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for them thus to learn to mistrust pious pretences, which interfered with sacrifices in their LORD's service, though it were from one of their own company; and good for them to earn this experience, while their MASTER was at hand to correct the mischievous impression.
And now consider our Lord's behaviour to Judas, who had already made his bargain with the Chief Priests, as to-day, and was then actually on the watch, contriving the time and place, when His MASTER might be conveniently taken. See Him rising from Supper, and, girded with a towel, stooping down and washing the disciples' feet. And now He cometh to Peter, who at first would not suffer His LORD to do so menial an act to him. But then he is told, “ If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with ME:" then was Peter as eager for the washing as before he was backward. Then some further words were spoken, and the LORD said, “Ye are clean, but not all.” And now it is the traitor's turn to have this office done for him. His MASTER pauses before him. How must his heart have throbbed. He had heard HIM say just before, that if He washed not any one of them it would be a token to the rest, that he had no part with Him. He had heard Him say too, “ Ye are clean, but not all.” Had then His Lord detected him ? would He now expose and denounce him before the rest ? How deep must Judas have drawn his breath as His LORD comes close to him. Does Jesus turn away?
No, He stoopeth down before him also. He places the basin, HE washes and wipes his feet, as He had done for the rest. Then, after He had sat down, He tells them this was a token of His love, and to be a memorial to them to be forward in all kind and loving offices one for the other.
Perhaps, then, Judas thought he was not known. But does not His MASTER's love and meekness touch him? Can he still hold to his purpose to betray Him who has thus testified His readiness in all ways to minister to his good ?
But again he is disquieted with doubt and fear about His MasTer's knowledge. For Jesus, with a countenance of deep sorrow, returns to this subject. He tells them, “He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me”-then, after a short pause, He continued, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray ME” -one of twelve-" the Son of Man 'in
deed 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." Still the Master has not named any
But yet can Judas persevere in his wicked purpose, after those terrible words of judgment against the man who shall execute this accursed deed? Though His Master's loving act just now did not move him by love, will he not now be wrought upon by terror?
Will he dare this curse ? But now the fear of detection is brought still closer, for they all begin to ask, “ LORD, is it I?” And it is answered, " It is one of you that dippeth with Me in the dish.” But this might apply to several who had already dipped their bread into the dish that stood before JESUS; and the words, “ It is he to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it,” were probably whispered to St. John, who, having been beckoned to by St. Peter, had asked, “LORD, who is it?” And what will Judas now do? Is he lost to all good feeling? Will he yield to the fear he feels at heart, or to any touches of returning love at His MASTER's forbearance and goodness ? or will he brazen it out, and take the chance of being undetected ? “ Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, MASTER, is it I? (But coming close and asking in an under tone, for fear.) He said unto him, Thou hast said, and gave him the sop.” Still the MASTER revealed him not; but added aloud these words, “What thou doest, do quickly;" and the others, so had they been taken up with sorrow for their LORD, and thinking fearfully about themselves, thought that Judas had received some commission about buying or giving to the poor.
Then immediately Judas went out, not like his brother Apostle, when his sin was brought to mind, to weep bitterly with tears of penitence, but with hardened recklessness to hasten his schemes, if haply he might carry them into effect before His MASTER should disclose his treachery to the rest. But not yet was our Lord's forbearance and compassion for the wretched man exhausted. His words were full of kindness to the last. Friend, wherefore art thou come ?" Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss ?” He addresses him by name as one with whom He had lived on terms of intimacy—the name by which He had called him, while he was with Him as His disciple. Neither does He withhold from him the name friend, or com
panion, for so is the more proper meaning of the word. How reproachfully, yet with what mournful tenderness, and without anger or passion, does the word sound! How it sets forth the case which the Psalmist prophetically describes : “ Yea, even mine own familiar friend whom I trusted, who did also eat of my bread, hath laid great wait for me.” And what bread was it probably which had last been received by Judas ? probably, (though it is not quite clear whether he had not gone out first,) the bread which the Lord had broken and blessed with uplifted hands, and given to His disciples for their lasting memorial of Him, under the sacred and mysterious appellation of His Body.
Most wonderful forbearance indeed! But while we wonder at this, we are apt to overlook cases of a like sort not so far removed from us. For is not this very much the way of God's dealings in His ordinary providence? Sinners are borne with by Almighty God. They and their sins are left in obscurity. Grievous sins are planned and perpetrated, and no discovery made. Oftentimes sinners are suspected, but not known: there is an uneasy doubt about them, but no certain proof. Meanwhile “these prosper in the earth, and come into no misfortune.” But the thought comes not that this is the long-suffering of God; waiting, if haply they will repent. Rather it is too much as if they said in their hearts, “ Tush, shall God perceive? is there knowledge in the Most High'?” So they become through abuse of goodness more fearless and bold.
They do even what they lust. They corrupt others, and speak wicked blasphemy.” And yet it is true that God is gently seeking to recal them.
And this pattern of our Lord's own conduct and the analogy of God's dealings, teaches us to be forbearing towards the worst offenders : not to publish unnecessarily, or blazon abroad their evil deeds; and all along to be gentle, meek, and considerate in our behaviour towards them. Not indeed in any way conniving at their sin, or seeming indifferent about evil, but even while we show hatred of sin, showing compassionateness towards the sinner, remembering always, that, bad as he may be, yet is he one of our company, a brother Christian, one whom our common Master bears with and has not openly cast off, and who, therefore, may even yeț turn, and put away the evil of his doings, and repent, and be saved.
1 Ps. lxxiii, 8. 11.
OUR LORD'S FORBEARANCE TOWARDS PONTIUS PILATE.
PREACHED ON THURSDAY IN PASSION WEEK.
John xiii. 1.
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was
come, that He should depart out of this world unto the FATHER, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."
HITHERTO we have been considering our Lord's gracious and compassionate dealings towards those who were united to Him by some tie of relationship. Jerusalem was “the city of the LORD of Hosts ";" and her children within her, His chosen inheritance, “His vineyard, His pleasant plant," "to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” No wonder that the LORD should be very patient and pitiful towards her and her children, and long bear with her, and use all means for her recovery. If not for her own, yet "for the fathers' sake would show mercy unto her.
Neither were all within her walls wicked. Among her rulers were a Nicodemus, and a Joseph of Arimathea, and many of them besides believed on Him, though fearing to confess Him; the
1 Psalm xlviii.
Rom. ix. 4, 5.
wife of Herod's steward was a disciple; of the common people were many who heard Him gladly, insomuch that the Chief Priests feared to take Him at the feast, lest there should be an uproar; and there followed Him along the way of sorrows to the place of crucifixion a great company of people bewailing and lamenting Him. Besides, there were all her thousands of young children, towards whom the LORD was ever tender and loving, upon whom would come, by the imprecation of their fathers, miseries and punishment for the guilt of His Blood.
Much more should we expect to trace every token of most loving consideration for His Apostles in all our Lord said and did, for the strengthening of their faith and constancy under their fiery trial. And even towards the traitor, the long and close intimacy with his Master, to which he had been admitted, seems, in a degree, to explain the marvellous and surpassing gentleness, pity, and lovingkindness shown him.
But now we are to pass beyond these limits; and to review this same Divine temper exhibited towards those whose hands were against Him in His death; towards both Pontius Pilate and the Chief Priests—the one an alien and stranger from the commonwealth of Israel in tongue, and nation, and office; the others aliens to the true Israel of God, through the obstinate blindness and evil of their hearts, and in their deeds declaring themselves of their “father the devil'."
To-day, of Pilate. I shall endeavour to point out to you how towards him also our LORD was very considerate and watchful for his good. It is true Pilate was a Gentile, but not therefore beyond His care, “ in Whom we live, and move, and have our being ?," and Whose offspring are all the children that dwell on the face of the whole earth. And other Gentiles our LORD had suffered to draw near to Him for good : as the wise men at His birth, and those Greeks brought to Him in the Temple but three days before, and the Syrophenician woman, and the Centurion, whose servant He healed. And it is natural to suppose that no one could be brought near to our Lord, to watch and observe Him, without having therein some great opportunity of good placed in his way. It is true Pilate was party in a sinful deed, but that was not 1 John viii, 44.
2 Acts xvii. 28.