After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
It was while our Lord was reclining at an evening meal, where Lazarus and many other guests were present, and where the less contemplative, but probably, not upon the whole less exemplary sister Martha was in attendance, that Mary came in, bringing an alabaster vial of the costly essence; and with words perhaps, or gestures, not left on record, but expressive of the adoration which prompted such an act of homage, lavished the precious liquid upon the head and feet of the Redeemer, in such wise that the whole house is filled with the odour of the perfume.
I. If when Iscariot interposed his odious, untimely, detestable and incongruous question, taking the name of the sacred poor in vain, "Why was this waste made? why was not all this bestowed upon the poor? "If some prophetic lip then present had been severe enough, it might have answered, "This waste was made because Christ chose to make Himself the friend, the advocate and the representative of the poor;" and the more a man truly worships Christ, the more certainly he must regard the poor—with the least, most suffering of whom the Saviour has identified Himself. This waste was made, like the waste of seed-corn in the parable, that it might die and spring up again an hundredfold. If Judas had been capable of appreciating that act of worship by Mary, he might have gone down to his grave in peace, and lived in sacred history, an honoured and a sainted man.
II. It well deserves remark that the two occasions upon which our Lord expressed Himself with the most lavish approbation, were both of them essentially acts of worship and nothing but worship, unmixed with any utilitarian element, with anything of a directly and materially useful tendency; both of them actions of self-sacrifice, one to the personal honour of our Lord, the other to the maintenance of temple ceremonies; one was the gift of the perfume, the other was the poor widow's gift of the two mites which make a farthing; but both alike enjoyed the unstinted praise of the Redeemer. Strange to think that now, when for eighteen centuries the fragrance of that perfume has evaporated, and its component particles been dissipated and blown hither and thither in the atmosphere, and while those two mites have corroded utterly away and rejoined the primal elements of nature, the memory of these two women survives, and will survive for ever while the Gospel lives, as the representatives, one of profuse, the other of indigent liberality, but both by force of example the instigators of immeasurable, incalculable beneficence, simply from having done what they could.
W. H. Brookfield, Sermons, p. 158.
References: Mark 14:3.—R. M. McCheyne, Memoir and Remains, p. 407. Mark 14:3-9.—W. Hubbard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiv., p. 282; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 1; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., p. 340; A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 300; T. de Witt Talmage, Old Wells Dug Out, p. 36.
Mark 14:4-6Wherever anything of the love of God exists there must be a desire to sacrifice some considerable portion of our worldly goods to Him; and the most ordinary way of doing so is by giving to the poor, in whom Christ has promised that He Himself shall be found, and that He will consider such gifts as given to Himself.
I. But then the question arises, Will this be acceptable to Him? He loves a spiritual worship and the care of the poor, but does He love also external and outward signs of our love and reverence? To this, I think, we shall find a most satisfactory answer in that most interesting incident which is recorded of the good Mary pouring the precious ointment on our blessed Saviour's feet, and His most gracious acceptance of it. Why was this good deed so exceedingly pleasing to Christ and honoured by Him? It was not that He who, in every sense, loved poverty cared for such things. What was the precious ointment to Him who is the Maker and Preserver of all things? It was because it was the manner in which love to Him was shown. She did what she could; she had been at what was to her great cost, because she loved much.
II. The Almighty has so appointed it that the true service of Him is the best cure for the diseases of our sick souls; to pray to Him, to praise Him, to worship, is the medicine of our hearts. Now the disease with which this country is sick to the very heart is the love of money. A nation hurrying to and fro with the love of mammon, so as to be the very spring of life to it, as the heart is to the body, this would lead one to fear that God is preparing for judgment. What, then, is the cure for all this? Why, surely, to make ourselves friends of the unrighteous mammon, that when God visits us we may be received into everlasting habitations. Unless persons are disposed to make far greater sacrifices to Almighty God, than Christians now usually are, their religion must be something very different from what Christianity used to be. Let every one do something; do not hide under a stone, and hoard up for the moth and rust; do not spend what you have on your own pride and comfort, but be content with that most blessed and good Mary to be accounted a fool in this world, that, at any cost, you may win Christ.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. x., p. 98.
References: Mark 14:6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1834; Ibid., Christian World Pulpit, vol. 27; p. 254.
Mark 14:8On doing what we can.
I. Nobody is idle in the kingdom of our Lord. Even the babes and sucklings have something to do. But so just is the King that He will not have any of His servants do more than they can. He expects us to do only what we can.
It was this which pleased Him so well in the service which Mary of Bethany did; she did what she could. She greatly loved the Lord, He had often spoken to her about His Father; He had raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. And she wanted to show her love. To look at, her act was not so much as if she had built a church, or a school, or a hospital. It was only pouring some sweet perfume on the head and feet of the Saviour she loved. But this was just the thing she could best do, and what she could she did.
II. When years had gone past and Jesus was gone back to heaven, many other disciples showed their love to Him by doing what they could. Some sold their possessions and gave the money they got for them to the poor. Some went about the world preaching Jesus. Some opened their houses to receive the preachers. Some spent hours in prayer, asking God to bless the preaching. Some, more noble than others, searched the Bible besides, to know what God would have them to do.
III. Sometimes we can only sing a psalm, or offer a prayer, or speak a kind word, or give a tender look, or a warm grasp of the hand. It is enough in the eyes of the just Saviour that we do things as little as these, if these should be the only things we can do.
IV. No one is so humble, or poor, or weak as not to be able to do something. Even a child may serve the Lord. It is wonderful how much can be done, and what things great in God's sight, if people would only do the little things they can.
A. Macleod, The Gentle Heart, p. 47.
I. It is allowable for women openly to show their attachment to Christ and His cause. Many modes of influence and usefulness are open to them, just as, in the sacred history we find in many ways, both in the lifetime of our Lord and afterwards, the agency of woman was permitted or required. As in early times, she was to be honourably distinguished who was well reported of for good works, in that she had washed the saints' feet, or been actively hospitable to missionaries and ministers—so in the present day there is still opportunity for the thoughtful kindness of woman's calling, in relation to those, or to their families and their representatives, who, at home or abroad, are devoted to and are doing the work of God.
II. Women may sometimes show their regard for Christ in a way very startling to others—not approved by them—and that may be thought extravagant or wrong. Whenever there is very deep, strong, and impulsive religious feeling—the notion that the ideal of the Christian mind ought to be embodied in facts and actions—the chances are that something will be projected, attempted, or done, which the Church generally will not go along with. The penitent may be repelled by the self-righteous, the munificent libelled by the churl—nobody can please all; while high, unwonted forms of action will run the risk of displeasing most.
III. The act, that may be thus misunderstood, may be acceptable to, approved, and honoured by Christ. In the case before us Mary obtained a double reward: (1) She found that she had done a thing far greater than she intended, she had anointed His body for the burial; (2) Jesus said that her action should be talked of, written about, read everywhere the world over—always, while there is a Gospel to be preached or men to hear it.
IV. This misapprehension on the part of some, this approval of Christ and predicted reward of Mary's service, all sprang from her having done what she could. She put her whole ability to tribute or rather to the test, and resolved to do all and everything it was capable of effecting. She devised liberal things, she purposed in her heart, planned with her head, put to her hand, pushed on, persevered, prayed and toiled day by day, exerting the utmost of her power, that she might accomplish all that was in her will, and she has done it. Gabriel could do no more, nor any of the highest creatures of God.
T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, 2nd series, p. 188.
I. The costliness of this offering. A contemporary writer, complaining of the luxury and wastefulness of his age, specifies the extravagant prices paid for unguents in proof of his assertion; and then mentions four hundred pence as a proof of the recklessness of the rich. Here, then, was a woman—not rich certainly—possessing herself of the costliest offering she could procure. As nearly as one could reckon the sum she paid for it would be about thirty pounds—according to the present value of money among ourselves. And I think we shall all admit that although the sum is not what a rich person would call a large one, it is what we should call a very noble offering indeed, if offered by a person in humble life, especially if offered in this particular way. I mean offered without any particular, immediate, visible, commensurate object. She was not buying a burial-place for her Lord's body, or providing for His embalming, or for His entombment; or doing any other similar necessary and abiding act. No; she merely wanted to show her love, her soul's devotion, the largeness of her affectionate reverence towards that mysterious Being whose discourse was sweeter to her than honey or the honey-comb—whose strong voice had broken the gates of death; in whom she recognised the Author of all her purest joy. She pours the costly unguent on His sacred head, and spreads what she lets fall upon His feet with her hair. And she earns for herself thereby the praise of the eternal God and a place in the everlasting Gospel of Christ.
II. The commendation which our Savour bestowed upon the act of this pious woman is very striking; for who was ever modest, self-denying, humble-minded, regardless of luxury, pomp, and worldly honours, if not our Saviour, the meek, lowly-hearted One who proposes Himself in this very respect as a model to us all? And yet, it is He who commends so highly Mary's costly offering now; for our sakes He did it, and it is to show us that He approves, and will to the end of time approve, all similar ventures of faith and love. These words of Christ are the commendation, the eternal praise, of lavish outlay and costly expenditure made for Christ's sake and in Christ's honour; It is the praise won by every one of whom that may be truly said which was once spoken of Mary: "She hath done what she could."
J. W. Burgon, Ninety-one Short Sermons, No. 36.
The Insight of Love.
I. The inherent difficulty which besets all questions of casuistry that rise under the laws or precepts of natural morality. The rules or precepts of morality are easy for the most part; it is only their application to particular cases that are difficult. Thus, if the woman had been asking how she could use her box of ointment so as to do most good with it, she would either have fallen into utter doubt and perplexity, or else she would have taken up the same conclusion with Judas, and given it to the benefit of the poor. However perfect and simple the code of preceptive duty the applications of it will often be difficult and sometimes well-nigh impossible, without some better help than casuistry.
II. This better help is contributed by Christ and His Gospel. Begetting in the soul a new personal love to Himself, Christ establishes in it all law, and makes it gravitate, by its own sacred motion, towards all that is right and good in particular cases. This love will find all good by its own pure affinity apart from any mere debate of reasons, even as a magnet finds all specks of iron hidden in the common dust. Thus, if the race were standing fast in love, perfect love, that love would be the fulfilling of the law without the law, determining itself rightly by its own blessed motions, without any statutory control whatever. The wise male brethren who stood critics round this woman had all the casuistic, humanly assignable reasons plainly enough with them. And yet the wisdom is hers without any reasons. She reaches farther, touches the proprieties more fully, chimes with God's future more exactly than they do, reasoning the question as they best can. It is as if she were somehow polarised in her love by a new Divine force, and she settles into coincidence with Christ and His future, just as the needle settles to its point without knowing why. To bathe His blessed head with the most precious ointment she can get, and bending low to put her fragrant homage on his feet, and bind them in the honours of her hair, is all that she thinks of; and be it wise or unwise it is done. By a certain delicate affinity of feeling, that was equal to insight, and almost to prophecy, she touches exactly her Lord's strange unknown future, and anoints Him for the kingdom and the death she does not even think of or know. Plainly enough no debate of consequence could ever have prepared her for these deep and beautifully wise proprieties.
H. Bushnell, Christ and His Salvation, p. 39.
References: Mark 14:8.—J. Keble, Sermons on Various Occasions, p. 58; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 218; J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, p. 252; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 107; Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 37; Church of England Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 265. Mark 14:8, Mark 14:9.—Good Words, vol. ii., p. 416.
Mark 14:9 (R.V.)
Love to the Christ as a Person.
I. Looking at this incident closely, we find as its main characteristic that it was the expression of a feeling, and that it was intensely personal. This woman had come under a great sense of gratitude to Christ. He had become enshrined in her soul almost as God; nay, all her thoughts of Him were like her thoughts of God, except that their dread was softened by a human grace. It is not true, it is not an idea, that inspires her, but this Jesus Himself; and so upon Jesus Himself she lavishes her tribute of reverent love.
II. But this is a gospel to be preached in all the world; how shall it preach to us? We have no seen and present Lord to receive the raptures and gifts of our love. The outward parallel is not for us, but the inward parallel sets forth an unending relation and an unfaltering duty. Christ asked from men nothing of an external nature, but He steadily required their personal love and loyalty. He did not ask of any a place to lay His head, it mattered little if Simon asked Him to his feasts, but once there, it did matter whether Simon loved Him or not. Waiving all personal ministration, He yet claims personal love.
III. Let us see if Christ was mistaken in planting His system upon personal love and devotion to Himself. Or, more broadly, Why does this faith, that claims to be the world's salvation, wear this guise of personal relations? Simply because in no other way can man be delivered from his evil. In the ideas that the loud-voiced wisdom of the age would have Us believe to be the salvation of the world, God is driven farther and farther into unknowable heavens, the Christ is made to figure only on a dim and blurred page of history. The Faith that is to redeem the world must have a surer method, it must have a vitalising motive, and such a motive can proceed only from a person using the strongest force in a person—love. The love we now render is the fidelity of our whole nature, the verdict of our intelligence, the assent of our conscience, the allegiance of our will, the loyalty of sympathetic conviction all-permeated with tender gratitude; but it is still personal, loving Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
T. T. Munger, The Freedom of Faith, p. 109.
I. One lesson of this incident is, that we should not grudge any outlay where God and His glory are concerned; that we should be on our guard against a captious, withholding temper; against that temper which the disciples showed in their remark upon Mary's offering: "Why was this waste of the ointment made?"
II, Note the sense which Christ Himself entertains of such acts of devotion: "She hath wrought a good work on Me," etc. This, remember, is not the judgment of man. It is Christ's own view of an act which His disciples blamed as extravagant. He pronounces it a good act, and He declares the praise of it shall endure. And His words on this subject reach even to us. What He spoke of Mary's homage, He speaks—doubt it not—of all like generous free-giving in all after times. To such conduct He awards an everlasting memorial, a remembrance of the doers when they are dead, living on, age after age, in the hearts and on the lips, of their fellow-men. A life that never goes beyond the level of common practice, that is never quickened by any effort of unusual charity, or unusual self-denial; a life that even in its religion is a selfish life, that seeks its own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's, that knows nothing of His constraining love, that never contemplates the giving up of field, or house, or ease, or pleasure, or natural inclination, or party views, the better to advance His cause in the world; such a life is not, surely, the life that we can be content to lead. Certainly it is not the life exhibited for our pattern in the Gospel. It may be that the utmost we can accomplish will be small; it may be that our poor efforts to serve the Lord Christ will show as nothing, compared with what some of our kind have wrought; but this need not dishearten us. If we have done our best, "what we could," we shall have the seal of His approval; we shall have been faithful in our few things; and that fidelity—we have His word for it—will gain for us admission into the joy of our Lord.
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons preached in Country Churches, p. 95.
References: Mark 14:12.—A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 3. Mark 14:12-21.—H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 300. Mark 14:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 785; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 315. Mark 14:17-21.—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 371; W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 429. Mark 14:19.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 163.
Mark 14:21I. When we consider by whom these words were spoken, and when we also think steadily of what is contained in them, they are, I think, altogether one of the most solemn passages to be found in the whole of the Scriptures. For they declare of an immortal being that it would have been good for him if he had never been born. Now consider what immortality is, and it will be plain that if it were good for a man that his never-ending being should never have been begun, it can only be because it will be to him a being of never-ending misery. For, let the misery last ever so long, yet if it has any end at all, the eternity of happy existence which follows that end must make it not bad, but infinitely good, for us to have been born. Thousands on thousands of years of suffering, if that suffering is to end at last, must be infinitely less to an immortal being, infinitely more vain, infinitely more like a dream at waking, than one single second of suffering compared to threescore years and ten of perfect happiness.
II. There is no occasion to dwell on the particular sin of him of whom the words in the text were spoken; for we know that except we repent we shall all likewise perish. The state on which this fearful doom was pronounced Was the state of one who, with many opportunities long offered to him, had neglected all; who had brought himself to that condition that he might despair, but could not repent. Now, if this condition were wholly ours, then it were vain to speak of it; if we had so long and so obstinately hardened our hearts that there was no place for repentance; then, indeed, we might sit down and cross our arms as helplessly as the boatman, when he feels himself within the sure indraught of the cataract and that no human aid can save him from being swept down the fearful gulf. But if the boat be not so surely within the grasp of the current; if yet, though it be fast hurrying downwards, it may by a vehement effort be rescued; if the shore of certain safety be not only near, but by possibility accessible; who cannot conceive the energy with which we should struggle under such circumstances?—who cannot feel of what intense efforts we would then be capable, when on the issue of a few moments of greater or less exertion, life or death were hanging?
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. vi., p. 149.
Reference: Mark 14:21.—G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons and Addresses in Marlborough College, p. 497.
Mark 14:22-25Christ and the Communion.
I. This service carries us back over dim tracks of time to the beginning of the Gospel. We think of scattered bands of our ancient brethren, in the midst of surrounding heathenism, gathering as we do now around the Table of our Lord. They regard the crucified Jesus as the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world. It is not altogether difficult to place ourselves in the position of those ancient saints, and to enter into their state of heart as they gathered round the Lord's Table. There was an unconscious recognition—all the more profound and joyful that it was unconscious—of their being one through the love that embraced them all. It was not, however, that their minds were occupied about one another. It was the Lord Himself whom they thought upon; His holy form it was that rose up before the eye of faith; the festival was one of love, and memory, and hope, bringing up to faith the sacred Person of the Lord, and kindling all blissful emotions. In such experiences believing men may share today, to the same extent as believing men of the first century.
II. What is this communion to our Saviour? What was in His heart when He established this ordinance? The answer rises to our lips at once. (1) There was undying love to His own. That love is the abiding mystery of the Gospel. Never before did it get such utterance; never before did it appear so tender and intense, so full and overflowing. (2) There is another thing beyond even this. It tells out His desire for fellowship with His own—just as when He took Peter and James and John with Him into the garden, and said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death; tarry ye here and watch with Me." There is unfathomable mystery here—that He, so to speak, should lean on us, but it is part of the blessed mystery of His brotherhood. Brotherhood is no mere name with Him; but a blissful verity. In all, save sin, His heart was like our own; and just as we have pleasure in the love that our friends bear toward us, and in knowing that we live in their memory, so does He delight in the love with which saved men love Him. It is part of the reward of His sorrows, part of the joy that was set before Him, for which He endured the Cross, despising the shame.
J. Culross, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., p. 245.
References: Mark 14:22, Mark 14:23.—Sermons on the Catechism, p. 252. Mark 14:22-24.—R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. i., p. 186; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 180. Mark 14:22-25.—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 359; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 306; W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 439. Mark 14:23.—J. H. Hitchens, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 312. Mark 14:23-34.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 224. Mark 14:25.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 250. Mark 14:26-30.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. ii., p. 132. Mark 14:26-31.—H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 313. Mark 14:27.—Homilist, new series, vol. ii., p. 109. Mark 14:27-30.—W. H. Jellie, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 296. Mark 14:29-31.—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 393.
Mark 14:31Religious Emotion.
To mistake mere transient emotion, or mere good thoughts, for obedience, is a far commoner deceit than at first sight appears. How many a man is there, who, when his conscience upbraids him for neglect of duty, comforts himself with the reflection that he has never treated the subject of religion with open scorn—that he has from time to time had serious thoughts—that he has had, accidentally, some serious conversation with a friend? No one, it is plain, can be religious without having his heart in his religion; his affections must be actively engaged in it; and it is the aim of all Christian instruction to promote this. But, if so, doubtless there is great danger lest a perverse use should be made of the affections. In proportion as a religious duty is difficult, so is it open to abuse. Doubtless it is no sin to feel at times passionately on the subject of religion; it is natural in some men, and under certain circumstances it is praiseworthy in others. But these are accidents. As a general rule, the more religious men become, the calmer they become; and at all times, the religious principle viewed by itself, is calm, sober, and deliberate.
I. The natural tempers of men vary very much. Some men have ardent imaginations, and strong feelings; and adopt, as a matter of course, a vehement mode of expressing themselves. Such men may, of course, possess deep-rooted principle. All I would maintain is, that their ardour does not of itself make their faith deeper and more genuine, and that they must not think themselves better than others on account of it.
II. Next, there are, besides, particular occasions On which excited feeling is natural, and even commendable; yet not for its own sake, but on account of the peculiar circumstances under which it occurs. For instance, it is natural for a man to feel especial remorse at the thought of his sins, when he first begins to think of religion; he ought to feel bitter sorrow and keen repentance. But all such emotion is evidently not the highest state of a Christian's mind; it is but the first stirring of grace in him.
III. And further, the accidents of life will occasionally agitate us:—affliction and pain; bad news; though here, too, the Psalmist describes the higher excellence of the mind, namely, the calm confidence of the believer, who will "not be afraid of any evil thing, for his heart standeth fast, and believeth in the Lord." The highest Christian temper is free from all vehement and tumultuous feeling.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. i., p. 177.
References: Mark 14:31.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 235. Mark 14:32.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 80; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 242. Mark 14:32-42.—W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 447; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 318; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 70. Mark 14:36.—A. Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, p. 216. Mark 14:37.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Waterside Mission Sermons, No. 17; A. Maclaren, Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 40. Mark 14:38.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 93. Mark 14:41, Mark 14:42.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 284. Mark 14:43, Mark 14:44.—J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 409. Mark 14:43-52.—H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 323; W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 458.
Mark 14:46Incidents of our Lord's Arrest.
I. The Arrival upon the scene of Judas and his companions. His very name has often come to the memory like a shock. When the soldiers, under his direction, not knowing Jesus, asked him for some sign by which He might be distinguished, he said, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He; hold Him fast." Of all preconcerted signals possible, this was the one selected; as if to show what sin has in it, and what sin can do; as if to show its impudence, its brass, its black ingratitude, its hell-fire. In Judas the sin of humanity culminates; in him sin reaches its high fever of crime; and if it had not been for him we should not have known the depth of degradation to which through sin the soul can sink.
II. The Panic. The Lord, clothed though He was in the garment of mortality, was still the Lord. Arrest Him, Judas and your company; place Him at the bar; nail Him on a cross. Not without His will. His object is not to strike you back blasted; this is but a thrill from His life, a momentary play of His latent Omnipotence; though it shakes you down flat—it is a touch, merely—just as a commentary on, in confirmation of His own royal word: "No man taketh My life from Me;" and just to show that if arrested, it is not in consequence of your mastery, but by the permission of His own will.
III. The Capture. The kiss of Judas removed whatever awe might have stricken the soldiers, and whatever reluctance they might have felt to going on with their task. They instantly laid their hands on Him who had been thus indicated, and began to bind Him in their own merciless fashion.
IV. The Great Forsaking "Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled." He who forsakes Christ forsakes perfection. It was not out of calm, set, deliberate purpose that they forsook their Lord. They were in a brief madness, and knew not what they did. Their souls were suddenly stormed, and the strength by which they had hitherto been kept was for the moment, and for their eventual good, withdrawn. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
C. Stanford, Evening of Our Lord's Ministry, p. 191.
References: Mark 14:50-52.—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 469. Mark 14:53-65.—H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 334. Mark 14:54-72.—W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 469.
Mark 14:63-64The Godhead of Christ.
I. On a certain most important occasion, Christ Himself asserted His Godhead in a manner which could not possibly be misunderstood. He allowed Himself to be put to death on a charge of blasphemy. At a most solemn juncture, and under the most solemn circumstances, He accepted a title, the acceptance of which, as He well knew, would be considered and treated as blasphemous. The conclusion is inevitable. If Christ be God, the whole procedure is in accordance with the facts of the case, and with the position He assumed. If Christ be not God, I must leave you to form your own opinion of His character.
II. A denial of the Godhead of Christ involves consequences from which we should most of us shrink—consequences which affect the nature and the character of Deity itself. (1) On the supposition that Christ was a mere man, or a created being, who allied himself with human nature, the further supposition becomes inevitable, that in the bygone eternity God dwelt in a lonely and uncompanionable isolation. (2) The denial of the Godhead of Christ limits and impairs the Divine capability of manifesting love to man. If Jesus Christ were just a perfect man, and not the eternal Son of the Father, what did it cost God to part with Him? nothing, that I can see. The self-sacrifice consisted in the surrender of His Son. (3) If Christ be not God, I cannot avoid the inference that God has done everything in His power to transfer my affection from the Creator to the creature. I read in the Bible that God is a jealous God; and that the honour which is His own He will not permit to be given to another; and what has He done? In those Scriptures, which are the revelation of His mind and will, He has taken all the grand titles which belong to Himself, and has laid them upon Christ. Everything is done to make the tendrils of my human affection twine round Jesus Christ. The heart must be chilled towards God, which does not recognise in Jesus Christ the eternal Son of the eternal Father.
G. Calthrop, Penny Pulpit, new series, No. 798.
References: Mark 14:64.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1643. Mark 14:67.—J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, p. 219. Mark 14:67-72.—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, pp. 469, 489; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 338. Mark 14:72.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 83; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 212. Mark 15:1.—W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 485; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 343. Mark 15:2-5. Ibid, p. 349. Mark 15:15.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. viii., p. 150. Mark 15:15-20.—Beecher, Sermons, 1870, p. 104. Mark 15:17.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 200; J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. i., p. 266. Mark 15:17, Mark 15:18.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 224. Mark 15:20.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 232. Mark 15:20, Mark 15:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1683.
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.
And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?
And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.
And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.
And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
And in the evening he cometh with the twelve.
And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.
And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?
And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.
The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.
But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.
And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.
And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him.
And they laid their hands on him, and took him.
And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.
And they all forsook him, and fled.
And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.
And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,
We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.
But neither so did their witness agree together.
And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?
Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
William Robertson Nicoll's Sermon Bible
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