281.
The Son of Man stands for the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, to sit on the right hand of power — that He has omnipotence, for Divine good has omnipotence by Divine truth. It being said that henceforth they shall see it, signifies that Divine truth was in its omnipotence, when the Lord in the world had conquered the hells, and had reduced all things there and in the heavens into order, and thus that they might be saved who had received Him with faith and love. A. 9807.
See Chapter XXII., 43-45. A. 10019.
The Son of Man is the Lord as to the Word, the clouds of heaven are the Word in the sense of the letter, to sit at the right hand of God is omnipotence through the Word. S. 49.
See Chapter XVII., 5. R. 642.
See Chapter XVIL, 5. R. 820.
See Chapter XVIL, 5. T. 776.
See Chapter XXIV., 27, 30 add : to sit on the right hand of power means that He has omnipotence.
Its being predicated that they should see this now means, that Divine truth was in its omnipotence when the Lord in the world had conquered the hells, and reduced to order all things there and in the heavens, and that thus they might be saved who should receive Him in faith and love. E. 63.
See Chapter XXIV., 3. E. 870.
See Chapter XVII., 5. E. 906.
65 When the Lord had made this acknowledgment and declaration, the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. Rending the clothes signifies mourning on account of the destruction of truth the high priest therefore rending his clothes, and saying that the Lord blasphemed because he confessed he was the Christ, the Son of God, signified that he believed no otherwise than that the Lord spake against the Word, and thus against truth divine. The conduct of the high priest shows that those who in heart deny the divinity of the Lord and of his Word find a confirmation of their denial in the testimony of the Word itself.
66 The high priest then appealed to the council for their judgment. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. This is like the will appealing to the understanding, not for counsel but for confirmation. This act of the Jewish Sanhedrim was the intellectual consummation of the deed which they had long meditated, and used every means to effect. In that judgment was involved the denial of all that is divine in the Word, and the consequent consummation of the church amongst them. It was they who were guilty of blasphemy; and this crime is still further manifest in their dreadful treatment of the Lord after they had pronounced this iniquitous sentence.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,
68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
67 All things related concerning the passion of the Lord represent and signify arcana of heaven and the church, and specifically the quality of the Jews as to the Word, the church, and worship. The face of Jehovah, or the Lord signifies the Divine love, and all the good of heaven and in the church thence derived. E. 412.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands. By this was represented and signified that the Jewish nation was merely external, for all things mentioned in the Word relating to the Lord’s passion represent and signify arcana of heaven and of the church, and specifically of what quality the Jews were in relation to the Word, to the church, and to worship. The Jews showed great moral depravity in opposing themselves to one who uttered such wisdom and performed such beneficent works as Jesus did; but when the highest amongst them offered such indignities as these to a pure and holy being, what must have been their blindness and hardness of heart? Such deeds are true symbols of the spiritual evils which their acts represented. For by spitting in his face is signified the deepest contempt for, and opposition to, his divine truth; and by buffeting him is signified the deepest hatred of, and opposition to, his divine goodness; while their striking him with their hands and with rods signifies still further and fuller violation and rejection of his love and truth. The three acts of violence offered to the Lord express the entire rejection of him and of his Word from the will, the understanding, and the life.
68 Those who struck him demanded of him, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? Luke (xxii. 64) records that they had blindfolded him, which is, indeed, necessary to be understood to see the force of the demand to prophesy or tell who smote him. Alas! how many besides the Jews have committed this cruel mockery! Mockers and unbelievers, like the Jews, first put out the eyes of the truth, and then demand of it to prophesy who smote it. The demand, in these instances, is made in the belief that it cannot be complied with. And in this case, too, the Lord permits the wicked to remain in the conviction that they have demanded an impossible act. Jesus knew, but did not prophesy, who smote him. He held his peace. They remained in their infidelity. Had he spoken, he would only have added to their condemnation. So does the Lord through his Word. He refuses to prophesy when men have closed their ears against the truth.
69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
69-75. By Peter is also signified faith without charity, as also when he denied the Lord thrice. E. 820.
69-74. From the trial of Jesus before the Jewish council, the evangelist turns to the trial of Peter’s faith. Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them, for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. The apostle had witnessed the trial, listened to the false witnesses, heard the judgement, and beheld the indignities heaped upon his innocent and beneficent Master. He could not have remained unmoved. It is only surprising that his impetuous temper and generous nature did not break forth in some passionate demonstration in favour of his beloved Lord. But ready as he had been to defend his Master with his sword, he was now as ready to deny him with his tongue. How striking and instructive is the contrast between the disciple and his Lord Jesus, forsaken by those whom he called his friends, and unjustly condemned and cruelly treated by his enemies, betrays no sign either of fear or resentment; while Peter, with his Master’s exalted example before him, shrinks from the slightest glance of recognition, terrified at the thought of being known as one of his disciples. But while we make these reflections for the purpose of learning of the Lord as our example, we must not, in judging of Peter’s conduct, overlook the fact that this was their hour, and the power of darkness (Luke xxii. 53). That the power of the world and of hell, acting upon Jesus in every possible way, did not move him from his sublime integrity, is only to be accounted for on the principle that in him humanity was exhibited in its highest moral perfection. These events have, however, a spiritual signification. Peter’s confident perjury is a symbol of the character of faith when it is alone, even with the example of the Lord before the eyes of the believer. Peter’s conduct represents the character of faith at the end of the church. In this application, his thrice denying the Lord represented the practical and plenary denial which lies concealed in faith alone, which is the last form that religion assumes in a declining or expiring church. The cock-crowing is the end of the old church and the beginning of the new, when men are restored to faith by repentance, and turn to the Lord with a pure heart.
But this subject has relation to ourselves while the church is being formed in us. The facts relating to Peter describe the crisis in our spiritual life, when the old man and his natural faith die, and the new man and his spiritual faith begin truly to live. In the three different yet similar circumstances we see the trial of faith in the will, the understanding, and the life. In the first instance, Peter is found sitting in the palace of the high priest; but in the second he is found standing in the porch. These describe states of the will and of the understanding. Considered in relation to a house, a palace is emblematical of the understanding; but considered in relation to a porch, it is emblematical of the will. The will is as a palace, where the ruling love, like the high priest, has its residence; but the understanding is a porch which leads into it. The will is within; the understanding is without. Again, sitting is expressive of a state of the will; while standing is expressive of a state of the understanding. Peter being accused, first in the palace and then in the porch, implies temptation, first in the will and then in the understanding. He was accused by damsels, who represent affections, the first damsel denoting an affection of the will, and the second an affection of the understanding; and Peter’s being accused by them, signifies that the temptations which those of Peter represented originated in such affections in the mind itself. But a third accusation was preferred against Peter by the persons generally around him, “they that stood by,” and these represented all the affections and thoughts of the natural mind; and their accusation is expressive of temptation that has reference to the outward life. In the first of these instances, too, the Lord is called Jesus of Galilee; and in the second, Jesus of Nazareth. Galilee is a province, Nazareth is a city – pointing again to the Lord’s love in the will, and his truth in the understanding. Jesus is not named in the third instance, but Peter is simply accused of being one of them – one of those who formed the brotherhood of which Jesus was the head; or what these men would regard as a band of religious agitators and disturbers of the peace. This, too, is expressive of that general and, more indiscriminate assemblage of thoughts and feelings that pertain to the natural mind and to the outward life. Peter’s denial becomes more vehement as the accusation proceeds. First he simply denies; then he denies with an oath; and at length be curses and swears. Simple denial belongs to the will, with which everything is yea and nay; the understanding confirms with an oath, for an oath signifies confirmation, but denial with cursing and swearing is not of reason, but of passion. It does not follow that the Christian disciple, like Peter, gives way in temptation so far as to be guilty of actually denying the Lord, or his good and truth. Peter’s sin, like the sins of other Scripture characters, represented the sins to which the Christian disciple is tempted. In his fall we are admitted to a view of our own tendency to fall, and are taught how impossible it would be for us to stand, were it not that the Lord was tempted in order to aid us in temptation. Peter’s temptations were comparatively external, because he was as yet a comparatively external man. His was as yet chiefly a personal attachment and devotion to the Lord; he loved him as the restorer of the temporal kingdom to Israel, and the Lord’s apprehension threatened the entire overthrow of this object of hope and ambition. The Christian disciple shares, indeed, in Peter’s natural views and desires, but they are directed to a spiritual and eternal kingdom; and therefore eternal life and glory are the objects of his aspirations and of his temptation-conflicts. When Peter had uttered for the third time his denial of the Lord, immediately the cock crew.
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
75 That in the last time of the church there would be no faith in the Lord and therefore no charity is represented by Peter denying the Lord thrice, before the second cock-crow. N. 122.
75 The words of the Saviour rushed into his mind and pierced his heart. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. This touching incident reveals something truly childlike in the character of this strong-minded apostle. The sudden recollection, the poignant remorse, the passionate contrition, and, indeed, his previous forgetfulness and denial, are much more like those of a child than of a man. During the long and sad hours he waited in the palace, both his memory and his conscience seem to have been asleep; and not until startled by the cock’s shrill clarion does he seem to have had any distinct impression of his sinfulness. This is accountable only on the principle that both he and the new church, of which he was the first-fruits, were then in the infancy of their spiritual life. As representative of the states of the church, it is equally striking and instructive. The crowing of the cock was the announcement that the night was past, and that the day had dawned. The oblivion of the truth in Peter’s mind was the moral darkness which had closed upon the church, and his returning consciousness was the effect of a new light that broke in upon his soul. And in the life of the Christian disciple analogous states are experienced. When the night of temptation spreads its pall over the soul, so that no ray, of light can enter to guide and cheer the mind, prophecy and promise, and hope fail, and extremity induces despair. But the ending of the night is the dawning of the day. The influence of the morning is felt even before light is visible, and produces convictions and change in correspondence with itself. When Peter remembered the words of the Lord, “he went out, and wept bitterly.” He went out from the palace of the high priest – from the scene and state of his temptation, which is a state of constraint, into a state of liberty. He wept bitterly. Bitter are the tears of repentance for presumptuous sins. Weeping, as distinguished from shedding tears, we have had occasion to remark, signifies the deepest degree of sorrow for sin – that which flows at once from the heart and the understanding, which expresses at once a sense of the natural contrariety of our hearts to the Lord’s love, and of our understandings to his truth. When the soul not only weeps, but weeps bitterly, it is a sign that a deep ground of evil has taken away all the delights of life. But the more bitter the tears of repentance, the sweeter the delight of the regenerated life, and the more settled the peace that succeeds conflict.
AUTHOR: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (COMPILED BY ROBERT S. FISCHER AND LOUIS G. HOECK 1906)
COMMENTARY AUTHOR: WILLIAM BRUCE (1866)
PICTURES: JAMES TISSOT Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum