But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But all this was done.—Better, but all this has come to pass. The words, though they agree in form with those of Mark 1:22, are, as we see from Mark 14:49, not a comment of the Evangelist’s, but our Lord’s own witness to the disciples and the multitude, that the treachery and violence of which He was the victim were all working out a divine purpose, and (as in Matthew 26:54) fulfilling the Scriptures in which that purpose had been shadowed forth.
Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.—We read with a sorrowful surprise of this cowardly abandonment. Better things, we think, might have been expected of those who had professed their readiness to go with Him to prison and to death. Yet we may remember (1) the weariness and exhaustion which had overcome them, making the resolve and courage, to say the least, more difficult; and (2) that they had been told not to resist, and that flight might seem to them the only alternative to resistance. We have to fill up St. Matthew’s record with the strange episode of the “young man with a linen cloth cast about his naked body” of Mark 14:51, where see Note.
Then all the disciples ... - Overcome with fear when they saw their Master actually taken; alarmed with the terrific appearance of armed men and torches in a dark night, and forgetting their promises not to forsake him, they all left their Saviour to go alone to trial and to death! Alas, how many, when attachment to Christ would lead them to danger, leave him and flee! Mark adds that after the disciples had fled, a young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body, attempted to follow him. It is not known who he was, but not improbably he may have been the owner of the garden and a friend of Jesus. Aroused by the noise from his repose, he came to defend, or at least to follow the Saviour. He cast, in his hurry, such a covering as was at hand around his body, and came to him. The young men among the Romans and Jews attempted to seize him also, and he only secured his safety by leaving in their hands the covering that he had hastily thrown around him. It is not known why this circumstance was recorded by Mark, but it would seem to be probable that it was to mention him with honor, as showing his interest in the Saviour, and his willingness to aid him. See the notes at Mark 14:50-51. This circumstance may have been recorded for the purpose of honoring him by placing his conduct in strong contrast with that of the apostles, who had all forsaken the Saviour and fled.
For the exposition, see on Joh 18:1-12.Mark 14:48-50. Luke, Luke 22:52,53 hath it thus: Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. What our evangelist reports as spoken to the rabble, Luke reports as spoken to the chief priests and captains of the temple, (that is, of the soldiers, who at that time were the guard of the temple), some of which, it should seem, came along with the rabble, to whom our Saviour directeth his speech.
I sat daily with you teaching in the temple. I observed before, that it was their usual manner for those that taught in the temple to sit while they taught, to testify their authority; Christ, when he came up to the passover, was wont to teach in the temple.
And ye laid no hold on me: I did not hide myself, nor go about to raise a party to defend myself, but quietly taught in the temple. If I had been guilty of any crime, you might easily have taken me; why are you now come out against me as against a thief, upon whom you had need to raise the country? Why come you against me with swords and staves, as if you thought I would make some resistance to defend myself? You never saw any such thing in me as should give you a jealousy of such a thing.
But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled, the many scriptures which spake concerning the sufferings of Christ. Luke addeth, but this is your hour, and the power of darkness, that is, this is that which God hath determined. Wicked men and persecutors of Christ and his gospel have their hour. There is a time which God in his wise counsels hath set and determined, when, for the trial of his people’s faith and patience, he suffers the devil, by vile and wicked men, who are his instruments, to imprison and otherwise vex and molest his people. That such a time is their hour, and what they do is by the permission and according to the counsel of God, and but an hour, a determined and short time, are great arguments to persuade us to the exercise of faith and patience.
And the power of darkness; a time when the prince of darkness is putting forth his power: or, the power of darkness, that is, a time of exceeding great darkness, of affliction to me and my disciples. Wicked men’s hour is always to Christ’s disciples the power of darkness.
Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. Probably all of them fled at first, though Peter and another came back again: or, all here signifieth the most of them. We never know our hearts upon the prospect of great trials, until we come to grapple with them, and to be engaged in them. These disciples had all said they would not forsake him; when it comes to the push, not one of them stands by him. But although they shrunk at first, not without the providence of God permitting them thus to fail in their duty, then governing their failures to his own glory; yet they again returned to their duty after Christ’s resurrection, owned Christ, preached his gospel, and at last drank of the cup, which he drank of first, and were baptized with the baptism wherewith he was baptized. All must not be condemned for flight in a time of persecution. We must observe whether they apostatize from their profession, or whether they do not return again, before we pass a judgment against them. Mark 14:49, they appear to be the words of Christ himself; who observes this, partly to make himself, as man, easy under the treatment he met with; and partly, to fortify the minds of his disciples against offence at it; and also to throw conviction, or confusion, into the minds of his enemies. The Scriptures of the prophets he refers to, as having, or about to have, by this conduct, their accomplishment, were such, as regarded the betraying him by Judas, the taking him in this secret, private, insidious, yet violent manner; in all which he showed great meekness, calmness, and submission, as Psalm 41:9. As also what respected the scattering, and hasty flight of his disciples from him, Zechariah 13:7, which in the next clause is shown to be accomplished,
Then all the disciples forsook him and fled; not only went away from him, and left him alone, as he foretold they would, John 16:32, but they ran away from him in a precipitant manner, like timorous sheep, the shepherd being about to be smitten; and they fearing, lest Peter's rash action should be imputed to them all, and they suffer for it; or lest they should be laid hold on next, and bound, as their master was, or about to be. Every thing in this account is an aggravation of their pusillanimity, and ingratitude; as that they were the "disciples" of Christ that forsook him, whom he had called, and sent forth as his apostles to preach his Gospel; and to whom he had given extraordinary gifts and powers; who had forsaken all and followed him, and had been with him from the beginning; had heard all his excellent discourses, and had seen all his miracles, and yet these at last forsake him, and even "all" of them: John the beloved disciple, that leaned on his bosom, and Peter, that professed so much love to him, zeal for him, and faith in him; the three that had just seen him in his agony and bloody sweat, and everyone of them left him; not one stood by him, and this too, after they had had a fresh instance of his power, in striking the men to the ground, that came to take him; and when he was sueing for them with their enemies, to let them go peaceably and safely: so that they had no need to have fled in such haste; and to leave him "then", in the midst of his enemies, in his great distress and trouble, was very unkind and ungrateful: and to this account of the evangelist, pretty much agrees what the Jews themselves say of it; for they report (p), that "when his disciples saw that he was taken, and that they could not fight against them, , "they ran away on foot", and lift up their voice and wept greatly.
Though they also pretend, that the citizens of Jerusalem killed many of them, and that the rest "fled" to the mountain, which is false,But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 26:56. Τοῦτο … προφητῶν] It is still Jesus who speaks, and who with these words closes His address. Comp. also Mark 14:19. In Luke 22:53 we find a somewhat different conclusion given. Erasmus, Jansen, Bengel, Fritzsche, de Wette, Schegg, Bleek, Weiss, Holtzmann, Hilgenfeld, regard the words in question as a remark by the evangelist (comp. Matthew 1:22, Matthew 21:4); but if that were so, we should have expected some specific quotation instead of such a general expression as at αἱ γραφαὶ τ. πρ., and what is more, our Lord’s words would thus be deprived of their proper conclusion, of that which contains the very point of His remarks. For the gist of the whole matter lay in this avowal of His conviction as the God-man that all that was now taking place was a carrying out of the divine purpose with regard to the fulfilling of the Scriptures, and—thus the mystery of Matthew 26:55 is solved.
τότε οἱ μαθηταὶ, κ.τ.λ.] Observe the πάντες. Not one of them stood his ground. Here was the verification of the words of Jesus, Matthew 26:31; comp. John 16:32.Matthew 26:56. τοῦτο δὲ, etc.: a formula of the evangelist, introducing another reference by Jesus to the prophecies in these terms, ἵνα πληρωθῶσιν, etc. Jesus reconciles Himself to the indignity in the manner of His arrest, as to the arrest itself, and all that it involved, by the thought that it was in His “cup” as described by the prophets. The prophetic picture of Messiah’s experience acted as a sedative to His spirit.—τότε, then, when the apprehension had been effected, and meekly submitted to by Jesus.—πάντες, Peter included.—ἔφυγον, fled, to save themselves, since their Master could not be saved. This another bitter drop in the cup: absolute loneliness.56. all this was done, &c.] These are probably the words of Christ, and not a reflection by the Evangelist (cp. Mark 14:49); if so, they were, for most of the disciples, their Master’s last words.Matthew 26:56. Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν, but all this was done) St Matthew appears to have interwoven this periphrasis with our Lord’s words concerning the fulfilment of the Scriptures: cf. Mark 14:49.—αἱ γραφαὶ, the Scriptures) in the plural number. His Passion was the confluence of their fulfilments.
 Luke 22:53, mentions another cause of so sudden a change on the part of the Jews, viz. the power of darkness—Harm., p. 532.Verse 56. - All this was done (hath come to pass), etc. This is most probably part of Christ's speech, not a remark of the evangelist. He repeats to the multitude what he had said to Peter (ver. 54, where see note), and what he had already intimated at the last Supper (vers. 24, 31). To quote the words of Stier, "Again and again he de. clares that one thing which, nevertheless, Christian theology perpetually refuses to learn from the supreme Teacher and Doctor. He holds firmly to the Scripture, whether speaking to the exasperated Jews or the docile disciples; he puts those to shame in their folly by proofs from Scripture, and strengthens these in their despondency by its consolatory promises. He appeals to Scripture in his vehement disputation with men, as he does in his solemn way of suffering to die for them; he confronts Satan with 'It is written,' and prays to the Father - that the Scripture may be fulfilled." If Christ had been taken prematurely in the temple, and put to death by a tumultuary stoning, prophecy would not have been fulfilled, and his death would not have been the appointed sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Forsook him, and fled. As he had foretold (ver. 31). They saw their Master bound and helpless; they recognized that he would not deliver himself by heavenly aid, and, fearing to share his fate, they looked to their own safety and basely abandoned him in his hour of danger. Now occurred the incident mentioned only by St. Mark (Mark 14:51), which is explained rightly by Edersheim (2:485, 544). Only Peter and John followed the officers to the high priest's palace.
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