And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples,
The "sayings," "words," or discourses of Jesus here "finished," were begun on the Mount of Olives (see Matthew 24:1), and continued till he came to Bethany (see ver. 6). They were spoken, it would seem, publicly, while the sentence following was privately spoken "unto his disciples" (ver. 2). The matter of this sentence is intrinsically intensely interesting, and it is interesting also from its relation to the consultation of the Sanhedrin next mentioned (vers. 3-5). The subject remarkably illustrates two things, viz. -
I. THAT GOD'S PLANS ARE WISE AND BENEFICENT.
1. Here note the prescience of Jesus.
(1) He clearly and circumstantially foretells his death. Mark the contrast in his revelations: "The Son of man shall come in his glory" (ch. 25:31); "The Son of man is delivered up to be crucified." The literal fulfilment of the latter pledges the certainty of the former.
(2) He had already very particularly foretold his death (see Matthew 16:21; Matthew 20:17; Mark 10:32-34). Now he precisely indicates the time: "After two days," i.e. on the third day, or with one full day intervening (cf. Hosea 6:2). This was Wednesday; on Thursday night he was betrayed by Judas; Friday morning he was condemned by the Sanhedrin, and two hours later crucified by Pilate.
(3) The calmness with which Jesus anticipated the horrors so soon to be experienced is truly admirable. It is explained by the prescience which carried him further (cf. Matthew 25:31; Hebrews 12:2).
2. This prescience is clearly Divine.
(1) The chief priests and rulers had for some time meditated his death, and it was within the range of probability that they might accomplish their purpose. But what human forecast could have seen the circumstances and the time of the event?
(2) These particulars, as he anticipated them, were against human probability. The plot was to destroy Jesus secretly, and therefore the execution of the purpose was to be deferred until after the feast (ver. 5). Then the multitude would have dispersed, and the Galilaeans in particular would have returned to their homes.
(3) It was not until Judas made his overture that the plotters altered their plans, and resolved to risk the "tumult among the people." But the treachery of Iscariot was fully within the prescience of Jesus (see vers. 21-25).
3. It is the prescience of wisdom and beneficence.
(1) Jesus was sacrificed at the Feast of the Passover as the antitype of the Paschal lamb.
(a) This God distinguishes as especially his: "My sacrifice" (see Exodus 23:18), viz. because it was instituted by him to be a special type of "the LAMB OF GOD that beareth away the sin of the world" (see 1 Corinthians 5:7).
(b) The Paschal lamb was "a male of the first year," the symbol of excellence in its prime. So was Jesus, in the prime of his peerless manhood, when offered up.
(c) It was "without blemish." He was immaculate in his birth, and in his life and death he fulfilled all righteousness.
(2) Wisdom is also seen in the time.
(a) The word here construed "betrayed" is in the New Version rendered "delivered up," the reference being to the setting apart of the lamb rather than to the treachery of Judas. It refers to something accomplished. The lamb was taken on the tenth day of the first month (see Exodus 12:1-3); and on this day Jesus entered Jerusalem (see John 12:1, 12, 13).
(b) The lamb was then to be kept "until the fourteenth day of the same month" (see Exodus 12:6). On this day the true Paschal Lamb was sacrificed. There is reason to believe that in this case, two days were kept, and the right day was that upon which Jesus was offered up.
(c) The time of the day also was exact, viz. "between the two evenings" (see Exodus 12:6, margin), i.e. between the sun's declining west, at noon, and his setting, at about six in the afternoon. Jesus was crucified at noon, and expired three hours later, exactly between the evenings (see Matthew 27:46-50).
(3) The beneficence of this wisdom is seen in the purposes. As the blood of the Paschal lamb redeemed Israel from Egypt, and redeemed his firstborn from the sword of the destroyer, so are we redeemed from sin and death by the sacrificial blood of Christ.
II. THAT HE MAKES MAN'S PLOTS SUBSERVIENT TO THEM,
1. We see God's purposes in the assembly.
(1) Who are they? "The chief priests ... and the elders of the people." Little did they think that they were giving effect to the truth of prophecy; for it is written that "the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Christ" (see Psalm 2:2; Psalm 41:7). It is also specified that the Paschal lamb should be offered by the whole congregation: "The whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it" (Exodus 12:6). Here was the very Sanhedrin.
(2) What a lesson of human depravity is here! "The chief priests," and probably Caiaphas the high priest at the head of them. Sacredness of office is no security against rascality. "The rulers," who were members of the great Sanhedrin because of their influence, whether of wealth, or birth, or abilities. Men the most reputable as seen by their fellows, may be the most odious as seen by God.
2. We see God's purposes in their measures.
(1) Their policy is to have Jesus secretly killed. This was manifestly from the devil, who would give sceptics the pretext to say, "This thing was done in a corner." The Sanhedrin feared the uproar of the people.
(2) But the devil outwits himself. Iscariot appears upon the scene, and his proposals induce them to hazard the bolder policy. It was customary at festivals to execute malefactors publicly, "that all Israel might see and fear" (see Deuteronomy 17:13; Acts 12:4).
(3) Thus, then, the Passion of Christ became a matter of the utmost celebrity. He suffers openly amidst thousands of witnesses. His death was notorious, which gave emphasis to the notoriety of the subsequent event of the glorious resurrection from the dead.
(4) Thoughts of the suffering Christ sustain the suffering Christian, suffering for him and with him. And "if we suffer with him, we shall be also glorified together." - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,